Thursday, August 31, 2017

When Ugly Takes Over~

"No, it's not.
It's not beautiful at all.
It's ugly - 
so very ugly."

I had headed back to the bedroom
that had become mine once again.

Fifteen years ago,
in August, 2002,
I had moved back in with my parents,
and into this very room.

My father's health, declining,
my mom's strength in carrying the weight, waning,
my "Daddy's girl" heart, aching,
my husband's heart, willing,
and God's perfect will, leading
had me unpacking bags and settling in.

years later,
here I was again,
my mom's needs, calling.

Only this time it was so very different than before -
my Daddy no longer in his chair,
and my man no longer on the other end of a phone call.

And my mom,
as different from me as I am from her.

And me,
as different from my mom and she is from me.

We share a love that is deep,
make no mistake about that,
it's just we see life from completely different angles.
I see it with my heart.
She sees it with her head.
And sometimes,
it seems we will never see it all,
eye to eye,
the same.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Broken by words that were spoken in frustration -
by her
and most heartbreakingly, by me,
I had retreated to "my" bedroom.

Sitting on the edge of the bed,
I glanced at the nightstand
and spotted a card my husband had sent me
so many years before
when I was here,
and he was living 400 miles away.

Your the best, my little Panquitch. God will never forget your labor of love for so many, and the total sacrifice you give everyday. You are an earthly angel and have been so beautiful to me. Thank you, Honey. You make my heart glad. I am so proud of you. True character shines forth in adversity and yours is beautiful to behold. You are a true woman, Proverbs 31 personified. You have a great personality, quiet and meek, but also so strong and powerful. God loves you so much and is well pleased. Thank you for being so good to me, my baby. I'll love you always, your thankful Husband, Estaban

As soon as my eyes landed on the phrase -
True character shines forth in adversity
and yours is beautiful to behold -
my tears,
almost in an effort to wash away the earlier moments between my mom and me,
poured from my eyes.
And out loud,
these words joined my tears,
as they burst out of my mouth.

"No, it's not.
It's not beautiful at all.
It's ugly - 
so very ugly."

And, I cried and cried until I couldn't cry anymore -
tears of regret,
tears of shame,
tears of missing my dad
who would always run interference between my mom and me,
tears of missing my man
who (a phone call away)
would always listen, correct, redirect, encourage, and get me back on my way,
tears of missing the mark again in my God-given calling,
tears of hurting my Heavenly Father's heart,
tears of hurting my mom,
tears of realizing just how ugly my fleshly character is.

"Oh, Lord.
Please forgive me."

As I sat there worn and completely undone,
in my heart,
I could hear words my husband had spoken to me so many times before -

"You're not perfect, Beautiful. No one is.  You're going to mess up sometimes. We all do. But, look at your brokenness.  It's not what you want to happen. It's not what you want to do. Don't be so hard on yourself.  You can't do anything to change what happened, but try to learn from this and do it differently next time.  Did you take a minute to pray, Baby?  Did you ask God to step in and take over? Did you yield to the precious fruit of His Spirit?  These are all things you can do next time. You love your mom and she loves you.  Wipe your tears, Beautiful.  It's not the end.  It's just part of being human, sometimes."

And then,
words my father had spoken over and over again, too -

"Be nice, Darlin'. Really, that's all you can do.  Your mom is going to see things the way she sees things and your going to see things the way you do, but you can always be nice. Just be nice, Darlin'. And, talk nice. Always talk nice."

And then,
words my Heavenly Father spoke in His word and I have hidden in my heart -

"Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."
~Ephesians 4:29

"And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
~Ephesians 4:32

"No, Lord,
this adversity is not bringing out the beautiful of Christ in me,
but oh, how I want it to.
Take my flesh and all its ugliness
and replace it with Your Spirit, Lord.
Help me to remember
to pause,
to invite You into each conversation,
each reaction,
each moment
of each and every day,
How I need You, Lord.
Thank you that always You are here.
Because You are,
I have ALL I need.

Bless this time
between my mother and me.
I know I am the blessed one
to have been chosen to be here
at this time,
in this place,
in this way.
Help me to make it all count, Lord.
Let each moment
draw me closer to my precious mom,
and closer to You, Lord."

I rested the card from my Handsome Honey
back on the nightstand by the bed,
and as I reached to open the door
and head back into the living room,
I received a text from my sister:

"We are going to get through this . . . . . together."

To be so surrounded by so much love -
by those who have been
and those who remain,
and a God whose very name is I AM -
I texted my sister back:

"Yes, we will  . . . . . together."

And, I have a feeling,
if we do it God's way,
it's going to be
to behold.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

From This Day Forward, Lord, . . .

I knew I had to come.

What I didn't know
was how fast God
would set one of my reasons for being here
into motion.

As I stepped out of my car,
I felt the warmth of the sun,
the cool of a gentle mountain breeze,
and all the emotions of being at this very spot,

For 15 years,
minus one -
(our second anniversary)
each August 7th,
my husband and I returned
to the mountain soil where we had once stood,
pledging our love one to another
and exchanging our vows.

Last year,
the first anniversary without my husband,
I spent this special day in the company of my sister,
in another state,
almost 700 miles north.

This year, though,
I knew I had to come back -
for my husband,
for me,
for us.

The fact that we had fulfilled our vows,
that we had stayed husband and wife
until death do us part,
was only by the grace of God.

I knew I had to come to this life-changing spot
on behalf of my husband
as much as for myself,
to thank God for seeing us through.
And, not just through,
but for also graciously bringing us so much closer
to each other and our Savior
through the process of living our everyday life as Mr. and Mrs.

that wasn't the only reason I knew I had to come.

After we had exchanged our vows
and sealed the deal
with one of the sweetest kisses ever,
the pastor who had officiated our ceremony
sent us off
with the words of a prayer.

He prayed,
that we
who had come to this place
as two separate people -
would -
with God's help -
leave from this mountain sanctuary
as no longer he and she,
but as "we"
as us,
as one.

That each step,
each decision,
each turn in the path of life
would find us
single in purpose.

I knew in my heart
that now,
without my love,
if I was ever going to be able
to move forward in my life,
I had to come back,
stand upon this same soil,
and pray a similar prayer.

As much as I hate the reality of it all,
I was now "one" again.
My other half
no longer by my side.

help me to leave from this place today,
no longer as an "us" -
mindful of what my Handsome Honey and I would do,
of what we would dream,
of what we accomplish,
of what we would want,-
but as one,
as me.

here I am.
I surrender all to You.
Here is my life.
I place it in Your hands
as the Author and Finisher of my life.
Take the next chapter 
and fill in the pages 
however You desire.

I felt the cool of the breeze again
and with tears streaming down my face
I prayed one last prayer.

Precious Holy Spirit,
blow on my life.
Blow me in whatever direction You want.
I'm Yours.

The following morning,
I received a phone call from my mother.
A trip to a doctor's office
had found her on her way to a local hospital.

I quickly packed my suitcase,
threw it into the trunk of my car
and set out to be with her.

Thankfully, eight hours later
when I walked into the emergency room,
she was being released to go home.

That night,
after she was fast asleep,
while my head rested on my pillow
and my heart rested on my Jesus
in the bedroom down the hall from hers,
I knew God was releasing her into my care.

In my spirit,
I could sense God
gently and oh, so very tenderly
reach into the story of my life,
and turn the page.

With His nail-scarred hand,
He smoothed out the blank page
and began to write.

August 8, 2017

Honor your father and your mother.  

twenty days later,
I'm still resting my head on my pillow
and resting my heart on my Jesus
in the bedroom down the hall from hers.

Each day,
God is faithfully writing my next chapter -
and with each stroke of His pen,
I am learning what surrender,
true surrender,

"Hopefully, they can figure out what's wrong with me
 and you can get back to living your life," my mom says.

"Oh, don't think you're going to get rid of me that easily," I answer back.
"You and me - we're in it now - bosom buddies."

Because what she doesn't realize,
and what she doesn't know,
is that I am back to living my life.

This chapter,
just happens to be all about her.

God in His wisdom and love
I had to come.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

When Two Becomes One Again~

You know what it is?"
I ask out loud to a living room of one.
"It's the whole "two are better than one" principle.
That's exactly what it is."

(And, admittedly,
talking out loud to myself
is part of what it is, too.)

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor.
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together,
they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

One too many ice cream shakes.

Far too many sleepless nights.

Harder falls with even harder pick-me-back-ups.

Too much taking myself seriously and not enough of you to put my eyes back on God.

"Yes, this is what it is, Handsome."

Marriage isn't easy,
make no mistake about that.
Two lives, two minds, two hearts,
two dreams, two opinions,
two "know it alls" trying to mesh into one.

No wonder marriage is for life -
without a doubt,
it takes a lifetime for the "two to become one".

It takes a whole lot of dancing to learn the steps
and to finally enjoy waltzing through life.

But, what happens when death cuts in
(unwelcome, uninvited, unplanned)
and leaves you dancing on the dance floor alone?

What happens when on of the two
who have become one,
is now one again?

Yes, two people becoming one flesh is hard.

The only thing harder:
Becoming one again after having been joined as two.

Yes, I have family.
And, yes, I have friends.
And, yes, Handsome -
everyone has gone above and beyond
to encourage,
to comfort,
to support,
to be there for me,

But the thing is this:
No one knows me like you do.

No one understands my hopes
and is aware of my fears.
No one can predict how I will react
before I react.
No one can hear
what my eyes are saying.
No one can talk me down,
talk me up,
balance me out and keep me grounded.
Like you.

No one knows our history.
No one can sight a leading of God in the past
to encourage me to step out into the future.
No one can quote a scripture with a memory connected to it.
No one can rekindle my faith,
reboot my courage,
re-ignite my passion.
Like you.

Except God.
And, of course,
God is always the exception
who is exceptional at all of this
and so much more.

But, I miss the second best part of me, -
the part that was second best
to the best part of me,

I miss my dancing partner.
I miss your words, and your humor.
I miss your look and your hand in mine.
I miss your zeal and your enthusiasm,
I miss your honesty and your spontaneity.
I miss your hugs and your wrapping me in prayer
each morning and each night.

"The hardest part for me was feeling like part of me was missing.
Because, it was."

My mom told me these words a couple of days after you were gone.
Kneeling on the floor in the hallway,
outside the bathroom door where you took your last breath,
sobbing uncontrollably
and wanting nothing more than you back, she -
having walked this walk before me -
walked over to me and said those words.

A couple of months later,
one night while talking with her on the phone,
she said them again.

No wonder I feel so lost.
No wonder I feel so empty.
No wonder I feel so "not like me" anymore.

"Yes, that's what it is,"
I say out loud to a living room of one.
"It's the whole "two are better than one" principle.
That's exactly what it is."

While the missing you is hard,
and while the trying to become one "me" again
after years of becoming one "us"
is pulling me apart,
I lift my hands to Heaven and thank God
for the better I had with you.

A beautiful better.

A better beyond what I could have ever hoped better to be.

A better I would choose to do with you over and over and over again,
if only I could.

If only I could.

(Today, August 7, our anniversary.)

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