Archive for March, 2012

This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Hello?” Joe whispered into the phone receiver, not awake enough to really be talking yet.

Joy stirred, laying close to Joe, feeling warm, protected, and cared for.

“When did this happen?”

Joy was awakening more quickly now, as she heard the urgency in Joe’s voice. She glanced at the bedside clock, noting it was only six minutes after five in the morning.

Joe put the phone on the bed table, “your mother is not doing well. They said she may have had a stroke. We need to get to the hospital, as soon as possible.” He eyed Joy, looking for signs that she fully understood the words he had just said.

Joy took a deep breath, “okay. The girls are at Susan’s, and we can call them later. Will you come with me?”

She wants me to be with her … she needs me. Joe nodded a yes to Joy, and a great smile covered her face. She then turned and started to move at lightening speed, dressing and readying herself to head to the hospital.

In less than fifteen minutes, the two of them were locking up the house and climbing into Joe’s old Honda Civic that he had been driving since university. Normally a suggestion that they take his car would be squashed by Joy, immediately, due to it’s “gas guzzling” and “appearance of a vehicle that had been abandoned in a field, permanently.”

As soon as they arrived on the floor where Amara had been, one of the nurses, who had been with Joy the early morning when Amara was first brought in, walked directly to them.

“Joy, we are doing tests on her right now, and she will be brought back to her room very soon. As soon as she is back in her room, I will page her doctor, and have him inform you of her progress. Come in to her room, and I can let you know exactly what has been happening.”

The kind nurse ushered Joy and Joe into the room, and they sat on the small sofa in the room, while the nurse recounted all of the events leading up to the point when Amara was taken for a test to see if the problem was atherosclerosis or a brain aneurysm. It sounded like a dreadful test to Joy, who was assured that her mother was sedated while having it.

Once the nurse left the two alone, Joy fell into her hands, into a long and deep sob. She could feel Joe encapsulate her into his arms, and she felt no shame, no weakness for losing control so fully. Joy could not remember crying like this … ever in her life. At no other time in her life did she feel able to be so out of control with another person. Not her mother, or her father, or even her dearly loved grandparents, and definitely not Joe. Something had changed, within her? Within Joe? She did not know, but something had changed that allowed her the freedom to be so vulnerable.

Joe had no idea how long he had been holding Joy, as her body was consumed with sobbing. All he knew was that, for the first time in many years, the woman that he was holding needed him, and needed him terribly. Somehow, her needing him, caused his need of her to grow as well, and his recognition of his own responsibility for how their marriage had deteriorated.

All this time, while he would email and text and talk on the telephone with Roxanne he had been telling himself that the problems were the fault of Joy. He had been rationalizing that the time he was spending with Roxanne was related to work, and, even if it was more, that was because Joy had been cold to him, in every way. He had constantly said to himself, “she can’t expect me to live like this forever. At some point she will push me into another woman’s arms.” But now, holding the woman he truly loved, he realized that he was not pushed into Roxanne’s arms, he RAN into them.

As Amara was being wheeled back into the room, Joy’s phone started to ring. She looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Susan’s number. “Joe, can you take this call for me? It is Susan, and she is probably wondering when to bring the girls back home.”

Joe nodded and headed to the hallway to answer the call.

“How is she?” Joy asked the men lifting her mother to her bed. Amara’s body was limp, her face so pale. The only sign of life was a grimace as she was being lifted, followed by a moan.

“Sorry ma’am, we are just delivering her to her room. I am sure someone will come and speak with you,” one of the orderlies said, as the two were walking from the room.

Joy walked slowly towards her resting mother. It had already been days since they had spoken to each other, and Joy wondered if that might have been her last words to … and from her mother. Oh, what did we talk about? Joy was frustrated that she could not remember. Then it came to her that their last conversation had been on the phone, about Joy and her daughters going to her mother’s house to spend the night.

Just then Joe walked in the room.

“Hey Joy, is she okay?” He asked, as his eyes darted from Amara to Joy.

“I don’t know yet. I guess it was just orderlies who brought her back. They said someone would come to let me know.” Joy looked so sad, so tired.

“Robin is ill, so Susan thought it might be best if our girls don’t stay there, so that they do not get sick too. Will you be okay if I go to pick them up, and then I’ll bring the girls here?”

“Sure,” Joy responded more a reaction than a response.

“I promise, I will not be gone long at all,” Joe finished saying as he stood in front of Joy, where she literally fell into his arms.

“I am so sorry that I have not been here for you, for far too long.” Joe said, with deep regrets in his heart. “I promise to be here for you. You do not have to walk through this alone, I am here for you.”

Joe had not been more transparent or sincere at any other time in his life. He was beginning to feel as though he had a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a second start in his marriage with Joy, And he was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen, and to prove to Joy that he was committed to a better marriage.

“I will be right back.” He said as he pulled back from Joy, kissed her forehead, smiled and walked through the door.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 14


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Yesterday I wrote about a story from the Bible where Jesus touched a dead man, but that was not the only significant part of that story.

Luke 7:11-13
Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.””

In this story of Jesus meeting up with a funeral procession, Jesus said to the mother, “don’t cry.”

It is so easy to simply focus on just those two words, but, there is more revealed in the story to give us understanding of what Jesus was thinking when he said those words.

Verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.””

Jesus was all God, all man. He could laugh, and cry. He could celebrate, and mourn (after all this was not the only person who Jesus raised from the dead. When he heard of Lazarus’ death, he wept, then raised a four-days dead man!). Jesus humanly understood the sorrow that the young man’s mother was suffering, and her suffering tugged at his human heart … as well as at his divine being. Maybe he not only saw, but also felt the heartache that the mother was feeling (Romans 12:15 “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”).

As ‘his heart went out to her,’ Jesus saw the heartbreak, the agony, the loss, and the hopelessness in the countenance of the widowed mother of a dead young man. Her son that was to be her only hope for a future in that society.

Jesus also knew that he, a son, was the only hope of a future for us. Perhaps the mourning that Jesus saw in that woman was a foreshadowing of what Jesus, the Son of God, would experience when he would be separated by death, from his Father.

Then he said, “young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (v. 14-16)

And, as the people were all in awe that “God has come to help his people,” those same people knew nothing of the sorrow that He would bare in order to help them, in the very near future. But, He knew.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Anyone who believes in Me will live, even if he dies.
And those who live and believe in Me will never die.
Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

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In our world of political correctness and legal actions it is sometimes difficult to know what is appropriate anymore.

If a child in kindergarten skins their knee is it appropriate for their teacher to give them a reassuring hug? If a co-worker has just discovered they have a terminal illness, is enveloping them into your arms acceptable? If a resident of a nursing home is sobbing through the stages of dementia, is it okay for the cleaning person who takes a few minutes to talk with them each day to offer a comforting embrace, and a shoulder for their tears to fall?

We all have social norms as well as written and unwritten rules. In the time of Jesus, one of those rules (Numbers 19:11, “Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days.”) was about touching dead bodies. To be ‘unclean’ in the Jewish tradition meant that a rabbi or priest (or anyone from their family) should not come in contact with a dead body, or else they would be ceremonially unclean. If they were unclean, they could not enter the temple to worship God. That meant that they could not come into the place of God, the presence of God.

There is a story in the book of Luke that fascinates me in regards to social expectations and inappropriate touching.

Jesus is heading into a town with his disciples, and followed by a big crowd of people. Coming out of the town’s gates was a funeral procession, for the only son of a widow woman. Jesus saw the mother and said … “don’t cry.” (more on this tomorrow).

He then pushed the social boundaries when he touched the coffin (the hearse, the stretcher) that her dead son’s body was lying on. He, who claimed to be the Son of Man (Luke 6:3), who taught as a religious teacher (rabbi), who healed as a spiritual man, who spoke of God as Father, had intentionally made himself, unclean. He broke the rules that were the foundation of Jewish society, of the society that he was born into. This was a big faux pas, and one that would not encourage a following from the religious leaders of the day.

Then he said, “young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (v. 14-16)

Seriously, can you imagine a response other than being filled with awe and praising God? This guy was … dead! His body was being paraded through the town to where it would be buried or laid, and ‘he’, his soul, was no longer a part of his body. But, this stranger from another town (that would make many locals suspicious) tells him to get up, and all of a sudden he is awake and talking. So, of course they would be praising God. They knew that only the living God could do such a miraculous thing.

From the other miracles that Jesus performed, it would seem obvious that his touch was not necessary for the man to come back to life. Jesus did miracles where healing came from his touch, but in other instances, it was the faith of the one needing healing, or their touch to him, or mud. So there was no ‘magic’ in his touch.

It would seem that Jesus is trying to make a point (or teach a new lesson) with his touch. I am not sure exactly what his point might be, but maybe it had to do with the laws and societal expectations. Maybe this was his way of saying, “the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Maybe Jesus felt it was necessary to teach a new lesson on what was unclean (dirty, contaminated, dead), and how only He could make it clean (whole, alive) again.

Jesus came to erase the political correctness of His day, and I think, that with His ‘inappropriate’ touch on our hearts and souls and lives, we too might be clean and whole and alive again.

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As I drove home I heard a person (Charles Swindoll) on the radio say there are six words that will end an argument … guaranteed. So, I turned up the volume, and awaited the valuable information.

Now, this information could be valuable to me, not because I would ever need it, personally, but so that I could share it with those who do. My hubby and I would never argue … my kids and I would never argue … I would never have arguments with people at work or church (I know the Bible (Matthew 7:2-5) speaks of the speck of dust in the eye of another, when we have a log in our own … I wonder if you can have a log in your ears/hearing too?).

So the first three words guaranteed to end and argument are: I am sorry.

The speaker went on to say that those three words would take the (heated) air out of any argument or heated discussion. This makes perfect sense, as it is a sentence that does not allow the discussion or argument to become more heated. It is like cool water on a burn, it stops the heat from increasing.

What I am sorry does not do is say you are right, and I am wrong. But what it does do is it validates the other persons feeling of hurt, injustice, and being wronged. Even if there is reason (misinterpretation, or miscommunication) for the wrong to have been done, that does not validate or give acknowledgment to the ‘hurt’ person’s feelings. To acknowledge their hurt provides opportunity for them to get over IT, and move on. Without such an acknowledgment of responsibility makes moving on almost impossible, because it will be viewed as being repeated again in the future.

I have to say that in arguments past (not that I have been in many 😉 ), when I have heard the words, I am sorry, I melt. Most of the melting is outward, in the form of tears, but it does penetrate into my heart and soul too. There are no words that can change me from pit bull to pussy cat faster!

The next three words guaranteed to end an argument are : I was wrong.

I was wrong is the next step to I am sorry. This one is more weighty though.

To say, I was wrong, is to say that you are ‘manning up’, that you have shoulders that can bare the weight of your wrong, and that you are willing to carry the consequences of your mistake, all on your own.

From my experience, hearing the words I was wrong, are the immediate gateway to my forgetting that there was an argument in the first place. Those words can validate the hurt feelings of the other plus it takes the responsibility of the offense off their shoulders, and that is empowering. Now not everyone, in every circumstance will have the same response. For some that validation might just be reason for a temporary injection of heat to the moment. But, that injection is only a hot spot, because the responsibility has been assumed by the other, and now the source of heat is gone. When the source of heat has been extinguished, there is no possibility of reigniting.

As I look back at times when those six words were said (to or from me) in an argument, I can see how very powerful they are. And as I practice the use of them in the future, I believe their value will only increase.

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As my two week Spring Break comes to a close, I feel refreshed and ready to return to work, and schedules, and earlier mornings (after all there ARE only nine more work days until a four day weekend … but, whose counting? 😉 ). When the break began, all I desired was a weekend away with hubby, regular walks on my favorite trail, and time with each of my kids.

It began slow, well no, it began busy, with a weekend full of activity for both hubby and I (church related). Once hubby’s time off began, four days into mine (really his time off began with him doing a full day of work-related paperwork 😦 ), I finally had time to get much needed groceries. To me, time off is not really time off until we are all off!

I had a delightful luncheon with a dozen lovely ladies, and three coffee dates with some of the sweetest women I know. Moments that refuel and encourage me, as a woman struggling to understand life.

There was the morning (oh yes, the entire morning) of ironing … it had not been done since September … sigh). There was the search for fabric for my daughter, that led to a five hour storage closet cleaning, ten bags of goods to the thrift store, and many giggles by my daughter over the photos of yours truly and hubby way back in the days leading to our wedding. Giggles that led to conversations about life, and hopes, and dreams.

There was a haircut, and lunch with my eldest daughter. There was a lunch and thrift store shopping day with my younger daughter. There was a movie date with my son. Moments with each of my kids, with no other disruptions, refills my momma heart like no other.

There were the deaths of two co-workers moms. There was the death of the fifty year old husband and father of six, two of his daughters are friends of my daughters. Moments that make you thankful for the mercy of another day.

There was more cleaning, and more purging, and more trips to the thrift store to dump another load. Another reminder of how much we have that we do not use, do not need … what I really NEED in my life should last longer than a trend?.

There were walks on my favorite trail. Walks in the sun, the rain, the snow and the hail (and that was just one day!). There were walks with hubby, with our Chinese son, with a daughter, and always with my beastie. Walks that refresh me from the inside out, walks that remind me of my Creator, and how fine His handiwork is.

There was the day of culinary therapy … something that my household was thrilled with the results of! How wonderful to create something(s) that I can watch others take delight in!

Then there was the Passion (Passion 268) concert featuring two great musicians, who led a sold out Rogers Arena in worship to God, and a calling to end human trafficking. Although I am a generation beyond their organizers intended attendee, I was reminded again, that we are all responsible for what we do, or do not do, to end such a horrific thing as use and abuse of fellow human beings.

And then there was my birthday, a delightful day when the sun was bright, and I was celebrated for my thirty-nine (with, now, four years experience) years, by family and friends, near and far.

Somehow, when when hubby and I are busy we function like a well oiled machine, but once the calendar is more cleared, the cracks in our relationship show a need for more oil, more attention, and a going deeper than “what does your day hold?” conversation. This resulted in a beautiful twenty-four hours away, to a beautiful, waterfront Hotel, where we watched the sun set at night, and the horizon lighten in the morning. A good reminder of what we already knew, but life can keep you from if you succumb to it’s demands, that time spent alone, as husband and wife, is the best thing you can do for your kids, for your health, and even for your ability to do your daily work. Lesson learned, and our next getaway is in the planning stages!

It has been a wonderful break. One that has refreshed my body, mind and spirit, refueled me for the days to come, and one that has given me much needed variety and options each and every day.

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

As Joy stood back up from kissing her sleeping mother on the forehead, she felt a hand on her back.

“I left as soon as I got your text,” came Joe’s voice before Joy had managed to turn around. He awkwardly pulled her into his arms and held her tightly, as she tried to piece together this rare expression of affection, her own arms dangling at her sides.

“Well this is odd. What is up?” Joy’s thoughts became audible words before she had a chance to edit them. Joe’s body stiffened in response.

Oh Joy, I so wanted to come home and be wanted, be needed by you.

“How is your mother doing? What happened? The last I heard was from your email saying that you and the girls were going to spend the night at her house” Joe tried to hide his hurt.

“Well, that was the plan. But when we got there …” Joy’s voice trailed off, as she glanced at her mother, sleeping peacefully in the hospital bed, as if to remind herself that the nightmare of her being missing was truly over. “… when we got there, she was gone. We looked everywhere imaginable, I called the police. Then I remembered the clearing and they found her there. She was rushed to the hospital, and has been here ever since.” Just saying the words, for the first time since it all had occurred, made the weight of all she had been through lay firmly on Joy’s shoulders. Suddenly, she was overcome with fatigue.

“Joy? Joy?” Joy could hear Joe’s voice, but it was drifting so far away. The next thing she remembered, she was lying on the small sofa bed in her mother’s room, with the face of a nurse too close to her own face. “Mrs. Jackson? You are in the hospital. Your husband is right here.”

“What … what happened?” Joy was coming to, but not sure what had occurred.

“It looks like you fainted, Mrs. Jackson. Have you had anything to eat or drink today?”

Joy struggled to remember what day it was, let alone what she had eaten. “I really do not remember,” she answered honestly.

“Mr. Jackson, could you please get a glass of water for your wife?”

Joe nodded, and moved towards the plastic jug of water on Amara’s bed table, filling the plastic glass, and returning it to the nurse.

Just then the door swung opened, and in walked a physician. “So what have we here?”

An hour later, Joy was already curled up, in bed. A cup of tea on her bed table, and Joe beside her.

“I can’t do this alone, Joe. I need your help,” Joy said, looking straight ahead.

Joe had never heard such vulnerability in Joy’s voice. She was the original Miss. Independent. Joy needed no one, ever, least of all him. Maybe her fainting in the hospital had something to do with it. He felt such fear and concern as she lay on that sofa bed in her mother’s hospital room. All of a sudden what was most important to Joe was more clear than at any other time in his life. He loved Joy, and he wanted nothing more than to be loved back by her. Joe was determined to do whatever it took to earn her love back.

Joe stared into Joy’s eyes, “Joy, I am here. You have me at your side, and I am not leaving … ever. I am so sorry for not being here for you in the past, I promise to do better.”

Tears fell from Joy’s eyes, and fell into Joe’s arms.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 13

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What would you advise? What would you suggest? What would you do?

A young woman discovers she is pregnant.

She works an office job. She makes little money. She does not have a car … or her drivers license.

She still lives at home with her parents. A household where she has witnessed, and experienced, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

Her boyfriend, of a few years, asks whose baby it is. He is not planning to stick around!

She is pregnant.

What would you advise her? What would you suggest she do? What would you do, if you were that girl?

Really, what would you advise? What would you do?

The girl has options:
1. abort the pregnancy
2. go to term, and allow the baby to be adopted
3. keep the baby

What would you do? Seriously!

This is not a new, or uncommon situation. It is one that has directly affected the lives of many women, through all generations. It is not an easy situation. It is not a comfortable one.

Now, seriously, what would you advise? What would you do?

I will tell you what this young woman did …

She continued the pregnancy, and delivered a healthy baby girl. She kept the child. She, and her child, continued to live in her parents home until she met and married a man who proposed to her, and asked to adopt her child simultaneously. The child grew, and was joined by two brothers (who were royal pains in the … neck). She grew up, married, had three children, had friends, and hobbies, and a job she loves. She found her Creator through the faith and life of her grandmother. She has not had a flawless, perfect life, but she has had … life.

Today, forty-three years later, I celebrate my birthday. In real terms, I celebrate my meaningful life, because my mother made a tough decision, without any knowledge of how this decision was going to play out.

Even as I contemplate the circumstances through which she made her decision, and even though I am thankful for the life she chose to give me, I do not know that I would advise or counsel another woman to do the same. Her circumstances would make the decision to continue the pregnancy and to keep her child so … unwise.

Whether or not my mother acknowledged this at the time or not, we do not know the future, and we do not know the purpose in pain, or the value in struggle. Only our Creator knows why the DNA of two people came together to form a new being, a new life.

My life has not been flawless, or perfect. It has not been without pain, or struggle, or heartache. I have not lived a life without regrets, or sins. I have felt hurt, and pain, and not understood why bad things have happened in my life.

But, I have had … life.

And I have my mother and the strength that she possessed when she decided to continue her pregnancy to term, give birth to and raise me.

Thanks mom, for giving me a happy birthday.

Now, what would you have done?

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. ”
Psalm 139:13-18

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