Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gratitude 41--Thankful Again

"Is this ever going to get better?"

It's a question I've asked dozens of times in the last year. Once again yesterday morning the words tumbled from my mouth. It had been a rough two weeks when getting on top of the pain and confusion had taken more effort than usual and the "ups" weren't nearly as up as I had hoped, and they had not lasted very long.

I stared at Ann Voskamp's book on my coffee table. One Thousand Gifts. I had not made it to a thousand, and I couldn't remember when I had blogged about my gratitidue. In the last six months there had been so much pain and loss, and my gratitude was over such insignificant things such as hitting the green light when I was running later than I had intended or thanking God that dishes left in the sink did not make the world come to a halt. Petty things. Nobody really wanted to hear those.

But, they were my life preservers. They were the things that kept my head above water when I felt like everything else was caving down. They were...important to me.

The house got to hopping, and the thoughts were lost.

This morning I woke up to an email from a precious new friend a world away.

Hi Jerri

I woke up this morning thinking about you and God gave me a picture.  So, here goes:  I woke up and started praying for you and God gave me a picture of Paul and Silas in prison.  Although the bible doesn't fill the story out you could imagine them thinking about the unfairness of it and wondering why?  how?  where is God in this?  But the bible doesn't say that. It says that they sang praises to God and miraculously the prison door burst open and they were set free.  

I feel God is saying you are in a prison of emotional hurt and pain brought on by all you have been going through.   He wants you to sing praise to Him and not ask why? What have I done to deserve this?  how long?  where is all the support?  He wants you to praise Him and HE will miraculously break open that prison door.  It doesn't say in the bible how long they were in prison before the doors broke open.  Thats the tough bit.  Its also not a logical solution according to the world.  But in faith, Jerri, despite what you feel, by an act of your will, start doing it, even if you don't feel like it.
 Praise Him. 

Confirmation from a world away.

And a reminder...and a love note.

"Jerri, I so want you out of this dark place that I am telling you again. The key is praise. I'm not condemning you for forgetting. I know the darkness can obscure the light, so I'm sending the answer again because I want you free. I want you out of the prison. I'm fighting for you...reaching out to you...in this with you."

Wow.  

I considered the prison I had been in, the one I struggled with for 19 years, and the key God was giving me out, the powerful message He was sending, not just for the struggle of the last two weeks but the truth of a lifetime.

An hour later my friend Lisa sent me an email telling me what the Lord spoke to her when she prayed for me yesterday.

"I keep thinking about Paul and Silas..."
I laughed out loud.

"Jerri, do you get how much I am reaching in or how much I want to get you out? Grab hold of me. I am the answer."

I get it, Lord.

Thank you...for reaching in...for not letting go...for being here...now...with me...

And thank you for...

961. Anna's creativity--the newly decorated guest room is stunning

962. The ability to paint and redo the guest room

963.  Robert's piano playing....my word...

964. Tracy...a world away but so close to Your heart whose courage to share Your word with me blesses me more than words can say

965. 111

966. Sweet texts that give me a smile...especially right before I go to sleep

967.  Brian Hearn, who always sees the anointed side of me

968.  Painting with a Twist

969. Vanesa Stenberg...I could write a novel

970. A good night's sleep

971.  Scott helping with the ceiling fan

972.  Rae and her huge heart

973. Facebook

974. Tina Cox and the others at my insurance company

975. Val Roach, who sees and understands and has incredible patience

976.  Lisa Buffaloe, who calls from Idaho because she can't sit with me here

977. Snipers

978. Amelia the Brave, who likes the same things I do

979. Morning moments with Robert

980. Mowing yards

981. Karaoke

982. Forney Fire Department

983. Forney Wallgreens

984. The Cavalry

985. A new book

986. Confirmation

987. Giving thanks

988. Ann Voskamp

989. Coffee with sugar

990. Sharilyn reminding me that healing is in progress, stay on the trail

991. Wendy and friend love. Really.

992. John--NP0s, C-collars, non-rebreather masks, and re-inflating my ego

993. Anna's signature--"Singer, Actress, and All Around People Lover (That means YOU)"

994. Danny and Paige Granberry and the light being on for us

995. LDS church teaching people to serve and being the feet and hands of Jesus...even to those not in their church

996. Men's groups who trim limbs and fix floors

997. A REALLY GREAT DAY

998. Lori Moore and her prophetic encouragement

999. Being a blessing

1000. Being "a saint"

1001. Kenneth and Joy Jordan

1002. Texts from Kenneth
Me: We had a really great day.
Kenneth: *clinches fist with arm outstretched then pulls to his side* YESSS!

1003. Temperatures in the 60s

1004. Learning the in the hard places

1005. A good van

1006. Text messaging

1007. Emails from all over the world

1008.  Infinite gifts

And thank you for sharing and rejoicing with me.

Blessings to you as you enjoy YOUR gifts.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reaching

There are limbs drooping low and scrubbing the shingles of my roof. They need to be trimmed.

In my children's bathroom is a hole in the floor where the linen closet is supposed to be. Three months ago I had a slab leak repaired. In the midst of everything going on, I have not had time to frame, drywall, tape, and paint it.

He is a senior pastor in his church, wants to know what he can do to help out. I tell him about the limbs and the floor and the heavy stuff I need moved in the backyard. He nods, tells me they are praying for the children and me, and doesn't call back.

We are friends of two decades, and he thinks I need to be in church. I'm in sin because I don't sit and listen to sermons every week. When he leaves, he comments that I need to get someone out there to remove the limbs from the roof.

It is a bad day, a painful day, the engulfing kind. I text, "Can you meet for coffee?" She would love to, but she has singles group and doesn't want to miss it. I should come. They are talking about how much God loves us, and it would be good for me to hear.

Oh, I hear.

I hear a lot.

I hear the contruction business owner who tells me he can't help with the bathroom repair because he isn't comfortable coming to the house of a single woman who "has no covering" but is happy to give me the name of a competitor.

I hear the friend who tells me how I need to depend on God and then says I should ask my church about having someone come trim the limbs.

I hear the woman who is "always here for you" but is so busy with various church activities that she can't find time to get together or even call me back.

I'm listening to the people who tell me I need to hear a sermon, read a book, get a worship CD, or take a class because I need to hear that God cares and is always here for me. At least some of the people have the courtesy to buy the book or CD for me. That is thoughtful and considerate.

Yes, I'm listening, and I'm taking notes.

If God ever allows me to be on staff at a church or allows me to have my own ministry, I want to do outreach, not just missions in other countries but right in my own backyard.

I want a list of the single parents, not just so I can plan vacations or parties for them but so my church can be the applied husband/father or helpmeet/mom for that family.

A single mom or widow should not have to call a prefessional to get handyman jobs done. Since when is the church so busy with meetings, Bible studies, and social agenda that no one has time to mow a yard, clean a sink trap, or drop off a meal?

And what about men who are trying to figure out school, meals, and girls’ hormones? What about those dads? Where are the spiritual moms who are also concerned with helping buy that first bra or explaining pads and tampons because of the first menstrual cycle or listening to a broken heart because "that boy" Dad can't stand still hurts when he's mean to tender heart? Who is helping by giving a favorite recipe Dad can use to make cookies for school or offering to pick up a child from school when he/she is sick?

Who do these people call at 2 am when their child’s fever is running 102 and they realize they are out of ibuprofen? Who makes them soup, drops by with a movie and pizza for the kids and sends the parent out the door for a much needed break? Who makes sure they have birthday cakes or that special party?

It should be people in the church.

Jesus never meant for the church to be a self-contained four-wall entity. He meant for it to be the helpmeet and husband on earth that God is in heaven. He never meant for us to need to hear a sermon or a Bible study to know God loves us. He meant for it to be obvious in the way we treat each other.

I want to know who the widows and widowers are, and I want them set into families who check on them, make sure they are eating, give them a place to go on holidays, drop a card in the mail for special days, talk to them regularly, find out if they have heat/air, if their basic needs are met.

It is an abomination to God that we can build bigger and fancier buildings for “worship” when His people who walk in those buildings are doing without basic needs. God is not a God of grand buildings but a God of great love.

He is not about seeing how big we can build
but about how far we can reach.

Because the world is reaching.
...reaching the end of their rope...
...reaching the end of their faith...
...reaching the end of their strength...
...reaching the end of their belief prayer makes a difference...
...reaching the end of hoping someone will actually care and reach back to them.

The limbs are still rubbing my roof.

The bathroom floor still has a hole in it.

I still feel utterly alone and am more disillusioned by the church than ever.

But I’m sure the right sermon will fix all that or the right Bible study or the right worship CD or book or….because after all, I just need to HEAR AGAIN that God loves me and is always there for me.

And yet, I have never felt so alone, and I wonder how many other people are out there who feel the same way but can't tell the difference between man and God and when abandoned by the former give up on the latter...

...because they never see Him reaching...

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Need

I just got a solid reprimand from a friend of mine. We've been friends since junior high, and we love each other...Sometimes love is hard.

Today he asked me how I would feel if I saw someone hurting badly, someone in need of help, but I could do nothing. He knows how I would feel. He knows that is my nightmare. He then said, "Jerri, I'm looking at you, and I can't help."

And he hates it.

Me, too.

It is a hard thing to feel like I'm looking out a glass window and there is no way to let anyone in, and I'm afraid to try to let anyone in because I'm afraid they will walk in and immediately start trying to clean things up and make it presentable according to their standards...according to what their life circumstances are...or  what ours used to be...who I used to be. And all that does is make me add another lock to my door and draw the curtain a bit tighter on the window.

Thus, the reprimand...with a confession. "I don't know what to do. Tell me what you need."

What do I need?

I need someone who will let me lean on them and cry without their trying to fix it or make me feel better or in some way make the tears stop. I need to lean on someone who will let me cry until I simply have no more tears

I need to be held close so I can melt...without having to worry about someone's agenda.

I need someone to sit with me and listen while I pour out my heart...as tangential and wandering as it may be.

I need people to quit telling me, "You need to..." when they obviously have no clue who I am or what settles my soul. Starbucks is just an overpriced cup of coffee in a loud environment with uncomfortable chairs. Coffee from a thermos outside under the stars is a lot cheaper and far more soothing to the soul.

I need a day on the water where I am only along for the ride and don't have to think.

I need a friend who likes what I like. It is really pretty depressing to fish, camp, kayak, hike, play pool, paint, and...alone.

I need to not hear, "You just need to get laid," anymore. Really? There are people getting laid all the time who are utterly miserable. Nameless sex would really make me feel better after the complete rejection I have felt since long before Rob left? (I will stop there. The next few sentences were...perhaps more honest than any of us really need.)

I need to breathe, not just breathe and get through the day or the situation or the moment...but breathe...and not feel like I'm holding my breath waiting for the next knock on my door in the middle of the night or the next person who isn't going to be talking to me but doesn't tell me that or explain why or the next person who just wants me fixed so they can feel better. I'm tired of holding my breath.

I need to just be touched...and for it to be okay...and not to feel like I have to be guarded because someone is going to question my motives or morals because I like the feel of a touch. Today someone touched me on the back. It was one of those I'm-here-and-I-don't-want-to-surprise-you-or-hurt-either-of-us-if-you-move kind of touches. Solid. Safe. Innocuous. Even with the intense situation we were in, I felt my whole body respond. It was like the gasp of air its been wanting. It wasn't sexual. It was just...what I had been needing.

I need to get out of the eggshell realm. I'm tired of people being afraid to move or breathe or touch me because they might make me think of something sad. I'm tired of people being afraid they will say or do the wrong thing. The reality is at some point we all say or do the wrong thing...even in "normal" life. We hurt people's feelings, say things that are filtered in a hurtful way, act selfishly, or try to help and end up hurting. That is the normal course of human beings. Yes, I'm raw, and that leaves a bigger chance of injury. Yes, I'm going to remember, be sad, cry, hurt beyond words, and even lash out in anger...I will also laugh, smile, thank God, and apologize...because sometimes it isn't about you, and I really am sorry. I am also pro-relationship, and if I trust your heart, I'm going to work it out with you. I need you to have enough faith in me to believe I will trust your heart and value you enough to walk through the pain for our friendship. Besides, my greatest sadness is that I don't feel I have anyone who wants to be close to me, that it is easier for people to stay on the other side of the window instead of coming in, moving laundry off the couch, and sitting with me...even if that is sitting in silence on the floor.

I started to say I need some alone time. Except when I am alone, all I see is the void and what isn't anymore, and I sit there, stare into the darkness, and feel overwhelmed by the loss. And, honestly, I'm alone all the time. What I need is someone who is courageous and unafraid of building in a void, and I need them courageous enough to build *my* new world, not theirs, and sometimes that will mean doing things they've never done. Sometimes it'll mean doing things neither of us have ever done...and finding the adventure exciting...even if the end result isn't what we expected.

I need someone...a group of some ones...to find me valuable enough to meet those needs.

And as I write this...as I force my fingers to write that last sentence...my heart is pounding, and I want to vomit...because what if no one does?

****I have chosen to write this post not only to express my needs, but for others...
...who have the same needs...and need someone to give them words...
...and for those who have no words but want to help...

For all of you, may God bless you...****

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Let There Be Light

It really has been hard to pull myself out of this bout of emotional broohaha.

This morning I was praying about being in this "dark place", and God said, "So make some light," and I instantly had this picture of hitting two flint rocks together.

So now I'm asking what those "flint rocks" are. I'm thinking one may look like paint/games/kayaks and the other looks like people I love.