Friday, July 29, 2011

I Don't Understand

Isaiah 40:28-29
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

I used to think God was disgusted when I struggled or stumbled or failed. I used to think He stared at me with the attitude that if I just had enough faith or loved Him enough or was committed enough I wouldn't do those things or I would pull myself up and be strong enough or faithful enough...or good enough. I used to think He was totally appalled by my weakness.

Now I realize He sees my weakness as a chance to rush in and tell me through His fighting on my behalf and His rescuing me, sometimes even from myself, how much He loves me and adores me and wants me. He doesn't see me as a failure. He sees me as valuable beyond words.

It is true. How the God of the universe who is perfection incarnate and never waivers understands me, my weaknesses, and my failures...nope, I don't fathom it.

But I love it. :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Prayer for You Today

I pray it is a glorious day for you, wherever you are.

I pray...
...whatever is heavy on your heart would be lifted either by your choices, others' help, or God's mercy.
...your desire to be loved would be filled and that you would have the courage to love others.
...instead of complaining about a situation, you would have the boldness to be a solution.
...when today is over, you are able to look back on it...and smile.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Loving the Morning Clouds

I woke up early this morning and decided to watch the sunrise.

I made some coffee and headed to the deck where I hang with God in the mornings, turned my chair to the east, and waited.

But there was no peeking light coming over the houses and trees, and the sky never filled with morning colors. I waited....

Finally, I realized the usually bright colored clear sky was puffy and grey and filled with clouds, and I smiled.

One day those clouds are going to drop rain. I don't know if it is today. I'd love for it to be, but even if it isn't, I know one day those wonderful puffy grey clouds are going to be fat with rain and let it all down at my house.

They are going to pour out a slow, soaking rain of saturating proportions. It is going to last a few days at least, maybe more than a week. And the drop are going to fall, and it is going to smell good and feel good and be good.

I am still smiling writing this. I love the sunrise. I love the colors and the light slipping into the darkness. This morning, though, I am really loving clouds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Being Relevant

Dear God,

What do you look like in a hurting world?

You aren't a religious fanatic, but you aren't compliant or complacent aftraid to upset someone's comfort zone.

You love wrecklessly, forgive exuberantly, bless lavishly...but still have a clear code of right and wrong...and grace for when I choose the wrong one.

How do you want to live in me
so people see all those things in you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Forever--Part 2

A lot of people think I'm...well, I've been told I can't think “forever” when just getting to know someone or on the first date or second date or...

Then when?

No one thinks that way. I should think in more manageable terms, like six months or a year, maybe two. Those are reasonable. No one thinks twenty years down the road.

Maybe they should. Maybe if they did the divorce rate wouldn't be so high. Maybe if Rob and I had, we wouldn't have ended up divorced.

Too often it is too easy to think about today.

Am I happy Today?
Does Today make me smile?
Did Today remember my favorite restaurant?
Were Today’s texts sweet and make me feel gooey?
Does Today kiss good?
Does Today fill my stomach with butterflies and emotions with warm fuzzies?
Did Today hurt my feelings?
Did Today forget my birthday?
Did Today not load the dishwasher well?
Today is very fickle, and if it is not watched carefully and controlled with diligence, it can steal forever with such subtlety that one never sees it disappear.

Still, I wholeheartedly agree that focusing on today is essential for forever.

If I wake up today and think about how to value the people in my life, how to value their lives, how to connect with them on a level that is more than passing hellos in the hall, I have embraced the first day of forever because forever is made up of a thousand todays.

But here is the danger.

The danger is letting tomorrow be the first day of forever.

Tomorrow we can do that special thing.
Tomorrow we can have family night.
Tomorrow I can light candles and put on soft music.
Tomorrow we can go to bed early and lock the door.
Tomorrow I can take her on that romantic trip.
Tomorrow...

...Until tomorrow
...when the joy and laughter of yesterday are so far past that it seems hopeless to find them again
...today is lonely and empty and life is found somewhere else
...and tomorrow looks no better
...and they wonder what happened, how it happened, and when it happened

It happened today when forever was some day out there that could be worried about tomorrow.

Today, I choose Forever.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Forever Part 1

I spent some time chatting with my friend Scott over the weekend. I like talking to Scott for several reasons. Mostly, he's just flat groovy, but he makes me think. He's one of those folks that isn't presumptuous or pompous in any way. He doesn't get into the heady, aloof, intellectualer-than-thou condescension. In fact, he's one of the most down to earth people I think I have ever met, which is another reason I enjoy chatting with him. Interestingly, despite not getting into the deep thought stuff, he always gives me some deep truth to ponder or at least truth so close to home that I walk through my living room and trip over it.

Our last conversation was about being single and dating.

I asked him how he handles being single. His answer made me feel better because the truth is, I don't do single well. He told me there were a lot of things he missed. I read his list and laughed, and then I realized I couldn't give him my list because it would just look like I copied his. <I laughed again>

Honestly, it felt good to see that there are men who like what I like, want what I want, miss what I miss.

However, that isn't what left me pondering.

When I told Scott, I am surprised by how many men are so quick to toss out the term "forever", he said he thinks in forever terms. Honestly, I do, too. I am not interested in casual dating or the Maybe/Maybe Not MerryGoRound. If there isn't a chance of forever, I am really not interested. This doesn't seem to be a problem, except it really is because for me "marriage" and "forever" are not synonymous.

Most people I know like the idea of being married. They like the concept of couple. They like the warm body in bed with them, having someone to see movies with, a playmate for those romantic weekends, and the wondrous high of someone who shares interests...and likes them back. I like those things, too. They feel good.

They are not, however, forever.

Forever isn't enamored with right now. Forever takes the words "till death do us part" and decides to live purposefully between now and then.

Forever asks:
How do we keep the friendship we have now tight a year from now, five years from now, twenty years from now?
What do we do now that brings us close, and how do we maintain that when everything else is vying for our attention?
How do we keep the sexual attraction alive instead of letting it become a simple physical act?
Are we both committed to keeping us the priority we are now?
In what ways can I show you that you continue to be the most valuable person in my world?
How do we make sure we are two people creating one life together instead of becoming two people living different lives merely sleeping in one house?
How do I show you I don't just like living with you but that I love life with you...not just now...but forever?"
I know there are a lot of people who want to get married. I'm all for marriage, but I've been married. Now, I want more than that.

I want.....

.....forever.

Just So You Know

I am trying to post replies to your comments, and every time I do, Blogger kicks me out of the system.
I'm not sure what is up with that, but please know I do appreciate your comments, and I am trying to respond.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Passionately Imperfectly Perfect

Okay, I've been sitting here trying to write a blog that I want to write, and it isn't working. I know I'm supposed to write it, but the words are...sort of piling up in a roadblock sort of way instead of flowing. That seems to happen to me fairly often, and I find it incredibly annoying.

Last night as I lay in the dark and slipped into sleep, I pondered this problem. I woke up with it on my mind again. I keep hearing one simple statement, "Find Jerri, and you'll be fine."

Find Jerri, and you'll be fine.

Simple enough. Or least a lot of people think it is. Honestly, though, not so much.

The reality is there are those of us out there for whom it is not so simple. There are those of us still finding ourselves...still finding the courage to believe we are a self, not a morphing shadow of someone else.

 It is easy for me to look at others and see this person's grace and that person's compassion and Sister Lola's hospitality and Cousin Karen's quiet demeanor and try to mush all those things together and make that best-of-all-world's amalgamate me. I try to slip into that patchwork skin and wonder why it pinches and pokes and tears. I wonder why I cannot get comfortable, cannot rest, and cannot find peace within myself.

One of the greatest gifts God has given me in the last year is the gift of accepting myself in all my glory and not-so-glorious. All of us have things that we wish were different, especially the imperfections that keep us on our knees asking forgiveness. I think I have a laundry list of those things. My biggest, though, is my passion.

For years I have hated being a passionate woman. I have often been told how my passionate ways are bad for this reason and that reason and...mostly because it is outside someone else's "acceptable" box and I make them uncomfortable. Since I'm not a masochist who loves rejection, I tried to temper this trait. That really didn't work, so I tried to eradicate it. Yeah....that was pretty ugly.

In the end, I ended up not liking me and being really angry at God. I mean really, what kind of God makes me to be something He doesn't want? What kind of warped God creates this crazy passionate being and says, "Live a quiet life"? What kind of sadistic God gives me this big voice, big vision, big adventure bent and then says, "Live small"? What kind of jerk God does that?

Not mine.

All those things that were said to me were not Him. They were people who simply couldn't see beyond the wall of their box. They were as passionate about their box as I was about not putting God in one...as passionate as God is about not putting me in one.

I have learned that passion is an amazing thing.
Passion chooses to believe this is not the rest of the story.
Passion says, "If I don't like it, I can change it," and does.
Passion says, "I can't let this wrong continue," and doesn't.
Passion says, "Yes, it's Everest, but it's only a mountain. Other mountains have stood before me and fallen. This one will, too."
Passion says, "I'm not just leaving this prison. I'm taking everyone else who wants to go with me."
Passion says, "When everyone and everything says I'm wrong, I will still know I'm right...and act accordingly."
Passion says, "Follow me, and I will get us out of here," and knows she can...and will.
Passion says, "I was made for THIS."
Passion says, "Right here. Right now. I take my stand, and I may stumble. I may have a day from hell sometimes. I may sit on my floor and sob from time to time. I may scream in rage and pain, BUT I have not given up. I am simply stopping for a moment to get my bearing, hear the next step, find out the strategy, and get mad enough at the enemy to spit in his face because he was so stupid as to mess with THIS daughter of the King."

Yes, I make mistakes because of my passionate side, but when I cry out, "God, I can't control this," He is faithful to step in and take over. I've seen it over and over. He has NEVER failed me with that. And in His rescuing me from myself, He has not condemned me and said I either need to get a grip or kill it off. Instead, He shows His blessing by letting me wield this gift only to my ability and then taking over when it is too much. He makes it a blessing, not a curse.

Find Jerri
...the real Jerri...
...the out-of-the-box Jerri
...the Jerri that looks the enemy in the face and says, "How dare you mess with this daughter of the King"
...the Jerri that refuses to leave prisoners behind
...the Jerri that believes there is an answer and this is not the final say
...the Jerri not afraid to take the lead and say, "Follow me, and I'll get us out of here"
...the Jerri that knows she is more than a gender or a role or a title or what she has always been
...the Jerri that was made for THIS

...and you'll be fine.

Dear one, find you...the real you...forget about the you that you've always been, the you others think you are or should be, the amalgamate you wish you could be. Throw away that patchwork skin that pinches and pokes and makes you crazy.

Just...find....YOU...and you'll be fine, too.

Passionately yours,
Jerri

Monday, July 11, 2011

That Kind of Day

It's the kind of day I don't know what to do with.

I want take every heavy glass anything I own and smash it against the wall and scream the entire time, but of course, I can't, so I don't. What kind of lunatic does that anyway.

And I want someone to scream to, not necessarily at, but to, and there is no one so I try to keep calm, look good, pull off the day well...and I end up with a body tight with tension and a throbbing head.
Then I find myself once again a sobbing mess on my knees on the floor in my bedroom with no words other than, "Please fix this." Knowing it's a kazillion to one chancce of it being "fixed". It's more likely going to be survived and learned from.

And I finally give in to the pain and nausea and take meds to help me get it under control, and I doze off....only to be awakened by the sound of children screaming at each other over...a Lego piece. And I know it's not really a Lego piece.

It's about the fact they are in the habit of not sleeping, and they have been up past 2 am clamoring around in their skin since Anna landed the role of Willie Wonka, and I wonder if they even know why. I have a guess that it has something to do with Rob telling them if he could be any character from any movie it would be Willie Wonka, and it just so happens that the ony production is the 15th, five months from the time he died.

It's about the fact they are anger and hurt, too, and all the "emotion" projects and "processing" doesn't change the fact they are angry at God for letting him die and angry at him for leaving in the first place...and while screaming about how he abandoned them, miss him more than their words could ever express.

So I feel overwhelmed because I'm the only one in this. Oh, I know. God is in it. I do KNOW that. But I'm the only human, and I'm tired. And I so desperately want a break, and there isn't one, and really, two hours away doesn't solve anything because when I come home, Anna still hates being the organizationally-challenged artist, and Robert still doesn't want to go to friends' houses because it hurts him that they have a dad and he doesn't but he doesn't want to tell them that because...really, who gets mad at friends because they have dads?

And I'm tired of well-meaning people who throw out opinions and judgments and don't care about knowing the truth, and they don't know.

They don't know what it is like to hear their son say he doesn't "want to be manly because men just lie and leave." And they don't know what it's like to hear their daughter ask, "Why did Dad not love you so much he'd leave us?" And they don't know what it is like to lie in bed at 2:00 am wide awake with no one to talk to about it and no one to simply reach over and touch so you don't feel totally alone. But they have all the answers.

And they are more than happy to tell me who to date, when to date, and not to date at all...because after all, *I* don't need a man.

Of course, they aren't the ones asking God to send a godly example for their sons so they can learn that not all men lie and not all men leave...and it's okay to be a man because they can be men of integrity and honor or for a man who can show their daughters that daddies who believe they are worth fighting for do exist.

And today I am grasping for a vision. Shoot, I'll just take directions for the next step. And I just want to go in my closet, close the door, and lie on the floor and find some kind of quiet, except I can't...because I can't abandon the kids, and there is no one else to step in. If I don't do this...whatever THIS is....it won't get done. Then I think I'll just drop off FB so no one hears me scream, but then I get emails and phone calls telling me Satan is trying to isolate me so he can defeat me and by disappearing I'm letting him win. I laugh because I realize I'm already isolated.

And there is no cavalry.

And I question all the progress I thought we'd made, and I wonder if we've healed at all or if I am wishful thinking. My counselor assures me we are doing great. Dear God, what does "bad" look like?
I feel that I have no place to rest. If I say anything, I get cliches and pat answers, and if I don't, I get told I'm an easy target and willing isolation victim. And I don't have the energy to smile and say, "Fine," when people ask how I am so I can avoid all of the above.

And my back aches and my shoulders ache and my head aches...and my heart...aches.

Yep, it's been that kind of day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Left Behind Bones and Expected Adventures

The thank you notes are finished.

Some of the notes are hand-written, personal with a name. Some are typed "form letters" filled with heart-deep sincerity and gratitude. One person said not to worry about writing notes at all because people would understand and if they didn't, oh well. I confess that thought crossed my mind, but I am hoping, even the typed twenty-copy note will let people know their kindness had an impact. I hope it encourages them to love someone else as generously as they loved us. I hope it fortifies them against the enemy's words that whisper their efforts don't matter....because they did...and they do...

So, I typed some notes. Hand wrote others.

I cried. Not as hard as I was afraid I would, but still, I cried.

Yes, some of the tears were because Rob is gone. Some tears, though, were because of new goodbyes and fresh letting go.

Notes from friends we enjoyed twenty years ago that we have not seen in the last ten, words of "Let's get together sometime." I answer, "Yes, let's. That would be nice." It probably would be, but I know. We won't. And it isn't them, and it isn't me. It's just...time...

Time to let go...

It's like in my mind I see myself setting these rafts of "stuff" loose on the tide, watching them float away.  It is easy to cling to them because to let them go could leave me with nothing...except I don't believe God leaves anyone with nothing...at least not anyone who chooses to let go of things that no longer give life and embrace things that do. One may keep a pile of dead bones in a treasury, go in and talk to them every day, remember the life that was, but they are still dead bones. Taking them out of the treasury and making room for something new does not make them more dead...it only makes me open to more life.

And today I sealed envolopes and mailed them away just like tombs sealed and left behind, and I cried...

...and I smiled...

...and I wondered what new life...new people...new adventures...

the Lord has for me next.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gratitude 42--Gratitude without a Name...and Beyond Words

I finally did it.

Nearly five months after Rob died, and I started the thank you notes. I have written them umpteen times in my mind, but every time I started to put them on paper, I started to cry. It's very hard to write through a blur.

This morning I wrote through the blur of words and emotions and sent a blanket letter to the...unknown...number of people who sent/brought food, gift cards, letter of encouragement, plants, paper products, groceries, and....

I don't know all their names. Some gave no name. Families we didn't know brought food to our house, walked into my kitchen, sat food down, hugged us, cried with us, loved us, and walked out...no name attached. I honestly don't know how to convey the impact on my family.

We had months where family and friends died or disappeared or flat disowned us. We watched our "family" base disintegrate before our eyes, and here were these people who didn't know...who only knew this family had been given a hard, hard road to travel...and they wanted to make the journey easier...and they did.

They didn't just feed our bodies. They fed our souls, our hearts, and our minds.

When our family disintegrated, they became the family we didn't know existed.

How does one begin to convey the mind-altering, healing impact of such love?

This writer doesn't know.

All I know is we may not know their names, but I thank God in heaven they know ours.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'd Give You Peace

Dear Lord,

If I could give my loved ones anything this morning, I'd give them peace.

I'd give them peace within themselves that gave them courage to resolve the conflict of person they struggle with. I would give them peace to address inconsistencies that aggravate them. I would also give them peace that there is spirit...and there is flesh...and they are spiritual beings before you who happen to be spending time in a flesh body.

I would give them peace with you...so they could sit with you in the wonder of your presence and speak honestly to you about whatever hurts them, confuses them, amazes them, or angers them...even when you are any or all of the above.

I would give them peace with their situations...and the knowing that...Lord, I don't even know...so I'm just giving that one to you.

Lord, if I could give them anything right now, I'd turn off the tormenting voices, the painful regrets, the fears of wounds being touched and hurt again.

I'd give peace to the mind, heart, and spirit of every single one of them.

I would let them sleep or sit quietly or enjoy a watergun fight or...whatever their peace set them free to do and be...the part of them imprisoned by the lack of it. Lord, I'd give them back and give them the freedom to enjoy the part of them imprisoned by the lack of peace.

I can't do that. Would you do for them?

Thank you.

Amen