Category Archives: afraid

It’s that time of year …

not for celebrations and parties.  Not for get-togethers with good friends and people you may know.  Not shopping for bargains and gifts, not meeting up to have a good time and not for having a nice glass of wine with like-minded folks.

Well, actually, it is that time of year, but not for everyone.

For some, this time of year means eating a cold can of beans alone in an empty room without power because the electric bill wasn’t paid.  It wasn’t paid because the baby needed medication and there wasn’t enough money for medication and electricity.

For some, this time of year means standing on the street, in the cold, wearing street clothes and house slippers because there wasn’t enough money for rent and if there wasn’t enough money for rent, there certainly wasn’t enough money for a coat and shoes.

For some, this time of year brings memories that are bitter and hurtful; thoughts of years past that ran, one into the other, with no happiness or joy.

For some, this time of year means nothing.  It is simply the passing of time while watching the world go by, just like the year before and the year before that.

For some, this time of year means family, food, friends and fellowship.  It is these people who embrace the season and enjoy it as they always have, together with the people they love and are comfortable with.

But what about all the others?

Who, when they set down to their family table laden with food, surrounded by family, warm, cozy and perfect, think of those who have nothing, expect nothing and know nothing different from the emptiness they feel every year at this time?

I and many others call ourselves followers of Christ.  We say with our voices  how much we love and want to be like Jesus.

We sing praises, bless our food and continue on in the same traditions we have followed for years.  We praise Jesus and say we want to be like Him but prove time and again that we recite words we believe but don’t, deep down, mean and we fail the very Jesus we say we want to be like.

He wants us to share what we have; not just home, warmth, family, friends and food, but the very word that would bring others to love and honor Him.

Invite a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner.  Invite several strangers.

Let’s bring someone homeless to our home and make them, for one day, family.

Let’s show them that Jesus is real and that they are loved.

This time of year is our time, the Jesus follower’s time.  Our time to put our money where our mouth is.  To be hospitable, to offer shelter and food for those who are hungry and the ones the world calls outcasts.

It is our time to take in everyone, despite everything, and to show them Jesus.

If we, who claim to be the hands and feet of Jesus don’t show love to the oppressed, be certain that the evil one will.

He will entice and enchant them, then make them slaves to his depravity and hatred of all things good.

Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of beating us to the punch.  Let us be the Jesus we claim to want to follow and lead someone to Christ by being the hands and feet of the Savior.

Make no mistake –  Satan is working hard to win the souls of the lost and if we don’t work harder, he will win because he doesn’t give up if he doesn’t get a response on the first pass.

Be Jesus to the world and don’t give up just because you can find an excuse.  Having an excuse doesn’t excuse us, but overcoming excuses and finding a way to be Jesus to the world shows our true alliance.  We are with Jesus or not with Jesus.  It is as simple as that.

Everyone reading this post is welcome to Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom’s house.  You, for one day, will be our family, you will be warm and your bellies will be full.  Must love, or at least tolerate dogs, though, because our place is lousy with them!  🙂

Today …

is my birthday.  My forty-ninth birthday to be exact.

A day that begins a journey to the big five-0.

I started the day feeling, for reasons that escape me, sad and melancholic.  After all, what, in nearly fifty years have I done.

I wanted to be somebody, do something, see somewhere, make a difference in someone’s life.

I was certain I had failed, but then today happened.

I was minding my own business, doing my job when I heard a voice saying to me, you need to do something.

Do what?  I’m a nurse, I check folks in, take their vitals and get them ready for the provider to see them.

But that voice would not be quieted.

It continued to speak as I continued to do my day job.

Unbeknownst me, my day job was the target and the voice didn’t give me the opportunity to dismiss it as there was something I had to do.

So I did it.

The person I  was drawn to was sad, helpless, feeling betrayed and telling me that they loved Jesus as they listed their worries.

I know Jesus and He knows me.  Worries are not things that effect His people and He reminded me of this as I was being sucked into the worries of someone He was trying to help.

I opened my mouth.  I asked them what good could come from the worry they spoke of if they truly loved and believed in Jesus Christ.

“My family says, my boyfriend says, my friends say that I’m not worthy.  They say I’m nothing without them”

Tears.

I ignored the tears and asked them why they let people tell them they they are worthless when they have professed their love for Jesus?

Tears and excuses that convince them they are worthless and unworthy.

I hold my own tears at bay because I, too, have felt unworthy, worthless and ashamed.

I ask them if they are are ashamed?

More tears, this time wracking sobs that answer the question more clearly than words.

I ask them why they are ashamed and when there is no answer I ask them if they are ashamed because they denied Jesus as their savior and succumbed to the opinions of the world?

The sobs became unbearable and I, too, began to weep.

I can’t help it.  You cry, I cry.

They were being tormented on every side, encouraged to do things that they were not comfortable with by people who declared Christ to them.

I took a moment to compose myself and called upon the name of the Jesus to help me discern what He was saying and what blasphemers were saying in His name.

This person was t0ld they were useless and unfit; unable to care for for themselves, much less anyone else.

I called “Jesus” on them.

I prayed with them and called a spade a spade.

More tears, mine and theirs … more mine than theirs because I was spiritually hurting for them.

The tears I cried weren’t only my own, but also those of Jesus.

His tears make me cry even harder.

I hope the tears the three of us cried will help this person speak the name of Jesus when they feel hopeless and defenseless.

I had two other conversations today that mirrored the first.

The evil one will willingly and gleefully use family and friends to turn people away from Jesus and he wants, most of all, for them to forget that his evil cannot stand in the name of Jesus.

The one thing I made clear to the ones I counseled today was to speak the name of Jesus, either out loud or in their mind.

It doesn’t matter where or how the name of Jesus is spoken, evil must flee; must run away, must cower, must make themselves scarce.

Don’t worry, don’t despair, don’t wonder what to do next.

Say or think the name of Jesus.

After that, you are free to make any choice you like.

If you choose Jesus, He will protect you, however, if you don’t choose Jesus, He will never forsake you, but wait until you are strong enough to choose Him.

The downside of this “win-win” plan is that if Jesus comes while you are still “deciding”, He will not recognize you when you call to Him.

Choose now or take your chances.

I know my name is in the book.

I suppose my question to everyone reading my post is is … do you?

Do you know your name is in the book and at the day of reckoning , will Jesus look at you, as and say “that one is mine, let them pass”, or will  He say “I’ve never known that person, cast them away”.

Choices.

Not to be taken lightly.

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Ernest Hemingway said …

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

I believe this to be true. 

I’ve been broken so many times that I’ve lost count.

A couple of times, the brokenness nearly won, but for the most part, I came up with my head above water.

What breaks us doesn’t define us, but  having the desire to put the shattered pieces back together does.

I was many times, in the broken places, at my strongest.

I can’t begin to explain the transformation; but there was one.

I’m still looking for lost pieces, but I have faith that if they are meant to be found, they will be.

I do believe Hemingway was spot on when he, a very broken man, said that string of words.

If one hasn’t been broken, they’ve yet to be born and can’t possibly understand the beautiful array of colors that a skewed, broken and pixillated life has to offer.

Until you break it, you can’t begin to know what is inside.

A bit like a Sand Dollar.

Once you’re broken, you can’t stop looking at all the intricate shapes, shards and pieces.

I’m not much on working puzzles, but the pieces and parts of life fascinate me.

I don’t start at the corners.

Instead, I start in the center and build outward because the corners will always be corners.

Those broken already know where the corners are; it is the center that perplexes us and makes us stronger than we would have been were we not broken.

I, as we all do, struggle sometimes.

It’s part of the journey.

If we don’t struggle, we lack understanding and in doing so, give up.

If we give up, the broken places win and the corners cease to matter.

I’m not a poor loser but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to win.

Romans chapter Twelve is my favorite place in the bible. Each verse speaks to me directly …

But this one, in particular, (Romans 12:12) speaks louder each time I read it …

It says “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instantly in prayer.”

There are times I’m certain God doesn’t hear me. I know, as any believer does, when these dark, silent times come.

The silence is deafening.

Unnerving.

Unwavering.

But at others, when the silence is broken and I know He hears me, I’m mesmerized.

Goosebumps threaten to overtake me and nearly make me forget what I was praying about to begin with.

Life is hard.

It’s hard for everyone.

None of us have the franchise of a life unriddled with trials and hardships.

But it’s also, if you pay attention, riddled with joy.

To give up or give in is a selfish act that says we weren’t willing to fight; to survive.

A coward’s way.

I was a coward for much of my life.

I refuse to be one through the rest of it.

I’ll look for those missing pieces, lost friends, severed relationships, missed opportunities.

I haven’t always, but I do now; but, if I don’t find them, so be it.

I’ll find them somewhere along the way or understand they weren’t for me to begin with.

I’m OK where, often alone, I find myself.

I always have been.

Whom shall I fear?

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Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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Friendship …

is sacred.

A thing that transcends space and time.

Or should.

But everyone knows that people come and go in our lives

It is part of the natural order.

Fate.

Luck.

Devine intervention.

I look at my own life and see a series of failures.

I was blindsided many times.

Left trying to find the individual pieces among the shattered remains.

Abandonment.

Divorce.

Death.

Trusting becomes more difficult with each betrayal.

But I’m glutton for punishment and keep trusting people.

I can’t help it.

I am an optimist.

And on some level, I suppose, a sucker.

But aren’t we all just that now and then.

Wounded.

Scarred.

Survivors.

Strength comes through trials.

Difficulties.

Impossibilities.

It comes at a price.

Sometimes, that price is steep.

But who am I if I’m not myself?

And who are you?

Something to think about.

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Guilt …

is something I am well acquainted with.

I grew up on it.

It was my parents’ first line of defense.

Even when I was innocent, they had a way of making me feel at fault.

At fault for what?

Having sex when I wasn’t, my total incapacitation with math, the hostages in Iran?

It made no difference.

I was, for whatever the cause, to blame.

What matters is that I was too weak in my spirit and confused in my mind to argue.

So I went along.

They didn’t understand me.

Nobody understood me.

Nobody at that time really knew anything about bipolar disorder, or, as it was called then, manic-depressive disorder.

I knew I was different, but was made to believe, as everyone else did, that I was a rebellious teenager with a bad temperament.

I slammed doors.

I cried.

I drank.

I cut myself.

I was the epitome of a sufferer of Manic-Depressive disorder.

I had no control and yet was expected to exhibit control.

That is messed up in the purest sense.

I owe one doc my life. He recognized my plight and got me help.

He is one of my heroes.

Thanks, Jerry.

That was a long time ago.

In present day …

I believe Bi-Polar, one of the now-accepted terms, is a bastardization that allows people who have ups and downs now and then, to name themselves so they can be cool.

It let everyone into the nut club.

A place that was, when it wasn’t cool to be ‘bipolar”, only for those thought to be crazy, different, outcasts, criminals, nuts.

Now, however, you aren’t cool if you aren’t either bipolar or gay.

If I were gay, I would take exception to that, but I’m not gay.

I’m just crazy.

I hear rational people who exhibit no signs of affective psychosis , another PC name, proudly proclaim themselves as such.

Bipolar, that is.

Who are these people? These wanna-be’s who haven’t a clue.

They pretend to be psychotic and then turn it off as if it’s water.

I inwardly laugh just before I curse them with the single exercise of  spending a week in my head.

A day would be sufficient, but a week would make them catatonic or institutionalized.

A win, either way.

There is nothing glamorous or popular about suffering from manic-depression and if one thinks so, then they are pretending to so they can either …

fake being in high gear for the sake of getting attention …

have an excuse to be sexually promiscuous; if I may say, if it is real, the sex is unimaginable – (y’all know what I’m talking about) …

or find no fault with jumping out of the high windows on buildings because they know they can fly.

The alternative side of that msnic high is crouching in the bathroom with a razor blade, or cutting or purging or a million other coping mechanisms.

They forget that side while they are being manically cool.

Glamorous? NO.

To those who know what is real,
hang in there and fight.

To those who pretend to know what it’s like just to be manic-depressive, just shush.

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Raw oysters …

are one of those things that evoke an immediate and unwavering response.

One either loves or hates them.

Adores or abhors.

People who know me personally would say loudly and with confidence that I would never, with intention, put a raw oyster in my mouth.

They would be sadly mistaken.

I love raw oysters.

There is something about slurping the organism and the juice around it into my mouth that takes me right over the edge of culinary ecstasy.

A delicacy that did, I freely admit, surprise me.

I was apprehensive at the thought of my first raw oyster, but I wanted adventure and, well, come on, what is more adventurous than a raw bi-valve.

I remember closing my eyes, as if that would somehow make the experience less traumatizing.

But when that sweet, salty taste co-mingled with the sharp bite of horseradish hit my tongue, I was hooked.

Joyous.

Delectable.

Intoxicating.

The fear of an immediate emetic response was eradicated and pleasurable endorphins poured in to take its place.

It is like everything else in life … don’t knock it until you try it.

If, by chance, you’re ever in the Outer Banks of NC, take highway 12 to Buxton and check out Pop’s Raw Bar.

It will, I promise, be worth it.

Those were, I say with utmost confidence, the best raw oysters to ever pass my lips.

If you go, tell Wendy that the Virginian with the suspicious Ohioan companion said “Hi”.

At last I say this … try new things.

Divert from your everyday ritual.

Fear of the unknown will keep many wonderful things from your perspective.

I know this because I lived, many years, with fear.

Now, unless it involves spiders, I give it the finger.

I still freak out at spiders.

Overcome what you can, run screaming from what you can’t.

Pretty simple when you break it down.

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