Flashback II: Julius

At the time he was little more than a pup.  But even then Julius was a gift to a lonely day.  This, my dear Reader, is Flashback number 2.

The alarm clock went off and Julius went on standby. Stood up stock straight and still, his eyes followed my hand to the bedside table half-hidden beneath shaggy doggy brows. Snooze – ten minutes. He watched me roll over and slid back down to a crouch, resting his chin between his paws.

Ten minutes of gentle breathing FLEW by. As usual. Off it went again and Julius was back on standby. Attention! His head just below bed level. I looked the little beast in the face with his little pink tong peeking past his teeth as he panted quietly.

OK… up we go. As the feet swung over the side, Julius jumped up in celebration, tail wagging and a flurry of kisses on his hind legs. Front paws pausing in the air before bouncing off the side of the bed.

She’s up! She’s up! Come… lets get moving. He runs to the door and runs back, all excited about the walk that is sure to follow.

It’ is an honour and a privilege to have someone rejoice in the fact that you got out of bed this morning.

I imagine the angels tugging you out of sleep. OK… she’s drifting back… let the alarm go off. Ok… 10 minutes snooze? No problem. Hold the ceiling fan up… beat off that disaster. Keep the tree outside the window standing straight… another danger averted. The car that just passed the front gate… keep them headed straight and safe. Just can’t be too late – she has a full day of God’s work to do. Counting down again… 10, 9, 8… 3,2,1. UP PIECES UP. TIME TO GET UP. Legs swing over to meet Julius and there they are… trumpets sounding silently around me with the confetti – a job well done. Kept alive through a night’s sleep. How many didn’t make it this morning?

Thank you Father for getting me up, keeping me safe, providing food and shelter, and giving me a list of things to do today. And thank you Father, most of all…
for Julius.

To see the other Flashbacks in this series, visit the links below:

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Flashback I: Truth and the Shell

It has been a hard day of grief and pain. This time he is heeding my request to please stay clear and allow me to do my growing and grieving alone. But oh does it hurt!

“What hurts?” I have asked myself. It is the sucking drain of the disappointment drawing back the wave of joy that flooded over me at the realization that “I have found someone who I can love for the rest of my life!” It is a pain that tells of the stripping bare of the garden that bloomed in my heart, watered by that wave of joy. New leaves and fresh blooms all viciously uprooted in their youth, torn from my bosom. Holes that once held clutching roots and ground that was not so long ago shaded by trees are now dry and cracked and gaping, assaulted by a burning sun of Truth.

Truth that reveals every weakness in blinding, sweltering brightness. Truth that cuts through the beautiful words and whispered dreams passed lips-to-ear by the seaside. Cuts through the mirage of lies and folly-happy belief. Truth that burns away chaff. Leaving grief. Grief that the leafy ferns and tender orchids were not real but a bedtime story that needed to be grown out of. Grief at the loss of the cool, damp earth and fragrance of jasmine under a bright full moon all lost to truth.

Even when you tried you lied. Your lies covered my days with painted colours, a full garden of imaginings. Now all swirled and sucked into the vortex of the drain. If only I had not believed. If only I had not allowed you, time and again, to deceive. Truth tugged at me, peaking through the sky-flung Poinciana branches and so I slipped to the side to a greater comfort, deeper in your fanciful creation each time. Until the midday of my heart came and truth, right over my head, burned the matrix away. I am the one. The one who has to see and now must live in TRUTH.

And now… in the glaring light of the Truth that destroys all lies, I sit on a real stump of a real old tree – solid, dry, dead wood with the reprieve of Certainty that comes in the presence of Truth and the sound of the sea. Julius keeps coming back to check on me, walking only so far with the girls before coming back.

The darkness I battled with threatens to return and my mouth calls out for numbing rum. Things of the past. Tears come at awkward times, tugging on my composure and pealing the edges of my theater mask, my warrior mask, my happy mask. No mask sticks to a slick pair of cheeks! I sit with myself, in myself, smothered under myself and vomit onto the page every bilious thought that steals my quiet. And I glance down and see a piece of something shiny and pink. Shining through tear-chafed eyes. A gift, simple and rugged. A full and pink conch shell! If I had not sat there with my tears I would not have seen it.

After seeing the shell I put my book down and stooped to get it. But it was stuck. I dug around it with my fingers clearing the sand away between the roots of the old dead stump. The points at the top of the old conch shell were buried in the dead roots, cured by salt and covered with sand and thoroughly stuck. Stuck so fast that no amount of wiggling made it give. And so I searched for a piece of stick and dug with the stick. My right hand had already gone raw by now and threatened to bleed. I lost track of time in my focus and dug furiously. Hand and stick, hand and stick, wiggle here, tug there, still no give.

And so I called to the girls down to beach to come and help me.

Thus the shell had become my only focus, a symbol of happiness. I dug in relentless pursuit of it, the dig itself a fierce determination not to give up my hope. A struggle that brought blood to my hands and tears to my eyes.

The girls didn’t hear me and I began to get frustrated. Why didn’t they pay attention? The sky was darkening and the fireball to the west had begun a low, dripping, over-ripe mango-sticky descent through the clouds. I called out again and they began to walk ever so slowly to me. It angered me that they weren’t there and didn’t care, that they couldn’t hear my calling out. Didn’t they know how important this was to me? Couldn’t they see me and my gestures and waves saying hurry?

And plain as day I got it. THE POINT. Like a dream that gives such aching clarity to a situation obscured by daylight wakenings I saw. This is the purpose of my pain.

To bring me to call on Him, the Most High. The One who can answer all my questions, cure all my ailments, and dig out all of my shells. And right there I looked up and said to him Father, the girls aren’t going to hear me. They aren’t here where I am right now. And they probably couldn’t help me anyway – I am stronger than they are. Please help me get this shell out.

And so I bent over again and began to dig. It wiggled more and I dug some more. I stepped on one side to turn it loose and dug some more. I took my hands and scooped under the shell with sand cutting into my raw flesh. By this time the girls had strolled over to me. One came and reached down to help as I straightened up.

It came loose in her hands. First try. No struggle – out it popped.

MADNESS

But it was my struggle. There was a reason.

Later at home I took that shell into my bath tub. There it will always stay pink and fresh with constant watering. It will also remind me at least twice a day, at my most naked and exposed moments, that my God is with me in every struggle and will be my armour when I feel exposed.

And so I prayed into my little book. Father, please put that gem and hide it in my heart like that shell. Stick it in there and never let it wiggle free I pray. Please remind me that You are never going to leave me and that You are so much better than anything else I could ever find. Help me remember to call to You first because You are always right here, right now, where I am. Help me remember that when my friends are far away, or when they are up close – it doesn’t matter! They don’t have Your power.

Please also use these struggles of mine, these battles I face, to strengthen the people around me. Help my struggle to allow them to find their own shell loose and ready for them to just pick it up. Take my writing and use it to Your honour and glory I pray.

Amen

It seems I knew once how to deal with pain.  I knew once how to reconnect to the core of me and commune from that core with the Source of all things good.  I am so blessed to be reminded of that knowledge today.

RELATE: Knowing, loving and forgiving the people in your life.

Knowing, loving, and forgiving the people in your life

We began in January.  Four women met together with their pastor and asked for his support to begin a Bible Study for young adults.  It grew from there into the YAG, a movement of people getting to know eachother and themselves in Christ. The study was RELATE, knowing, loving and forgiving the people in your life.  It was to be a 5 session study but one session would take two meetings.  The sessions were profound and pregnant with meaning, leaving thoughts on how to do this life thing better together bouncing around in us through the week.  I recommend this study to everyone – not just young adults.  It is an excellent first study for a group and a theme that is relevant to everyone. Throughout the weeks of the study we came to know eachother as a group.  We would average 30 people at any giving meeting on a Friday night in The Cave, a warehouse loft we were generously given to use by a couple in our church.  We shared very deep hurts and precious victories, updates on our practices of the things we have learned and hurdles that we would have to overcome.  Out of this study came a community of people who have begun to live with eachother and share with eachother and love eachother. There were some amazing things that I learned in these sessions that have stayed with me and I pray will stay with me as I grow beyond this step.  Right now, in a reflective mood and seeking comfort in the memories of all my God has done for me, I have decided to share a few of these.

  • Every person has a predominant need when it comes to relationships – either significance or security.
  • Relationships are NOT ABOUT ME.  They are not designed to serve me.  They are designed to be the place where I am able to be more like Christ.  To be patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not conceited, selfless, compassionate, and forgiving we must have someone in our lives with which we are able to practice these Christ-like ways.
  • Fear is a big impediment to relationships.  But when we turn to the purpose of relationships (above) we can learn to love someone for THEIR sake.  Not for ours.
  • Relationships are the place where sanctification happens.
  • God is the source of all the things we need to make our relationships work.  We are invited to “remain in Him”.  We are the branches on his vine and without the vine the branches will die… and will destroy the relationships in their life by being drained and withered without the love connection to the vine of the source of all love – God himself.
  • “Friends who enjoy soul intimacy never settle for gossip or simple information exchange.  Instead they use the data of events as spring-boards for the sharing of feelings, perceptions, values, ideas and opinions.”
  • Being loving is more important that being right.  Relationship is more important than victory.
  • Dealing with conflict there are three ways in which we react – move away, move against, or move towards.  Moving towards can be easily confused with moving against – but the purpose is different.  Moving against is defensive, self-protective, and offensive.  Moving toward involves an open mind and bravery, clear communication, accountability, accommodation, collaboration and compromise.
  • The grass is not greener on the other side – it is greener where you water it.
  • It is important to search yourself for wrongdoing with humility.  There are three BEs to employ as we deal with our own weaknesses.  Be aware, Be in tune with the Spirit as it guides you, and Be willing to accept the guidance and instruction of the Spirit so that work can be done in your life.
  • Forgiveness IS: Moral. Goodwill.  Paradoxical. Beyond duty.
  • Forgiveness is NOT: Forgetting or denying.  Condoning.  Excusing.  Condemning.  Seeking justice or compensation.

As for me… I learned that I have a lot to learn.  And a lot of practicing to do.  That is another subject for another post.  Another time.

Breakup Checklist

Every single woman needs one.  In fact, every single human being needs one.  Because if you are operating in today’s world you will come across false starts.  And they will hurt.

A friend of mine going through a heart-rending divorce shared with me in a facebook conversation some years ago what he calls his Breakup Checklist.  I have asked his permission to share his insights.

THE CHECKLIST

“#1. Pull together your “support team” of family and friends who can help you deal with this crisis. These are the insiders who know you, know your Ex and can talk you through everything.  These are the people who will pick up the phone at all hours of the day to allow you to express your sorrow, remind you of your self worth. Put your team together and get their support.

#2 Find a counselor.  Your friends can be there for you, but they have lives of their own and they are not professionals. Hire a professional who can talk to you about the situation and help you sort things out clinically. Help you to understand yourself, your inner demons, and why the relationship fell apart. They can asses whether you are just sad or clinically “depressed” and in need of temporary medication (nothing wrong with that).  Note: counselors are great! But do your homework. find one that is highly recommended.  Sometimes the most expensive ones are the best. They can afford to charge those prices. The cheaper ones are desperate for clients.

#2b -Face your new reality – Part of the problem with not having these written down is that you forget some things.  Right around the time you are meeting with a counselor, that counselor should be helping you face your new reality. This bad situation is happening! Your worst fear is real. You can’t go back. you can’t change it. You have to face it head on and deal with it.  Stare the dragon in eye and let him know you are not afraid. For me, this was realizing that my wife IS cheating on me. It wasnt a one time thing. She made a conscious decision. There is no going back. It can’t be undone. Why am I hiding the truth from people? In hopes that I can keep it quiet and take her back after she is done with the other guy? Get real. “When someone takes an opportunity to show you who they really are….BELIEVE THEM!!!!!”

#3 Get Busy – Start filling your days with activities that will distract you from what is going on with you. You should “pre-schedule” these events.  Start planning trips, vacations, classes (art, martial arts, athletic related, etc), visits to friends, shopping trips. Fill up your schedule. Consider this the equivalent of a cast on a broken arm.  Distract yourself while your heart is healing.

Take care of YOU!!!! You will heal by LOVING YOURSELF and NOT HATING the other person.

#4 – Have you phoned God? – get your spiritual life together. Maybe all of this happened because God has been trying to get your attention and you haven’t been listening. Start spending more time in church, prayer, and meditation.

#5 – Do some emotional housecleaning. You need to conduct an emotional assessment of where you are. Are you angry? Hurt? Depressed?  There is a time for anger in the healing process, but Anger will only take you so far and it WON’T get you to the finish line. You need to start focusing on more positive emotions – FORGIVENESS, peace, calm, happiness (step #3 activities should bring smiles and happiness into your life). Ask God to help you release your anger. Ask God to help you forgive. You would be surprised how much forgiveness and releasing anger will help YOU feel better. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die…… (think that will work?).

#6 Start Taking Care of Yourself – Focus on your new life – ALONE. And do what you need to do to move forward. Have you been talking about finding a new job? do it. Thinking about moving to a new country/state? do it.  Do it for yourself.  Treat yourself to the things you like. Spa day. Exercise. (Note: keep it healthy and positive. Don’t soothe yourself with sweets and dessert. You will only hate yourself later when you get fat) That flight to see your friends? Buy yourself an upgrade. Take care of YOU!!!! You will heal by LOVING YOURSELF and NOT HATING the other person.”

How do you handle breakups?  What would you add to this list?

Forgetting what I used to know… 9 lessons in 9 months

This blog began on 10 August 2011.  In a few days it will be 9 months old.  I read the About Page and I am flooded with gratefulness for the flow of the Singlestream and the God-given gravity that guides it.  This little brook has burst through the cranium out of my pained and haunted thoughts, caught a ride in the veins of my intentions, got flushed out and clarified by the kidneys of newfound dreams, given fresh air on the journey through the lungs of my discovery, until the flow finally found itself back at home in a place it had almost forgotten – my heart.

For nine months I have travelled… through my pain, out of bitterness, touching base with my roots and cutting connections with the millstones that previously sat friendly around my neck.  I am a different woman.  The 9 most profound things I have grown to know in the past 9 months are.

  1. My body is mySelf.  It isn’t just a vehicle to carry me through life that can be treated like junk and traded in for a new model later.
  2. The mind is a dangerous thing when left alone to run things.
  3. Vulnerability is hard as hell to practice.  But only through being brave enough to be vulnerable can we find real connections.
  4. Love in friendship is no less important and no less powerful than romantic love.
  5. Strength is not the opposite of feeling.
  6. I can heal.
  7. Time alone is the only place where I can get to experience God.
  8. Love takes work.  Every castle needs maintenance.  The bigger the love the more important and the more costly the maintenance.  But the bigger the reward.
  9. Some relationships are meant to end.

This blog was meant to be an experiment.  In the end it has given birth to a new woman.  One of wisdom, zest, power, conviction and a reigning heart.  A woman with the ability to lead.

Much like the woman in the end of this video, cracks and stains have been washed away within the Singlestream.

My Sheets

Monday morning sunshine

calls me singing from my bed,

a million busy thoughts

fight for attention in my head,

the daunting tasks at hand

grow into mountains in my sight

but my sheets are gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

The week is full of battles

folks to lead and lives to save,

Goliaths gang up on

my inner David forcing brave.

The thought that fortifies as I

face down the righteous fight

is my sheets are gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

As Wednesday grows more bloody

and defeat feels very near,

the arguments grow louder

with defense and craven fear.

To just make it to sundown I

turn my cheek against my plight

for my sheets are gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

The tide begins to turn

as solutions bubble up,

energy swims to surface

as I drain my coffee cup.

I focus on the goal

with eyes squinting all my might

at my sheets of gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

Finally the week is ended

and war melts down with the sun.

Kicking back my soul reflects

upon the battles God has won.

Grace rains down in drops of beauty,

my heart rests and dreams take flight

in my sheets of gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.