Authenticity for Jesus

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I’ve been writing my story.  Everyone has one, you know.  You have a story, too.  It’s one of the tools we’ve been given to overcome darkness in our sad world. John the Apostle explains:

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death.  Revelation 12: 11

Their testimony.  Not the testimony of another.  Their own.  … loved not their lives until the death… I have thought about how in our attempt to love our lives, we tell a testimony that is clean cut, white collared, admirable.  A crafted and carved story fit to share.  Modifying the real thing.  Omitting parts.  Changing reality to better fit what should have been, rather than what was.  Real life stories are messy.  Taking history of patients in emergency room 19 years I learned to quickly separate lies being told me from the raw truth.  Lies flow nicely.  Fit together in perfect symmetry.  Life story never does. 

It’s convoluted. 

Embarrassing. 

Shameful. 

Complicated. 

Too good to be true.

And too bad.

We fib an attractive life story into shape.  Who wants to be that single tree downed and rotten clear through amidst a forest of strong and admirable types?  Not me, not you.  And so we pretend.  Hold our heads high and omit what has been, and what is.  We won’t call it lying.  We say we’re not complainers.  Justify that we don’t need to tell something that will make another look bad.  We call it looking on the bright side.  Truth is, nobody has a squeaky clean story.  We are all harmed and wounded by this hard thing called living.  We add to the harm by pretending we didn’t live the pain we did.    

Partly what makes evil so evil is how beautiful it presents itself on the outside.   

The shiny red apple. 

It’s the symbol we use to embody the fall. 

Craving what is beautiful

– ignoring the death in it’s meat. 

Healing calls to truth.  Calls for something rather awkward for this face-saving self.  We hide and tell what isn’t in an attempt to love a life that never was, rather than share the testimony of a messy life lived to the glory of God.  Becoming a truth teller requires not loving my life.  Doing so for the benefit of one who might relate and grasp onto a Jesus that heals real messes.  It requires giving up my pretense for Jesus sake.

Let my desire for beauty

Reach for beautiful Jesus

He who looks more beautiful still

In the reflection of my trash heap story

What He has done for me

Means less

When I cover up my trashy story

Pretending my life has really been

The daisy covered meadow

Tis a choice, really

I choose my messy testimony

For Jesus Sake

Faded PJ’s

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This morning, through dawn light, sitting in the stillness of my early hour house, eyes yet to focus, I glance along the edging of my soft blue pajamas and I feel a smile creeping now.  Sleepy smile, I feel it spread about my heart and down into my bones.  The fade of pajamas blue hover about me all the day, and I whisper good things under my breath.  Hope that this newest pair of already faded pajamas will become faded, no, just straight ratty.  That they will grow very old until they are ribbons of happy nothing. 

Crisp new pajamas.  I’ve grown to not like them much.  They come to me to be placed in suitcase packed for a hospital every time.  Some of the hospital visits are beautiful.  Baby boy brought home, precious and perfect.  Pajamas that didn’t fit me before, and body too much a mess to wear after.  That pair stayed nice for years. To the hospital for another baby, this time, a perfect tiny daughter.  I’d not remembered to think of pajamas for me. She had arrived before I’d expected, a month early.  Hadn’t packed a thing.  Other than things for her.  Her cotton pink footie-pajamas were washed, folded, held close against my cheek, folded again.  Ready months before.  My friend had thought of me when I had forgotten.  She brought to the hospital a lovely nightgown of soft pink and white, smocked and pleated, buttons down front.  I loved that nightgown.  I wore it year after year.  Don’t remember whatever became of it.  I’m guessing it was loved into shreds and threads as I rocked and fed, made a lap for two babies, a lap for reading and holding and spit up and …. Another baby years later.  And another. Pajamas packed and used until they were no more. 

As of late, pajamas for the suitcase bound for harder hospital stays.  Visits of cuts and drains, blood draws, parts removed, another cancer, another procedure, another and another. 

New pajamas. 

No thank you. 

I want to see how long the fade will keep on fading. 

Will the blue of light seem more white than blue?  I’m hoping so.  I could buy new ones for no particular reason.  And then I wouldn’t be needing another special book for my son on how to build something from nothing.  I wouldn’t be needing running shoes for me, or another hydrangea for my gardener girl, wouldn’t need to save for a night out with my best friend. I’d be too cut off from life to be buying sheet of music to practice with my girls.  I’d be winding down to dead, and I don’t want that. 

I really love how faded these pajamas have gotten.  Their worn down look speaks to how long it’s been since I’ve made a visit to the chopping block.  Long enough to make new fabric old.  Long enough to grow some strength on the legs that wear these pajama pants.  Fabric fades faster than it use to, I think.  Or my machine has more gusto than it use to.  In any case, time has passed without another reason for new pajamas, and I’m hoping my healthy full life thins them down to nothing at all.  I’m hoping.    

Thanksgiving Noodles

This is a blog post I did a couple years ago. It’s also about my adored Grandma, so thought I’d reblog it alongside today’s new blog.

...because healing spreads

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When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of Grandma’s noodles.  There might have been a year or two we didn’t cover the table, night before, with the mess of drying overnight, flipping, flouring, then flouring again our holiday noodles.  The damp would come out of hiding with the drying process, and we’d again add just a bit more flour, finally able to cut the perfectly imperfect wide and hearty slabs.  The process was a lot of work, and wonderful.  But not many years went without the noodle production, that’s for sure.

Grandma would stand, leaning over the table, a bit tall to reach the bowl easily, and carefully with silky hands create the most desirable noodles on the planet.  When I was maybe 8 or 9 she let me start helping.  She explained it was the size of egg that determined the recipe.  Any interesting concoction these days includes at…

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The Grandma I Miss

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The one I miss.  The one I’ll know more of one day, the young one in these pictures.  The one that was old when I loved her, but still so young. Who wrote and read and talked of times I never knew.  So interested in the world, she was.  In governments, in plots and poetry, and not so much in whether her stockings stayed up leg or not.  She who let her clothes wear out so she could afford – fixed income of nothing, to buy me and my sisters a dress now and then.  A flight to come see us.  A phone call to see how we were doing. Stamps for the letters she wrote to tell us how she was.  Groceries she bought and always shared.  Tight with what didn’t matter, leaving ample for what did.    I miss her light blue eyes of sparkle, light in hew, bright in vigor, the sparkle with something that ‘hit a funny bone’, the spark when wheels were turning at the exploration of an idea.  Her eyes, they sparkled beyond the ability to see much at all.  Her mind wouldn’t give out, even when hearing, sight, strength and hope slipped away.

Grandma begged me not to leave her.  College was calling me.  I felt I could not stay.  I hate that I did not stay.  She passed just months after.  Somehow I think that though she wanted me to stay, she wanted me to go, too.  She was the one who talked of education, of opportunities of learning.  She would have been the one to thrive with a college education, not even an option for her as her father had abandoned the family, her salary was needed, so work she did.  Grandma was born in 1899.  There weren’t many in those years blessed with a way to attend college, Grandma was just one of the many unfortunate.  The education she did receive, she soaked into her core and kept with her the rest of her life. Large speeches and selections of poetry memorized, math done quick ‘in my head’. Writing skills she developed all her life.  We always said, as Grandma stood peeling apples for pie, listening to her expound on the rise and fall of every nation under the sun, and all the details that went along with their changes, that she should have been a history professor.  She was really very interesting to listen to.  Her vocal inflections, the lightness where lilt was called for, the laughter in her voice.  The serious sound of heartbreak, the solemn sound of sacrifice.  She didn’t miss a thing, from the way a country fell to pieces, to the happenings of her childhood and beyond, boys that loved her and she jilted, her memories working as a switchboard operator, memories of her Momma, hair pulled back tight, white apron over heavy ever-day dress, standing over hot stove baking 40 pies a day in the busy rivertown motel where they lived on the Missouri river.

0178bLast week at the pool, splotchy faced, just having pushed myself a bit too much, I made my way across the expanse of noisy kids to the hot tub.  Slipping beneath the bubbles I glanced up to eyes that nearly took my breath away.  So much like Grandma’s.  Twinkling. Lite blue.  Never have I seen eyes so much like Grandmas.  Not common eyes, but distinctive and beautiful.  Day after day I’ve seen the eyes and smiled.  Finally I mustered up the courage and fumbling for words blurted out “This is a crazy question, but do you happen to be Irish.” to which the lovely lady replied “I sure am.”  I then told her all about my Grandma, how much her eyes looked like Grandma’s eyes, and how much I still miss her, though she’s been gone since 1987.  Grandma’s look alike, she’s become my friend.  We talk at poolside most every day.  As her sparkling eyes tell me another tid-bit about life, I wish Grandma was still with me, even more.

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(Mom looks so much like our little Mary)

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0184-Muriel Edmondson, Andre Edmondson, Nona Edmondson

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