Authenticity for Jesus

DSC_0198

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

Advertisements

Faded PJ’s

DSC_0222

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

Noodles 007

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…

View original post 913 more words

The Grandma I Miss

0306-From original small 3 x 5

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.

0382

(Mom looks so much like our little Mary)

0372

0184-Muriel Edmondson, Andre Edmondson, Nona Edmondson

0433

Mops and Dirt

A special mop has come into my life.  Such happiness.  A mop able to bolt me out of bed, race me toward kitchen floor for one more scrubbing.  Fan turned to high to erase all evidence before giant feet, medium sized feet, little feet and a pair of paws arrive for one more day of mess making.1004513_10152108847809307_93194406_n  Granted, this mop has special powers.  It comes with built in bucket elongated the length of the handle, a tank of mixture (oxiclean,bleach and water). No need to fill a sink for dipping mop into.  I have a mop camelback of sorts, with a squirt function just above the mop pad which, by the way is velcro like, and removable!

I hate a sticky floor, and for some reason I have never been able to keep it straight for any length of time.  My reasons are many.  Good reasons such as our kids are hungry 75 times a day rather than the mythical 3. Lets see.  There’s the tap shoes that can be used only on the tile, and don’t you realize that floor tapping is so much more fun while using the hula hoop that accidently crashes into the dogs dish!  Just when I’m asking a certain Little Miss to clean it up, the doorbell rings and her long lost neighbor who she hasn’t seen for 3 whole days is bouncing up and down screaming right along her in celebration of finally seeing each other again.  How can I ever stop such sheer happiness, and so I lean down to scoop up dog food while below in the yard they are bounding, racing, jabbering just because they’re together.  In the middle of that task I think to myself, I’d better mop, too. Heading to the pantry where I keep the mop, I remember a niece in bootcamp I haven’t written to in a week or two, and I know if I don’t stop everything I’m doing right now and get it done, it won’t happen for months.  Sitting down at kitchen table, I tell her about swim team for one cousin.  The fish he caught on vacation.  The lawn mowing business he works at.  I tell her about another cousin of hers working at Olive Garden, singing Gershwin with me last night, just for the fun. Tell her of the adventures of Little Miss.  Forts built, the cooking, the reading skills she’s acquiring.  I tell her tales of work life at Boeing for Uncle.  The walks I take with clients.    Address on envelope, stamp intact, I better take this to box or it will never be sent.

Oh no, it’s time to feed the kids again.  

And so it goes, until the whole day through is consumed with ways of ruining my floor. Happy sticky floors.  By time the mess makers of all sizes are tucked into bed I can hardly take a step.  But try, I do, to sweep and mop, for starting tomorrow out really nice, with feet bare stepping across unscathed soft surface.  And as I stirr early morning, house mostly quiet but for husbands noising sleep-breathing, a ticking clock beside my bed, I just can’t help myself.  Makes not a bit of sense at all.  The floors have not been touched since I mopped them last.  Still, I think one more sweep and mop will do no harm toward the cause.  Stealthy sneaking out of cotton sheets, through bedroom door, down the stairs to kitchen floor, I sweep and mop, frizzled hair a-flying, fast I work.  The last edge swiped up, the fan now on, I hear feet on the floor.  It will be dry by the time toes arrive.   Yeah!!!  I did it.

 

Happy 100th Birthday Big B.

DSC_0116DSC_0103DSC_0135

Today Boeing turns 100.  One hundred years of imagining aircraft into form and shape.  Pieces of materials, parts imagined, then carved and beat and poured into being.  Aircraft for every purpose.  Like ants they are, the hundreds of thousands of workers, every nationality under the sun working cooperatively, working on their part, doing the one thing they are hired to do, and from it a plane takes form and flies. 

The impossibility of it all takes my breath away.  How are imperfect people able to orchestrate such a thing as cooperation from regulatory agencies, states, unions, communities, insurance companies, road systems, governments let alone individuals told to do one thing with a bent to do another?  I have a tough time getting my 4 kids and husband and myself to sit down at the dinner table during same hour of the day. 

How has Boeing managed to make one plane, let alone hundreds of thousands?  And how have they built a plane for predictable safe flight?  My husband has been one of millions who has given much of his life blood for the cause.  The 100th anniversary.  We celebrated with Boeing by taking Adored Uncle and Auntie with us.  Won’t ever forget the night. 

Here’s to another 100 years, big B. DSC_0149

Good Officers

DSC_0653

Working with officers for 19 years, night after night in highly volatile situations, everything from:

Moscow, ID removing children alongside CPS

officers in the San Juan Islands teaming up with the crisis line

stabbings and prostitute cases in Everett

homeless elderly in downtown Seattle

Police from the reservation in drug overdose cases

suicide attempts on the ‘East Side’.

I know some departments hire thugs and angry officers, but I’ve never worked with one. I have seen officers with tears in their eyes, begging me to please do what it takes to not send the elderly woman found down among broken glass and cat feces back home. Officers who stay around long enough to know a child they rescued is out of harms way. Officers who have been roughed up by a delusional paranoid man, and who showed kindness toward him as it was understand how vulnerable the patient was. Officers both men and women who care deeply about the ones they had to bring in.

In every school district among caring teachers there are selfish, abusive ones here and there. Among every hard working pastor there are pastor perpetrators and porn addicts. Among every caring counselor are those who do damage.

Officers as a whole get my respect for the consistent kindness and regard they have show my very fragile wounded patients.

Locking up thugs, now that’s a different subject.  Lock them up whether they be wearing a uniform or wearing your shoes. Talk to me about solutions, not broad brush disregard. Talk to me about needed changes.  Don’t talk to me about race.  Good officers are all the colors of the rainbow.  They have to be to manage their job well.  Try living in a world without good officers.  I’d rather not.

The Id of Prime: How to Prevent Destroying the Best Years of Your Life

DSC_0112

It’s a familiar pattern.  Man at the top of his game at work, making the most he will ever make, married to the most beautiful adoring wife, envy of us all decides it’s time to engage in a seedy fling, starts shooting up, embezzles money at work.  Beautiful woman happily married, finding success at work, finally a publishing a book, living in a community of friends who adore her and she decides to have an affair with a teenage druggie down the street, decides to quit work, starts to drink, it’s all over. 

The reasons given are many:

He’s afraid of responsibility 

She wants to sabotage her life because of guilt that it’s going so well

He wasn’t respected enough by his wife 

She could never get over harm done to her as a child 

His testosterone made him do it 

Her hormones were out of whack 

And what I say to that is “Why now?”  Why didn’t his wife’s disrespect cause him to act this way two years ago?  Why didn’t her painful past kick in long ago? His fear of responsibility cause him to steal at work, to use drugs, to cheat before now? 

The safest people in the world seem to be unsure of themselves.  Awkward teenagers, trying to understand where they sit at the table of life.  Young adults struggling to get through college.    People at any age who have not made it in life.  Aging folks who have lost..  Had their heart broken.  Buried a parent.  Been abandoned by a spouse.  Lost a child to drugs.  Lost a job.  Been through bankruptcy.  12 step boot camp en route to sobriety.  These people unsure of life itself seem to be the ones much less apt to do harsh things to others in their journey up the proverbial ladder.  It is my view that the id is most commonly enlarged at prime.  At the place in life where things are going the best.  I am amazing, I will protect this amazing persona of myself, and others better see me this way.  If they don’t I will throw it all away. 

Brene Brown’s research shows that wholehearted people, those people who do the best in life, are the ones who embrace their own vulnerability, and with an authentic style of living, share their real selves with others around them.  Which really is the best antidote to the Id of Prime.  Much different from the need to convince others that I’m OK in my quest to belong, I set out to develop a habitual view on myself starting young that embraces me as flawed and valuable even-though.  When I embrace my flaws, and let you know mine, I am inviting you to own and state yours, and together we can care for each other as imperfect, challenging each other along the way, to garnish strength from the other when I need it, which is all the time. 

When I am in a state of awkward insecurity, why would I be more authentic and vulnerable?  Simply put, in my reaching for answers, I am in the position of teachability.   To be teachable is to be vulnerable.  I am saying there is something you know that I don’t know.  And this makes me much safer than the position of ‘I have all the answers and you should be lucky to be in my presence’. 

The self made culture celebrates the exact opposite of teachability and neediness.  Regardless of how brazen we are to proclaim ‘I’ve got it’, this is not reality.  Like it or not, we are needy.  Consider getting through college.  Say we earn our way through college by getting good grades, 100% scholarship.  Someone in a dark room surrounded by stacks of papers, using red pen, sweat and coffee is also getting you through college.  Someone wearing hairnet and gloves is making food in a cafeteria.  Someone is cleaning the toilet, furnishing toilet paper to the stalls, applying bleach as needed, lysol, elbow-grease.  We are our brothers keepers.  We are not islands. 

Working in an Emergency Room for 19 years, one dynamic showed itself over and over.  Didn’t matter if I was dealing with a brilliant Microsoft manager, a rich elderly banker, a well known pastor or a street drug user.  He or she open and vulnerable over time with some close loved ones was the winner.  Sometimes the ‘professionals’ were the ones in real trouble.  They had face to save, a reputation to maintain.  Would rather crack then look like a mess.  Every human being goes through crisis.  We may think we will skirt crisis by keeping distance,  not ‘bothering’ anyone with our problems.  Eventually we come to the end of ourselves, and those of us who have been real with others are the ones to get better.  On the other hand, isolated we can find ourselves pulled under by relatively small setbacks, because we are lacking skills of teachability, flexibility (able to flex even thought it puts me in a poor light), vulnerability and authenticity.

The id of prime. 

An avoidable destruction of me as I practice:

a heart position of reaching toward learning from someone who knows more then me

practice honestly with myself about my weaknesses and deficits

choose to not fake who I am with you

reject the prideful prison of self protection

These practices set us up for deep abiding relationship, whether it be in marriage, with our kids, in the workplace, with our bodies.  Id of prime that walks away from it all is walking away from pretend.  It’s not walking away from intimacy real and raw and deep. Let the best years of our lives honor The God who knew what I was about and gave the prime of his life for my eternity anyway.