Bike. True Bike.

Theory goes that 5 love languages exist.  According to Gary Chapman there are five primary ways of expressing love and five ways of feeling loved. 

They are as follows:

Gift Giving

Words of Affirmation

Acts of Service

Touch

Quality Time

They forgot one. 

Bikes 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped by bike shops thinking to myself ‘if only Mom, Adored Husband, Sister, Daughter, Son, Teacher, Friend, Patient just had a bike that fit his/her body, their life would forever be changed’.  Bike is my own personal love language.  I know this to be true.  If it were simply a personal obsession, I would have filled my garage with fancy bikes for myself, which I have not.  I still ride my old trusty 20 year old beater that the kids have taken over a jump one too many times.  Yes, it’s my love language.  Rather odd, I know.  Especially if the person I love doesn’t happened to ride a bike. 

Some might say Bike fits into gift giving.  Nope.  BIKE is it’s own category, and all categories in one.  GIFT, TIME, TOUCH (If you don’t believe me, ride awhile and then tell me you’ve not had a physical experience), ACTS OF SERVICE (what could be more service – like than to work them muscles and get those corpuscles jump’n) AND WORDS FOR AFFIRMING THE BIKE AND THE RIDE AND THE GREATNESS OF THEM BOTH. 

Over the years I’ve bought two bikes for Adored Husband.  I could never get him into a bike shop, nor a test-spin around the block… an absolute must for finding a bike that is really an extension of your body and not just a hunk of metal to be ground beneath you. But what can I do?  He’s a farm boy, after all.  To him, bikes are simply parts and pieces.  Any ‘ole bike ‘ll do.  One of these days I”ll get him to the bike shop with me. I know there is a bike that will become his baby one day.  I just know it! 

My kids have experienced my love language.  Redline mostly.  I was visiting our oldest son a few weeks ago.  He informed me he was selling his bike.  I remember the day we bought it…. was a really big deal, even though he paid half, the total cost was amazing.  He’s married now, baby on way.  No space in life for fancy biking… so it’s a goner.  WHAT?!  I wonder to myself.  How in the world did I concoct a reason in my head for my son to need a very expensive bike?  Now, I know bikes these days have come down in price.  That same bike with same functions might be much less, these 5 years later.  Still, what was I thinking!?  Adored Husband helps me out.  Says he’s pretty sure that if I thought Martians were in need of bikes, although Martians have not yet been cited by most of us, I’d send a ships-load over, just in case. 

Yesterday I took our 14 year old son all legs and arms on a bike shopping excursion.  Cycle shop after shop, he’d point one out, try it – and onto the next shop.  We finally found the one.  No need to look further.  An absolute beauty mountain bike with matted paint and bright expression.  All the important pieces, solid and usable.  He has to work another couple weeks to afford the extra, but it’s love, I tell you.  LOVE.

If you happen to ever get a bike from me, think of it as a kiss.  Or in your case, think of it as a handshake.  Think of it as a smile.  As a good floor scrubbing.  As a thoughtful hour of listening.  Because some of us are made more of tires and spokes then roses.  Just Say’n.

A Cloudy Bootcamp

This was written last May for my professional blog.  I’ve decided to share it here today as my niece Annalee is joining the Marines same day she graduates from h.s., which is two short days from now, and has 12 weeks of bootcamp awaiting her.  I know God uses bootcamp of all shapes and sizes, and I know he has a plan for her as well.  Blessings to my niece.

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Profound thoughts, for me, seem to show up in the middle my mundane.  It happened yesterday as I was tackling a task called ‘cutting lawn’.   When I say I was out cutting the lawn, please don’t picture a postage stamp turn-about.  Picture a rolling random football field that never ends.  Now picture a rather tottery set of legs, pasty lady, gloved fists all trying hard to shove forward another shaved swath.  As the lush green blades shot sideways, so did my glee at all I was getting done.  I found myself irritated at the moisture, so soppy-damp, that even with the shocking arrival of sunshine, warm on my shoulders, I was still unable to use the bagger for more than a couple feet without it clogging into a spongy ball of clippings.

The last few months have been, shall we say, un-fun.  Just recently I have taken on the challenge to act on the belief that God inhabits praise, and to praise God, even when my circumstances aren’t praiseworthy.  And so atop the roar of the mower, there in wet grass I started praising the Lord for His goodness to me, for His goodness to the land around me. For being the God of provision.  That He provides cloud and drizzle in “*$#@*%!! FREAKING EXCESS….. GOD OF SUCH GRAND GIFTS, GOD, YOU MAKE SURE THIS SPOILED ROTTEN SUPER SIZED PIG OF A YARD HAS ALL IT EVER WANTED – !!!!”.  Ya, sometimes even my praise sessions turn earthy.  God being the father of many, He’s use to fit-throwing.  From me, anyway.  Well, as I kept up my praise service out there in the back 400, my heart started experiencing an actual shift.  Praise for God became real.  God hovered nearby.  And all around me.   The grey cloud that had dampened my spirits, and over-dampened the grass, was now warming me, it was noticing me.  On slippery hill downward, with mower in race to the bottom, it steadied and strengthened me, giving balance and protection.  ‘I’m cracking’, I think to myself.  Grey clouds do not warm peoples spirits.

And then I remember the story.  The Israelites had, by the thousands, been led on foot away from a country in which they had been enslaved.  A land where they were unable to function fully as humans.  They had been rescued from a meaningless life of being used.  From a death unnoticed.

And for the journey, God used a pillar of cloud to guide them for their daytime travels.  A cloud to guide and protect?  Why not a bucket full of sunshine?  Couldn’t God have used cut crystals hanging on ribbons from heaven?  If He’d have asked me, I would have suggested rainbow shivers for really freaking out the bad guys.  But He didn’t.

Toward a better place, the Israelites were routed through misery.  With intention, God arranged a journey with healing opportunities in mind.  Each hopeless situation, a desert march with no water, no food, power struggles, snakes, belly aches, each cloudy trial offered one opportunity after another to build trust in God, learn to love, learn to trust less in what is seen and more in who God is.  The journey was to provide deep healing for these rescued slaves, and for generations after them.

I ponder these ideas, row by row, grass looking better by the hour.  I think of all the ways the grey of life has protected me, and brought God near.   The deep depression and anxiety as a little kid.  Would I have known God as early as I did, had I not hung on for dear life during those early suicidal times?  What was I protected from while hiding in the black hole of pain, hiding next to God?

The eating disorder.  Would I ever have know the freedom of an addiction if I had never experienced one?  Would I have misjudged others who struggle with addiction if I had never had to fight for years with something bigger than my own smarts?

The struggling to read.  What kind of evil could I have perpetrated onto others if there had been no struggle to recall what I read, requiring me to read the same materiel over and over again, even throughout college?  Would I have been condescending to others who struggle to understand if everything about learning came easy to me?

Early Miscarriage.  Would I have had opinions about others pain which I knew nothing of if I’d never had one, let alone six?  I can never say that the loss of a child would bring a blessing.  It is a pain I have never experienced, and pray I never do.  And still, each of us, in our own painful travels, notices the Lord near by, even in the cloud.

Marriage Pain.  Would I have even found the time – busy with life, four kids, work and all, to pray, if my heart had not been raw so much of the time?  Would I have ever discovered on a knowing level what PTSD looks like, and how healing occurs if I’d never been in an intimate relationship that rattled the cage of monsters past?

Would I have anything of substance to offer my clients if my understanding was exclusively derived from a book?  Trust me Lord, I prefer not knowing beyond course work all of what a human is capable of suffering from and experiencing.  I thought I’d throw that out… just incase you decide to read this:)

Allergies.  Would I have learned to let go of the toxic nature of being a “pleaser” if I had not been forced to impose, irritate and annoy others using the boundary of “no thank you”, otherwise embarrassing myself by way of anaphylactic drama?

Cancer.  Would the reality of the brevity of this life have been as real as it is now, if I’d not had my breast cut off my body, my thyroid cut out, my body scanned and scanned some more for a look at where the cancer has traveled?

Stroke.  Would I have laughed at the way God took the pain of the bone on skin where breast used to be, and with one quick stroke, remedied by TPA all deficits but left-side numbing, removing this irritation, just because He wanted to?

Brain Fog.  Well, this is the other stroke deficit still remaining.  It has turned up the brain fog dial that already existed.  Remembering paper-work kinds of details, remembering names, reading manuals, working computers.  Would I know God was always hanging about, following me throughout the day if He didn’t have to constantly help me in my pathetic state, over and over and over.  I’m talking about getting lost driving to some location I’ve driven to a dozen times.  Loosing the car keys today, my shoe the next.  Forgetting we make kids lunches every day, remembering to go to bed, remembering to pay the bills, remembering to wear my prosthesis, remember to stop singing when I’m in the Costco public restroom.  Would I find myself too special to love others who struggle with the details?

Step, and another forward, the mower moving on ahead, I recall my own clouds, and the clouds of others.  It’s obvious that God works to rescue each one of us from the meaningless life. Ask someone to tell you their story.  If you have a heart to hold what they tell you with care, you will hear the pattern.  That of God intentionally routing one, then another and another along a personalized bootcamp journey. All challenges personally designed to remove each one of us far from anything that would prevent us from being fully human, and fully alive.   The gloves are still gripping, but lighter.  Stride steady.  I praise God for being the God of the Cloud. Hovering near, He and I, we cut another line of hearty green grass.

“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.  He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”                                                                Exodus 13: 21 and 22

Lisa Boyl-Davis, LICSW

The Hunt for A Perfect Valentine Gift

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Valentines Weekend.  I can’t find the right gift for Adored Husband.  He’s the friend I’ve been married to almost 25 years now.  Can’t come up with the very thing that would let him know how much he means to me.  It’s not that it’s been perfect between us.  No that’s not it at all.  But when I really need him, all that’s put aside.

Thyroid cancer has been the latest bump in our road.  Just stabilized from the breast cancer that threw our world a year ago.  Right when I’m getting my new line of work in place. When our 6th grader is trying hard not to bomb classes.  When so much is happening for Adored Husband at work he needs to be there 24/7.  When his health is not that great, and needs extra exercise and rest and….

And he takes me to the dozens of appointments, rough edges and all.  Grills the Dr’s to make sure they haven’t missed something.  He can’t bear to have me cut up for no good reason.  He kisses me goodbye as they move stretcher down hall to tiny surgical room where everyone is joking and I’m just the thing on the bed to work on, but to the guy they left down the hall, I’m the pain in his chest, the hot tears moving down his face.  I’m out, and when I wake up, am sick and he’s there. 

He’s there when behind the surgical site I hemorrhage and swell huge, pain surging from a controlled 4 to a 9, passing out they tilt head back fast, throbbing.  Calls are made to contact the surgeon.  After a time he leans down and whispers a prayer in my ear and they rush me off to yet another surgery. 

He’s there again when I’m taken back.  I’m groggy and sick and vomiting.  I don’t remember much but him being there beside me.  He sleeps with me in bed, propped up high, no way for his comfort – the hospital has no cot, no recliner – is on stand by, every space and bed filled to the gills and so he sleeps beside me. 

Days and nights they blend together.  Feeling brave decide to walk.  I walk, my hand holds on to his arm.  He walks too fast, and then slows down.  Making jokes that I will be taking Mt. Hood soon. 

Another day another night, he stays close by.  An allergic reaction to Morphine.  White cold warning that I will soon be passing out, I throw up and he is there. 

IV sites they blow, one by one… and finally a pic line that hurts deep every time they pump me with more, he stays near by, and believes me when I say it hurts.

The throbbing shocks… feels like I’m hooked up to electric chair.  I ask him if he can feel the shock too, when he holds my hand.  He can’t. 

Some days, when I get stronger, I talk him into going for the children, napping at home a bit, collecting his strength, and each time he returns, even late enough a security guard has to let him in.  Nights of little sleeping, and still he stays.

He falls apart first day back, at nothing that mattered at all.  He is sorry.  It takes me a while to remind myself he’s worn under and needs to recuperate. It’s his turn to know I’m close by.

Strength returns, and Valentines Day approaches, I think cards are not the best representation.  Neither are flowers. Because no gift is messy, not raw enough to symbolize real love.  I think I’ll give him a kiss.