This true story left me speechless.
Originally posted on A Holistic Journey:
At the time when little girls start playing dress-up with their mother’s clothes, I was living in a forest without food or proper clothes. Grenades were falling, people were dying. It was war. Being beautiful was something for princesses in fairy tales. Months later we were sleeping in a park in Austria, dirty, homeless and hungry, refugees from the former Yugoslavia. Our first home was a cellar, without heating or daylight. From two neighbors I received t-shirts that were too big for me.
We moved to the countryside. I started high school and mobbing became a daily routine. I was the only child that wasn’t blond and pale. Girls were proudly wearing their first bra, having boyfriends and experimenting with make-up, while I was “the ugly one”. Trying to dress up made it even worse, so I shaved my head to give them a real reason for their cruelty. The…
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I was considering giving up blogging. Or at least about anything serious, to just stick with being comic relief. Your post shed light on the ego problem and the temptations that go with it. Everything in the post spoke to my “condition.” I’m reblogging the post. Thank you so very much for it. Eileen
Originally posted on Make Believe Boutique:
We must not,
in trying to think about how we can make a big difference,
ignore the small daily differences we can make which,
over time, add up to big differences
that we often cannot foresee.
….Marian Wright Edelman
there is an envisioning heart that responds to what is needed….beyond ego, beyond fear….directly in tune to grace…..these kinds of truths are intuited and deconstructed from our stories……..
To embrace the future, the dark, you make. Making is a letting go of your own stuff into the world, of the ideas and offspring that the breeze of time takes away as though you were a dry dandelion, a thistle, a milkweed, a poplar whose seeds travel n the winds of time, in this way that wind makes love to flowers and seeds, in this way that time tears them apart and carries them onward. The white ghosts of those seeds travel…
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I used to think I had some sort of jinx about clothes, but I finally figured out that God just created me for comic relief.
I’ve already told about slipping and bumping down the stairs on my rear when attempting to make a grand entrance wearing a new sexy and sophisticated black cocktail dress for a college date.
Another time I was wearing a much bustier cousin’s hand me down debutant evening gown. It was strapless with a flowing soft chiffon skirt with a slight train. I felt like a princess. As I stepped forward to meet my date’s parents in the receiving line, he accidentally stood on the train. I almost made my own debut when I went forward and the dress did not.
In high school I was dating a very nice boy pretty steadily, but out of the blue, he asked another girl to a party at my best friend’s house. I was crushed. Particularly, since the other girl looked so much like me, we could have been sisters. Another boy invited me to the party, but he was a bit of a dork. So, mother took pity on me and let me spend more that we could afford on a wonderful dress for the party. I arrived at the party confident that my new dress would make me look prettier than the other girl.
I don’t know which of us was more stunned when we saw each other…….both of us wearing the exact same dress. It struck me as funny. I think I made some comment like, “Which twin has the Toni?” But she not only didn’t laugh, she struggled all evening to always be in a different room. Humor won however. My boyfriend asked me to officially go steady the next week.
The clothes jinx tradition continued into my early forties. My husband had started a new business in what turned out to be a recession, so money was tight. I was applying for a much needed civil service job as an Associate Director of Religious Education for the Chaplains’ Division on a nearby Army Post. I had recently been given several very smart hand me down dresses by my wealthy sister-in-law. I chose a tailored A-Line dark blue dress with a high neck and a zipper down the front. I combined it with a camel colored jacket and matching neck scarf. I felt very chic.
I had to go through several interviews, first with the civilian Post Director of Religious Education, then the head Chaplain for the post, and finally the head Chaplain of my denomination. I made it through the first two feeling pretty comfortable. I could tell that the last Chaplain had some reservations about a lay woman having the kind of credentials required for the job. I would be working directly for him, but in a secure Civil Service position. I did my best Southern Lady imitation trying to come over as non-threatening. It seemed to go well and I was told to go get some lunch and come back in an hour after all three of my potential bosses had conferred. As I went out the office door into the January cold, I felt a freezing blast on my chest that took my breath away. I looked down and realized that the zipper that ran from my neck to my waist had pulled apart totally exposing my bra and upper torso. I hastily pulled my jacket closed and ran for my car. In the nearest McDonald’s, I scrounged in my purse and found one safety pin. My jacket had only two low buttons, so I used my safety pin at bra level and arranged my scarf to cover the rest of the gap. By the time I managed to get decent, it was time to return and learn my fate. Nervous and self-conscious, sneaking peeks at my chest, I struggled to sound delighted that I had been accepted for the job and restrain the overwhelming urge to bolt out the door.
I never knew when the zipper had come apart or whether anyone else had noticed, but later when I got to know the very Italian Chaplain, I always wondered if flashing him got me the job.
Well, according to Paul, “Everything works for good for those that love the Lord.”
Tara Brach, who ever she is, has captured the truth I too have found at the core of my journey. She says it beautifully.
Originally posted on Make Believe Boutique:
In the silence between
bides a summons.
there is a place outside of definition that is conditional and constrained and as we rummage for a safe place to hide our unsteadiness, know that we can trust the infinite battle……no wins, no losses…..only steady hearts and infinite wisdom to outlast the battle….
You might ask yourself: “Can I imagine what it would be like, in this moment, to have a heart that is ready for anything?”
If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life. As we bring a courageous presence to the truth of loss, we stay available to the immeasurable ways that love springs forth…
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We didn’t end up with ten commandments in order to please God or win heaven. We need them because most of us are generally simply oblivious. We go for the pleasure right in front of us in that moment without stopping to think about the consequences for us and others down the road.
It’s not about being judged or labeled or punished, it’s about love. The basic ten are a gift from God because God loves us enough to try to help us not screw up our lives and others’ beyond repair. Even though God knows how blind we are and forgives us, when we make poor choices we eventually have to face and live with the crippling and often even heartbreaking consequences.
Life is not a test, a contest, or a game we play for prizes.
The rules are about relationships. The basic ten are about how to avoid killing relationships so they have a chance to grow. They are the minimum survival guidelines.
The goal is learning to love enough to have deep, lasting, nurturing, transforming joyous relationships.
The first relationship is with God for the simple reason that grace is unconditional love and God is pretty much the only place you can count on that no matter what stupid thing you do.
I’ve reached an age where I can look back and see the harm even mildly selfish choices have caused not only others, but myself. Because when we continue in a pattern of choosing immediate gratification as we become adults with responsibilities to and for others, it becomes an addiction with painful consequences for both ourselves and them.
Addiction to avoiding discomfort or pain plays out in extremely diverse ways, even in socially approved things that aren’t recognized as addictions. When our marriage relationship starts to take work or involves delayed gratification, some of us simply become workaholics. That way we avoid what makes us uncomfortable and feel virtuous while doing it. Most don’t recognize this as being an addiction, a pattern of escape with consequences similar to using alcohol, infidelity, or running away.
Take another look at the Big Ten. Take another look at your daily choices. Are they healthy for you and for your relationships? Are they about learning to truly love, whatever it takes? Or are they about running from the challenge to do the not always pleasurable daily nitty-gritty it takes to grow up and learn to love.
Recently in a two week period, I was scheduled to lead Worship Service on the first Sunday, give a presentation to a group of retired teachers during the following week, read the Scriptures for the next Sunday service and then give a different presentation to another group of teachers. All of these in some way included some sort of testimony to the presence of God in our small ordinary lives.
I enjoy both the preparation and presentation for all of these kinds of things, so I was happily gathering material and pulling it together on the computer prior to printing it.
The last presentation involved collecting and printing photographs for visuals to accompany the text. Mid-way in preparing these, my computer became very erratic, sometimes slowing down to a crawl, sometimes losing the material, and then the printer began to stop after a few lines and go to the next page, then eventually to shadow print the text in different colors.
By the day before the last presentation, I was a basket case and my husband had to take time off work to rescue me using his computer.
I had for a couple of months been having sporadic gushing nosebleeds lasting up to two hours. In desperation, two days before the last presentation, my ENT had done an extreme cauterization in my nose, which stopped the bleeding but left my nose dripping so much that I had to tie a bandanna around my head to keep my nose from dripping on the materials I was collating.
As I was picturing trying to give a talk wearing a bandanna wrapped around my head and under my nose, my sinus problem and probably stress set off inner ear dizziness and nausea. This became so severe that periodically I was having to lie down to keep from falling or vomiting.
The stress from this then triggered my Irritable Bowel Syndrome, sending me to the bathroom multiple times at warp speed. At seventy-seven, I also tend to have bladder problems when I cough or sneeze or laugh, so as the day wore on I began to consider all the possibilities for total humiliation and to wonder if God was possibly telling me to not give this presentation.
So, I sat down with my Book of Daily Devotions to check out what the one for the next day might say. This sentence immediately stood out, “God honors those with radical risk taking faith.”
My first thoughts were of my grandson teaching in Afghanistan and my son teaching orphans who are HIV positive in Cambodia. My presentation was about the orphans and the volunteers from all over the world that come to help them. Then it dawned on me. Surely, risking spurting blood, dripping mucus, falling down or vomiting, or possibly even peeing or pooping in public while giving a talk about helping the helpless qualifies, at least, as risk taking faith.
So, I trusted God enough to go ahead with the presentation, but hedged my bets by not eating or drinking anything before hand and clutching one of my husband’s large white handkerchiefs the whole time I was speaking.
I do believe. Help thou my unbelief.
Check out the blog, Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane’s post “I Drive Like a Horse in Central Park.”
Same theme, more explicit and touching.
Originally posted on Laughter: Carbonated Grace:
Homing through a frost
of silent shooting stars,
the blowing icy flow
of winter’s crystal breath,
my car lights tunnel
through its frozen milky way.
Suddenly, I glimpse a shadow,
a hitcher thinly coated
with the jacketed nonchalance
of adolescent bravado,
James Dean image not quite masking
the soft edges of his youth.
A fragile hope flickers
at my moment’s hesitation,
then quickly disappears
behind me in the night.
My “Good Samaritan” – extinct,
afraid of death – dead of fright.
@Hannah Maxwell….this ties to what we’ve been posting about.
Originally posted on Laughter: Carbonated Grace:
Dying is messy. Most people don’t manage to die with their hair styled or tidily in their best suit and tie. Looking good isn’t what death is about.
Dying is often painful, both emotionally and physically. Even those, who find peace from acceptance or joy from a sense of God’s loving presence, struggle before getting to that point. Dying isn’t comfortable or entertaining.
Dying is not a social event. It sometimes brings feelings of rejection, because some of our family and friends aren’t ready to face the reality of death, so they may get very busy elsewhere.
Dying is scary and lonely. Only a few have lived to tell about it. And though our loved ones may hold our hand, we know we must go alone.
Dying is an experience of total helplessness. No matter how rich or competent or powerful we are in life, dying wipes out the last…
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Another memory resurrected.
Originally posted on Laughter: Carbonated Grace:
I’ve mentioned that my husband and I both grew up in cities and that our move to our own hundred acre paradise was a lot like the old TV series, Green Acres. Dreamer that I am, I had a vision of a bountiful garden, horses, chickens, maybe a cow or two.
My husband did not share this vision.
The kids bought into the animals, but not the garden part. But, by using the art of friendly persuasion, threats and bribes, I got them to all pitch in and with the help of neighbors with a tractor and plow, we put in a half acre garden that first spring living in the wilds.
It turns out that all those delightful forest animals the children enjoyed finding and watching, are not a gardener’s friends. We began to learn the fine art of warring with nature. Reading magazines on being earth…
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