Simple Journey

I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life... --Mike Donehey, 10th Ave. N.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Message of the Wee Hours

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121 (KJV)
Married with these words:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Psalm 91 (KJV)

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night bright and chipper and ready for the day? Even after going to bed late, like at midnight? Well, I have! Many a time, indeed. Last night was probably due to the diet Pepsi I had in the afternoon. I keep forgetting I cannot drink pop drinks with caffeine in them and expect to sleep at night. Silly me!

I had duly fallen asleep around 10:30, after watching an old movie I'd never seen, Bonjour Tristesse, just as an old movie I've heard of all my life but probably never watched was starting, From Here to Eternity. I got up and went to bed around 11:00, putting the house to sleep as usual. I went to sleep with no problem.

However, at midnight I was awakened by a very loud, incessant BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP right in my ear! I'd forgotten I had inadvertently turned on an alarm I didn't know my new bedside clock had, linked to a button I must have pushed the night before while looking for an OFF switch for the radio I couldn't see in the dark. I finally found the way to turn off the horrible BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP in my ear, by holding down the off switch. Ok! What will they think of next?!

Somehow I went back to sleep soon after that.

But I was rudely jolted out of sleep at 2:30am by my cat jumping in the window right above me and rattling the "nice" vertical blinds. I've had so much turmoil over this coming ISP meeting, (which I called but which is being railroaded by the case manager and her supervisor), that OF COURSE I could not go back to sleep. I rolled over and my mind immediately went to work on the problem again. To no avail, AGAIN.

I tossed over and over for THREE HOURS, trying again and again with my dull intellect and scant information about The System and The Laws to solve the unsolvable. The cat continued her hijinks until I finally got up out of bed and put a stop to her swiping at the shower curtain, by shutting the bathroom door with her outside it.

Still no sleep.

I suddenly remembered that I am a Christian, and that my mother made darned sure my head would be chock full of Bible verses before she would ever let me out the door as a teenager and a young adult. Oh yes. I'm supposed to repeat Scripture when I can't sleep. And pray. Oh that's right.

But how many times have I remembered these verses, and how many times have I prayed these prayers? And none of them helped. Everything stays the same. My daughter hates me, my son is caught inside his own mind, and my husband has exiled me forever from my home and hearth. My son refuses to allow his father to be present for any reason to help me fight his battles. My debts are greater than I can ever pay, short of dissolving the small retirement which is all I have left of 30 years of marriage, and the debts mount daily in spite of my making payments each month due to the usury of the credit card companies and the government banks. And I cannot get a job, no matter how many ways I stand on my head or jump through blazing hoops. Nothing is ever solved by my repeating Bible verses and praying in the middle of the night.

However, it's all I have. So I decide to let the questions stop, decide to just let go, decide to call on the Force, otherwise known as God. I figure if He's really out there He's got to hear me calling Him to duty, right? I mean, that's what God wants, right? So there I lay, tossing and turning still, but now willing to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, or at least to me. Right? Of course right!

Into my mind come the words, "The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand." Well, long have I known that one. I wondered why it mattered that I knew that one. These words got mixed up in my head with words from another great Psalm, and in the wee hours they floated in and out of my consciousness for awhile. And then I began thinking on what that phrase means that says, "the Lord is thy shade upon they right hand." I remembered a summer Bible study with Beth Moore videos and study book, a great gathering of sisters at Lake Grove Presbyterian some years back, in which we studied the Psalms of Ascent. This phrase was discussed, and it was explained that in battle a warrior's left side was shielded by his left arm, while his right was only protected by the sword in his right hand. When his right hand was lifted toward an enemy then, his right side was left undefended from other foes. Hence the importance of having a "right hand man", so to speak. And a "shade" is a protection, or it might be a shadow, or a doppelganger, I supposed.

The past weeks and months have been fraught with new worries about my son's future and totally unsolvable situations for which I have been the sole responsible person, and I have made mistakes and I am going to continue making them, feeling totally and utterly alone, even surrounded by loving church family and supported by my family members and friends. No one is able to be present, and even if they were they don't have the knowledge of The System and The Laws to really be helpful. A body just for moral support would simply make me look silly, I want to avoid that indeed. But I cannot stand in my human ignorance and think I can take on this System. I cannot sit at that table alone and protect my son from whatever they are bound and determined to make happen in his life. They have assembled laws and rules that shut a parent out entirely if they so choose, and they seem to be so choosing. They will take over this meeting, I know this. And I have no earthly power to stop them. If you know anything about me, you know this is the greatest evil in my life, not to be able to do anything about the wrongs being done my son, as was the other greatest evil, the wrongs done my daughter.

So I thought of God as my Right Hand Man in the struggle in which I am currently embroiled daily, until I fell asleep a bit after 5:30am. I had finally given up solving the puzzle alone, and let my Right Hand Man take over. In the morning I looked up these two Psalms, which I've copied above. I read them now with great peace which passes all understanding. And that is saying quite a mountain for me.

So since I am powerless, and God loves the powerless, these words I've copied above are for me. "Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall cause them to stumble," is another great Psalm that was given me one day at Moms In Touch, and it is so true. So very true. When I remember my Heavenly Doppelganger Shadow, protecting my vulnerable right side while I try to find the answers for my children, I no longer feel I am struggling alone, or struggling at all. Because He's the one doing the struggling, and for Him it's no fight at all. He's already won it.

Now that I am aware of my utter powerlessness, I can give up and let Him who knew no wrong take the wheel. Don't you love how I mix my metaphors. I do. I love that they are coming in one after the other now in poetic phrase after poetic phrase, to comfort, to bolster, and to accompany me on my way. I hope I remember them all when I get to the meeting on Tuesday alone. But, as you can see here, I'm not truly alone, am I?

I smile as I type that last paragraph.

Jesus, take the wheel,
Take it from my hands.
Cause I can't do this on my own.
I'm letting go.
So give me one more chance,
Save me from this road I'm on.
Oh Jesus, take the wheel. (Carrie Underwood)

Thank You for saving me from this road I've been on, always thinking I'm the only one who can help me, my son, my daughter, and my husband. And thank You for the message of the wee hours.


Friday, June 6, 2014

A New and Unusual Song


It's been a long time. So much has changed and sea-change has occurred. Life is so much different now, more than I ever could have anticipated.

I am going to see what I can do with this blog. I am hoping it will be a fun new adventure for me. I've already begun one that will make me money - housecleaning for a cleaning company. But I want to bring in as much as I can as fast as I can, to pay off debt quickly. So I'm looking in any direction that can possibly make me some money. Maybe this blog can help as well.

I didn't want to focus on money. It's not who I am. But when you're cast adrift with nothing else, you're not hired in the jobs you thought you were able to land, and nowhere to turn, that's what you do. Or at least that's what I'm told. I think it's good, in a way. It means I won't be able to listen anymore to the voices in my head that are really just my "inner critic".

In the book, Cash In A Flash, authors Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen talk about our "inner winner", as the part of us that knows us best and recommends actions to flesh out our souls, so that when we listen to our "inner winner" we ultimately become the person God intended us to be from birth. I think this is true. I've tried to do this all my life, and it has led to accomplishing much more than I should have had any reason to expect, given my family and financial status in the world.

But what about when listening to your "inner winner" doesn't result in the wins you expected? What about when you suddenly realize your "inner winner" is a bit out-dated or over-the-hill? What do you do then?

I don't know. So I've embarked on a journey to find out how to make a living FIRST, and then listening to my "inner winner". Hansen and Allen say that's the wrong way round. Maybe that's true. Or maybe they are barking at the moon. But either way, I've begun to do both, and I'm not quitting until I find some answers.

When my daughter was about a year and a half, I saw a poster on the wall in a pastor's home with a few, poignant words, and I never forgot them. They were from some writing by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and I have always tried to live by them. Here is the passage in a fuller version:

"I beg you... to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer..." (quoted from the front of a greeting card I have in a frame).

I had some questions back then too. I've lived some of them, and in so doing have now wound up alone in the world, and I do not like that. That is not what my "inner winner" would have prompted me to do, to strike out all alone in the world. So I'm going to continue to live the questions I now have, and pray and hope that in the future I live along into an answer that includes another person. It's the only kind of faith I can come up with at present.

Thanks for staying with me all this time. A true friend can be found by applying my father's test: A friEND is a friEND to the END (which is how he taught me to spell the word).

Have a nice day. Now go live your questions, and hopefully that will include being a true frIEND to someone!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"I'm worn...."

Well, it's been almost a year since my last post. I didn't meant to leave it this long, it just happened that way.

As you've seen, if you've read any here, my life split apart a couple years ago, interrupting my songs and crashing my plans and sending me headlong into a tailspin, from which I have yet to see the light of recovery at the other end of the vortex-tunnel.

The song "Worn", by Michael Donehey of Tenth Avenue North, says it best, and today I'm posting those words here for you. I will post a url so you can hear them sung, and this is now my daily prayer.

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn
In an article about the group, I read that this song was generated by Mr. Donehey's recent fatherhood.  A piece of me wants to tell him that if he thinks he's worn now he can just wait and see how worn this child will make him in about 15 years.

But another part of me waits on revelations I am newly acquiring in yet another Beth Moore study, as I attend our Women's Summer Bible Study at church. We are studying James, the brother of Jesus, through the eyes of others in the early church, and through his own writing. This is the second week, and already I am understanding a tiny bit about where God might be seeing me on this journey.

But I am worn, oh yes, I'm worn. I had stopped singing, my piano rarely making a noise to disturb the peace of this quiet neighborhood. I only sing when asked by someone at church, really, which is quite rare. Part of my journey is trying to find where on earth I am meant to sing. I am still asking that one.

Lately, a message arrived in the mail announcing the resignation and imminent moving away of my dear friend and pastor, Libby. I merely put that fact on the back burner. I couldn't handle it with any grace at the time, so I left it alone.

Recently I was privileged to help seniors of our church worship in their retirement home, accompanying Libby's leading there. This is a monthly service I volunteer, requested by Libby and finally taken up by me when it was clear my solo "career" was ending. No one wants classical music anywhere anymore, and just barely at church. There I am not needed, really, since there are so many, and a hired soprano is given the limelight. But I don't need the limelight anymore, and that's fine.

My voice suffers. It's an old adage among singers, "Use it or lose it." And it's true. I haven't used it, and I often lose it. And I know I need to get back in it, but I'm worn.

My daughter is on her own journey of choice far away from anything or anyone that might remind her of her family. I leave that in God's lap.

My son is riddled with anxiety and other emotional disturbances, having been diagnosed 6 times over the past 6 years by about 6 specialists, and now has a new diagnosis and a new specialist. He wreaks havoc on furniture and house with intermittent outbursts neither he nor I can control, and for which we have yet to find a source or a cure - and he is the sweetest human being God ever created. Being now 19 years old, I am not allowed to find him help, and so his problems stretch on and on, since he can't see them himself as well as I can. But I have been learning to leave that, too, in God's lap.

I will soon move in to an apartment. The owner of this lovely home decided she wanted to live here instead of Arizona. I can't think why. It's far gloomier here than there in winter. Perhaps it is the heat in summer, though it's been far hotter here than usual, with no air conditioning.... but she can install it if she wants. It's her home. Mine is occupied by my former spouse. I leave that, too, in God's lap.

So to an apartment I must go, as my spousal support was reduced due to my ex-spouse's company folding and him losing his part time position with his former employer (though right now he is working for them in another capacity). He is to inform me immediately when he finds other employment, or so the court decided.  We settled. I thought I was getting the good end of the deal that way. Who knows? I left that in God's lap. I must be done with lawyers; they are too expensive for the resources God has given me.

 I have not lived in an apartment since 1986, when I left one for good, as far as I could see. However, I couldn't see my divorce then, or I never would have left Southern California and my parents and my friends. When I was divorced, I lost my two best friends here, and have had to try and do a lot of things alone for the first time. I suppose it's good for me, or so my dearest friend, who lives in Texas, tells me. But I digress.... some more.

I only got on here to say that I'm worn, and that even so I wait.

"For they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31.

I am worn, Lord, but I wait. Please, let me know a song can rise from the ashes of this broken life.
In Jesus' name,

Simply waiting,

YouTube: Worn by Tenth Avenue North
 Sept. 21, 2012

Simple Journey

Don't we wish! Life is nothing like a simple journey, is it? If it seems so, then perhaps something is missing, like living!

So many of us have extremely rocky paths to traverse, and I am one of them. The first half of my life seemed to go so smoothly, yet I was always finding something to discontent me. Finally I decided to approach life simply, instead of complicating every issue as I went along my simple path of marriage, homemaking, motherhood...

Then everything changed - EVERYTHING.

Now my life is not at all simple, and it is a very, very unsettling journey. Knowing that others also are walking precarious paths, I put here the things I find most comforting, most consoling, most settling, most uplifting. Funny, I almost always find them simple, pass over them in my urgent quest to find The Answer, forgetting He is found in every blade of grass, leaf, or drop of water, if I simply take time to see it again.

I hope these words serve a purpose for you, my readers, especially an encouraging one. For that's the reason I'm here, and that's the purpose of this blog.

Simply sharing,


Friday, September 21, 2012

Level Ground

 Yesterday was a day of new beginnings, stepping out in faith, and learning experiences.

I've had a couple of dreams for almost all of my adult life. One was to be a writer, and the other was to create quilts I could sell for real money.

Yesterday I entered into both worlds for real for the first time. I spent most of the day up by the Columbia River at the Portland Expo Center, viewing a dazzling array of art in quilt. At the end of the day I attended a Christian writers group at a local church, hearing the story of a real author's journey of faith and writing. Then I came home and thought about it all, and went to sleep. When I woke up this morning, the two had melded into one huge, grace-filled learning experience.

First I'll tell you how I came to be at the Expo Center. A few years back I was bitten with the machine quilting bug. I took quilting classes, following up my beginnings at In The Beginning, a quilt shop in Seattle, when my daughter was not even a year old. This time, I was transported suddenly out of my singing self and into a new me I didn't even know. I found myself in Tacoma, Washington, at a quilters' convention called Innovations, with a focus on machine quilting. I had come with only the thought of trying out the machines, but while I was there I began to think this was the direction my life should take. But the costs are astronomical. And so, I used the machines on display there to practice, wanting to see if I could justify such a purchase. One of the sales women got disgusted with me spending so much time at her booth and made a comment which sent me flying back to the familiar life of singing for about 5 more years.

Simultaneously (as always, I cannot stick with one thought until it's completed), I was working on becoming a writer. I took two online classes through the community college, and thought I might publish an article or two. Sadly, they were rejected by all five magazines to which I sent them in such hopes, and I went back to my familiar world of singing. After all, I knew God had called me there, but these other areas might simply be larks, passions that needed taming, therapeutic hobbies, or simply yet two more symptoms of my theoretical ADD. So I stuck with the sure thing awhile longer.

Until my world completely came apart last year.

When you are crushed, sometimes everything gets squished out of you. I mean all my soul was drained, my spirit seemed dead, my dreams buried, and the future non-existent. Having lived 30 years married to someone I completely depended on for my livelihood and a lot of other things, I now had to learn to live on my own at the age of 51, to build a career at a time in life when most people were winding down into retirement and learning to rest on their laurels. I had to do this at a time which was for me the absolute worst time, having had my rug snatched from under me, my safety net evaporating, my friends retreating, my purpose obfuscating. My children both dove into vortexes of self-defeat, my husband utterly refused to even discuss reconciliation or counseling, my home was taken from me, which meant my son as well, and my confidence was rocked to pieces. My old self died and was buried with the marriage. I hung at the end of a very long rope, of which only the tiniest thread persisted to remain, and that was sheer will to keep the faith of my fathers and mothers.

I've said many a time over this past year and a half since my daughter went away with a con man:
If the LORD had not been on our side—
   let Israel say—
 if the LORD had not been on our side
   when people attacked us,
 they would have swallowed us alive
   when their anger flared against us;
 the flood would have engulfed us,
   the torrent would have swept over us,
 the raging waters
   would have swept us away.  (from Psalm 124)
If I had not had an extremely firm foundation of faith in a loving Father in heaven in my Baptist upbringing, I have no idea if I'd be alive or dead, in this lovely rental home or in a gutter, seeking a career now or a drunk on Skid Road. I know one thing, I might well be in a crazy ward somewhere, living in a made-up world in my own mind rather than face the dreary reality of this world and winters in Oregon alone. But I did have that upbringing, I did have those two loving parents to model my loving God's attitude toward His children, and I do have His word, every word of promise in the Bible on those days I feel completely defeated.

And so, winding back around to the purpose of this blurb, yesterday I took His promises by the horns and attended those two events. I had known for some time now just what I told God He was planning for me to do with my "widowhood". I was going to buy one of those unGodly expensive machines (nobody should charge so much for a machine!), and I was going to quilt for His people. And in the process I was going to be discovered and win awards and people were going to line up to have me quilt their works of art. Oh yes, I knew He would provide if I would just go and choose a model, and actually order one on credit. I knew it in my bones. This was the direction He wanted me to go, because I wanted to go that direction so much myself. God provides when we step out in faith, oh yes, and so I knew all I had to do was go there and purchase, and the money would flow in. I still believe that, when God is at the helm.

At the Expo I signed up for credit on two different machines, not wanting to limit myself, in case one wouldn't give me credit. I didn't want to limit God either, and having a hard time knowing which machine I liked better I figured that way God could decide better for me, since I'd narrowed His choices to only two. I know this sounds contradictory, but it's me, so that's par for my course. I both thought I was giving God a free hand and limiting His choices to save Him time.

Then, exhausted and hopeful, I went home and got a drink of water, let the dog out, fed the cat, and then went off to my writing group, pen and notebook in hand. I took some of my writing, but hadn't had time to review it, so I'm glad she didn't call on me! The group ended up sitting in a circle and listening to a self-published writer tell her story. It was interesting, and sounded somewhat like my own Christian journey through self-doubt, to confidence in my plan for God, to....

And this is the surprising thing that is causing me to write all this loooong account: that author shared one thing that stayed with me all night, through all the deliberating of my brain over long-arm machines, debating which room would be best to put one in, whether it will even fit in either of them, how they should be configured. She shared how, every time she receives a letter from a publisher after submitting a book, she gets on her knees and prays a prayer of acceptance of God's will, whatever the message in the letter. The reason she shared this is because one time she did not, but sent off her response to an editor who was taking too long for her, and lost the contract.

This made me think about myself: was I taking time to pray before making the decision to spend so much money I don't have on one of those machines? Was I willing to accept that I might not get a loan, and what that would mean? Would I be able to get down on my knees and offer my work to God for whatever He sees fit to reward me with, even if it's nothing monetary?

This was an eye-opener for me. I had been there before, when singing for church. It was easy then, because they never pay, but was worried about my reputation. I mean, if I hit a bad note, it would never be forgotten, I thought, and my future as a singer would be in the toilet. So I had to give my performance to Him as an offering in order to become what my favorite teacher calls transparent, so He could shine through regardless of my failings. Could I do that in a business though?

It seems I have to. As a matter of fact, this morning I realized that all the plans I had decided for God to have for me would just have to give way to physics. The long-arm sellers and their assistants all said I need to purchase a frame large enough to quilt at least a queen size quilt if I'm going into business. But the physics of my room say, Oh no you don't! Not only that, but the numbers on the order sheets say the rest: You don't have the money, girl.

God says, Do your best for Me, and I'll take care of the rest. Right? So this morning, I may go back to the Expo, but I am not planning to purchase a machine there. I will go there to listen, listen to God, and to the quilts I see that have already been quilted, and to people other than the vendors, such as other quilters. I am going to just be there, listen for the Song of the King, so I can learn it well enough to sing it when it's my turn.

"Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground"*, was in my mind when I got out of bed this morning. I don't want to follow the Pied Piper of my own desires and ambitions. I've done that already and made a huge mess of the greatest treasures God could give me, my family. All I want to do now, for the rest of my life, is follow that good Spirit.

Thanks for reading. May your spirit be blessed by this simple song.

Simply following,

*Teach me to do your will,
   for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
   lead me on level ground.
                       Ps. 143:10