Letter #13: Jackie O and Pissed Off Me

GOAL#1 2016 Stop saying bad words when provoked.

Day 1: completed mission

Day 2: went to Wal-Mart.

Day(s) 3 – 362: Don’t go to Wal-Mart

Don’t tell Michael (my husband) in Aldi’s parking lot (directly before going into Wal-Mart) “I think you have a problem with aggression.”

Five minutes later — after shopping for 4 items I enter the Express Self Check out Lines in Wal-Mart.

For sake of clarity let’s just call it “The Worm Hole”. You’re sucked in because of course you’re attempting a quick escape and now you’re held to its power.

And it is powerful — just ask Sweetie Pie Pants (aka Wicked Witch of the West) whom I apparently had a date with in destiny on Day #2 2016.

Immediately WWW tries to tell me I can’t check out via the Express Self Check out and use a check as I’ve done OVER 200 TIMES ! This has happened before so I politely explain “Yes, I can – I’ve done it for over 2 years now.” Well she wanted to argue that point so I obliged — patiently, without ugly words and pretty even handily.

Twice she said it.

Twice I replied.

I might add with accurate information.

Yes, you can use a check at the Express Self Check Out. However having a properly trained staff – both in business etiquette “The customer is always right” (and sometimes they are!) and company protocols (like actually training them that the computer screen stating “check” as an option to pay with isn’t AN ERROR!) just actually might be beneficial for the Wal-Mart shopping experience!

Well she finally shut up and did HER RIPPING JOB. . . allowing me to push the button ON THE SCREEN THAT ALLOWS FOR — that’s right —- using a CHECK !

So I take my stuff over to the little counter just like I have 200 times before but does she keep her mouth shut? Nope, she has to continue to tell me “We’re really not supposed to do this!” While I have to stand there with my check like I’ve done 200 TIMES BEFORE and utilized to pay for my purchases and wait for her to finish her lecturing of me.

My response — “Ok, however I’ve done it over 200 times and perhaps Management needs to put a sign up that states you can’t use a check here” (maybe even consider REMOVING   that option from the stinking COMPUTER SCREEN that says “Yes, indeed you can, Dear Valued Customer, use this here button to pay for your purchases at your neighborhood Wal-Mart store!) OR here’s one — TRAIN YOUR STAFF to know that a customer can utilize the COMPUTER SCREEN OPTION OF PAYING WITH A CHECK!

Then . . . while I hand her my check, I explain “This register requires the check to go in opposite, it’s different than the other registers.”   This also always happens to me – the staff does not know their little check running through thingy is opposite than the main registers here in the Express Self Check Out aka WORM HOLE STATION. My words to her were said trying to avoid further conflict with an employee who just can’t SHUT THE HELL UP!

I stated my advice – not trying to be ignorant, just trying to get the transaction done correctly and avoiding any further issues with her. What does she say . . . because she can’t keep her mouth shut and has to have the last word – “I know it – I’ve done this before.” Hmmm did she not start this whole WORM HOLE EVENT with me because they were NOT CAPABLE OF ALLOWING THIS KIND OF PAYMENT at the Express Self Check Out? Then how is it, Sherlock that she knows how to do this and has DONE IT BEFORE?

My response “Yes, I’m sure this isn’t your first rodeo. . . however this also has happened to me here often – the staff not knowing about that tip – to turn the check in the opposite direction and upside down.”

Does she SHUT THE HELL UP YET? Nope not really, she’s needing the last word — utilizes her eyeballs and glances back over, yes, I said back over – she’s already stretched those eyeballs over at this other employee once already – who’s currently standing looking straight ahead hoping to not become involved in our little chat and gives this little girl who’s trying really, really hard to not get involved — a look — Yep, that kind of look. Little WWW can’t shut her mouth up so her eyeballs speak for her – the look –  “Can you believe this “blank”!”

Blank would be me — me — the customer who’s only trying to utilize the Express Self Check Out like she’s done 200 times before using her checks to pay. So the WWW gives her (the sweet little co-worker) yet again the side eye glance of disrespect towards me and our now epic encounter.

Upon gazing at this little girl (co-employee) I notice another customer directly behind this polite employee turning around to join in on the fun. She’s looking at me, she’s looking at the WWW. Well, friends — I grew up in E. St. Louis —- I know how to drop and roll my head back around – thus communicating it might be in your best interest to not go there.

However she obviously had her little golden blonde wig on a little too tight and her solar flare Jackie O blacked out sunglasses were obviously obstructing her vision cause she didn’t take the hint. Her comment – “She’s not arguing with you.” Now at this point all my hinges are flipping open and I’m attempting to let the steam poof out my ears so I don’t reach across the counter and slap a knot upside ole WWW’s smarty pant’s skull. I’m rather distracted in other words and here’s the LOL part — I didn’t get it — I didn’t get that she was actually talking to me, I thought she was addressing the impolite, can’t keep your mouth shut, has to have the last word employee — I thought she was going after that girl.

Now here’s the only noble part of this whole stupid encounter.   I actually looked at her and thought — “Now that’s not fair to this employee — I’m upset with this employee and she needs to learn to shut up but it aint fair to make this harder on her!” I seriously thought this woman was ganging up on this stupid employee! So you know what I said? :)))   I looked at her and her tightly woven golden blonde wig and Jackie O sun flare glasses and said . . . “I’ve got this.” She shut up. I should of told her also she might want to actually utilize those sun glasses and occasionally step out into the sun – boy was she pasty white!

So I turn back towards the root of my Wal-Mart angst. I told her not to worry that I’d take the whole issue up with management — and asked who was the manager on duty. Shocker – she didn’t know. I told her – no problem I’m sure I could get it figured out.

Jerking up her broom (conveniently stashed by her work station) I jumped on it and aimed it towards the Customer Service desk . . . reaching back I pulled the nitro straw, the flames pushed backwards and I felt the torque. I was en route to somebody who was going to hear my story. . . and keep their mouth shut!

Now Michael was waiting out in the car — patiently waiting — being a Christian waiting patiently in the car for his wife who was pissed off to the max and looking for a manager and currently riding a broom to find one.

Did I mention he was behaving like a Christian?

So there I speed down the main aisle and low and behold slammed myself directly in the hurried pathway of a manager. I had Michael on the phone and was YELLING into it when I threw myself in front of her (averting my attention away from Michael who was patiently waiting as a godly patient Christian patient husband patiently waiting in the parking lot) I barked at her “Are you a manager — of which she replied calmly (no doubt a patient Christian, godly woman) “Yes.” I then resumed my YELLING into my phone to my husband who was patiently waiting as a godly husband outside in the parking lot in clear view of the Aldi’s parking lot. My statement to him “I have a situation here, WAIT!” and snapped my phone shut. The managers eyeballs were a little large at this point . . .

We walked off to the side – I threw my stuff on the floor – yanked my sweater off (if I’d of had earrings on I’d of yanked those off too!) and began — yep, that – the part where I cussed. She listened intently and we chatted for a bit while of course drawing a crowd of on-lookers who apparently had never seen a menopausal pissed off woman before. I explained how rude she’d been from the start, how rude she’d continued to be and how incapable she was of shutting her mouth when a customer was simply explaining how she’d utilized OVER 200 TIMES the system for payment that she (the employee) insisted WOULD NOT WORK and then followed it up with WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO. . . with continued snotty looks of disrespect and then the best part TOLD ME SHE KNEW HOW TO DO (entering the check correctly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) THAT IT WASN’T HER FIRST TIME.

When I was finished I grabbed my stuff – jumped back on my broom, hit the Nitro again but before exiting our friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart store I slammed it to a complete stop directly in front of the Express Lanes, hopped off and walked directly in front of them while glaring over at the Wicked Witch of the Express Lanes.

I stomped out the door and yanked open the door on my Camry of which Michael was patiently waiting within like a godly Christian man would. I threw my stuff down, yanked my door shut and yelled “Drive.”

He pulled away from the curb like he was “Driving Miss Daisy” and listened intently to my tirade for the next 5 minutes – during which time I realized Jackie Onassis needed her ass kicked as she had taken a swing at me and I was too stupid to realize it because I was so ticked off at the Wicked Witch of the Express Check out lanes! OH MY GOODNESS am I glad I hadn’t taken it the “right” way (her getting in the middle of something that wasn’t her fight!) – I’m fairly certain I would have gotten up into her space and who knows maybe even separated her and that wig/weave or whatever in the crap was on top of her head!

When I was done ranting my husband looked over at me while turning the car left down Main Street, without smiling and smoothly, calmly taking that turn glanced over at me and said “I don’t know – I think you have a problem with aggression.” and busted out laughing. . . and so did I.

Next time at Aldi’s I’m keeping my mouth shut.

And next year I’m starting it off with . . .

Goal #1 2017 Stop judging people – work on your own crap.

As for 2016 — Jackie O better hope I don’t see her in Aldi’s – that’s all I’m saying.

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Letter #12: Flag of Hope

hyatt 2LittleBird, today would of been your 98th Birthday! I miss you – we would have plenty to talk about and you’d have plenty to pray about. Some things never change, Momma. From tiny splinters to splintered lives you held your “hill” and your (kids, grandkids, great grandkids and now great, great grandkids) soldier on — keep the faith because they saw you on the hill with your flag of hope. You always, always hoped, hoping even to a fault. And now you stand another vigil on a green grassy knoll where the Missouri July heat bears down on your marble grave marker. Your old bones and Dad’s are there but you’re not. No, Ma’am you drink of living waters, feel soft summer breezes and eat from full crops. Don’t you worry none, Momma we’ve taken our place on ours hills and hold the flags for our children too. That July heat will some day visit our graves but not one day sooner than God’s appointed time. Until then we wave those flags high, to show the young ones how to carry on. We’re not alone on those hills – just like you weren’t. Jesus was the flag you flew – high and full of HOPE IN HIM. And btw, folks — she didn’t talk about it as much as she simply lived it. HOPE. HOPE IN THE LORD!

Letter #11: Life is a Story

VIEWING ONLY

Life is a story. . . keep reading – you’ll find your stride, you’ll like the next chapter. It isn’t always about the bad guys winning – you’ll find a way. The rain will stop, the pain will ease up. . . she’ll smile at you (the one you long for) or he’ll open your heart and you won’t be afraid – you won’t be afraid for the first time ever! You’ll kick the butt of the one who’s needed it for a while . . .you’ll slow down and breathe – it isn’t always about the hustle, you can learn to trust, to rest.

Keep reading and turning those pages – if you read fast enough or just simply long enough into the night you just might catch HIM writing the script – God wants to be found by you – don’t ever give up the chase, cause He won’t let you . . .it’s not you, after all that’s wrote the story.

So catch your breath, lay down in the green grass – close your eyes and believe again in this epic story of your life! Tomorrow there are dragons to slay and fast food to eat and decisions to make but for now, right now – rest a while and let God make your way known – this isn’t a dry piece of toast He’s busily cooking, instead it’s like a feast within a fairy tale.

Tomorrow there will be plenty to make you believe nothing is fancy about your life, nothing is lovely or even clever but for now, right now – rest and believe the same God who each night brings us star light to look on in amazement, to search for Him in . . . writes your story and sees the beauty of you in this exact moment.

And here’s one for the books – finds you – you, that would be you quite interesting and never boring and always worth fighting for! Calling out to His angels to move the text around, to weave mountains for you to climb, and then walks those with you – dragging when necessary and carrying you when you’ve given up and never once, not once believing you when you say you don’t love Him anymore.

In fact His touch is even more tender for He knows the soul you are and the wonder He has created you with – quitting Him isn’t possible – for this story, your story wasn’t begun in you.  Instead, within Him, from the foundation of The First Story – The Word made flesh bore you to Himself.  You want to understand the deep theology of that statement here it is . . . You became His to have.  So quit fighting this chapter in your life and wait for it – the narrative often needs the ending to make sense.   Keep turning those pages . . .Life indeed is a story!

Letter #10: Give Me The Date

I wrote this story for a loved one suffering through divorce.  A 38 year marriage was burning down in front of me – I wrote it to help her journey, help her heal – give voice to her sorrow.  For you, Jenny. . .

*  *  *  *  *  * 

Sitting on the front steps of a well worn, wood planked deck, an aged mountain cabin stretches out behind it – the planks squeak as he readjusts his weight, gathering his legs closer to stay warmer.   The occasional popping sounds of wood burning in the fireplace inside suggests the knowledge of your needs, warmth and shelter.  The hearth knows quite well this story . . .

The deck knows the wager as this ole cabin’s smoke curls up the chimney finding its way out into the cool night air . . . taunting the deck to release you. The breeze softly shuffles the leaves on the trees, the sun is setting in violet hues against the navy blue darkness of night, the stars begin their speckled appearances straining to be seen as the sun dips finally behind the full forested mountains surrounding you. An Elk calls out mournful trumps, it’s mate is yet to be found – disgusted he will bed down alone, an owl hoots as if in mocking response eager to begin its hunt, he hunts alone.   You sip your hot coffee, your fingers locking together around this brew, you breath in the steamed scent and close your eyes to remember. And of what shall you remember?

Will it be her, the other one or the woman you so long ago chose? Who wins this battle?   You’ve bonded to both – one through an oath to God, this one – the one who’s body belongs to you in that oath and through that life of marriage. One who God Almighty sees as you – is it not true . . . you did become one with her. Indeed one with them – her clan, her people likewise in your marriage. Tell me how to undo you from this weaved story? How do I make you not theirs – hers? How do I undo the years of knowing?

Yet, indeed the other, the new lover lifts your weariness of traveling sorrows — life with a spouse isn’t known without pain and trouble.   A new lover brings such great rush to the tiredness of struggle – why deny this? It is truth – a new lover brings soft music to our ears, words said in passion pours new wine into our veins and we are given a lullaby to sway us to sleep a little while, a little while longer until the wife of your oath can not awaken you. Her song is no longer heard – instead she likewise only has dreams, lullaby’s too . . .

“Cool, soft summer grass beneath, your full hand moves warm in sweet caress. I am yours to have of this there is no error, yet you wait for my desire, wait for my desire. I feel your chest move up and down, up and down. Your mouth lowers, my lips receive. Captive I am to your skill, we move together a thousand times now as wife and lover. I feel this as I feel my own heart beat yet suddenly I awake. Oh! How long my husband will I suffer this longing yet have not you!   Tonight, this night, I beg you take me yet again upon my bed of dreams and keep me asleep until our fill.”

Is this all she will have now of you, her husband?   Dreams? What is it that you want? You want both – admit it . . . both. You play in your mind these schemes of choosing both. Oh but there is one you will lose and it is neither of them. It is you that you will lose . . . just as satan has gambled. She, the other, will leave you when your are most vulnerable to her. She never wanted what could be hers, she wanted what was another’s. Let that sink in – when you are no more the “husband of another” your soft whispered name on the strangers lips in passion, will be given to another – it is her way to wander forever, as the stranger in the bed of another and another and another.

Yes, of course you scoff — intimacy suggests knowledge, a knowledge known only by the two of each other. And how can this white hot desire not be fulfilled? How do you undo your bond with her? You are sick with love for her – that is not difficult to see but soul bruising to know!

Oh it is given great heights – the cliffs of lust are known to lay down lovers in the darkness of night, until their violent fill.   The pushing of souls together to slack their illicit touch rubs shamefully against the heavens, spilling daylight upon that nakedness you rise with her and say “I feel so full, so blessed!”   You will not, this husband, find light blessing this!   Does sin when it is first given, drip with warm bloodied sores, pushing into your nostrils the stench of skin’s puss? Or is it sweet to drink from? Does not the light sparkle in your cup of “new” wine with her? Indeed it does. . . and it is sweet. Drink up, drink gulping slurps of her, swipe your chin of all excess and lay her upon your bed of dreams. She is a phantom you know – she’s not flesh and blood.   She is sin that has laid in waiting, and found the one, who would finally wear her mask.

Therefore it is not the “other woman” who is the greatest sorrow in this song, she is only one lyric – it is the melody, the chant, the chorus you beckon in your heart for others to bring to you significance that cannot be born. Where is your soul mate, husband? Who longs to be known by you? Who answers the human being’s greatest need?

Yes, what of God! How are we to be known by Him? In complete abandon, given in fullness, received in passion and restrained jealously for His presence to walk this life out in you — literally in you. What you didn’t know he lays where you lay! Does he touch what you touch?

The truth is wayward, husband – the hearth (that place of your comfort, your protection, your home) knows quite well your story . . . .you have need of one thing.

Not her.

Not me.

But God.

With regards to me, it is with God that I lay you and the oath to be a wife. I will not be equal to another woman in your life, I am your wife. Come inside or leave my home – I will not be your friend – I certainly will not be hers! I will not compete for your respect. I will not compete for your bed. I will not teach your children to hate you, I will not allow disrespect. I will not serve you up to ridicule amongst my family nor yours because I choose to heal.

The divorce awaits your decision.

Embrace it or embrace me.

If you choose to repent – as in fully turn away from her and enter counseling I believe there is hope for us.

While you ponder your decision I am curious when exactly did I become your ex-wife? Is it now or on your first date with others?

And, yes, — it does matter and you at least owe me that answer. And when you answer it also likewise give me the decency of an answer NOT in an e-mail nor a text message.   Say it to me in writing, in your hand writing – give me our date of divorce – give me something to hold in my hand and mourn over. If you have an ounce of respect for me yet give me at least that paper to hold and remember to let you go.

Give me the date we were no more – so that I might heal.

 

Letter #9: “Sweetie Pies”

I’m not sure but I think I’ve pee’d in the same toilet as Oprah.

Sweet tea – that’s all it took and well of course a trip to “Sweetie Pie’s” restaurant, famous in the neighborhood before Oprah showed up with her cameras, with cameras of their own! And if you’ve ever watched the Food Network you know what restaurant I’m talking about.

David took me out to “Sweetie Pies” a restaurant in the West End of St. Louis (I think that’s where it’s at — for the most part I just yelled at him during our travel there, “Did you just see that building – it was boarded up!” or “Don’t stop at the stoplight!!!) but once we arrived I was happy to be at “Sweetie Pies”.

Upon arriving we found ourselves in a rather long line (it took us 20 to 30 minutes to make it to the buffet line) so while in it I turned around and started chatting with the girls behind us – two women from E. St. Louis. I smiled when they told me that was where they were from and began talking about being raised there myself! Yes, I did tell them the part about being one of only three white kids (one of which was my little sister) in the whole school even back in my day, the 1960’s!!!

They grinned — and talked and talked and talked with us, so much so in fact they asked to sit with us which we all did. After arriving at the table and all of our food being set out we all picked up our forks and then I blurted out before the forks made contact with steaming hot double delicious cheesiness mac & cheese, “So who’s saying grace?” Their large brown eyes looked at each other and then back at David & I.   David, grinning answered, “I will.”

Me, always being the one to push the boundary said, “Let’s hold hands”! David jumped for his napkin and said, “Oh, uhhhh I just licked my fingers”! I already was holding the gal’s hand to my right and the one to his left starting laughing and grabbed his wrist! David sounded like he was speaking in tongues he said the prayer so fast and then everyone dug in and there was all kinds of compliments flying over the food.  And trust me “Yes!” the mac & cheese was delicious and so was the fried wings which were more like the size of an entire chicken and you got 4 of them on your plate along with awesome mashed potatoes and gravy — all chased down with iced cold sweet tea.

We chatted and chatted together, talked about kids, the two of them had 6 kids together, one had 2 girls, the other 3 boys and 1 girl, I told her I’d pray for her, she laughed. We talked about the food we were eating, the recipes we used at home, and well that of course lead to movies and men and beautiful black men and beautiful black men in Tyler Perry movies — specifically Shamar the braided hair guy in the movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman!”

We laughed and laughed and David ate and ate! We talked about what women really want in a man (David listened on that part), we talked about taking care of our elderly parents, we looked at pictures of their kids and well, talked about how good our food was there. It was a really special time with perfect strangers and when it was over they got up to leave and I got up to hug them both.

And then it happened, the one to my right after hugging me stood back and said “I wish you were my neighbor because I’d go to you first!” I grinned and thanked her for that and said “Well the Lord tells us to mentor the younger ones and that is what we should do!” We told each other maybe we’d meet again in this very place but I know where I’ll see those two some day and I know I’ll always remember that special lunch at “Sweetie Pies”.

And, yes, I used the facilities before leaving and, no, it didn’t occur to me that Oprah had probably used the same toidy until I began to write this — might just have to count this towards my 15 minutes of fame! Actually you know what I hope it goes towards, I hope those two black gals remember my white face and that cute kid’s of mine every time they’re tempted to believe the lie we all believe that “They’re all like that.”, whatever the race. The truth is we all are like this . . . in need of good food and good fellowship and the Lord gave me both today and I thank Him for it. Amen!

Letter #8: Self – Weed & Dancing

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Last night David came home after going to a concert with a friend to Ball Park Village. I was curled up on the couch. He came over to me – wrapped his arms around me and said “There were these two ladies at the concert, Momma – they were tipsy and smelled like weed, they were dancing like nobody else and taking selfies.   They reminded me of you and how you’d have a good time . . . without the weed and drinks.” He squeezed a little harder, he knew I’d had a really bad week. I chuckled and thanked him and he was off to the kitchen for his late night snack of McDonald’s (he’d also brought me some). I declined — now you know I was sad, right – cause this little girl doesn’t turn down McDonald’s. I did.

After he went on to bed I went to writing in my dairy. Before I did, I read through it for a bit – he’s found in it often as my encourager (sort of “boots on the ground” – assigned by Jesus to get this one woman on the planet through). Even as a child he knew just when to hug the woman he calls “Momma”.

I’m fairly certain the Lord had a chat with him before leaving heaven and told him all about my areas of inadequacies, how I’d fear about a lot of crap that most other folks don’t – how I’d take longer than most other folks do but when I let go in an area, I’d let go and never pull him back to make his world smaller – instead I’d cheer him on – to keep going.

That I’d be brave for him – that I’d kick the ass of anyone who tried to harm him (Yes, I realize our God doesn’t use those words – you’re welcome to step away from this post now if I’ve harmed your sense of propriety, really it’s OK if you feel more holy than me – you probably are.) – that I’d dream bigger dreams for him than I could ever imagine for myself. He was probably warned to not use very often the phrase “Calm down” as the Lord knew – provoked enough I’d swing at him.

Yes, I have been the crazy menopausal mother to this kid . . . snapping pencils and throwing home-school books across the kitchen. The bellowing Driving Instructor during his 15th year on the planet, learning to drive! I still marvel that I actually let him learn to drive which probably explains why I so often touch his car (in silent prayers) in the morning as he’s leaving for work and I’m standing in the garage saying goodbye to him.

NOT that him having totally spun his car around in a “180” at 70 m.p.h. on highway 55 in rush hour traffic – killing the engine (who knew engines can’t handle 70 m.p.h. BACKWARDS), then attempting to restart the thing while traffic was barreling down on him at 70 m.p.h. (swerving to keep from a head on collision with a stopped car in the middle of the highway) or his having totaled his car 2 years later would be affecting my motherly instincts to PRAY! So yeah, I’ll probably be continuing to say those prayers over him and that car of his for a while!

There’s plenty of mileage between David and I and disputes, disagreements and differing opinions.   But there has been a lot more funny – even hilarious moments of joyful communion with this young man Jesus has been so kind to have sent to me.

That journal will tell him nothing he already doesn’t know, warts and all. And, yes (!) I would have been at that concert just like those ladies, dancing like nobody else – having fun, taking “selfies” (without the liquor and weed)! However I can not guarantee there wouldn’t of been chocolate in my system or a McDonald”s sweet tea. So, David, thank you for the hug and laugh – your momma really, really needed it last night.

That – his skilled sense of humor, I lay at his father’s feet. He (his father) very few on the planet can compete with a better sense of comedic timing. Not goofy humor, but slicing, challenging “win the argument” humor because now you’re standing there straight faced looking at me with a “comeback” that while I am still ticked off at you has now made me laugh kind of humor!

I am blessed and I’ve needed to remember this today – to get myself away from my “self focus” and the hard week I’ve had. I’ve needed to remember the people I live with are a blessing to me, that even if we’re living through some tough times, we have each other and God has been good to have given us each other.

So remember those people in your own homes – remember to be thankful for them. And remember to get past those “hard weeks” (hard years) the secret is thankfulness.

Dear Father God, thank you for my husband and son . . . and thank you for your Son, our Jesus!

Amen.

Letter #7: God Sits in My Driveway

God sits in my driveway on summer nights and hands me Kleenex’s.   And while I question all that I know, He listens.

Tonight it is one specific question.   What of kindness? He hears me tell Him to his face, a lot, how far away He is. Calmly He moves in front of me – the clouds part in the heavens and I see stars.   Stars shimmering against gorgeous navy blue skies, soon enough blackened, settling in for the ride to sunrise.

I see His work and He lets that settle around me.

Massive sculpted moving clouds cluster as one, as He is One.   His throne room, these clouds – it seems move directly above me in the darkness – bright white, the clouds reflect, illume the darkness – who tells the moon to shine like that?   And how do those clouds prove His presence so calmly and hang there as if not moving? And not moving. And not moving.

Seeing me, always seeing me he says “Who Am I, and what of you don’t I know? What shall I take from you? This trial?   What of all the trials in your life – what of those have not brought you something worth having? You want me to take this from you? I can’t or I won’t. . . which is easier for you to hear”?

“Lean in”, He says – now lowered softened voice – “I won’t.”

It is whispered, and it is sure, and He hands me another Kleenex.   I look away. The evening’s breeze – His breath, touches my cheeks as the warmth of tears find their way, cools my face, and now my neck .   The throne room dissipates.

Sleepy, suddenly I am – the trial with me, I stand. He watches as I go and sees my bedroom light and then no more.

A soft whistle awakens his little ones, those little creatures that play outside of my home office window each morn – they flutter awake and fly into darkened heavens. What could it be, this need God has of them, excitedly they land upon His hand.

He leans forward and whispers – “She watches you, you know. Tomorrow you will carry a message to her.”   They flutter and fly around him – it is too much joy to know of – He laughs, captures each one and pets them to calm. He raises his hands full of finches, the tiniest of his feathered creation and grins at them. Turning their little tiny heads sideways they listen. This is serious business now.

They see Him seeing her – the woman in the window gazing out yet from her darkened room, through pulled blinds, one last time before bed. “Tell her . . . ”   What was said is kept between them – they flutter off his hand and carry his words meant for the morning – she’ll watch them as she always does.

And I did.

They’re gentle, sweet little birds ya know – these little finches – and live as they were created and bring glory to God’s name. There is nothing weak in that – to live being gentle. Interestingly enough, the bush they live in near my home office window is a thorny bush – it is their protection. God protects them in thorny places – his finches, his gentle ones, his kind ones.

And I am no different – kept in thorny places, to live out my purpose – to bring glory to God’s name. And it is true – everything He’s ever allowed into my life, has dug deep wells to give refreshment to those parched in their journeys.

He knows, that I know, it is my joy to give hope to others and He knows where hope is seeded – the fertile ground of suffering. Never more than I can bear and that He can lead me through. . .

The little finches and I live protected – in thorny places . . . and so do you.

Letter #6: Porn, Yard Sales & Catholic Retreats

002Ok so the day started off good. Showered by 6:30 a.m., woke the brat (who was supposed to accompany me yard sale-ing) left the house, did recon of search area and found it combatant free (nothing of worth to be had here today). So I returned to camp switched out cars (Camry’s have more trunk space than Corolla’s) and off me and the recruit went to scout out other territories.

Basically was a productive day – lots and lots of yard sales a clip or two north of here. I was spending quarters like they were a dime a dozen and David was the high roller with the largest purchase of the day (which I negotiated of course) for $7.   We were both happy but getting a bit tired. You know the usual I gotta pee (that would be me – the menopausal woman) and need something to drink.

We decided on a few more yard sales when we rolled up on this one. There were very few items on the 2 tables and almost even less inside the garage. The folks were very friendly and were almost apologizing for not having much left to sell. I greeted them and started giving my usual scan and low and behold my eyes fell upon a Bible — it was made out of that soft leather, two toned and was a Student Bible (N.I.V.) and remarkably was only listed for 50 cents – that’s $.50 !

I busy trying to decide if I wanted to buy it (I only have like 4 I study from at home). Obviously you can see my dilemma – who could I buy it for and give away? The owners were such lovely people just chattering away with me (imagine me chattering) — anyway my eyes roll past the edges of the soft leather sided Bible in my hand and my gaze downward drops and focuses at the pile and I mean pile of magazines that said Bible was literally sitting next to.

Pornography stared back at me – a $1.00 a piece. . . nicely wrapped with pieces of paper covering the cover photos (I was thankful for that).

I politely answered the owners remarks of whatever “small talk” we were having and then I abruptly sat the 50 cent Bible back down next to the pile of pornography and said goodbye. I’m fairly certain they were confused as to my sudden departure. But I have a feeling confusion is something they’re probably comfortable with.

It really depressed me and when I got in the car David heard about it — for a while.

Now David is quite familiar with this neck of the woods so he took me on a little ride past some beautiful houses that have these spectacular views of the river. I had no idea there were houses in South County that literally have such awesome views of the river.   Seriously!

I was calming down and we were enjoying our day again. . . we even saw a baby deer and its momma – that was beautiful. Then all of a sudden around this curve a huge house or what I thought was a house loomed just off of the road behind a lot of trees. So I convinced David to take me back there to get a better “look-see”. As it turned out it was a Catholic Retreat Center. He pulled into the parking lot and I talked him into parking the car so that we could go take a look at what this building’s views were – I knew it looked out onto the river because those beautiful homes did also.

So there we went up the sidewalk – it looked really empty, we were walking up onto the patio area and trust me the views of the river were spectacular – I gasped it was so gorgeous! The building was huge, looked gothic to me and it truly was stunning – all white stone, pristine looking – high peeks on the roofs and huge windows.

Well off down this long patio I could see two older gals sitting looking out over the vistas also. One was sitting in a chair gazing out over the river and the other one was behind her on a bench. So I called out a hardy “howdy” – actually it was more like “Hey, how ya’ll doing!” David hung back as usually he doesn’t really know what’s gonna roll out with his mother. Most often it’s a wise choice.

So there I am strolling up to them happy as can be as I’ve already, sort of – kind of, with raised voice – shouted my greetings! The one in the chair was rude and didn’t even look my way (she was reading a book) however the other gal smiled at me and waved a happy yet cautious wave – it seemed almost beckoning me to her.

Well there you go – I’ve made a friend!

So I walked right up to her and started in about how beautiful it was there — yada, yada, yada — I was enjoying myself. She smiled and softly said “This is a retreat center”.   I replied happily, while sweeping my arms “Yes, and it is beautiful! I’m not from here and I didn’t know it even existed!” She smiled again. She was smiling a lot at me. She said “There’s a retreat going on right now. . . ” I said “Oh” (you know like “oh – tell me more oh.”) She smiled again and said, “It’s a SILENT retreat.”

I busted out laughing and then grabbed by mouth with both hands.

The snappy little unfriendly old gal slowly turned around in her Adirondack chair, sniffed the air and gave me the “stink eye” (she was probably smelling the pornography negative ions still seeping out of my brain).

I then informed by new Catholic bff (the friendly gal) that I was sorry that I didn’t know – I actually muffled this somewhat and the rest of the way whispered it out while still trying to keep from laughing, my two hands were busy filtering the sound level of my speech.

The sweet gal told me I could come back on Sunday nights after 6:00 p.m. to visit and enjoy the patio. I thanked her (I definitely was whispering) and then gently grabbed her and hugged her – telling her I was sorry again and letting go I waved goodbye and began to walk away. The other old gal – the persnickety one – well I kicked the backside of her chair (nearly knocked her out of the chair) and told her she needed to read up on Martin Luther!

Ok, so I really didn’t do the Martin Luther thing – however David and I seriously laughed hard over my “Hey ya’ll – how you doing” greeting at a Catholic Silent Retreat.

Like I’m supposed to know church folk have “silent retreats” – I’m Protestant for crying in the bucket!

Letter #5: Spilled Milk

So I’m getting in the refrigerator this morning – I reach for the carton of milk, it tumbles towards me, past me and downward towards the floor. Gracefully and without effort it performs a complete flip and ends its journey sitting squarely on its bottom awaiting my attempt to pick it up again. Yes, I did do a fist pump into the air, said “Yes!” quite enthusiastically and then thanked the Lord for his “save”.

And now we’ve arrived — the spilling or non-spilling of milk in our lives.

On occasion I’ve spilled things in and outside of my refrigerator. I’ve marveled over why these things happen.   Who hasn’t opened a sour cream container and not had the lid slip out of your hands and land sour cream side down onto the floor. Splat ! Mess.  Need to clean.

Great – bend over, retrieve the lid, clean the lid, scald the lid for sanitation purposes (I’m lying I never scald the lid, just run some cold water and dry it), retrieve paper towels, wipe the mess, grab the kitchen dish rag, wipe the mess (nope I don’t reuse it after this :))), dry the spot with a paper towel to assure spot is clean of mess and slipperiness. Test the spot for slipperiness. Test the spot for slipperiness again cause no one dies on my watch from kitchen mess kind of paranoia testing of slipperiness.

At this point I’m tired — I’ve been bent over squishing my fat, pulling hamstrings, raising my blood pressure and doubting my long held desire to qualify for the Senior Olympics (interpretive dance class).

Things easily spiral in our lives — how we handle spilled milk matters. We get ticked off, we try to clean it all up, hope nobody dies from our mess but we forget to forget about it. We dwell on it, we dig through the trash and get the used paper towels out and stick our noses into it to sniff, and feel sorry for ourselves. We wonder why the milk got spilled. We wonder why it had to be “me” that spilled it (we’re ashamed). Or worse why the person near you “spilled” it onto you!   Those people we really hate! The ones we were too close to, who messed up – royal. In fact maybe those people didn’t even bother to clean up the ripping mess. They spilled the milk, stepped over it and left the room.

Your mind’s rolling isn’t it.

You’re thinking about all those stinking milk spillers who dirtied up your life and walked off the stage. I actually had a friend tell me once his wife was cheating on him. He knew where they were meeting so he sat on a nearby ridge, in the weeds, waiting for them to meet in Wal-Mart’s parking lot. He was on that ridge because he was watching them through the scope on his rifle. We can get pretty darn ticked off over spilled milk. Thankfully he chose in that moment to let her own the milk carton and got up out of the weeds of his life – her.

Can I just divert from this lesson at this moment and just talk to the ladies. How many romance novels ever, in the history of ever, ever sets as a scene a Wal-Mart parking lot? I’m sorry but you’re all levels of stupid to choose a guy over your husband who meets you in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I’d personally like to pop off the top of a gallon jug of milk and drop it on your head.

Life is messy, milk gets spilled by ourselves or others. Clean the mess, if it’s your fault – make sure to the best of your ability nobody else gets hurt from it (if possible). And when other’s spill it on you, clean the mess (if possible) to keep your own self safe – stand up and get out of the weeds.

Crying over spilled milk is a prison – aint nobody worth going to prison (physical or mental anguish) for. Take it to the Lord and leave it. And keep leaving it (that part was for me!)

Oh and try to notice when God keeps the milk from spilling – because it happens a lot more than you realize!

Have a great Friday everyone !

 

 

Letter #4: She Wants This

He saw me but I didn’t know it. The cameras in his office announced my arrival. He watched me enter the church. The despair on my face quickly brought him to his feet and then he sat back down; stood again and sat back down. Reaching over his paper work he turned off his light and waited for the knock, then the sound of my feet as I walked away. He could hear me sobbing in the sanctuary. He knew my story, he knew my pain.

To his knees next to his desk he went – today, God was the only one who would pray with her. In 35 years of ministry God have never refused to allow this pastor to pray with someone.

Today was a first.

It was dead quiet – not even the building’s heating system was running, it was the kind of quiet that makes you uneasy, especially when you’re sitting in the church sanctuary crying on a Monday. The staff was busy doing church stuff on the other side of the building, I was busy trying to find God again. I had been in my car moments before and found myself turning towards the church – I felt it coming up out of my soul. You know, like when you need to vomit and all that matters is the proximity of the john.

I made it in time.

I noticed how my feet were propped up against the chair in front of me (isn’t it odd how your mind works when under duress) – my feet were flat on floor – sort of, that is to say half of them were (the heel part) . . . the other half were on the legs of the chair in front of me. Definitely bent (just like my soul) and pushing forward (like my heart).   It distinctly looked like your feet look when they’re in the stirrups and straining against the metal foot pads to give birth.

The truth is no matter how much people love you – no one can lay down in that bed and give birth but you. You do it alone – You and God.   And I needed to give birth to this pain. I needed it out of me.   And so I began to heave and heave deep, dark, ugly sobs. I was throwing up mental anguish and only God was there to hold my hair, to help me lean into that porcelain pit of despair and withstand the convulsions of spewing anger, fears, disillusionment and rejection.

You know when you’re physically ill from eating something bad and say to yourself while over the toilet “I’ll never eat that again!” Well at the top of my list of “Not ever again” was disillusionment.

Doesn’t really sound all that horrible or even interesting now does it?   Wow – look out for disillusionment said no one in my life ever! Did I not understand it – nope, everyone knows what disillusionment means! So what was the big deal – what was causing me so much pain.

It was through whom disillusionment arrived – a trusted loved one.

One whom I had bore much of my life’s journey.

One whom if I’d of been asked to place a bet on a story you’d tell me where she was about to make choices so deeply different than her journey up to that moment – well, I would have pushed all my chips into the center of that bet . . . and I would of lost everything.

And I felt like I had.

That’s what disillusionment is — having your belief system shaken, and for me, in this, the shaking had continued on and on and on. Her life’s choices were raining down hard upon me. It felt like this torrential downpour with her (her constant new choices so foreign to my mind I just couldn’t accept them nor keep up with them) and I couldn’t get her to leave the storm nor walk away from the cliff she was headed for.   Her bond to me was strong.

Imagine a tether – that’s what I felt with her, our lives weaved, attached together.

And now the cliff.

Her life, and the weight of it upon me, was now dangling there.

My backside was down on the barren brown dirt near the edge of it, both feet planted on mossy covered jagged rocks, I’m straining backwards – almost flat on my back. Pushing hard against those rocks with both feet – now I feel them slipping, legs are cramping, every pour in my skin is dripping. The rope is sweaty wet. My hands are bleeding, the skin is beginning to tear deep into my palms and our tethered rope is beginning to unravel – suffering the trauma of two souls wove together, now separating.

My entire body begins to shudder and somewhere in my soul the scream is forming. The sound is rolling past every fiber in my being like a combat tank gaining strength as it mows down every defense; every ounce of hope is being demolished – each drop of salted sweat carries despair like a disease and I am drenched.

And the darkness I have felt since the very beginning is present.

He is down on all fours next to me slapping the dirt – screaming so loud in my ear his spit is spattering against my skull and neck “Give up, give up – she wants this!” I’m choking and choking on his dust, I’m crying – mud is forming on my face and from this earthy mixture the rope is slipping inch by inch – the burning in the flesh of my hands almost begins to numb.

His rancid breath fills my nostrils as he continues his chant, it’s putrid, acidic – his words are like vomit, they burn against my soul.   He is a demon and he is no longer trying to hide his presence.

Suddenly the rope snaps, my arms are thrown backwards – whip lashing the twisted, gnarled rope behind my head. I suck in thickened heavy air, the stench of his breath fills my lungs.   I heave deep, hacking, gasping breaths.   Rolling to my side like a rag doll I lay as my lungs learn to breath again. Quiet shudders move my entire body, then as if on queue, I throw up.   I throw up fear and rejection and sorrows and sadness – it all spews from my soul. I am weak yet on all fours I crawl away from my disillusionment to collapse once again – one by one by one the tears slowly cross my pained soul — I know she is gone.

Darkness has waited patiently for my calm, kneels down by me, reaches for the rope and lays it gently in the dirt in front of my face. “Look!” he whispers as he leans down to my face.   I gag yet again at his wretched stench.   “Look” he yells, I open my eyes, he points to the strands, “Her teeth were on that rope the whole time – she gnawed through it and dropped into the life you no longer will recognize her in!”

Snatching the broken rope back up, he steps to the edge of the cliff, his back to me, the rope tight in his fist, he turns his face back to me, narrowing his eyes he speaks, “And now I have you both.” disappearing, he drops into the same abyss as she.

Years of tears besides those 20 minutes I’ve prayed alone in the sanctuary have passed. And years later — she’s still gone. As for me, the weight of those words “And now I have you both.” well God is holding true to being the only One who can pray me through on this one!   I have learned to lean into the pain and put my face against the Chest of God and hang on. I have learned to survive exquisite pain only requires my faithful Savior, Yeshua.

I’ve also learned epic stories aren’t unfolded in minutes or even years.   And bets placed on people are sure to find sorrow.   There is one Hero in our stories and if one is to bet then cast all that you have upon Him.

He alone be the glory of your comfort, Amen.