Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

No Pushing; Stop Pulling March 8, 2016

 

Calvin is nine in dog years, translated to human time – he is about 52ish.  Maybe because he lived on a leash in hot Florida for the last three years, maybe because he is older and not as strong anymore, he wiped out in the MI winter snow.  Result:  torn miniscus or ACL.  Either way, he stopped using that leg for a while.  Thanks to a wise and conservative vet, Calvin is being given time, lots of time, as much time as he needs to heal.  There was an initial prescription for some medicine to reduce the swelling and give initial pain relief.  He also got daily chews to support joint health and encourage joint strength.  I advocated for the continuance of walking this 80 pound lab for his mental health.  The vet agreed but said “no more freedom.”  He is leash restricted.  No zooming around until the healing is complete.

For nine dog years I’ve walked with Calvin.  He is pretty good though not stellar at staying right beside me.  He would prefer to be in front with a bit of strain encouraging me to walk faster.  Not now.  His brisk jog lasts  only a half mile if that.  The rest of his walk is s..l..o..w.  If you would meet Calvin for the first or fifty first time today, you would not see his internal injury on his outer body.    So you would question his limp or hesitation to go up the stairs or clearly painful struggle to lay down.    Its been over six weeks since the wipe out.  And actually, he wiped out once which led to a limp, but the second wipeout a week later took the injury to a more serious level.   When we walk, he does not want to be pulled.  Nor does it help at all to push him to a faster pace.  He is still on the DL.  Pet owners – do you get it?

I get it in human years, in human pain, in human experience of having part of me injured.  But its not on the outside where everyone can see.  In fact, I am trying to keep the outside intact so I can keep interacting with life that I love – the relationship with my husband/best friend; relationships with family, long time friends, new friends in the making; work; play; volunteering; errands; keeping my house and clothes clean; exercising; walking Calvin.  It has been a compact six months of hard – loss, old wounds re-opened, previous emotions of significant loss re-opened, moving, change, more moving, more loss, and all kinds of unfamiliar, new, learning.  It is intense and this most recent loss has wiped me out.   NO PITY PLEASE.  The reason I am sharing this is NOT for the sake of personal condolence.  It is to give a voice to people you know, that may not be able to say, “I’m wiped out.  There is hurting places on the inside you can’t see.  I need time to heal, and it’s not something that can be rushed.”

You who’ve been there, or are there – do you get it?

People who are reading this, look around you at the those you know and interact with.  There might be one or more who is like Calvin, like me right now.  Please, no pushing.  Don’t pull us.  It won’t help the healing for you to try to speed us up or tell us to “keep our chin up”, or say to someone else, “It’s been long enough.  They need to move on now.”  Everyone is unique and what is going on inside might be more complex than you understand, than even they understand.  So how they heal and the time it takes will be unique.  Think about the internally injured person right now.  Take a deep breath.  Another one.  Let go of your need to have them get over it and get better already.  If you can’t, you would love them best by giving them space from you and your need.    If you can, replace the pushing with hugging.  Drop the rope you are trying to pull them with and extend an invitation to have a beer, or a wine and cheese, or ice-cream or go to a funny play. Someone unexpectedly extended the invitation to really listen yesterday.  Those kindnesses are loving and helpful.  But be ready to hand out the rain-check graciously if they can’t say yes this time.   Keep on living your life and let them live into theirs even if it makes you uncomfortable.  Even if it takes a while for them to be like their old self.

I read these words today; words of a person who was overwhelmed by troubles:  “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”   This was a statement made to God by a man named David.  (Ps 56).  It struck me that I know God cancels my sin, but then goes and collects my tears.  I wonder what he does with them.  Maybe he taps people on the shoulder, or knocks them on the head and sends them out to love the hurting.  Sometimes He does something Greater and floods the hurting with Peace and Comfort that is more profound than people can offer.  I know this personally too.

And one last thing – if you are the one with the hurt who is pushing and pulling on your old self to pull itself up by its proverbial boot straps, I grant you permission to let the old self off the hook for what it cannot possibly accomplish.  There is work for grief to do.  Let it do its job and have its way.  For if it completes the unique task it has, the old self will return whole and changed and equipped with compassion it did not previously have.  It is worth the wait.

I’m eager to walk briskly with Calvin again.   Not just because his leg will be better, but because my heart will be too.  For now, slow is just fine.

 

 

 

 

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When Opposites Attract February 8, 2016

During the 10 hour drive between MI and Iowa, the adult passengers shared stories of people with somewhat opposite personalities, strengths, interests, and characteristics finding one another, pursuing one another and resulting in marriage. No one intentionally sought out an opposite, but attraction to the opposite was the common thread in every story.  Also common was that the differences have worked together not against the relationship.   In fact the opposite qualities become complimentary over time. My own experience would say that is because I’ve pushed back less, and appreciated the differences more;  I rely on what my hubby is wired to contribute and accept his ‘opposite’ as necessary to bringing out the best in me – and our ‘opposites’ functioning together bring out the best in us.

Turns out, this opposite attractiveness shows up in circumstances as well as in people.  I have a fresh experience that I need to write down somewhere.  Its too much for me to hide, to keep to myself.  And because it’s raw, real, recent, there is no filter.   My father has pancreatic and liver cancer.  He responded well to chemo for months, but in the last few weeks has made the shift to facing end-of-life rather than more treatment. He is still living with love, in faith, not in fear.    My brother Jim and I (we both live out of state) got to be with my dad and my mom this past week.  And really – we did a lot more being than doing. That doesn’t feel like much, but its good.  My brother Jeff and wife Sara who live there are so present, kind, compassionate.  Their little kiddos are refreshing diffusers of the intensity.   So thankful for this time to be together.  However, during this same week, some many-year, long-story unfortunate circumstantial crap stirred itself up.  Just trying to write that sentence sucks air out of my lungs, makes my hands shake.  Does anyone else relate to hard things piling up – coming at you in multiples?  Sheesh.  It nearly wrecked me.  Nearly.  Thank you friends for phone calls/texts; you people who I know well – who know me well, and who know yourselves the wallop of hard things.  In one conversation the words of Psalm 23 about the darkest valley (or valley of the shadow of death) came up and the truth that its real but we can “walk” through it because were not alone in it.  I would admit sometimes the walking looks more like crawling with bloodshot eyes, snot running out of your nose, gasping for air.  Or looks like fist pounding on what seems like steel doors, crying for mercy.   We’re not alone.  The opposite of the darkest valley makes me vividly aware of my need for the Presence of Jesus.

The valley of the shadow of death isn’t imaginary.  It isn’t figurative.  The shadowy valley of darkness isn’t inviting or attractive, never on someone’s bucket list.  No one will escape it.  Though most will want to avoid walking through it themselves or with someone they love.  Normal.   I find its hard to breathe and my chest feels tight and I can’t swallow easily  when I’m walking through that valley myself or alongside someone.  A sense of helplessness bounces off the valley walls: ‘I can’t make this go away; I HATE this; I can’t DO anything to change the outcome; I can’t fix anything; I have no control; I don’t want this to be happening.’ It is threatening and oppressive – alone.   Ps 23: 4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil for You (Jesus) are with me;  your rod and your staff will comfort me.”  I will walk through dark valleys but I can without fear…and with provision, protection, comfort, peace – the Light.  You can too; we are NOT alone.

Joy meet grief.  Sorrow meet beauty.  Celebration meet suffering.  Dark valley meet Light. These opposites actually seem to attract.  My friend Rachel told me about an unreal circumstance her friend is living right now, unborn baby, cancer.  no No NO.  Same story: best doctors available, treatment, plans for summer, and the beauty of a Spirit filled prayer.  Please – pray for Rachels friend, her name is Rachel.

And Please don’t push back on the light in your own life, maybe a birthday celebration, maybe a baby on the way,  an engagement, vacation, a childs school program, the job you like, a snow day, even if you also have unreal circumstances in your life – in your friend, family, neighbors life.

Yesterday Dirk the pastor told the story of Elijah who was in the darkest valley; ( I Kings 19 ), Elijah who just had his life threatened by a nasty angry kings wife; a prophet who had ENOUGH; a man of great faith who was just done; who was afraid; who ran away – away from people and places and civilization.  He got to the wilderness alone, away from the dark place, but not really away from the fear or feelings of being overwhelmed.  He lands under a bush and actually prays this prayer:  “Enough of this God, take my life, I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave.”  Then he falls asleep.  I hate to admit, but I get you Elijah.  I relate to the fear for my life, to the having had enough, to the desire to run far away from people, places, civilization.  Anyone else want out of the dark valley?

Thank goodness Dirk the pastor included the next 5 verses.  Here is where the opposite of despair shows up.  An angel shakes Elijah awake and fixes him breakfast!  More sleep, more food and he is ready to take up a long journey to a place where God Himself comes to Elijah in a gentle whisper and sets him back on his feet, back on task. Dark doesn’t win.  I again relate to this story – arriving home, exhausted and waking up to someone making me a great cup of coffee and an spinach, egg, and cheese mexican breakfast torte smothered in Nanita’s hot green chili.  Thanks JR,  you angel you.

People, please believe me.  God is for real.  He is good.  He is greater than the darkness which is also so very real and no one denies.    Don’t push back on Who the Light Is.  If you are curious or skeptic, desperate or not; if you have sat in a church for years and are pretending to believe but really don’t, or have never asked a single question about God – Please just ask God to show Himself to you.  He will.  I can’t help but share what is so real for me in the current dark valley.  I don’t know too many people who haven’t lived through rough patches.  What I know to be true is that the greatest opposite of those places, of those people, of those circumstances is the way Jesus shows up, encourages me and sets me back on my feet – back to living.  He is doing that now.  The cancer isn’t gone, the crap isn’t gone, I’m not done walking through.  But I didn’t run and die alone under a bush.  And I know for certain – I am not walking through alone.

Are you in a dark or dangerous place?  Is hard piling up?  Wanna run?  Too overwhelmed to even know what you need?  This is true: You Are Not Alone.  God is everywhere and will not let you be overcome.  As we are unique, our circumstances unique, God meets us uniquely.

Sometimes it begins with breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 29: Good Things in Stinky Cans November 6, 2013

Final Button 3Part of  today’s post is another repeat from 4 years ago, but it applies to this day, this moment and I needed the reminder. It is more about cat food than people food.

When we moved to SoFL we knew there would be surprises.   We did not expect them to come in the form of real estate.  I know that in the big scheme of life this is minor and momentary, but JR reminded me that I don’t have to deny that it’s discouraging.  Closing on the little townhouse by the sea was set for tomorrow.  That’s not happening.  “Temporary setback;  a minor hiccup; an unfortunate delay” are the sentences I read from realtors and mortgage brokers today.  Hopefully that is true.  Today though, the emotional pot got all stirred up and it just smells stinky.  I will therefore share this earlier post as it was helpful to me.  And when, yes WHEN something good happens, I will report that too.

I will also provide pictures of Pekoe this time.  She is good for a laugh if anyone out there needs that today besides me!

Pekoe is our cross-eyed cat.  She is also cross-bred Siamese & Russian Blue which makes for a super soft, significantly shedding cat coat.  She only likes canned cat food.  She would rather starve than eat that crunchy stuff.  Have you ever smelled a can of cat food?  Stinky!  Pekoe loves it, lives on it. 

Yesterday, I was opening a can of tuna for lunch and started laughing at the realization I too eat stinky food from a can.  A tuna sandwich is a good thing, but the smell of it strongly resembles cat food. 

There are moments in my days, days in my months, seasons in my years that have really stunk.  Circumstances with loss; situations of change; episodes of aggravation;   happenings of hard times; matters of adversity;  scenes of stress and strain; conditions of complication; occasions of anxiety; cases of crisis.  I do not live for them. I do not love them.     

I have found good things in all these stinky cans.  Although the discovery of good isn’t always immediate, it’s always there.   I am often slow to embrace the gifts that are found in the seasons, months, days of what seems repulsive and rotten. I want simplicity and strength.   I need comfort and kindness & encouragement.  I want peace and contentment.  I crave perspective and perseverance and progress.  I hope for wholeness.  These are what I love, what I live on. 

Maybe Pekoe has a cross-sense of smell.  Maybe she knows that the great things in life don’t always smell like it. 

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Day 25: Help My Heart November 1, 2013

Final Button 3First of all, I know that it is not October 25th today.  It is the 31st, but I am finishing my challenge of 31 days even if I spill into November.  This is Grace to me and bending the un-stone-like rules.  I had to pause for travels in soup country where the colors were brilliant and the weather required shoes AND socks every day.  And yes, I did eat Reuben soup at Russ’ restaurant. I was unable to get a recipe from them, but found one online by Taste of Home.  One reader said this recipe reminded her of Russ’ so it might be worth a try.

Celebration and food making happened in soup country, including  cooking with college kids and nearly failed chili, but more on that another day.

I’ve been stressed to the point my chest hurts.  It may be due in part to trying to keep up with all the people, paperwork, decision-making and deadlines required to buy property in South Florida.   Add a dose of worry about friends and family who are working through illness and recovery; a dollop of slow re-entry; a dashed hope of Thanksgiving in MN and a bit of being plain old tired and crabby.  On top of chest pain, some organ of mine under the ribs, twitched all day.  Deep breathing helped.  A long walk and a long night of sleep helped.  Holding my baby friend Emma today helped.  Prayer helped and so did food.

Last night I made a new cookie recipe, put a new chicken recipe in the crockpot and pulled out the rice cooker for my favorite short grain rice.  I chopped up a wok full of fresh veggies from The Boys.   Today I use many of my thinking moments deciding what I want to make for a One Year Celebration meal tomorrow night.  Food thoughts displace stress with anticipation.  Food’s preparation and planning are positively distracting and that helps my heart.

Less stressed thoughts are that no one is being mean or unreasonable and its ok if we close on the 7th or 8th or the 10th.  Calm thinking allows me to boldly bring my family, my friends near and far to the Throne Room and I’m reminded I am not God, but God is in charge and He is good.  This helps my heart.

Whilst I wax thoughtfully, I shall include that this month of putting  words about the love language of food on virtual paper has also helped my heart.  Now, off to feed the dog (he just reminded me that it’s 5:03, just 3 min late for dinner), and make Massaman Curry for the first time, with my planned over chicken from last night.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Interview with Mother Mary.”  I can hardly wait to share!

PS…opening this out of the blue gift from Tammy P. last night also helped my heart.  A reminder that when you cook tasty food, you will also dry the cooking dishes and that is part of the love.

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wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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