Saturday, January 24, 2015

What I've Always Wanted to Do......

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Something  happened this week.. or maybe it was last week. I'm not sure because I've been immersed in revising my novel and I simply haven't kept track very well. 

I had an epiphany last week. For the first time I saw something very clearly. It was a bit like being struck in the head. I think I may actually have seen lights but since it was a very sunny day I can't be sure. Sunlight was pouring in through the windows, where curtains weren't pulled. 

I was going around, picking up things and putting away laundry. I usually have tons of it but only because I hate putting laundry away. Anyway, I was talking... yes, talking. No, I didn't have company. I was alone. I frequently talk to God when I'm doing housework. 

I simply hold long conversations about everything that is bugging me. If I'm mad, sad, or just frustrated. If I have complaints, I share them. And for your information, yes, I do think He's here. Sometimes, as you've seen on this blog, He answers me.

So anyway, I'm putting away laundry when suddenly there was this explosion in my mind and I hear these words coming out of my own mouth." I'm doing exactly what I've always wanted to do." No, not the laundry.

I'm not sure but I'd almost swear that the earth's axis shifted just a bit. Or it could have been the explosion. Whatever it was I was stunned for a little while and didn't know what to think. Did I really say that? Surely not. Did I?

"So, what are you complaining about?"

That's exactly what went through my head! Exactly the words that came to me, almost immediately, well, after I got over the shock I had to answer, didn't I. 

What was I complaining about? I didn't have an answer. I am doing exactly what I've always wanted to do. I'm at home. I have tons of time to write. How many times have I sat in my office, when I had an office, and said, I wish I could just stay home and write! I mean, really. So, why am I always complaining?

I suppose I have some gripes. I don't like not having any money. I'm broke. Not enough money to do much more than pay the bills and have lunch out once in awhile. That's it. The strange thing is, that while I don't like not having any money, I don't actually care a lot. I can't explain that but that's how I think of it. I don't like it but I don't care. I've been broke before.. admittedly a long time ago.

I'm battling rheumatoid arthritis. Some days are pure hell on my body. I can't walk. I can't hold a book. I can't type. I can't sleep. I can't sit. Those are the worst and thankfully, the rarest days. I hurt every day but not at peak levels. Thank you. But even if my hands hurt, like today, I still struggle to write. Because that is what I want to do. 

My granddaughter is living with me and she is such a joy to be around.. well, most of the time. She can be exhausting but honestly, I feel better when she is here because I focus on her and not on me so much. 

So, here I was, in the middle of my bedroom and emblazoned in my mind was this 42* pica banner: For the first time in my life I'm doing exactly what I always wanted to do. 

I realized that what confounding me was that I have no idea how to handle it! Really. As soon as I had the thought I realized this was my problem. In fact, it was what had been causing the problems ever since I decided to quit my job. 

My whole life has been lived for other people. I had purpose. Mama needed me and I needed her. I was something of a lifesaver to her the way Sarah is to me. She died and I married the next week. Jerry needed me and I needed him. I spent the next 35 years being Jerry's wife, supportive of his decisions, moving around the world and back. It was my favorite job.

Five years after I married, I became a Mom and spent the last 35 years of my life being a mother to not only my sons but in some sense to their wives. I went to college, not just because I wanted to, but because I had to help support my family. And a good thing I did, too. We'd have been in serious trouble when Jerry got sick. 

So, I have lived all this time doing things because people needed me to do them. I loved my life. I want it back every day that passes but not once, in all that time, can I remember really doing something solely for myself, simply because I wanted to do it. Even in the last six years, I've only done a couple of things for me because I wanted to do them. The family always came first.

Now that I'm doing what I always wanted to do, it is the hardest thing I've ever done. I don't know exactly how to do it. 

So, how did this ... epiphany help. What did you get out of it?

Do not laugh. 

Of course not. 

No really. Don't laugh.

I try very hard to take you as seriously as you do yourself.



I asked you not to laugh.

Note: 'Pica" was how fonts used to be measure in print journalism.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Abandon All

Long ago, in my old life, I wrote poetry.

Why did you stop?

I don't know. I think the poetry left. Sometime. Or I lost it somewhere.


Today, I found something on my desktop computer that I don't even remember writing. Fortunately, I had dated it.

That was fortuitous. 

Yes, I guess so. It was very odd. I wasn't actually looking for anything. I was having internet problems and trying to set up a network printer and there was this document and it looked odd to me. I opened it and there was this poem I wrote almost 11 years ago to the day. I don't think I understood it when I wrote it. 

Why do you think that?

After reading it and thinking about it, I feel as if it was something that made no sense to me. 

And does it now?

Actually.... I think it does. 

Abandon All

By Cynthia Maddox, February 24, 2003

A call comes clear, from out of air.  
The call of longing, the call of care
A voice well known but unheard still
Cries, “Abandon all and follow His Will.”

Look deep into the secret place
Answer the call and seek His face
A voice well know and unheard still
Cries, “Abandon all and follow His Will.”

When darkness comes, and it must
There will be blessing there if you trust
A voice well known but unheard still
Cries, “Abandon all and follow His Will.”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Transforming Energy
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. -- Philippians 2:14-16
That was in my email this morning. Hmmm, I suppose this is a nice way of saying I'm in trouble?

Not at all. Paul was writing a letter to some of his congregants.

I need to read the whole chapter, don't I?

If it will help you understand it better. I mean it is only one verse.

Hang on a sec.


He couldn't go to this group so he sent a couple of other fellows. One of them was sick himself but he went anyway. O.k. but I still think that verse up there was deliberately in my email.

I don't send out emails.

I know you don't but you know who does. 

Something about that verse offends you?

That first part kind of bites.

I'm sure it does but would you care to share?

People will read this. 

Uh.... yes... but isn't that what you intended?

Sort of but I've questioned it two or three times. 

And you keep writing it.

{sigh} Yes...

I thought you didn't like expressing sighs in text?

I don't. {sigh}

O.k. so, I don't like whiners. You see that first verse: Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Yes. You think that might be important?

See, if I could type this in third person they would be able to hear the sighs and see the looks but since I am writing it in first person, that's difficult. Anyway, I suspect it was what you wanted me see.

Well, then, I guess my work is done.  

Oh, no you don't. Stop right there.

Was there something else you wanted to know?

You can't go slipping notes under my door and sneaking away. You know very well that I have been thinking about this a lot lately. 

I suppose it did come to my attention but let's be clear here. Do I email or do I slip notes under the door: There's a distinct difference, you know. And frankly, I'm not really happy being thought of as a stalker. Is a spammer any better?

{sigh} Sorry. It wouldn't be spam since it is an email from another party. 

Ah..then that's good.

.... which I think you influenced.


And when I read that, it reminds me of another verse. 
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. -- 1 Timothy 1:15
Oh, that's a good verse.

I'm talking about the last phrase: of whom I am chief.

Ah, yes. Well, if it is any comfort, you're not the chief whiner. And you aren't the chief disputers either... just in case you were wondering.

I didn't say I was a whiner. Where did you get that?

Right up there... but perhaps I misunderstood you.

Hmmm. Well, not exactly but anyway, disputing didn't strike me much at all. I don't like arguing with people. Often, I'll let them think what they want. I see no point in arguing with folks who have their mind made up. But that other thing... murmurings...this is a big problem for me. I looked that up.It means "a subdued or private expression of discontent or dissatisfaction". 

Isn't that the definition of a whiner?

Well, maybe, sort of, but.. never mind. Listen, I'm alone for the most part, all day. No one hears the things I say, to myself and to you. And we both know that I'm a  heavy murmurer. 

Hmmm, well you did say "private expression"....

Yes, well, anyway, the verse sort of hit me between the eyes. Then I read the next verse. 
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
I'm not happy with this. I want to be blameless and harmless, without rebuke, which just for the record, I think that email was, a rebuke, you know? 

I do.

I'm in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation of people who go around destroying property and hurting people to make people think like them. I don't want to think like them! I'm not happy with my situation much of the time. I don't advertise it to the whole world but I do here, at home, alone.

You have a question in there somewhere. 

I ramble.

Yes, but I've got time. But let's consider your readers.

I'm not much of a light either. We both know I live in a rather .... dark place at times. 

I've seen a light on.

Ha, ha. Still, it doesn't matter if I'm home alone or on the street corner. I should try harder not to do this. If I spent a lot of time in public doing that, it would be a bad influence, like those protesters. But even though I'm alone and no one hears, I'm influencing myself. My mood, my opinions, my thought are all directed by my actions and attitudes. Even when I'm alone.

I see.

Well, yes, I suspect you do. The other part of that last verse suddenly made more sense: "among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" 

I looked up light. It is "the form of energy that makes it possible to see things". Energy, positive and negative, takes work and energy never goes away; it is transformed in something else. In this case, light. Murmurings are a form of negative energy. If we are to be lights, we have to transform the negative energy into that light. 

Are we there yet?

Cute. My point is, I am the only person who can change me. I have to transform the negative energy into something much more positive. When I find myself overwhelmed and filled with all those murmurings, I have to transform it to light. We all do. Or we'll continue to live in dark places.

Can you do that?

{sigh} I don't know. I guess we'll see. 

The start of any journey begins with a step. Why not go dry your hair?

Speaking of hair...

That's another post. We'll talk later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In Jeremiah's Well

Silhouette guys by sattva courtsey
I hate this time of year. I hate the cold. I hate the darkness. I hate the season. 

So you don't like  winter.

........I don't like death. Trees die. Flowers die. Sunlight dies. Warmth dies. Everything is cold, dark, empty, and dead.

There's a new year.

Just a turned page on the calendar, a tick of the hands on the clock. 

And underneath the frozen ground there's life. 

Anything underground is in a grave.

Come on now, you've had a couple of good weeks lately. 

Thank you.

Oh, you're welcome. What has changed? Because it wasn't the weather. 

Why do people expect you be cheerful and positive when you don't actually feel that way?

Maybe because your attitude defines your altitude?

Cliches? Really?

I invented them. ;)

A smiley? Seriously? But you didn't answer me.

Maybe because by doing so you can change how you feel. Like a smiley makes you smile.

That is very odd because it never works for me. I can push aside some things to get through a moment but you can't hide from things. You can smile in the mirror, at the clerk behind the register. Do you know that serial killers are some of the most charming people? Virtually no one ever guesses they were a serial killer until they go totally berserk.

Ah ha.... so... uh...what do serial killers have to do with this?

I don't know. It occurred to me that those people are always smiling and cheerful. Everyone loves them. They can charm birds from trees and people from their homes. I bet they're some of the best singers in their churches, if they go to church. And honestly, they probably do at times. Then they go out and do horrible things to people. 

Wow... o.k.

I'm supposed to smile and enter the world with pretty platitudes and cheer. Just like they do. Only I'm the one who is lying. Those crazy people are actually doing what they love. They're happy to cause pain and heartache and death. I experience pain and heartache and people expect me to dance a jig. I see others and my heart hurts for them. I never tell anyone to "cheer up" or "be thankful" or any of that because I know that pain. Those things only hurt when you're hurting. 

When you're depressed, other people are uncomfortable. 

So it isn't about me. It is about their comfort. If someone has a compound fracture of their leg and I say, "Hey, it isn't so bad. Just smile and think good thoughts. You'll feel much better!" That's going to help? 

Well,  no, they'd probably kill you. Look, do you have a point?

I'm not sure. This thing... this annual descent is difficult. And people don't get it. I get tired of hearing the platitudes, smile, be thankful, whatever. I think that people like that, who expect you to go dancing off into the day, have never stared into the darkness. They've never stood on the brink of a pit so deep that they couldn't see the bottom. They've never had to walk in the dark places. Those of us who have are forever changed by it. And buckets of cheer, after you've been in those places, just don't happen for you as often. The images the experience leaves in your mind can't be obliterated by good cheer, singing, dancing, or any of those things. 

I do understand. But you keep going. You don't sit around and think about it.

Someone forgot to tell Jeremiah. Jeremiah is one of the few people in the Bible who I think understood people who've been through dark places. I've written about this before here. He had lived in dark places. Lamentations 3:1-20 could have been written by me. I notice he sort of blamed you.

I get that a lot. But we're good.
I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.
He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. 
He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
He certainly understood depression. 

But then, in the middle of all of it, a thought came to his mind. He didn't smile in the mirror. He still felt bad.  He is remembering the blackness. I had to look up the reference to be sure but I recalled something about Jeremiah. (Jer. 38:6)
Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
He was dropped by rope into a muddy hole, underground. He was in a dark pit, and it was sucking him down. The guy was going to drown in muck. I've been in that hole! I've felt the slime and ooze of it creeping up around me. It is cold, wet, smelly, and darker than the backside of hell. There is no way out. You're stuck there. And there are no mirrors to smile into, no place to dance and no one will hear you shouting. You stare into darkness until it fills you up. 

But right there in his own private hell he remembered something. (verse 21-23)
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Well, he did get excited about it, didn't he. (Lamentations 3:55-58)
I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.
He did but he's still sitting in muck feeling cold, wet, and sick. I keep this chapter marked in my Bible with a bookmark. I have to read it when I am there. When it gets dark and cold and there's no comfort. I have to read it over and over. 


Because if I forget, I'll never get out. I'll never be able to shake off the slime and ooze and get warm. Sitting in that hole in the ground you have to wonder if he could look up and see anything. I don't know. I suspect there were moments when he despaired completely. But even when he was overwhelmed, covered in mud and stink, and wrapped in darkness, even at the worst moment, he remembered that you are faithful. And that one thing was a spark in the darkness. I think, for me, this is the most profound statement in the whole Bible. 


Yeah, really. Over the last several months, that one phrase has stayed with me. When everything is dark and I can't hear anything else, I hear that.