Friday, July 30, 2010

fun with grandpa and life - 07/30/10

Today after Grandpa had finished his lunch and gotten settled in for a rest, I asked him if he was comfortable, and he said yes.  "Can I make you uncomfortable?" I joked.  He immediately shot back, "I'm sure you could, but I'd rather you didn't!"

Dad asked me to run a quick errand on my way home today.  Now, I love Grandpa, but I don't exactly dress up for him.  Today I was hoping to get away with greasy hair, no makeup, and a t-shirt and sweats - pretty much the usual.  I consider having to wear a bra dressing up (which I do wear out of consideration for Grandpa).  Anyway, I wasn't dressed for public viewing.  I could have gone home and showered, changed, put on concealer...ha ha, who am I kidding?  Of course I didn't go to that trouble.  So I ran the errand and decided to get a few groceries since I was "out".  My shopping trip was also going pretty much as usual - taking one bag or basket around the store, filling it up, thinking of other things I needed, precariously balancing and carrying those items back and forth from aisle to aisle as my brain popped random thought bubbles ("Dog treats!"  "Toilet paper!"  "Cereal!"), and refusing to get a cart because they're too cumbersome.  I had just finished rearranging my items in the "Pop!" aisle (last week I did the same thing and left behind my milk - I called the store and said I think there's some milk in the pop aisle...), picked up the shopping bag, then stacked the other stuff in my arms and walked carefully to the front of the store where I remembered I also needed "Puzzles!"  So I bobbed and weaved to the magazine aisle, thinking maybe I should bring in 2 bags next time, put down my bag, bent over with the other stuff still in my arms, and got a magazine.  I executed that move beautifully (surprised you, didn't I?), then I decided to try it again.  Disaster struck, and the cold Chinese food container I was holding slid off the box of dog treats I was also holding, and splattered open on the floor.  Fortunately, I like lemon chicken, the sauce of which congeals everything into this nice handy clump that can be picked up off the floor in just a few swipes.  I picked up my keys and wallet and went to the Starbucks at the end of the aisle (see, it is good to have them everywhere!), got napkins, and began cleaning up.  I couldn't find a clerk nearby, so mid-clean I walked to the customer service counter and told them I'd spilled.  As I walked away from the counter I realized I didn't have my wallet.  A flash of panic, I stop, turn toward the counter, see it's not there, walk quickly and prayerfully back to the magazine aisle, checking the Starbucks as I power-walked by, and found my wallet where I'd left it with my groceries.  It's good to live in Kansas.  So I clean up my mess, anticipating but never hearing a "CLEAN-UP ON AISLE 12!!!" announcement, and take the paper towels and Chinese food and my keys and my wallet to the trash can at the Starbucks.  Of course, the Starbucks trash cans have these dainty little holes in the top which are not intended for cheap Chinese food use, and I didn't want to leave my groceries and walk all over the store to find another trash can, so I tried to lift the lid of the can.  The "lid" was attached to the rest of the can, which was actually a decorative cover for the actual trash can underneath.  So, with all the dignity I could muster, I lifted the entire thing up, threw away the trash, managed to hold onto my keys and wallet, and returned to my items, all the while being painstakingly ignored by the embarrassed Starbucks employees, who probably thought this weird lady with the greasy gray-brown hair and ratty clothes was going through the trash looking for food to take out.  I got my puzzle magazines and decided it was time to leave, unfortunately without my Chinese food.  By this time I had to pee, and there was no way I was going to walk to the other end of the store and try this balancing act again.  But I did remember to take my milk.

(This very Kerri moment is brought to you by the thank-God-I-still-have-my-sense-of-humor foundation.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

fun with grandpa - 07/26/10

Today I unwrapped the plastic wrapper off of something and handed the wrapper to Grandpa, saying, "Happy birthday."

"What's this for?"
"It's your birthday present."
"Can I throw it away?"
Grandpa whispered to the plastic as he moved it to the trash can, "Shh, don't tell."
I say in a high, plastic wrapper voice, "No, no!  Don't throw me away!"
"Uh oh, I dropped it." (into the trash)

Today our favorite hospice nurse came to do Grandpa's bath, and she brought lemon pudding she'd made for him and a set of Bonanza DVDs.  We returned the favor by hiding a rubber snake under Grandpa's clothes that she changes him into.  She made a big, good-natured stink about it, then Grandpa totally ratted on me and said it was all my idea!  He gave final approval!  The traitor just didn't want to lose his lemon pudding.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

choosing life 7/25/10

Okay, I think it's time to consciously choose life again for a while.  The weather's been terribly hot lately, but I will set goals to walk the dogs early and spend some time working on the yard and cleaning out the boys' pool today at a more reasonable hour.  It's been a while since I've done any of those things.

Had a wonderful time playing in the pool with my nephew, niece, and sis-in-law on Wednesday.  After a while, sis and niece went back inside, and nephew and I kept playing - we were out about 2 1/2 hours total - it was great!  He's 6 now ("almost 7"), and I was so thankful for the time to get to know him better.  At one point, he said something like, "This is nice, just the two of us," and I couldn't have agreed more.  Got a blister on my toe from pulling him around the pool with a swim noodle, but it was worth it, and a Woody bandaid made it all better.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

St. Ignatius' prayer, choosing life 07/24/10

St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote a prayer entitled "Suscipe" (receive):

Take, Lord,
receive all my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my entire will,
all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours now.
Do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

This week I am feeling better after two weeks of depression and anxiety.  On some of those days I felt grief.  On others I felt a high level of nervousness, as if I was at the open door of a plane and was about to skydive for the first time, except that instead of lasting for several minutes or hours, I had that feeling constantly for days.  It can make you think you're going insane.  On many days I feel as if I have only one thin layer of skin and everything I encounter stings me as if I had just ripped off a scab too early - I am a "highly sensitive person".  "My" life is transforming as the prayer above describes.  The depression and anxiety, and/or the meds I take for them, or stress, or genetics, or God, or a host of other possibilities, have been taking away my memory and sharper thinking skills for about 11 years.  My understanding, of God, of life, of my condition, began to leave me long ago, although I've thought I had things figured out a few times.  But now I am being called to let my understanding go, along with my assumptions, expectations, and hopes - about anything and everything.  I still have my conviction that God exists, and that he is good, is Truth, and I still love him and long for him, but that too may leave me someday.

I grieve for the loss of some assumptions, some hopes; right now I grieve for the ability and the confidence in my ability to teach kids on a consistent basis, without sudden and sometimes unexpected bouts of depr./anx. causing me to need time off.  I grieve for the loss of knowing I was doing something effective and good with my life, that I was having a positive impact on the world.  But at the same time I don't want to know about that anymore.  This process of loss is not a spiral into death; I've been there before, and this is different.  In fact, as I write this I realize I do have hope, although no assumptions or expectations, for what will become.  This is new life, true life.  Take all of me, Lord, and may I truly live, and love.  And help me to get out of your way and let you work when necessary.

"'...I was lying awake and wondering what on earth would become of me....I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me.  And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was.  So it came nearer and nearer.  I was terribly afraid of it....I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it - if you can understand.  Well, it came closer up to me and looked straight into my eyes.  And I shut my eyes tight.  But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it....there was a well....I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain....But the lion told me I must undress first.

"'...So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place.  And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness....In a minute or two I stepped out of it.  I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty....

"'But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before....So I scratched and tore again....

"'Well, exactly the same thing happened again.  And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off?...

"'Then the lion said...You will have to let me undress you.  I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now.  So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

"'The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right to my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt....

"'Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt....And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water....'

"It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that 'from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.'  To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy.  He had relapses.  There were still many days when he could be very tiresome.  But most of those I shall not notice.  The cure had begun."

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"

Monday, July 19, 2010

funny grandpa 07/19/10

A commercial for a clinical trial came on tv today and "100 WOMEN WANTED" filled up the screen.  Grandpa exclaimed, "One hundred women!  Who wants 100 women?!"

I reminded him that the next several hours of his future depended on women, so he'd better be careful.  :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

the retreat - day 5 - Jan. 12, 2008

Journal:  As I'd hoped, SJ reassured me that her emphasis on contemplation was to help make sure I knew there was something in prayer beyond thought.  We talked about how hard I am on myself and about what blocks me from "going all the way" with God and letting go into that place beyond thinking.  I mentioned my fear of losing all control, every string that keeps me attached to something, spinning off into space, nothingness, out  of control.  I couldn't be very specific.  She asked if it was fear of losing contact with (and not returning to) reality, and I said yes, maybe.  I think that's part of it.  She said to pray for help to define it more and bring it before God, that he doesn't ever desire and won't do anything to break me - not like that.  He desires my wholeness, my wellness, my health.

Had a nice supper last night in the bookstore with instrumental music playing on SJ's CD player.  I'm beginning to hunger for the time spent with music as well as for the food.  Spent the last 3 hours before sleep finishing and beginning mysteries and doing puzzles.  Have some guilt for not praying, etc. instead, but wanted to take that pressure off myself and get back to sensing God's movement within me vs. doing the "shoulds."  Last night SJ joined three other women I know in wishing she could remove the word "should" from my vocabulary.

Later breakfast today because of discernment retreat here this weekend.  (After b'fast) I picked out the "Dream Work" book by Taylor from the bookstore, then walked for an hour.  Went to the east end of  town, sat on a swing at a school for 5-10 minutes, climbed a small hill and came back.  Then went to drugstore for glucosamine (to ease the soreness in my middle-aged, out-of-shape joints!).

So now am sitting and stretching with books and will do some reading before lunch.  Merton's What is Contemplation? is very helpful.

Aware this a.m. of a desire for more study in religion after this.  And (yesterday, too) of a desire to travel.

But what of my debts?!  I "should" have taken that teacher loan/repayment, I "should not" have spent so much money at the vet.  I "must" pay off the debts quickly and "should not" take on more substantial debt until I do.

But I'm afraid to work, 'though a bit less afraid of it today.  But I don't want to force myself into that idea.  School attracts me more, but I don't want to think about the future much at all right now.

Enjoyed 5-10 min. of mystery novel after lunch....I'm beginning to see that this is okay, good to do as a break/change in activity/brain work....After a little while I was done, ready to look at lesson for today - pondering my life in God, as it is.

I'm smiling over Job - the sarcasm in his replies to his friends, God's setting him and his friends straight - "Who do you think you are?!"  Reminds me of God's more gentle correction/instruction with Jonah - "Do you have a right to be angry about this?"  Read and meditated some on Job, Jonah, the Israelites (Dt. 1:27ff.) and me....

(Took a nap, then) woke up with Jonah, et al. on my heart.  I gave you a great family and home, then I allowed it to be a cage, a suffocation of shoulds and oughts.  Do you have a right to be angry about that?  "Yes."  I gave you great riches, I gave you pain.  You were told and dreamed of a fairy tale that did not come true; you did not receive the man you expected and longed for.  Do you have a right to be angry?  "Hmpf."  You walked, or felt you did, a part of this time alone, and came perilously close to death.  You sat with death for a while.  You made your bed in hell.  You jumped, and slipped, and I let you fall further than you believed was possible - you fell to the depths of your tolerance.  And yet I was still there, and I caught you, and I held you.  You could have wandered even further, but not without me.  I carried you.  I led you with fire and with darkness.  I sheltered you, I fed you, then I removed the comfort and let you live outside of it.  I wooed you, because I long for you and I love you, then I whipped out of sight so that you would follow me and grow more mature, so that our relationship could be even better.  I knew you'd follow - I put that desire in you.  Because I wanted you.  I knew it would entail some very difficult times and I knew you'd persevere, that you would ultimately be faithful to the knowledge of and desire for me that I gave you.  I knew we would be here (because he knows me, that the retreat is something I would do - not because of predestination).  I know you, and I love you.  And sometimes things may happen to you or within your awareness that have nothing to do with whether or not you did something right or wrong, or whether you deserve it or not, or whether I'm pleased with you or not.  Sometimes things exist because I want them to, for reasons you cannot know.  So mind your own business, lift up your head, and know that I love you and all is well.  I am holy and good, and you can trust me with your very being.  Your very life.

Oh Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief.

1, 2, 3, 4.  1, 2, 3, 4.  My asthma prayer is my Jesus prayer for now - for focusing, breathing, calming, becoming still.  (When I have an asthma attack I calm myself and my breathing by counting slowly to four with every inhale, every exhale.  I've done it for years; counting to four in that way immediately begins to center me, so I chose it for centering prayer as well.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

funny family

My sister-in-law bought me a t-shirt.  She thinks she's so funny.  I do too, sometimes....  =P

The other night Dad was getting ready to put Grandpa's lotion med. on him, and Dad said, "Put your arms up."  Grandpa replied, "Is this a robbery?"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

the retreat - day 4 - Jan. 11, 2008

Focus for the day:  "Deepening in God's Love - Stand before God as you are...Know that you are loved infinitely, perfectly...You did not earn love...and you cannot lose love...Let God love you..."

From journal:  woke up at 11:00 p.m. last night...sought to pray in the sense that SJ means it - turned my mind (rational, analytical part) off and let go and was open to God.  Didn't sense anything happening but stuck with it for a while, then went back to bed.  Woke up a few more times in the night - not fitful, just waking up.  Early a.m. phone call woke me, and the Sisters' concern in looking for SM and in the apparent nature of the call drew me to prayer for them....

My "task" today is to deepen in God's love for me.  I find myself, since coming here, reflecting on community, living in it, and this one in particular.  Whether it be this congregation or another - I don't think I'm done learning about various kinds - I have found my ducks, my people.  I see what I belong to, and I am so deeply thankful.

People will arrive today for a large weekend retreat.  My meals will be in the bookstore/meeting room so that I can still eat alone and in silence - I am thankful for their arranging that.  George Winston was on the CD player last night - "December"?  I enjoyed that very much, along with my chicken and gravy, quinoa, carrots, apples, roll, and water.

10:55 - fitful a.m. - lots of phone calls and building activity - at one point I spent about 1/2 hour in the recliner enjoying the Savior of Zven. icon and Nouwen's reflection - he quoted Mt. 11:28 and part of Ps. 139 and that made me smile.  I went to the icon seeking peace, comfort, release from my anxieties and frustration and the busy-ness of the house....Generally grumpy.  Laid down, phone still ringing, people moving.  Slept some, but had fitful, angry, jealous, petty dreams - in one I'd sought refuge in my car from the noise and activity, feeling guilty for my lack of charity and prayer, and also miffed.

Took a bath and cleaned up self and room.  Now sitting back down with journal, icon, Bible, and God, to ask for forgiveness and peace.

After lunch I went for a walk - stayed on easy, level ground today as a comfort for my mood.  I came to the end of a street at the east end of the convent and remembered the Sisters' graveyard - the consolation of saints seemed like a good idea.  Enjoyed my walk to and through the stones - dated from late 1890's to current day - many Sisters died in their 20's and 30's in the older stones.  Sat for a while - so thankful for weather warm enough to walk and sit this week - and meditated on God's care for his creation.  Thought a bit about how uncertain I am about what I'll do after this retreat, and remembered Christ's assurance and God's care for sparrows and lilies, not to mention humans, and I observed the birds, squirrels, and men at a nearby plant, all working and receiving, their needs being met.  Prayed some for others, as I've been drawn to throughout last night and today.  Got back about 2:00, snacked and read a mystery for a while, covers pulled over my ears to block out the phone ringing and doors slamming.  Enjoying some blissful quiet now that their seminar has begun.

To bring up with SJ today - it seems like I define prayer much more broadly than she does - she seems to be talking about contemplation only (a Catholic thing?).  I feel that I'm praying throughout the day, but not as she would define it, and therefore it's not as good.  If my mind's engaged, I'm not doing it right, still need to draw closer to God. (?)  I don't doubt there's plenty of room to draw closer, but I'm viewing everything else I do now as negative.  Just my perfectionism?  What does God say, where is he leading me?  Will return now to readings for today in going deeper in God's love and seek his heart in this.

Also a bit homesick today for the boys and a typical Friday night with them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

grandpa and choosing life 07/06/10

Today, me to Grandpa:  "Whoops, I'll be right back.  I forgot the phone."
Grandpa:  "You always forget something!"  :)

Still having a rough time with depression right now, but it's been worse, so I'm not despairing.  I'm thankful for friends and family that have let me know they care and are praying for me.  I think going through my retreat notes and remembering that time with God also helps.

This a.m. I read in my journal:  3/5/10 - D. (one of my students last year) to B. (another reading therapist):  "If I feel bad when I come in here (my classroom), Miss Kerri makes me feel better."  It is breaking my heart that I can't teach and interact with students right now (because of depression, not because it's summer), or have any confidence that I will be able to do so consistently in the future.  But I am able to care for Grandpa, and the timing of his needs and mine seem to have come together in a providential way.

Today on the news I heard about some fishermen in the Gulf struggling with depression because the oil spill has had such a dramatic effect on their jobs and livelihoods, and they were just beginning to feel like they were back on their feet again after Katrina.  One fisherman in the story committed suicide.  Because of the aching in my chest and the sorrow I have today, I was able to pray for and be with those fishermen today in their fear and despair.  I don't have any idea if my prayers today had a different effect than they would have if I was feeling fine and just had sympathy for the fishermen, but today I prayed that since I was hurting too, could I be present with them in the pain and sorrow, and look to Christ for/with them for peace.  This is an aspect of depression that I am thankful for, and at some level I choose to be or remain depressed sometimes because I then sense a deeper connection with others who are also hurting.  Am I choosing illness in a way that God does not intend, or am I diagnosing as illness the deep feeling and sorrow I have sometimes, and is that actually a gift, a call to pray, a role for me in the body of Christ, rather than a sickness?  I've been asking this question for a while, and I still don't know.  I've tried to understand my depression to its depths, but now I believe God is asking me to acknowledge that I really know so little, that I don't need to fully understand the whys or hows, and to just live moment to moment, remaining in his love. 

Also found a quote I like in my journal - "...Carole wanted to organize every moment of the future to within an inch of its life, while Jude was comfortably content to let events come to her...."  Simon Brett

Saturday, July 3, 2010

the retreat - day 3 - Jan. 10, 2008

Things to focus on today:  gratitude for the way God works and has worked in my life, what graces do I receive and do I need, be aware, attuned to God's presence - "I become aware of God contemplating me in love."

Journal:  Did sleep well last night - thank you.  Woke up feeling rested, full of sleep, happy.  Looked at hand (tree shadow) on window and closed my eyes and imagined putting my hand up against it, palm to palm.  A light flashed (not lightning).  Dozed some more, heard the 7:00 bells for mass, rolled over and dozed some more again, enjoying the luxury of staying in bed.  Around 8:15 I sensed the call to arise and join the day, and I got up.  Went to 3rd-floor sun porch on my way down to breakfast - a very cozy room with chairs, plants, windows, afghans, and pillows - was delighted to see it was snowing!  Mused a bit downstairs over my Raisin Bran, but then finished up because I wanted to watch the snow.  Got some stuff and set up camp in the 2nd-floor exercise/sun room (3rd floor room is for Sisters only - oops!).  Had a delightful time watching the snow fall fast and light, big and little flakes.  Thought about how perspective can affect your perception, and therefore beliefs and actions about things - the snow falling, as seen through the mini blinds on the upper part of the window, where the spaces between the blinds was narrower, looked frenetic, super-fast and busy.  The snow seen through the larger spaces in the lower part of the blinds was still fast, but less so, less tight and pressured.

It's 10:40 now.  The snow has stopped.  I've been watching and thinking and resting and enjoying this time, in your presence, tremendously.  I went back to my room to get something, and I realized as I walked that something felt different, funny - I realized I was standing up and walking straight, shoulders back, chest up.  Read #579 in Appleton's Oxford Book of Prayer, which reminded me of the lesson for today and the reference to Ps. 136 in its style.  (The sentences below that begin with "Come" are from the OBP, prayer by St. Symeon.)

Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one,
Come with me.
Listen!  My Lover!  Look!  Here he comes, the God of my life.
Who taught me of himself before I entered to world.
Come, true light.
Who gave me joy; I delighted in him.
Come, life eternal.
Who hid himself in between the words and ways of the old church, Calvary.
Come, hidden mystery.
Who hid beneath the scales over my eyes and heart.
Come, treasure without name.
Who rejoiced with me, taught me, cried with me in my growing up as a girl.
Come, reality beyond all words.
Who hid (or so it seemed to me), remained behind the walls of pain in my high school years, but whose presence and love were there, nevertheless.
Come, person beyond all understanding.
Who laughed alongside me, worked, rejoiced, loved, taught, and communed with others during the missions trip in summer '86.
Come, rejoicing without end.
Come, light that knows no evening.
Who went with me to Wheaton, that new, wonderful, frightening place.
Come, unfailing expectation of the saved.
Who wept with me and lifted me up as my Wheaton dream ended and the fight to live a life on my own began.
Come, raising of the fallen.
Who hovered over me, held me tightly, and saved my life when I fought to live in a more literal way, in the hospital with an asthma attack.
Come resurrection of the dead.
Who led me from Calvary to 1st Free, to a new vision of you and a door to a new life.
Come, all-powerful, for unceasingly you create, refashion and change all things by your will alone.
Who gave me people, resources, and experiences that opened a door, showed me ways to access a realization of you that I had hardly imagined, barely remembered, dared not hope for.
Come, invisible whom none may touch and handle.
Who gave me friends for life.
Come, for you continue always unmoved, yet at every instant you are wholly in movement; you draw near to us who lie in hell, yet you remain higher than the heavens.
Who wooed me then ran ahead - who granted me a taste of your incredible goodness, love, holiness, is-ness, then suddenly drew it away, to pull me further in.
Come, for your name fills our hearts with longing and is ever on our lips; yet who you are and what your nature is, we cannot say or know.
Who left me, but never fully released me, to look for you, to get to know you and myself and life, to grow up (in my early- to mid-20's) feeling utterly on my own, abandoned.
Come, Alone to the alone.
Who led me to special education and to a new discovery of you and of meaning in the souls of the kids I met and interacted with.
Come, for you are yourself the desire that is within me.
Who reminded me of my deepest, ever-present desire for you, even as the days grew darker and the burden grew heavier.
Come, my breath and my life.
Who would not let me die, who kept the dying fire within me smoldering, kindled, even when I was ready to let it go.
Come, the consolation of my humble soul.
Who led me back to life, to rest, to hope, to delight, to love, to new beginnings.
Come, my joy, my glory, my endless delight.
Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Your love endures forever.

As I wrote this, the snow stopped, clouds moved away, sky became clear and blue, and the sun shone, rising higher.  See!  The "winter" is past.

Stayed in sun room until lunchtime.  Enjoyed lunch, then took shower, started laundry, washed my mug, paid for the retreat, and am now in the library at 1:30 p.m. to pray, enjoy some new reading, and write.  Am holding onto my small, wooden cross from St. James Episcopal....Reading some of Ps. 139 and Mt. 11:28-30 - freely, thank you - couldn't do that yesterday without feeling the old chains (of how I used to interpret the verses in Mt.)

I have enjoyed taking care of my stuff the last 2 days - it started when I saw and appreciated my place set for me at the table.  Then at the next meal I realized that my (cloth) napkin would remain and greet me as I left it, so I folded it more neatly afterward, to care for it and myself - hospitality - making bed, too....I'm finally doing these things in freedom - I want to do them.  Thunder clouds on the horizon - it won't last, you'll get trapped again, etc.  I don't fight them or try to eradicate them, but I do turn away from them, put my head down and look at where my feet are now vs. worrying about the future, and choose not to listen to those thoughts.  (Now I'm learning to actually love, show love to that part of me from where those thoughts come.)

I am clinging to my cross (from St. James)...

A bit hard to read, but this is my "autobiography" of my life with God - landmarks in my spiritual life - SJ asked me to draw it.  The girl at the top/center/right is me when I first became aware of God, and knew him well.  Pic. at top left is when I decided to leave behind what I knew/had been given by my parents, church, etc. and struck out to "find myself" and discover what I really believed.  At first I felt that I leapt off the cliff of safe familiarity into the unknown and God just let me keep falling and wouldn't catch me.  Later I realized I just fell further than I thought I would - God was waiting to catch me the whole time.  Next drawing is my crash in Iowa, same theme, falling further than I expected before being caught, and winding up safe.  Bottom left and center pics are times when I sensed God was wooing me, calling to me to draw closer to him and showing me that he loved me and desired to be close to me.  Bottom right sideways pic is my summer in Sweden, when I was free and there was little in the way of my communion with God.  Above that drawing is me arriving at Manna House, tired, dry, worn to nothing.  Desperately needing healing, rest, and reconnection with God.

thoughts/notes to self re: taking care of someone

I was thinking about how I still forget to do various little things when I'm taking care of Grandpa - one day I'll forget to give him his towel/napkin at lunch, another day I'll forget to offer him a mid-morning snack, etc.  I've been helping him the last 6 months, a lot more so the last 2 months, and I expect myself to not forget this stuff anymore.  But then I remember my work with students with severe/multiple disabilities, and how offering them choices and helping them attain as much autonomy as possible was so critical for their happiness and quality of life.  We all need that, but you have to pay special attention to that with students with SMD, because so many routine tasks are done for them.

Perhaps it's okay that I forget little stuff with Grandpa.  He always reminds me, and that gives him a chance to participate in his own caring.  He has a medication that is a cream that you rub into his arms like lotion.  When it's time for that med, I help him take off his watch and then walk away to get the supplies.  The first several times I did that he kept holding his arms out, waiting for me to push his sleeves up, then he'd say something like, "Should I put my sleeves up?" and did it himself.  As long as he can do that, and anything else, for himself, I will wait for him to do so, and help only when/as needed.  When your life shrinks down to spending all of your time in bed or in a recliner, pushing up your own sleeves is a big deal.  I won't play dumb or pretend to forget things, but I think I will be more intentional, more conscious of what I do and don't do for him, and continue to encourage him to be part of the process.  He loves laughing at me when I forget stuff, anyway.

cicada 1, Oliver 0

We just had a pre-dawn potty run, and Ollie startled a cicada that was hanging out on the porch.  It buzzed and flew along the porch surface and startled O. back.  Ollie's curiosity was peaked.  He kept following the cicada, which kept buzzing and staying low.  Every time the cicada would stop, Ollie would try to sniff it again and figure out what it was and stirred up the insect again, and the insect buzzed and flew and startled Ollie again.  Finally, the cicada flew higher, and then began dive bombing Oliver, who ducked, blinked, and wondered what he'd gotten himself into for several seconds.  Then the cicada flew out of range.  Oliver looked for it but couldn't find it, so he peed on a weed, secure once again in his doggie masculinity.

(Is this even interesting to anyone besides Ollie's amused Mama?)

Friday, July 2, 2010

the retreat - day 2 - Jan. 9, 2008

Journal:  6:27 a.m. - rougher night - bad dreams - anything to do with the peanuts and Coke, or are we getting into the nitty gritty now?

7:30 a.m. - stretch, breathe, read scripture and choose passage for prayer (from sheet given to me the night before by SJ during our meeting - the word/thought/thing to keep in mind for next 24 hours is "God's Invitation - Listen to God's invitation to 'come.'  Rest in it.  Marvel at it.  Get in touch with what it evokes in you.") - looked at passages from sheet and remembered other favorites - 1 Kgs. 19, Ps. 42 and 62, Isa. 6, Rev. 4 and other Rev.

8:30-ish a.m. - have (finally) selected passage(s) for prayer - Song of Sol. 2:13 - " darling, my beautiful one, come with me," and "...the God of my life."  Ps. 42:8 - "By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me."

8:30-ish a.m. - walk, enjoyed (train crossing bells), anticipated and enjoyed the coming of the train - "Listen!  Look!"  happy again

9:30 - back, stopped in chapel

10:00 - at laptop - get down less intimate thoughts, questions, ideas

10:30 - in recliner with Bible - verses in Rev. 3 - what he opens/shuts no one can shut/open - and, "Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."

12:45 p.m. - Wal-Mart - stayed quiet

1:30 p.m. - park at Motherhouse and pray

"...and she will be loved, and she will be loved..."  (going through my head)

remembering, rediscovering your love for me again - the love of a lover, for his beloved

am clean/took shower at 11:00...I felt, a little bit of me, beautiful

less insecure and self-conscious, love and prayer for --- and more compassion, letting go of resentment, judgment...

returning to daily life means picking up some burdens again, to me - some which trap me, kill my spirit

have so much regard for God, for what you  think of me and my choices, actions, etc. and have so little regard, if any, for what any other person thinks about them...

home (at MH) around 2:35, very tired and legs bed at 3:00 and thought I'd sleep but didn't, up around 4:00 and took hot bath...legs better, getting ready to meet with SJ

themes from today:  bad night, remembrance of former intimacy with Christ/God, felt close and loved, restless in the afternoon in legs and mind, very undisciplined, got a bit bored with "God loves me" and wanted to move on, but I didn't because of SJ's recommendation to stay with this idea today

good talk with SJ...the pull of God often followed by a countering pull away from God.  I cried when I told her I'd connected again, renewed a level of intimacy with God that I'd missed and believed was lost to me forever.  I cried when I told her my passages for the day were from Song of Sol. 2 and Ps. 42 - come away with me, beloved, my darling, my beautiful day the Lord directs his love...a prayer to the God of my life - I love you, too.

Also from time with SJ - the delight, intimacy, knowledge of, and desire for God 16 years ago were gifts of grace - God's pulling away from me after that was also a gift, grace - my view of those years since, and of myself and my choices in those years is also softening - it was all within his grace, he never forgot nor forsook me, no matter how bad/mad I got - I never lost my sense of humor or my faith that God exists, and is good

ate dinner quickly - 5:45 p.m. - a lighter mode - couple of puzzles, then began drawing for tomorrow's work, then reading and snacking.  Fun and rest.

...hope to sleep deep tonight

Thursday, July 1, 2010

choosing life 07/01/10

Was behind a big, shiny Nissan Quest today that had a bumper sticker promoting a Republican, one of those oval stickers with 3 letters on it that comes from other countries, and another bumper sticker that said, "You think health care is expensive now?  Wait until it's free!"  Yes, I thought, heaven forbid that you should help others with health care and have to drive a used car as a result and only be able to travel in the Lower 48!  Then I felt the judgment like bile rising within me and I shook my head at myself and sighed.

Okay, depression sucks.  Yes, I am still thankful for it overall, and no, if given the choice, I don't think I'd choose a different life, but it still sucks.  The last few days I've been low and  Feeling bad in a way you can only understand if you've been there - it's so hard to describe.  Able to continue to work with Grandpa, but, I realized last night, if I were still a teacher I wouldn't be able to teach.  Which just made me feel worse.  Later, in the book I'm reading, one character laughed at another and told her not to take herself so seriously, and that helped me feel better.  It's things like that lately, flashes of realizations or understanding God gives me, that help pull me out of the muck.  I've tried cognitive behavior therapy some (what are you thinking/telling yourself, what do you feel bad about, is it true, etc.) and while it has its benefits I wonder if for now I just need to stop trying to understand (i.e., comprehend, grasp, control) it and simply pray for help.  It could be because money's tight, it could be coming from conflicts in relationships, it could be because my body's about to give itself its monthly party for being a woman.  It could be a chemical/biological thing.  It could be all of those, or none.  I don't really care anymore.  I still feel bad, God, and I can't be well without you.  Please help me be well.  Help me choose life.

stuff the dogs wish I could understand

Yes, it does matter where we pee, so quit laughing at us when we stand in line and wait for each other so we can pee on the same spot.  The world may be our toilet, but it is not that simple, you airhead.

from Chester:  Mama, if you would vacuum more often, I would sneeze less often, which means I wouldn't bump my nose on the floor so much.  I am a short-legged, long-nosed dog with allergies - help me out a little!

We couldn't care less what you're on this earth for.  Give us a treat and rub our bellies.

Squirrels, rabbits, and cats are the enemy and must be chased.  Other dogs must be barked at.  Especially when they started it.