Spiritual Flesh and Blood 3

The funeral of my mother at the age of five altered my life forever.  We had been a happy family.  I was not only provided for, but I had been invested in.  I had been the child of my parents’ happy marriage which had spilled over into a happy home.  My father, a manly man, had been so pleased to work hard to provide for his wife and children.  He felt he was good and he felt God was repaying him with this happy life.  With the death of my mother, I also lost my father.  He could not be father and mother, so he decided to be neither.  I lost my childhood.  I lost my innocent happiness.  I stood at her funeral, holding the hand of an aunt that I did not know, and so unsure of the new emotion that I felt:  fear.  I was a motherless child.  

After the ceremony, the few people my family knew in our little town gathered at our house.  It was a small simple farmhouse but my mother had made it a home.  With her death, even our home died.  Now it was just a house.  It suddenly lacked the charm that comes when there is happiness in the air.  I stood in the corner near the staircase.  I was blocked by a wall, but around the opening I could hear relatives whispering, “What will Matthew do with these children now?  What a burden for him.”

No, I was not the only child of Matthew and Grace Parker.  I was one of three children.  I had a brother, David, who was four years older and a sister, Fern, who was two years younger.

The whispers continued, “She always spoiled them and now he is going to have to pay the price.”

“Well, I think he deserves it.  He should have taken better care of her.  It is his fault this happened.”

“All I know is that children are expensive.  He doesn’t have any money.”

“Well, I happen to know where he can find a new wife.  That is the only solution I know of.”

“You are exactly right.  I mean it.  I agree with you.  And he’d better come to terms with that sooner than later.”

This was followed by small snickers.  They were not possessed by demons.  These people had been saved by God.  But they had been stopped in their footsteps.  They refused to fight.  They stood in their comforts of life and did not want to be burdened by the troubles of this world.  When they were tempted, they quietly gave in and kept it hidden.  When demons told them to judge, they gladly obliged.  They were modern day Pharisees.  The demons could not enter their bodies, but they could sit on their shoulders and whisper into their ears and influence their thoughts and actions.  The demons promised comfort in this world in exchange for their cooperation.

This is how the community felt about their responsibility to fill in the motherly gap that we now inherited.  There was never a solution or an attempt at one.  Our happy home was never happy again.  We had lost Eden.

To be continued…

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The Always Broken Heart

Age creased the hands of the surgeon.  A large build, tall, athletic, a picture of health.  Without even the knowledge of his resume, his deep voice accompanied with a warm smile, he demanded the upmost of attention.  But in this moment, weakness consumed him.

His knees, clothed in scrubs, bent on the surgical floor of the hospital.  The bright lights produced a spotlight, the beep of the monitors was the soundtrack.  His healthy body held all the weakness of the world in his hands.  

Place your two fists together and you see the size of your heart.  Held in his large hands were two small fists placed together.  In his hands he held a red bleeding muscle.  In his hands he held a heart, the human heart of a four year old little girl.  

Little heart, beat.  Little heart, live.  Grow and smile and meet new people.  Sound out words, graduate from kindergarten, and draw a flower for your Momma.  Little heart, hold hands with your BFF, kiss your aunt when she comes to visit.  Little heart, open Christmas presents, play with neighbors, and learn to ride a bike.  Little heart, hug your Daddy’s neck and throw a tennis ball to your puppy.  Little heart, beat, please beat.

No one wants to speak of the gone wrong.

“Be positive.  Focus on the good.”  Hide in humor, watch TV, focus on number one, purchase therapy and live.  COEXIST.

My favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables.  I hate the setting of the dirty streets during the French Revolution, therefore setting the perfect scene for “The Miserable.”  Oh Fantine!  Oh miserable Fantine, brokenhearted, abandoned by your love, never able to mother your child, raped, and dying in starving agony.  What do positive thoughts have to offer to Fantine.  Fantine is real!  She is the modern day Syrian refugee running for her life, she is the Father held captive awaiting his execution in the hands of ISIS, Fantine is the broken hearted wife uncovering her husband’s Ashley Madison account, Fantine is the child leaving his overdosed mother behind in the dirty government housing as he walks on the bus to face the daily cruelty of his peers, Fantine surrounds us!  Oh, I have been Fantine!

Oh cruel world!  What is our weapon to face you?  How do we survive our dreams that can not be and the storms we can not weather?  Life has killed the dream.

Oh Allah, where is your extended Jean Valjean hand?  Your scales condemn the downtrodden.  Hollywood, have your riches given you peace that is beyond understanding?  Tell me atheist, what is your hope for the bleeding heart?  Is your own heart so wise that you have become your own god?  Are you the answer to the broken heart?  Or maybe your heart is callused and you just don’t care at all.

My Jesus stepped down from perfection and walked the streets of the rejected, he touched the sick, and he accepted the outcast.  He is the only God that steps down from his power and serves the hurting.  He is the only God that pursues me!  He is the only God that does not ask me to earn my salvation, he offers me a world beyond this hurt and the price is paid.

A man, unscrubbed and unapproved, entered the room.  He took the unbeating heart from the hands of this world and it began to beat.  There was nothing worldly wisdom could do, in all our riches and all our knowledge, the heart was dead.  Jesus took the heart of the child and she was alive.  But even more than her, MY heart was unbroken.  

Naked People in Heaven

Instant bad mood.  I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed.  The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs.  Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm.  The pain of waking up.  In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep.  (That is if we sleep in heaven.)

My world runs about me in fast forward.  Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home.  Why do I join the insanity of the crowd?  I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here.  We are all consumed with what does not matter.

Now.  What we want is now.  The admiring stares of those we don’t know.  Now.  The praise of what drives us around.  Now.  Winners of the race.  Packed pantries to overflowing.  Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet.  Fancy modern restaurants.  Everything that our neighbors have.  Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.

But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.

Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind.  Hey, I can respect that.  He likes to chose his words so that other people listen.  He doesn’t just fit into the crowd.  I respect that also.  But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train.  When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell.  Heaven has got to be boring.”  I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”

Heaven is better than being a billionaire.  There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold.  Heaven is better than pornography!  THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED!  And it will be a good thing!  No one will be embarrassed!  (There will be no sin in heaven.  Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin.  The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.)  Heaven is better than Hawaii.  All the food will be paid in full!  Heaven is better than Christmas!  That baby Jesus, he will be with us!  It doesn’t sound boring to me!

And what will not be in heaven?  Babies without mommies.  Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals.  There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken.  What have you been through?  What hurts?  What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!”  God will end it.  He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.

“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.”  Tim Keller.

So, look at this world.  Read the Bible.  Take a look at what is good in this world.  LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES!  SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL!  Get ready.  It is going to be the best party of all of eternity.  Don’t throw away your invitation.

Oh, I Am So Sorry. Please Excuse My Oh So Messed Up Body

This article was published in my book, Beautiful Life with Cancer, Hope During the Hard Times in December 2014.

As I lay down in my bed, I am out.  I almost always hit the pillow and it takes me about three minutes and I am asleep.  Often times, parents of little babies and young children teach them bedtime by setting a routine.  Baby gets a bath, read to them, sing one song, and hugs and kisses.  Well, (you can call me weird but I already know that) but I believe I have done this with myself.  Ofcourse I have the getting ready process.  I will spare you that.  It is not as simple and soothing as the baby’s routine.  But I hit the pillow and I start running a list through my head.  My two most popular lists:  1.  What are the decoration changes that I want to make to my house?  2.  What would I change about myself?  Fifteen.  No fourteen.  There are fourteen things I would change.

1. I wish my hair was a little thicker.  2.  No contacts.  Perfect vision would be nice.  3.  No scars around my neck.  4.  No itchy back.  That is right.  No itchy back.  See…I am the lucky one million billion that has a rare condition within a rare condition of MEN2A in which my body deposits protein on the top of my back.  It drives me insane!  It itches all the time.  All the time!  Almost daily, I scratch it until it bleeds.  I have done this since I was a baby.  I wish I did not have that.  5.  Stronger arms.  I work on it.  I do.  I go to the gym when I can and lift weights or as of now, or recently, I have been trying Yoga.  But I’ve been a little weak lately so I don’t push it by going to the gym.  So, I wish I wash’t sick. Wish I could go to the gym.  And wish I had stronger arms.  6.  No scars on my stomach.  7.  No stretch marks.  Nah.  I look at those and wish they weren’t there and then I remember why I have them.  Actually, call me crazy, I’ll keep those.  Worth the memory.  So, 7.  Thinner legs.  (Reinsert gym explanation here and add to it that I do not eat sugar.  Ok.  Yes, I do eat fruit.  And yes, I know that carbs turn to sugar in my body.  Restate that.  I do not eat desserts.  Why?  There is one reason to eat desserts:  They taste good.  There are four reasons not to:  sugar makes me gain weight, not good for my teeth, makes me, and everyone, sick more often by weakening my immune system, and lowers my energy.  Yes, that was absolutely too much to say within parenthesis.)  8.  Perfect teeth.  I hope you think my teeth look perfect, but the front two have crowns from chipping them on the swimming pool.  9.  No veins on my legs.  10.  Better singing voice.  (If I could insert a clip of me singing here, you would agree.)  11.  No scar on the back of my leg.  13.  No Addison’s Disease.  14.  No cancer.

There is my list.  Sure.  Everybody has a list.  But I do try to be really content with my body, but these are the things that I hate.  I really do hate.  And about 12 out of 14, at least, are here for life.  Nothing I can do about it.  About half of these nobody sees.  And the other half, I try to hide most of the time.  Prime example:  You will not find me in any singing group or trying out for American Idol.  But, I go to buy life insurance, and I can’t.  I go to the doctor for allergies and I have to continue my medication list on the back because it won’t all fit in the lines provided, and then the doctor wants to send me for scans and tests and chat extra long because of my history, but excuse me doctor, I have a sinus infection.  But they don’t want to give me anything for that.  And then I go to pick up Prednisone at the pharmacy for the one hundredth time in a row and the pharmacist feels the need to tell me that I shouldn’t take so much because of the side effects.  Thank you, I know them well.  But the alternative isn’t so good.  It’s death.  And then I read an article in the newspaper in the medical section from a doctor that says no one can survive with both their adrenal glands removed.  Well, he should do some research, or I should introduce myself because I am going on ten years now.

I try to find light in my rare condition.  It is a little neat when the student intern at Duke is so excited over meeting me and reviewing my case that he can not hide his excited giddiness.  It is kinda cool to be able to carry on a medical conversation, using all the right jargon, with friends that are doctors and surgeons, but If I got to pick, I would choose a different claim to fame.  What can I really do with, “a really extremely rare form of MEN2A” and always being the exception even within the rules of the disease?  Pretty cool to be the exception in the medical handbook or the specialists’ conference?  Ehh.

Well, I am asleep by now and I never go through the explanations with myself while I am laying in bed.  But if I didn’t have that, I’d be pretty pleased with myself.  If I didn’t have all of that, it’d be great to sit up in the morning and be able to see what’s going on without popping in those contacts.  And I’d probably join some band, just for the fun of it.  And I’d sing to more people than just my seven year old.  And my husband.  And my sisters.  And anyone else I get comfortable with.  And anyone else who is around after I’ve had a drink or two.  And I’d wear skirts, not just in the summer time when I’m outside, but also when it is a little chilly outside in the Fall to show off my legs.  And I would be in and out of the doctor’s office with my sinus infection medicine.  And I wouldn’t always scratch my damn back.  And who knows?  Maybe I would be a whole lot less content.  And maybe I would have less joy.  And maybe I wouldn’t appreciate my family and the days that I’ve got.  Because it isn’t really myself that makes me happy anyway.  So, ehh, I’ll just keep it all.  So, I am oh so sorry.  Please exude my oh so messed up body.  That’s just me.

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This is How it Ends

All readers gather here.  To the Momma late at night, propped up on her pillow and promising herself just one more page.  To the college student that is cramming for class because she could not peel away the romance novel.  I am writing this to the man sitting in his car flipping the pages that needs to go into work.

I hate to give away my personal love life details, but here it is.  James and I fight sometimes.  I know, I know, but it is true.  And maybe, just possibly, we had a little bit of one yesterday.  But do you see that I said yesterday?  As the day ended, I was at his side holding his hand and I thought, “If I would have known this morning, this is how it ended…”

Well, I think that a lot.  HOW DOES IT ALL END?  Does he get the girl?  Does the army invade?  Is there a baby in the future?  Who wins the election?  What’s she going to grow up to be?  Do they ever find out?  What does she decide?

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The doctor kept talking but I did not hear any of it. I felt like I could not breathe. I was led into the room where his tiny body lay. There were IV’s and tubes inside him everywhere. His tiny body was covered with a white sheet, only his head was exposed. I slowly rubbed my fingers down his cheek. He was still warm and just looked like he was sleeping only he was a little pale. I carefully removed the tube from his nose and I said, “Shh. It’s okay,” as I did so.

He should be in our home. He should be in his bedroom that was carefully prepared for him with details of his little life already added. On his closet door, there was a picture colored from Gracie of the two of them standing under the sun and blue sky on a field of flowers. His clothes were carefully laid out on his changing table for our day of shopping. He loved to make noises as he pushed little cars wherever he went. He was always carrying a matchbox car with him. Carter had set up a track beside his crib and the two of them would push cars and Carter would race them and Tucker would laugh so admiringly at his big brother. He should be lying in his crib, covered with his favorite blue fuzzy blanket. He should be wearing those cotton baseball jammies that snapped up the front. His hair should be matted down and sticking up on one side. His body should be warm and I would pick him up and put his cheek to mine and sing “Rise and Shine” as we revisited Gracie’s room to wake her up.

But my world had been turned upside down. Things were not as they should be. I had never cried so hard. I had never hurt so badly. I kissed his little face over and over. I could not tell him goodbye. I would not tell him goodbye! He was one year, eight months and two days old. He meant the world to me. How could I say goodbye to all the promises that his life held?

He was an early walker. I knew he was going to be a marathon runner. He was always smiling. I knew he was going to be the classroom clown. He had big blue eyes. He was going to be such a handsome man. He had a perfect father and big brother to teach him everything that a man should be. How could I say goodbye to our play time together while the other kids were at school? How could I tell Gracie her “little baby doll” was gone? How could I say goodbye to kindergarten graduation? How could I say goodbye to baseball games? How could I say goodbye to college plans? And the beautiful wife that I had already been praying for? And the job where he was going to succeed? How could I say goodbye to his big blue eyes? How could I say goodbye to his eyes? I cried and cried over his little body until there were no more tears. But there was a new deep deep pain that I had never felt before.

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