Sunday, February 27, 2005

Followup, anger chair

I think back on my first or second posting I wrote about a woman who, per her therapist's suggestion, was carrying around a chair as a way of becoming "aware of how much anger she was carrying", as a result of childhood trauma. One key point in her description of her anger was that she was completely justified in being angry. The counselor was really wise to give her the suggestion of carrying around an actual chair, it's way too easy to think our hurts and emotions don't really affect us, because we can't always see them or feel them.

She carried the chair (decorated with anger, mad, all that she was feeling) for 5 weeks, she attracted a lot of attention and found that many people opened up to her about themselves, which was a blessing she did not expect. Making her anger visible and vulnerable helped give others permission to talk about their own stuff. She found that the chair didn't get heavier, it got lighter. She realized that she was an adult with new ways of coping and began to enjoy life, as an artist began enjoying her work.

She found the moment to put the chair down after speaking with a group of kids at a Lutheran church she was aked to visit, to speak about anger. The kids all wrote down things they were angry about and ripped up the papers, placing them in a basket on the chair. She says she is not a church goer, but she "had a stong feeling, an intuitive voice" that told her to leave her chair there. She says she felt she had given her anger to God and was able to walk away.

I am glad to read the follow up to this, it's good to tie up loose ends. I am so glad she found healing in that process.

Here's my take. I think it is amazing (although not suprising) that her journey led her to God. Even if she doesn't end up as a "Christian" because of it. That is probably some kind of heresy to some folks. I know that in my life, God has been most evident in the world, the outside, not in the church. He's there too, but where he is most present, in the most immediate, intimate sense, in in our life, is in the daily life and struggles, along the highways and byways. It's where he meets us, where we are, and although it may lead into a church eventually, we must know that he is everywhere, not contained within the comfortable box we'd like him to be.

Perhaps God would have wanted to this lady to be affected in such a way that she was driven to seek him, but the important part is that she was healed. Even if she does not recognize it in the conventional religious sense, she received salvation in the process. Perhaps that is the start of a wider healing she will see in a spiritual sense but in the end, she was healed, her ability to recogize or comprehend from whence it came does not lessen her healing.

I have felt for a long time, because of my personal experiences, that God is and has been breaking out of the confines of the Church. We have striven to keep him safely locked away, controlled and defined by how we think he ought to be, but that is not his way. He is and will always be the wind that we cannot catch, control or make to perform. He appears where we are embarassed to be, and touches those we won't touch. He steps in where we refuse to go and makes broken things whole. When we meet him, we meet him in the gutters and alley ways in our lives, either spiritual or physical and sometimes both. It's in that place that he reaches out and holds our hand, raises us up from the weight of the burdens we have allowed to crush us, or cripple us, and he says, right here and right now, put these things down.

That's where we need to look for him and where we will find him. When we go places we don't want to go and see people we don't want to see, we are in the perfect position to see him. It was this lady's willingness to tote around a silly marked up chair for FIVE weeks, to business meetings, buses, stores, where ever she went that put her in a position to hear God's voice. The question is how do I find the courage in my own life to be that brave?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The whole herd Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

quality vs quantity

This Terri Schiavo thing really bothers me. One of our friends blog was on the topic yesterday and I posted, read other responses. Terri is a young woman who suffered a brain injury several years ago, now is unable to walk, talk or eat, is tube fed. Her husband claims she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means and has been trying to have her tube removed for years, parents are contesting saying she is responsive and not vegetative and should not be actively killed.

You know I am totally opining on this, I am not related to her, have not met her or her husband, I just am examining the situation and responses I have heard to it.

Peoples' emotions run high when right to life issues rear. Most people have had at least someone close to them suffer or die, which has a lasting effect on you. The question in my mind is, why assume Terri is suffering?

She is responsive, laughs, smiles, looks at people, recognizes familiar faces, etc. She sits unassisted, is dressed, apppears to enjoy music and to be close to her family. What defines suffering? She exhibits no sign of pain, is not crying, moaning, wincing, squeezing her eyes, or any other verbal or non verbal sign of pain. My father died of cancer, and was in pain, I would not wish that on anyone, but Terri isn't in pain.

She is dependent on others for her physical care, does this mean she is suffering? Babies don't suffer due to that. When we are injured we get cared for, is that suffering? Older people need help sometimes due to frail frame, are they suffering? I don't know but that would be an individual call and not an automatic assumption. In and of itself there is no indication that needing help is a cause of suffering.

I worked in a home for severely disabled adults with medical needs, I am an RN. All of these clients were significantly worse off than Terri, yet none of them appear to be suffering. They knew no other life so one could argue that Terri was suffering because she could no longer do the same things she had done before. Of course, by this logic then, old people are also suffering because of loss of function. I learned alot in that home. The clients went out into the community, they had distinct personalities, only one could walk and talk, the rest were "vegetative", yet they all were distinct people, and they lived a life, not some vague existence. They had favorite TV shows, preferred care givers, food preferences, sleep preferences, ways of communicating (eye contact, laughing, frowning, hand movements, etc). In nursing school alot was made of the question quantity vs quality, we were very inculturated in the push to promote quality of life issues, end of life issues, etc. I think the question is very murky.

Don't get me wrong, everyone should have the chance to make the decision about end of life issues, Terri did not leave a living will, all we have is her husband say so. The problem is the fluidity of what constitutes quality of life, disability, etc. No one would wish someone to live in pain, and she is not in pain. Now that she has persisted for over a decade, is in exellent health other than the physical limitations and does not appear to be in any discomfort, withdrawing food is actively killing her. The time to have done so would have been back when the injury first happened. You don't come along a decade or two later and say, oops, should not have done that.

How does one decide if a life is meaningful? Is it only what one can produce or contribute to the world at large? I think that attitude devalues life more than anything. None of the clients I worked with contributed anything to society, and were quite a drain financially. Does that mean their life was worthless? I don't think so. Our value is not dependent upon what we produce, it is dependant on the fact that God saw fit to create us. We don't lessen in value when we are less than perfect, and the value of our life does not diminish because of a brain injury or disability.

Why do we in this society assume that someone who is physically or mentally disabled must be unhappy with their condition? I worked in an Alzheimer's unit for a few years, most of the residents were very happy (they didn't have a clue where they were but they didn't seemed bothered by it, mostly, short term memory loss can be a blessing), it was their family who were suffering. Toward the end as their physical health declined they were very ill, but that happens to many people for a variety of reasons, we all will die. There is no reason to say that their death is any better or worse than another. We don't want to watch someone decline but to assume that because it causes us grief, it must also be causing them grief is faulty logic.

We can't kill the physically and mentally impaired off to make us more comfortable. That is what it seems is happening. The attitude that someone might be unhappy or uncomfortable, even down the road, because of a condition that probably will not improve, is enough to ask them to end their life seems harsh. I have also known of people who ended their life due to chronic debilitating disease which was causing them to suffer. I just don't think anyone should make that decision for anyone else.

Mt Hood from Mom's house Posted by Hello

no topic just stuff

I am not sure what I want to write about today. I want to use green because it is so sunny and nice today, in fact all weekend, unseaonably warm. As we drove out toward Mt Hood this weekend, I noticed we have cherry trees already in full bloom. There are daffy-dills everywhere and crocuses, (croci?). I love spring for that, and that it is cool, not hot. Summer is my least favorite for that reason, it's uncomfortable. I can always wear a jacket if I am cold but there is little escape from the heat. I like having this space to write. It is so nice to know that it is mine, I don't care if the colors are hard to read, if my sentence structure is poor, if my spelling stinks, or frankly, if anyone likes it. It's my space and it's here for me, not for anyone else. If I want to attract lots of traffic, I'd put naked girls on it, but I don't. I notice I have been cranky lately. I don't know why, no real good reason, just lots of little ones. I don't like being that way but on the other hand, I am, and don't like to try to shove down stuff, it always boomerangs back to me and takes out a few limbs on the way. I will ask God to help me in that, it is so hard trying to balance all the oughts and shoulds. it's like trying to balance a bunch of packages, you think "just one more" and then you end up dropping them all. There is always one more thing, and there always will be, so maybe God is trying to teach me to just do what needs to be done today and not worry about tomorrow. I do that, I line up all my obligations and responsibilities and expectations like little soldiers, marching in place, waiting on me to catch up. I think he laughs at that, not at me, but at my propensity to try to manage everything so thoroughly that there will be no loose ends to fray and unravel. There they always are, that's the burden of mortality, imperfection. The Hebrew word that is translated as mortal is enosh, which is derived from a root word anash meaning incurable, frail, weak. That is what I think is so hard for us to accept, and is at the root of humanistic philosophy, the truth, the fact that we need to be capable and able to manage our destiny, and yet we are not able to do so. What the world hates about God is that he, by the fact he exists, negates our personal importance. We are important because we are to him, not because of anything inherent in us. Our value is relational to him. We are mortal, frail, weak. I don't see that as a bad thing, I don't want to run the universe, and if it were up to me to make sure all bases are covered, I would either go nuts, beat myself to death, and certainly fail miserably. It is enough to realize that it does not depend on me, that all I have is today, and to make today count. That takes constant vigilance, like telling yourself to relax, when you are stressed, when you aren't paying attention, you begin to worry, little doubts creep in, and pretty soon you are stressed again. The world is a beautiful place, not because we are here or in spite of the tragedy of humanity, but because God exists, we are not alone, it isn't all up to us, and he has a plan. Today is a good day, because I am alive, I am loved. When I die, however that happens, it will be a beautiful day too, because I will be going home. Worrying about today only steals from me the joy that should be mine and the freeedom of knowing that I can be still.

Friday, February 11, 2005

No, but some cats do.

winged cats

I hope that link works, if not, well, look it up for yourself. Winged cats, who'da thunk it?
As if my cats needed for tools of stealth than they have already.

Hmmm, maybe given enough time and technology (ok, I have some real work to do and need to get off the damn computer, I said muttering to myself)

pig wings
I can only guess this is someone's art project, kind of like the Church of Elvis. I hope.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Do pigs have wings?

I was discussing, ok arguing with my daughter last night, I don't know what about, it must not have been a big deal but I remember making a statement in regards to the weakness of her point and using the analogy of pigs and wings as a comparison to the validity of what she was stating, to which she insisted, "well,some do (have wings)!". I should know better than to argue with an 11 year old. That and I am learning slowly and painfully not to try to win every argument, it becomes a pride issue, having to be right. I know this and yet learning to do it is hard. It takes an effort and will to just drop it (and to do so without being in a huff). I actually am not going to write about this today, it just came to me as I started.

What I actually wanted to write about was a childhood thing that still haunts me, I truly pray that at some point it will stop. It's kind of silly, but then again it isn't.

When I was about 3 we were playing a local swimming area at a lake, I loved the water, absolutely loved it. Unbeknownst to my mom I got up and skittered down the dock to the deeper end where my sister and brother were diving off the diving board. I remember this, that's what is odd. I just hopped into the water and went down like a rock. I remember looking up and seeing the sky and dock all wavery through the water, and seeing a lifeguard standing over, he reached down and hauled me out.

No, I didn't die, I didn't need resucitation, I remember feeling acutely embarrassed, at being taken to the medical room, at people staring, thinking I had caused a scene. I was afraid of the water for several years after that but eventually overcame it and went on to become a competetive swimmer.

What bothers me is that, although I am not afraid of the water any more, I worry so much about my kids. They swim ok, neither is spectacular but they could paddle their way out if needed. It's not the pool so much but worrying about when we are on docks. I love the coast, but when I think about us being on a dock and fishing or crabbing, the picture of one of them falling in and getting sucked out to sea goes through my head. It's silly, but then, it isn't. They are a bit clutzy, especially my son, him tripping and falling is not big stretch. It's just that I can't get that picture out of my head. I want to make them wear a life jacket when we are around water, but that's isn't always feasable.

I don't know, I guess it is like you want to wrap them up in bubble wrap, and it's not because we, as parents, are irrational, we really DO know what can happen, that's part of the problem. But what if they don't get sucked out to sea, there are a myriad of other boogey men out there that are just as likely to snap them up in a heartbeat.

That is, I guess the heartbreaking part of being a parent, it's knowing that no matter how hard you try, you can't protect them from everything, can't be everywhere and can't anticipate every danger.

Maybe it's God's way of making us put our trust in him. Heaven knows if my kids safety was totally in my hands they would be long gone by now. But it surely is a hard thing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Good Morning

So far, things are going fine, in the stay at home department. I know I need to really knuckle down and stay on budget, which is tough. It always looks good on paper, but it can be sooo tough to do it. Otherwise, things are going well, and I am getting that old job out of my system. I knew I would, it's just a matter of time.
I was thinking this morning about a song I really like, by a recent vintage CCM artist named Ginny Owens, she does some really good, a little funky, and not to pop-y material, but her lyrics are what I enjoy. One of her songs especially speaks to me about salvation, what it is when we really are living it and not just talking about it like a third person. The song is called "Free" and it's from a pearlier album called "Without Condition".

Turning molehills into mountains, makin big deals out of small ones, bearing gifts as if the're burdens, this is how it's been.
Fear of coming out of my shell, too many things I can't do too well, afraid I'll try real hard and I'll fail, this is how it's been.
Till the day you pounded on my heart's door,
and you shouted joyfully, "you're not a slave anymore"

You're free to dance, forget about your two left feet
and your free to sing, even joyful noise is music to me
and you're free to love, cause I've given you my love and it's made you free.
I have set you free.

My mind finds hard to believe that you became humanity and changed the course of history,
because you love me so.
And my mind cannot understand how you'd accept me as I am, but you say you've always had a plan and that's all I need to know.
So when I am consumed by what the world will say, it's then you're singing to me, as you remove my chains.

I can't speak for the experience of anyone but me, but in my life, the idea that God had done something for me to change my life was a cliche, until I actually started to believe it. It was kind of a cutesy thing that over-zealous or overly perfect people who obviously had no problems said to make people like me who weren't perfect feel bad. Either that or they were so clueless that they had no idea that "Jesus loves you" and "God so loved the world" were just words that meant zip to me. I guess what changed my mind was meeting people who I knew had really struggled and seen their lives changed by God. I only mention this because I know there are people who hear some of the great Christian music out there today and probably think "what a load of crap, go blow sunshine up someone elses butt" because they can't imagine that anyone could possibly be that positive without being on serious medication.

I know that it is posible to keep a positive view on some of the worst situations in life, because I have seen some bad situations really turned around. I guess the coolest thing about knowing that God is, and is involved in my life, is knowing that no matter how bad things look, whatever happens he can turnit around and make it for good. I would not have believed that if I had not seen it for myself, but it's true. I don't go around now looking for trouble, but I know when it finds me, there is going to be a blessing in it. (somewhere under all that horsepuckey, there's gotta be a pony- attributed to Reagan but I won't vouche for it's authenticity).

I realize that terrible things happen, and I am thankful that the kinds of tragedy that has struck has been of the more garden variety, but the blessing has been that I have had a chance to learn about the character of God in the process, and that you take take with you where ever you go in life. I had to learn to trust, and that is not an easy thing for me. I had to try it a few times first and see that he really means what he says. That is the whole point, it's not about God jumping into the middle of our lives and cleaning them up for us, it's us getting the message that he is there and looking for him, turning to him and away from our own solutions. I really had to stop my train of thought, and hop on a new one. Like saying, ok, for the sake of argument, let's assume that God really means what he says and says what he means, what does that mean for me?
I started by telling God that I would try this believing thing. My marriage was a mess, so if I was going to believe in him and my husband wasn't, I would just find that part of the bible where it says that you can leave, when you don't both believe. Hmmm, since we were already married, the "don't be unequally yoked" part didn't work, I was as yoked as you can get. Otherwise, I read that the believing spouse should stay with the unbeliever, that who knows, maybe the unbelieving spouse would be saved? That wasn't what I wanted to hear. However, I did say fine, if that's the way it is, it's up to you to make this marriage work. He did. Not just a little, but a whole lot, It's taken years but he did. All odds were against it, and conventional wisdom was against it, but I think God knows that I am kind of stubborn and he used that in my favor. I don't like to give up.
What all this got to do with salvation? I kind of got off track. If your belief in God isn't freeing you from the bondage of your own mind, of the mindset that says I am a victim, I am a prisoner in what ever my life has shoved at me, then you aren't really experiencing salvation. I know, we are saved on the inside by our faith, but that manifests on the outside by our lives. Once you have really put it in God's hands, in your heart, you start down this hill like a snowball, it gets bigger and bigger and starts sweeping everything around you up in it. But you do have to let go of your preoccupations and mindsets, they are chains. You kind of have to throw caution to the wind and say, ok God, none of this makes sense, but you have made some promises, and I am told that your promises are for whomsoever will, and that includes me.
Find out what God has promised, and take him at his word. He really delights in revealing his character to us. He wants us to know who he is, not just read about him. That's what salvation says to me, it is the opportunity to get to know God, not through some interminable process of religion, but for real, in person up close and personal. The only thing is, we have to make the move. He put out the invite but we have to accept. He's not really playing hard to get, but he's not stupid. He has done everything but drag you kicking and screaming through the door, you have to walk through on your own two feet.
That's just what's on my heart this morning, have great day all, I have work to do!