Category Archives: Help for Healing

Ida Takes on the Almighty and Gets Owned in the Process

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Today was one of those days you’d like to hit the delete key.

I’m a school nurse. You can imagine, I hear some sad stories. Some are heartbreaking, some are a shame, some are just so much foolishness.

Today involved CPS, a criminal investigation and one of the most vulnerable little girls on our campus. While caseworkers and cops paraded about interviewing everyone in sight, I wept in the clinic. The afternoon was devoted to thinking of all the various ways to inflict damage via bandage scissors ensuring a certain perpetrator would never hurt another innocent child again.

Sometimes, it just hurts to breathe–

There’s just no way to let something like this go. The man who harmed this child harmed everyone who knew and loved her. Collectively we grieved today, separately we gnashed our teeth and blamed ourselves for not being omniscient demi-gods with the power to rewind the clock. We pointed fingers, assigned blame, looked backwards with perfect 20/20 clarity and thought of a thousand ways any one of us might have prevented this if we’d just been a wee bit more suspicious.

This evening, I had myself a nice little rant-fest directed at the Almighty.

Why? Why didn’t someone protect her? How on earth did they get away with this without anyone noticing? Oh and, by the way—why are the wicked free to roam around, picking off the vulnerable like prey in the first place?  Why don’t You come on back already and put a stop to this, we’re getting slaughtered down here!

Dear God above, please make this stop–

Right in the big middle of my righteous indignation, I saw Jesus during His thirty-three years walking about our fallen planet. With a clarity that bespoke divine intervention, I saw the crowd around him, liberally sprinkled with murderers, pedophiles, thieves, and adulterers cleverly disguised as upstanding citizens.

Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. And while surely wickedness has increased as we approach His second coming, none of the sins around us are anything new. Which leads logically to the conclusion that, in His oneness with the Almighty, Jesus had to know that murderers and rapists and child abusers were lurking about, carrying on their evil and yet, never once did he threaten to castrate anyone with bandage scissors.

In my semi-hysterical frame of mind, this seemed a bit odd.

And then I remembered—He came the first time around as the sacrifice for sin. He saw each and every one He met as a candidate for forgiveness, no matter how wicked.

He did not come to condemn the world. He came to save the world. He called them all to repentance. The rapists and the murderers and the pedophiles and the thieves and whores and gossips and gluttons. He came to save them. He did not come for the righteous, He came for the wicked because they were the ones who needed a physician.

Someday, He will come again as the Lion and all this evil and the suffering that rides shotgun will end. But in the meantime, Jesus died—on purpose—to save sinners. All the pitchforks in the world will not save our society—it  will not fix one damn thing. Only rebirth and repentance can transform evil. In the meantime, we are all given the space and time to repent.

So am I saying we just need to forgive the criminals and move on? Not hardly.

I’m saying that my desire to inflict harm on one shameful sinner would not change a thing. But what would this world look like if those who did their evil in darkness repented and brought forth works of repentance? What if we stopped pretending that everything is a-okay, that all the nice looking folks are just exactly what they look like on the surface and start calling sinners to repent?

True Story (with possible omission in detail because it’s been awhile)— 

A young man from my hometown robbed a convenience store. He shot and killed the clerk and did not get caught. Not long after, this murderer accepted Christ and experienced a radical rebirth. Old things passed away. He spent every moment of his life trying to make up for his crime. He preached to the young people in town, warning them against alcohol and drugs. He became a youth pastor. He married and became a father and loving husband. He preached Jesus and repentance and salvation through Christ alone. And he kept his secret for years.

Then one day, he did something totally unexpected, something that made headlines all over the place. This upstanding citizen walked into the police station and turned himself in. He left his church, his wife and his sons to go to prison for the foreseeable future. He told his stunned friends and family who clearly thought he’d lost his last marbles that he could no longer live with himself.

You see, words alone were not enough. Works alone are not enough. This young man knew a secret and bravely worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling.

Following repentance, those who harm others must make restitution in kind. When John said to bring forth works of repentance, this is what he meant. When Zachias said he would pay back everything he stole, this is why. He didn’t offer to clean the temple, teach Bible Study or go to counseling. He gave back what he took and compensated his victims for their loss by giving extra.

This young man brought forth works of repentance. The very real change inside his heart eventually burst forth in fruits of righteousness. He did the right thing. He gave peace to the family of his victim, he admitted his guilt, he accepted the judgment of the society in which he lived and paid the price because it was the right thing to do.

What must I do to be saved?

Ever wonder why Jesus told folks to go do things when they asked this question? Sell all you have and give it to the poor seems to conflict with salvation by grace alone. And yet, how can anyone who’s heart has truly been reborn into the Kingdom of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness sit all comfortable, year after blessed year, right there in the hog wallow of their former  existence filled with adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like? It absolutely makes no sense.

Furthermore, is it even possible for those dead in trespasses and sin to do anything so contrary to their nature as going to prison for a crime they got away with years ago?

So what if we stopped pretending that evil does not exist and start calling the wicked to repentance? What if the power of God to save the lost broke forth  mightily and those who commit atrocities in darkness came to the light and experienced the life-changing power of regeneration?

Ida Mae spends some time repenting—Again

I was wrong. I would’ve called fire down out of heaven and turned the man who harmed my little friend into a pile of rubble. You see, while I was sharpening my scissors, I forgot that whoever hurt my sweet little student is someone’s son. Someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s husband. Someone, somewhere loves that man despite what he’s done.

God loves that man.

So now, I’m praying he will be exposed so he will not harm another child. I pray that he will repent and the power of God will transform his life, taking him out of the realm of darkness and into the light of the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray he will one day call others to repentance.

I repent of my hard-heartedness but, dadgumit, I will also stop pretending that evil cannot possibly lurk about in perfectly respectable looking packages and tell anyone who’ll listen that Jesus died to save the worst of these.

This gospel of the Kingdom must be preached again and that’s just all there is to it. repentance

 

 

This was written awhile back but the emotions ran too high at the time to post. I’ve edited out the multiple exclamation marks and such but if it seems a bit raw, my apologies. Furthermore, it’s not meant as a theological exposition–just a moment of epiphany after a very long day.

Two Week Follow-up

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My two week hiatus is over. I’m feeling rested and slightly petrified.

After finally calming the crap down around Day Six, I spent lots of time napping, dancing around the living room to “I Will Survive” and “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart” and drinking fizzy fruit sodas. My blood sugar raged but the Inner Emo felt better for the exercise, thanks much.

Then the emails started. The beast tightened the financial screws which makes job-hunting higher priority than before. I’m no longer looking for work in my field and have cast the nets further adrift so to speak. Trying to find work after so long out of the loop is tough. Trying to find something that pays a living wage is worse.

Hate to be so cryptic but keeping identifying details to a minimum while updating is difficult on a good day.

All this sounds pretty rotten and–well, it is. But during the last two weeks, I felt my Father’s joy and His assurance of provision. He assured me that those who trust in Him will not be put to shame. He assured me that He keeps watch over His children and He will repay their enemies. And He assured me that He knew beforehand and made provision accordingly.

Like a Light in a Storm

Three months ago, I had a strange dream. I wrote it down, including all the odd details. At the time, the dream made me feel  better even though it made no sense and knowing it was from the Lord, I tucked it aside with other journal gems, then went on about my business, promptly forgetting the whole thing. It went something like this:

I’m in a store doing ordinary things which I wrote down. These things were quite specific and not the least bit scary and yet I am terrified anyway. I wake, screaming at the top of my tiny lungs for the Lord to come comfort me right-this-minute.

Only I wasn’t actually awake. I’m a little girl, maybe six to eight or so. I’m in a big double bed. The covers are horribly rumpled as I’ve obviously been fighting in my sleep, my head down by the foot of the bed. Beautiful soft light streams in through the window and I am squealing like crazy, crawling up on the pillows and calling for Jesus to come get me.

It’s the middle of the night. I may be awake, but I am little and I am scared.

All of this, I perceive in a bare minute. The colors, the lighting, the perception– much more than a dream. And in the split-second it takes to start squealing, I see my Lord, all warm and drowsy and stumbling over to calm down this wailing child of His heart.

Which wakes me up out of the dream-within-a-dream. I am no longer scared. I realize I’m home, I’m safe, my Lord isn’t the tiniest bit worried and I  have woken Him up for no reason as there is actually nothing wrong– no danger, no imminent threat, no looming destruction. The ordinary items that terrified me are not a threat. I tell the Lord that it’s okay, He can go back to sleep, I’m fine.

I get some loving up anyway.

And then I actually did wake up.

How the Story Plays Out

For several days before the email of financial doom, I felt a need to go back and reread my journals. I remembered things, reread encouragement and replayed some of the sweet moments from time spent in His presence. Pretty nice stuff. I reread answers to prayer given before I knew to ask. Holy moments tucked in between panicky moments of desperation. I got a snapshot of the way the Lord has upheld and sustained me during this transition. Yeah, things stink sometimes. But, there is beauty in His sweet care.

The evening of the email’s arrival started off pretty nice. One of the kidlets had the nerve to get older than allowed for a youngster of my tender years so out we went for a little birthday sushi and a generous helping of family gossip. Afterwards,  dear child invites Mom to their favorite thrift store (some things definitely run in families). Nice surprise and lovely end to a wonderful visit.  We  drive over, park too far away after so much raw fish and part ways near the door as I’m more of a home goods kinda shopper and kidlet loves the clothing section.

Round the corner and there, hidden in the back tastefully arranged with a grouping of tacky ’80’s mauve and blue geese sits a vision from heaven– the most awesome little table to grace a thrift store in ages. A 1930’s, drop leaf office typing table, complete with wheels that raise and lower, a foot operated devise that actually works to lock the table down. The top needs refinishing but all the marvelous, industrial metal goodness is perfect.

The table is mine. I know it. I love it. It loves me back. We are meant to be united in decorating bliss. There’s a great big freshly painted wall back home with an empty slot in need of just such a wonder. I drag my treasure to the cashier, knocking various grandmother-types out of the way as I go. This baby needs to get bought and paid for pronto before some big city high brow sees what I’ve found and tries to wrestle it from my grimy clutches. After all that raw fish, I’m in no shape for a tussle.

Fourteen dollars and twenty minutes later, the table sits near the front door with a lovely sold sign attached. I threaten the cashier with immanent doom if she lets my baby out of her sight for one minute and head back to the book section. I have vowed to quit bringing home anything bigger than a matchbox but a quick perusal yields an armload of HUGE hardbacks meant to melt the  heart of any bibliophile. Someone cleaned off the coffee table. Whatever– they are  mine. I remark to the cashier that I have no place for these boat anchors and quickly calculate the probability of getting both the rolling table/cart and the huge box of books to the car.

At this point, I park myself near the door on a second-hand sofa and look smug. Occasionally the thought crosses my mind that I can’t possibly lift the book box and the cart but decide that God Will Provide and thus, turning religious, move on to more pressing matters like watching other shoppers gawk over my table until they see the sold sign. More smugness ensues.

Trust me, there is a point in here somewhere.

Eventually, my daughter and I get everything loaded with the help of a nice gay man who does, in fact, make a play for my table although my heart is hard to his cries for mercy as he assures me that he, and only he, can properly appreciate it’s wonderfulness. I snicker and head homeward, arrange table in place of honor, grab the laptop for a quick check and bam– the beast strikes again.

Don’t know if anyone else can relate, but the world stopped turning.

I am petrified. Bills loom. The little bit of personal credit in my own name is liable to be ruined. Important things must be paid or put off indefinitely. My kids will do without and there’s not much cuts closer to the bone.  I’ve tried to find work already. I see no answer, no solution, no promise.

Of course, this is not all technically true. I’m not exactly on the street. I haven’t tried Walmart yet and I hear they hire just about anyone. That doesn’t help however. Spiraling commences. I’m not thinking anymore and a big hot wad of Ugly wants to take me under. I see myself living in a box under the bridge, selling plasma and eating radioactive carp from the bayou.

After plenty of this, I head on to bed, get still and hear my Savior.

He reminds me of His promises. He quotes from my journals. The stories just read only nights before replay through my fear-soaked brain.

I can hear and I know– there’s a decision to make. I can chose to trust the One Who brought me this far already or I can head on into this shit-filled pit the beast so kindly dug and stay there for only the Good Lord knows how long.

This time, the good guys win.

Spiritual wrestling makes me hungry. There’s crackers and cheese in the kitchen and as I’m no longer headed for life as a bag lady, I head to the fridge instead for a midnight snack. I may be better but sleep is out of the question so I open up the journal I’ve been reading for days now and scroll down to the next entry on March 10th.

And there’s the dream. I’m munching crackers and reading all this incredible detail from the first section of the dream which I’d forgotten as it made no sense whatsoever. After all, it wasn’t scary and yet I was terrified. The part which I kindly left out earlier to make the story much juicier. . .

. . . the part where I’m in a store. And I’m terrified. And I find a rolling table that might be a cart and I’m trying to get it out of the store. Except that I have a huge box of heavy books. And I can’t figure out why I’d buy these great big books.  I know I can’t carry both the books and the table and everyone wants my table and it makes no sense whatsoever to be frightened of rolling tables and books but I am and . . .

I am Fine.

At that moment, crackers falling out of my open mouth, I know, beyond a doubt that my Father knows everything. I’ve heard this all my life but the reality of experiencing trumps the head knowledge of hearing any day.

Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is watching. He knows. He gives me a dream three months in advance and makes sure I find it again on the day I need to hear from Him so desperately. He knew where I would be, what I’d be doing, how I’d be feeling and that I would squawk like a trembling baby bird in a rumpled nest.

He gave me some loving up ahead of time.

Now isn’t that something?

I’d like to say that everything is all better now but circumstances have not change quite yet. I know they will. Not how or where or when– just that they will. I may panic again tomorrow.  I wish I could say I’m strong enough to remember this little miracle when the crap hits the fan again– which it will– but I am not.

What I can tell you is this.

If I squeal, my Savior will come and pat me until I’m better. And for now, that is plenty good enough.

Day Six-ish: Ida Gets Called on Her Crap

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Well then.

I’m alone in the house for the first time in so many years I can’t begin to recall. Do not know what to do with myself.

So today, I did the only logical thing and went online job hunting, mapped out a three year life plan and scheduled something for every day left in vacation-land. Then I painted a bowl of fruit-like objects.Came out pretty good although the spherical shapes continue giving me fits. Whatever.  They’re in a bowl, I like them. Then I took a bath.

Whereupon the Lord above invaded my space (metaphorically speaking) and poked me with sticks. He said (not so gently either, mind you)  that a) I was suppose to be resting and b) I was not resting one bit and c) I needed to call every single person with which I’d planned all sorts of bone-tiring excursions stretching into the foreseeable future and cancel already.

So I did. But I am not liking this one bit.

I have cleaned the bathroom, done every bit of washable laundry, scrubbed every available surface and painted all the fruit I can stand. Final assessment? I do not know how to be still.

Okay fine. We had some wine and flat crackers on the sofa, I spent some time remembering all the wonderful things He’s done so far and I promised to be good.

Please pray for my sanity folks. It could be a very long week.

Day 3: Ida Gets a Little Retail Therapy

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Day Three started off quiet. Too quiet.

As soon as I noticed the quietness, I sprang out of  bed and scanned the street for city employees of any variety. Seeing as the coast was clear, I made the usual morning trek around the stations of the cottage– potty (now fully functional, thank you Mr. Plumber), coffee pot, laptop.

Then I painted this:

This is called, blank paper.

For us artist types, there’s an annoying little ritual before getting along to the fun parts.  One tapes a perfectly good sheet of paper to a board, then slops water all over. It now becomes rumpled and crinkly.  This is called ‘stretching’ but it’s a lie as the paper is not stretched, its just lumpy. Once dry, its called ‘done.’

It’s also boring and slows down the creative juices but I do it anyway because all the cool kids do  and artsy types always ask, ‘Did you stretch the paper first?’ So I do so I can say yes.

Then I painted this:

This is called, scrap paper with some swishes, but I promised pictures so there you go.

Then I painted this:

This is called, Ugly, but I was getting bored by this time. An executive decision was made and off we went to God’s Store for a little within-my-budget retail therapy.

And I got this:

*PICTURE REMOVED FOR PRIVACY CONCERNS.

This is called, Loot.

Let’s all pause now to contemplate the total awesomeness of this haul.

Top left corner: The most amazing vintage purse I’ve ever laid eyes on anywhere, in this solar system  or the next. Genuine ’50’s era, Atomic Awesome. Lucite handles *and* front piece, genuine chrome thingies and pristine interior. I’m going to be buried with this baby. $6.99

Top right corner: Tie-dyed maxi skirt *in my size* in the most wonderful shades of purple $5.99

Lower right corner: A hammered aluminum water carafe with Bakelite handle. Perfect condition. $2.99

Lower left corner: My new watercolor palette (not to be confused with a deviled-egg plate which it may have been in a former life and probably explains why it wound up at God’s Store in the first place. Now repurposed for a life of art and such.) $6.99

Underneath these four lovelies, nestled amongst the packing sits *more* loot– vintage jewelry including scatter pins and an old 1940’s sweater grabber/holder thing that looks like two roach clips attached by a chain  (no fair asking how I know such naughty stuff), a set of pillow shams in a lovely gold vintage print, a cool vase for cut flowers and so forth and so on.

I’ll spare the details as I’d hate to cause anyone to stumble into the Pit of Envy.

Meanwhile, Back at the Kleenex Box

Yesterday saw lots of things repaired that needed repairing whether I wanted to hear the clatter or not. Today was quiet and I didn’t know what in the world to do with myself. In the spirit of total disclosure– and for those reading along who might be going through something similar either now or in the future–here’s the fine print.

Overall, things are good. Feeling a little  jumpy/stressed/weepy still. I’m guessing those are just symptoms working their way through. I let myself cry for an hour on the sofa and didn’t try to figure out the reason. Had a little trouble sitting still which explains the trip out and the inability to get going on a watercolor project. I suspect soon enough things will settle and then I may not feel like doing a blasted thing.

Goodness, I sure hope so.

In the meantime, I’m going to go play with my loot.

Day 2: Happy Place is Loud

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Woke early this morning to joyous quiet which lasted all of twenty-eight minutes before jack hammers started up outside my bedroom window.

Yes indeedy. Jack hammers. I went outside in pj’s for visual verification purposes.

Jack hammering lasted until 2:32 at which time Loud Blowing Noises Made With Unknown Tool Thingies began. LBN’s lasted until five minutes ago.

Much hand waving and lip reading combined with trots back and forth to the front door yielded the following information:

  • A major gas line in the neighborhood is leaking
  • This is not a problem and there is no need to panic
  • Oops
  • The leak is bigger than we thought initially and many more holes must be jack hammered into the concrete right-this-minute
  • No problem, no need for concern
  • Just for funsies we’re turning off your gas. Not because there is a problem or anything.
  • The other guys were suppose to fix this yesterday.
  • We are calling in bigger trucks and more equipment so this might take a teensie bit longer than first mentioned
  • Everything is under control
  • The gas company now needs to inspect the premises. Just for grins as there isn’t any real problem
  • Have you been burning that candle all day? No reason for asking as there is no danger to you or any other citizen within a three block radius
  • Really

On another note,  the tiny bathroom is currently full of plumber. Nothing inside said bathroom works. Not the sink, nor the potty, nor the awesome tub which is my nightly quiet place. The sound of Great Progress goes forth and we are hopeful for a successful outcome.

Mr. Plumber is very nice and keeps telling me how the Lord has blessed him, including a recent successful back surgery which has given him his livelihood back. I like Mr. Plumber very much.

In Summary

No painting, no music, no napping. Only jackhammers, job site foreman on the porch and plumbers who love Jesus. Not a bad day overall.

Did I mention we only have one bathroom?

There is no need to panic.

 

 

 

Burnout: Going to My Happy Place

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A few days ago, I realized I’m just about crispy fried. Hand shaking, nail biting, random crying, nervous edging. Not like those months right after leaving, mind  you. Just enough to know something needs to change pretty dadgum quick.

I wrote a few friends, asked for advice and prayer, then settled in for a nice vacation.  Not actually going anywhere,  but for the next two weeks I’m purposefully disconnecting from the thoughts, worries and activities that litter my days with reasons to freak.

This morning I realized just how often we all struggle with burnout and decided to share. I’ll post a quick update every day or so complete with pictures and a bullet point list of stuff that’s helping along with the crap that most decidedly is not. I’d love to hear your comments and ideas if you’ve got a notion.

Right now, the plan involves extra sleep which may or may not work out so well but I’m going to give it the old college try regardless. I bought a couple of how-to-paint books which look hard enough to engage the mind and easy enough for some instant gratification. My ipod is fully loaded and, I swear, I’ll drug the dog is he barks one more time.

Things not to do:

  • No job hunting
  • No serious blog post writing until vacation is over
  • No worrying over things I can’t control anyway (I am cracking myself up over here)

Thoughts and prayers much appreciated.

Email Address

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I’ve been swimming in the dark here at Thoroughly Christian Divorce. Some have found me due to persistence and dogged determination for which I think you should all get badges in sneakiness. I love writing new friends and I’m not ashamed to tell my story. In fact, nothing I write here is a big secret and when I left, I promised myself and my children to stop covering for the anti-husband.

So while I’m not trying to be all mysterious and stuff, certain circumstances still in play make it needful to blog anonymously or not at all. As a writer, the choice came pretty easy.

All this smoke and mirrors stinks for various reasons. I like connecting with real people. I love email. I want to interact. Some day soon, I hope circumstances change again and I can own my name. Until then, I think I’ve found a solution.

I’m working on a website for work stuff and along with hosting, I get free email addresses (so fun!) so I’ve set one up for this blog.

thoroughlychristian  @ webwrinkles.com

Just remove the spaces.

I remember when first venturing around the internet trying to find help I could not, would not  comment on blog posts for fear of getting busted by the beast. If you’re in that boat, believe me, I understand. Please feel free to email privately if you want to discuss anything.

Hope to hear from you soon!