Getting Muddy

There’s a bird caw-caw-cawing somewhere out back. I can hear him even though the windows are closed. Even though I know the call is coming from a big, dirty, black bird, it makes me smile. It’s such a welcome sound. If I listen carefully, I can hear the softer, songs of daintier birds in the background. Spring seems to have arrived, at least for the weekend. I won’t get my hopes up. After all, it’s only March. But it has been a forgiving winter. I’m grateful for the early arrival of warmer days.

The last two weeks – I don’t know where they’ve gone. Mom had some bad days. Work was overwhelming. The last weekend got sucked up by other obligations. There’s always so much to do, and the more I cross off the list, the more gets added. Days keep marching on, ready or not.

Yet … I know I don’t have anything to complain about. I have a job – one that I love. I have a family that stays as close as I can hope. And they are all doing okay. They’re well. They’re safe. And Mom is okay. She just had a few bad days and seems to be on the upswing again. The house may have needed a good cleaning, but if that’s my biggest worry, I’ll take it. I know I have it good.

Last week, we learned of a death – the daughter of some old friends. She succumbed to brain cancer at just thirty years old. Parents, siblings, and a significant other left to grieve her passing from this life.

Last week, someone I’ve been worried about for a while finally ran out of luck. She got a DWI. And the weight of her world was too heavy already.

Last week, I talked to my best friend. She’s out of state, and I haven’t managed to connect with her in months. Texts have gone unanswered, phone calls unreturned. Now I know why. The cancer she’s been fighting for years – and over which she had recently been gaining the upper hand – had moved into her brain. My heart weighed heavy as she told me. I didn’t have the guts to ask about her prognosis. As she talked, she proved that she continues to fight and maintain her fantastic sense of humor.

“My hair is gone,” she said. “Except for the one in the mole on my hand. And except for my  mustache! Still have to keep waxing that damn thing!”

Sometimes I look around at the vast circle of people we hold close. There’s a lot of struggle and pain. I was thinking of my best friend, feeling like I haven’t been the friend I’m supposed to be to her. Half the time, I’ve been completely unaware of how bad it’s been for her, while I’m feeling sorry for myself because of something like not having time to sit down and write for a little while.

I pray for her constantly these days, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I told her story – anonymously – on a prayer board, wanting more prayers for her. I’m asking for a miracle, even though I know it’s out of my hands. I selected the option to receive a text message every time someone prayed for my request. (Faith has gone all technology! Pretty cool!) My phone buzzed all morning long, signaling offered prayers. It’s astounding to realize there are people in this world who will hope and pray for someone they don’t even know.

I read through the multitudes of other requests out there and offered prayers for people I don’t know. It’s becoming a daily thing I do. Homelessness, brokenness, sickness, mental illness, addiction, financial distress… the list goes on and on. It’s heart-breaking to realize that there are others who would trade their problems for mine in a heartbeat. It’s humbling to realize how blessed I am – and for how long I’ve taken that for granted. It’s opened my eyes to a million ways I can give back and do something for others. And it gives me hope. It’s so easy to close myself up in the comfort of my own world, but more and more lately, I realize I’m not meant to shrink away like that. I’m supposed to do something about it, get in the mud and help wherever I can. However I can. Even if it’s as simple as just hoping and praying.

Life is messy, no doubt. But life is good.

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7 thoughts on “Getting Muddy

  1. M. Scott Peck rose to fame writing “The Road Less Traveled”. The first sentence he penned there….
    “Life is difficult.”
    Then, he gets down to business in an opening chapter:
    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/34482-life-is-difficult-this-is-a-great-truth-one-of

    The 5th chapter of Romans in the Bible is precisely the same topic.
    The chapter heading is delicious in different versions.
    Holman Christian Standard says “Faith Triumphs”. (Yawn)
    I prefer New International Bible (NIV) opener for Romans 5, “Peace and Joy”.

    I am not fond of The Message (biblically, as opposed to interpretation), but the author is vivid. He find the message there is “Developing Patience”.
    (He is wrong; patience is a part of it).

    The cadence of your crow cawing in your neighborhood made you note that change is underway, nay, GOOD changes!

    The cadence of Romans 5:3-5 is precisely the same message. Indeed, it ludicrously begins with telling us to rejoice when we suffer!!

    Listen.

    “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope!
    And Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts”
    —Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

    When my heart is most crushed, burdened, imploded, betrayed, overwhelmed, pained, sorrowful…
    I go to Romans 5, especially verses 3-5, to see where I am on that cadence scale….for each and all events of life.

    MSG Peterson says it this way:

    3-5 “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” —Romans 3:3-5 MSG

    See that “keeping us alert” and “alert expectancy”??? THIS is the portal, the mouth of the cave, the realm of miracles.
    Do they still happen?
    “EXPECT a Miracle! Last I heard, they are STILL His specialty!”

    Tony would never reach age 3 they said. But his dad, held him lifeless about eight feet from my church pew eyes. Anointed with oil, prayer, love, a miracle was EXPECTED.
    I laughed at that moment in reflection, while watching Tony ran down the soccer field with my daughter, bursting with life….7 years AFTER that moment. He is a miracle.

    Last Sunday, that same daughter texted me saying “I ran into Rick. He is healed” I replied: He was on the TV news at the cancer center. Bald head. Eyes expecting! I thought he was healed in that moment.”

    Tina said the tumor in her brain was now lemon sized. 6 months to go tops. Pray. I said prayer starts, but expecting puts you in the moment a miracle is to occur. Be in that moment! Expect a miracle….last I heard, they are still His specialty.

    Tina confirmed the tumor gone; lymph cancer new.
    For brevity, I will state that Tina has incurred, and been healed, beyond medical hope, of that brain tumor, lymph cancer, sternum cancer, pancreas cancer….which claims everybody….lung cancer, all gone.
    She told me recently that her liver has cancer, but her mantra, after 4 years of awesome life when docs said 6 months long ago, …her mantra is always “Expect a miracle cuz they are still His specialty”

    Got suffering? Rejoice. Miracles are born in this.
    Keep trying. Perseverance muscles in your spirit need flexing again.
    People see it in your eyes….you have it or you don’t….Character. anyone who survives their cross of suffering has character. And that character places them on the horizon of hope. And hope leads to the realm of miracles.

    That Rick above ask me decades ago to not tell people of him. But I can’t help it. I swear he is an angel.
    Long ago, my prosperous career screeched to a halt, I lost 62 pounds in 2 months, divorced, and finally gained full custody of my girls, age 2 and 11. A Dad! With girls! A baby!

    I stayed home full time to care for them. At school age, it was time to replenish finances. But the world changed in that time. Computers took over. I found I could not pump gas in my car without some computer savvy to make it work.
    Lotus 1-2-3???
    You got me. DOS. dBase. Word. WordPerfect. PowerPoint.
    The world went mad with this, while I was moving in continual swirls of suffering/perseverance.

    I needed computer school training pronto, or no job likely.
    Attorney fees cost me my home, my car, my savings,…but I kept my girls.

    “Tuition is $5,000” was death news until I ran into a man I worked 2nd shift in a mill factory, while in college, decades before. After “How you doing?” and the like, he queried what I am doing now. I told him of computer skill needs and a lack of tuition.
    “How much is their tuition there now?”
    “$5,000.”
    “Isn’t that a coincidence”, he replied.
    “I now fund these programs with grants and have $5,000 left in my budget. Register tomorrow and send the bill to my card address. Good to see you. Hug those girls”

    A miracle?

    I hitch-hiked to class after the girls were on school busses. Cold rain and no rides make weary thumbs, and legs.
    One day, a car pulled over for me, I got in, and he asked “Where ya going?”
    ” *** Computer School”, said I.
    “Why do you hitch hike?”
    ” I have no car, but kept my girls”
    “Can you come with me now, before class?”
    “Why?”
    “I have a car for you to use!”

    Whaaaaat?

    He explained I was responsible for gas and oil. He would handle all insurance and maintenance.
    My daughters were flabbergasted seeing dad in a car.
    “Can we go shopping Dad??”
    (It’s a girl thing, I’ve learned).

    We never spoke for 6 months.
    The car broke down.
    I called Rick.(I had hearing back then)

    “I’ll have my mechanic look at it”

    A day later, he picked me up and began to drive me.
    “My mechanic told me that car has had it and it would cost more to fix than it is worth”.

    “I am so sorry. I didn’t break it, I can’t pay, I….”

    “Don’t worry about it”, he smiled.
    “I have another car for you!”.

    “WHAT??? You give me a car for 6 months, I break it, and you have another car for me??? How can you do that??”

    “It’s not my car,” he said flatly.

    “Stop! Stop! Let me get this straight.
    I’ve been driving a car, and it’s not yours. You have another car for me, and it’s not yours. Who’s car is it???”

    He looked at me, with character and hope in his eyes, and said:

    “It’s God’s car. He tells me who to give it to. C’mon. Let’s get it.”

    Computer training lasted a year.
    I drove God’s car(s) for a year, and with new job, gave God’s car back.
    My girls giggle when I say I drove God’s car. They giggle more when I tell folks that “The Great I Am drives a Grand Am….I know, cuz I drove God’s car”. 🙂

    I have been quiet here for months.
    I know of miracles.
    I saw them.
    I had them.
    I have been to the miracle well for decades.

    But my well is dry this last year or so.
    The Monopoly Board of my youth had “Chance” cards to “Advance to Go”.
    I have been to “Go”…. and don’t advance anymore.
    It looks like I am back to the beginning of the Romans 5:3-5 board, practising my way to hope.

    I read post n comments here, but am too weary to participate like I would love to do.
    I, seem to need another miracle, and have been blessed with so many, get mixed up now between “you’ve had enough; share” and “Glad you asked. The supply is unlimited”.

    Pray for me when you pray for Gina.
    She is a doll.

    Keystone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sobering truth here, Tee. I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself today, so I needed to read of other people’s problems to realize mine weren’t so awful — thank you!

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  3. We are each given what we need or what we need to experience at the time we need it. We are given challenges, pain and suffering because we need to learn to be resolute, persistent, and to have faith. We are given good times, prosperity and happiness to teach us to be grateful, to enjoy God’s blessings, and to understand as we had faith when it was hard, we need faith to accept when it is good.

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  4. My heart goes out to you and your friend. I will say a prayer for her too. I’ve still been praying for you and your dad. I pray for six months after the loss of a friend’s loved one.

    Not sure if you’re aware of Silent Unity. Disregard if you’ve already heard of it. When they get a prayer request for someone, they pray for 30 days. silentunity.org or you can call 1-800-669-7729.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re experiencing life. We can all relate to these tragedies, and have our hearts feel the pain. I too have someone who is suffering and as much as you try it never seems enough. Keep praying my friend. It will help her AND you.

    God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

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