Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Evening of Enlightenment

Well, here is another one that I wrote a while back...this one back around October of 2007 while we were living in New Jersey.  (I was working in a large hospital as a Nurse Educator...this evening I was workin' the night shift.  Yes, people have to be taught on the night shift, too!) 

I was just beginning this new phase of my life in which I was beginning to truly let go of guilt and regret for past life choices and finally experiencing the Freedom and Peace that Faith ("Letting go and letting God") and Reconciliation bring.  Anyway, here is the little ditty from the past...

My Evening of Enlightenment

As I sit here alone, in an empty classroom in the hospital, the lone clock in the room reads “1:15am”. Not much going on around here. The cafeteria is closed. The halls are silent. I am left here pondering my life. Where am I going? What am I doing? What is my purpose? Where will I be this time next year…and doing what? All of these things I have no real concrete answers to. Only hopes, desires, and aspirations.

It is difficult not knowing what tomorrow holds. I like to be in control, or at least think I am. I want to be able to plan out the details of my life.

What do you know!?! Just as I was sitting here, writing and pondering alone, an unexpected visitor showed up. A very kind looking gentleman, with a smile on his face, walked into my classroom to check the trashcan. He is a housekeeper here in the hospital. Of course, at 1:15am, the trashcan is quite empty! Anyway, once he did his duty, he invited himself to have a seat in one of the many empty chairs in the room and strike up a conversation with me.

Of course, one of the first things he asked is, “Where are you from?” I told him, “Louisiana.” And he proceeded to say that he could hear the accent and that he is from the South, too…North Carolina. He then continued with the usual familiar questions about Katrina and whether I was from that area, etc… Then, as we talked more about it, I began to pick up subtle hints that he is a believer. He even began to elaborate more on some of his thoughts about life and God. As he was talking, I would verbalize my agreement, which soon led to him asking me what denomination I am. We then continued into a good, long talk about our shared faith and beliefs. He talked a lot about how he is a part of a group who is bringing together people of all faiths, races, and denominations. As we were wrapping up our conversation so he could go back to work, he asked me my name and said that his name is “Donald.” Donald…one of the many ways God chooses to show Himself in human form when we least expected.

I couldn’t have made this one up if I tried! What a blessing! What a welcome reminder of an answer to some of those things I was pondering just before Donald arrived!

What is my purpose? The same as it always has been since I was created by God…to live a life that glorifies Him so that others can see Him in me, as I just did in Donald. All of those other questions don’t even matter anymore!

Ponder that!!!
(Side note:  By the following June, we had much to my happiness moved to New Orleans...remember the Katrina reference!?!  I could have never planned nor made that one up, either!  Less than a year before moving, I was sitting there writing this and thinking there was no way we would ever be able to move closer to home anytime soon.  I was wishin' and hopin' and dreamin'...and prayin'...but, man, our God is good the way He works things out so ironically and perfectly!!! Jeremiah 29:11 - Look it up!!!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lessons in the Sago Palm

Okay, I know you're thinking I'm crazy...2 posts in one night!?!  Really, I have had this one written down for a while, and just haven't had the chance to post it as a blog yet.  Anyway, here you go...(you're gonna love my visual effects!) 

Lessons in the Sago Palm

Well, my mother-in-law, Loretta, has had a couple of Sago Palms on her porch for several years of the time that I have known her. However, it wasn't until I had one of my own while living down in New Orleans that I was able to observe how it grows/produces new growth.

Prior to this time of new growth (which I observed in April 2009 and wrote this at that time), I have only known this plants "fronds" to be sharp, pointed, and painful to be poked by ("They'll put you're eye out." as your mama always said), though they are beautiful and long and a deep, shiny green when healthy.

However, this spring (of 2009) I noticed some short (about 12 inches tall), light tan-ish growths in a cluster in the center of the old growths.

Within only a few days, these growths grew taller/longer and turned a nice light green.  Even more interesting, they opened up a little as compared to before and began to resemble their older fore-runners.

In contrast to the older, established ones, these new growths were very soft-to-the-touch and even curled up, rather than straight/sharp/pointy.

Over the next few days they opened up more and became more straight and began to even more resemble their older fore-runners - - - - -

-----However, their look being so similar was misleading, because they were still very soft-to-the-touch and were even not yet pointy nor painful at the very tips like their older cousins.  Now, (as I was writing this) a few weeks into this progression, they are becoming more firm and rigid and truly blend in with their forerunners.

The lesson I saw in this...

We are often like the Sago Palm.
We start out curled up (literally, in fetal position in the womb), and we are soft, tender, and gentle.
Slowly, over time, we begin to open up though we still remain soft, tender, and gentle - for the most part.
However, after prolonged exposure to this world and its elements, we often begin to become hard, rigid (cynical), even defensive and unapproachable and/or untouchable to the point of inflicting pain if approached too closely or touched.

Something is to be said for life-lessons as well as establishing ourselves, at times.  However, we need to be careful to not be like the Sago Palm and allow ourselves to develop into these hard, defensive, unapproachable people who stay that way and never change.

Cliff Notes

A friend of mine very recently asked me "What's your story?"  So, I came up with what I called a "Cliff Notes" version of my life story.  In case you have been curious (or not) - whether you already know me fairly well, you don't know a lot about me beyond the surface, you know very little about me, or you don't know me at all - I thought I would share with you what I shared with that life a nutshell...mind you, lots of gaps that may or may not be filled in for you over time (remember, it's not about me...I'm just here as a messenger to point you to Someone much higher and more important than me)...

Well, born & raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. Parents divorced when I was 6 mos old. Mom remarried when I was 1 1/2 yrs old. Dad remarried a few years later to someone from Oklahoma & moved there. Do not have recollection of meeting my dad (again) until I was about 5 yrs old and was very confused, b/c my daddy was at work. Did not want to go to the park w/this man & his wife. Later got to be very close to them & thankful for them. Wonderful 2nd set of parents to be blessed with.

Oh, and my parents (mother & step-dad) were heavily into pot, drugs, alcohol, & pit-bull raising/fighting - all up until I was about 5 or 6. Then, they got saved as a result of a preacher and another church man from a nearby church trudging their way past the pit-bull on the chain in the front yard to come visit and tell dad (step-dad) that Jesus loves him. He never recalled having been told that before. Anyway, their/our lives changed dramatically for many years, though not w/o struggle.  I pretty much grew up in church from the time they got saved on, though we changed churches alot - I believe we were in search of the perfect church and people who all believed exactly like we thought we did.  It definitely made me very well rounded, along with moving around town a few times and changing schools several times.  If you read my blog (as you are doing right now) you'll see in one of the posts that I have come to a point in my life where I truly regret nothing. Everything happens for a reason and makes me who I am today. Long story short, I got baptized 3 times, though the 3rd time (my junior year in high school) was the time I believe I really gave my life to the Lord. Still, a few years later I chose to deliberately go down a road of denying God and avoiding what I knew to be true and right, until finally one day - married just over 2 years, with a 15 month old frequently sick baby (no insurance, new job for both of us), stuck in New Jersey with no family (but us) nor friends in the dead of winter, brand new to the area - God had me flat on my back faced dead-on with my absolute need for Him and hopelessness without Him. I can't even put it into words, except to say that it was then that I started on a new journey on a whole new level with God - so much more real & honest & true than I ever thought possible. No pretenses, no expectations, just me and Him and a little glimmer of faith. And now, struggles and all, I am still plugging along on that journey, learning as I go - often the hard way, but not always. And, in turn, I have lost almost any fear of what others might think about me & the stands I have chosen to taken, and instead I have begun to really try my best to share the things I have learned or even the many random thought processes I have had...hoping that somehow someone can come back from that hopeless, helpless point like I did and give up the fight and just let go & let Him be their everything!

Wow! Didn't plan to say all of that, but that's just how it goes sometimes!

And there it a nutshell.  What's YOUR story!?!  (Cliff Notes version, since Blogger comments won't accept more than 4,096 characters!)  ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!!!'s the New Year going for you so far?  I know...hasn't had much of a chance to go any real direction yet, but, hey, that's the beauty of it!  Now, I can't wait to see where it's gonna take us!

For my first post of the New Year, I want to share a response I just finished writing via email to a friend of mine who is a professed Agnostic and reads my blog faithfully.  He has had two very good, but very long comments that he tried to post to a couple of different posts of mine, case you didn't know...Blogger's comment fields do not accept more than 4,096 characters!!!  So, cut some vowels out of your words if you try to post a comment that is inching up on being that long!  (I really wish his would have fit, as they have some very interesting and probably commonly shared thoughts in them.)  So, until the Blogger computer programmers decide to increase their comment field space, I will just have to share some snip-its with you that you may find of interest.  I believe my friend of whom I am speaking will not mind a bit, as like I said, he attempted to share his comments publicly himself.

What I am actually going to primarily share with you right now is a portion of my response to his most recent comment.  So, keep in mind that some of my statements are specifically spurred by some of his.  Either way, I think you'll follow it just fine.  And, please feel free to comment (in 4,096 characters or less!) anytime!  Oh, and by the way, he DID take me up on the challenge...(see November post "What's with the name?")...have you!?!
(additions I just now added in Bold Italics in parentheses)

I know you said you couldn't help but think that it was specifically directed to you. Honestly, yes, a small portion of it (#3, b, ii - to be exact) was written with you in mind as well as knowing that I have many friends and family who could possibly be reading it that think very much like you. (Hence, why we get along so well!) However, the majority of it, as you can see by the layout of it, was written with various "target audiences" in mind (some specific individuals as well as some generalized groupings, if that makes sense at all).  (If you felt or feel the same as him, like any of these are directed at you, I am not necessarily intending that, but if that's how it feels then there must be something to it...meaning maybe the topic being discussed that is hitting home is one you need to strongly consider.)

I must say, I am glad to hear that you took me up on the challenge. That's more what I was fishing to find out than anything. Did you read the whole book, or did your gauntlet stop you "in the beginning"? (That was a pretty good pun, if I do say so myself!)

Seriously, though, as far as answers to all of your questions and points made...I do not and will not pretend to have them. (As I have said before, I have had many of the same thoughts and questions myself over the years.) Neither will I attempt to proselytize you, as I know you likewise are not doing to me. I merely am here to share with you the Essence of who I am - Jesus in me. Though I cannot begin to battle wits with you in the intellectual realms, nor do I want to - battle with you is the farthest thing from what I would ever want (I, of course, mean that in a very complimentary and endearing way.)...I merely can share with you why I am the person that you know and are kindred spirits with. How you chose to respond to that is, well, not something I intend to try to force a certain direction, nor is it of my concern. I respect your very thoroughly contemplated and eloquently expressed views and honestly do not feel it is my responsibilty to change them.

- Yes, I do whole-heartedly believe there is a God and that He loves me (and you and all of the world - John 3:16) and that He is working out His divine plan in my life (as in everyone's) every minute of every day. (I know all of that opens up several more cans of worms, but I am just stating who I am and what I believe. I leave the cans of worms up to Him.)
- My life is not defined by my death, rather by His death on the cross for me (John 3:16).
- And because my life is defined by my acceptance of His gift of His death on the cross, my life is truly now and forever an eternal life.
- And, because of His death, I may die a physical death (even before I have the chance to see you again, or not) but I now and forever am free from having to pay the ultimate price of spiritual death and eternal separation from God that is the price of my inherent sin-nature.
- I, at one time, worked very hard to believe that there was nothing beyond this life and no meaning to my existence, because that for me was much easier (in a sense) than living with the knowledge that I would one day face my Maker and have to give an answer as to why I did not choose to accept His costly-to-Him yet free-to-me gift.
- Honestly, though, for me, convincing myself of the nothingness of life and existence was a very tiring and difficult struggle. Something always, deep down, ate at me and would not let me ultimately and deeply believe what I was trying so hard to believe. I had many of my own "gauntlets", as you so cleverly and accurately call them, that would be thrown down in my face right and left. I was just never at peace, not once, the entire time I was trying so hard to believe in a way that seemed to lend itself to the most peaceful, freeing, and consequence-less life possible. I read things, even in the Bible, that I attempted to use to prove what I so wanted to believe, but ultimately, for me, it was all a dead end...a dead end that lead to life, that is.
- I cannot begin to explain to you in words what it feels like to have "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding" (Phil. 4:7), but I can only hope that one day you may come to experience that for yourself.
- I cannot begin to describe to you in words what it is like to know and feel "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3) who is always with me - Emmanuel.
- I cannot begin to accurately explain to you in words what it is like to pray, not just seeking an answer - though those often do come, rather just to pray - to talk to the One who knows me better than anyone on this earth ever could (because He made me just the way I am, my faults and all, just like He intended for me to be) - to cry to Him, knowing He understands every struggle I face and that He, because He was once on this earth as a human (as is so well chronicled in the Book of John), understands so truly those human emotional as well as physical experiences that I have.
- These are all things I cannot explain to you in words as much as I may try, because they are things you just have to experience for yourself to understand.
- I realize you may not agree that there is any legitimacy to experiences such as these, at least in your own life, but all I can say is that they are very real and very legitimate in my life.
- I would never want to nor try to force you to feel these things for yourself by succumbing to agreeing with me on anything or everything I have put forth. However, because of what I know in my heart to be true, I can only hope that you, my very dear friend, can and will also one day come to experience my God for all He is and even come to a point that (one can dream, can't she!?!) you will even call Him your God one day. Not because I want so bad to be right, nor that I want to say "I told you so" or anything at all like that, rather because I know the love and peace and freedom that comes with knowing and accepting Him and the gift He offers us all.

- Again, I must remind you that, as much as it may sometimes seem otherwise, I truly am not trying to proselytize you, rather I am merely sharing my heart and the Essence of who I am with you, for all it is worth.

And with that, I will wish you all a very Happy New Year!  Please share your heart with me as I have with you.

Because of Who He is,