Friday, August 19, 2016


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Losing My Religion



"Oh life, it's bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I've said too much
I've said enough"


Last fall, I lost my church.  Before it was over, I had lost my religion.  Something scary happened that compromised the safety of my sweet daughter.  The steps I took to protect her, forced us to walk away from our church community, our sanctuary, safe place to worship, the place where we felt His love and where my former husband and I promised to raise to our child to know Him. The same sanctuary where the members pledged to support her in her journey of faith.  Sadly, I lost these brothers and sisters that I thought were friends and learned that truly they were mere acquaintances. 


"That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough"


As everything unfolded, she became afraid to attend church. As many things that I have asked her to trust me and do that was in her best interest, I couldn't make her go to a place where she felt fear.  The church gave me no assurance of a plan for her to feel comfortable.   As such, I have struggled to hang on to my faith and have never felt as alone as I have on my path - some Sunday mornings I feel ... lost.  Surprisingly, I quickly discovered that I found solace in being alone.

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough

I've been accused of not forgiving the person who caused this harm.  I have forgiven, but am forced to always be wary and protective.  Words were said by others and damaging labels were assigned. Some apologies made.  Some were heartfelt, some were false. But words hurt.  I left with the words "if you don't like it ... leave" echoing in my heart and soul. 

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try"

With twelve months of distance, I have asked myself some hard questions... was I so involved in the community of the church that I lost sight of why I was supposed to be there? Were we being punished by God?  Had He led us away for a reason?    What and where is He leading us to? Some days I force myself to be open to these answers and hope that someday I will look back and understand.

"Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I'm choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I've said too much
I've said enough

We visited many churches searching for that feeling of sanctuary ... of belonging ... of being at home in a community of faith.  We found a place where it feels like we might fit.   Physically we sit on the periphery. Back row of the sacred space.   In a place where unlike Cheers, nobody knows our name.  Just being.   Listening.  Letting the Word heal. 


Consider this
Consider this, the hint of the century
Consider this, the slip
That brought me to my knees, failed

 A few weeks ago at this worship, I learned about the Church of Second Chances.  It's a special ministry that holds worship for believers who can't go to church with their families and friends.  The place they find themselves in life is a place where they may feel personal loss or shame and they may not like themselves very much.  I can say that I can easily identify with that and have felt that very way over the past year and a half, but no physical bars or chains that kept me from coming and going. 

Tonight we took communion in the same manner that the members of the Church of Second Chances do each week.  We peeled back the plastic on a container (similar to a single serving of creamer for your coffee) that contained a communion wafer and all placed it on our tongue together.  Next we peeled back another plastic layer to drink from the proverbial cup.  Together, we said the words about the body and the blood of Christ and I accepted this supper in a way I never have before. 
That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion

On the last night of my vacation this summer, as I watched the sunset I realized that I had not thought of this hurt, this painful experience for the entire week.  The ocean quietly hitting the rocks all week and the sunshine had soothed my soul.   Humbling realization washed over me that although in some ways I felt like I lost my church and my religion, as I soul searched and asked some hard questions I found peace in my decision to walk away.   In protecting my child, I was brought to my knees, but I didn't lose my religion, I  found my spirituality.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Coming Down the Mountain

A year ago today, I marked a spectacular item off of my bucket list.  Katie and I, along with our close friends (and experienced hikers) Randall, Jordan, Janna and Lane, hiked up the Rainbow Falls trail to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. It was something I wanted to do since college, but never found the time to do it.  I realize now, that I was meant to complete this journey with Katie.  And I'm so glad I did. I think as close as we are, we both learned new things about each other.  I know we were both proud of each others role in completing the climb. 

As I walked and hiked in the months ahead of time, I only focused on the climb up... I never thought about the climb down.  Isn't that the way with most goals?  We only think about reaching them...we don't think about what we will do past that?  If you would have told me ahead of time, that the climb down was the hard part, I would have not believed you.  Believe me, the hike up was difficult.  It also, however, was one of the most beautiful days of my life. 

Beautiful snow, cloaked in fog, the climb up was all I thought it would be. Looking for each milestone that told us how much longer we had to go, reaching deep into the perseverance to keep moving forward.  Many times on the way up, Lane, following behind me would reach up and lift up my pack so I could get a sturdy step up the next rock.  I had to smile, she was giving me a hand up ... from BEHIND!  Since Randall had hiked ahead with Katie and Jordan, Janna spent her time hiking ahead to check on them and then doubling back - being the scout for both groups - we wanted the girls to get to the top as quick as they could - while Lane was as patient with me as you would be an elderly pet - and I mean that in the MOST loving way ... she was patient and kind ...

 to watch them both on the trail was amazing... they individually were like one with the mountain. Janna was quietly taking breathtaking pictures of snow covered flora and fauna and Lane so quiet and so natural - they were like part of the experience - so natural so knowing and so patient...

On the way up, Janna and Lane told me stories - Janna talked more than she ever has in the history of our friendship, keeping my mind occupied and distracted so I wouldn't think about how hard I was breathing or how much further we had yet to climb.   we did have quiet time and my thoughts were filled with the great creation I was walking through - no thoughts of money, worries or work filtered through - it would have been hard. when you are in the middle of such beauty and earth bound.. it was easy to

The way down was easy - till we got halfway down - Janna told me to make sure I planted my feet - so with each step I carefully planted.  I would stump my toe... but I never fell.  The trip down was filled with every good and bad metaphor about life's obstacles, stumbling blocks, hurdles, picking yourself up after you fall, and the worst hitting rock bottom.  I physically did all of that on that climb down - my feet felt like bricks - it grew dark - we hiked out with our head lamps - and again - janna the scout - went ahead to make sure the girls were safe and warm and to get Randall to come back and get us out.  Lane - again with her quiet footfalls her patient love and friendship - wouldn't let me succumb - she would hike ahead and assess and come back and check on me - never once making me feel like I was failing - much like our entire friendship - quietly encouraging, supportive and lighting my path while helping me find my own way.  Every time - I felt like I couldn't take another step - when I quasi hallucinated and shared that we were closer to the trail head than we actually were - she pacified me - A MILE never felt so long - then the last mile was upon us.  the finish line to my long dreamed up bucket list crossed off my list - the mile euphemisms flooded in - walk a mile in my shoes -going the extra mile, 8 MILE, walk a mile change your life style ... I was laughing to myself at the inner dialogue - and I wondered if Lane thought I was hallucinating!

Monday, July 07, 2014

To The One That Got Away

Every time I think of you
I always catch my breath
And I'm still standing here
And you're miles away
And I'm wondering why you left
And there's a storm that's raging
Through my frozen heart tonight

I hear your name in certain circles
and it always makes me smile
I spend my time
Thinking about you
And it's almost driving me wild
And there's a heart that's breaking
Down this long distance line tonight
I ain't missing you at all
Since you've been gone
Away
I ain't missing you
No matter
What I might say
There's a message
In the wild
And I'm sending you
this signal tonight
You don't know
How desperate I've become
And it looks like I'm losing this fight
In your worldI have no meaning
Though I'm trying hard
to understand
And it's my heart that's breaking
Down this long distance line tonight
I ain't missing you at all
Since you've been gone
Away
I ain't missing you
No matter
What my friends say
And there's a message
that I'm sending out
Like a telegraph to your soul
And if I can't bridge this distance
Stop this heartbreak overload
I ain't missing you at all
Since you've been gone
AwayI ain't missing you
No matter
What my friends say
I ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I keep lying to myself
And there's a storm that's raging
Through my frozen heart tonight
I ain't missing you at all
Since you've been gone
Away
I ain't missing you
No matter
What my friends say
Ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I keep lying to myself
Ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
I ain't missing you
Ain't missing you
Oh no
No matter what my friends might say
I ain't missing you

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

There Really is Something Amazing About Grace


For the last six years of her life, my grandmother, Pauline Wyatt, was fortunate to not only move closer to her family, but also to become a Franklin, TN resident, living at Grace Healthcare on West Main Street.

When looking for a long term care facility, we had a list of requirements that were extremely important to us: safety, cleanliness, activities and most importantly, excellent health care.  Her physician, Dr. Kenneth Dodge, is kind, caring, and at Grace it seemed around the clock taking care of his many patients.  Not only was our grandmother lovingly cared by the staff at Grace Healthcare, and these healthcare professionals treated her like they would a member of their own family, but she was showered with love and attention from the community of one of the greatest small towns in America, Franklin, Tennessee.     When we visited different facilities, one thing we didn’t take into consideration was how the community supported the residents.
 
When we could come to visit her on Sunday afternoons, we would be her invited guests and treated to Sunday services by different church congregations and highly talented singing groups.  It wasn’t just on Sundays … she was treated to performances by a local ukulele band, students from Battle Ground Academy providing loving manicures, trolley rides to see the Christmas lights at Sunnyside and George Jones’ home, winner take all Bingo games,  Christmas presents from anonymous givers during the whole month of December, cheerful thinking of you cards from school students throughout the year.  While at Grace, she went to the prom, back to the 50s and was transformed into the Crocodile Hunter for Halloween.  She was touched by so much love, generosity and caring … and in turn, it touched our hearts tremendously. 
 
When faced with the decision to place a beloved member of your family into long term care and entrust that care and well-being with others, it’s these little unnoticed acts of kindness by the staff and the community that helps to ease your worry.  It emphasizes that although a hard decision you have done the right thing. 

After she left us I cleaned out her room and slowly closed the door for the last time, I was buoyed by the stack of cards and encouraging notes I had read from church congregations, students that I found in the top drawer of her dresser …. It squeezed my heart in the places where I missed her and made the last walk out the doors of Grace a little less sorrowful.  As I walked down the hall and stopped at the nurses’ station, I hugged those working on the night shift and tried to find the words to thank them for caring for her, for laughing with her and most importantly for loving her.   

In choosing Grace Healthcare on West Main, we didn’t realize we were also choosing the community of Franklin as a caregiver also, but it fortuitously turned out that way.  We discovered that there is something special about the people in this place; and there really is something amazing about Grace.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Home is NOT Broken



Recently someone said to me ...
"Your home is broken."
"Far from it" I replied.
"My home is filled with love."

Anger welled from deep within.
"Have you been to my house?
That's far from what's happening inside.
"Our home is full of life."

I may struggle mightily,
but no one sees it.
Finances may weigh me down,
but we keep juggling.

Sanctuary created
between the walls.
Trust constantly building
to strengthen them.

New traditions were started
and cherished.
Fun memories made.
Adventures planned for the future.

Goals set.
Dreams shared.
Ideas valued.
Personalities blooming.

Long ago, my smile was broken
my spirit, and yes, sadly my heart.
But never, ever my home.

 My home is not broken.


 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

#26acts


Last Christmas, Katie and I participated in the #26acts of kindness movement to honor the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary. I quickly learned that with every thing I put out in the universe in this effort- it came back to me quickly tenfold... it was astonishing. I also realized that these were things I shouldn't have to look for to create and make an effort to do each day, but rather I should be kind anyway.   I found my true meaning of Christmas last season, it made the entire holiday so much more poignant for me.  However, present with each act I committed, was the solemn thought that each kindness we committed was in the name of an innocent child and brave school teacher whose candle had been blown out.  

With this in mind, I tried really hard to make the acts meaningful and creative - one was giving Katie 26 reasons why I love her. Her 26 reason response back brought me to tears. Her words were the sweetest gifts. I will cherish her  heartfelt and funny list for the rest of my life. Last year, we bought tacos for the car behind us in honor of Noah, the little boy who wanted to own a taco factory. We sponsored a monthly riding lesson for one child for the past year for Saddle Up, we sent a contribution to the LCC Comfort Dogs, we baked treats for the caregivers at Grace Healthcare where my Grandmother was a resident, delivered hot chocolate to the security guard in the booth at VU on a cold, blustery day, donated to Living Waters for the World, put a surprise present in someone's mailbox (the next morning someone had put a surprise in ours), put flowers on someone's desk who was struggling, wrote a letter to teacher who had an impact on my life, wrote a letter to a family member who I haven't spoken to in quite some time and so on. 

With each act, my adult cynicism (read Grinch lonely heart) melted a little. With each surprise kindness sent my way, I marveled at the full circle that a simple kindness had taken and found it's way back to me.  For my efforts, my eyes opened a little, the emotions I discovered were pretty raw and humbling.  I discovered that it really wasn't about committing #26acts, it was not only fun but really was about love, actually. 


Last night I gave Katie "26 More Reasons Why I Love Her" and when I went to bed, I found her list on my pillow. A new tradition, I will treasure always - to pause and tell the one person on this earth who means the most to me, how special she is, how much fun we have and all the things I love about her.  

Feel free to join me, in looking in the small but quiet ways you can do something nice for someone, or even an organization, not just during this Christmas season but everyday.  The day after Thanksgiving was Black Friday, the following Cyber Monday and finally Giving Tuesday, shouldn't every day be a Day of Giving?  I'm blessed to be surrounded by the countless people in my life who commit #26acts selflessly everyday without even trying.  Their giving impacts me, my daughter and so many people who don't even realize it.