Trying to sort it all out.

16 04 2013

Last week an idea for a post came to me. I wrote a couple of sentences before I had to go out. Promising myself that I would get back to it the next day and that it would be brilliant and witty and fun to write. A few days later than planned, today, I tried to get back to it. It seems to be over shadowed by yesterday’s events as the Boston Marathon was bombed.

220-BostonCommonSwanBoats

My first thought was to make sure my Cousin Patricia was alright. She had just posted a picture of the marathon on her Face Book page. She has been a faithful spectator for years. Thankfully, she answered my text right away that she was a couple of miles away from the finish line when the bombs went off.

Although no one I know was injured yesterday, there is still a horrible sadness in my gut today. I grieve for the three families and their friends who lost a loved one at would should have been a happy celebration. It is incomprehensible that runners from all over the world started off the day with high hopes and all their extremities in tact only to end the day in surgery to amputate mutilated arms or legs. I can’t even believe that I typed those very words.

What kind of a mind can come up with such a diabolical and heinous idea? There is no pity in my heart for such a one. Just an honest passion to see them caught and brought to justice. What justice is there for this?

I have prayed for the victims of the bombing to become victors, some how. I am asking God to comfort people and to help us all recover from this horrid violation. I thank Him for the helpers who ran into the danger zone and held tourniquets and pushed wheel chairs and did any number of other mind numbing things that were necessary in order to rescue people. I ask God to help us focus on the fact that more people ran in to help their fellow human beings than the cowards who perpetrated this crime.

God help us to overcome evil with good. Thank you for the talented doctors and medical staff at some of the finest medical facilities in the world being located in Boston. Thank You for the miracles of medicine and the unexplainable miracles that came out of yesterday’s sorrow. Please heal broken hearts and shattered dreams as You continue to heal broken bodies.

I love Boston. My Mother was born in Brookline and I was raised in Massachusetts. I love the people of Boston. I still have family in Boston and surrounding towns. I have worked and lived in the Back Bay of Boston, walked the very streets on and around where the bombs went off. Bostonians don’t mince words and they don’t pretend to like you. You are either liked or not and you know it at the end of the day. In my Boston vernacular, I am pissed that some moron would think that he can get away with this. You obviously under rate the Boston PD and the citizens of Bean town.

Yes, I can pray and be pissed off at the same time. It is that kind of day!





free to run

23 09 2012

Bella enjoys a walk anytime and anywhere. Because she is so well behaved and likes to stick close to me, I can sometimes let her run without a leash. We have developed a habit of taking her leash off when we get to a portion of North College Road that has a wide span of grass that is on the safe side of the ditch. She likes to explore along the edge of the ditch but sometimes I get concerned that she will over step her boundaries and get too close to the traffic on the road. That is when I call her back to me. Ninety nine percent of the time, she comes when I give her the command, “here” and point to my foot. She runs back to me and touches my leg with her nose as if she were checking in. On the one percent of the time that I have to go get her, I put her leash back on for the rest of the walk. I don’t do that to punish her or to prove that I am the Master. I put her leash back on because it is my responsibility to keep her safe. Her freedom has boundaries. In this case, freedom without boundaries is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Bella is smart, well mannered and obedient but at the end of the day, she is still a dog. She does not always see the danger of being in the road when a car is coming. So, it is my job to keep her safe. Pretty simple, right?

Thank You Lord, for allowing me freedom. I am grateful that you have provided boundaries that will keep me safe in my freedom. Although I may not act like it in the moment, I am grateful for the times You put my leash back on because I know that Your priority is my safety. I am listening. It is my desire to be wise and obedient but, at the end of the day, I am still human. Thank You for keeping me safe. Amen





What does New Normal look like?

2 12 2011

To the very best of my knowledge, I have never been “normal”. So, my quest for a new normal has proven to be elusive at best. But, that can be a good thing. My new normal is mine and I am creating it as I go along this journey of widowhood.

Some of the things that are new to me:

  • My conversations no longer include “we”, “us”, “our”.
  • When I walk into the house, I am not greeted by “Hi my love!”
  • There is no one here to cook a full on Thanksgiving dinner for.
  • There was no birthday present from my love this year and there will be no Christmas gift either.

Okay, that is all I can list right now because I am bawling again and that was not my intent. I was trying to give some helpful advice about coping with missing a loved one during the holidays. This is an incredibly painful journey to New Normal.

Some of the things I am doing to survive:

  • Renting a room in my house (short term) to a person I have worked with on a couple of shows while she is in town for work.
  • Traveled to Madrid to do something for someone else.
  • Stepping away from music ministry for the first time in 30 years of being a Christian.
  • Brooming the negative drama and people from my life for a while.
  • Taking Bella on a road trip to spend Christmas with family who lives far away.
  • Remodeling my 20 year old kitchen.

Some decisions I am putting on a back burner for now:

  • Plastic surgery.
  • Embellishing my aging body with some ink art.
  • Installing wood floors.
  • Putting a sunroom addition on the house (complete with jacuzzi).
  • Adopting 2 more dogs.
  • Going back to school to become a Bible counselor.

Through this life experience I am drawing closer to God. That doesn’t mean I am getting Holy. Rather it means I am a mess and can not even find the strength to breath without Him. I can not feel His presence in my life right now but I know that I know He has promised NEVER to leave me or forsake me. Wether I ever feel His presence again, He has done miraculous deeds for me. It is most important for me to remember and rehearse what I know He has done in my life already and what His word says He will do in my future. I don’t know what He is going to do but I know it will be a future filled with peace and hope.

This is His Word to me:

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil,to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

God is not done with me yet. Light the path Lord and I will travel on it… with You. But if You are not going, I am not going.

Amen





Betel of Spain

26 11 2011

A month has gone by since I went to Spain. It has taken me all this time to process what an amazing ministry Betel International  is. Several folks supported this mission trip and I want you to know that God used your gifts in a unique way. He is so creative in reaching the hearts of the ones He loves.

I cannot explain the ministry of Betel any better than this brief video documentary about Betel International. In 1985, eleven years before opening in Britain, Betel (Spanish for Bethel) received its first destitute men and women off the streets of Madrid. Since that time more than 100,000 homeless, substance abusers and socially disadvantaged have been helped throughout Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, France, Central Asia, Australia, Ukraine, Mexico, USA, Russia, Finland, Bulgaria, N Africa, Czech Republic, Ireland, Mongolia, Argentina, Brazil and the UK. Betel residences host more than 2,000 recovering men and women in 80 cities in 21 nations

Peggy Laney is the missionary director at Myrtle Grove Pres. She has been to Betel in Madrid before and God placed a burden on her heart for the women there. They have survived  a completely destructive lifestyle and are being redeemed from alcoholism, drug addictions, prostitution and lives of crime. Through it all, they have lost any sense of who they really are and who a loving God has created them to be. Peggy became aware that in their journey of restoration, many have lost (or never had) a balanced knowledge of their femininity. She began to put together a conference for the ladies of Betel ministry. It was to include teaching them on some of the women in the bible who were used by God to bring salvation to mankind. God is able to use all kinds of unsavory back grounds for His glory. I, for one, am very grateful for this truth. Peggy and Cynthia Mattis did some outstanding teachings on Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab and Jael. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony of how God has redeemed my life from alcoholism and heroin addiction after these powerful teachings.

Part of the conference was to include a time of “make-overs” for any of the women who wanted one. This was to be a time of pampering and nurturing. Peggy wanted a couple of hairstylists, a make-up person and some one to do manicures and pedicures. This is how I got invited in the first place. Peggy needed a hair stylist and Mary Tepper, the “mother” of the ministry, gave her my name. That is another story that only God knows all the details of.

I have posted some pictures in other posts since I have been back. I do not want to repeat the bits and pieces I have already shared in those posts. I only wish I could help you to know how much your prayers and donations of make-up and finances for me to purchase hair products once I got to Spain have meant to these precious ladies. Thank you for your generosity and for allowing me to experience giving back in a whole new way for me.

This is a sample of the make overs we got to do. This is Ani. She has been in Betel for 3 1/2 years. For all of that time, the girls at the house have been doing her hair. It was an honor to pamper her a bit.





This story is about forgiving

12 10 2011

For all my creative crazies out there, I want to share with you a post that has inspired me this morning. I found her on Freshly Pressed, on the WordPress home page.

http://leslielaughs.com/2011/10/06/how-to-seize-every-31-days/

NOW! This story is about forgiving.

My occupation is filled with talented, creative and extremely insecure people. I know this because on any given day I am one or all of these adjectives. I have worked with make up artists and hair stylists who have a good sense of who they are and the talents they possess. They have been a challenge and a delight to work with. They share their knowledge and receive ideas from others. They inspire me to become better at my job.

I have also worked with folks who feel threatened by anyone who may have a different method than they are used to. They are insecure and constantly on the defensive, trying to prove what they know. Even if what they know is limited or directed by poor work ethics. They can not  seem to learn from folks who may know something they do not. Argumentative and sensitive they can not or will not follow instruction. Working with this personality is a nightmare to me.

I wish I knew a better way to deal with it. My own insecurities rise up. I find myself second guessing my actions and responses continually. I believe  it is good to take stock of ourselves and when we find a flaw try to correct it. That is not what I am talking about in this instance.

I had a department head job where my key hairstylist was the personality mentioned above. In eight weeks, the work relationship had declined to a point where we had an argument. I called her Princess and she called me passive aggressive. She was right. I was trying not to strangle her or fire her because I knew she had some things to work through. Crew members were coming to me to tell me that she was saying some very negative things about me to the producers.  One person even told me to watch my back because my key was looking for an opportunity to throw me under the bus. Hmm… not what I want to hear when  a demanding job really prevents me from “watching my back.” Still, I did not want to fire her. I had insight to some of her woundedness and  I was hoping God would work some things out in her.

I called some of my prayer warrior friends and asked them to cover “my back.”  They did. By the end of that week, the producers made a decision to fire my key. They did not discuss it with me or explain anything to me when it was all said and done. At first I was shocked and insulted that they did not confer with me before taking this action. In retrospect I am somewhat grateful. I can see that this young lady did not want to work as hard as we were working. She wanted off the show. She was not only bad mouthing me but was relentlessly criticizing the director…. to the actors!!! Much of her behavior was unprofessional at best.

My last 2 weeks of the show ran very smoothly thanks to the help of her replacement. I had not realized that I was doing so much of the work by myself due to her lack of willingness to work as a team.

She has not spoken to me since that night. No explanation, only a text that apologized for leaving me in a bad situation.

I am working on letting go of hurt feelings. Forgiving her for maligning my character. Forgiving her for the things she is still saying about me.

I am working on becoming a better leader. Forgiving myself for not correcting things early on.

I realize that I can not help everyone. There does come a time when I have to let people go from my life.

I am praying for wisdom and healing.





Have scissors, will travel.

25 09 2011

When I got the call asking if I would be interested in going to Madrid to cut and style hair for the women of Betel, I said I needed a little time to think about it.

I was told that I would be responsible to purchase my airline ticket for about $1,000.00 but everything else would be taken care of when I got there.  The cost was not a deterrent to me but, rather, I was concerned about wether I cared enough about anyone to put myself out of my comfort zone . I am tired. I feel like I just don’t know anything anymore, like I have nothing left to give. And yet, still, I was praying that God would awaken a passion in me.

I checked my bank account and noticed that Social Security had deposited another of Ed’s monthly payments in my account. That was a problem because I am not eligible to continue to receive his benefits until I retire. What a pain in the neck. Now I have to contact them and tell them they made a mistake and they will have to deduct it from my account. Argh! Thoughts of red tape and stupid paper work were annoying me.

The next day, I got a letter in the mail from SSI telling me that they made a determination that they owed Ed $1,300.00 and that would be deposited in my account!! God was speaking loud and clear. And if that wasn’t enough, I could almost hear Ed shouting from Heaven, “Go to Spain, baby! Here is an extra $300.00 to get your luggage over there.”

Soo….. I am going to Madrid! The travel agent, who had already booked the rest of the team weeks ago, was able to get me on the same flights so I can travel with the group. Co-incidence or God-incidence?

Peggy, who is heading all of this up, met me for lunch a couple of weeks ago. As she shared with me her heart for the ladies I could feel a stirring within my spirit. The things she talked about were things I used to care about. I came from this meeting knowing these three things;

  • God always knows my heart better than I do
  • God always hears my prayer
  • God always has a plan

That is the “me” part. But this is all much bigger than me.

Tomorrow morning, I will meet with the other ladies who are committed to this mission. Together we will embark on an adventure that only God knows the outcome of. I only have to trust Him and try to keep my “self” out of His way.

Proverbs 3:4&5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”

If you are interested in being part of this opportunity here are three ways:

  • I will be collecting make up and nail polishes to bring with us. You can drop them by my house or at the information desk in the lobby of Rock church on Sunday.
  • You may also donate money to help defray the cost of the hair products and the cost of shipping them to Betel ahead of our arrival.
  • Please, pray for the ladies of Betel to be transformed by God from the inside out and for each person involved in putting this conference together, that we fulfill His destiny.




Where is the passion?

23 09 2011

Anyone who ever spoke to Ed for more than 10 minutes knows that my man loved to travel.  His job on board oil tankers that traveled the world was a natural fit for him. We were still fairly newly weds when he came home and told me about an opportunity he had to take this job. The excitement in his words and the look in his eye was enough for me to know that this was a dream come true for him. Of course, he had to try it. And try it he did, for about ten years. He has been to Russia, Portugal, Spain, Africa, South America, Greece, Israel, Italy, Alaska and Germany to name a few countries. Traveling was a passion for him.

A long time ago, my passion used to be seeing broken people made whole again. Specifically, seeing abused and messed up women find their divine purpose in this life. Everyone has a divine purpose you know. Some of us just get dealt a lousy hand and some others deal themselves a bad hand. Regardless of how or why, this world is full of people who have a destiny that they are missing by a million miles.

I really used to care about this but over the past couple of years I have been more focused on the health issues my husband faced. When he broke his hip and went through two surgeries that landed him him in ICU each time, I stayed home with him until my health insurance was going to be cancelled. Then, he insisted that I go back to work in order to retain it. I worked off and on to keep enough in my account so I wouldn’t lose my insurance. Left to my own devices, I would have stayed with him and let go of my health insurance but he would not hear of it.

Somewhere in this contentious series of events, I lost my conscious contact with my Creator. I prayed , I talked to God but I could not hear Him. Some days, I didn’t even know how to pray so I didn’t. And through it all, I lost my passion.

I have not expressed these thoughts to anyone but, since I don’t have my husband anymore it is hard to care about very much. Why am I still here?  I have fulfilled my wedding vows and, truth be known, I am not really crazy about going on without Eddie. Now, I am not inclined to end my life or anything like that. I mean it when I say that everyone has a divine purpose. Mine has not been fulfilled yet. That is why, a couple of months ago, I began to ask God to revive a passion in me. Remind me what is important and help me to want again to make a difference in this world. Lead me to someone who needs what I can give.

I believe God hears my prayers and He has sent an answer. No one knows what I have been praying. Out of the blue, I have been invited to go to Madrid to take part in an outreach ministry to women who are recovering their lives from devastation. Alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, domestic abuse and more. Broken women whom God is reaching and drawing to Himself. I am going to help do some makeovers on women who have lost their identity and their sense of femininity. There is more to tell, but I am well over the recommended 500 words that keep a post interesting.

What are you passionate about? What are you doing with your passion?