Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kaleidoscope

My sister-in-law, Kim, delivered a gift without a note explaining what was under the wrapping. Buried within the colored tissue paper in the prettiest of Christmas bags lay a child’s cardboard kaleidoscope.  Laughing, I bring it to my eye and lift my face to look directly into the kitchen light.  The colors immediately begin casting brilliant patterns, changing with each turn of the knob. What a thoughtful present, but what was the purpose of gifting it to me?  

I continue to play with the kaleidoscope; turning the knob as well as shaking the plastic shapes within the tube.  My enjoyment cannot be contained.  Moments of mindless entertainment are brought into focus with each new design.  Listening closely, one could hear the “ooohs & ahhhs” escaping my lips.   But still I wonder, Why a kaleidoscope?  

Maybe I am someone who would appreciate a good old-fashioned toy? Maybe it is how she sees me – always changing & accepting myself with each turn? Perhaps it’s the symbolism of looking with a new set of eyes and anticipating the next pretty display?  Or maybe I would see the images reflecting like the beautiful stained glass windows in church?   


A few weeks before receiving this gift, I was photographed after a “day of beauty” at my hair salon.  When I saw the results posted on instagram - the pictures seem to capture my inner spirit.  With Kaleidoscope now in hand, I think further about the way the world sees me.  For I am often concerned about my appearance, not in “the vain sort of way” but in a “how disabled do I appear” scrutiny.   But these images before me smiling, laughing and being my silly self make me happy.  The joy & love in my heart shines through at any angle – very much like those glorious images contained within the lens of my kaleidoscope.

Look at Me! #KaleidescopeHeart

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ransom The Captive

* I wrote this story 2 years ago and shared it with friends last night.  
The question for reflection - "what holds you captive?"


Ransom the Captive” replays in my head, and I am left trembling.  The certainty of my imprisonment clearly brought to my attention while mindlessly humming a melody I learned years ago.  The words from this traditional Christmas carol lead me on a new path of self-discovery.

The Season of Advent calls believers to “get ready” and “make straight the path”.  Aside from the outside merriment and glee (which we all complete in great haste) is the hard work of preparing the spirit.   Kindness, joy, generosity and goodwill are perfect compliments to the Season.

But what I yearn for in my preparation is a different perspective and fresh approach to the familiar Christmas Story.   Without fail it comes to me – “Ransom the Captive” – one verse from an ancient song.  I am journeying on an uncharted path; moving in a different direction!

Am I the captive?  Do I act the victim held confined and restrained?  In my own way has this terrible affliction imprisoned me?  

When I think of those “held captive”, I immediately begin with a list of people less fortunate who are suffering from circumstances in their lives.    The ultimate ransom for Christians being salvation in Christ Jesus, but we all have a responsibility to pay the ransom and help those in captivity.  A donation, helping hand, welcoming visit or a simple prayer goes a long way to aid those “held captive”.  But again, I shudder at the thought that I might be included in this list.

Although I try my best to “live above the influence” of MS - I let it, at times, hold me captive. I think of all that I cannot do and many times am fearful to step out on my own.  The stripping down to the soul reveals the chains I carry.  Chains that hold me from a freedom I once knew.  With the weight of this confinement I see myself, very much like those people in the song most in need of ransom. 

To say it was an Ebenezer Scrooge moment – would be correct.   I see the truth and the chains of my own making.  I cannot and will not let this disease hold me back from anything!   For seeing myself as a captive has freed me to once again become the person God intended me to be…..   Hopeful, Uplifted, Saved and Rejoicing in a future I will live in a freedom, which is mine for the taking!   Held Captive….  I think not!

  
O Come - O Come Emmanuel and Ransom Captive Israel.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Basement


If you're looking for me, you'll find me in the basement; working on cracks and fixing leaks in the foundation of my soul.  God seems to be leading me to this quiet place during the season of Advent.  To truly prepare for the coming of our savior - some repair work needs to be done.

The upstairs of my home is decorated with lovely ornaments. The tree has been perfectly placed in front of the picture window. Everywhere possible - I have assembled my beautiful nativities - as reminders of the true reason for the season. Lights are twinkling, garland is hung and Santa with some snowmen have joined in the fun!  I've worked hard to bring the season to life and as a result, my upstairs rooms look warm and cozy... adorn with Christmas Spirit.

But the real and difficult work has taken place in the lower part of my home.  For the things I've created upstairs cannot be sustained without some attention to the details surrounding its foundation.

It is safe to say that the basement is not where I want to spend much time.  It isn't a place I show off to family and never bring friends.  There is little pride in the cement walls and concrete floors of a homes foundation.  It isn't filled with light and glorious things. Sometimes, it brings back memories of scary stories and hidden away creatures.

Oh, but during these advent days of preparation, I have marveled at my basement.  I eagerly go to this place of prayer to fix and patch the cracks that have surfaced.  And with each mend and repair -  I am filled with a greater sense of who I am, a greater trust in God and Hope in His plan for me.

So if you're looking for me, you don't have to search far.  You'll find me in the basement - building and growing a stronger foundation for my home.


On Christmas morning I will journey to 
a place still in need of repair 
   and on bended knee 
give Thanks to God for the gift of His Son 
and for His guiding hand 
in mending my home.





Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Oops, I did it again

If I were being completely honest, the cruel nature of my forgetfulness should cause me to cry. But, in this moment I cannot stop laughing even though I should be apologizing. A foolish grin lifts my otherwise flat facial features, and my funny bone has been tickled. I regard my absent-mindedness as hysterical!

The sun peaks through our half-shut blinds and I roll onto my side, thinking of all the tasks to be done during the day. I venture to complete one so ordinary it does not deserve to be placed on a “to do” List. This particular high-energy morning has me moving a plastic container filled with winter sweaters from storage. But, when you have MS completing any chore merits some accomplishment.  For the able body – it ranks as comparable to brushing and then flossing your teeth.  OK - for some people, flossing daily may be considered high ranking!  Anyway you get the gist of what I’m alluding to about a routine task. I puff up my chest and consider the action as a monumental achievement since I have needed the warmth of these sweaters for weeks.

I did say I moved the container, but I may have neglected to mention the finer points of my story.  A detail like how tired I became carrying it the few short steps of our hallway.  Well let me just say, I struggled, and in the end put it down in the doorway of my bedroom.  Any plans to organize the contents of the container would have to wait.  I back out of the bedroom sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back”. 

But the day is lost to my returning upstairs.  I have no energy for the job of sorting through the sweaters and have totally forgotten the placement of the container (another MS symptom referred to as brain fog).  Out of sight, out of mind.  That is until Ken arrives home in the evening. 

After the customary kiss hello, I ask Ken about his day.  Sorting the mail he mumbles something about vodka or wine after the craziness of his workday.  He looks tired but asks about my day.  Did I get anything new accomplished?  Was my energy up to any tasks?  I think a moment but recall nothing and answer my usual – no, not much of anything got done today.

Kicking off his shoes he begins to climb the stairs to change out of his work clothes.  There is a basket of laundry at the foot of the steps waiting for him to bring upstairs.  How many times must I trip over the things you leave on the floor or in doorways?  I swear one of these days you are going to kill me!  

The house is quiet for a few seconds, but in that silence I remember - Oh Yes!!  The container!! Isn’t it wonderful!  I moved it this morning….  I did accomplish something after all.  The day was not a complete waste.  And with that thought I hear Ken yelling as he falls forward clutching the laundry basket. NOT AGAIN CHRIS!!  What the hell is this container doing in the doorway!! You almost killed me!   

I wince until I find out he is all right. And once again find myself laughing and apologizing at the same moment.   Oops, I did it again….



(Dedicated to Ken - for helping me see the humor in life)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving Prayer





God of Holiness,
You bestow on us the gift of life
which is ever changing 
with the passing of time.

May we delight in the current season of our lives
Accepting challenges as they come,
Praising moments of joy that unfold,
Beholding the splendor of your beauty,
Proclaiming the glory of your promises.

 Let our love become a harvest of blessings
Allowing us to be Givers – unasked,
Pouring forth goodness into the world.

During this season of Thanksgiving
Prepare us to receive with open arms
All you have planned for us, now
&
In the coming seasons of our lives.

~ Amen ~


         
        

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Out on a Limb


The call is strong and powerful. It summons me to move from a place of comfort to that which is most unfamiliar. In a faint whisper I hear, “Take a step in faith and move further out on the limb”.    I am caught between the awakened & unconscious state of existence.  The appearance of a large tree with mighty hands as limbs is before me.  In the presence of this giant force of creation, I am made to feel united and loved.   Each branch is strong and thrives with fruit & leaves.  Without hesitation I climb to the first limb which seems to be calling my name.    As I sit in the arms of the tree I say out loud, “it is good that I am here! I am happy and content in my current situation. This is far enough for me”.   But still I am gently encouraged to journey just a little further down the branch. Why the nudge and the persistent call? Could the view be any more splendid or the fruit any sweeter or the leaves any more spectacular just a few inches away?   What am I to gain by taking this step forward?   My heart's desire to answer yes, is stronger than any of my fears.   And so I make the adjustment going further “out on a limb".    In my lifetime I will never fully know the purpose or reason for this call.   But what I do know and can plainly testify to, is that faith and faith alone - will keep the limb from breaking.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Greatest of These...


On any given day what my spirit needs and longs for is subject to change. With a backward glance, each moment and season of my life is perfectly fitted into a glorious rainbow. The many colors of the spectrum can be separated into distinct characteristics. My needs weaved together in a patterned tapestry of magnificent beauty.

I call to mind my need for love in the many shades of RED.  
The freshness of ORANGE has me bathed in goodness.  
Peace and acceptance blend together in the hues of YELLOW and GREEN.  
The effervescent tints of BLUE appear to quench my thirst to trust.   
And the greatest of these colors, VIOLET breaks through to become a Beacon of Hope.

How vividly I recall the day I removed Violet from my Grandmother's Rainbow.

She was sick with a heart condition that would eventually take her life.  Each doctor indicating, “it was only a matter of time”.  But still Nan continued to live with the hope of getting better.  “What do you think the doctors will try next?”  “When will I begin to feel better?”  So many questions asked waiting only for a hopeful response.

I did not know the magnitude of her yearning or understand the spirits need for hope.  I saw only the physical illness and breaking down of her body.  “Nanny, you should prepare yourself.” “Rest and find comfort in your faith.”  But still she pressed me for words of hope.  Words I could have simply spoken, words which would have lifted her weary soul.  Instead in a declaration I dare say still haunts me, I replied, “There is nothing.”  Sending the message to my Nan, “There is no Hope.”  Her eyes grew heavy and what little color remained in her cheeks seemed to fade.  Sadness I will never forget.

I have learned from this and many of my mistakes.  That is the beauty of every tomorrow.  But for today, like so many years ago for my Nan, my greatest need is Hope.  Hope for a cure, hope for remission, hope for new medicine, hope for independence, hope in hope itself.  And I know my Nan is with me when I ask, “What do you think the doctors will try next?”  “When will I begin to feel better?”  So many questions asked waiting only for a hopeful response. 

AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS HOPE