There is a pounding in the chest,
a faucet at the pores,
a deflated self-confidence,
a slow dance viewed from the wall.
There is a brightness so blinding,
a boom so deafening,
a chatterbox so muting,
a relationship that lives in abuse.
There is a movement in the lawn,
a bird in the tree,
a squirrel on the fence,
a cat in quest of a hunt.
There is a vacancy in the womb,
a longing to conceive,
a desperation to pro-create,
a prohibiting reminder that is flowing.
There is a machine to purify,
a food consumption ritual,
a phone call in the night,
a kidney that is ready for new life.
There is a forgiveness freely given,
a peace beyond understanding,
a hope not of this world,
a name that is written in the Book of Life.
Turn up the news or
turn down your voice.
I want to hear the message.
The cats are either upstairs or
wherever I happen to be.
Look up to see the sky or
look down to see the earth.
My God is everywhere.
Families upsize homes to accommodate additions or
families downsize homes as empty-nesters.
My house remains the same.
Look at me upside-down or
look at me downside-up.
I will never change.
I will never change.
My house remains the same.
My God is everywhere.
Wherever I happen to be,
I want to hear the message.
My drive from Michigan to Ohio was absolutely beautiful. Michigan had experienced an ice-storm and every branch of the crystalized trees glittered for miles, superior to any display of Christmas lights I have ever seen, as the sunshine brought them to life. My simple little camera would not have captured the beauty that was before me; therefore, the photo album is etched in my memory.
To silence oneself for a few days is not as hard as imagined; I accomplished this during the last weekend in March in a most serene setting in Ohio at a silent directed retreat. About 25 others attended this quiet-time to contemplate and discern God in our lives. We were blessed with trained Spiritual Directors to guide us in this journey.
The first evening, we were able to speak with others while sharing a meal. I was one of three participants from Michigan, and I met some awesome Ohioans. We may have talked for 45 minutes or so, but much was shared within those precious minutes. After the meal, we met in a room together to share what was on our hearts this weekend. When it was my turn to speak, I explained that about a month ago, I had a very vivid dream of someone telling me to “minister to the church”. My personal task then was to spend time with God to see just what that meant.
We were assigned one of four Spiritual Directors and we broke into smaller groups to meet with them for further instruction about the weekend and to set up our personal meeting times. After this short meeting, we were excused to begin our journey into silence.
Back in my room, I had a hard time settling in. Earlier that morning, my mother was rushed to emergency and diagnosed with a treatable form of congestive heart failure. It was on my mother’s urging that I go ahead and make my journey to Ohio as I had planned for months. I silently kept in contact with my siblings by receiving updates about my mother’s condition via text messaging.
One awesome cook made all of our meals. Eating in silence was an experience I had never encountered. We acknowledged each other with smiles, but then focused on our food before us and the beauty of the landscape that surrounded us through all the windows in the dining area. We took turns cleaning up the kitchen after each meal. I signed up for clean up duty after breakfast on Saturday morning. I broke the silence in the dining area when I accidently dropped a drinking glass onto the ceramic tiled floor.
Spring was not in the air; however, God gave us sunshine every day. I bundled up and took a walk along the paths in the woods and I walked around the pond and next to a stream. I spotted beautiful birds that I never see in Michigan, I heard the jack-hammer pounding of the Woodpeckers high up in the trees, and two sets of geese were making their homes near the pond. It was so beautiful.
Sitting in silence and letting the Holy Spirit speak to my heart was quite an amazing experience. Spending time in prayer, God’s word, in His creation, and simply resting in Him, made me realize that He is not quiet at all.
During our closing session, we went around the room, as we had at the beginning, and shared what the Holy Spirit spoke to us in our silent journey. This is what I said:
On Thursday, I announced that I wanted to know what my dream meant to “minister to the church”. I found out that answer this weekend.
To minister means to care for others. The church are people everywhere.
The Holy Spirit allowed me to search deep inside of me to remind myself that I love to help people. I have sewing skills, listening skills, writing skills and support skills that I can creatively use to serve God’s people. Although I have ideas on how to utilize my passions and skills, it will be the Holy Spirit that will lead me. I will spend more time in prayer and in God’s word as they will strengthen me.
Philippians 4:13 is my take-away verse:
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
I did not want to leave the serenity of the weekend. My Spiritual Director explained that this is an experience. I can take this experience with me, lean on it, remember it and be thankful for it. I can create new experiences to spend quality, quiet-time with the Holy Spirit. When she said this to me, it didn’t make sense. Only after being immersed into the world once again, do I understand. It is important for all of us to sneak away, quiet ourselves and let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts as it is true nourishment for the soul. Now I understand why Jesus took time alone to pray to his Father. He was being strengthened for His journey to the cross.
A special Thank You to Sister Virginia, my Spiritual Director. May God continue to use you for His good works.
unraveled spools of thread
while my brain sleeps
Ezekiel 37: 5 (NIV)
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
Eight years ago, a family was shedding tears at the loss of a woman in Georgia. I never met her yet I want to know everything about her. Did she hold the titles of sister, wife, mother, aunt, and best friend? What was her occupation? Did she know and follow the Lord? How did she die? Who was with her when she took her last breath?
Eight years ago, my family was shedding tears of joy over a telephone call to my husband, Mark, telling him that they have a kidney match for him from Georgia. He was instructed to be at the hospital early in the morning on January 24 to get prepped and ready for a transplant. That evening was the last time he had to use the peritoneal home dialysis machine. We ran around the house in such excitement, making phone calls to family and friends telling the good news and asking for prayers. Understandably, we did not sleep much that night.
My mom and sister sat with me in the waiting room during the surgery. Mark’s parents and twin brother came from the Bay City, Michigan area as did his sister and brother-in-law who live in town. We all waited patiently.
A doctor came through the operating room doors and told us that once the kidney was attached, it started to pink up and Mark was urinating! Urinating? Really? That hadn’t happened in about 2 years since his kidney failed. As his wife, I was the first one who got to see him when he woke from the anesthesia. He looked so good!
We are born to do the work God has planned for us. When our work is done, He calls us to Heaven to be with Him. This woman in Georgia may have completed her work at a young age; however, her kidney was in perfect shape to be used again.
When Mark first told me about his health history, all I could see were God’s fingerprints all over him. I feel blessed to be his wife because I know that God has great plans for him. Why else would God give him three chances at new life?
I take time, especially on this anniversary, to pray for the family and friends of the woman from Georgia who passed away eight years ago. I thank God often for giving me such a great husband. I pray also to remember that every day is a special gift from God.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
In college, I took a creative writing class and came up with the following during a writing assignment titled KIDNEY.
Immediate health care.
Sick at such a young age, he did not once
back down, no, he did not
allow the disease to win: transplant.
renewed life in the man I love deeply.
Insist on living, my
sweetheart, I love having you near me.
Happy 8th Kidney Anniversary Mark! I love you!!!
Isn’t it convenient to send family and friends a quick status update on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter, or an email note to a contact list sharing a joke or attached pictures? Ah yes…cyber communication.
Convenient and quick cyber communications are enemies to the hand-written card or letter.
When was the last time you went to your physical mailbox, the one a federal Postal worker opens and fills with mail, and found an envelope addressed to you in ink and it was not a bill or junk mail?
The hand-written card or letter is a very special piece of mail for me. In fact, after I read it over a few times, I set it out on my desk to admire a while longer before it makes its way into my box of sentimental memories. To take the time to find just the right card or stationery means the sender is thinking about the recipient. Then, finding a favorite pen and clearing time out of a busy schedule to write a heartfelt note, an encouraging word or words of celebration complete the sentimental memory maker.
Sometimes what is written is hard to read because we may need to change our lives based on the contents. God wrote to us. He had us in mind when he created just the perfect stone tablets and the perfect chisel for Moses to use as he dictated the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. God knew the commandments were hard to live by, but he had to give his people direction until Jesus was born.
I am running out of storage space for all cyber communication, but I have unlimited sentimental memory storage space in my heart for God’s word.
Proverbs 7:1, 3 (NIV)
1 My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
3 Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.