Sometimes it is hard to hang onto what you know to be true.
Sometimes our heart aches and hurts like a hurricane, changing everything around us. It seems like life is going to fall apart. Schedules get busy. Weather seasons change, bringing traffic delays, even a new season of illnesses that hit those around you.
The dreams that you have are still undone. There are days where your passion becomes drudgery, making a job real work, and not a desire that you were working to see accomplished.
We know we are loved. We know that things, eventually will turn out…..
Even if the healing of an illness doesn’t come the way you thought…..or wanted.
Even if life totally falls apart – emotionally, physically, or your career/job, you know you can stand firm in the One you run to, believe in, who works all things for good - even if it isn’t the same ‘good’ you think it should be.
Even if it is hard to trust, we will. For we know we are in Good Hands. Strong Hands. In One who not only loves us, but is….always.
On more than one occasion over my four score plus years, during the many ‘adventures’ we have faced, people have teased me, asking me if I am related to Job. Even one of the physicians on my medical maze team made a comment recently stating: “You may be in your mid-60ish range, but your body is more like one hundred and sixty something!” (Gee thanks, Doc, even if I, more than often do feel one hundred and sixty something!)
I especially find it amusing when people ask if I’m related to Job, as one title I toyed with for my first book, before I settled on Loose Screws and Skinned Knees, was: Does Job Have a Sister? (Not that I want to know! I don’t want to live even close to 160-200 years old!)
Yes, I’ve encountered many obstacles. Yes, I am literally ‘screwed up” and bolted together in more than a few places (like a dozen or so more?!). Over the decades, well intentioned “friends” have come to me declaring “this is happening because you must have some secret sin” or “you don’t have enough faith” or the classic: “God is punishing you for something you must have said or done.” With friends like that, who needs enemies, eh?
Sure, I’ve had my days when I have wailed: “WHY is this happening, God?” as I lay crumbled on the floor in tears. But I have had many more days, instead of wailing “WHY?” I have learned to do somethingauthor/speaker Sheila Walsh so eloquently said this week. On Wednesdays in the Word on LIFE Today, she recounted her times of ‘wailing’. Shelia shared she learned to LEAN into, to be REAL, to be HONEST to the One who LISTENS. After all, if God allowed Satan to do anything he wanted to against Job, (except kill him), whoi are we to argue with the One who LISTENS when we wail about what He has allowed us to experience?
I had a poster that hung on my bedroom wall in high school 40+ years ago. I took it with me when I went off to college and hung it on my college dorm room wall above my head. Shortly after I got married, my husband framed the poster. Since that time, it has prominently hung in every home we have lived in to this day. We have purposely hung the framed poster where I will see it often. The photo on the poster is of one of my favorite “run away to” places: Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, OR. I would ‘run” when I was spent. I would ‘run’ when I was at the end of my rope, or I would 'run' when I finally waved the proverbial white flag, and came to the end of myself. Haystack Rock and the ocean beach allowed me to wail at the top of my lungs without fear of being heard by other human voices. When I was on empty, when I was spent, tears cascading down my cheeks, I could hear words being whispered on the ocean breeze: “Be still, and know…” The exact words on the poster.
A short time ago I learned the phrase “ to be still”, in Hebrew, means “to release; to let go”. Or as I might put it in my last blog post: to “REST: R elinquish E verything, S ubmit Totally; to quit trying to hang on to, or to stuff deep inside me, whatever I was wrestling with. To rest means to get my grubby hands off of the situation, to open my tightly clenched fist, palm side upwards, and let go.
It will not to do any good in the span of Eternity, to lash out at the circumstances I find myself in. Nor will it be helpful to lash out at my so-called ‘friends’. But it will do me good to be real. It will do me good to be honest as I lay crumpled in a crying heap, as I wail to the One who LISTENS, and let it all go.
How about it? Are you willing to join me as I LEAN into the One who LISTENS?
The first few snowflakes of the season are wafting on a late fall breeze. I can’t resist going outside. I stand just outside our front door. I gaze up to the already snow-capped mountain peaks. I stop to revel in the stillness. I breathe in the quiet of the moment and quietly listen. I let tiny flakes land on my cheek.
I step back inside and stoke the woodstove. I return to the bustle and routine of my day. The quiet stillness of the previous moments have quickly vanished. I flip channels to find my favorite music station that I use for a background as I work. We get our radio via TV – call it an “Alaska thing”, especially in our rural area that has poor reception for just about everything.
Scrolling through channels, I hear the all too familiar commercial jingle “Can you hear me yet?” AUGH! Why is that particular jingle so hard to forget? Why is it as annoying as it is?
I think the jingle is hard to forget because it is catchy. It is an easy phrase to remember. But maybe, just maybe, we remember it because the phrase resonates with our hearts and not just our heads.
So, what are YOU? Are you a “hearer”: where the message goes in one ear and out the other”? Are you a “listener”: you not only hear the message, but it resonates with your heart? Or, are you a “doer”: you not only hear the message and it resonates with your heart, but you act on the message you heard. Maybe you are a combination of the last two.
The message I heard, and listened to, and work hard to do is: Be simple. Be yourself. Listen more. Walk your path, and not someone else’s. Be faithful to what you hear and do in the little things…..for the results will be big, changing the world in a way that only you can.
Can you hear Me yet?
Still recuperating (yes, still) from the intestinal surgery that was supposed be a mere 4-6 weeks, is now going on 4-6 months – AUGH!! Jokingly, the doctors are calling it “Care-Tuk-itis” or “Care-Tuk-it-is”!
I have been learning humility, having to ask rides to/from IV infusion 2-3x/week for 3-5 hours. I’ve had to learn to sleep upright. I made it down to the river’s edge a mere 4-5 times all summer. And, begrudgingly, I turned over even more chores I was accustomed to doing to Bill.
I was getting frustrated. I was working at what, for me, seemed a snail’s pace. Frustration mounting, I stopped working on my ‘file pile’, and took a break.
I stoked the coals in the wood stove, added a couple more pieces of firewood and comfortably laid back in our newest addition to our collection of adaptive equipment. We recently purchased a new recliner couch with multiple controls, including head/lumbar rests that we can individually adjust, besides reclining. It helps my multiple bionics, my impacted lung capacity, besides allowing me to be ‘obedient’ and truly REST.
Sirius XM, The Message played in the background.
I wonder if some of the words that I found myself listening to as I rested by songwriters: Jonathan Lindley Smith / Jonny Diaz / Tony Wood, resonate with you as much as they did with me.
“Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say just
Breathe, just BREATHE
Come and REST at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Breathe, just BREATHE
Come and REST at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you REALLY need
Is to take it in, fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe (just BREATHE)
Let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe (just BREATHE!)”.
Those who know me, know the word REST has been a word I have long struggled with. Yet, it should be no surprise I find when I:
E verything (and)
When I uncle my grimy fist, and ‘just breathe’, opening my hand and let go and let God, things always go better.
I don’t need to go' hurrier'.
Why? Because the "hurrier I go, the behinder I get".
I just need to BREATHE!!
What about YOU?
The weeks of summer have flown by. How do I know? Most notably because of the weighing of the largest pumpkin at the Alaska State Fair. Yet, as fast as the days flew by, four words punctuated each day: Love, Strength, Patience and Understanding.
While much of the lower 48 basked in temperatures far too high for their liking, we here in Alaska had what we call a ‘mild’ summer. Oh, sure, we had a couple of HOT days (72 degrees!) but we mainly stayed in the lower 60’s with afternoon convection clouds over the mountains that produced gallons of rain. Not so great for growing gigantic pumpkins or beautiful ‘Best in Class’ floral arrangements. The 1,200+ pound pumpkin that won this year hadn’t even turned orange yet!
Bill has been pulling up pounds of purple and red potatoes, (30 plants/hills down, 150 to go!) processing them into tater tots, French fries or hash browns. He has been making a variety of herb blends with three kinds of dried beet greens, kohlrabi leaves, celery leaves, dill, and various varieties of carrot tops, spinach, sage, and thyme. He’s even concocted a dried rhubarb treat that is a confectioner’s delight! (And the entire neighborhood kids, too!) You can take the farm boy moving away from the farm he grew up on, but you can’t take the ‘farm’ out of that boy, now turned man!
I love that Bill planted the garden rows wide enough so he can “play” on his 4 wheeler. His tiller and mower attach to the back of his 4x4. Up and down the rows he tills the garden. Then he switches attachments to mow the perimeter of the hay field, edges of the garden and the green grass glade on the way to the river. Bubba Grump, our Brindled English Mastiff/Ridgeback mix dog rides with him. Yes…..RIDES on the 4x4!
As my heart swells with joy watching him, I also find tears trickling down my cheeks on occasion. I feel a ‘pang’ in my heart knowing that those days of joining him on those treks are gone. I’ve even been known to whine that I don’t feel a part of our “team” anymore, since he has to cut/stack the wood, do the garden and lawn, the food processing PLUS meals – all things I used to do with him, but now physically (and for safety reasons!) am unable. He reminds me that we are still a team – I get to label the jars, and I did plant the seeds in April in the greenhouse until they were big enough to be planted outside the first part of June. Ok, Ok. But small potatoes in my heart!
As the tears trickle, I realize Bill is demonstrating love for me and others, so we will have provisions during the long winter months. From canning, to vacuum-packaging, to splitting cords of wood, his tangible gifts of love prevail.
Bill is demonstrating his strength by picking up more than his own fair share of work – and never complains, even after working 60+ hour weeks. His strength is shown by not whining, reminding me for every challenge, in every difficulty we travail or danger we have faced, not just the last 6 months, but 42 years, we can be sure of His unwavering strength.
As the long hours of sunlight begin to wane, and the pace for finishing up construction jobs before the snow flies or the ground freezes, Bill’s patience seems endless, never tiring. I swear if he ever did a DNA test, it would show he’s related to the Energizer Bunny……he just keeps on going.
As the fireweed turns bright red, I think we have both done our best to grapple with the hand we’ve been dealt this year. Understanding doesn’t come as easily. Maybe, just maybe, we aren’t supposed to understand what it all means for now.
We feel like we are in a rock quarry or pit of sorts. We feel like dynamite has torn and blasted our very heart. Pickaxes have broken and split parts of my body this summer, leaving it in pieces. There are days that I lay in bed, dozing hour upon hour, feeling disfigured with left-over incision scars, weary of being pounded upon day after day, and hour after hour hooked up to IV machines 3x/week. I feel broken and battered.
As I continue my best to grapple, I realize that rocks are not rocks without a purpose. Some rocks may be left for riverbed, where fresh water will cascade and pound them as they shimmer in the bright sunlight. Some rocks may be used to make new roads – some to places never seen before. Other rocks may be picked up and chiseled with sharper instruments, to make them more functional. (Hmmm. Like my summer of surgery and rehab?!)
The Master craftsman will reveal the purpose once the chiseling is completed. Some rocks may be left big and strong, while others may be broken and sifted until it is its proper shape and use are realized.
I know I am still very much in my ‘quarry’. I am not complete by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. There are still rugged cliffs in my quarry. Fire, water, storms and more I’m sure will follow in the days ahead. Lessons I learn will continue to make me into who I am to be and become.
Until then, how grateful I am, to walk alongside One who loves me, just the way I am. How blessed I am for His patience and understanding, and whose strength will never fail.
I cuddled up in front of the wood stove on a recent, cool Alaska summer morning. I grabbed the remote control for our television, fumbling with the buttons to find the one that would allow me to watch a pre-recorded show.
Sheila Walsh would be speaking.
Sheila has a gift of making one feel like you are sitting across the table with her. I mean it. It’s like she’s right there in your home, sharing some Tetley Tea (with a spot of milk and a dash of sugar, poured from a tea pot wrapped in a ‘cozy’, our tea cups warmed with hot water before our tea was to be poured, of course!)
I look forward to these Wednesday mornings. My tea cup gets more than filled to the brim.
This week her words of wisdom and discernment admonished me to be still; even in the midst of the raging storm I was in. I chuckled to myself saying “my remodeled body is not letting me do much other than either ‘be still’” when I find the center of the storm, or be thrashed about.
I felt like my boat (my body?!) was going to capsize or maybe even sink as waves crashed around me. Book 2, Don’t Wimp Out was so close to being sent off to be edited. The storm is going to make it be delayed. I longed for the calmer waters, wishing I could turn the calendar back for a “do-over”, and go back to the beginning of May. Instead I got a body “make-over” and I was not at the helm steering the boat.
During the days I would find myself thrashing about, feeling the waves of nausea overtake me as I ran for the porcelain pot. I felt like the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatcher” had taken over my body.
I was more than ready to raise the white flag.
But who would I raise the white flag to? The invaders? To God?
Sheila’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
“There are new beginnings out of the worst of storms,” she said.
“And, remember, storms don’t always announce themselves.”
She finished by talking about finding treasures after a storm.
It quickly reminded me of the 42 inch around glass fishing ball we found as we were flying kites on our honeymoon 41 years ago on the Pacific Coast. We found it the day after a huge storm blew in. There was wild high surf, and crashing waves. The howling winds kept us awake all night storm. Treasures. Storms.
But what treasure could be found as I am forced to give up the deadline for Don’t Wimp Out? What could I possibly look for as my body was being battered by a daily typhoon, being tossed every which way but loose? What? Where? How?
I wrapped my hand around my tea cup, warming my hands. My heart was filled and warmed as well.
Sheila was right. Storms don’t always announce themselves. I can't turn the clock back to the beginning of May for a do-over.
But the One who created me is at the helm. He is bigger than any storm.He promises me that peace is found, no matter what storm, no matter what situation you or I find ourselves in.
Spot of tea anyone?
Twice a year Alaskan’s get pretty excited – well, one more than the other I think!
Today marks the day that we will lose seconds of sunlight, that we have come to bask in. In some ways it is sad even though we won’t see the totally effects of losing seconds of sunlight per day for a couple months. You will still see us looking at our watches, suddenly realizing dinner should have been 3-4 hours earlier! How forgetful we seem when we are enjoying working in the garden (Bill!) or long evenings when the light lingers.
The other day we get excited for is around December 21st, when we start gaining sunlight again!
For those of you who may not know, I had one of the most special Mother’s Day this year. First, I got to (literally) run 2.5 miles around the Alaska zoo with Jamie and the grandkids. My job was to push the stroller, even though I had no takers!! What a delight to see Scott and Samantha’s eyes sparkle, and to have some actual ‘mom to mom’ adult conversation with Jamie. Jamie and Jeff will be gone most of the summer, trailering at the jobs Jeff is supervising - so ANY minutes/seconds I get to be around them are grand! (Even though both were asleep when Jamie stopped by today on her way back up to Denali area where the current job is.) There is nothing like a hug from a daughter who has turned out to be an incredible wife and mother, and taking doing 13 loads of laundry at home, when she had a break to come down! She so amazes me, as does her hubby Jeff.
My second gift was a train trip up to Fairbanks with Tim, and to dink around Fairbanks for a day. I can’t even begin to put into words how amazing that trip was. He even got me to try beer (not my cup of tea!) and we visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks museum, went to North Pole, talked to Santa (don’t blame ME if you get coal in your stocking this year! It was a trip of a lifetime..
The reason I have been “radio silent” has not been because of the above, nor, unfortunately my feverish work on Book 2 Don’t Wimp Out, which is close to being ready to submit for first edit. While things have been going smoothly and well for me of late, the wee hours of the day after Tim and I came home, my body totally shut down. Literally.
I ended up with a 2+ week vacation at our local hospital with an abdominal issue which is not uncommon post colon cancer, and ended up with another 11” incision, several infections and my body literally shutting down.
I am home now in my own cozy bed. I realize that losing 20+ lbs. and nutrition levels tanked, this bout will take a bit longer to recover from than I had hoped. The hands of the surgeon who has now saved my life four times has definitely altered whatever summer plans Bill and I thought we had.
I am pretty much off the grid: no phone calls PULEEZE! And don’t expect quick answers if you text, or emails. Thanks for cutting us slack and grace through this all. I am weary, I’m worn, but willing to work on finding the gladitude in each moment.
Let me know (text or e or snail mail!!)how you added the new word to your vocabulary: GLADITUDE.
Hidden…..do you ever feel that way?
I know up here in Alaska, “Spring” is “hiding” from us as snow continues to cover most of the ground, even though our roads are bare and dry. The sun shines brightly, but the temperatures hide in the 20-30’s in the morning, with icy windshields and brisk breezes.
Today, we may be unable to see the final outcome of the plan that is ‘hidden’, but if we look close, we may just see come clues. For us, the frost heaves are starting to show. Where the snow was squishy grassy, muddy driveways, and the step you take on snow you think should be solid, will land you up to your thighs. You may wonder as I did: “how in the world will I take my next step, with one leg buried and the other leg knee bent and sinking in slushy muck!!
But we know that seasons do change. We see the evidence of it every year. It seems like spring or even summer may be concealed for a very long time, but we can rest assured it will arrive, all in due time. When the appointed time comes, we can reveal in getting into the greenhouse or rototilling the ground for the seeds waiting to be planted. Believe it or not, many Alaskan’s think because the temperatures are above freezing by noon, that coats are optional. That includes even me, the original, always cold Ice Queen with my chemo-induced neuropathies! :0)
So until Spring truly arrives, let’s not be downcast. Let’s celebrate the time to focus our eyes on the time at hand. This day. This time. For the lessons we learn during this waiting or hidden time will not be for naught. Take the time to truly be still and listen to the song in our heart, to hear the voice that will never lead us astray!
The calendar says it is spring. The tree buds starting to emerge signal spring. Mama Moose are getting ready to calf. Baby chicks arrive in the post office. Our daylight hours let us awaken to more light, and our evening hours linger and lengthen, as we ignore the clock, forgetting the dinner ‘hour’: a testament that spring is DEFINETELY here, or at least on its way. Hurray!
But what to my sleepy eyes doth appear? Is this white fluffy stuff coming down from the sky? Somehow I don’t think it is fluff and stuff nor angel’s dandruff falling from the heavens! The last time I checked, SNOW falling meant ‘WINTER’, not SPRING! Until this morning, the main roads were dry and daytime high temperatures hovered short sleeve comfort of high 20 degrees F.
AUGH! We could even see patches of brown soil and weathered grass in spots around our home of respite and renewal.
Buds are waiting to open, with their love uncovered and cheers warming our hearts as we once more gaze in the wonder of the season. But alas, we must wait a bit, at least where the thermometer is concerned. Until then we will have to be content to display spring in our hearts, springs in our step, offering a spring smile. As we prepare for the spring season, where the soil of our lives will be ready to till and plant new seeds of growth and fruit. As we go forth, our hearts will sing with an increased tempo, as we waver not.
Until the final snow piles melt, as with the fears and frustrations of a long winter season, we can be assured that ahead, even if not seen for the moment, rivers of life, rivers of joy, will be spanned with a bridge of hope, renewal and of new things to come. Trust and patience will be our garden tools, just as we have ‘waited’ in years gone by. The promise of spring is just that: a covenant, a promise of what is to come. Our job is to persevere and prepare.
Catch you later – I’m going to go help Bill pick out which seeds we will be ordering!
“You are called to the place where YOUR deep gladness and the WORLD’S great hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner
I have long believed in the following anonymous saying given to me 46 years ago:
“What you do, what you say and who you ARE,
Touches people in ways you may never ever know.
For you are like your shadow…..you extend to where you may never be.”
Our world is in a place that most of us have never experienced before. Opinions, actions/reactions and decisions made differ widely. Uncertainty fills the air. As I watch the events unfold each day, I can’t help but be convinced that each of us can make a difference for good, and make our world a place of unity vs. divide.
We make a difference by answering our call to the place where our attitude of “gladitude” touches another, right at the end of our hand: by a word, by a deed, by just ‘being’ for another person. By your living life “at the end of your hand”, grasping the opportunities before you, the world will change,
Whose life will YOU touch today?
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.