Planning

I love planning things–trips, parties, what I’m going to say. The other day, I said to Bake (my hubs) that I hope I don’t die suddenly, because I’d rather have a chance to plan it well. OK, you get the picture.

red roses close up photography

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So — our 50th anniversary is coming up in January. Let me digress momentarily. That fact is a miracle all on its own. I’m from a divorced couple, Bake grew up with beatings that kept him from going to school some days–broken folks. I never expected, ever, to make it past our 14th year, but God. So, here we are, anticipating our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

The kids did us a bang up party for our 40th, so I’m thinking I can plan this one. Hipdewoops. We’re going to dance. And dance some more, to songs that put the lyrics to our life. We’re going to renew our vows. (Over that I am sweating blood because Bake can say some of the sweetest things to me, and I so want to do the same for him.) And we’re going to eat cake, and toast every good thing we can think of in life and marriage. People we love have already agreed to help us put this shindig together and now I am purusing (incredibly expensive) invitations.

Back in the day, 1969 to be exact, I planned my wedding on a shoestring. Bake was headed for Vietnam, so we had two weeks to get ready. I used the leftover of what my dad had paid for my dorm room to fund the wedding, since we would be moving into our $75 a month apartment, the second floor of these old people’s house (criminy, they must have been about our age now). Their only stipulation was that we take our shoes off when we came in at night.

Back then, we had a dorm friend who agreed to take photos. Tuesday, my buddy Leslee, graphic artist turned prize-winning photographer, will take our anniversary photo.

My mom made my dress, knee length. The dress I wear to our 50th will be floor length. I made my cake. Our pastor’s wife, Heather, is going to make us a cake on the theme of a rose garden, and it will be a doozy because she’s talented beyond belief.

At our wedding, sisters who sang well rendered One Hand One Heart. At our 50th party, my buddy of years will sing a beautiful song about soul mates, and her voice is honey.

My grandmother played the piano at our wedding, and my dad flipped the lights off because he thought candlelight would be nice. Good thing my grandmother could play by ear. At our 50th, there’ll be a sound guy.

Bake’s dad, pastor and heroic POW, officated at our wedding. He’s gone on to live with Jesus. Our pastor, Jim, who explains the Gospel better than anyone in the world, will introduce our vows at our 50th.

There were no written invitations to our wedding. The guy who ran the dorm cafeteria stood on a chair and invited everyone, and the little mission where I first understood the Gospel overflowed with folks. They were even looking in the windows on a snowy day. There may be no invitations to our 50th if I don’t find some that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

We decorated my wedding with pine trees, silk ribbon and a set of candlelabras. My family lived in the Sierras then. My bff, Georgia, who can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, will head the decorating team for our 50th.

The love Bake and I shared back in the day has blossomed and deepened, and I sure didn’t plan that. But I’m glad God did.

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Depression

Depression is weird because sometimes you know you feel depressed and sometimes you don’t.  When you don’t, you wonder whether you really are and just don’t realize it. When you do, you don’t give a big rip, about that or much of anything else, like brushing your teeth or combing your hair. Why did I pick such a joyful subject?To remember, I guess.

There are a lot of definitions of depression. I’ve heard that it’s the time when you feel like you have no control. I’ve heard that if you take a step in any direction  you can relieve it. I believe that could be crap because depressed people are not likely to take steps without help, chemical or counseling, or both. If the help is chemical, get ready, you’re on it for at least six months. You may not want to be, but you may find when all is said and done, that you needed to be.

Once a depressed person accepts help, they’re back towondering whether their depression is over, or just masked. It’s a bit of a Catch 22. However, it isn’t insurmountable. Prayer and the Psalms are as important as chemistry and counseling, maybe more. Writing a psalm in your own words allowsyou and God to think over your circumstances. Prayer before that may not even happen, but after the writing the depressed person has an inkling of what the issues are, and therefore what to talk to God about. Once God directs, you can begin to crawl out of the pit however He indicates. That is what I know so far. Sorry about the words that run together. My computer is nuts. It’s not me, honest.

portrait of a young woman in forest

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Family

It seems appropriate on Thanksgiving to say what I know about family. I think it’s possible there’s a myth of the perfect family we all think someone else has. Nobody farts at the table, brings less food than they should, or cusses in front of the children. The men do the dishes instead of playing or watching football, or the women do them without complaining, or they do them together and then all play football. I do not believe this family exists. Families can be “cussed,” as my beloved Pastor Yaeger used to say. That would be cuss-ed, not spoken ill of. So what do we do about that?

I’ve seen some folks turn their backs on each other. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for that. If you’ve explained to your relative, whom you did not get to pick, that their words or behavior are causing you a problem, let’s say at least three times, and the response is something like, “Can’t help it. That’s just how I am,” a little back-turning may be instructive. That’s assuming, of course, that in your heart of hearts, you are willing to forgive should they repent. See, there’s this stuff in the Book that says if we don’t forgive, God will behave in the same manner. Gives you pause, doesn’t it?

When the family gathers, like today, if the warring parties can put their differences on the back burner enough to acknowledge each other’s presence, that’s pretty good. At least it cuts the other family members a break. We just won’t sit you next to each other, being the considerate folks we are.

However, there are those, who shall remain nameless, who not only refuse to repent, but traipse blithely on dropping bombs on others just to show who’s boss. The outcome being that someone refuses to see someone else. Great, now what? Well, pilgrim, you gonna be having Thanksgiving all over the place. Now isn’t that an Irish way of dealing with it? I say that because the Irish believe you are never lost, you are just enjoying new vistas. These resilient people find a way. So, find a way. Divvy up the fam to various houses, or fly from one to another. That’s grace, right?

Just remember one thing. There is something about blood relation that God planned into us. It’s like our DNA calls back and forth, or something. That relative that drives you nuts is going to be in trouble one day, if not now, then later. When s/he is, all this hoopde goes out the window, and the family rallies round. So, if you can, why not do it now? Save a lot of stomach knots. Just sayin’.

 

Adults Abused as Children

For about ten years, my husband, the marriage and family therapist, and I led Stepping Stones, a support group for adults abused as children. It was peculiar in that we didn’t sit around commiserating, but studied Scripture on how to climb out of that pit together. The topics are:

  • Face the Problem
  • Assess the Damage and Make the Commitment to Recover
  • Correct Your View of God
  • Set Healthy Boundaries
  • Improve Your Self-Image
  • Overcome Fear
  • Learn to Control Anger and Depression
  • Increase Your Capacity to Trust
  • Deal With Sexual Issues
  • Give and Accept Forgiveness
  • Determine Whether to Confront Your Abuser
  • Life Beyond Survival

So, we’re thinking about putting the material online for people who don’t live near us to use to recover. Anybody out there interested in something like this? If so, what do you think would be a fair price? If you’re out there feeling alone with your secret, I’m talking to you, and praying for you.

You Only Get One Life

When I was  young, the manipulation of some of the adults around me caused me to decide that once they didn’t have control anymore I would make my choices, and I’d make them count. In that thought process somewhere came the knowledge that there is some finite number of choices in each life. As I began to make them, I realized that each choice narrowed the choices that followed it, for the most part, unless I wanted to start completely over. Once or twice I did. But for the most part, the choices were set in concrete. Life, unlike television, has very little channel changing.

So what? So, live. Start right off. The earlier you start, the more choices you get. Don’t wait for someone to come along with the answers. The only place you’ll find answers is the Bible, or your holy book of choice, but even there  you have to apply them to your life. Even people, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. don’t have the answers for YOUR life. They may have advice, but you have the choice.

You  strike out and start a course. Find out what you’re good at, what you enjoy, who you were meant to come alongside, etc. If you head a direction that doesn’t fit, learn from it. Make a course correction. But, for cryin’ out loud, don’t just sit there. Or worse, let the winds blow you here and there, and never set a course at all.

Early on, you  make choices about the meaning of life. Why are you here? What are you here for? What’s your value? These are the ones that narrow your following choices. For example, if I believe there’s no god, I  and my world got here by chance, then I don’t need to obey much of anything. What’s the point? When I make a choice that crosses someone else’s choice, though, the law of the land will narrow my future choices.  On the other hand, if I believe there’s a god, how that affects my choices is going to have a lot to do with whether that God is involved in people’s lives, in fact loves us, or whether he spun things off and went off to do his own thing, or maybe doesn’t really care for us and gets a kick out of the times we go to war, hurt each other, or suffer in other ways.

For me, making my choices count meant to make the world better somehow. I tried the welfare department first. I found it doesn’t make the world better. It maintains the status quo. I tried public relations, helping people put their best foot forward. That was a step better than the welfare department, but just barely. When I came to teaching, which was one of those times I completely started over, I found a place to make the world better. At least on most days.

A choice that’s set in concrete is the one to become a parent. Once you’re pregnant, you’re going to deliver, unless you kill your kid. That choice changes life, don’t let anyone fool you. We all know there are parents, and there are parents. I’ve found that my  definition of love guides my parenting. If love is making sure my kids get everything I wanted but didn’t get, parenting looks one way. If love is grace tempered with truth and truth tempered with grace, then parenting looks completely different. If love is hovering over a child to prevent the natural falls of life and their consequences, parenting looks one way. If love is slowly opening one’s hand over the years, letting children learn from consequences, until they can fly on their own, and have been guided to consider their own choices, parenting is a whole different ballgame.

Jesus told a story about two guys building houses. One put his back into it. He dug down to bedrock and put a firm foundation under his house. The other wasn’t thinking about what might happen next, he chose to build his house in the sand where he stood. When storms came, the house on bedrock stood. The house in the sand was obliterated. His story is a picture of life. He was saying we should do our homework, especially about spiritual matters, like whether He is God. If He’s God, the bedrock, do I build my life on Him? That’s the most crucial choice we’ll ever make. And it’s best if we make it before the storms start.