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Potholes, Patches and Pastiches

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Pastiche- {pah-steesh}
a work of art that mixes styles, materials;
a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources

The driver behind me must think a bobble-head is driving this truck. Each drop of a wheel into a pothole bounces me up and down, jarring me left and right. I grip the steering wheel and pray I remain on my side of the road. Jostling along I ponder potholes. Do paved roadways and life’s pathways mirror one another?

I slammed into a few devastating, deep potholes along my journey of life. Some were apparent to all and some were known only to me. My fishbowl life as a preacher’s kid kept me struggling to survive in waters of inadequacy and imperfection. My dad attempted suicide when I was sixteen. Two of my daughters suffered sexual assaults as young adults. My father-in-law ran over my two-year-old daughter. Stresses at work where I was the recipient of workplace abuse reinforced my sense of failure. My mom’s cancer returned and rapidly grew to stage four. My health crashed with anemia, hypothyroidism and exhaustion. Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt like I was drowning. The stresses and pressures became so jarring I eventually careened off my pothole pitted roadway into a murky, dark ravine of depression.

I attempted a Band-Aid-like approach to these difficulties and pain. I avoided discussing them and pretended as though they had not happen. I worked ten to twelve hours daily preventing myself from thinking about my circumstances. I withdrew from interacting with family and friends. I owned the heartache of others who suffered tragedies and wept with and for them. Pain and hopelessness crippled me. I believed the lying voices of darkness. Despair. Discouragement. Defeat. I wanted to die and I made a plan.

God had a different plan. He said in Isaiah 41:9-10 (MSG),

I pulled you in from all over the world,
    called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
    I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Through the prayers and loving hands of family, friends and my doctor He held me and opened the eyes of my heart to see His light in this dark world. He reminded me this world is temporary and we are engaged in a spiritual battle. In Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB) He told me,

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. In John 10:10 He stated,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

We all have life-jarring moments that toss us hither and yon like limp rag dolls splayed askew wondering, “What is happening?” Our painful experiences pierce our hearts and minds causing us to crumble. The powers of darkness desire to crush us but we do not have to remain broken. When we give our damaged lives to God and trust our pieces into His care, He comes in and cuts away the wounded, festering areas of our hearts and creates something new. He takes the shattered, splintered parts of our lives and makes something beautiful, better and stronger than the old.

He said it Himself in Isaiah 43:19 (VOICE),

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak,
        and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert;
    Waters will flow where there had been none.

In Isaiah 65:17 (VOICE) He promised,

Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.

He called us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) to come to Him.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

 Again in John 10:27-28 He told us,
 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Winding roads, curves, precarious ledges and potholes of hurts and disappointments dot our lives. God desires to smooth out the rough terrain created by hardship and heartache. God is able. God is willing. He is the seamstress taking sundry scraps of fabric and piecing them together into a patchwork quilt. He is an artisan using colored shards of glass creating a stunning stained-glass window or lampshade. He is the Master Craftsman. He gathers us to Himself, with all our broken parts and splinters and creates a masterpiece. He makes us into something new and never before seen. Will you respond to His loving voice and tender embrace? Will you surrender your broken life into His capable hands and allow Him to mold you into a pastiche? He is waiting.

Woohoo! Mash and Smash Again!

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But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand….”  Psalm 31:14-15 (NASB)
“The results of your mammogram were inconclusive.” Traci nearly always receives this letter and nothing is found. I returned for another mash and smash session that afternoon. On the black and gray screen, shining bright and white was an M&M sized dot.
A biopsy and three days later my family doctor and friend called to confirm what God had placed on my heart. That bright, white dot was breast cancer. That April, 2010, was the beginning of another, life-long adventure with my Savior.
No matter where this journey carried me or where it ended my Savior promised me that my times are in His hand. I experienced nervousness that I might behave so as not to honor Jesus. I also thrilled that ultimately, at the end of this time I would receive one of God’s greatest blessings!
Held in His hand on this new path through mountain tops and valleys the blessings poured into my life. Newly married Michelle, soon to be in heaven with Jesus, approached this newbie after my signing in at the infusion center on the day of my first chemotherapy treatment. She demonstrated her trust in God joyfully even to the end of her short life. At my second treatment He blessed me when He led me to encourage a frightened Toni receiving her first chemo-cocktail. At my third infusion was Katie, enthusiastically celebrating her final treatment, reminding me to look ahead, to see joy no matter the circumstances. As Becky sat nervously across from me in the waiting area at my fourth infusion I removed my necklace and placed it around her neck. I had worn it reminding me to never give up because of God’s faithfulness.
At each of the eight infusions over sixteen weeks, the seven weeks of radiation and the numerous scans and feed-Dracula lab appointments, Jesus provided an opportunity to be loved and to love and encourage others. Because He kept me in His hand and showered me with blessings I left each time hopeful and full of peace. Bring on the mash and smash! My times in His loving hand are indeed beautiful. Do you trust that your times are in His hand? I pray that your times be beautiful as well.

Holding My Fathers’ Hands

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So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you;
don’t be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, help you.
I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up.
Isaiah 41:10 (The Voice)

Some glad mornin’ when this life is o’r
I’ll fly away
To my home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory…hallelujah…. (Brumley)

Daddy gazes up at me from his bed, a hint of a smile on his lips. Beth, Belinda, Susan and I sing this favorite hymn in four-part harmony as Daddy taught us when we were small. Trembling he reaches for me and with a raspy voice whispers, “Hold my hand.” I enfold his boney, cool hands in mine. He tightens his grip on my fingers staring at me through fear-filled, glazed eyes.

He moans and whimpers, twisting his head from side to side, searching for something or someone. Shift change at the nursing home and the staff scurries past his room, arriving and departing. Eyes wide with anxiety he hoarsely repeats, “There goes another one. There goes another one!” I wonder, “Another what?”

What in Daddy’s childhood or past affects him that floods terror through his heart and mind? Has he returned to World War II and the horrors he and the 409th Infantry experienced liberating the prisoners in Dachau? Is it the wounds from the cruelty of those he served during his years as a pastor? Is it the scars from the sexual abuse he suffered as a child?

My heartache and sense of helplessness transport me back fifteen years to my last few moments with Momma. I cradled her tiny fingers in my hand, applying the clear polish and finishing her desired manicure. Her breathing waned and she raised her arms, smiled then lowered them. She stilled. Sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit I watched in wonder. Did Jesus grasp her hands and lift her from her cancer-riddled body? I knelt by her bed and lifting my voice in song thanked God for His comfort and grace.

Once more I bow before my Heavenly Father, confident He holds my hand and I pray. Grant the doctor wisdom to determine the medication and dose that will ease or relieve this anguish in which Daddy dwells. Impart to my sisters and me grace and discernment to best love, honor and comfort him. May he sense the Holy Spirit’s Presence and peace.

With tear-filled eyes I smile and stroke Daddy’s thin, weathered hand. I derive comfort from another of his favorite hymns and croon to him.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. (Hemmel)

So it shall be as Jesus holds Daddy by the hand and he flies away to heaven’s celestial shore. Hallelujah!

The Beginning

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 (KJV)

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
John 1:1 (Voice)

For years the desire to write words of encouragement and hope for others has been like glowing embers within my heart. This is the beginning of that calling coming to fruition. I am officially a blogger.

I’m no physicist or engineer or historian. I am, however, an expert on learning to live my life to the fullest with Jesus leading and guiding me. A friend said that we hear we all have A STORY to tell, but the reality is we all have STORIES to tell.

So begins my story-telling of some of my life’s lessons. I will share my joys, sorrows, hopes, disappointments and more. This is my responding to the Lord Jesus calling me to come along side others who are experiencing some of the same struggles, successes and seasons of life through which He has carried me and those times yet to come.

Let me list a few of the moments I wish to share with you.
My daughter being run over by a car that her grandfather was driving
One of my daughters being sexually violated
My having breast cancer
The time I believed my marriage wouldn’t last
My miscarriage
Winning the war of depression

Join me, please, as I begin this new journey. Let’s travel through the valleys and over the mountains together. Sometimes the road may be rough and full of potholes and other times it may be smooth, gentle and relaxing.

The best part of this trip is Jesus is in the driver’s seat. Buckle up! Crank up the engine and let’s get going! Thanks for riding along with me!