Sunday, November 21, 2010


I have to say I am a very curious person. I want to know whatever I can even if it has no bearing on my life or family's life; I just gotta know. But of all the things that I am curious about I have never been intrigued or curious to know what it looks like inside of a prison. I honestly have no desireto hear or have knowledge about this subject, altho I have heard stories and have been informed by others without asking. So what brings about this conversation in my head, well every day I turn on Good Morning America and without fail every morning there is a story out there about a crime committed, criminal arrested, or the outcome of a trial, generall all dealing with prison in the future, prison forecasted, or prison term realized. I generally don't like watching the news but I do get sucked into the morning news barrage and inevitably receive information about 'prison'. And I have come to notice lately that 'prison' is something that outweighs almost all other news. In some sort of way, prison comes up in the news more than any other subject, to include Iraq and Afganistan. If you don't believe me, make a note for one week from news, even the 30 minutes of evening news, and make a point of how many times the news mentions crimes, criminals and outcomes.

So what does it look like in a prison? I'm sure all of us have some picture, image, description of what it is like in prison so I have no idea why this subject came up except that it was the subject of our pastor's message last Sunday. Funny huh??!!! (Come on you think so too.) The subject in wasn't really about prison but that's what I heard a story about prison and prisoners. The true subject was on Paul and Silas beign sent to Phillipi and the 3 different people who were the founding members of "the church" of believers. But in this message I focused clearly on prison... Acts 16: 23-25 "After they had been severly flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to watch them carefully. Upon recieving such orders, he put them in the inner most cell and fastened their feet in stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." So this was just to me a story of Paul's trials of being a believer in Jesus and converting those around him to see and understanding the true God. Right? But what I heard on Sunday was different. First, I imagine someone in stocks as they are in the movies, and I'm sure you do too. Standing with hands and head thru a wooden type thingy (for lack of a better description), and pictures abroad don't help in describing 'stocks' or 'shackles' either. Even bible stories show pictures like this one of Paul and Silas sitting beside each other quietly praising God. Well who couldn't praise God in that situation! But that's not my perception anymore. It came to my understanding during this message what the 'stocks' actually were and it brought an image to my mind of the ending of Braveheart. 'Stocks' in Paul's day was a severe stretching of the legs until the hip dislocated and the prisoner was in severe pain and could only cry out in pain..kind of makes that whole stock thingy a lot more descriptive huh? And in the middle of this severe pain, Paul and Silas began praising and singing hymns, in prison, in stocks, in pain.... and in this time, the jailer wasn't listening, but the prisoners were listening.
I wonder and was asked 'what pain am I going thru that the prisoners are watching?' And my answer is not what it should be; my answer should be I am in pain but praising God and I'm not, not really. The writing on this page is my way of releasing frustration in a non-verbal way and put it out there to relate the way I feel to my friends who read it and my husband. Its not my way of singing or praising God, even tho originally thats the way this all started out some 2+yrs ago. But now it is just a venting match, at least in my mind. But I wondered last week, when I was listening to only the story of prison and prisoners, who is watching? I know that for reality I am not in 'prison', I am not in the stocks or shackles, in the physical I am free to walk and go wherever. But in the soul and spirit, mind and heart, I am in the stocks, locked in shackles, and in pain. And those around me, no matter how hard I hide those facts, can usually see right thru me, they are listening without me knowing that they are listening. So what pain am I going thru that the prisoners are watching? The pain of loss of a child, the struggle of believing that there is a pupose, the trusting God, and the constant fight to hide it all. And those around me are watching and listening, I wonder what I am saying? I wonder what I am really saying because just like you, I can't see me the way you do. I wonder if I am saying those things that are bad and focusing on those things or am I in some way telling them something else? I wonder if I could ever be like Paul and Silas, probably not, but I wonder about it. I wonder if somewhere in the mix of all this that I am in, somewhere in the background am I praising God? I wonder if there is something in me deep down that is doing what Paul and Silas were doing aloud and if anyone is listening/watching? I wonder those things, don't you?


I live in memories sometimes, and I'm sure you do too, and remember things of past. Those memories of growing up in your home town or state where life was totally different that it is now. Some of the things that I miss desperately from my childhood home are the seasons. The definition between spring and summer when the first flowers, usually Johnny Jump-Ups or Crocusus, come up thru the cold snow and fill some of the area with color of purple. And how, after a long Michigan winter with snow all over every-where, these little flowers bring a memory of last summer's days and the promise of new days of summer with beach days and canoeing down the Manistee River and the trip that came every year to the Upper Penninsula - across the Mackinaw Bridge to Paradise (no really that's the name of the town) & the falls. And I can almost, some days here the falls and smell the rich hardwoods and sweet softwoods and pines in the house when summer is right around the corner. I love to remember waking up one morning and seeing just the slightest change of color of the trees around our home and how they start early in September to tell the tale of the coming fall. The crispness of the Poplars changing first in their bright yellows and singing the call of fall to the hardwoods. The sounds of fall as they creep along the hillsides and thru yards, allowing for piling leaves to jump in; and beautiful trips down backroads full of color. And how the trees, just like the flowers in spring, tell all around that winter is coming soon. And I miss, and as hard as it is to believe, I do miss the smell of our gas heater starting up to warm the house and the sound that the first snow makes as it lands heavily on the still colored leaves of fall. The way the sound of the water changes, and as hard as that is to understand, the water of the Great Lakes do make a different sound in winter. I can't explain it nor describe it completely for you except to say that the water, in its own way, sounds like that of a beckoning danger, some-thing harsh, that calls to those who like adventure and danger. And so with each season not so defined in North Carolina, I remember those things that I loved about growing up.

There are more these days that I remember, things that I have forgotten, things said and done that I didn't remember happening in the past 7 months. Things that make me halt and wonder when every memory will be complete and those things will make one full memory as opposed to small glimpses of moments. Those memories that make me stop in the middle of a thought, in the middle of work, in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of life. And how, altho I don't know if there is an answer, how do I get thru these memories and keep them in order, in place, and make a memory of them and am I suppose to? I don't know but I do know that thru all this time and these days and months, I found and relate to those who have lived similar lives. Job cried out to God all the time; the most faithful man of his day was also the most afflicted - Job14:13 "If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!" I don't know what how to describe the memories that I have I can't describe or detail what they do to my mental and physical life but I can relate to Job. I can relate to the fact that I wish God would set me aside and stop the pain that I feel and am living in and then, at some time set in the future, He would remember me once this time is past. Job wished and begged God to take him away and let this time pass him by and God allowed it to continue. So I have to wonder sometimes how much in control God is? And I know that is doubt and that some of you reading will call that sin and offer a message of faith. And I know that this is just a passing time, that somewhere in the future I will be over this time of doubt but until then I wish God hide me in a grave, conceal me from this time, and remember me later, much later. I know the ending of Job's story, I know that in the end he lost everything and gained 3 times that of what he lost. I wish I knew the end of this story, the end of this memory and doubt, the end of this loss and heartache, the end of feeling outside of God's love...I wish I knew it now. I wish that I would get an answer from Him, a reason to put these memories in place and make them easier to hold onto and make this time easier. But it will not happen, it is not meant for me to know and I know that but I don't like it and I don't have to like it. What I am having to do, whether I like it or not, it go thru this time. Live thru this time when the memories come and cause pause, when the tears come unexpectedly and cause dismay, and when the doubt comes and causes confusion. I must go thru this time of desiring being hidden and away from the afflictions and pain.

I don't like this, I'm sure you don't like your affliction either. I don't want to live thru this as I'm sure you don't want to live thru yours either. And so here I am, smack dab in the middle of the Michigan winter that I somewhat miss, hearing the water change its tune and beckon danger that I am drawn toward; a winter that this year looks to be longer and harsher then those before, a winter that even if I pack up and move, I still have to go it or not.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marshmellows - Yep that's right marshmellows!

I love to eat marshmellows, marshmellow cream, marshmellow filled cookies, you name it with marshmellows and I'll eat it!! And deep deep down you do too, just admit it and move on. And if you really look at the consistency of a marshmellow they are very easy to love to eat. They are full of nothing but sugar, they can be eaten hot or cold, if they get on something they wash out easily, and they come in every shape and size imaginable to man. I can open a bag and eat them right out of it or at night (in any season) start a fire (preferably outside) and roast them to a burnt crisp or toasty brown and eat them right off a stick. Marshmellows by far are the perfect candy.

This week, at church service, I heard yet again a desciption of a person using the word "marshmellow". Randy, our senior pastor, called people who weren't really living like the persecuted Christian, 'Marshmellow Christians'. And, altho I've heard that saying many times before and heard sermons and messages about the persecuted Christian (those living abroad in countries where they still kill those pronouncing to be Christians), this time the description meant something else. I can, now, after sometime of hearing this phrase and comparing it to my candy of choice see how this description 'fits the bill' so to speak. Marshmellows seem or appear to be solid. They are somewhat firm on the outside but not so firm that you can't squish them; and when you do squish them, their soft insides come mushing out. This week, prior to Sunday morning, in my leisure reading (now not so much leisurely) of the Shack, the writer descibes his view of himself as this "stoic, unfeeling faith" - the Marshmellow Christian in a much more real and descriptive manner but the same nonetheless. And I know that Randy's message was about 'doing' and 'being' and realizing that there are those in the world (outside the US) that are truly being persecuted. And I know that my book is relating to a man who lost something very dear to himself and has placed his feelings in a lock box and putting on a facid of 'okayness'. Two totally different situations - or are they.

I heard this description, Marshmellow Christian, differently this week and I think that most people heard it the way it was meant. I heard it as this: "Before, you were happy, life was grand and great, you lived your daily life knowing that everyday was just one more day of moving in the direction you were going; everything in your day was planned, the year was planned before today was over; you had everything right, your relationship with Me, your raising of your children, your love and marriage with your husband, everything was great. Now, without warning or preparation, you have to make a choice between being who I know you are and being who you feel like you should be; and I know that you are worried about what others think and how they look at you; and I know that deep down, locked away, and held for ransom, that you are desiring something more and afraid to take that step; and I know that you are going forward, slow as it may be,you are and you are My Marshmellow Christian." Odd that I heard that when Randy was speaking huh? Odd that I was not hearing of the persecuted, killed, hiding out Christian of the world but this. And after some days of retrospect, avoidance, running, hiding, whatever, I came up with this....Romans 14:1 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputible matters." It's amazing how words take a different form, how they take on a personality; a personality that says, "I know you are weak and small in faith, don't worry about those looking at you from the outside". Isn't that what this short verse says? I know it's Paul writing to the Romans, and I know it's more in depth that than but what does it really say? Who is Paul speaking for? I think it's that Marshmellow Christian. I know without doubt that I am 'playing Christian' right now. I know that I am dealing with little to know faith and sometimes I wonder if those around me, who know me and have known me for a while wonder if my faith is gone. And I offer to them this, I am a Marshmellow Christian right now. I am weak in faith and my outer shell, well its not so hard, and if you squish me, my soft insides will mush out and I will not stand on faith if put in that situation today. But I hope, one day, that I will be not so worried about the perception of others and soft in faith, and that I will, eventually, find the Rock to stand on and my faith will be strong once again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I take after my mother in probably all things, but mostly in gardening (not the vegetable type). I love to have flowers, plants, set areas to enhance an outside area (altho right now that has been put seriously on hold), but nonetheless, I love garden areas. And in every area outside, front and back, I have drawn and scaled out a garden area or areas to bring the house finally to fruition of "home". They are literally all over the house these little drawings and while they change a little here and there, they are, at the core, the same, gardens of color. And while they are on hold right now, and every essence of doing anything outside with the yard seems overwhelming and not enjoyable, the drawings wait patiently for me to 'wind up', begin to move, dig, and frame in for the future finishing touch. I think that going to a home that has some sort of gardening around them make the house more like home, and truthfully I have no idea why. The only think I can say is that Thomas Kincade greatly captured the idea of a "homey" in his paintings of cottages with flowering gardens surounding those homes in abundance. The pictures just speak home, comfort, peace, joy, and on and on and on. Dont' you agree? The view of flowers overhanging a picket fence and flowing around a homes edge makes it 'home'. And this is why, I believe, I love gardens, they make a home look like a home from the outside.

While I have this plan to make a garden around my home and fill it with color and the look of joy and comfort, the truth is that would only be a facade right now. While I have moments of joy, brief as they are, I find that more than not the moments of sadness are stronger. I know, without doubt, that I am not alone in this feeling, maybe my reasons are different from yours, its still sadness. And in my failing attempt to find something to read, something to identify me with something out there, I have been reading just about anything, to find someone who knows or can identify with my feelings. So, on a fluke, really a fluke, I picked up something to read that wasn't a guide book and found myself reading "The Shack". I am only half way thru Chapter 4 and without giving anything away, I will tell you that each chapter, named diligently and descriptively, has a quote beneathe the chapter name. So far each quote has given an insight to the writer's mindset and a quick view of the chapter ahead. Last night, beginning Chapter 4, the quote was more than insightful, it was more than descriptive, it described sadness. "Sadness is a wall between two gardens-" Kahlil Gibran. I immediately idenitified with this statement, it gave sadness an identity, a figure that I could pick out of a line up, so to speak, and this, believe it or not, is exactly what sadness is, a wall. Just like these words between the beautiful garden on the left and the desolate garden on the right, that wall looks the same. Its as tho, I am standing on the wall and looking as what was and what I want to be again and where my emotions and heart is a large marjority of the time; a wall between two gardens. I want so desperately to be in the garden on the left but standing on the wall I am pulled between the two easily on a moments change. And in an attempt to find out how God is identifying with my sadness, I am looking, searching, digging to find something in "His Word" that will stand out and speak to me the way this one, half sentence did, and I have found some here and there. Today I searched for my word "garden", knowing or presuming that I would only be led to the info regarding the Garden of Eden, I was surprised to find more than this in Jeremiah. Jer 31:12 "....they will be like a well watered garden, and they will sorrow now more." Do you see the wall? It's the 'and' in this partial verse, the 'and' is the wall between two gardens. "And" a simple, non-jumping, non-descriptive, conjunction just became a noun. The well watered garden on the left is where, sometime I will be and I will sorrow no more without forgetting but now, right now, I am on the 'and', I am on the wall being pulled between two gardens.
I know, without doubt, that this wall, this finally described place that I am at, is not a thin wooden slat wall with a gate, but a long, thick wall of stone and rock. I know that this wall stands to challenge me and my faith, altho until this morning I hadn't realized that challenge it is exactly that, a challenge. So I stand on the wall, finally given a figure, finally the thing given description. The wall between two gardens, the wall between happiness and grief, the wall where I finally know I stand.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I love horse racing! I can honestly say that its one spot that will get your heart rate up. And I know that the horse is a commodity and that the owners/trainers do whateve necessary, sometimes within and sometimes outside of the rules, to get the horse on the track. I understand that too because its a business and the horse is the business money maker. (So before I offend any animal lovers, if you have an issue with animal use for money, please takeheed that I use this further in my writing.) I came upon the realization that horses, like other livestock, are used in the general world as money makers. No matter which way you look at it they are, for the most part, not pets like I keep mine. And as hard as it was when I first started into horses to realize and accept that, I do know understand the reasoning behind it. Horses in the racing world, and probably every other type of equine money maker event, are drugged, worked, put in shape or out of shape, on the track to run for money. The trainer's job is to do whatever is allowed and necessary to get the horse on the track. Now I know that there are trainers who do not do this and are not in this type of racing business, but the majority of the big runners are treated in this fashion, a product. Do what is needed to be done to get a win....doesn't really sound like I should like horse racing huh??? Well you should know by now that I am not cut from regular cloth. So for the most part a horse is put to the test race after race, training morning after training morning, and day after day for their entire racing career (generally short careers). I use horses because I relate to them directly, I don't know why and I could try to figure it out but it would be a waste of time. How I relate to them in my life is that like a race horse being tested every day and every race, I am tested every day. Tested to see if I can be the person that I am suppose to be, trusting, faithful, and blind; or the person that I am, non-trusting, wanting to see every moment, and full of my own knowledge. Very prideful I'd say; something like a race horse. Most race horses are not very trusting of humans (not a trait born into horses by the way) and if they make it off the track for a second career, it takes years of work to get that trusting relationship in place. I have a trust issue and most of the time I just ignore the trust prospect and move ever forward in the life race I am in. And when I first started realizing, or first heard about the race that I am in, my life looked a lot like a group of horses coming out of a starting gate. Discombobbled, a lot of pushing and bumping, and a beat down struggle to get in first place (where to I have no idea!). A race to some finish, somewhere, for some prize, I just didn't know what prize or if that prize was worth the finish.

About 4 months into my realization of this race, I had a revelation. The race was just like my horse racing sport. It wasn't a prepared race, where I trained and built myself up to the race, it was a race that I was put in no matter what. Whether I was injured or not, drugged or not, in shape or not, the race was before me every moment and I had to run it. I don't know if training is an initial part of this confusing race or not? I don't even know if you can train for this race, but I don't believe you can. And how you do in the race isn't as important as how you come out in the end.

After a while of figuring out the training on the race, I started to see and understand that the race I was running was to get closer to an unknown end that was miles ahead of me and kept moving no matter how fast I ran. The race became of endurance and perserverance and I started to understand the race, started to not care how far ahead another was in front of me and to take the bumbs and pushes more in stride. I was starting to see the race in a different view, not of 'get in front and win' but 'stay on course and the home stretch will get to me in the end'. And the race became a joy and love and strength. Then out of nowhere, just when I thought I was figuring this stuff out, and becoming a runner, with the ability to race every day, someone cut me off. (Funny how I see the cutter offer as a horses butt huh??!) But that's exactly what happened, I was cut off, stopped short, and in racing of horses a jockey would have to use all his might to pull a horse, running 30+ mph back in order to keep from an accident - cut off. In Galations 5:7, I think this is Paul talking to the Galations, he says "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?" It's amazing how Paul was able to relate God's word to people. I'm sure to some extent people in those days had some sort of racing, altho I have no idea what kind, Paul was able to get the word to them in a way they could understand. In my race, I was cut off, someone cut me off from obeying the truth that I know, and that cut off is still in me. The truth is that I know, that I know, that I know, that God is in control and that even tho I miss him, my son is with Him. But in my head, the cutter offer, has placed doubt and the race is cut short and all I see is horses butts. And I struggle to beat down, get around, and get back in the race and no matter how hard I try, the cutter offer just gets back in front.

The race that I loved so much has become a race that my soul is struggling for and my flesh is fighting against running. And I have no idea when the race will start again for me altho I am sure that somewhere in my soul it already has and my flesh just refuses to catch up and move forward. But I know that the race is still going on, that I am physically in it because I can feel the strain of running. I don't know how to truly get around the cutter offer in front of me, but I know that eventually I will. I know somewhere in this race the horses butt in front will get moved out of the way and I will be back in the pushing and bumping race that I started out in and hopefully the race will be different. Hopefully the race will start to look like a pulling away, a stride ahead of the horses butt who cut me off, and then a few more and a few more and a few more, until I can see ahead of me the 3rd turn to the home stretch, because that is truly my goal.