Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (12:58am)
Long Time…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog. It’s not for lack of things to write about. I’ve still been journaling. So much has happened the last few years. So much happened during the season that I had cancer, the surgery and the follow up… amazing things. I wanted to write about them but I was still processing everything internally. I couldn’t figure out a way to do a quick summary. While I was pondering all the crazy that is my life, my world flipped upside down and has been that way ever since.

In May of 2012 Ken was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. By the time it was discovered it had already spread to his bones, spine and lymph nodes. Since it was a slow growing cancer it really was tragic that it was not diagnosed sooner, especially since he was at the doctors frequently with his other health issues. Suddenly there were specialists and surgery and follow up treatment and learning to live with that kind of diagnosis. I now know for sure what I suspected when I was going through my own cancer stuff … it’s way harder to see him suffer and grow through this process than it was going through my own bout with cancer.

I am not unfamiliar with grief. I’ve had plenty of loss over the years, and I’ve walked through the valley of terminal illness and death with many people. But there is a different kind of grief involved with living day to day with life threatening disease.

In the middle of it Ken and I have both been energized in some ways too. We are both more aware than ever with how precious each day is. Our time together means more. Our time with people we love means more. We’re just calling it “sudden death overtime.” We’re in that exciting part of life where anything can happen and every play is important. I also know now how much of a team effort life is. Apparently it takes a village to raise a couple of cancer survivors. I’m so thankful for the love and tenderness of our friends who have been amazing support and have walked with us in the midst of the journey. It’s been good seeing my husband get to experience firsthand the love of so many people.

So much has happened … heartbreaking, horrible, amazing, wonderful, beautiful things. Hopefully soon I’ll have the time and energy to write about them.

I had been waiting to write until I had something “profound” to say. Then I realized just experiencing life together was more important. Tonight I’m just taking the opportunity to acknowledge I’m here. I’m still alive. I’m still hopeful, and thankful. I’m thankful to see the redemptive thread still being woven throughout my life. And even though there are times when I’m overwhelmed and would like to just curl up in a little ball in the corner, most of time I’m amazed at how much life we are experiencing in the midst of it all.

Hopefully this will be continued sooner than the gap between the last post and I’ll be able to write more about the things that I’ve been thinking about late at night. If you’re here reading this, thank you. Thank you for caring for us and being a part of our lives. Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

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11:48 Saturday April 7th Easter eve…

Easter has always been an important holiday to me since I came to believe. I was raised in a home where my parents didn’t want any talk of two things… politics and religion. My first encounter with Jesus was reading the bible back in Jr. High.  I was able to see him without a bunch of pre-conceived notions or after too many boring flannelgraph Sunday school lessons. I was taken by the way he interacted with people. I’ve never been the same since those early encounters. I like to spend Easer alone remembering… remembering how different my life could have been without the decision to follow him.  And being thankful for the life I’ve had that’s better for having known him.  I know that so many horrible things have been done throughout the ages in the name of God… and that saddens me. But I have a feeling it saddens Jesus too.  Every day I get up and think about the miracle of still being alive and of being loved by the creator of the universe. I know some of you think I’m crazy for believing. Thanks for hanging with me anyway. 🙂  This is one of my favorite Easter poems. I think of it every year at this time:

 

Bareback In Kansas

by Eugene Warren

(A Poem About The Passionate Love Of Christ)

The mare lathers the wind,

her mane streams like light,

my face is full of it;

I ride her like a lord of pastures,

a meadow in each eye,

stockpond deep in the center:

water down to mud, mud down

to limestone colorless

at those depths,

greasewhite until sun yellows it.

I am thinking of You

as her hooves bite the grass, spreading it;

I am thinking of Your face,

bearded and serene, of Your eyes

like the pond on a clear day,

a double depth cloudless;

I am thinking of the mouth in Your side

that spoke the fountain,

of the dark bloodcaked eyes

in Your hands and feet weeping,

I am thinking that You loved me

as I mounted the ladder

& shoved the thorns around Your skull,

I am thinking

that the palms of Your outspread hands

watched me as I turned from the hill

& went laughing back to the city

to spill wine like blood down my throat

& tell whores of the Fool.

I am thinking of the spear thrust

that brought the fountain from the rock;

I am thinking Your dead eyes held my image,

I am thinking You broke the darkness

& came after me,

I am thinking You tore the weeds

from my flesh

& sowed good seed,

I am thinking of the nails driven into Love,

 

I am thinking of the governments raising steel helmets

against You, of the nails of denial in our mouths,

I am thinking of Your look that changes,

of the Light that sweeps from Your wounds.

And the mare races through the pasture,

her mane flies in my face,

I lie close to her neck,

the speed of her gallop is not more

than the speed of Your mercy:

And I know that You loved me

though the hammer was in my hand,

though the spear was registered in my name,

though I laughed and taunted–

You did not crush me, You hunted me,

& the swift arrow of Your mercy

shattered the swollen ball of my selfish eye

& Your kiss blossomed my sight anew;

And I know that You are the lamb,

that You are the tiger;

I know that Your love stands against all night,

that darkness’ king has known the temper

of Your blade & fled;

I know that none evades You,

That death’s shattered on Your rock.

And I know that this mare will rise with me,

that You will touch body as well as spirit,

that the blossom will have its stem,

that Your city stands forever,

that the tree bears in season & out,

I know that You know my name

& call it,

& my answering is to

Life.

 

c.2012 Linda B.

Friday, March 23, 2012 (11:57pm)

Thankful… an update. Part 1

It’s been almost 3 months since my surgery. I’ve sat so many times to write this post and have not been ready. It’s been such an amazing time in so many ways. So many things have happened. I’m still processing the things I experienced, and the things I’ve learned. So this will just be the first installment. I apologize up front for the length.

First a little back story:

On Wednesday, Dec 28th I was admitted into the hospital for surgery.

It had been quite the ride in the month or so leading up to it. There was the Thanksgiving weekend trip to the ER while I was losing a lot of blood with a myriad of tests and doctors with concerned looks on their faces. There was the follow up visit to the gynecologist who did a bunch of other tests and looked concerned. There were the test results and the call from the Dr. In between my music students … “You’ve got Cancer” and then having to go back to teaching right after the phone call. Then there was the realization that I had to tell my husband, who suffers from an anxiety disorder, that I had cancer. It was all such a blur. There were the sleepless nights dealing with the symptoms of the cancer and the side effects of the drugs I was on until I could have surgery and consultations with the surgeon etc. In the mean time I was still working a 60 hour work week and attempting to keep things pretty normalized for my students, and the financial burden of how I was going to pay the huge insurance co-pay for it all.

In the middle of getting ready for the surgery, the Christmas season was going on. It was eerie going to the hospital for the pre-op appointments with hardly anyone there right before Christmas and old tattered Christmas decorations everywhere. It was all so surreal. One day I went out with some of my friends. I was overwhelmed with the financial implications I was facing. Both of them reminded me that God is always faithful to take care of me, but I was just beside myself. I was exhausted and emotionally spent. After lunch I went home and got the mail. There was a Christmas card there for me with a peaceful snow scene with the word peace on the front of card, and an amazing gift, the first of many to come. I am so thankful to all of you who prayed for me and who gave me the greatest Christmas gift ever… life… and peace of mind, knowing that I wouldn’t have to carry the burden alone and that you guys had my back. You loved me in so many ways… providing for me financially, bringing food by, coming and keeping me company, phoning other friends to keep them informed, getting me out of the house while I was healing. The day after I came home there was a knock at the door, and the owners of my favorite Thai place were there with soup that they made just for me. They showed up several other times too. That kind of love and support was so wonderfully overwhelming. I’ll write more about that soon.

Physically the surgery went amazingly well. I’m so thankful for my doctor and her willingness to make sure she was able to do it robotically. I was concerned about waking up after surgery, since that has been a problem with other family members, but that was fine. After a complete hysterectomy, I was able to go home the next day. The surgery was minimally invasive, and I was healed enough to start working again in two weeks, because I couldn’t miss the income. The doctor told me that would be hard, I wouldn’t have all my energy back, but it would be ok… and she was right. I was a pooped puppy. But it worked. My students were great and took it easy on me. Everyone’s helped me muddle through. The follow up visits have been great and the doctor was very happy with everything.

They got the pathology reports back and they can back negative for anything spreading outside of the uterus. There was no cancer in anything else they removed.

It is sobering to remember, as my doctor so aptly said that I am now a cancer “survivor.” and as such I have to be tested every few months to make sure there is no re-occurrence. That will go on for many years. While I was waiting for the surgery I found two things that stuck with me… one was a bracelet with a quote, I think originally from Joseph Kennedy that said “Life is tough, but I am tougher.” The other was a neckless that had this inscription:

What Cancer Cannot Do…

It cannot

invade the soul

suppress memories

kill friendship

destroy peace

conquer the spirit

shatter hope

cripple love

corrode faith

steal eternal life

silence courage

Since I was young and my mother died in her 40’s, I have been aware of how tentative and fragile life is. I’ve always tried to live my life to the fullest. I’m thankful for the extra time I have, however long that is. I’m thankful for such amazing friends that love me and care for me. I’m thankful for my amazing students. I’m thankful for the reminder that life is a beautiful, wonderful, unexpected crazy thing. I’m thankful for each of you who’ve stopped by to read this today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 (8:55am)

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

Today is surgery day. I’ve got great surgeons and I’m hoping for the best. I’ll be asleep and trust that they have my best interests in mind, and that they will be able to do healing work I can’t do for myself. I have to give up control and trust. But I believe that it is God who ultimately holds my life in the palm of His hand. He has certainly walked with me though so much in my life time. I have no doubt it will be the case this time too.

It is a good thing knowing that there’s very little about my life’s journey I would change. I’ve always tried to live in the moment and to invest in the lives of the people who are a part of my world. This journey with cancer has made me even more committed than ever to make the most of the time I have and to live with passion.

This has been a hard season. I’m very tired physically, but I have a renewed sense of purpose. On the front of my teaching notebook, where I keep my study plans for my students etc I have this quote:

“Courage doesn’t always roar

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying…

I will try again tomorrow”

For years now my life has been measured day by day, and many times moment by moment. Here’s to once again dedicating each of those moments, long or short, to the Creator, who has loved me all along the way, and to you too, the precious gifts that God has placed in my life. All my love to you all. I’m looking forward to our next time together.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 (12:27am)

Some Info About Me You Won’t Find On Medical Intake Forms…

 I just moved this post over from my other less intense blog…

Who knew cancer could be such a time consuming job????  The other day I had to fill out 12 pages of questions for the oncologist that will be doing my surgery. By the time I was done she knew a lot about my medical history and the medical history of my family. But I stopped and wrote her a note about the parts of me she wouldn’t find on the questionnaire. I wanted her to know me and not just my diseased body parts. This is part of what I wrote her. I thought it would be appropriate to share it here with you too. Thank you so much to all who stop by here and are concerned about me. Thank you so much for your prayers as well. Here’s a little bit of my story …

12/8/11

Some information about me you won’t find on the forms:

I’m currently self employed teaching guitar / bass / drums / mandolin / uke / keyboards / hand percussion and photography and visual arts. I work on average 12 hours a day 6 days a week to pay the medical bills for my husband who has a large number of medical issues including being an insulin dependant diabetic. Since the early 2000s my husband has been unable to work. I have been keeping up my current pace as sole provider for my family. Being self employed our insurance and other meds are over 1500 a month. It was all working pretty well until the economy went south. Now it’s a struggle to make ends meet, but somehow it always works out. I am incredibly thankful to be able to do something I love for a living and have any work given the economic state of the country.

Before teaching I worked as a photographer / media producer and then also at several churches. I realized that my heart and passion was to reach the kids who were at risk or struggling, and that I could do a lot more good really investing in a smaller number of lives. I do that now in the midst of teaching. I also mentor struggling kids. As my student’s parent’s have lost their jobs, I’ve tried to continue teaching as many as I can. I also started an instructional youtube channel so that the ones who couldn’t afford lessons could learn. To date it’s been viewed by over a quarter of a million people.

I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles in my life including growing up in a home with an extremely mentally ill mother who died when I just turned 14. I experienced extreme abuse as a child.

While I wouldn’t wish many of the experiences I have had on anyone, I know for a fact that they have helped shape the good part of who I am. I’m a stronger, more hopeful, more compassionate person because of it all. Had my husband not become sick, there are so many students and other people I would have never met that I treasure having so much in my life. I have former students all over the world now leading worship in their churches, mentoring other kids, working in foreign countries helping others, producing video that has helped make a difference. One of them, who has lived in Afghanistan for many years told me a while ago… “You might never make it to this country, but everything we talked about and everything I learned from you, I’ve carried here with me.” I believe that the lives of the kids I’m with every day are precious. I want the legacy that I leave to be that they know that they are loved and that they were created uniquely for a purpose. I might not be able to get out of my teaching room very often but they will.

I’ve overcome a lot in my life. And I’m a fighter. It’s my hope and my prayer that with your help I’ll be able to overcome the cancer that’s in my body. I appreciate so much your willingness to take on the challenge of the surgery.

I am glad my prognosis is so good. But either way, whether I win or loose this battle, I know that I’ve already had three lifetimes worth of amazing experiences filled with amazing people. I am ready to fight the cancer because I have so much to live for, but I will not let it define who I am any more than the other obstacles that I’ve faced.

When my mother died in her 40′s she had hemolytic anemia as well as some kind of aggressive blood disorder. I had a conversation with her doctor who was also a family friend and loved me. At the time they weren’t sure if there would be a hereditary component to it or not. He gave me the best advice anyone could have ever given me. He said “We just don’t know, if you do get it, you will most likely die. You want to really live your life… each day.” That’s what I’ve done all these years and that’s what I’ll keep doing.

Thank you again so much for taking the time to see me. I just thought you might want to know a little about the person connected with the cancer. I’ve heard that you are amazing at what you do, and I’m thankful to have you in my corner.

10:22 am, Friday 7/22/11

Several years ago I wrote a post called The Space Between.  I had just reconnected with a dear friend who had previously been a pastor’s wife. I had been thinking about why in the church we allow pastors sometimes to get away with behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated by normal people in the congregation, when I do believe they should be held to a higher standard. I have known many amazing pastors who faithfully pastor their churches and love their families. I have also known a lot of pastors who were control freaks and treated their families horribly either through neglect or brutalizing and controlling them emotionally. 

So many times I watched their families suffering in silence while those close to them either didn’t recognize what was going on behind closed doors or chose to look the other way “for the sake of the ministry” or because they didn’t feel like they had the right to “rebuke” their pastor.  Too many times I stayed quiet hoping and praying for a genuine repentance from the pastor.  In retrospect that silence was probably the most unloving thing I could have done to the pastors and their family.  These pastors were men I loved and prayed for, worked along side of and loved their families. I should have been willing to wade right into the mess even more than I did… like I would have done for any of my other friends.

Increasingly with the growth of social media, I’m seeing pastors use their blogs or Facebook pages to attack other people, ministries or Christian leaders in a way that is bullying or mean-spirited.  I do think we can disagree with each other without carelessly wounding at the same time. Some of the media I’ve seen reminds me too much of what I saw some of the pastors I knew personally doing in their own homes. 

When I originally posted that blog years ago I got some angry responses from people suggesting that I was bashing pastors and I had no right to criticize them.  Some of the responses were pretty extreme. My point then and now wasn’t to bash pastors at all. But it was to point out that sometimes the most loving thing we can do for men who are not able to lovingly care for their families or their extended  church family is to remove them from ministry and help them to get their own lives in balance instead.  At the time I was amazed at how few people expressed any concern for the pastor’s families or what they endured.

Recently, some bloggers posted a response to a well-known pastor’s Facebook entry suggesting that he was a bully for using his social media to belittle a group of people, and for his history of previous sermons and blog posts that were also questionable. A huge firestorm of criticism erupted on those who disagreed with him.  As believers  sometimes we need to stand up for those who are being wounded, especially in the name of “ministry”.  I think that God is passionate about His people and that He doesn’t appreciate them being torn apart in the name of just making a joke, illustrating some bitchin’ sermon series, or stirring up controversy to help the sales of the speakers next book.  Regardless of the criticism I might get I would still rather err on the side of caring for the ones who are being wounded.

My heart also goes out to the pastors who are human like the rest of us… broken like the rest of us… and are in need of healing grace and mercy. Over the years I’ve grown a thicker skin, but my heart is still tender and I never want to lose that. 

What do you think… do you think we should hold our leaders accountable for how they treat others? Shouldn’t we love them enough to confront them and try to help them?

10:22 am, Friday 7/22/11

I wrote this several years ago, as you can see, but I wanted to move it here next to it’s update.
 
Hey gang it’s a looooong one, but it has some great news for me.
 
Sunday, June 8, 2008 (5:01pm)
The Space Between…

The older I get the more time seems to fly by. Part of that is due to my somewhat crazy work schedule. I get up every day and work at making it through. The next day I do the same. I try to really live in the moment while I’m there with each person I encounter. But still the months race by… the years race by. More and more I’m becoming convinced that time is the most precious commodity of anything we possess. To be continued.
 
Sunday, June 29, 2008 (1:05am)
Ah… see what I mean. 21 days went by… in a heartbeat. For me, the lack of writing normally doesn’t mean “no news.” A lot of times it’s because there are so many things going on that are so meaningful, that I can’t figure out how to condense them into a few phrases. My private journal is considerably more full. Even there sometimes it’s hard to put into words the inner working of my warped brain, or my spirit. I looked back and realized that for the most part, since February, there’s been only silliness in my blog with the exception of a heartfelt prayer for peace and a remembrance of a dear friend.I think we all have those things that occupy the space between. They make their presence known late at night when we can’t sleep, or we are weary… sometimes they are fleeting memories that show up in the midst of great joy. Sometimes for me they happen in one on one encounters here in my teaching room, late night at Barnes and Noble or out to eat with someone. Sometimes it’s triggered by reading someone else’s blog.

So many times lately I’ve had those kinds of people encounters where I wished that I had a video camera running to record the moment. Some of those moments I wish I could share with all of you. There are times when the things that come out of my students mouths (especially the young ones) take my breath away at how they see life… how they get what’s important about living and God and loving people.

There is one little boy whose father has to travel a lot for business. Most of the kids I teach like that are almost always angry at their fathers for their not being around. This little boy loves his dad though… and more than that, he knows how much his dad loves him. Every week he tells me about the stuff they do together and the trips they make together. I hear stories of his dad moving heaven and earth to get back early from business trips to make it to his talent shows and activities. I wish his dad could hear him talk, and I made a mental note to call his dad and thank him for being a great father and let him know I see it all over in the life of his son.

This time in the space between, something amazing has happened in my life. That’s what originally caused me to start this blog back on the eighth. Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows my sketchy church history. I’m like the Typhoid Mary of Churchdom. I’ve been in more churches that have had horrible things going on… both dealt with and swept under the rug… with sin and corruption and pain and pastoral flameouts… you name it… I’ve been there right in the middle of it. At the end of the day, much more than being angry or bitter, it has left me on one hand with a lot of grief for all the brokenness and loss, and a sense of thankfulness on the other hand for the mercy of God and His ability to bring new life out of the pain.

There aren’t many things in my life that I deeply regret… but there was one that left a huge pool of grief for years. In the early 90’s, due to some circumstances out of either of our control, I felt like the best and most loving thing I could do was to step away from a relationship with one of my best friends, music partner, and also a partner in ministry, who happened to also be a pastor’s wife. For me, and other women in our close knit group, it was hard because we so wanted to be there for her and her son. Through all these years I’ve continued to pray for her and her family and I’ve missed her. I’ve missed having the chance to see her son grow up. Every time I’ve gone out to play, I’ve thought that she would have totally loved what we were doing. And for all these years I’ve hoped that one day there would be a way to make it right.

Recently, I heard that there were some major changes getting ready to happen in her life… and I knew that I knew that I knew that it was time to contact her again, although I had no idea how she would respond. When I called her, she called me right back… and on June 8th, at nine in the evening at Barnes and Noble, we saw each other for the first time since around 1993.

In all these years we never ran into each other. To me when I was contemplating calling her I was blown away by how long it had been when I stopped to do the math. For me the space between 98 when my husband became ill and now has been one huge blur of work and medical bills. It seemed like yesterday when I saw her last. It was like the years just melted away and we had a great time catching up on a lot of missing years. We are both older and more tired, and yet, even with everything I think we are both at a point of looking forward to this new season in our lives. Last night we went to dinner at a place I eat at all the time… and it turns out her son, who’s now in his twenties works there and I have talked to him before. I remember looking at him and almost asking him if he was her son.  Perhaps I’ll have a chance to spend some time eventually with the young man I loved so much as a young boy. There’s so much more to the story, but it’s still in process… to be continued.

The recent events have made me really stop and think about a lot of things, including why we who are a part of the “Christian subculture” will allow things from pastors we would never allow from people who were just showing up on Sunday mornings. Pastors these days only get canned if they get caught in some heinous act. The last few weeks have made me think that maybe we should start with really looking at how they love and care for their families. If they can’t do that, then maybe it doesn’t matter what a “gifted speaker” they are. Perhaps instead of bowing out, I should have stayed at my friend’s side and become an even bigger pain in her husband’s back side. There’s no way of knowing for sure. But I did apologize to her for not being there. I would like to apologize for not finding a way to let him know what was going on and for disappearing out of his life… and to apologize  for all the crap he had to go through at the hands of the church.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with such a dear friend. God is all about forgiveness, restoration, and second chances.  In the end, real church is about being family… and continuing to love.

So, I’ve rambled on long enough for now. There’s so much more I could say… and probably will somewhere down the line. Let me just say that I am one thankful girl. And such a weight has been lifted.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite portions of the Bible, that has been so true for me in Psalm 126…
1 When the LORD brought back the captives to
Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.