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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 (1:52am)

Important Things I Learned From My Husband…

My husband and I have been married since the early 80′s. There has been a lot of living along the way. The last few weeks I’ve been looking back at my life and remembering. In the process it made me remember again just why I love my husband Ken so much, and how much I’ve learned from him over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights in no particular order…

There’s only one s in “sauce.”

Spelling has never been my strong suit. Scrabble was not the game for me. My mother’s reaction to my horrible spelling was to tell me to spell it like it sounds. She was from West Virginia though so with the thick accent it didn’t work well. Dog still sounded like dawgg to me. My Ken has always patiently helped me work through stuff like that.

When tying your shoes, the left shoestring needs to go over the right one.

I was an only child growing up in a home with a mentally ill mother. Her teaching style was to show me how to do something, scream at me or beat the crap out of me if I did it wrong. I missed the normal developmental things like effectively tying my shoes, or learning how to play games etc. I was an adult when my husband actually showed me how to tie my shoes so they stayed tied and faced the right direction. :) I was also clueless when it came to being a part of a family and making that work too. He has modeled for me what family looks like and has been my family all these years. That’s an even more important life lesson than how to tie my shoes.

If it’s sloppy, eat it over the sink.

Food and life gets messy sometimes. It’s always good to control the mess as much as possible. Drippy fruit is easier to contain leaning over the sink. Sometimes people’s lives are every bit as messy. For all these years our lives have been populated by a huge number of people. Many of them ended up at our house during times of stress or crisis. Ken is not a real “people person.” Both of us by nature would make great hermits. But in all these years with the diverse parade of humanity coming through our doors and sometimes sleeping on our couch, Ken has always been so supportive and willing to have them there. I’ve seen him be incredibly tender to some who’ve been so wounded. I’ve seen him be incredibly patient with people who could have driven almost anyone crazy. And every day he puts up with a steady parade of people coming in and out of the house for music lessons… all this from a man who doesn’t particularly care for music.

Real love is worth waiting for.

Ken and I met when I was probably 19. He’s 8 years older than me. He was a grown man who had been on his own for quite some time. I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I was also still trying to work through the lingering effects of the abuse I experienced in child hood, that left me afraid to trust anyone with my heart. He fell in love with me when I still had a lot of baggage. In true photo-geek fashion he started buying compatible camera equipment before I was ready to even date him. He loved me while I was too afraid to love… until the love I felt for him grew larger than that fear. He loved me purely in a way that made me feel safe. Some of the other guys I dated before him loved me in spite myself. They were threatened by some of the very things that he found appealing. And after all these years, even though I know I drive him nuts some times, I’ve never questioned his love or his acceptance of me. What an incredible gift for a husband to give his wife.

Sometimes real love is tough and requires sacrifice.

In my 20s I had a crazy work schedule that took a toll on my body and my social life. My sleep schedule was turned around for a long time. I was tired and exhausted a lot of the time when I wasn’t working. Ken was always so good to help pick up the slack and go out of his way to help and take care of me. There were a few years where I just physically didn’t have it in me to work full time, and he kept at it when I couldn’t. A few years ago his body said NO MORE to his crazy work schedule and the incredible stress he was under at work. He was able to do it a lot longer than I would have been able to under the same circumstances. These days he faces a lot of physical challenges. He keeps track of all the different medicines and all the things that keep his body regulated much better than I could ever do it. Even with the physical things he faces every day he manages to keep things going around the house and helps support me with my teaching business. In the process I get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other and keep working even when I’m exhausted because that’s what I need to do to make sure we have the medical care we need. It’s a tough gig with the current economy but we’re making it. It’s certainly not the life we dreamed of… but it is sooooo worth it. We have each other. We have an amazing group of people who are a part of our lives. I have amazing students. Would I love a life where we could rest and have less stress? You bet. Am I incredibly thankful that we have each other in the midst of the real life we lead? YES. Sometimes life is just hard. But it’s all worth it. I feel like I’m just beginning to understand what real love really is.

 

I Didn’t see this coming….

12/10/11

 

I’ve lived through a lot of crazy stuff during my lifetime. It’s been quite the ride along the way. When I was young I had my whole life planned out. It’s been nothing like what I expected and it’s never dull or boring. I think most people can think of their “worst case scenario” for things that might happen. For me, most of the time, what actually materializes is different that what I expected. When I get in the middle of it I find out that the reality isn’t normally as bad as the fear. But I have to admit, in all my worst case scenario, cancer wasn’t even a blip on that radar. I was diagnosed right after Thanksgiving. I got the phone call from the ob / gyn… “The good news is you have something I can totally fix… the bad news is that it’s cancer” right in the middle of teaching. My next student showed up right after that phone call. That next lesson was a tough lesson to get through. Thankfully, they caught it early and the prognosis is good. I’ve been down the cancer road with enough of my friends to know that it can be a roller coaster ride. As far as that goes I’ll have to wait and see.

 

One thing I can almost guarantee is that the whole experience will be an opportunity for a variety of amazing encounters with people… some of whom I have probably never met before. Hopefully I’ll be able to say in the moment and not get caught up with the what ifs. You’re all welcome to come along for the ride if you would like.

 

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.

 1:35 am 6/8/11

This blog post was originally written several years ago. Since then I’ve become even more committed to really being a part of the body of Christ and taking “church” outside of the walls of the big American religious machine. One on one or a few at a time, real life and meaningful relationships can happen as we care for each other. Every week I enjoy the joy of fellowship in all sorts of unexpected places…

Sunday, June 17, 2007 (1:20 am)
The First Church Of Chuck E. Cheese

Current mood: contemplative Category: Religion and Philosophy

Yesterday I met one of my friends at Chuck E. Cheese. For the uninitiated, this is a pizza parlor/video game/play area designed to overstimulate anyone who walks through the door in less than 30 seconds… Not to mention the huge furry rodent mascot walking around like Micky Mouse at Disneyland. It would not be our normal hangout. We normally meet at a great Thai place. But she has 3 young sons, and since her ex-husband moved out of the area, we haven’t been able to work out the logistics of an adult only visit. I thought the kids might enjoy a chance to pig out on pizza and play games till their eyes glazed over. They did seem to have fun. They would come running over occasionally with a handful of tickets they won on one game or another.

In the mean time their mom and I talked about life, love, suffering, weird experiences we’ve had lately, growing relationships, and our current need to deal with the hurt from our past. We also talked about connecting with God, the state of the church in America, being reminded about what was important through unexpected circumstances. She had just received a study bible in the mail that her ex had left behind with a bunch of her other stuff, when they had to move. It contained her study notes from her time in Bible school. The person who had it found her parents address inside it and sent it back years later. It was very timely for her to get it back in this season of her life. We also talked about the qualities in a pastor that are wonderful when they have them. She made a great point about being in a few churches when she was young where she had a sense that the pastor really cared for the congregation and took his time preparing to speak to the congregation seriously… and he cared for the people in his care. In our modern Christian subculture of hipness and humongous religious machines, I think we’ve lost that sense of family and connectedness. We looked at some books I just picked up for a lending library, and picked out a couple for her to take home and enjoy. Four hours later, the kids had finally glazed over, their game tokens were gone and it was time to cash in their winning tickets for giant bugs and Tootsie rolls and get going. I left feeling like we had our very own church service. We were the body of Christ.

I spent a lot of years working in churches and was amazed at how we kept getting caught up in a bunch of useless religious activity which took up precious time and resources and drained any energy that we could have used to make a real difference in each other’s lives and in the community. That could be ranting for a whole different blog. But as I’ve been growing older I realize that we ARE the church. The big machine might not ever get it. (Although I will continue to be a painful thorn in the side of the machine.) But my life can make a difference to the people I encounter. And their lives can also help transform mine. The church might overlook the single mom… but I have a choice that I can make. In the long run, I want my friends kids to know that there are people who love Jesus who also love them, and who love their mommy and who are committed to walking through the world with her. In that journey I’m happy to worship with her at the first church of Chuck E. Cheese.

Sunday, March 20, 2011 (1:52am)

  

I have always loved books. Some of my earliest childhood memories revolved around reading. I became a believer in Jesus after reading the Bible by myself without a big whop-de-do. After that I had an insatiable urge to get to know the Jesus I found there better. I was fortunate to find great authors who acted like signposts to point me in the right direction. I found so many quotes that inspired me and encouraged me in the faith. I was thinking that it would be nice to share some of those voices here on my blog and to share some of the things that have been meaningful to me over the years.

I thought I would start with a few quotes from a woman named Elizabeth Rooney. Many years ago I read a book called Bright Legacy. (I believe the book is out of print now but I have found copies of it used on amazon.) In it, several well-known Christian women wrote about another woman who had deeply touched their lives. One of my favorite authors, poet Luci Shaw was one of the contributors. She wrote about Elizabeth. She was a woman she met at one of her poetry workshops. Over time they struck up a friendship and Luci Shaw wrote about her surprise at finding a woman with an amazing talent for writing poetry which was something she began fairly late in life. In the book they included some of her poetry which was very moving to me. They also included some of her journal entries that I loved. She wrote about her growing love for God and her desire to be with him, and the awkwardness at trying to share that with others. Being a night owl I could relate to her late night encounters with God when she was alone with him. Elizabeth passed away several years ago, but her legacy continues through the books of her poetry that her daughter published after her death. Several years ago I contacted her and ordered the poetry books. I was able to tell her how much her mother’s writing encouraged me over the years. You can find her family’s website at Bingham farm by typing her name into google or follow the link here :http://www.brighamfarm.com/index.html

 

On the website you’ll also find examples of her exquisite poetry. Here are just a few quotes from her journal I appreciated:

“God intends us for himself and with our eager cooperation or with our rebellious reluctance he works to achieve this. He respects the reluctance; he will hint and then wait, ask and then wait, urge and then wait. And wait and wait!”

“This evening my heart and veins and arteries and my whole system have been filled with a joyousness I can hardly contain. I want to pray or read but feel as though I shall explode. I need to tell someone how wonderful God is!”

“Four A.M. I got up and found it had stopped snowing, leaving about a foot of new-fallen snow in great white billows under a full moon. Mike woke up and asked what I was going to do and I said, ‘Go to the bathroom,’ which was a deception, since after I went to the bathroom I was going to pray and write and wander about as usual. I have to stop lying to people about how much God means to me, just because I’m embarrassed by it or think they won’t understand. What if Sts. Peter and Paul had acted like that? Stroke victims have to practice and practice speaking in order to learn to speak again. I need to practice speaking about God, his love, his immanence, his active presence, his willingness to participate in our lives if we’ll only let him.”

Here’s one of her poems:

Wild Geese
Barking and calling courage to each other,
The singing skein sweeps south across the sky.
We hear their legendary cry
Saying goodbye to summer swamps and sweetness.
They know some ancient mystery of weather,
Of daring and of caring for each other,
Which we have lost.
Shrouded in sheets and city streets,
Our stifled hearts half waken at their sound.Something within us trembles, flaps its wings,
Falls back against the ground.
We dress for breakfast, start the daily round
And wonder, why we must know only fenced yards,
And shelled corn, until we die?

10/16/78

©1978 Elizabeth Rooney

From Storing September