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There’s been a blue bird in our backyard since January 1, 2018. It arrived as we were still amidst the chaos of hurricane Harvey damage; mingled with relational hurts, death of identity, loss of fellowship, and grief.

My little harbinger of spring. Its presence has reminded me of hope and comforted my aching heart.

This spring day is Good Friday. Solemnly reflecting on Christs suffering, my own agony and suffering fades to a mere taste. Talk about grieving, accusations, chaos, and death.

Yet, I have experienced a death. It took me by surprise. And although unlike the disciples, I know there will be a Sunday resurrection. For now, I’m waiting in an upper room wondering what in the world just happened.

I’ve been tempted to shut down and bury myself in addictions.  I’m weary from the sorrow; I feel it in my bones.  My soul has cried out to God!  I’ve warred to remain present and bear the risk of hope.

And.  Hope is what makes this spring day so good.

Spring and hope seem to be intertwined in my mind, body, and soul. No, my hope did not melt away in the summer of accusations; it was not rendered fallow in autumn as the world seemed to fall all around me; nor did it perish in the deep freeze of winter grief. But there is just something about spring that is unmatched in its bounty of hope.

Truly, it’s the bounty of what Christ has offered to me. What He has offered to us all.

 

 

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When I hear his melodic masculine voice, I’m hooked.  Even though I know the buried monster, the echoing goodness entices my heart.  And, hope swells like wild ocean tides.  I’m five again, and my body aches for his love and attention.  My parched little heart desires for so much more from my daddy.  And my soul gulps his feeble offerings.

Sweetheart is what he names me.  Gosh, even at fifty-something I long to receive this name from him.  Yet.  He doesn’t know me.  His engagement is shallow.  He’s come and gone for decades.  So, I wonder, is this a name that appeases an old man’s lingering guilt – nothing to do with me and all about him?  It’s how it feels as he requests, even demands my presence, combined with the lack of effort on his part to reach out.  In the aftermath, I feel nauseous, stirred up, disappointed, exhausted.  I’m left empty by the presumed intimacy in contrast to reality.

He wants more contact.  And yet, offering nothing more.  How much weather can two people talk about?  A part of my heart screams danger, boundaries, protection!  I know better and understand what he is capable of doing to my heart and body.  Each and every day they bear the pain of long ago.  Walk away, from his meager confessions.  If he really loves you why doesn’t he…?

Do I settle for crumbs?  Allow him to continue the facade?  Or, do I carefully give my heart, desires, and truth –  because I have something to offer like no other to his wounded heart?  Is his life worth more agony for me?  He doesn’t owe me anything anymore.  Yet, he has everything to gain.  But, what if I lose the crumbs in the process?

Today I am not willing to hear or seek the answer.   Perhaps another day…

 

 

 

 

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In kindness he had given up his earned upgrade. I felt both gratefulness and guilt as my husband’s long legs sat back in economy. 2017 was a busy, painful, and glorious year. My aching core melted into the first class seat with a deep sigh.

The plan was to bury myself in a book or a movie. No conversations with my row mate. None. I acknowledged the man sitting next to me with a quick smile. We exchanged the socially accepted pleasantries when sitting in such close proximity. And then it was silent.

Yes!

I had no margin for shallow conversation with a stranger.

The flight took off, our lunch was served, and we ate without a word. Things were going according to plan. And I was breathing deeply.

Then it happened. It was me… I felt compelled to ask a question. The conversation that followed was fascinating, rich, and deep. There is one thing I will never forget that he said…

“You know, we are all healing. And someday we will be healed.”

It doesn’t really matter what we talked about. It doesn’t really matter if you know anything about this man or even me. What does matter is that we were two people sharing and acknowledging one another’s stories.

We hear so much about tolerance these days. I no longer believe tolerance will heal or unite any of us. It is the sitting with one another in our stories, embracing differences, and honoring another’s dignity. That is where the healing begins.

 

 

 

 

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Instead of tossing and turning, I decided to get up. In the darkness, I could smell the dust and debris. The light revealed floors marked by countless strangers. Their fingerprints and DNA eventually sealed within the walls.

More than Hurricane Harvey – a confluence of change, disruption, and disaster has kept my body running on adrenaline since August. The chaos, trauma, and grief have been overwhelming at times. I’ve felt fragmented – unable to make decisions, foggy, and forgetful; numb – toughened up to disconnect from the reality of loss; and absorbed – at times drank a bit too much wine to reduce the intensity of the impact. I couldn’t buffet the blast much longer.

What the heck was God doing in all this chaos? Where was He? I needed rest.

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:10.

Jesus was born into chaos.

Our salvation comes from something small, tender, vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the creator of the world comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddeness. — Henri Nouwen 

My eyes could only see the bigness of the messes that surrounded me. I was expecting God to hear my cry and show up in impressive ways to convince me and others of His saving power.

When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence… I will always remain tempted to despair. —Henri Nouwen

I had been crying out for rescue – but I was not looking for Him. This small child of Bethlehem, a refugee, unknown preacher, a naked man on a cross, asks for my full attention. His promises came to me not in loud claims or actions, but in the promise of small things. The hope of a bud that blossoms from a root. Something that hardly anyone notices.

And gosh, I almost missed it!

PC: Alyson Hinkie

Light-of-the-World

                       

         

 

 

 

 

Well, that was an awkward conversation.

I walked away with his words spinning in my head.  That old familiar pit rising in my stomach.

Perhaps he just doesn’t know how to talk to you Robyn. 

You know… he is an awkward man.

The pit filled my gut as I ran his words over in my mind.

Awkward, yes, but surely nothing more. 

He just longs for connection.  Nothing wrong with that. 

I plopped down in a chair next to a colleague.

“Robyn, are you okay?”

“I just had the most awkward conversation.”

She listened intently as I repeated the conversation of moments ago.  Her face betrayed a shudder that made my gut begin to burn and swirl.

“Robyn, you were verbally assaulted.”  I watched as the tears formed in her eyes.

Oh no.  This is not happening.  Not here.  Not now. 

My colleague shared more. I heard, but didn’t.

Inside, I fought the truth.  Everything in me wanted to push through this shadow of darkness – go on like nothing had ocurred.  After all, I’ve had far worse happen to me in my lifetime.

Yet, I could not deny the reaction of my body.

What is coming to the world is the Light of the World.  It is Christ. That is the comfort of it.  The challenge of it is that it has not come yet.  Only the hope of it has come, only the longing for it.      ~Fredrick Buechner

Oh, how I long for the beauty and splendor of the One who is to come.  I am a woman desperate for His presence; for His rescue from the darkness within us all.

And…  The Light of the World will liberate us from the dark and all will be made right.  As I wait for His second advent…  may my heart grow to an inner stillness and joy – realizing for whom I wait has already arrived once and speaks in the stillness of my heart.

 

 

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It’s a hot humid summer day in Louisiana. It’s the summer I turned five and I’m with my grandmother running errands. We stop at the drug store to pick up a prescription.

“Look Grandma Sugar she’s white too!” I say this truth boldly and loudly. The woman of whom I speak smiles. She is dressed in her Sunday’s finest on this mid 1960’s day. I like her smile and hat with all the netting on top.

My grandmother grabs my arm telling me to be quiet using my first and middle names. I’m confused about why I am in trouble. Believing she doesn’t understand, I speak my important discovery louder. “No really look, she’s white too!” The black woman looks concerned as I continue. “See Grandma Sugar, look at the palms of her hands and bottoms of her feet!”

The woman smiled. I liked the sparkle in her eyes as I pointed to her hands and the heel revealed by her sling back shoes. I smiled back. I try to walk toward her.

My grandmother having paid for her prescription, promptly pulls me towards the exit rebuking me to be quiet. “Robyn, we don’t say things like that.” She says harshly under her breath. I try to ask why, but she is not stopping or listening to me. The beautiful black woman now looks sad and the sparkle is gone.

Some responses to Charlottesville have been surprise that racism still exists in 2017. Others say they don’t understand the mindset of white supremacists or racists. While still more have called for the eradication of racism.

At first my heart was pulled into all of those responses. Then a different question, a different response, plagued my heart. Am I a racists? “No, not me!” And then I sadly wondered if indeed I might be more than I care to admit. And perhaps aren’t we all – no matter what race.

I lived in California for my late elementary and early junior high years. We went to a church that asked a mixed racial couple to leave our church. The reason? They were unequally yoked. They were a fun couple, I liked them and I was confused. What happened to “red and yellow black and white they are precious in His sight”? I remember crying they would no longer be at our church.

My growing up was plagued with the words that people who were not white were different: white was better, made the rules, smarter, yes – even privileged. I will not share the more offensive things I heard during my growing up years. By some miracle I did not adopt the belief system of my grandparents or my church.

Personally, I’ve had evil things happen to me from all races. Truly I could tell you many stories of harm. I’ve been searching my heart these weeks. And here’s the thing, we live in a broken world. Sadly, this will not be remedied, whether you believe it or not, until Jesus returns. Evil has reign over our world. The truth, evil is no respecter of persons. This does not by any means say we we should not be intentional about changing what ails our world – in the USA, Burundi, Thailand… the whole earth.

The answer? Love your neighbor as your self. Sounds simple, but it’s not. Many of us do not even love ourselves. So, how can we truly love others? We cannot. Only through the grace, mercy , and healing of our stories through what God has provided through His Son Jesus Christ. It starts with a heart change in all of man/womankind.

There will be those of you who read this that will truly hate what I have just written. Much of who people believe about who Jesus is – reflects on error. I believe that breaks Gods heart.

Truly… He is the only way. We cannot love without Him. He is the answer. The only answer. It is what He came for; to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. All of us!

Red or yellow black and white; they are precious in His sight.

*And yes, brown included!

PC: Bing Images

Hummingbird (archilochus colubris) in Flight over Purple Flowers

My backyard is once again filled with aerial displays and duels.  The garden is abundant with sweet nectar, as well as insects, and the hummingbirds have staked-out their territories.  The guarding is fierce with loud chatter and puffed feathers.  With iridescent flashes, quick soaring assaults are initiated from towering vantage point lookouts.  I laugh.  You’d think food was scarce.

I grew up in a home with a scarcity mindset.  Whether in abundance or shortage, my mother was certain there would never be enough.  To be fair, there was a short time of single motherhood when things were truly tight.  Even after she was re-married, the panic remained.

Her doubts did not cling purely to money and material possessions.  They bled into relationships, talents and her personal worth.  She lived her life as if there would never be adequate resources to go around, yet she refused to receive from others.  Her heart was constantly comparing herself to everyone around her.   She was never enough.  Sadly, I am not sure she has ever found rest.

I do not know what happened to my mother.  She has alluded to deep hurts in her past.  I do know she lost provision through divorce.  Perhaps this catapulted her into a state of insatiable craving and resource guarding.  I may never know.

Of course as a child I did not understand her fear, but I was pulled into its vortex.

I’ve often found my heart flying around like the hummingbird.  I’ve been taught well to guard my resources, my desires, and to go after only what I can make happen myself; that there really is not enough to go around and that God holds out on me. That’s when my heart runs for the trees for cover.

Recently I went to a writer’s conference and was certain after looking around that I was in the wrong place.  Scarcity haunted my thoughts.  What did I have to offer?  Haven’t all the books been written?  What are you doing here when you have no seat at the table?  I started making plans for what I could make happen – a back up that would sabotage my desires.  And I struggled to remember who I was created to be.  I forgot whose I was.  Gradually throughout the cries of my heart to Jesus, I settled back into my skin.

And yes, there is my own story of harm that adds to scarcity: neglect, lack of protection and victimization.  Part of my healing has been to tell the story of how I got to a place of scarcity.   To lament the lack of protection during my childhood years, name accurately neglect and victimization, struggle with God’s goodness, to hear and speak truth, grieve betrayal and ultimately give thanks to a God, who I now believe is truly good (even when I don’t feel it or see it), for His redemption, healing and care for me.  Not a short process.  At times it seemed to take forever to feel even small changes.  And I am still healing and changing.

I smiled as I heard my husband’s account of a tiny hummingbird attacking a cardinal to secure its patrolled territory.  It’s quiet fascinating that hummer’s fight less when food is scarce.  In those times they are able to rest, to give and receive.

I wonder what exists in your life as a place of scarcity.  What sends you scrambling to have only what you can give yourself?  Will you take the risk to cry out and imagine something different – something more – in abundance or lack?  Or will you fly around frantically guarding your resources?

It is my hope to live my life not killing desiring, while being content with what I have been provided – to rest, have hope and to give and receive.

 

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I have spent the last six mornings awakening to the sunrise from four, twelve foot, window panes.  Without fail, each morning it has gently pried my eyes open to watch.  The glow peeking over the hills, dissipating the darkness and reflected on the water has been nothing short of magnificent.

No, there are no pictures.  I lay in bed and fully took in being present to each moment of the morning colors.  Although the hills, landscape and position of the sun never changed, the palette certainly varied.  My heart enjoyed everything from vivid pinks, oranges, to pale peach and golden yellows.  One cloudy day brought the many shades of grey to the morning painting.  While one dawn so brilliant; my heart still aches for more.

My life is a multifaceted array of colors.  There have been dark, light, grey and colorful days.  Although I’ve walked many different paths, the terrain of my story has never changed.  Nor has the source of light.  There would be those who would say to never, ever look back at the black or grey of your life.  To do so, some might even label you as a person stuck in a victim-hood mentality.  And yet, I cannot ignore the call to beauty these spaces hope to bring.  Yes, I have known dark days where I have desperately wanted them to depart and needed the light to come bursting over the horizon.  I also know to forgo looking carefully at these dark or grey days, annuls the glory of the true beauty to be had when the sun breaks.  To risk letting the light shine in dark places – truly, nothing short of courageous.

I no longer fear the dark, because I know the light.  There is always something deeper for me to glean.  Yes, even if I have visited the space before. I often find something oozing that I have tried to hide.  It needs the kind care of truth from me. To ignore it, brings continued death to a part of who I am created to be. Of course, I hold the healing that occurs and bring it forward; for, I am an over comer.  I believe those who try to hide the wounds of the past are sadly the true victims.

Tomorrow will be my last day to lie before these spectacular windows and anticipate the sunrise.  Regardless of the new day’s tint, my hope is to stand and face the color of the new day.

 

 

 

 

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Love, they say it heals all wounds.  And it’s been my experience it creates many more.

At first sight, my heart clenched with fear at each daughter’s birth.  Would I have what it takes to love this tiny one well?  In many ways my own little life had not experienced a mother who loved well.  One thing she did teach me well was how not to be as a mother.  And for that I am truly grateful.  I knew I’d make my own mistakes with these beautiful babies, and my heart desperately wanted to love them straight, like an arrow that never wavers and hits the bull’s-eye.

Oh my, that first moment in my arms!  Love somehow overcame my fear.  Love after all is the greatest of these.  And my heart throbbed with a deep ache that pulsed through my being.

My daughters didn’t just come from me, they came through me.  I’ve known their thundering presence.  They ignite within my brain, consume my heart, run through my veins, I feel the love in my gut and they settle deep within the marrow of my soul.

Love came and continues to blow through my being like a hurricane.  It has sharpened the pain of my own mother’s lack of attunement and care.

As my daughters have grown and become adults, there have been times, and still are, that I have thought, that I wondered if I could live without such a love.  It just hurts so dang much to see someone you love draped in wounds.  You see, love felt so great within their laughter, but when my heart broke for their pain, disappointments, abuse, inequality and for the consequences of their choices – oh my, such a different gut-wrenching grieving space for a mother’s love.  And, I choose unashamedly to live in both sides of this love with my daughters.

Love, straight love, that arrow enters the joy and the sorrow.

Oh yes, I have most certainly had regrets.  Things I wish I had done so very differently.  Where fear veered me off in the wrong direction and my love was inconsistent.  It has brought me face up with the pain I have caused; a space of choice, to love well or hide, where every time I discover if the Gospel of Jesus is true.  It brought opportunity and invitation for repair.  And this is where I need Jesus, because I do not have the power within myself to love my children 100% straight – a love that never veers off course.

Love perseveres in the mess; the mess of the both of us.  My heart is truly for them.  I’m not going anywhere.

Love is kind, it is full of humility.  Conversations have been spoken, I have seen my daughters, heard them and my harm to them owned, shame regulated and repair engaged.  No, it is not finished and there will be more words exchanged.  Yes, it’s been difficult and so very kind to a little one, now grown, fully mother woman to her fully grown daughter women – to know that I have loved not perfectly, but well.  A love that I never experienced now offered imperfectly to those I appropriately and fiercely love.

Wounds healed by love.  It’s a gift – the reason for everything.

Thanks Mom, you had no idea.

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It seems I was born extra-sensitive to my environment.  I know when things are wrong, off, changed or even right and good.  And, I experienced a great deal of childhood trauma – some of it truly terrifying.  As a result, I am a woman who knows that bad things can happen.

As a small child I remember getting those vibes that someone or something just wasn’t right. And there were many things happening that were wrong in my little life and world.  With no language to adequately express what I was experiencing, attempts were always made by adults to deny, disregarded and re-write my little girl words and emotions.  No that did not feel right either and caused me to question further, which often created more trauma.

Over and over, bad things continued to happen.  As a result, it was natural for me to desire to keep myself safe when no one else seemed capable or willing.  Due to the terror, betrayal and powerlessness involved in my abuse, I expanded the beauty of my natural curiosity and sensitivity into scanning every room I walked into looking for suspicious characters.   I would not be taken by surprise again if I had anything to say about it.

The repeated exposure as a child to the inaccurate information about my external and internal realities eventually had me doubting my own feelings and robbed me of my innate intuition. Over the years I’m learning and healing in both of these areas. I still find it difficult to trust others who want to be my friend. “What is it that you really want from me?” Because, I know that bad things can happen in relationships. They still do.

Last year I discovered that I am hardwired to worry.  That’s right; the potential is in my DNA!  A mutation on a gene called COMT.  Google it, I found it very interesting.   I can now see how this gene mutation added to the already fertile soil for the seeds of trauma to grow rapidly into a well-honed hypervigilance – a truly exhausting way to live for anyone, especially a child.  Ultimately, I gave up hope for protection.  So, I’d just have to do that myself.

Today, I’m in another season of struggle, residual debris from a childhood of constantly living on the brink of life and death.  The terror finds its way into the here and now in unexpected ways with people that I care for deeply.  Without meaning to, I find myself conjuring up frightening scenarios.  Because if I can endure a little trauma before it arises, in small controllable doses, it might act as sort of a trauma vaccination.

It might sound as if I am paranoid.  This is different.  I’m not looking for things that are usually not likely to happen.  The stuff I “worry” about is based in a piece of reality.

I am still on the road of recovery from PTSD that has left my brain in a constant battle-ready state.    And because I now recognize hypervigilance, I can often catch myself before I spiral down into my own negative thought patterns.  I take time to breathe and calm myself – good kind care I missed as a child.  Then I’m curious and consider how the present spiraling was triggered by something that happened in my past.  I speak truth to myself or ask for help when I need it to keep from going down the rabbit hole.  And because I do not control the world, I eventually leave my concerns with God.  I chose to trust in Him – regardless of outcome.  Yes, much easier to write than to practice when the rubber meets the road.  During this healing process, I found myself wrestling with intense doubt and anger towards God.  Maybe I’ll write about that some day.  I will say I found Him to be man enough and kind enough to receive and respond lovingly to anything I had to say.  And I said a lot.  Today, I am learning to trust Him more and more.  The result, I am growing in much needed rest for my mind and body.

And, believe it or not, there are some positives to being a “hypervigilant”.  I often see things others do not and I am able to reach out with care in unique and sensitive ways when others cannot.  My healing hypervigilance is helping me to become a perceptive and responsive woman.  I can easily pick up on people’s feelings and emotions.  Plus I have an extraordinary memory and eye for detail that has great benefits when used in a healthy manner.

My desire is to live in the present, not the past.  And I want soul-enhancing relationships.  Yes, I am a woman who knows bad things happen.  Betrayal shatters peace and is extremely painful, while powelessness steals hope.  I am also a woman who has experienced much goodness, empathy and trust in relationships.  A place of hope and full of joy.  I’m walking the path towards wholeness and my wounds are healing.

Yes, I am sensitive to my environment; innately and by gifting.  And that can be a beautiful thing that brings much life to others.

Here’s to life!

 

PC: Pixabay