Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ducks and Chickens

Today I had lunch with a friend. While glancing out the window, I saw two ducks waddle by the wall behind the bank. Later on the ducks returned with two chickens. Only in down town Wilmore. 

Tonight I thought about those ducks and chickens. In the animal kingdom there is no judgement. It didn't matter one bit to them whether they joined forces to  partake of the food scattered there. No matter how different the birds were, they were still birds. 

We as people are still people. We hurt, feel happy, struggle, celebrate, have dreams, experience death, and at some point lose our health. Yet it seems our species has lost compassion for each other. It is so much easier to judge the person in front of us than it is to understand what battles they have been through and what battles they continue to fight. It seems few people care about others anymore.

Some people are encouragers. They are few and far between.  I have stumbled upon the ones who sit in judgement. Quite frankly, I'm tired of being judged. I can't shop without someone judging what I put in my cart. I can't choose a menu item at a restaurant without someone passing judgement on the choice I make. I can't speak without someone judging the choice of words I use. So I sit in silence most of the time. This is how I felt today. 

Yet is seems the same ones who are sitting in judgement fail to see their own faults. Magnified before them are the bad choices, poor examples, and terrible words they themselves hide behind as they mow down the person sitting in front of them. It is easier to blame someone else for their short comings than it is to take responsibility for their own actions. They find fault with someone else. They have not encouraged, but discouraged. They have not shown compassion, but have created hurt. And they have not shared love, but have left hate in their path.

(Stress is a bad word for Systemic lupus patients - flares occur when stress of any kind are heaped upon you!)

For the past few weeks it seems I'm in the path of people who want to mow me down with the same judgements. I've always had a "magnet" that draws bad things to them. Just ask my best friend. I don't have to do anything. These things just happen. But for some reason, I just seem to be "entertaining" the judgement crowd. 

I'm tired of it and I'm not going to take it anymore. I believe God wants us to stand up for ourselves so I do. I make sure people realize how they sound, what they are doing, and literally "hold the mirror" in their face. 

It is times like this I appreciate my true friends. These are the people who are encouraging, there to believe in you when you need them, know you are there for them. They guard their words knowing they can be sharp as a two edged sword. Not only can they build you up, but words can tear down the smallest of self esteems when you don't even realize how fragile its existence lies.  I've always believed if you can count true friends on one hand, you're very blessed indeed. 

Many people come into our lives wanting you to tell everything about yourself and if they grow tired of you, they can just walk away. That is why I listen more than share. Friendship is a gift to be earned and when it is earned, it lasts a lifetime. It is a treasure to be cherished, not one to be thrown away like a child throws away a forgotten toy.

I think this is why I love animals so much. They don't yell at you because you are different from them. They accept you just as you are and love you for it. People could learn a hard lesson from God's creatures. Those ducks and chickens made me laugh today, but they also reminded me how non-judgemental the animal kingdom can be.

      

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

White Tulips and Yellow Roses

As I was sitting on the sofa with my beautiful Rascal watching the snow fall, a van pulled up. A young man stepped out carrying a basket of flowers. He was from the local florist. It was a beautiful basket of two yellow roses and two White Tulips! My friend, Amy, sent me flowers just because. I needed to be reminded of the "just because." 

Every day we need to do something kind for someone whether it is to say hi, give a hug, send an email, send a card, etc. It doesn't have to cost a thing. Kindness and love are free and so much needed! 

Amy made my day! It has been a hard week for me. She made a difference. I am so very thankful for AMY!




  

What Started out as a bad week....

Has been sprinkled with hope and renewal. Yesterday I was literally bullied because of the way I saw church and how I believed selecting a church was more than going by the list of activities they provided. To me going to church would be to worship God. Period. Isn't that why church was created in the first place? The modern day "church" has turned into a place where "Christians" go for entertainment and close the world out. Many have become places of "Feel Good" sermons just to get their numbers up. Many are selective in whom they consider worthy of their membership (been there, done that). Many sit in judgement in ways that turn people away from God and in turn away from the church itself. 

I simply want to attend a church that preaches straight from God's word and worships Him. No bells and whistles. No long lists of activities. No "feel good" sermons that leaves out the guidance and knowledge He intends for us to know in our journey. It has almost become a blur to determine what a church believes and what the Bible says anymore. Until I find that simple church, I will continue to worship God at home. It does not change my strong faith in Him, my service to Him or my life devoted to Him. It is simply my choice. 

When I shared this earlier this week, I was literally bullied because I did not choose to join a church. I was judged harshly and beaten down because of it. The person did not know what kind of pain, suffering or life I've already gone through to reach point in life I've come to, but decided to "scold" me, as she put it, instead. And, as I have done in the past, I let it get me angry. 

After God and I had a long talk, with bouts of screaming and crying inbetween, He instilled His peace in me, forgave the anger I felt and assured me He was still there and would always be there for me now and forever. He reminded me there are people in this world who need the church's entertainment, "feel good" ministry, just to keep them going. I don't know her journey either. However, I wanted to shake her and tell her not to judge me, but realized it would not have mattered at that point what I would have said. It was her way or the highway. 

Every person on this earth has an opinion. I've encountered quite a few in my lifetime. When I reach the point I can let the bad ones go in one ear and out the other, then I feel as so I will have grown. I'm not quite there yet. My heart still gets broken. I still cry. I still scream and ask God why some of the meanest people I've met have come from the church. He always reminds me not all of the people who go to church are His. 

He gave me hope. So has my friend, Amy. She did something not only to make a difference in my life, but to remind me there are a few people out there who really do care. For her and all the ones who responded, I am forever grateful. With the government being in such disarray, spending cuts chopping this and that, it brings great fear as to what I'll do just to make ends meet each month. The government doesn't give thought to the affects it has on the lives of individuals. They just want to play politics, keep spending their wasteful spending, and cut the ones who cannot fight back. 

I know it is only Wednesday, but I am thankful for the time God has given me to be thankful for friends. He has blessed me with great reminders this week that there are people in this world who do care. I am thankful to be able to turn my heat on and not shiver as the cold temps start to plummet once again in Wilmore. The next week or so will be bitter cold. I am thankful for kindness, compassion and even the reminder lesson God gave to me this week. Always remember to turn to Him for wisdom. People may push you in one direction, but it isn't always the right one. Stand up for what you believe. Never waiver. God stands with you. 

He also heals the broken hearted spirit.       

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Taking a Fall

Took a nasty fall on Saturday. Fell onto my right knee cap. My floor is made of concrete with a small lining of padding and a thin carpet to cover. In other words, no padding to stop the damage! Been very hard to endure more pain, walk with a swollen knee, and just get around in general.

I pushed myself out last night to attend a free concert at a local church. The concert was good, but I was reminded why I hate going to crowded events, especially at churches. I just don't understand why it is so easy to become invisible in a crowd of people. The longer I sat at a table, the more I felt consumed by loneliness and being ignored. It is almost as if the cane I use to support my steps wards off any one from being kind or friendly.

When a lady sat her elderly father at the table near me, she pulled the chair as far away from me as she could before seating him. It was as if I had a leprosy.


Although I enjoyed the music, I left consumed in tears. How I wish Christians would realize how ignoring someone is the worst treatment they could ever inflict on another living soul. Tonight I felt consumed with a familiar pain from years past....rejection.

When I arrived home, I changed my clothes, crawled onto my beat up old mattress that so badly needs replacing, and cried myself to sleep so very tired from the beating I gave to myself for hoping this time would be different.

Still looking for hope.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Searching for Dreams

I've always been told if you don't have dreams, you don't have life. I think I gave up on dreams a long time ago when this disease devoured my life. The meds robbed me of my creative writing. I'm extremely exhausted, in so much pain, cannot function like a normal person. The dreams were crowded out a long time ago. 

As I sit here tonight I realize no matter where I go in this world, people are all the same with the exception of a few. They all pass judgement on what they see. They don't take time to get to know the person behind the disability. It is easier to judge than to ask why. 

In Alabama I felt like a prisoner trapped not only in a broken body, but trapped inside four walls from the horrible crime outside my door. I am afraid of becoming a prisoner of four walls again at my own doing. I feel the protection building up around me. It is easier to build those walls than to feel that broken heart from someone's heartless words, shunned actions, attacks

I don't want to live this way. It isn't living. It is existing. I've existed in this broken body so long. So what is the alternative? 

My friend, Amy, still believes in the goodness of people. She wants to prove to me they care. I, however, am doubtful because I've been so terribly hurt over the years. Different experiences in life. 

I'm glad she hasn't been treated like I have even though she has been treated badly in her own way. I've just had the hope literally beaten out of me when it comes to people. 

But where do I find those lost dreams I once had? How do I get them back?      

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Lonely Day

It has been two days since I've seen another soul. So thankful to have my Rascal. So thankful to have Buddy, the outside cat who adopted me. 

They bring so much joy. Fill the loneliness

Thank God He made animals. 

 Rascal
  


Buddy




http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/Mary-s-Medical-Struggles/43258
 

Day Two

Since the weather has been going up and down, rain coming in twice this week, it has left me weak and in extreme pain with swollen joints. I long to be able to run the vacuum cleaner again! My place is so messy! The cold has prevented me from doing anything except the basics this winter. There are short "clutter piles" where my strength ended and the pain began. Dust galore! I am ashamed to let anyone walk past the door. When warm air finally settles in, I will be able to move around again. When I am able to move around again, I will be able to clean. Until then the dust and clutter will be literally frozen in time.

I cannot stay in the room where my computer sits for a long period of time. It is just too cold. How this place reminds me of Laurel Ave in Dothan! Cold and drafty! If only I could find the stream of cold air that wafts through, grabs my body and pulls me down in pain. 

It is hard to explain to someone how much damage this disease has already done to my body on the inside. Wishing I had that sign I could wear around my neck on days when people ignorantly say, "You don't look sick." If they could step inside my body and feel the agony I feel, they wouldn't say such stupid things. But people don't seem to care about words anymore. They don't see the power behind them, the insensitivity, the hurt. 

If only people would take those words and use them for encouragement, what a wonderful world this truly would be! 

Yesterday I received an email with this comment, "Only the Lord can comfort your heart and give you peace in the midst of all of this." While I agree this statement to be true, it is also true that the Lord uses all of us to encourage one other, share compassion to those who are alone and suffering, and just love one another. It doesn't take much to say, "I CARE." I learned back in college too many people use the phrase "I'll pray for you" as a cop out. It is an easy way to say, "I'm not getting involved." 

If you say you'll pray for someone, do it, but also love them with your actions. DO something. Show them you care. If someone is hungry, feed them. If they need something and you have it, give it to them, if they need someone to care about them, CARE. Just two words make all the difference in the world - I CARE. Mean it. 

I've lived alone in the world for over 17 years now. I've encountered truly caring people and people who could care less. The truly caring people I could count on one hand. My heart has learned to discern those who don't care. It still doesn't stop my heart from breaking. I'm sensitive, tender-hearted. Always will be. I believe in compassion. 

I also believe in helping someone because they need it. Giving encouragement because they need it, not because it is something that will make the other person feel good about themselves. 

I was taught in college to make a difference in the lives around me. I was taught by life (the hard way) what a huge difference in makes when someone cares enough to make a difference in your life. 

And then you pass it on in hopes someone will continue to give love, compassion, meet needs. 

Rambling again. It has become too cold to sit in this room. Time to curl up under the blanket once more and thaw out in hopes the pain will subside. 

Tell someone YOU CARE. Make a difference. Pass it on.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Friend Amy

My dearest friend, Amy, my defender, my encourager, my cheerleader. She has been so concerned about me because of the financial struggles I face on a  day to day basis with all of the medical bills, juggles between food, medication or heat. Yes, it has come down to these choices. Amy called me last night and wanted me to have a spot on the youcares.com site. She wanted me to get a step ahead so that I wouldn't be counting the pennies in the jar, worried so much that the stress would start a horrible flare and the next round of damage would ensue. Endless circle. 

So thanks to Amy.
 

A Bad Day

I've been in extremely bad pain since Monday. Heavy heart.  Worried about money. Hoping  to make it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just Wondering

I saw this post on Facebook today and it starting me wondering. Whomever posted it, I hope you don't mind if I share it here.



 
"A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look."

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.
-------------------------------------------------

At first this photo made me think of my childhood, my mother hanging out clothes and later on me taking them in after they were bathed in sunshine. Then as Charles Kuralt would say, "The rest of the story..." came to me. 
How many times do we see others and just pass judgement from a glance? So many times people just compare others by their own standards or surroundings. If their home is not neat, they must be poor housekeepers. If their clothes are worn, they must not care about their appearance. If their belongings are meager, they must be dirt poor and not care enough to have goals and go after them. How many times have you done this? How many times have I done this?
I can't speak for you, but I have passed judgement on people by appearance, status, cleanliness, etc., until my life changed due to chronic illness. I use to be the best housekeeper in the world. Not a piece out of place. Not a speck of dust anywhere. My clothes may not have been designer, but they were clean, pressed and appropriate for work/school.  Not one hair out of place. Always wore makeup before stepping outside the door. 
My parents were hard working people. My mother kept a clean house. My father did physically hard labor with his hands. My brother worked hard and so did I. It angered me at times to see so many people who did not. I just passed judgement and went on failing to ask the why behind the situation. It was easier than trying to understand.
Now I find myself in the shoes of those I judged so many years ago. I became the caregiver of my parents and only brother before they died watching them waste away until death took them. Then an illness consumed my body and stole my life when I wasn't looking. It took my dignity, the friends I thought would stay during hard times, the respect I earned in the working world, the image of the woman I use to see in the mirror. 
Now if I am able to change clothes during the day, I am thankful to have clothes that fit. They are no longer skirts, pretty blouses, dresses and nice shoes. Instead they have been replaced with easy on tops and pull up jeans or pants. My body gains and loses weight according to the tons of medications I have to consume to stay alive. I don't recognize the woman I use to be. Other people now judge me just by a glance. Even doctors don't take time to listen or even check out why all of this is happening. They just pass their own judgement and move on leaving behind a humiliated patient trapped in a body that no longer works. 
I cannot get dressed and go to a day to day job anymore. My body is a prison filled with wardens of pain. They consume me with swelling, fevers, infections, just to name a few, and confine me to the loneliest place in the world - an empty apartment where no one visits, no family exists anymore, and no love warms its corners. 
Gone are the days of putting on makeup just to go out the door. I'm too tired. Most days I don't even go out of the door. If I do it is just to take out the trash or feed the birds. Somehow I don't think the birds will mind that I don't wear makeup for them. 
If anyone came into my door, they would know the days are gone that I can clean my apartment free from dust, free of clutter, etc. It is so painful just to run the vacuum cleaner. There are items on the dining room table because that is as far as I could go. There are items near the sofa. My bedroom has corners filled with items I can no longer put away. I just don't have the strength anymore. 
It is hard enough to walk outside into the world feeling the judgement of people boring a hole through my soul. I guess it is true what goes around comes around. I've learned personally judgment falls back upon you at some point in your life. It has rested heavily on me. I just pray at some point God can "clean the windows" of my own heart that I don't miss the opportunity to reach out to someone whose clothes, living circumstances, or appearance keeps compassion away. I never want to turn my back on anyone whose need is great if there is a dollar in my pocket and someone else may need it.
I think about all of those celebrities who have earned so much in this world. They give to "charities" or give themselves to "their craft." Do they even know who they are outside their own "celebrity name?" Could they get past the fear of being seen doing something compassionate for another human being because they are afraid it would harm their reputation or would they fear the press would report it as something else? Do they think so much about themselves that they can't see the "forest for the trees?"

  When you have much, much is expected of you. So many are suffering. What are you doing to make a difference in someone's life today? Asking "how are you doing?" is not enough. Words without actions mean nothing.  Ambition is a two edged sword. It pushes you to obtain your goals, but you have to be careful. What lives did you hurt or destroy to get there?
If you can't do something to make a difference in someone's life without having to advertise it to the world, what good is it? Don't tell anyone. Just do it. Why must you be praised for having compassion? 
Rambling thoughts today. Never dreamed so many years ago when I worked full time while putting myself through college I'd end up here at this point. I just hope it can make a difference in one life who reads this.