When Love Isn’t Easy

IMG_0201“How do you do it? That’s hard.” This is the reaction I usually get when people ask me what I do. When told I’m the full time caregiver for my son, Jon, and I can’t leave my house unless someone replaces me, the common response is, “I couldn’t do it.”

What? Of course you could. That’s your child. You’re telling me you wouldn’t do whatever was necessary to take care of your child? Hard or not?

Whoever said love is easy?

Most songs written about love are suspended in the infatuation phase, the dreamy, it’s all about how it makes me feel beginnings or the, this ain’t working and I’m outa’ here endings. Not too many start in the middle, where follow through, determination, faithfulness and plodding reside.

Love can feel scratchy as a tag in the neck of a new shirt or painful as open heart surgery. Love is often messy. Complicated. Gritty. It’s sacrificial action, not just starry eyed feelings. It’s giving up much of yourself without giving up on another. It’s relinquishing your desires for the well being of someone else, even and especially when you get very little in return.

Sometimes it IS just plain hard.

I took Jon back to the sedation dentist the other day. This guy who ignores me half the time and rarely lets me touch him, hugged me long and hard before he went down and out in that chair. He was afraid. Needed reassurance. He held on tight ’cause when life gets tough and scary, he knows who’s there for him. He knows who loves him, who sacrifices for him, who would do whatever it takes to assure his well being.

Yet, I’m aware of a love far greater than mine could ever be.

For God so loved the world that he gave..(John 3:16). This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life..(1 John 3:16).

Love nailed Jesus to the cross, not people. His painful, bloody, horrific love, went all in.

..he [Jesus] gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—his death on the cross. Philippians 2:7-8

He didn’t choose the easy way. The comfort and sunshine path. The all-about-me road.

This love was hard as nails, thick as blood and strong as death.

How does 1John 3:16 continue? We too, then ought to lay down our lives for others. Ouch! That’s some tough stuff right there! I can’t produce sacrificial love in my own strength. My selfish humanity rebels against such a thing. I need more of Him. His grace. His transformative power. His love in me, poured out to others.

Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:5

Real love isn’t easy or cheap. It isn’t free. True love costs everything.

The famous 1960’s song proclaimed, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

Yes. It’s still true. But not more of ours. More of His!

You’re Crazy to Live Down There!

IMG_0190People tell me this, especially when a hurricane is coming. Folks north of us watch the weather and think we’re all nuts for living here. The Weather Channel has the entire state of Florida breaking off, floating out to sea and everyone dead by Monday.

You have to remember the weather people in Florida love hurricanes. They wake up excited because they actually have something to report besides, “Well, it’s another sunny day in Orlando. Highs will be in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s. Great day to go to the beach. Tomorrow too. And the day after that. And the one after that. And next month. And for the next year..” (Yawn).

Hurricanes need to be taken seriously of course. They’re dangerous, and Irma barreling down on us as I write this, is nothing to laugh at. But every place has something. Fires in the mid-west and northeast. Earthquakes and mudslides in California. Tornados in the plains. Blizzards up north. The planet seems bent on keeping us on our toes.

We grew up in upstate NY. The remnants of Hurricane Agnes came through in 1972 when I was 17 years old. Torrential rain fell for days and the Chemung River overflowed it’s banks. Half of my home town was destroyed in that flood. Proof you don’t need a tropical climate to be in danger.

Other than the four years we lived in Portland, Oregon, where it was gloomy and rainy, like a London fog, from fall till spring, we spent many years in New England. Mostly New Hampshire with a short stint in Maine. I loved New England. It’s a great place to raise a family, beautiful mountains, lush landscapes, quaint towns, awesome people and of course, Autumn, when the leaves put on their color show and apples are pulled right off the trees, juicy and sweet.

But then comes winter to ruin everything! I froze my tush off nine months out of twelve, shoveled snow and chopped ice until my back hurt and fingers were numb. Bought truckloads in rock salt and sand so I could walk outside without slipping on a patch of ice and cracking my head open, then spent the other half of the winter sweeping the same salt and sand out of my house and garage.

I’d go grocery shopping on a January day and get shopping cart wheels stuck in six inches of slush. And holding that icicle cold nozzle while pumping gas sent waves of pain all the way up my arm to my eyebrows. It’s like a brain freeze for your upper body. Some winter days I’d open the front door and a blast of demonic cold air sucked the breath right out of my lungs and pinched my nostrils together until they defrosted thirty minutes later.

Then there was the constant pile of snowy boots, mittens, coats, scarves and snowsuits dripping by the kitchen door. It smelled like a wet dog died in the house and someone forgot to bury him.

And don’t even mention the snow banks so high I could barely see my neighbor’s house across the street. Or, yeah, the ice storms, coating the world in a winter wonderland of treachery and taking the power down with it, so I wore three layers of clothes under six blankets and refused to get out of bed until someone turned the heat back on, days later.

Last year 450 car crashes happen because of ice and snow conditions just in Minnesota. Sixteen people died in a March, 2017 winter blast that extended from the northernmost midwest states to the northeast states. It was so cold in December 2013 and January 2014, 33 people died and it cost 5 billion dollars in damages.

Is there any perfect place to live? Maybe we’re all crazy to live anywhere!

Irma will be my sixth hurricane since moving to Florida, seventeen years ago, and I’ve been calling myself a Florida wimp for quit some time now. Hmmm….hurricanes, snakes, gators, creepy crawling critters, fire ants and humidity so high in the summer, it makes you sweat just looking outside from your air conditioned window? Maybe wimps don’t live down here. Maybe we’re a tougher bunch than we think. Maybe Florida ain’t for sissies after all.

What I do know is while my friends up north are shivering and shoveling, in a few months, I’ll be sitting on the pool deck having breakfast and picking fresh veggies out my garden.

Guess we all get to pick what we’ll put up with in this life. As for me, if it’s my time to exit, I’d rather blow away warm and shouting “Glory!” in a hurricane than freeze to death, shivering in a snow bank. If that makes me crazy, then I guess I am.

Gotta’ go toughen up some more, so I’ll talk to you all soon. On the other side of Irma.

https://weather.com/storms/winter/news/winter-storm-season-so-far-january-2017
https://weather.com/storms/winter/news/snow-winter-storm-stella-news-updates
https://www.scribd.com/mobile/document/201347851/2013-2014-North-American-Cold-Wave

Why I Switched..

..to a mostly organic lifestyle.

IMG_0189In 1980 two life changing events took place. Our first child was born with Down syndrome and I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis. The next twenty years of my life were all about conventional treatments: drugs, shots, surgery, drugs, shots, more drugs and drugs for the drugs.

In spite of all these ‘interventions’ my joints were on fire, cushioning between bones disappeared, tendons shifted, fingers and toes drifted out of place, neck bones began to shift and constant headaches radiated from the back of my head across the front. There were days it killed to comb my hair, button my shirt, hold a pen. Simple tasks became monumental. Pain dominated my life. Shoulders. Elbows. Ribs. Jaws. Anywhere bone met bone, pain and swelling existed. I cried a lot. I was angry a lot. I felt hopeless. A lot.

In the year 2000 we moved from New England to Florida. The sun and year round warm temperatures helped, but I was waking up to the idea that doing the same thing and getting the same results seemed stupid. I wanted to live long, especially for my son who will always need me. I needed to be healthy. What I’d been doing barely managed symptoms and I was afraid for the future if I continued down this road.

So I prayed. I asked God to help me. To show me what I was missing. What I didn’t know. A friend made an appointment for me at her chiropractor’s office and there I began to learn what the body needs to heal itself, to stay healthy. I started to exercise (carefully), cut many inflammatory foods out of my diet and had gradual success. I’ve been off all medications since 2005 and have learned I can live just fine without fast food, processed food, sugar, dairy and excess meat consumption.

Then in 2011, I started having reoccurring episodes of hives and rashes. Urticaria hives, an auto-immune condition, are large marble to golf ball size bumps that rotated around my body to any spot they chose. I could have one or ten of them at in a time in varying locations. They burned, itched and swelled my skin to uncomfortable tightness and would last 24-48 hours before vanishing. Then more would appear. Misery! I drove myself to the emergency room one night because I thought my throat was closing up. I had hives in my throat. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me and prescribed steroids.

Tiny, burning, itchy cluster bumps began popping up on my ankles, legs, arms and around my nose and mouth. I went to my primary care doctor and was sent to a dermatologist and an allergist. The dermatologist gave me steroid cream. The allergist ran all the typical allergy tests. Everything came back normal. When I went back for the follow up to discuss results he told me there was nothing he could do but give me steroids. He also told me I had about a 2% chance of finding the cause. By then I had totally lost faith in mainstream medicine. How can all these doctors not know the cause of so many chronic conditions? I thought they went to a zillion years of school to learn this stuff. I realized, once again, I was on my own. I’d have to figure it out for myself.

I began reading and researching and discovered how our food supply is being poisoned by large corporations. How the FDA, USDA, pharmaceutical giants, food corporations and chemical companies are in each other’s pockets. They do their own (not independent) short (not long) term safety studies then release demons into the food supply with no idea of long term intended or unintended consequences. They tell us everything is safe but the fox is guarding the hen house. Profit is more important than health!

I was eating all the right foods, fruit, vegetables, nut milks, lean meat and fish, but now I’m reading about gene splicing, genetically modified plants, toxins sprayed all over commercial farm fields and plants genetically implanted to withstand the pesticides sprayed on them. Wheat that’s sprayed with weed killer three days before harvest (gluten intolerance anyone?) and the animals who are fed GMO grains they’re not meant to eat in the first place (such as grass eating cows fed GMO corn and soy!) and then given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from what they’re eating, not to mention the crowded living conditions of commercial stock farms. They’re given hormones to fatten up faster, probably so they can get to the slaughter house before they get sick! Then we eat the animals and the toxicity travels up the food chain.

The more I researched the more horrified I became! I realized my body was in rebellion against the toxic sludge it was ingesting, so I went on a total, organic only, plant only, eating experiment for three months. No cheating. And guess what, all the hives went away! After slowly introducing foods one at a time, back into my diet, I discovered I’m allergic to chemically grown foods. I made marinara sauce with GMO tomatoes and immediately got hives. Made the same sauce with organic tomatoes, no hives. I continued experimenting on myself until I was sure.

I remember asking many doctors through the years if what I was eating had anything to do with my chronic conditions. All of them said no. If only I’d known then what I know now. As long as I eat mostly organic, I’m inflammation, pain and hive free.

Is it expensive? Compared to misery, agony, and piles of medical bills? No. I’d rather forgo other unnecessary wants to have my health. If you see me wearing the same clothes over and over it’s because I’d rather spend money on good food.

Is it easy? Not at first. Old habits die hard. But the longer I do this the easier it is. It becomes a normal lifestyle after a while.

I’m sharing this for several reasons:

  • People need to know. We’re busy living our lives, trusting the government, medical community and those who are supposed to be smarter than us, but we can’t trust that anymore. We have to be aware, informed and educated. We have to take back our health and the health of our children. I don’t want my grandchildren or yours, to end up like me, years of misery and pain, crooked joints or worse, especially if it can be avoided by something as simple as what we put in our mouths. I want my family, friends, everyone I care about, to live long, healthy lives.
  • I post often about health awareness on social media. I am a living, self taught science experiment and this information is too important to keep to myself (those who are tired of it can unfriend me or call me crazy or tell me to go jump. I’m ok with that). If you have any chronic conditions from cancer to diabetes, I dare you to try it and see what happens. I’m not guaranteeing a total cure for all, but I’m certain of a large turn-around for many.
  • We can change the toxic stranglehold on the food supply with our buying power. If we all start buying more organic, if we all start demanding no GMO, pesticide and hormone soaked food, with our wallets, WE can change the grocery store shelves faster than those in Washington, DC, can even think about it. Supply and demand still talks in a capitalistic economy. We can make organic, toxic free food affordable for all.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Buy organic, non GMO as much as possible. As much as you can afford.

Eat For Health! It could save your life.

The New ‘Hater’ Speech

I have a fascination with words and how they evolve over time, how culture redefines them. Lately, as I scroll social media, read articles and hear news, the latest descriptive word is ‘Hater’.

IMG_0180“Your a Hater!”
“They’re Haters!”
“The Haters are here!”
“He/she’s a Hater troll!”
“Ignore the Haters!”

Here a Hater, there a Hater, everywhere a Hater, Hater!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of hate is – a very strong feeling of dislike, intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury, extreme dislike or disgust : antipathy, loathing, to express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility.

Is it possible those who call other’s a ‘Hater’ aren’t themselves being one, just by this definition? I don’t know, but it’s something to think on.

It seems to me, the new cultural definition of the word Hate is – you disagree with me/us/them, therefore you hate. Have we really become this thin skinned and easily offended? It is possible to disagree with another’s opinion, beliefs or position and not hate them? I disagreed with my husband a few days ago, and last week and probably last month and probably last year and I still love him. Imagine that!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word disagree – to have a different opinion, to fail to agree, to be different, to not be suitable for or pleasing to someone. Something/someone being different, not suitable or pleasing does not constitute hate, unless we choose to make it so.

There are some valid haters in the world. Obviously. There always has been. But when we start labeling everyone who doesn’t see things our way as a ‘Hater’, when we silence opposing views by mud slinging and name calling or worse, free speech, free thought and healthy debate are diminished if not extinguished. No compromise can be reached and no problem can be solved.

Unity is not uniformity. Unity in it’s simplest terms means we all desire the common good for ourselves, family, community, nation and world. How we get there is always up for debate. But we’ll never get anywhere if we can’t even talk about it.

Let’s put the ‘Hater’ speech aside and listen to each other. Try to see issues from another’s perspective. Then think on it, pray on it and be compassionate in our convictions.

Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) does not include labeling and name calling. And if you disagree with me here, you are not a ‘Hater’. Just sayin’.

 

Romans 12:14-18. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Love Never Fails

IMG_0177I was barely twenty years old when Mike and I married on August 23, 1975. I confess now, though I didn’t think so then, I knew nothing of love. I was ‘in love’, but was unaware of the truth that love was not much in me.

Love was all feeling. All desire. And so much about my personal happiness. Of course, I wanted to please Mike, make him happy and keep our love alive and growing, but I had no clue how the melding of two entirely different souls would forge and shape us. I had no idea the process would continuously be both marvelous and difficult, until our last breath.

Over many years of marriage, I have failed all of love’s definitions.

Every. Single. One. And have often prevailed in love’s opposites.

After all this time, I have yet to perfect even one of these:

Love is patient. Selfishness demands, “Now!”

Love is kind. Selfishness retaliates.

Love does not envy. Selfishness is discontent.

Love does not boast. Selfishness demands recognition and approval.

Love is not arrogant. Selfishness doesn’t admit, “I am wrong.”

Love is not rude. Selfishness must have the last word.

Love does not insist on its own way. Selfishness says, “My way or the highway”.

Love is not irritable. Selfishness has many moods.

Love is not resentful. Selfishness is bitter and accusatory.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Selfishness retaliates.

Love rejoices with the truth. Selfishness hides in lies.

Love bears all things. Selfishness says, “I’ve had enough. I’m done!”

Love believes all things. Selfishness cancels faith.

Love hopes all things. Selfishness feasts on distrust and fear.

Love endures all things. Selfishness builds walls of protection.

Love never fails. Selfishness gives up and walks away.

One year followed another and as time moved forward, my selfish heart awakened to the idea that love isn’t all about me. And the perception that I, in my own strength and by my human effort, could love as God loves, completely and unconditionally, is now banished. I desperately need His grace and help here. I am a work in progress. Always.

Forty two years ago, two imperfect people merged to begin a journey of growth and improvement. Iron is sharpening iron and two are still becoming one, as we continue to practice what love should be. I have deep gratitude for my husband who steadfastly forgives and doesn’t give up on me, though my love has often failed.

At this point, I think we understand a bit better, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I pray a year from today, I’ll fail less at this love thing as our Love Never Fails learning continues.


From~1 Corinthians 13:4-8 & 13

 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10:7-8

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Jon’s Survival Gadgets

IMG_0161Jon always packs a grocery bag or two of ‘items’ when we go out. In case you’re ever wondering (which you’re probably not), here’s what’s in the latest one:

3 stuffed animals
A rubber bracelet
3 broken pen halves in a ziplock bag
1 broken pen half (not in a bag)
A clothespin
A blue shoestring
A fabric belt with a missing buckle
A faux gold filigree cross
Pair of headphones
Broken piece of styrofoam

An old TV remote, a working pen, a drawer knob and a phone jack, all in a ziplock bag
3 straws in a ziplock bag
A page ripped out of a book
A long brown plastic thingy?
His white karate jacket
A neck pillow
A juice box
A blue shirt

I’d like to start a new TV reality show called “Jon’s Survival Gadgets” where we take a person out into the Artic, the woods, the jungle or leave them on a mountain top a zillion miles from nowhere with nothing but what Jon packs. If they survive for two months, using his gadgets and doodads in creative ways, they win a day out with him as a prize.

Who want’s to go first?

Who Decides!?

A large number of free wallpaper download, including mobile wallpapers, desktop wallpaper, computer background, 360x640, 640x360, 240×320, 1280×720, 320×480, 480×272, 120×160, 1200×800, 800×480, 960×800, 960×854, PSP Backgrounds, Nokia, 5800, n97, 5230, 5530, n8, iPhone, Blackberry, Htc, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson ...There’s a battle raging in the UK right now over the life of a little boy. Eleven month old Charlie Gard was born with a rare genetic disorder which, up to this point, has not allowed him to go home. Charlie’s parents have raised over a million and a half dollars to bring him to the USA for an experimental treatment in a New York hospital .

The Pope has even offered to bring the child to a Vatican pediatric hospital in Rome, but the UK hospital took the parents to court and a judge ruled, along with the medical establishment, that Charlie will have no ‘quality of life’ and therefore deserves the right to ‘die with dignity’. He will not be allowed to leave the facility.

I’m trying to decide if this is the evil side of socialized medicine or the reprobate minds of medicine playing god. Maybe it’s both. Since when does a hospital get to tell parents doing everything possible to help their baby, “NO!”?

The term ‘quality of life’ is thrown around extensively in relation to disability. Somehow people in the mainstream, think they have the right to decide what quality of life looks like, acts like and is. It’s one thing if we want to decide this for ourselves and possibly our own loved ones but when we start forcing our definition on others, there’s a problem.

Those of us who love kids with special needs, quickly learn what quality of life really means. They bring quality to life in all the ways that matter most, helping us redefine life’s priorities. All the shiny, glittery attractions that spell success in the world begin to pale as we share life from their point of view.

My son, Jon is content living life his way, though it may not be conventional or understood. When those of us considered ‘normal’ start deciding those considered ‘not normal’ have no right to exist…well, if we know history, we also know where this thought process leads.

Charlie’s parents should be allowed to and applauded for doing everything they can to help their child. If he doesn’t survive that will be God’s decision, not man’s, which is exactly how it should be.

Please pray for the family of little Charlie Gard.

Epilogue: 2 AM, Jon and Jesus

IMG_0329I was at a fast food restaurant until 2 am this week and posted it on Facebook, partly for fun and partly out of sheer boredom because there’s nothing fast about fast food when you’re with Jon.

Someone commented on that post with this question:

“Wow, what does he do for so long? Just look around or walk around?”

So I thought I’d fill in the details for those who have never had the pleasure of taking Jon out on the town. Well…no…can’t say that. It’s not really going out on the town because we never make it to more than one place, even though we’re gone for hours!

Here’s how it went down on Wednesday:

4:45 pm – Jon comes out of his room with his shoes on. Oh, oh! A sign he wants to go someplace. He has a stuffed animal and a plastic grocery bag full of ?? (whatever’s) in his hand. He has a string tied around his ankle and shorts pockets bulging with items he has selected from his room. He walks very slowly toward the laundry room which leads to the garage, which leads to the driveway where our cars are parked. Walking slow  may or may not (or any variation thereof ) = taking five steps then stopping for three to five minutes, then five more, then stopping, then…OK, you get the picture.

5:10 pm – Jon is now in the laundry room where he changes his clothes. I keep most of his clean clothes in baskets on the counter in the laundry room because if they are put away in his room they end up piled on the floor with everything else and I can’t tell if they’re clean or dirty. This solved a huge problem of what’s clean and what’s not for us.

5:35 pm – He’s in the garage. The motion alarm we had installed out there a few years ago keeps beeping so I know he hasn’t gone outside yet.

5:45 pm – I open the door between the laundry room and garage and tell him, “Jon, Dad and I are going to church tonight so we can’t take you out. You’ll have to wait until MS (caregiver) comes and see if she doesn’t mind. She will be here soon. By now he’s added three cleaning cloths from the laundry room cabinet, another clean shirt and a clean pair of socks, to the items he’s bringing on this outing and is sifting through a pile of cardboard and paper in the recycle bin, collecting junk mail – brochures, magazines and flyers – we have thrown out. He scowls at my announcement and turns his back to me, which means, ‘What you just said does not make me happy’.

6:05 pm – I go in to change for church. The motion alarm is still continuously beeping. He’s still in the garage.

6:10 pm – I don’t hear the motion alarm now so I go out in the garage to check. My car was left unlocked and Jon has the back door open, his feet on the driveway and his body is bent inside the car, and he’s arranging all of his items on the floor and backseat. He has added a bottle of water and juice from the garage fridge to the mix. I walk out and lean over the open door, “Jon, don’t bother putting all your stuff in my car. I can’t take you out. I’m leaving for church soon. Please wait for MS (caregiver) to come and we’ll ask her if she minds taking you someplace tonight.” I see him scowl and he stops fussing with his stuff. I go back in the house.

6:30 pm – MS arrives. Mike and I have now checked on him multiple times. He has since removed his stuff from my car and is trying to get into Mike’s. MS comes in and says, “It looks like Jon wants to go somewhere” (she knows him by now). “Do you mind taking him out tonight?” I ask. She doesn’t. So it is agreed she will text me and let me know where they land and I will come to where they are after church so she can leave.

6:40 pm – We go back outside. Jon is standing by Mike’s car with all his stuff piled on top of the trunk. “MS says she will take you out,” I tell him. “Go put your stuff in her car.” He slowly starts to gather his things. I go back inside to get some money for MS so she can pay for whatever Jon decides to do. I go back outside and give it to her and remind her to put the garage door down when they leave.

6:50 pm – Mike and I come out to leave for church. MS is in the driveway waiting for Jon to align all of his stuff in her hatchback. We say “Bye, have fun.” Jon doesn’t look up.

8:15 pm – I check my phone. MS text says they are at McDonald’s. Jon has just ordered and has finally sat down. I text back and tell her I’ll be there in 45 minutes or so.

8:45 pm – We arrive home. I go inside, grab my iPad and a library book, say goodnight to Mike who goes to bed at 9:30 on work nights, and leave for McDs.

8:55 pm – I arrive at the restaurant. MS and Jon are sitting at a booth right in front of where I park. She is looking through a book and he is sitting quietly in front of a tray full of food which he has not touched yet. I go inside. MS fills me in on how long it took him to get out of the car and how much Jon loves the new self-order kiosks (he always loves a picture menu). He ordered his own food and she showed him how to pay for it. She also tells me how patient and kind the manager has been to him. I order a snack wrap and a cup of tea for myself (see previous blog post about the drunk guy who pays for my food). She stays and we talk several hours. Jon sits across from us, but does not join our conversation even when we try to draw him in.

11:00 pm – MS leaves. At this point, Jon has only downed his French fries and half of his chocolate shake.

11:10 pm – Jon grabs his extra shirt and one of the cleaning towels he brought and walks slowly to the bathroom. I get up from the booth and sit on the windowsill where I can see all the way to the back end of the building. He checks both doors and almost goes in the women’s but after glancing at me and seeing me shake my head, ‘No’ he enters the men’s. I sit back down and continue reading my book.

11:30 pm – Four teenagers come in, three girls and one guy and sit in the booth in front of me. The youngest of the four, who couldn’t be anymore than 16, is so drunk she falls over in the seat. Her ‘friends’ try to get her to sit up and she vomits everywhere. One of the girls pulls her up and takes her in the bathroom. I ask the young man if she’s been drinking and he says yes. “You’re all to young to be drinking.” I say. “Who’s driving?” The girl who looks the oldest shakes her keys at me. “I am. They called me to come pick them up at a party. I had no idea she was so drunk.” I reply, “And you brought her here? Like that? You need to take her home, Now!” And to the young man, “Go tell the manager there’s a mess to clean up here.”

11:45 pm – I realize Jon’s been in the men’s room a long time, which isn’t unusual, but feel I need to check on him. There seems to be a lot of drunk people out this night. I knock on the men’s room door and crack it open. “Anyone in here?” I ask. No response so I go in, knowing Jon won’t answer. He’s in the handicap stall standing in front of the mirror, the shirt and towel draped over the grab bar. He scowl’s when I open the stall door which isn’t locked. “Jon, you’ve been in here a long time. I just wanted to make sure you’re OK. Someone else might need to use this so please finish up and come out. And don’t forget to bring your things with you.” I leave the men’s room. About ten minutes later he appears with the other shirt on and the towel tied around his waist (Don’t ask. I don’t know either 🤔).

12:00 pm – We’re seated again. The teenagers are gone and the manager is mopping up the mess (poor thing). I chat with her as she cleans and she informs me there’s been more than normal, drunk underage kids in lately. Lots of graduation parties going on. I ask her if she gets paid more for cleaning up their mess. She laughs and says, “I wish.”

12:20 am – I have finished my book. Jon still has a half eaten hamburger and a small glass of orange juice on his tray. He gets up and goes to the kiosk to order more food then takes the receipt to the counter. I hear the girl tell him, “That will be $16 and 38 cents.” They stand there and stare at each other then he turns around and looks at me. I grab my iPad and purse (don’t dare leave those sitting around) and go to the counter. “Jon you haven’t finished what you got yet. Go sit back down and eat the rest of your first order please. We are not spending $16 on more food.” He moves over and pouts. I tell the cashier to cancel the order and to cancel any other order he might create at the kiosk. “He really likes playing with that and it gives him a sense of independence to be able to order his own stuff but he doesn’t think about the cost and who’s paying.” She smiles. “No problem.” I go sit down and leave Jon pouting at the counter.

12:45 am – Jon is sitting again. He finishes his burger and drink. I’m streaming the latest episode of, “Born This Way,” on my iPad. I tell him. “OK Jon, it’s time to go home. I’m getting really sleepy.” Throw away your trash and I’ll go get you some fries to take home.” I get the fries and come back to the table. He is slowly collecting wrappers and empty ketchup packets to throw away and organizing all the things he brought with him on the seat. I sit down and he gets up. He picks up the tray and goes to the bin, dumps his trash and takes all the trays on top to the counter and waits for an employee to come get them. The manager thanks him then he walks to the drink machine to fill up his cup. He goes back to the counter and stands there watching everyone work. To hurry our leaving process up a bit, I start carrying some of his stuff to the car. I know if I bring it all he’ll be upset so I leave a few things behind. It takes me two trips and my backseat looks like a yard sale.

1:15 am – I’m back inside sitting on the windowsill. Waiting. He is walking around the dining room looking for stray trays to bring to the front, then goes to the condiment station and puts a few napkins, straws and ketchup packets in his pockets. He walks back to the booth to get his remaining items. “Come on Jon, we really need to get home. Let’s go.” He walks toward the door opposite of where the car is parked, that exits to outdoor seating. I wait for him to go outside then go out the front door, start the car and move it over to a parking space that puts him in my line of sight. He tries to go back inside but the side door is locked (Hallelujah!). A woman is sitting outside drinking a coke, talking on the phone and smoking. He watches her for a while then leans against the side of the building, puts a straw in his mouth and pretends he’s smoking.

1:30 am – I’m sitting in the car streaming the rest of the episode I was watching and keeping an eye on Jon. He heads around the building in front of me and down the sidewalk toward the front door and I say out loud to myself and Jesus, “Please don’t go back in. Oh please!” He doesn’t. He walks past the door, picks up a paper off the sidewalk and shoves it in his pocket and FINALLY comes to the car. He opens the back door and spends the next ten or more minutes arranging all his stuff on the floor and back seat, then gets all the way in and sits down but doesn’t close the door. He sits perfectly still for at least five minutes with the door open. Mosquitoes start buzzing around my ears. “Close the door Jon, mosquitoes are coming in.” Nothing. Now I feel myself getting annoyed and raise my voice a few decibels. “Please close the door now so we can go!”

1:45 am – He closes the door. “Thank you. Put your seat belt on.” Nothing. “Jon, put your seat belt on so I don’t get a ticket from the police on the way home. If I have to pay a ticket because you won’t wear your seat belt we can’t afford to come back to McDonalds.” I hear the belt click into place. “Thank you,” I say again.

1:55 am – We pull out of the parking lot and drive home. It’s pitch dark out. No moon and very few streetlights in this place where we live (I’ve never lived in a city without streetlights until we moved here. Weird).

2:10 am – Pull into the driveway, shut off the car and put the garage door up. Jon sits still. “Come on Jon. Please don’t take forever to get out of the car tonight. I want to go to bed. It’s late.” He sits. I start taking stuff in the house. The motion alarm is going off constantly and I’m thinking it’s going to wake Mike up. I shut it off. The cat comes out and sits in front of the garage screen. Jon doesn’t like the cat and won’t come in if she’s there so on one of my trips from the car to the house I pick her up and put her out the back door onto the pool deck. I go back in the garage and Jon is out of the car, leaning against it. Most of the items he brought are piled on the roof. I go back inside, put my purse away, hang up my coat, brush my teeth, turn the light off in the kitchen and the light on in Jon’s room.

2:25 am – I go back to the garage to see where Jon is and he’s in it! Praise Jesus! I put the garage door down, tell him I’m going to bed and to turn the laundry room light off when he comes through. I decide to leave the cat on the pool deck for the night, lock the sliding door and turn the nightlight on in the hallway so Jon can see.

2:40 am – I turn the motion alarm back on and finally crawl in bed. The alarm isn’t going off so I assume Jon is inside the house. Whatever happens after that, I don’t really care. God’s in charge now and I tell Him so before falling asleep.

So there’s the answer to your question Sarah. And FYI- it’s like this everytime we go anywhere. Hope that clears things up for you. 🙂

2 AM, Jon and Jesus

When I’m out with Jon until 2AM (or whatever time he decides to party ’til), I see a lot of IMG_0326humanity. It’s true, the dark of night often brings out what is most broken in people.

Last night I stood in line behind a man who’d obviously had too much to drink. He was loud and flirting with all the girls behind the counter. He seemed to be a ‘happy drunk’ at least. He turned around and started spilling words on me. I stood quietly looking at him; silently praying for him.

Then a conversation started that went like this:

Him: “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Me: “Because you’re talking to me and I’m listening?”

Him: “Tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to pay for your order.”

Me: “Thank you. That’s thoughtful, but not necessary.”

Him: “No, I insist. You know why? Cause I’m a kind hearted guy and my mom always told me what goes around comes around.”

Me: “Well, Amen to that. Your mom is right. Mom’s usually are (I smiled). But those are actually the words of Jesus. He said, ‘What you sow, you reap.’ Same thing.”

Him: Don’t Amen me now. I ain’t going to church on Sunday.

Me: “You should. It would be a great place for you to be. Sit your butt in church instead of on a bar stool.” (I smiled again. So did he.)

Him: “OK, so order. I’m paying.” (He let me move ahead of him in line)

Me: Alright then, I’ll let you. The money you spend on me will be one less beer you buy and you’ll be blessed besides.”

I ordered. He paid. I thanked him. He stayed a few more minutes talking to everyone who came in and waved to me when he left. As I ate my sandwich wrap and drank my tea, I prayed He would be overwhelmed by the love of Father God and his life changed forever.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and spread the Good News and the good news is, we don’t need a platform, audience or microphone to do it. We just need to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we encounter people out in our world, the places we move through as we do life. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

So what is truth?

One man, Pontus Pilot, asked Jesus this question. The answer was standing right in front of him and like most of us, he didn’t ‘get it.’

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And what is love? “God is love” 1 John 4:8.

He doesn’t just give love, His entire being, nature and character consists of love. Love is who and what He IS.

Share The Truth and The Love with someone today? And ask the Spirit to help you do it, not with an attitude or an ‘I-know-better-than-you’ self righteousness, but in the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It’s fun! And you never know what a planted seed might later produce in someone’s life.

Always On My Mind

IMG_0127Jon’s been to the sedation dentist five times in the past eight months. We still have two to three more appointments to finish all the repair needed and then there’s the question of whether there’ll be more in the future.

There’s always this thing about Jon’s future (and not just his teeth). It wants to hang over me like a dark cloud, more than I care to admit.

I don’t worry about our son, David. I think about him everyday, but never worry about him. But Jon? Oh yes! I worry about him plenty and have for many years. The older he and I get, the more it weighs on me. Maybe this is normal for parents of kids who need care and supervision their entire lives. Is it? Or am I alone here?

I can be having a conversation with you and in the far recesses of my mind I’m thinking about Jon. I can be at the grocery store, in a church service, on a cruise, visiting my grandson; I can be anywhere doing anything and Jon is present in my thoughts. He’s always on my mind.

Other’s tell me, “Well you shouldn’t worry so much. It’s in God’s hands.”
I smile and reply, “Thank you, that’s true. You’re right. Pray for me.”
But honestly, what I sometimes want to shout is, “That’s easy for you to say!”

So how do we trust God in situations that continue day after day, year after year? It’s real. It’s in our face every morning when we rise and every night when we lay down. How do we find peace and contentment in this place? Can I ever reach a place of total surrender here? Can I ever mature enough in God to never feel this anxiety again, even when nothing has changed? Can I get through a day without having to lay it down at  Jesus’ feet again and again? Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that.

I don’t know. I want to. Worry wears me out. It’s exhausting.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) but in context, He was talking about material goods needed for life: food, drink and clothes. He wasn’t talking about my son. Apostle Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:12 that he had “learned the secret of being content in every situation” but also related this to material needs; hunger, abundance and lack. He wasn’t talking about Jon either.

So I look at these:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you..” Psalm 55:22.

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Apostle Paul) Philippians 4:6.

“..Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus) because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-8.

“Come to Me (Jesus) all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jesus) John 14:27.

I read these promises and realize this worry free existence we hope for, may NOT be a ‘I’ve finally arrived’ deal. I wonder if we ever reach the pinnacle of ability to sail through a trouble filled earth life without angst. As believers in an all powerful and involved-in-life God, maybe we do ourselves and others a disservice when we expect to reach a super spiritual level of never worrying about anything, ever again, this side of Heaven.

We read our Bibles and cliché these scriptures into meaninglessness, beating ourselves up for failing and feeling sub-standard for not measuring up.

Could it be these promises aren’t about removing worry from life permanently, but instructions for surrendering it daily? If “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen,” (Hebrews 11:1) then everyday I need to lay what I hope for at His feet. Everyday while I wait ‘for what I have not yet seen’ I need His strength to battle the enemies of worry, doubt and fear.

Everyday I pray.
Everyday I cast my anxiety on Him.
Everyday I come to Him for peace and rest.
Everyday I run to Him with my problems.
Everyday I choose to trust Him.
Everyday I believe He loves me.
Everyday I lay my questions, concerns, fears and worries before Him.
Everyday I surrender Jon, his future and mine, back to Him.

Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.

The better question to ask is this: “Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from His love?” Romans 8:35

When I remember I’m loved, it’s easier to let go.
When I remember I’m loved, I worry less.
When I remember I’m loved, I breathe deeper.
When I remember I’m loved, I surrender completely.

“But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown His love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love..” Romans 8:38.

In my daily surrender, God’s love overtakes my worry. When His love is always on my mind, His love always wins.

“..nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:39.

Nothing. Will ever!

Not Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that. Hallelujah!