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Well she is in.  As you can see, her room is a work in progress.  When  you are given a month to plan a change in colleges, dorm “decorations” come in pieces.  I am not opposed to that.  Your experiences from your first night at college to your second night will be ultimately different.  The blank bulletin board  by tomorrow with have friends from high school, later in the week with new friends and, God willing, new ones from a sorority.

College life is about evolving.  This sounds cliche, but it is about learning exactly who you are.  Maitland’s life up until now has been more challenging than others and even less challenging than a great deal of people.  These life experiences have made her into the fearless, God loving girl she is to date.   Jesus took hold of her life a few months ago and has already taken those challenges and turned them into good stuff.  She is ready for this new venture.  I am not sure her daddy and I are, though.  It took some clever comedians to dry the tears and return the laughs by the time we got onto Caldwell Mill Rd.

I tend to compartmentalize my emotions in my heart.  I do the same with my children.  Each child is different, each child holds a different shape in my heart.  Over time, those shapes change.  Sometimes they change sizes according to who needs my undivided attention at that particular phase in his or her life, in mine as well.

Now, I am truly not an expert, but when a child leaves the nest, I imagine the hole in my heart longs for that shape to be filled full again immediately.  That lonely space is a void which no one can fill but that child.  It resembles grief.  That person is no longer there at a moments notice physically.  Spiritually they still consume the house and you expect to turn a corner and they will be standing there like nothing ever happened.  Alas, that is not the case, and you must fill that void with memories until the next time they are around to fill a part of the void with their new experiences,  yet still holding old to the old self.  An old self will always have a chunk of that hole in your heart.

Maitland is an hilarious story teller.  She can mimic just about anyone.  I look forward to her tales of her new adventures.

Blessings Mator….

 

 

 

 

A Piece of My Heart

There are no words

I listened to S Town this week.  I knew early on in the first episode what would happen to John.  He said he couldn’t describe his darkness in words, but I think he did a damn good job.  Maybe that is because I could relate to the darkness John experienced at times.  I could relate to the highs as well.  Manic Depression, Bipolar, is a beast.  It will alter your life.

Unfortunately, I believe some people battling this beast will not ever respond well to the solutions of this mental health world.  Not enough medicines or therapy can “cure” those genius’s who suffer so deeply at times.  John was one of these people.  So were Einstein and Van Gogh.  Don Mclean sang it true in “Starry Starry Night”: “How you suffered for your sanity” and “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you”.  John was beautiful.  Beneath his crude language and disparaging look on life, was a genius.  He was an artist.  I believe true, genius artisans suffer from this world the most.  John expressed the beautiful side of  him through his hedge maze, gardens, and especially his clock “work”.

Minds like John’s, Einstein’s and Van Gogh’s just do not understand this world.  I’m not a genius by any means on their level, but I totally get it.  Those of you who do not experience the darkness as these men have, and so many people today, do not understand.  Your practical minds cannot understand the beast that can tear up your mind and skew the world into this dark, tornadic hell.

John tried to cry out for help so many times.  Bibb County did not have the means to help someone like John.  They do not have access to the medical community or even the literature to help someone like John.  I believe he tried medications once early on, but they dulled his brilliant brain and he could not express himself as well as when he is without the meds.  I have experienced that throughout my life.  I have been over medicated at times to the point I was a hollow shell, numb to the world around me, almost as bad as the depression I battle.

A large group exists that believe you will go to hell if you commit suicide.  To those living in the darkest depths of this world are essentially in hell.  The world can be too much for them.  Any place would be better than this living darkness.

For the majority of those battling mental health, I believe solutions do exist.  Research and medication have  come a long way.  More people, famous or not, are speaking out and trying to reduce the stigma.  However, it is still not enough.  I was looking at a company the other day that sponsored three different cancer fund raisers and nothing close to any mental health fund raising organization.  Mental health touches just as many people.  But it will take time.  It took a long time for people to recognize the scope of cancer.

In many instances, it is too late.  Teenage suicide attempts and completions are on the rise.  They are the second leading cause of death in this age group.  The Jason Foundation (jasonfoundation.com) is one such entity battling the epidemic.  Many states, including Alabama, have passed the Jason Flatt Act.  It requires school to include training and education in suicide awareness during the in-service training.  It stands to reason since educators, coaches, etc. end up seeing  our kids more often than we do as they get older.

Suicide is tragic no matter how you slice it.  I am not saying that it cannot be prevented with those like John, Einsten and, lets not forget, Robin Williams.  I just think that the darkness in these brilliant minds is too much to bear.

Remember, it is Mental Health Month!!!!

 

From the Mountains to the Valleys

Almost every year my family ends up going to Boone and Blowing Rock, NC.  My brother lives there.  It is God’s country as far as I’m concerned.  Now I have never been out West in the Summer, so that thought could change.  Going to Boone is cheaper:  free place to stay:)

A friend of mine talked about a devotional he read the other day.  It was talking about how we should live during the Mountain Peak times in our lives and especially the Valleys.  Mountain Top experiences have always bugged me.  It is probably due to being Bipolar.  I live those highs and lows every day.

I think I’ve told you about the time my husband and I went to Outback in Mobile.  It was a true Mountain Top experience.  We came back feeling new and refreshed, ready to take the world by storm.  God was going to be the center of every day from now on.  My mother in law stayed with the kids that weekend.  The kids were busy and had a lot of places to go.  It was hard to get much done around the house like she likes to do when she stays with them and helps us when we leave town.  The kids always came back from her house with a suitcase full of clean clothes!!!

Anyway, we got home Sunday evening and the kitchen looked like Hurricane Katrina hit.  I wanted to cry.  Then she told me she did all my laundry but I might have to do some folding.  6 laundry baskets of clean clothes I had to fold Monday morning.  I tumbled right off that mountain.  I blamed her.  That was wrong.  She had done exactly what she was asked to do:  look after our children.  They were safe, fed and had a great time.  They are 100 percent the center of her world when she is with them; even when they are not.  Both of my parents were gone.  She made up for all of them.

Back to the peaks and valleys.  The peak of the mountain is rocky and craggy and sometimes cold and snowy.  When you are at that mountain top, you have reached to mecca of spiritual growth for that particular time in your life.  This is it! you tell yourself.  I have done it!!!

But you fall.  You fall when least expected; and you fall often.  It can be a very long way down.  However, you land on soft fertile ground, surrounded by trees and streams.  This is where you gain your sustenance to climb back up that mountain.  God doesn’t want you to stay at that peak once you have reached it.  He wants you to grow more, do more, give more.  He knows our potential is endless.

While we are in that valley, we must learn about God and Jesus.  We must learn what they did to enrich their own lives and others: usually they enriched their own lives by helping others grow.  Isn’t that why the disciples were chosen?  Their lives had peaks and valleys as well.  But they turned to God and persevered.  As low and lowly you feel when you fall, put away your pride and learn from the teachings of Jesus.  They are right there in the Bible.  It shares the stories which help us grow.  It is probably the coolest book you could have.

When you do reach the peak, remember what it took to get there.  Remember you did not get there alone.  Praise Him for getting you there.  And above all, praise Him when you’re in the valley learning from Him.

 

 

In a Flash

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.

Behold, I will do something NEW , Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

I will even make a ROADWAY through the Wilderness, RIVERS in the desert”

Isaiah 43:18-19

I saw this scripture on Meg Moore Tully’s blog telling the beautiful story of her and her husband’s journey through cancer.  I didn’t know anything about it until I saw a FB post and a couple of pictures with her and some of her oldest and dearest friends.  I love to read people’s real stories.  I learn so much from each one.

This was the first scripture that she posted.  It it home.  I felt like I had been hit by a steamroller.  FINALLY, I HEARD GOD.  It had been so long.  Late night and early morning prayers; nothing, just darkness.  I have been falling in a black hole for months now.  So many days I just wanted to curl up in bed and not make breakfast for the kids.  My work is very flexible and I would find my self procrastinating to get there and finding any reason to leave early.  I was restless and tired all at the same time.  I have “lost” myself in a LOT of Netflix and Amazon (great, by the way).  Dennis has been pulling the weight of both of us for so long.

But, something happened right before I saw this scripture.  I had hit a new low of which I’m not proud.  I was so ashamed and mad at myself.  I had hurt someone very close to me.  I broke her heart and trust. UGH!!!

Then my friend Meg came along, sharing herself and  the healing power of God.  I am moving closer and closer to the light everyday.

When I was working on my Christmas “card”, I initially began looking at some of those sites where they will ecard them for you.  Then I found out I had to pay money.  The whole point of displaying my family for all of FB to see was to do it free!!!  So then I got on Picasa.  I am not very talented when it comes to picture programs.  When I say I spent all day…I DID.  Somehow I couldn’t figure out how to get the text onto the page of pictures.  I did it once by accident but I changed the picture.  Two hours later I pushed a button and VOILA , text!!  I was going to put a “?” after Dennis and my names but my daughter said it was gay.

During my project, I had a lot of time to think of why we do this as a society.  I picked a picture of each child over the last year because we are never in the same place at the same time.  And, truthfully, I have had enough of trying to get all four of them to cooperate for one second TOGETHER.  I looked back on old Christmas photos of the kids.  Sometimes they were dressed to the nines with hand-made smocked outfits.  They had to be JUST RIGHT!!!  Then when we moved to Fairhope, we had to do the beach picture.  Once we were finally there and relaxed, and responding to Irene Gardner’s toy squeaker, it became fun.  Those are some of my favorites.

Back to my point.  Nineteen years of Christmas pictures.  Nineteen years that have literally gone in a flash.  Where did it go?  What have we been doing in between these “perfect” flashes of our lives at Christmas?  Actually, all the time now due to FB.  We can all show the flash in the pan part of our picture perfect selves.  What happened right before and after that picture?  Who was yelling, crying, laughing, taking their smocked clothes off?  Even in my card this year I had to use an older, younger version of Dennis because I could not find a recent one until I found the one in here.  All he does is snap chat his children and sometimes me.  I hate it because right after it finishes, my phone has the camera facing me.  That has got to be the worst view of yourself: 4 chins, wrinkles and no makeup!!!

Again, I digress.  This year has been especially hard on us.  Moving schools, meeting new kids.  I am out of my element because I haven’t had the best opportunities to meet the girl’s friends parents. I have for a moment at prom pics or stuff.  It’s hard to start over at 50 even though I only live minutes from my hometown. The girls are not involved in any school sport.  That is always my way of socializing.  Dean is a different story.  I know all his friends parents.

This has been tough and lonely.  Depression makes you tired.  The thought of ever having to drive north of 459 for anything now is daunting.  I can barely get my head off the pillow.  If I go past 459 I would actually have to take my yoga pants off and put on something somewhat presentable.  I work in an old house full of men and surrounded by chickens.  I do get to see an occasional deer:).  I have not made the effort.  Once you are spiraling, it is so hard to climb back up. UNTIL…God yelled in my ear with a megaphone and told me something NEW was happening.

Of course I am looking around every corner.  And, of course God is laughing at me because he has put a carrot in my face and told me to wait some more.  But when He does show it to me, it will be in a flash.  It will feel like no time has passed since I had been moaning and groaning, asking where God went when He said he was giving me something NEW?

Everything is a flash of time.  When my mother passed away, Bishop Stough, who had been Bishop of Diocese of Alabama way back when, did the funeral.  He and mama had gone to highschool together and were age-old friends.  He had such a sweet soul.  I remember one thing of his 30 minute Eulogy: that the time between when she died and when I would see her again would be in a flash of time.  When I see her, I will not remember the anguish of her loss.  I will not remember being sad that she has not been able to see my children grow up.  BUT, she has.  She has been over my shoulder the whole time, cheering me on, wishing that she could tell me that this disease I fight (which she fought too) is going to be one of the biggest blessings of my life as well as my family’s.

So, in a meandering way, enjoy this flash of time.  Enjoy each flash.  They go so fast.  And remember, God has something NEW for all of us.  I am not good at remembering verses. But I say New, Roadway and River every morning and pretty  much all day long.  I am trying to learn to stay in the moment and not lament my past mistakes and failures and worry about the future.  Those three words keep me grounded, if only for a flash.

Merry Christmas,

Lulu

 

Dear Satan

13315660_10209513929628885_5199630737090191912_n“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

Dear Satan,

I think it is time we break up.  We have been playing this song and dance since I was 4 years old.  You were there when Mama brought my little brother home and she ignored me.  I was so excited to see her too!!  But you got into my head that day and gained your foothold.  You knew my mind was different, that I processed things too intensely.  You have sought every opportunity to sneak into my thoughts in hopes to destroy me so that I may destroy others.  God gave me this mind for a reason; to do good for others.  But, you are there every time I rise to the mountain top, only to yank me down into the pit of darkness.  Each time I fall further down and work twice as hard to get a glimpse of the light.  I am so tired.

I am so tired and weary of developing a relationship with Christ only for you to put doubts in my head and put a chasm between God and me.  “Get behind me satan!”  Matthew 16:23.  I choose to no longer live a life full of darkness, shame, self loathing and doubt.  Jesus is my armor and I’m going to let Him fight my battles from now on.  I know you will try to sneak in again.  Sometimes you might succeed. But, not to the extent for which you hope.

My prayer is that you will stay away and let me have God.  I will surely stand behind him and let him turn you away.

Lulu

Autumn

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Now that I live so close, I take a lot of hikes at Oak Mountain. As of now I have experienced all four seasons.  I experience so many different emotions when I walk below the trees.

Fall is my favorite.  Each  leaf is a different color and withdraws a different emotion from my heart and soul.  Last week as I was walking the different colors of leaves jumped out at me from the ground.  I couldn’t help  but pick them up.  I came home with a plethora of leaves and my children made fun of me all night.  I seem to make them laugh a lot and not because I am any kind of comedian.

Anyway, I was mesmerized by the colors and the details.  Each leaf had their own distinct design; just like a snow flake.  They also had a lot of flaws.  When  you see the colored leaves on the trees, you don’t notice the flaws.  It is when  you get up close that you see the blemishes.  It’s like us, isn’t it?  Underneath the bright clothes, makeup and smile are the flaws we try so hard to hide.

Back to the leaves.  To me, each type of Autumn leaf  emits an emotion.  The big  brown ones on the ground make me sad.  They tell me Summer is really gone. Next come the half and half leaves.You see in varying stages  the change evolving.  I kind of laugh  because they almost seem Bipolar, like me!!!  I also imagine when I see these leaves how they fought hard to keep their respective color before they fell to the ground.  They got so tired of fighting they gave up and fell.  Now, the full on bright colored leaf can only mean JOY!!!  They jump out at you as you walk through the woods.  There is one trail that had these neon yellow leaves.  It made me think of BJCC during basketball playoffs:)

Now, my favorite part is seeing the trees as a whole.  The landscape of trees emits a sort of peace deep down in my soul.  It is God’s mighty work at hand.  When I leave the park I see the trees reflecting on the lake.  It makes all my falls on my trail runs worthwhile.

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Pay it Forward

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Sid died today.  Wonderful, beautiful Sid.  I didn’t know him.  I knew his older brother through team sports.  That is where I got to know Lynn and Scott, casually.  We talked through a few games; nothing heavy just normal “get to know you” chit chat.  I was amazed that she was raising 5 children, 2 of them being beautiful toe head blonds from Russian.  Not much else to say.

But we all learned so much from her as she penned her journey with Sid.  I know by first account  how writing battles depression.  I think it was easier for her to write to an audience than to her self.  She needed to know that her friends completely understand what she was facing.

Cancer is a scary disease.  My mother died from cancer.  When she was diagnosed she said under no uncertain terms will she battle this disease with chemo.    She didn’t want to be filled with chemo, feeling horrible 24/7  only to be told she was going to die anyway.  She did fight for a year and produced some of the prettiest roses ever.

I always thought how I felt after seeing my mother’s fight.  I cannot say that now.  Sid, you touched me kid.  Your subtle rumble with the big C let me know that I can’t give up.  You are an angel to many of us even when your still alive.

I have been suffering so in the past 8 weeks.  I think about Sid and know he had been battling as well.  We are kindred spirits.  Every illness we  battle some one is  too.

Do you remember that movie “Pay it Forward”?  This is what Sid did to all of us.  He showed us how to be strong in the midst hell.  He prayed, He believed.  He knew The Big Guy would take care of him dead or alive.

I receive this rock about this time a year ago from a customer shopping.  He sat down on one of our benches and just talked.  It was nothing earthshattering, however there were hints of greatness.

I have this rock on a doilie.  I have been looking at it a wonder what it’s purpose is.  It came to me that Lynn may need a prayer rock.  That is what I have used.  I tried to take it yesterday but only the family was there.  So I’ll keep trying.

Sid I know you are so at peace.  I promise we will pray over your family from here.