Monday, July 11, 2016

When the Last Leaf Fell

“I don’t know how much longer our marriage will last,” I said. “I don’t know what will happen to my marriage,” I said to the woman who was sitting across from me. And then, as I finished my sentence, a yellow leaf, fluttered to the couch and down to the floor and I said,” Is that an omen?”

“I do not know,” she said.

And I sat there with tears streaming down my face. My thoughts swirled past thoughts and memories of thirty-nine years together and our dating and friendship years before that. The joys and sorrows, mixed feelings, school, work, kids and raising a family, and now we were here, aged, senior citizens, grandparents, and the life between us sucked. We barely could speak, without one of us becoming uncomfortable.

The leaf falling had to been an omen. The death of our marriage.

Or, was it? Was the leaf signifying the death, the end of what we have known in marriage? Could it be that we are heading for a dormant season of winter, that looks so bleak that even the birds fly south and we are left alone, stark, lonely, accepting the winds of time, and needing to weather the blizzards and cold winds and sleet that will come our way and even break off branches or major boughs that we have treasured? Can I? Can he? Can we, together, weather this storm that has come before us? Can we? Will we make it? Can I make it through another day? Another winter? Will he be able to do the same?

The thought occurred to me that a falling leaf, even the last one, doesn’t signify death. It only signifies the end of a season and God created trees with the resilience to be able to flex in the winds and during seasons of storms. So also, I must grow deep roots in the loving soil and deep, refreshing, and nourishing waters of God’s love, His Spirit, and His Presence, to know and abide in and with Him. Apart from God, I am nothing and can do nothing of eternal value or significance. I’d just be a stick in the ground or, one could say, a “stick in the mud.” With God, on the other hand, I can do all things that He has created and designed for me to do and be.

Although my tree may look bare, as the last leaf has fallen, I do believe that spring follows winter, and in His perfect timing, I will bear fruit, the fruit of His Spirit and have leaves that do not fade. I will drink from His nourishing wellspring of Love and, eventually, transform into an evergreen tree, growing by His everlasting stream of love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and truth.

In the meantime, until I am more fully transformed, I will accept this season of desolation and despair, with these bleak, dark, and dreary branches, knowing that, in time and in due season, my branches will show forth buds of life and bloom with the fruit of His Spirit!

Peace to you and God bless you, as well!

Sincerely, and in His Love,
Precious Linda
c. 2015

P.S. I wrote this last summer on August 20, 2015. I’m very grateful to say that my husband and I have weathered the most difficult storm of our lives and were able to recently celebrate our 40th anniversary, with joy and delight, having grown with the help of others who came alongside us, with prayers, working together, and allowing and trusting the work of God’s Spirit in our lives, as well. Thank you to all who have supported us on our journey together. We are forever grateful.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

My Grandma's Love

Today, I celebrated the home going of my beloved grandma. She died suddenly on December 20th, when I was twelve. It was a difficult time for me, and yet, today, after many decades of missing her, I can celebrate her life and smile because I know my grandma loved me and I believe her love lives on in my heart and life today.

When I grew up, my family lived on the east coast and we traveled each summer to visit my grandma and my other grandparents in Wisconsin for a couple weeks. Grandma always greeted me with a big hug after our two day trip. She had her delicious date-filled, oatmeal cookies waiting for us, along with her homemade pan of “Mounds Bars,” that tasted just like the candy from the store!

I remember when Grandma purchased a red, metal, Radio Flyer wagon for my sister, two cousins, and me to play with when we visited her. We’d pull each other in the wagon, or better yet, push each other, so we could take turns sitting in the wagon, while steering with the handle and experience the sense of driving on the sidewalks around her block! What fun that was!! Grandma wasn’t concerned about which toys boys or girls played with. I enjoyed playing with her assortment of plastic army men and trucks and jeeps, too, as well as whatever else she had around for us kids.

Sometimes, Grandma would ask my older cousin and me to walk two blocks to Timm’s Dairy, a corner grocery store, to pick up some bread or milk. It was extra fun, when she’d give us money to each buy an orange push-up! What a cool and refreshing treat! She also allowed me to water her grass, one year, when it was extremely dry. I stood at the corner of her front walk, where it met the main sidewalk, and watered a two-foot square section of brown grass until I could “see” it turning green! It took a long time and I think it mostly looked like mud, but that was fine with Grandma!! J

I remember, when I was young, telling my Grandma that our time zone was an hour behind hers, since we lived on the east coast and she lived in the Midwest. I believe she probably gently told me the correct answer and when I disagreed, but she didn’t argue with me or try to force the correct answer on me. Instead, she just listened to me and let me figure it out and learn it for myself, when I was able to understand it better. I cherish that memory and look back with appreciation at her kind and wise response.

I still remember visiting Grandma’s house and finding an old, hand-wringer washing machine in her basement and thought it was strange and funny. I remember the large, metal keyholes in her bathroom and bedroom door locks that were so big, you could look through them. They needed a large, black, metal key to lock or unlock them. I remember the round, table set in the corner of her dining room where my sister and two cousins ate, while all the adults sat around a very large dining room table. Those were such good times to share together.

I was surprised when I visited the 3rd grade Sunday school class at my Grandma’s church. The teacher asked the children if they had been reading their Bibles during the week. I didn’t even know I was supposed to be reading a Bible, even though I went to church and Sunday school, every week, with my parents. My parents had a Bible sitting on an end table. They said to never set anything on it because it was an important book and we were to be sure to dust it before the pastor visited. I realized, later, that Grandma went to a church that believed and talked about God’s word and faith in God as being important, real, and personally meaningful.

I was happy when we moved from New Jersey to Illinois and were able to see Grandma for Christmas. How exciting it was to see her and my other grandparents, and many other relatives, too! The second year, we looked forward to visiting her again! Mom talked with Grandma, a week before Christmas, and they talked about us driving up to see her. Grandma was all ready for us, with her presents wrapped and sitting under her Christmas tree, and her baking was done, including her delicious date-filled oatmeal cookies. A couple days later, my sister and I walked four blocks to Central Park in our town to see Santa Claus. As we waited in line, a neighbor lady came up to us and said we had to go home right away. We found out that my beloved grandma had died, five days before Christmas, and we would not be seeing her at all, not at Christmas, nor ever again. I remember sitting on our living room couch, looking up at the ceiling, trying desperately to keep my tears from falling down my face, while our pastor visited us that evening.

It was a very difficult Christmas for all of us. Even though I was twelve, I was not allowed to go into my Grandma’s house, and wished I could have visited, one last time, to take in more memories to add to the ones I had. The strange thing for me was that my other grandparents had paid for a Santa to visit us at their house on Christmas Eve and we were supposed to sing for him before he would give us any presents. I didn’t feel like singing that year. I missed my Grandma!!! Then, on Christmas morning, my little brother had to have emergency surgery to put tubes in his ears to help with his ear infections! It was a different Christmas for all of us.

I remember going to Grandma’s funeral at church and being so surprised to see someone who looked just like my grandma!!! It turned out to be my great aunt from Montana, my grandma’s sister, whom I had not met. I think I thought Grandma had come back from the dead; they looked so much like! I was disappointed that I couldn’t go to the cemetery site to see Grandma’s body laid to rest. I think I had to stay in the nursery to take care of my younger brother. It was also pretty cold outside.

Even to this day, I still treasure the gift that Grandma had sitting under her Christmas tree for me that year. It was a pink and white pin cushion, with a two-inch, crocheted, lace-like edge around it. She had pinned it to a piece of cardboard and wrote, “To Linda, from Grandma” with the year on it. That was her last note to me. Oh, how I miss her and cherish that note and gift!!!

I learned two other things about my Grandma, after she died, that told me about her faith in God. At her funeral, I learned that her favorite song was, “I Come to the Garden Alone” by Charles A. Miles. The words of the song are:

1.      I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
o    Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
These words tell me of a person who talks with God, as a friend – honest and true – and one who trusts God, in the morning and the evening, and all day long. Grandma became a widow, with two daughters and a son, ages 16, 11, and 7 to raise on her own. Although my grandfather had owned and run a candy store in town, with homemade candies made from his special recipes, he had no recipes written down, and my grandma could not continue the business. I am sure that my Grandma’s faith, ingenuity, and strength of character are what kept her going, especially, at that time, and in the years that followed. My grandma was able to continue living in her home by making the upstairs of her two-story house into an apartment that she could rent for income, while she and her children continued to live on the main floor. 
Another interesting story that helps me know more about my grandma’s faith is what my mom told me about the events at the time of Grandma’s death. Grandma lived alone and we were all glad that she didn’t die alone, especially in her basement, where she may not have been found for several days. Apparently, my grandma had called a friend, around supper-time, to say that she wasn’t feeling well. The friend had been stirring her soup on the stove and felt an urge to stop what she was doing and go over to my grandma’s house right away. She turned off the stove and went to see my grandma. Grandma answered the door and they sat on her couch, talking about Christmas. Then, Grandma said she was tired and died in her friends arms. I can’t think of a better way to pass from this life to the next, especially when you live alone. I am so glad that Grandma’s friend, trusted the nudge that she had from the Lord to go and be with my grandma, at that time. I’m grateful for them having such a remarkable and close friendship, and that each of them trusted God enough to listen to His “still, small voice” and were led by His Spirit in their lives. To me, this is a testament of my grandma’s faith in God, as well as her friend’s faith, too, and of their very special friendship.
Grandma was the only person who loved me with such an amazing and unconditional love. I remember one time I was visiting at her house, and was looking out her window, trying to see what the three girls in her neighborhood were doing, across the street. As I got closer to the window, my forehead bumped the window and cracked the glass! I was very surprised and also petrified that I’d be in trouble and get yelled at, but no, Grandma took me in her arms and loved me all the same. I will never forget her kind gesture towards me that day.
Interestingly, as the years went by, and I grew up, I missed my grandma tremendously. I missed her when I graduated from high school and went to college. I missed her being present at my wedding. I missed being able to tell her about being pregnant and sharing the joy of each of our four children born into our family. I missed being able to tell her about my children, as they grew up. I missed her every single Christmas, and when December 20th arrived, I’d think of her and miss her even more. I drove past her house and around her block, where she had lived, many times. I’d also visit her gravesite and those of her husband, sister, parents, and other relatives. As time went by, I’d also be at the cemetery where she was buried, for the burial of other relatives - my other grandparents, my aunts, a great aunt, and others, and I’d always stop at her grave afterwards, even if I had to search and look for her gravestone, under the snow.
After missing my beloved grandmother terribly for over 43 years, I went to a six-week class on grief and realized that she was the primary, loving parental figure in my life. Then, I understood why she meant so much to me and why I experienced such a deep, ongoing loss, for all of those years. I was finally able to grieve her death fully and appreciate her for who she was and what she meant to me and still means to me. Since I believe that love never ends, I believe her spirit of love lives on, not just in heaven, and not just within my heart, but I believe I can sense her presence of spirit with me - when I picture her sitting with me or walking or talking with me; especially, at times when I need her loving presence, even just briefly.
In time, I have learned to celebrate her life and be grateful for her. I smile when I think of her, and yet, there are still those moments of sadness, when I miss her being here, in the flesh. Each year, just before Christmas, I set the gifts she gave me, the ones I still have, under my Christmas tree. It’s a way for me to remember her and to remember her love for me, and to celebrate her life and how she touched mine and made such an impact on me and my faith, as well. I set out my favorite stuffed animal, a monkey named Chippy, with brown fur and a plastic face, hands, and white tennis shoes. My sister and I each received a monkey for Christmas from Grandma, with slightly different colored fur. When my sister thought it was hers, we both pulled on him and his plastic hand fell off. She no longer wanted him, but I loved him all the more, and still do, even though my youngest sister played with him while I was at college and he has very little fur now. 

I also set out two coloring books from her – one of fashion hats and one of RinTinTin. Then, I set out a G.I. Joe doll that has always seemed strange to me, because he wasn’t as much fun to play with as my Barbie dolls. I also set the beautiful pink and white, crocheted pin cushion doily with the piece of cardboard, on which Grandma had written my name and the year, in her own handwriting – her last note to me, tenderly under my Christmas tree. 

Lastly, I set out a black and white photo taken of my Grandma and me, the summer before she died, standing in front of our family station wagon, just before we drove back home. We have our arms around each other and I can see she’s hugging me, as always, with genuine love for me, as I look at the indentation of her hand against my sweater. I know my grandma loved me!!

Last year, as I continued my new tradition of remembering and celebrating my grandma’s life, I sat, looking at the monkey, the coloring books, the G.I. Joe doll, the pin-cushion, as well as, at our picture together, sitting under our Christmas tree, and thought of her. And, then, for the first time ever, I had a new sense and appreciation for my G.I. Joe doll! I realized what it had probably meant to my grandma!! She had been a widow for several years, having lost her husband, father, and sister in one year, when her only son went overseas, during WWII, and she did not know if he would come back alive or wounded, or at all. I had a new respect and understanding of my grandma that day, and empathized with her possible feelings, of having her son away, in the war, and appreciated her amazing strength and deep and abiding faith that must have helped her get through extremely difficult times. I felt like she had shared a deep and personal part of her life with me. I felt closer to her then, and still do.

This year, I also appreciated again, the “red, Christmas boot” with plastic mistletoe from my grandma
that I set out every year on our piano and the two small, wooden ornaments from my grandma – one of a red cardinal and one of two angels singing.

My grandma’s spirit of love touches me, even to this day. I know her love for me is with me, on this day and always!!

Thank you, Grandma, for your amazing gift of love for me and for sharing your deep faith and tremendous compassion with me and with others. I will always remember and appreciate you and your gift of love for me. I look forward to when I can see you again, on the other side, when I, too, have been transformed from this body of flesh, to the new one that God will give me, at that time. Until then, I love you, Grandma!! (2015-12-20)

Precious Linda, c. 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

Finding Gratefulness in Difficult Moments of Life

This week, I became aware that it’s possible to transform old experiences from memories of something painful into memories of learning something new and for which I can be grateful, and by developing my integrity, which can only happen during times of conflict or stress. Needless to say, this is not something for someone who runs away from fearful or troubling memories or is unable to act out of courage and faith.

On Monday, in a community education class, Gratitude Castle, I learned that a gratitude journal provides a way to record past or present experiences from a perspective of acceptance and appreciation. It provides an invitation to view difficult experiences from a perspective that’s different than the one used at the time of an incident. It allows the brain, the mind, the body, soul, and spirit to integrate into a collective understanding, with a sense of knowing that whatever happened was for a reason, for a lesson to be learned, and was for one’s ultimate good, and for experiencing abundance in this life.

I can choose to remain stubborn and remain stuck with the memories and feelings of a past incident, forever rehashing what happened, from my perspective, at that time, only to relive the same feelings and thoughts over and over. I could continue to ask myself, “Why did it have to happen that way?” or “What if it hadn’t happened?” or Why me?” or “How can I get past this?” or tell myself, “I should have known better!” but each of these responses only digs the rut of those same thoughts and feelings deeper and deeper.

As I learned about keeping a gratitude journal, I heard about how I can practice “living through gratitude,” as a way of being and looking at the universe, the world in which I live, including the spiritual aspects of life. I recall Bible verses I have known and sought to live by, including: “Give thanks in all circumstances” and “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (See: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Philippians 4:4) I have interpreted these verses to mean, “Try to do this! Try to look at the positive side. Try to see the silver lining in every cloud,” but after a while, darkness sets in, thoughts and feelings repeat, and a rut is formed. It’s very difficult to get out of a well-worn rut, especially during storms when the rain is pelting down so hard that it just makes the mud deeper and more slippery. There is no or very little traction found in a muddy rut, especially during the difficult storms of life.

My friend and teacher, Linda Abbott, explained how life’s experiences, no matter how difficult or unbearable, become our life’s lessons and it’s those lessons that become our memories. Our memories, no matter how painful, can be transformed from shock, terror, disappointment, disillusionment, unbearable grief, deep loss, and heartache to something totally new, surprising, even joyful… such as what I wrote in My Grandma’s Love, where, after forty-three years of grieving my grandmother’s death, five days before Christmas when I was twelve, I was finally able to celebrate her life, each year, and every moment I think of or remember her. I am also able to sense new things about my grandmother and her life, and imagine her loving presence with me, when I need a grandma’s love. Learning how to fully grieve her untimely and sudden death, decades after being unable to, has taught me that I can find ways to let go of other deeply personal and difficult emotions from old hurts and wounded places in my heart, mind, body, and soul.

In his book, Rock the Boat, Resmaa Menakem wrote: “Integrity only appears when there is conflict or stress. It doesn’t take integrity to do the right thing when nothing stands in your way.” This, too, fits my need and desire to take an honest look at old memories that have not yet been transformed, bringing my heart, mind, soul, spirit, and body into full agreement in what was meant to eventually be an integral learning experience for my good and for the good of others.

With these things in mind, I look forward to continuing with this class and learning from one who has lived through extremely difficult times and found ways to transform the ashes of her difficult experiences into beauty, with love, truth, faith, hope, acceptance, and gratefulness.

This is what I want to do, as I seek to allow God’s Spirit of love and light to shine into my dark and hidden places, revealing truth and lessons to be learned, as I choose to look at and ponder these things from more than my single-minded, myopic perspective.

I believe, as I allow the Spirit of Love to enter more and more of my being, acceptance, trust, hope, and faith will grow, and that’s when and where I will see transformation happen!

Precious Linda, c. 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Different Perspective!

The words of this poster picture went straight to my heart, when I was experiencing a difficult time in my life. The message struck a chord of truth for me. I stopped to allow the words to permeate deep within my mind. They continued to seep into my heart and found their way to my soul and spirit. I was able to refocus my thoughts and my feelings flowed.  With a renewed spirit, I was able to begin moving forward again.

When something doesn’t seem right in my life or something unexpected happens, it's so easy to focus on my half-filled cup. It's as if something's missing, needs to change, or something's wrong. I begin to wonder why others appear to have filled cups and I don’t. I’ve tried filling my cup with activities or relationships that are important to me. Sometimes, I fill it with food or other things I have purchased. I’ve prayed for myself and others, and have written out my conversations with God, to help me slow down and listen to what I think He would say, if He were next to me. This helps, sometimes, but eventually, my cup continues to appear half-filled.

If my cup were filled to the top, I think I’d probably be sloshing it around and spilling it all over, as I live my life, and end up with a half-filled cup, anyway. Perhaps, we were created to have cups that are only half-full so the rest of the cup can be filled with something else – maybe even something invisible! Perhaps, there’s more to this world than what we can see with our eyes.

I’m beginning to think we were created to carry the unique parts of ourselves in our cups – a combination of our physical and mental traits and abilities, personality, and experiences - and then allow God to fill our cups to overflowing with His Spirit – a spirit of love, joy, peace, goodness, mercy, and forgiveness. Perhaps these two unique and different parts were meant to come together, such that the seen and unseen parts mix and combine, until something new is created – a new creation! I believe we can welcome the work of God’s Spirit within ourselves to transform us, through faith-filled decisions, or we can remain stuck in our old ways of thinking and doing things.

For now, I will choose to consider the difficult times in my life as “blessings in disguise” and trust they are part of God’s loving plan for me to grow and mature. He gives me ample opportunities to make faith-filled choices, again and again, so I can grow up, little by little, in faith and love and, thereby, witness the wonderful transformation and blessings He has in store for me.

Sometimes, it seems painstakingly slow, to watch and wait for the growth to be seen. I think it’s similar to a farmer or gardener, who prepares the soil of their field or garden before planting the seeds, knowing and hoping that most of the seeds will sprout, take root, and grow into something not yet seen. In the same way, I will trust that God will do His amazing and unseen work in my life, as I allow Him to fill my cup with His Spirit of love and, as I make decisions that allow His Spirit to take root, deep within my heart, mind, soul, and spirit. Hopefully, with patience and faith-filled choices, I will eventually see more and more of the wonderful fruit of the Spirit that God desires to grow inside of me.

I hope and pray each of us will experience the peace and blessings of our cups overflowing with God's amazing love, grace, and wisdom, mixed together with all that He gives us to carry for His beautiful purposes. May we truly experience the privilege of witnessing miraculous transformations in our lives, and in the lives of those around us, as we choose to allow His Spirit to fill and permeate our cups.

May God bless you and me, with His amazing love, peace, and Presence, today and always!

Precious Linda

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Tree of Christmas Love

I recently heard two friends say they did something different this year with their Christmas trees. Instead of having a tree with matching colors, ornaments, or themed ornaments, they each decorated their tree with ornaments that brought back memories. I couldn't help thinking about our tree and the joy it brings me. 

I love my Christmas tree. It’s a memory in and of itself. My husband and I bought it the first year we were married, at a garage sale in August. He said it was too early to think of Christmas, but I knew that for a couple of newlyweds who needed to be frugal, a $3.00 Christmas tree, including the stand, was a good deal.

Believe it or not, almost every year since then, I have set up that tree, with its two, pole-like sticks as a trunk, and branches of varying lengths that slide into holes in the trunk, some of which don’t fit as snugly as before. Then I add small, almost bracelet-like greenery that fits around the trunk to hide the pole and make the tree look real. I think it’s beautiful, once it’s loaded with multicolored lights and lots of ornaments.

My kids still laugh and almost groan when they see the tree we still use, over three decades later. They comment about how spindly it looks and how they can see right through it, but I figure that it lets in more light from the window AND I can see the ornaments hanging all the way through to the back of the tree!! There are more ornaments to see!

Every year, I top the tree with the yellow, construction-paper star with gold glitter that my oldest child made in Sunday school when she was three. I lovingly hang up two, small wooden ornaments – two angels singing and a wooden, red cardinal – both gifts from my beloved grandmother who passed away, five days before Christmas, when I was twelve. There are other favorite ornaments such as the ones celebrating our older two children’s first Christmases, with fabric-covered bulbs showing pictures of snow and young children, or the ornament for our youngest son’s fifth Christmas, with a Teddy bear and two candy canes sticking out of a Christmas stocking.

My husband and I have special ornaments, too - a woman wearing a fancy dress and her motoring hat, sitting in a green, wooden car; a man with a mustache, suit, and his motoring cap, sitting in his red car; a round, wooden ornament with an old-fashioned car in the middle, with the year of our second Christmas, as husband and wife; and a Papa Bear and Mama Bear, hugging, as the Papa Bear kisses her cheek, with the words, "I Love My Honey!"

I enjoy placing several angels on our tree, including a few handmade by friends; a ceramic bell that actually rings; and a girl on a swing from a Hallmark employee  who enjoyed seeing me come to the store with my little, curly-headed daughter in a stroller, many times, and gave the ornament to my daughter, as a gift. There are also the first Christmas bulbs we bought for our tree – bright red, unbreakable, fabric-covered bulbs. When our first child helped us decorate the tree, she placed all four of her bulbs on one branch that she could easily reach. Oh, that tree is filled with so many memories!

Over the years, ornaments have been added that remind us of special memories of when our children were growing up at home. There are the ornaments the kids made at school, including: pictures of our third child and a classmate, framed with toothpicks; a candy cane made out of beads; and baked dough in cookie-cutter shapes. A friend gave me a handmade, triangular-shaped, yarn ornament of a knitted face that says, “Squeeze me.” When you squeeze the cheeks, you see a chocolate, candy kiss inside. My uncle made us three, beautiful wooden ornaments that he intricately cut with his a scroll saw in the shapes of a manger scene, a bell, and an ornate ornament. I treasure those ornaments made with love for us. I smile as I think of the many other special ornaments we hang on our tree each year.

Yes, that tree is filled with memories and I shall always enjoy seeing it, year after year. In fact, sometimes, I’ve left it up until Easter, or once, for an entire year. I enjoy remembering the love of God and others for me and for my family, and the love God gives us to share with others – a love so deep and wide that it fills us to overflowing with His Spirit of Love, through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, who lived and died so that we may know that, together with Christ, we, too, will also rise again, from life on earth, through faith in the One who made this all possible – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - one God, who calls us to be one in love with Him in spirit, and with one another, as well. I can’t think of any gift greater than that, except for His people sharing that amazing gift and spirit of love with others!

I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and blessed Christmas! Happy Holidays, too!! God bless you all!!

Precious Linda, c. 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Wish I Could Die!

I wish I could die and not feel all this pain.
I wish I could fly over rocky road shame.
I wish I could never be trampled on again.
I wish I could end it! When will my life end?

I’m helpless, it’s true! It makes me feel blue.
Yellow-bellied, lily-livered, through and through.
My life is a waste. Don’t tell me, “Somehow,
It’s worth it to live and I’ll take a bow.”

My parents don’t love me; they don’t seem to care.
I feel like an orphan or soiled underwear. 
My friends are too busy, or don’t really know why
I avoid them, and tremble; and then, I just sigh.

Others in this world have it better than me.
Some others have it worse - a lot worse, I see.
Perhaps I’m in the middle of the “Yuck-o-Meter” now.
I wonder if I can find my way out of this, somehow.

I've heard it said in the really Good Book:
Sometimes you need to stop, and just take a look
At what’s really around you, and not too far
From the place you are standing, just where you are.

It needs to be okay to be where you are.
You've come a long way, so follow your Star.

I can’t find it! I can’t see! It’s way too dark for me!
Then turn on a light, or follow One closely.
It really doesn't matter; just get on the move
To become unstuck and to find your groove!

My breathing has settled; I’m much calmer, you know.
There was so much pent-up energy, I had to let go!
I thank you, profusely, for letting me vent;
I hope I didn't ding you up, or give you a dent.

Sometimes my emotions and feelings go wild.
It truly wasn't easy for me, as a child.
Sometimes, I get triggered and really confused,
Mixing past hurts and present ones, with similar cues.

For now, I will breathe, and relax for a while,
Sit down, and enjoy a much calmer lifestyle.
And then, I will get up and realize somehow
That I am a bit different; I do not know how.

I’m glad I took time to listen to me.
I’m no longer the same; I’m happier, you see,
‘Cause I've made it past another big hurdle today.
With practice, it will be easier, come what may.

Precious Linda, c. 2014

I slightly edited and revised this poem and posted it here on November 7, 2014.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Take It or Leave It – Truth is a Choice – PG 13 - Finding Light in Unusual Places

I've been a prick… a finger-pointing, judgmental, a$$h0le… a “chip off the old block”… a “goody-two-shoes” who has lived a façade or in an internal prison for most of my life. I’m “coming out”… not in the current, cultural way that it usually means… but I’m tired of living in an internal prison, locked within my old mindsets, my old ways of doing things and thinking. Perhaps you could liken it to a very, very, VERY belated “teenage rebellion” which, for me, while living at home, was equivalent to annihilation and the only way I could survive was to go under… hidden… for fear of what would happen, if I didn't.

Oh, yes, there’s been the church-going, Bible-believing, praying part of me, too. And, yes, I truly believe there is an awesome God who loves… others… and I've tried to believe He loves me, too, but when you've lived underground for so long, it’s sometimes hard to believe there is a place called, “Daylight.” I've been seeing shimmers of that “Light” and love and care and kindness in some most extraordinary ways.

Believe it or not, I have found a community of kind people, who welcome me as part of a family, in an online, model car club. It’s uncanny what a kind word or a thank you can mean to me. It’s weird to truly build relationships of trust with other people who I don’t even know and to believe they aren’t going to hurt me… at least, not intentionally. I learn from them that, even when life isn’t a bunch of roses, and the thorns in life “hurt like hell,” life goes on. Many live with internal or external pain or disabilities or difficult life situations, and yet, they each find a way to go on with their lives and be encouraging and kind to one another. This is new for me, and I’m sitting here in tears, letting the pain of living in an internal prison of fear and survival be released, as I realize, that this is how life has been for me, but there’s more to life, beyond the pain, beyond the fear, beyond the internal prison, I have lived in for years - for decades, in fact.

This morning, I saw the following “poster pic,” posted by a Facebook friend, and it really made me begin to think about how I've been living in an “internal prison.”

After I pondered it and thought about how it applied to me, I wrote:

“I believe this is true, but for me, it sounds easier said than done. Instead of being in a literal prison, I have sometimes felt as if I were in an internal prison. Internal ones are a bummer!”

After that, I saw this, which caught me by surprise and I had to think about it for a while, too:

 After thinking about it for a while, I wrote a response that surprised even me!

“What an interesting quote! I always thought that I enjoyed sharing love, joy, and encouragement with others because it felt and was good,  for me and the other person, and it was kind, but now I can also see how not experiencing those things or experiencing much negativity and disrespect has given me a reason to share the opposite with others. Thanks for the interesting quote!”

 Then, I was “hit” with another one that took some moments to “wrap my head, heart, and soul” around.

Again, I wrote a response that surprised me, but it’s the truth, I believe:

“Wow! You have some very interesting quotes here! I've never looked at life this way, probably because I'd rather forget the ‘not so nice stuff’ but perhaps this is true! Thanks for giving me much to ponder! “

After this, I was in tears.

Someone touched my heart in areas that have been bruised and hurt, with lovingkindness and gentle humor, with silly things, like this:


 Of course, I laughed and smiled. Someone cared enough to send me these personalized messages. Many members of the model car club community joined in to participate at my impromptu birthday party at the make-believe location where we have cruise nights, drag races, and fun at the campground, lake, mud hole, etc.  They joined in with stories of their own, cruised by in their cool cars, or told stories about car keys being stolen by a large monkey, who eventually finished up all the food in the picnic area!

I began looking at inspirational quotes online, and more tears just kept flowing and flowing - from places of deep and hidden pain and darkness, tucked away “for posterity” but now, finally finding a way to be released - with a good release of pent-up, unnamed and unprocessed feelings from long ago, that have waited for the right time to be felt. These feelings began to flow and release me from the dark prison in which I have found myself.

I found inspirational quotations (*) such as:

“Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters…”

“Pay no attention to those who talk behind your back, it only means that you’re two steps ahead of them.”

“Your life is a result of the choices you make… If you don’t like your life it is time to start making better choices.”

“Pain makes you stronger. Tears make you braver.  Heartbreak makes you wiser. So thank the past for a better future.”

And other quotations (**) such as:

“The tallest oak in the forest was once just a little nut that held its ground.”

“Believe you can & you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“To strengthen the muscles of your heart, the best exercise is lifting someone else’s spirit whenever you can.” – Dodinsky (NOTSALMON.COM)

“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.” – Mandy Hale

“Your opinion is not my reality” – Dr. Steve Maraboli

“Stars can’t shine without darkness.”

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

“Pain doesn’t just show up in our lives for no reason.  It’s a sign that something in our lives needs to change.”

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

“You are only confined by the walls you build yourself.” [OOPS!! This sounds like what I have been writing about!! The internal, prison walls!!]

“Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside.” [OOOOHHH!! Interesting!!]

Thank you to all who have been part of my healing process. Yes, my healing will continue, but with friends who love me and care about me, just as I am; there’s nothing better. Interestingly, I have rarely found this type of friendship at “church.” Yes, “birds of a feather, flock together” but as another friend mentioned recently, some of us just “don’t fit” into the current, regular mold. In fact, since we are ALL unique, there truly isn't another person, just like you or just like me.

I’m going to spend the rest of my life, getting to know me and letting you get to know me, too! And, I will do my best to show acceptance and compassion towards you and your uniqueness, too!

Precious Linda

I originally wrote this in July 2014, and will change the date of this post, in a couple weeks, to reflect the date I completed it.

I have decided to share this piece with you, my blog readers, as a way of sharing my life experiences, learning, struggles, and journey.

I hope you enjoyed the uplifting quotes and poster pics, too!

I rated this writing as PG13 because of some of the language.

Precious Linda (2014-11-26)


The first three poster pics are from:

This was originally written on July 23, 2014 and published on this blog on November 11, 2014 at 7:52 p.m. Today, December 14, 2014, I will list it as published on July 23, 2014.