The Live Dare: A Cry for Help

I had a thought this morning as I deliberated this post from May 10th:

My highest place of exaltation is often at my lowest point in life.

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Entry from May 10th, 2017:

I made a promise to you in the bathroom last night, “I’ll give you a year, Lord.”

The desire to die to be with Bill is so overwhelming, I don’t desire to fight it’s pull. But these words in his final letter to me cause me to stay the course,

“I want you to be strong and live a beautiful, fulfilling life…”

“Lord, I am giving you one year to rekindle the desire to live again.”

I promised I wouldn’t kill myself even though I tried to propel my feet to sprint until my lungs collapsed and my heart stopped beating.

“Help me, God.”

Help. How do I do this, how do I go on when reminders of his fingerprint cause an ache so deep, it penetrates beyond the marrow, into my invisible soul.

I turned on Fox News this morning. I guess missing the routine of you. Yet, without your endless commentary at the screen, this made me sadder still.

I am scared. I stood in the bathroom last night, it was after I picked up your death certificates earlier in the day. They said you were there, somewhere beyond my sight, but your box wasn’t in yet. I guess some misunderstanding in shipping or something. So I left you there, and went to the bank.

I attempted to change the accounts with the simplicity you put on paper, but it was not that simple. They are requiring me to create a new account for just me. You made special passwords, like loved ones carve into wood of initials only significant to them. I had to change them.

I was in the bathroom last night, standing there. Feeling lost. I’m not sure who I was talking to, you or God, but I told one or the other this simple statement, “I will give it one year.” I don’t feel desperate to kill myself to be by your side, but I am not sure how to navigate in this sorrow. But not to be too impulsive, I will give it one year.

Later, Ky cries herself into my bed, and I comfort her. Her pain was delayed compared to the others. I knew this would come and find comfort in the fact she is opening up.

In the midst of her tears, she looks at me and asks me not to leave them. They need me. I don’t understand. How did she know I thought of leaving?  She was not home when I was in the bathroom.

She says she’s worried I am going to kill myself. “How do you know?” She’s says she is not sure, intuition, or something like that.

Oh.

Okay, God. We have a year. Beginning today. I promise I will not take my own life.

A couple days later, Ky comes with tear-stained-eyeliner-smudged eyes, and shares the truth of how she knew I was contemplating hurting myself:

She was standing in her bedroom and heard a voice say, “Go in there with her.” She wasn’t sure, but the voice sounded like her dad.

“Mom, I think I heard Dad.”

He declared in a loud voice, “Go in there with her”.  In with me.

When she said through snot, “Don’t leave, we need you.”

How did she know? You God.

I held her close and told her that was her Heavenly Daddy. Isn’t it like HIM to use a voice she ached to hear to deliver a message of help to me?

God knew I needed someone to come in, not only comfort and encourage me, but to make me know HE is near to my brokenness ,and is with me through this, carrying me, comforting me.

He also knew Ky needed to hear her daddy’s voice, and hear her Daddy’s Voice.

I cling to this verse today in my reading:

Blessed are those who take refuge in him.  Psalm 2:12

Uprooted in Grief and Fear

I feel the vice grip of fear entangle me this morning as I contemplate writing a blog post, talking myself out of such an endeavor, that God really didn’t nudge me at all.  Justifying my disobedience with the fact I am still horribly grieving most days, and He wouldn’t ask such a thing of me while I am still entirely too down and out.

I am writing after all, so what is the difference whether I keep it private, or post it anyway?  Just a matter of logistics, and maybe a few dedicated followers who actually read my ramblings. Not a big deal.  Or is it?

That, and was I perhaps playing the “victim” card I verbally speak against on almost a daily basis?

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

The exhilaration of His guidance at the possibility of blogging again had me leaping at His quick response to an inward request for clarity on the inaudible whisper I was certain was from Him in the first place.

I guess I am afraid.

I see a sign post today, laying flat on its back from the storm.  I ponder its uprooting.

I mean really, Harvey has hardly made an impact here, so the fact that it is a casualty, hasn’t weathered the storm at all and is down for the count, has me feeling like if it were a person, she would be playing the victim card herself.

She is too tired to hold up any longer. Too emotional to weather the pain.

“Let someone else alert others of the approaching curve ahead,” she would say if she weren’t an it.

Instead she lay there broken.

It is time to write publicly again. I say this with a bit of trepidation in my fingers as I type the commitment.

Yesterday, as I read a book’s introduction, the author quotes C.S. Lewis on fear and grief:

“No one told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

Yes, I’ve stayed away from this outlet more out of fear than anything else.  Fear of what?  Fear of a subtle shift of writing “to” instead of writing “from”.

It is a slight deviation that keeps me on the shallow end instead of the depths. Wondering if people will read what I write and feel compelled to rescue me from myself.  I get it.  As I read through the first entries of this writing journey post Bill, I see me too near the ledge, feet teetering too close to the edge, close to jumping out of this life, into the after life.

But, I am still standing here today.

Actually I have made it 111 consecutive days of writing, meeting God at the kitchen table with Bible in hand each morning.

Yet I know my writing is beyond my own healing. It is meant for God to be known, especially so in the midst of this inescapable darkness.

I have many moments that blow my mind away of how God is moving in the midst on my behalf.

But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

So, to keep me from compromising, I’ve decided to continue on today privately, but begin to post from former days and move forward from there.

They are choppy at first. Raw.  Difficult. Unedited.

My hope is you glean a glimpse of His Glory in the midst of such darkness.

 

Today I leave you with the initial entry from May 8th:

Sitting outside staring at the last of the blooms from the tree that was planted in honor of the man who died of cancer. No, not my husband, but the former occupant of this residence.

We just made it back today after a whirlwind of memorials in two states, and in exhaustion hit the bed as I stared at a pic of the two of us, and cried myself to a deep sleep.

I feel this thought creep up–would this not have happened had we not moved into this home? I mean, really, the eeriness of the similarities has me wonder. They moved here. He got sick. Died. We moved here. He got sick. Died. What if when it happened, we just moved? Would chemo have worked at that point?

I know.  Josie don’t go there. You are not superstitious. I know.

I’m just heartbroken.

 

A Blank Page

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. 

-Chuck Palahniuk

Yesterday, a variation of a similar phrase hit me like a one-two punch:

“She’ll be okay.”

“You’ll be okay.”

After returning home from the memorials of my dad and Bill, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, let alone feel okay.  But, day by day, the suffocation subsided some, and a normal breathing pattern emerged, similar to being hooked to a ventilator.

In. Out. In. Out.

Just make it through this moment.  Make it through this moment. Make it through this moment.

The slow intake from The Breath of Life pushed enough oxygen into my being until I could handle breathing again on my own.

And, slowly, a new rhythm has emerged.

For the last 37 days, I sit at my kitchen table, with warm coffee in hand, ready for God to breathe new life into this stagnant air.

And, ever-so-slowly, the overwhelming desire to die, the feeling I’m suffocating, the heaviness, has dissipated like the morning dew.

I started to write freehand, just a pencil and a blank page, whatever was on my heart and mind in the moment.  Truth by told, I’m not entirely sure of the content of the filled pages.  But that’s not important.

The writing seems to help heal the deep hurt within, and I am grateful.

Actually, I feel a newfound sense of freedom rise up.

A blank page awaits.

A new page.

A new chapter.

A new book.

But, sometimes new requires leaving some things behind–like this blog site.

He is penning a story on this blank page.

Please know, I will be okay.

Love you,

Josie

(Oh, if you’ve tried to contact me, or would like to contact me via email, I have a new address:  josettelbarone@gmail.com.  I’d love to keep in touch :))

 

 

 

Reflections from the Desert

The long and windy road, steep with curves, valleys and potholes, ends abruptly as I veer off a cliff into an abyss so dark I cannot maneuver.

His death wasn’t a Hollywood ending. It wasn’t filtered with soft words spoken before one slowly drifted into the afterlife. It was not the ‘happily into eternity’ I prayed, or envisioned.

I hoped we would be alongside each other as he reached for my hand, and I reached for his, and he longingly turned his head to lock eyes, when a small smile briefly emerged before his body stilled, and his eyes closed as his soul entered Heaven.

Instead, the last moments sent me in a whirlwind. After I arrived home, after days away in another state to celebrate the life of both my dad and Bill, I was exhausted, and fell into a quicksand of hurt so deep I wasn’t sure I’d climb my way out.

Honestly, I still feel this way.

But, I believe the same God who guides the good times, is also there in the grief, waiting to hold us close in His comforting arms.

Days before Bill left this earth, a “breadcrumb” of hope appeared on my front porch– in the form of a Bible, delivered by an anonymous angel. I believe it may be the tool in which God will utilize to transition my mourning into joy again.

I was at my lowest on second night home.  The shock and numb gave way to a sorrow so intense, I’ve never likened it to anything to date. Sadness debilitated all senses; even of God and His nearness.

I felt the pang of death overtake me. The desire to die to be with him overwhelmed me, and I didn’t desire to fight its pull.

If it wasn’t for his final letter, which urged me to stay the course, I may have followed through…

I want you to be strong and live a beautiful, fulfilling life.

Standing in my bathroom, I cried out to my God, acknowledging my proposal of ending it all. But, overriding that thought, a declaration rose up from within.  I am not sure it was entirely from me, or one planted there from the One Above,

I will give you a year, Lord.

This is where the new Bible comes in.

I’ve read through the Bible on a few occasions, the last couple of times in 90-day spurts. But I’ve found a reading plan that travels about the pages in a completely different way. It is in this daily reading that I pray and expect Him to show up and meet me here, until, at the end of a year, my desire to live will no longer be in question.

God, I’m giving You one year to rekindle the desire to live again.

Maybe on the final day, I will be like George Baily from, It’s a Wonderful Life, crying out in the location where only earlier he attempts to end his life, with fists rubbing his crying eyes, saying, “I want to live again.”

Lord, I too want to live again.

Strong to the Finish

A friend asked if I’d share what I shared at Bill’s memorials.  The following are the words I hoped would express this man’s strength, while at his weakest.

I feel a time of hibernation on the horizon, so until we meet again…

 

I noticed a partial doodle of a cartoon character on a piece of paper. Unfinished. Even so, the resemblance was unquestionably Popeye, the sailor man. Bill oftentimes drew a near- perfect portrait of the man with the anchor-weighted forearms, from cartoons gone by.

If you are unfamiliar, Popeye was most notably known for being down for the count from a battle with his archenemy, Brutus, usually battling over the fickle love of his life, Olive Oil.

Yet, when it appeared all was lost, he’d reach out for a can of spinach, and suddenly everything would turn into his favor. Maybe it was the spinach.

I’m strong to the finish cause I eats me spinach…

Popeye reminds me so much of Bill. Bill, a larger-than-life man who was strong to the finish in this thing called life.

From the initial phone call indicating the beginning of a long and difficult road, he fought this diagnosis head on. Surgery after surgery. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and every strange holistic measure we put him through he fought this fight with everything he had.

Never falling far into pity.

Always hoping for the best.

Without complaint.

Well, maybe the exception of the frankincense drops in his daily shake. But, this was the same man who endured one of my first meals years ago, that being Shepherd’s pie, when I thought a clove of garlic was the actual bulb. He ate the whole thing. Maybe it was the Italian in him.

Each blow seemed to hit below the belt. The cancer wouldn’t relent. Eventually, it would take his body. But it never stole his spirit.

Throughout this journey, his desire was for the girls and me to be strong also. Actually it seemed to be his sole purpose.

Early on, Thanksgiving 2015, while sitting at the dinner table, he began to pray over our meal, when his words crumbled under the weight of tears that refused to stop. But, the little that made its way out was for us girls, and how much he cared for us.

Yes, he prayed for himself, and a miraculous healing, and all things one prays in the midst of a battlefield. But, his focus was set on us.

Oftentimes strength is portrayed with powerful muscles like one of a bodybuilder, but I witnessed a more powerful strength shine brightly in his last months, weeks and days as his body betrayed him.

He devoted each day to teaching me necessary things to sustain me after his departure. He showed me how to manage financial matters like paying bills and budgeting expenses. To maintenance issues, like changing air filters, and edging sidewalks, or is it the lawn that is edged and not the sidewalk?

He took care of things that were not necessities also, like how to grill on the Big Green Egg—which if you are unfamiliar, is a round, ugly contraption of a grill that is supposed to be superior at grilling meat.

He left no unfinished business. Every detail, down to a letter to each of us to be opened at his departure, was taken care of as if it were his life mission.

Near the end, before cancer stole his thought process, at bedtime I’d hold his hand and rub his arm, as I prayed to our Savior on behalf of our situation.

When after one of our final prayers together, I held onto his hand long after I thought he had drifted to sleep, he began to pray…

Dear Lord, thank you for this woman I love more than anyone, who has blessed me with 28 years.

Thank you for the best three girls in the world.

Help them.

Bill Barone was strong to the very finish with a strength that was larger than life. And I hope we will be able to model his strength all the days of our lives.

 

Death Threw an Unexpected Curve Ball

I want to tell you about my dad needing to go to ER, feeling anxious to be comforted by you, only to realize you are not able to comfort me. I feel so alone without you.  Watching you breathe, knowing you won’t be able to take care of my hurts with a mere hug.

My dad died last night.

The evening already had its challenges.  Bill’s breathing was erratic.  He was unsettled.  At times like this, I lay there and listen as an invisible anxiety barometer escalates my pulse with each breath.

Somehow, my body gave way to sleep.

A text arrived that startled me awake.  It was from my sister.  Just three words:

He is gone.

I caressed Bill’s hand as I told him about my dad.  I know he heard me even though his eyes remain closed.

I told him my crazy thought that maybe my dad wanted to be there with his dad, side by side, to welcome Bill home.

I take comfort in this thought.

Bill is near the very end of this horrendous battle.  A long battle that has caused so much pain.

I hear the words play in my head all morning of a song by Mercy Me, titled, “Finally Home”

I’m gonna wrap my arms around my daddy’s neck, and tell him that I’ve missed him. And tell him all about the man that I became, and hope that it pleased him. There’s so much I want to say,

There’s so much I want you to know.

When I finally make it home.

When I finally make it home.

Then I’ll gaze upon the throne of the King, frozen in my steps. And all the questions that I swore I would ask, words just won’t come yet. So amazed at what I’ve seen! So much more than this old mind can hold.

When I finally make it home.

I take comfort in him being home with His Savior.

Thank you for your continued love, encouragement, and prayers for us.

An Unexpected Love Letter

I noticed the paper, folded in half, with only my name on the outside.  I quickly closed the laptop, not ready to read its contents.

Eventually though, I open it and absorb his words. Words carefully penned from Bill to me.

As you know, I’m the wordy one. What you may not know is Bill writes love letters to me on occasion, and am almost always guaranteed a sweet paragraph on Valentine’s Day. But this heart-filled year, I was heartbroken by the omission of his words, and my tears betrayed my nonchalant demeanor when I realized there were none.

I assured him it was ok, because truth was, it was ok.  But, still.  I think the turmoil of losing so much to this nasty disease got the better of me as this cancer has stolen many precious moments on its path.

Two months later, I’d long since forgotten Valentine’s Day.  But, apparently Bill had not.  Since Easter has already been a roller coaster of ups and downs, the fact that he loves me that much to place such effort onto paper, makes me adore this man even more.

I’ve included it, with typos and all (so maybe my grammar-friendly friends will let up on cringing on the other side of the computer at the sight of my many errors :)) so you can know the determination it took to write this short sentence, since exhaustion and the encroaching cancer has taken so much from him.

Hi Josie

I wanted to say especialy today-happy Easter. Remember is our celebrating of passing from one life to the after life. 

Regardless of what happens we still havee each other. You have been the light to me for so many journies. You have been so strong, keeping this house together both pysically and spiritually. Our path has never been easy we have gone through a lot. And we are still running. We will be a strong family until the end

Bill Boo

Today, I bask in this moment that I will treasure for a lifetime.

Happy Easter my friends.

 

Desperately Seeking Miracle (A Gethsemane Type Prayer)

For the life of me, her words elude me.

Did she say, “It won’t be long.”

Or was it more like, “It will be soon.”

What did she say?  This is too important to forget. That, and what did she mean anyway? She, being a Hospice nurse. They came to the house on Monday.

I was Hospice trained while living in South Dakota.  I’ve always had a tender heart for the hurting and thought this was an avenue to be of help.  Didn’t know it would be my own husband when my training would be most utilized.

Anyway, the question was put out there on how much time they thought he had left, like we were calculating something as simple as a mortgage rate.

That is when she made reference to his time being short.

Really, it is not as if it is any surprise.  We know it is not long.

“Personally I want it over.”  These words exit Bill’s mouth.  I cannot blame him. Pain can make life unbearable.   I wonder if it is death he desires, or an end to his pain.

Even those who are suicidal, do they really desire death, or is it more of a longing to depart from living in turmoil, which causes one to want to prematurely end oneself?

I woke up the other morning thinking of King Hezekiah.  He was given a short time to get his affairs in order because he was given a death sentence.

His fate was forecasted, and he earnestly begged for his fatality to be at a future date.

And God gave him an additional 15 years to his life.

Now, there is speculation on whether this was a good thing in the end, as this king did not end on a good note.  His legacy was tarnished by pride along with offspring that happened to be one of the worst in Israel’s history of kingship.

So, I asked Bill what he would do if he had another 15 years.  He said he wouldn’t want to live like this, referencing the pain of cancer.

I assured him I don’t believe that would be a miraculous healing to live for years upon years in intense pain.

He said he would proclaim Jesus.

We began praying for a miracle.  Don’t get me wrong, we have been praying for this all along.  But, without any other options on the table, this prayer is desperate.

I think of the desperation of Hezekiah, or even King David, when the course of his son’s life was determined to end soon, David continued to beg God to intervene until the very end.

Unfortunately, David didn’t receive the same answer as Hezekiah.

Hezekiah was yes, David was no.

I think of Jesus, in the garden, on his knees, dripping of anguish, desperate–expressing his desire for the cup to pass from him.

His wasn’t only a matter of life and death, but so much more.

Still, through it all, his heart was one with His Father.

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

Afterward, he rose from the garden, and went onto a torturous death.

So we may live forever in His Presence.

The soil is prime for a God-size miracle.

A Gethsemane-type prayer is prayed.  Raw.  Desperate.  Through tear-stained eyes.

Maybe it will be the physical healing we so desire. If not, our hearts are focused on a future when the existence of pain and suffering will be extinct.

In the meantime, I try to be like Jesus, asking, but accepting all the same.

Peace When Life is in Pieces

“I know Bubba. I know. “

Oscar, AKA Bubba, stands in the doorway as if reading my thoughts.  Yes, he may be a Border Collie, but it is as if he knows something is just not right.

For days I contemplate writing.  Something.  Anything.  Yet my words fall short and fragmented.

The days are abrupt and long.

We found out the cancer made it to his shoulder bone.  Not a surprise.

Your hands cup your head as if it cannot hold the weight alone. Pain relief is a pill and a pillow away.

I haven’t seen much of you the last couple of days. Family left for home, and your eyes have been closed ever since.  It seems the energy extended has left you without reserves.  After Hawaii, it took five days to see your gaze again, outside of a glance here and there before closing.  I hope it won’t take that long as I feel our time is short.

I haven’t mentioned much about the trip except I cannot say with authenticity that it was worth it.  At least not yet.  Guilt accompanies this statement. Maybe because my hope was something entirely magical, all pain diminished, energy restored, and every thought and moment illuminated with the intense clarity of a new high definition TV.

Maybe when the pics from the photographer arrive, I will see with fresh insight.

The flight home made me tense as I struggled with turbulence over the large body of blue.  The flight there was similar.  Reminds me of Tom Hanks and the movie, Cast Away, waiting for the crash and wondering why I didn’t pay close enough attention to the attendant when instructions were given about the location of my flotation device.

Anyway, on the ride there my mantra went something like this:

Calm the air Lord.  I know you can.  Calm the air Lord.  Smooth it.  PLEASE LORD.

I hate having the fear of flight over bodies of water.  Still, I refuse to allow it to get the better of me by keeping me land-bound.

Anyway, as the choppy air surfaced early on, my mantra was replaced by something different:

Please God, cradle this plane close to your chest.”

At my petition, the choppiness became calm.

I’m not sure if the air actually smoothed itself out, or a peace from within smoothed the anxiety away.

After we landed in Los Angeles, my girls mentioned the turbulence was bothersome to their slumber.  I mention that I recall the flight to Hawaii being much worse

“No mom, that flight was worse,” one of them remarked.

“Oh.”

Sometimes I wonder if it’s not the surroundings that necessarily change, but the realization of His nearness in the midst of adversity, holding us close, that results in the peace we so desperately covet.

Sometimes it Takes a Village

Our little tree, which was planted last year, began to bloom yesterday. I’d wondered after the cold winter days if she would bloom at all. Yet, even with the adversity of harsh temperatures, she managed to persevere into colorful beauty.

The past week has been one of the most difficult yet. Days of weakness and discomfort seemed to determine our steps toward cancelling the trip to Hawaii.

As of Thursday night, it was settled.  We would send the girls to Kauai, and we would stay home to a makeshift version of island life with our hammock and the emerging spring landscape to captivate our hearts.

Truthfully, the thought of traveling hours to a dream destination faded when his health seemed to take a downturn.

But the next morning, something interesting happened.

I am online looking for a number for the airline to see if they will have compassion on our dire state, and refund our money. When one of our girls pulls me aside to share her concern. They don’t want to go away without Bill—or me.

I assure her it is ok, and a normal response in such a situation, when Bill walks into the room and questions our conversation. Unlike me, he is bothered at the thought of them not wanting to go.  That, and he had no idea they would react in such a way, while I totally anticipated their resistance.

I then turn my assurance to him, telling him this is a normal response, and make my way to my computer again, when he walks in and adamantly announces, “we are going to Hawaii.”

“No, we are not.”

“Yes, we are. I’ve decided that we are going.”

At this moment I feel my heart swing like a pendulum, from one side of the emotional landscape to the other.  Might I add, I don’t like such extreme shifts as it makes me, well let’s say, emotionally unstable.

He then assures me that he will be ok, and that he feels well enough to go. Even throws in a smile. I am not totally in agreement with his pain threshold, or how well he actually feels, but I feel excitement rise up for the first time in maybe a month.

I think I am married to the strongest man around. He will assure you this is not the case. Still, it took resolve and determination to travel in his condition. Maybe more than we will ever realize.

So, I write this mid-flight on our second flight of the day, somewhere over the Pacific, with tears of gratitude for the perseverance of this man– and our village of loved ones, because sometimes it takes a village to get one off a desert island.

Thank you to our wonderful neighbors who gave us their time in Kauai.

Thank you to the staff at HP who joined wallets to supply an exorbitant amount of funds, (above and beyond what they hoped for) to not only pay for our flights, but all activities, rentals, excursions, food, etc. Our trip will cost not a single dollar. Zero.

Thank you to the friends and family who have diligently prayed and encouraged us behind the scenes. Some continued to intercede on our behalf hours after our decision to cancel.

Finally, a thank you to all of you who have walked this desert experience alongside our family so we wouldn’t feel alone on our desert island.

Maybe an oasis is the village of individuals who supply needed sustenance when one walks along the valley of the shadow of death.

Or shattered dreams.

Or broken relationships.

Or addiction.

Or whatever stress our lives place on our hearts at any given time.

A heartfelt thank you for making this dream a reality…

Pics to come.

 

Emotions in Motion

My emotions at any given moment vary like a spring weather report.
Moment by moment, emotions in motion.

I ran into a friend in the grocery store the other day, and after a nice long and needed hug, she asked how I was doing.

I share that often it feels surreal, like an out-of-body experience, while other times I actually feel ok, and then my stability betrays me with a chokehold of anxiety causing adrenaline to raise my heartbeat and breathing pattern, until quickly returning to normal–leaving me near exhaustion. And truth is, sometimes  the emotions fluctuate between the three, multiple times throughout a single day.

To illustrate, I’ve included two recent writings.  One appears entirely desperate, while the other feels full of promise and hope.  Both speak truth.

 

FADING AWAY

His livelihood is leaking out like a slow leak in a tire, and I just can’t seem to find the hole to repair it. At first it was hardly noticeable. But now it is noticeably near flat.

I want to be excited about Hawaii, but I’m not sure he’ll be strong enough to go, and honestly, part of me would rather just stay here.

It is like you are slowly fading away.

You no longer work out.

You no longer work.

You count the months in your head, until the invisible deadline arrives you’ve drawn in the sand of time.

You cannot bend over without a headache.

You cannot walk up stairs without losing breath and energy.

You fall asleep before prime time TV arrives on the screen.

You are slowly fading away from this life.

I am so sad.

I feel you giving up in a way.

There are times I look at you and feel excruciating pain within.

I wish you had the energy you had before cancer took over your body.

I long for the days I would be angry with you for doing stupid stuff.

Oh, how I wish you would do something to irritate me again so I could feel the anguish that lasts only for a moment. And then make up just as quickly and float about in bliss of true love.

Instead, I watch you leave me.

One day at a time.

 

BEING STRONG

Months ago our grill died.  It lived a long life and fed us many-a-grilled meat, so imagine my surprise when I arrived home one day to our new grill on the deck.  Fully expecting a newer, prettier version of stainless steel, and instead noticed a big, green, round, ugly egg.  Actually it’s name is, The Big Green Egg.  What in the world?

This oblong object quickly became the newest gadget of his desire. I may be green with envy.  Maybe.  Or just maybe my palate passionately despises smoked food.

Anyway, knowing my aversion to her cooking, Bill decides to take it upon himself to find a suitable companion for me in stainless steel, and we can sell the green monster.  I’m good with that.

But something interesting happens while gazing at sleek steely grills at the bbq store.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a particular accessory.  A pizza stone.  Apparently this green egg has the ability to cook pizza.

To be honest, it peaks my curiosity, when the salesman closes the deal by telling me that Grimaldi’s Pizza uses the same type of approach to cook their pizza, and since this happens to be my favorite pizza on the planet, let’s just say I drool a bit.

So, I am now an eager student to Bill, the Grill Master, Barone and his green sidekick.

Not only that, he’s showing me how to change vents (ok, I mention this to a friend and she is so impressed, until she realizes I actually mean filters and not the vent itself.  Enter laughter here 🙂 ), and pay bills online.  I’m pretty sure the last time I  had this responsibility we had dial-up internet service.

It seems his sole purpose in life is to make me stronger for a time when I cannot rely on his strength.

After the grocery store, we went home and he went straight to bed.  Which brings us full circle–to fading away.  

 

 

Hope

Our short-lived adventure wasn’t nearly as climactic as the movie, The Bucket List, when two terminally-ill patients, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, decided to leave their cares curbside and embarked on an adventurous itinerary to fill their brief timeline left in life.

Maybe that’s what I hoped for when our luggage-packed Jeep, named Betty, left the driveway for destinations unknown–hoping that adventure would include over-the-top scenes and memories to look back on for years to come, so reminiscence would replace the void of loss.

So we left last week in our slightly used, but way cooler version of the I’m-having-a-mid-life-crisis-need-a-shiny-Vette-to-make-me-feel-young-again sports car.  Instead, the Jeep Rubicon, decked in black on black, was our travel companion on our road trip.

 

So much has happened in the last couple years that adventure only seemed appropriate.

On Friday morning we headed out.

Soon after we jumped up into the front seats, a notification on my Facebook timeline alerted me that two years ago, to the day, we moved into our dream home.  The home which seemed to have dropped down from Heaven above.

The very next day, another message appeared that was originally posted one year ago–a message from me alerting my friends that chemotherapy had ended sooner than later because of a low red-blood count.  But I assured everyone (including myself) that the oncologist believed it did what it was supposed to–meaning it killed all roaming cancer cells.  A year ago.  It felt like an eternity ago since I desperately held onto that false hope.

Around the time of last year’s hope-filled post, we took a short excursion to a hotel nearby for a couple of days of rest, when I had a dream/nightmare. It seems to sum up our experience of the last two years:

I am driving in the rain. I can barely see for the water acts as a shield from my vision. The glare from the headlights only makes the drive more difficult. Somehow though, I make my way to an exit, and sit off on the road’s edge for what seems like a minute or two while I ponder what to do next. 

 

I think Bill interjects, saying he can drive, but I tell him I got it.

After regaining composure, I maneuver my way onto the pavement again and see a fork in the road up ahead.  I slowly attempt to take the slight curve to the left, when I am stopped by a huge boulder which barricades the entire lane.  

I look the other way and see a deep sinkhole, with crumbling rocks all around its edges-caused from an earthquake, or something of significant magnitude, as the road is swallowed up in the depths.

I slam on the brakes.

When I notice another option suddenly appear–only in dreams can new paths appear without road crews and endless construction.  But quickly realize the pavement ends at the edge of a cliff. 

We cannot go any further.

I wake up exhausted and anxiety ridden. 

A couple days ago we ended our brief adventure at this same hotel, feeling somewhat dejected and depleted of energy.

I sit here, wondering what to call this writing, when a song fills my earbuds about holding onto hope.  Hope.  When roads crumble and adventures end, I know my hope is not in this timeline of life, but securely fastened in eternity, when bucket lists and oncologists will no longer be necessary…

Acknowledging Grief

I enter the room, carefully maneuvering around the land mine of a familiar face, which I desire to avoid for fear familiarity will cause an explosion to my composure.

I make my way to a corner to hide in the wide-open, when the gracious host walks my way and asks how I am doing. “I am on the verge of a panic attack.” I honestly answer. She acknowledges my pain with words of comfort, and by pulling me close.

When I say something that instantly feels profound, “I want this more.”  As much as I struggle each time entering this room, especially after last week’s discouraging news, I want to be in that room more than allowing fear to cause me to flee.

Sometimes there are times we need to set grief aside for the better option, which in this case is community.

Yet, there is also a time to be still and acknowledge the deep sadness within and not run from her turmoil.  Like right now. The tears are fighting for release.  And all attempts to keep them under lock and key have me an anxious mess.

Release is important and necessary. It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on miracles–not at all.  I send desperate pleas Heavenward on a nightly basis. Because truly the landscape is prime for a God-sized miracle as we are without human hope.

Still, to only believe that healing will occur and not allowing myself time to grieve is dangerous ground to tread. Maybe I’ve said this already, maybe I haven’t, but grief is a process that begins before the end of a life. And it is good to grieve.

I grieve when I see him pack away years of hard work into boxes and trash cans.

I grieve when I see him plan for our future without him.

I grieve when I lay beside him at night knowing that this may end sooner than later.

I grieve the day our girls walk down aisles without gripping tightly to their daddy’s Popeye-sized forearms.

Grief is perfectly normal as I reflect on how much this man means to our family.  To attempt to deny the affect his life has on mine would be disastrous to my wellbeing.

I saw a couple on Fox News one morning, a Christian couple I might add, who shared the heartbreaking story of the loss of their son.  I caught the story mid-stream, but guessing they wrote a book on their story.

Leaning in, I listen as my heart prepares to be empathetic with their hardship, I hear the words of the mom and instead feel agitation rise as I yell at her, “This is wrong. You are not grieving. Don’t you see that you are living in denial by not accepting his death?”

Cliff note version:  She says she refuses to use the word death to describe her son because he is in Heaven, or on the other side, or something of that nature. True.  But my issue is with what happened to him, not his whereabouts. He is dead.  Death is a hard word to say, I get it.  But, she needs to come to terms with it, not deny it. It won’t make it worse, it actually will make it better in the long run.  Because by denying this, I don’t believe she is fully grieving the loss of her son.

I know this because I once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Seriously, I am Hospice certified in South Dakota.

That, and my sister died years ago, but because we never dealt with her absence by acknowledgement of her death, the hurt remained underneath the surface for a very long time.

It is healthy to make peace through grief when a loved one is resting in peace. It will rip your heart out more than you think possible.  It may make you throw up.  It is okay to not be okay.

I want this more…

I want to entirely feel even when the feeling overwhelms me to a point of collapse of composure.

 

 

 

Pity says, “When it rains it pours.”

You know the saying, “When it rains, it pours. ..”

Well, I have an abscess that’s requiring a root canal.  Yes, it seems as if another tooth lost its war in my mouth. And, if you knew my aversion to dentistry, even though my dearly loved father-in-law was an expert in the field, you’d understand.

Last year’s implant was not as simple as the procedure presented itself, and lingering pain meandered to the teeth nearby, leaving me downing ibuprofen for months before the pain subsided for good.

So yes, I abhor the dentist office.

Add to that, I heard my dad’s health has faded and his cancer, which seemed temporarily dormant, has returned on the scene.

And then, there was yesterday’s tipping point with the oncologist and the possibility of pharmaceutical trials. Hoping for a clear answer, one drawn in black and white in which I prayed, but instead was more of a dismal-gray no way.

So maybe you can understand the rainy season we’ve encountered, when the sun hasn’t shone in entirely too long, that has me urging to say, “When it rains it pours?”

Last week I felt pity nearby tying to enter while I was at my lowest, saying, “it’s not fair,” as a guttural groan exited my insides and shocked my ears.

No, life is not fair, but when was fair a guarantee in this life anyway?

That, and I don’t want a fair-weather faith.  I want a faith that’s strong when the tides roll in adversity, as well as smooth-sailing days.

And pity can wreck my faith by causing my focus to turn inward and off God, and instead to an Eeyore perspective of hard situations, “Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be.”

Yet, God promises something different in our dire state:

He keeps track of all our sorrows and collects our tears in a bottle.

He mourns when we mourn.

He even takes care to keep our heads above the tides when trials cause us to sink. 

Knowing this, I find comfort and peace.

 

 

 

Prayer Works

The past few days have been processed in small increments–only allowing myself to go so far into the depths, and instead staying closest to the shallow end.

Still, I’ve pondered the medicinal side of things, and all the remedies that seemed to only feed the cancerous cells, while simultaneously destroying Bill’s taste buds.

He’s had to endure the cider shots, not at all similar to a jello shot.  The oils of old, like Frankincense and herbal supplements.  Then there was the angiogenesis inhibitor eating plan that was supposed to combat cancerous cell growth by way of simple nutrition.

There were the big strategies provided by the professionals.  Surgeries, immunotherapy, which reportedly cured a former President, and old-time varieties like killer chemo, known for the destruction of everything in its wake.

And, of course my encouragement to think positive thoughts, because positivity is a killer of all things bad, right?  Unfortunately, all uplifting thoughts were destroyed the moment the television turned to the morning networks, and a heated political debate ensued over the condition of our world.

Nothing has worked.

Even the new drug approved the day after the terminal diagnosis was administered.  When mentioned to his oncologist, his response was it would be similar to switching from Pepsi to Coke. Basically pointless. His cancer brushed away each strategy as if they were mere crumbs on the collar.

Our Hail Mary awaits on Monday.

We travel across the oncology hall to the yet-to-be-approved area of trials.  I envision dark rooms with lab-coated doctors with names like Frankenstein and Jekyll, stirring smokey pots of potions to test on frightened patients.

If you cannot tell, I am not entirely excited about this appointment.  But, we will enter with expectation and hope for a cure.

In all honesty, my prayer of the moment is if this trial doesn’t work to restore life, then the door remain closed and he is not a candidate.  Because I’d rather he not be a lab rat and steal from the treasure of today.  Make sense?

I woke up to a vision the other night.

It was the inside of a jewel box.  Dark soft material, maybe brown. In the upper left corner were two small words in typewriter print:

prayer works

Prayer works.  Yes, it does.  Actually, of all the tried and failed attempts at healing, He is our only hope for cure. And prayer works for more than big miracles.

Prayer works to calm our fearful hearts.

Prayer works to guide us through difficult terrain.

Prayer works to ease discomfort and pain.

Prayer works against the enemy trying to put a choke-hold on today’s peace.

Prayer works behind the scenes in ways we are entirely oblivious.

Sometimes, prayer works to…

I pray because prayer works as a tether to intimacy with our immense God who wants to draw us near, and hold us close.

“Jesus, tug us so close to You that our heartstrings are as one beat.”

 

 

Noticing God in an Otherwise Ordinary Moment

 

The day sneaked up on the calendar without time to appropriately send my “I cannot attend because of…(fill in suitable excuse).”

It is a Bible study, which, offered in a friend’s home, will hopefully extinguish the bubble of self-created seclusion I desperately want removed.  I haven’t been part of a community in some time, and the longer I am without, the more isolated I feel, so I urge myself past excuses and onto the road to her home.  The entire drive battles against red lights and weariness, has me chanting a mantra similar to that of The Little Engine that Could,

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…”

I make it just on time and enter, adorned in camouflage-beige hues, just in case I need to escape unnoticed.  A couple of familiar faces notice my arrival, though, and engage me with pleasantries until it is time to make my way to a seat.  Feeling adrenaline fueling my feet to rise up and catapult toward the exit, I scope the possibility, but since the door to exit is also the entrance to the living area in which everyone sits, I see my possibilities go out the door.

So, I decide to settle in for the session.  I am grateful I do.  It is exactly what I need.  The topic is on miracles in the mundane.

Knowing I don’t need to actually participate and can be an observer only, my need to flee temporarily subsides.

I make it until the end, casually making my way toward the exit with smile-attached goodbye, and out the door I meander—and nearly fall down the steep driveway as the heels of my confidence-giving boots have me leaning too far forward.  Narrowly escaping embarrassment, I head to the local coffee establishment to write.

I can’t, though.  I am stuck in my vehicle.  The emotional toll of keeping the dang feelings under control has me uncomfortably out of control as the urge to purge by way of tear ducts has me backing up and heading home…

Until I see Bill’s car at the other end of the parking lot.  Hmmm.  I wonder what he is doing over here.

I have a gift, which I am sure Bill is not too happy about, as I notice things – good things, like that the barista today serving my coffee doesn’t have her glasses on, and I comment on how nice she looks.  She smiles and thanks me, surprised that I notice.

I think of myself as a “Noticer.”  I notice small details undetectable to most people’s awareness. So, seeing Bill in the parking lot driving in a different direction than normal has me interrogating him on his intentions, usually because he disappears on occasion for lunch interludes with burgers and foods outside our clean, cancer-fighting plan. So, I question him, “Did you go for sushi?”

“No.”

“Did you go somewhere else to eat?”

“No, just here.”

“Oh.”

I wonder all the same because his car should have entered from a different end of the parking lot if he came from home as he said he did.  But, I let it drop.  I don’t have the energy to question his food intentions.  So, I inform him of my emotional turmoil, and need to hopefully sleep off the sadness.

Imagine my surprise when I exit the bedroom nearly an hour later, and walk by his office.  He shouts out from behind closed doors that he bought me flowers.

“Oh, honey, how sweet.”

“Make sure you put them in water,” he instructs, which actually irks me as he feels the need to assist me to accomplish any and all tasks correctly.

Still, he knows my love for flowers, and I love him all the more for the arrangement. I especially like to take each individual flower and place it just so.  Blame it on Oprah; I watched an episode years ago on how to properly arrange a flower arrangement.

About four flowers in, I notice a small box.

My heart flutters.  It is my ring.  I’ve been waiting since early December for my wedding ring to arrive, and here it is. As an anniversary present, I had a new setting created for my diamonds.  It was supposed to arrive the next day on the calendar.  But, here it is, in the middle of the flowers.

He hid it there as a surprise.  Apparently, he went out on his lunch hour to pick it up – which explains his car’s positioning in the parking lot.

It is the jeweler, who has been in contact with me all along, who goes out of her way to call Bill—thinking maybe he would like to surprise his (emotionally unstable) wife with the ring.

A miracle in the mundane. 

You may wonder, “Josie, is this really a miracle?”  Well, I believe it is.  You see, God knows the landscape of my heavy heart, and I believe He prompted the jeweler to go out of her way to contact Bill, so he could go out of his way to deliver this sweet present to his wife, who needed to feel some tangible encouragement.

My mood elevated three sizes that day.

 Miraculous arrangement from God? 

Makes me wonder, how often do we notice His presence in our moments?  And, do we attribute these special moments as something He maneuvers behind the scenes?

 

 

 

 

The Other Side of Illness

 

She was a hero of faith, a sweet lady who spoke of her mundane faithfulness, on a blog site titled with the same name. Her name: Kara Tippetts. Just an ordinary wife and mother caught up in the ravages of cancer, her intensely painful story enveloped her followers in a certain intimacy that is often difficult to cultivate, even in person. Maybe the gravity of the situation drew us in without prejudice, comparison, or any other adverse reaction when one succeeds in an endeavor.

Her story, mixed with a myriad of emotions, left my heart raw and aware of the preciousness of life itself. And, I must say, she was faithful to the very end. Her final post absolutely wrecked me. Not solely because of her void from this world, though her absence certainly felt like a hole developed in my heart. No, it was more than that.

Her story wrecked me for the better.

A favorite quote of mine, which may make its way on my arm, via permanent ink, is by the founder of World Vision, Robert Pierce,

Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.

Since Bill was diagnosed, back in November, 2015, I’ve privately journaled the highs and lows of our journey– from my perspective. I’ve titled these reflections, ‘The Other Side of Illness.’

You see, the angle from which I meander through this hard time may be solely unique to me, yet still, I believe our stories have the ability to affect another if we allow them to be shared fully–for the better.

So, I’m sharing these writings from the earliest entries, to present ones. Some are deeply personal, as you’ll notice my heart limping along just to make it to the end of the day. While other entries may spark joy, and cause you to cultivate that same joy yourself.

And then, there are some crazy moments, ones you may or may not believe, when I believe God appears on the radar with a message of hope, direction, or just to show Himself near.

Brokenness is a weary ground with many treasures lying beneath its surface.

Hopefully, we can cultivate some treasures together.

Awestruck,

Josie

The Unspoken Rules of Disengagement

I saw an excellent movie the other night, titled, ‘A Monster Calls’.  I read this eclectic book of illustrations, intermixed with words, in under 48 hours.  Very few times does a movie’s quality compete with the writing, but this was an exception to the rule.

Basically, without a spoiler alert, it is a story of a boy and a monster and a mother with cancer. Amongst the dialog, wise words were spoken from mom to son about life.  One particular statement by the mom stood above all other words expressed, “life is always in the eyes.”

Yes, and even more so, may I suggest that there is more than just life tied to the eyes, and  that true, authentic connection occurs in this inaudible display of this particular sense?

I first learned of my avoidance of intimate connection at a Proverbs 31 Conference, in which I paid an exorbitant amount of money to receive instruction on my speaking abilities.  Overall, I did well.  My mentor gave me excellent marks on performance, appearance, voice inflection and such, but, she said that I diverted engagement with the audience by looking up when the topic transitioned at a pivotal point–the point when I entered the emotional portion of my message.

By doing so, I kept my composure.

But, by doing so, I disengaged my feelings.

Since Bill’s illness, I am acutely aware of my need to avoid.  Sometimes I divert engagement by switching to topics less intrusive, to keep the conversation on the surface, so the emotions stay safely under control.

Ot, I avoid community all together in favor of staying close to home.

I’ve noticed disengagement with others also.

A quick glance and smile my way, both while in mid stride, but no locked-in gaze to stop and initiate conversation.  I call it the ‘walk by’.  Similar to a drive-by, but without threat of personal injury.

Or, let’s say we are in a conversation, and I sense the atmosphere feels too close for comfort.  But instead taking heed to the internal warning, I start to share my hurt, and in doing so, the conversation takes a quick turn just out of the intimacy range.  Usually it is the cousin of a friend’s next door neighbor, who moved away three years ago to another country, who happened to have a vaguely similar struggle–oh wait, that was the Hallmark movie she now recalls from 2002.

She says, “Yes, the actress was going through the same thing, and I cried throughout the entire movie.”

Or, glib answers to fill in life’s hard terrain:

“It will be ok.”

“He will be okay.”

“You just need to have faith.”

The problem with pat dialog is it is devoid of intimacy.

I get it.  Sometimes closeness is like wearing wool on a warm day, in South Texas.  Intensely uncomfortable.

Still, how do we break through the disengagement ceiling, and be fully engaged? Even when intensely uncomfortable?

Maybe a hug.

A prayer.

Words like, “I’m sorry you are going through this.”

Or, “I don’t know what to say.”

Perhaps, “I’m here if you need a shoulder to snot on.”

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to acknowledge and address pain.

Today, as I walked into the coffee shop, I had two doors from which to choose, both with tables nearby occupied by people that I happened to know personally.  Both, I knew would involve conversation, which may not be good because my emotional wellbeing was near breaking point.

But, I moved forward on the one I knew was the more dangerous of the two.  The one which was likely to not allow me to disengage.

In doing so, I received eye contact.  Hugs. Words of comfort.  Encouragement. Even when I felt the need to exit, they continued to engage.

It was this depth of engagement that bypassed eye contact, and penetrated my hurting heart– with love.

To you, you know who you are, thank you for engaging me today.

 

Filling Up with Avoidance

Apparently, red wine therapy seems no longer as effective. It used to be a glass would nearly knock me off my feet if not sipped slowly over several hours. Now, I can take down two glasses in the same duration, and still stay somewhat composed.

Add to that, I’m up three pounds. Okay, three pounds in the last month. I’m actually up more like 13. Yes, a baker’s dozen. Not necessarily a big deal in the scheme of my current landscape of life, but, four weeks ago, the doctor prescribed me the miracle thyroid drug, and the scale should decrease, and not increase.

So, I’m going to take some John the Baptist prescriptive advice, and avoid alcohol for awhile.

So I will decrease, and no longer increase.

I’m quoting, paraphrased of course, a passage from John 3:30 when John says, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” which has more to do with John becoming less so God would become greater, and not necessarily by measures of alcohol, even though he did omit from alcoholic beverage…

Seriously, at times I feel overwhelmed, especially at night. And, to shut off the concerns of Bill’s cancer and the unsteady terrain ahead, sometimes it is best done by way of Cabernet at night, along with daytime avoidance techniques such as shopping, cleaning, running, etc.

None are necessarily bad on their own, but I feel this is an avoidance technique to turn off emotional turmoil, instead of taking hold with an even tighter grip to the only One who can calm me from within.

This could be an accountability piece for myself, but, it had me wondering all the same how often do we turn to something instead of someone, namely Jesus, to avoid heartache, pain and fear, instead of embracing His Presence with our upset?

A couple days ago I had my competing liquid beverage of choice, the cappuccino, with a friend. During our time together, I kept feeling the tear duct wanting to let go of restraint by way of tear betrayal.  But, I managed to keep them under wraps in favor of dry eyes.

Well, enough already.

Emotional avoidance is unhealthy.

It seems writing is the one release that’s helping me to deal head-on with my emotions. That, and this morning while running, when these thoughts were running faster still in my mind, I felt God’s nudge to share you.  Maybe, just maybe, I am not the only one out there struggling with emotional avoidance issues.

Anyway, enough for now. Love to you!

Awestruck by our Great God,
Josie

I’m Not a Cook, I’m Just a Critic

Bill made dinner the other night, which is quite common in our household as I try to avoid burners and ovens and such.  Most evenings consist of the most basic of ingredients, which include a version of a meat, starch, and veggie.

This night though, he decided to replicate a dish he saw from the show, ‘Chopped’. Now, he will tell you how much he does not enjoy this reality show centered on cooking and competition, but, he never seems to leave the room when I have the occasional control of the remote control.

If you are unfamiliar, each chef competes by cooking a meal from specific items inside in a basket. They do not know what these are beforehand; sometimes the ingredients are interesting. Sometimes they are plain gross.

The purpose is to create something exquisite to the tastebuds for the judges.

Easier said than done.

This particular night, one chef creates a delightful dish using kale. Yes, the leafy green weed with bitter aftertaste.

The chef amazed the judges with his digestive genius.

So, Bill decides to recreate this side dish, and eagerly awaits my reaction to his recreation:

First bite…

“You need to cook the kale less, not put in as much vinegar, add a little salt, oh, and don’t use so much garlic.”

“Other than that, it is good.”

Now, you may wonder, who are you to critically critique his cooking anyway?

Well, I do watch ‘Chopped’. I guess this makes me an expert of sorts. Maybe not as a chef, but more like one of the judges.

Seriously, they can take the best of dishes and chop away at them by nitpicking small details of the dish until it is less palatable. Like a plate that is not pretty enough, or maybe one discovers a bone in her Salmon (oh heaven forbid), or, the meat is undercooked.

The complaints vary from judge to judge.

And each chef responds to said complaints differently.  Some stand there and take it with a smile, while others pridefully defend their dishes. Then, there are those who slowly slump as their ego is chopped away of all confidence.

All from the critique of a food critic.

In all reality I have difficulty cooking with decent ingredients, so who am I to judge?

Maybe our inner critic need not to be so critical of others.

That, and it got me thinking–some of us have less-than-desirable items in our baskets to work with:

  • We were born in less-than-ideal surroundings.
  • We were raised in dysfunctional households.
  • We’ve been mistreated by those who were supposed to treat us well.
  • We’ve lost loved ones entirely too soon.
  • We’ve lost our innocence at the hand of another.
  • We have disabilities that hinder our abilities.

Since we don’t fully know what is inside a person, maybe we should be careful how we communicate.

There was a time, a long time ago, in a kitchen far away, this young wife thought a clove of garlic was the whole bulb, and proceeded to chop it up, and put the entire thing into my first attempt at Shepherd’s Pie.

And, this same hubby of mine ate every bite without a negative dissertation on the measurements of garlic. Albeit, he is Italian, and garlic is embedded in his DNA.

I am certain he had a bad case of bad breath. But, still.

How can we build up instead of chopping away at the core of a person’s being?

A wise man penned a verse years ago that has yet to lose its flavor:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24