When “Little” Becomes “Limitless”…

limitlessHere’s my personal pick for my tweet of the week:

“Typing the word “little” on my phone & auto correct changed it to “limitless”.
When little becomes limitless, that’s ok! Thanks autocorrect!”

Two words, “little” and “limitless” have become my theme this week.  How auto correct would ever change the word little to limitless is beyond me.  But when “little” becomes “limitless”, that’s more than ok.  It’s incredibly awesome!  I’ve thought about these words and how they apply to my life.  After last week’s blog post, Digging Deeper, Whatever It Takes, I’ve done some hard thinking about the things that I’ve felt were limiting to me.  I’ve come to realize that while my dreams may be big, my own thinking is still small.  My own “little” is keeping me from my “limitless”.

It was last Monday when I was typing the word “little” on my phone.  I was texting a few friends, asking for a “little” prayer.  I had started experiencing the familiar symptoms that have landed me in the hospital four times in the past, symptoms that have been the reason for two of my surgeries.  I’ve talked about this before in a post, I’m Not Average.”  Monday, I was preparing to go the hospital.  I really thought that by that night, I would be admitted.  I know how this goes.  I followed the doctors’ instructions to try and prevent another episode, which haven’t been successful previously.  I made it through that day with no hospital admission.  I’m happy to say that my symptoms have subsided a little more each day since, and today I feel back to normal!

I asked some friends for a “little” prayer last week, too.  I told you about the issue with bulging disks in my neck.  That’s been more than a little painful!  I’m happy to say that the pain has gotten better each day since!  It’s not completely gone, but I’ve been able to stop taking all the pain medication I was on.  And for those who know the story already, there is a good chance I can start running again next week!

As a child, my parents took me to church and taught me to believe in God.  Yes, they taught me, but I’m the one who had to learn what it meant to believe in a god.  Like every other person out there, I had to do my own searching and formulate my own opinion about who God was and what place he was going to have in my life.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts, I think you would agree that my life has been quite an adventure.  I would describe it as being a “better than a soap opera” kind of life.  These experiences have given me much opportunity for life lessons.  I’ve had lots of opportunity to let experiences make me bitter or better.  I chose to let them make me better and in the process, I did indeed form my own opinion of who God was and what place he was going to have in my life.

I think back on the Bible stories I heard as a child.  There were a couple times recorded in the Bible, when Jesus, God’s son, found loaves and fisheshimself in a remote location with large crowds gathered around to hear him speak.  They became hungry and there were no grocery stores nearby, so Jesus took the little that he had, like a few loaves of bread or a couple fish.  When he put his hand of blessing on it, the little became limitless!  He not only fed the thousands that were gathered.  They even had leftovers!

There was a widow that’s talked about in the Old Testament.  She was in debt up to her eyeballs and her two sons that were about to be made slaves to pay for her debt.  She asked a prophet if he could help her.  He asked her what she had.  The widow told the prophet that she had nothing except a “little” jar of oil.  The prophet asked her to do something quite odd, but amazingly, she listened to him and did it.  He told her to gather up all the empty jars that she could find, so she gathered every empty jar she had and even got all the neighbor’s jars.  Next she was to go inside her house and start pouring the small amount of oil from her little jar, into the big empty jars.  Can you imagine all the thoughts going through her mind about how crazy this was, as she did it?  I’m sure she expected it to take about two seconds for the oil in her little jar to run empty, but it didn’t!  She just kept pouring her little into her emptiness and every single jar was completely filled.  The oil didn’t stop flowing until there was nothing left to pour into.  Her little became limitless!  Her sons were saved from slavery and her debt was paid.

love limitlessThose are just a couple of the many, biblical examples of little becoming limitless.

Believe me when I tell you that in my own life, there have been many times when God made my “little” become “limitless”!  I hope you’ve caught that in my posts.  I don’t talk about God in most of my posts, but I believe that there have been many events that I consider to be “a God thing”.  Maybe they weren’t all good things, but God worked them together for good in my life.

I was inspired twice this week by video links posted by friends.  Both were of a man born with no arms or legs, Nick Vujicic.  Now this is indeed, a man who has what appears to be, very limiting factors in his life.  Yet, when you talk about someone who has overcome obstacles, he’s one of the best examples I’ve seen!  I’ve posted the links to these two video clips below.  Nick not only gets where he needs to go, which is challenging in itself, but he even swims, surfs and plays golf.  He is now a bestselling author and a motivational speaker who travels the world.  His first book was titled, “Life Without Limits”.  Nick is a perfect, real time example of “little becoming limitless”.  I look at his life and can’t help but be moved to let go of every excuse I’ve ever made!

There is one common denominator in each of these examples.  It’s the God Factor.  God was involved in the Bible stories, my own life and certainly in Nick Vujicic’s life.  It’s been quoted by several people, “The size of your God, determines the size of your goals.”  Through my own life lessons, I’ve come to believe with all my heart, that I’ve got a really, really BIG GOD!  I feel that I’ve spent much time exploring the aspects of his love, grace and mercy.  With each new obstacle I’ve bumped up against, I find His love, grace and mercy are there.  I have yet to find their limits.  But you know, I’ve stopped looking for limits.  “Little” is going to have very limited use in my vocabulary from here on out.  I’ve concluded that my God is big enough for whatever comes my way, that he is indeed, limitless!Gods treasure

The moral of this story:  If God is big enough for me and all the messes I’ve made, he can be big enough for you, too! 

Don’t look at your limitations.  Look at your limitless God.

http://t.co/z7yjTJg8

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My Grown Up Christmas Gift

HopeIt’s with utmost respect and honor that I bring you today’s blog post.  I want to share one of the most valuable and precious Christmas gifts I have ever received.   It’s a poem written by one of my own.  My son gave me permission to share this with you today.  It wasn’t his intention to share this normally, very private, thing with the world, but it’s such a beautiful thing that, how can the world not get to experience it.  The back story to this, are years of addiction, many rehab programs, and several seasons of recovery followed by relapse.  Not that the journey is over, but this time feels different.  There is new life and hope that hasn’t been felt before.  I’m proud of my son and the positive steps that he is taking toward his new and wonderful future.  Together, we share this private moment in time today, not to exploit a man’s suffering, but to bring hope to other moms, dads, brothers, sisters and family members of addicts.  My son’s heart is much the same as mine, to help and love others.  Here is our gift to you.  May this season of hope live on in the New Year.  Merry Christmas!

 

For the Family

How can I even begin to express

About this time last year I was undoubtedly distraught, surely lost,

Senseless direction, heading nowhere, the trail had long since gone cold

Solid ground so ever elusive

The fear of death was becoming reality

I had abandoned all hope and lying to myself and everyone else in the process

Sick of pain and sobbing in a drunken stupor, I knew I couldn’t deny the truth

I was robbing myself of a life rich with meaning and warm hearted affairs

So I did what all good gangsters do and I called my parents, E.T. phone home

An answer, always an answer, as close as man can come, to divine love

They listened, always listened; I knew I had to get back to the desert

The place I once believed to be my problem, these people, these mountains, these

plastic possessions

Technology, pornography, dystrophy, all around me

But what I’m getting at ain’t so easily said, but seen out of your own two see’ers  instead

I got lost

The stupid story of the prodigal son haunts me like a rake does a garden gnome

And every time I was welcomed back, grace with a warm blanket of unconditional love

I am warm in my family’s arms

Fingers not so stiff and bleeding

I am charged with intense emotional uplift in the arms of my blood

Not so lethargic and glum, the fog lifts a little and I can finally breathe some

I am delighted to be born into such a solid rock of a household

Homesick and uprooted I am shaky and alone

I am blessed with a family who could never see me how I see myself

Distasteful, wasteful, hell in a bucket

The true meaning of the holidays is this

Family

I hope I’ve expressed in some way what I’m so desperately trying to say

I have the best family

From it stem the strongest roots

And I am so grateful and so floored to have made it back

If I’d had the choice to choose, I would have sold myself short

I am a man among angels

You see right through me

Thank you

 

In 2 See Me

Have you ever really thought about the word, “intimacy”?  Ok, true confession here.  Sex is first place my mind goes when I hear the word.  My own insecurity is hoping that I’m not the only one who goes that direction first, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m not.  While sex, when it is true lovemaking is the most beautiful form of intimacy, there is so much more to it and that’s where I’m going with it today.

When I started this blog, my purpose was to share life with others.  I was hoping for a two sided conversation about life and all the things it throws our way, all the good, the bad and the ugly.  I wasn’t looking for a debate or an argument.  I was looking for a safe, honest place where those involved would be encouraged or comforted or just listened too, whatever we needed it to be for that given point in our day.  In order to do that, I felt that I needed to go first.  I had to open up the discussion, to be the first to take the risk to be intimate, to let you “in 2 see me”.

Think about the times you’ve sat and had a truly invigorating conversation with a friend.  Your conversation had moved past the weather and how the family is.  It wasn’t a one sided conversation.  You had both gotten to share, equally and each had really listened to the other.  You had a tangible connection at a deeper level.  It was a true “heart to heart”!  I love those rare occurrences with a friend.  They are so satisfying, so life giving!  It’s sad that they are so rare.

The truth is, they are rare because it’s rare to have a friend that is safe to have that kind of conversation with.  It’s rare that we take the time to move past ourselves and our own junk to really listen to someone else.  It’s rare that we let go of our judgmental, critical opinions and allow a person to feel safe with us.  It’s rare that we see another’s worth when they may have idiosyncrasies that don’t resonate with us.  It’s rare because we don’t see buried treasure in others.  We say we value people, but when the rubber meets the road, when you are face to face with them, do we really?

I want more of those life giving conversations and I had hoped to find them in this blog.  I guess I didn’t realize what a lonely place blog land could be.  Was I asking too much to start a personal, intimate, online conversation with total strangers?  The answer to that is a huge YES!  After all, what you put online is out there for the world to see forever.  I can see why it’s not such a safe place.  I can see why the conversation is so one sided.  So where do I go from here?  No where!  I’m going to push past the loneliness and the insecurity that comes from making myself vulnerable.  I’m taking the risk to keep sharing.  I just have to believe that maybe someone is listening and talking back, just in a way that the whole world won’t hear.  I’m here to stay!

My “Bad Day Roll”

Today was what I would consider to be a bad day.  Actually, I know my life appears to be great to many and it really is, but I’ve actually been on a “bad day roll” since this year started.  Some days are better than others, but has anyone noticed that I’ve not been writing recently?  The life has been sucked out of me.  My enthusiasm has dwindled, my joy, thus my motivation, pretty much gone.  What you are about to hear is the ugly.  Well, some of the ugly.  True confession, I still keep the really ugly stuff hidden.  I’m human too, you know.

This year has been an all time low for me.  My self esteem has never been lower.  My self-confidence hasn’t waned, because there hasn’t been any to wane.  January was the most stress filled month that I can remember ever experiencing.  I have had years of stress filled experiences in my past, I mean excruciatingly, intense situations that have the power to crush a person.  In spite of that, I can remember very few situations that made me feel the emotional upheaval and inner turmoil that I’ve felt this year.  I actually feared that I would experience what it really was to literally “lose it”.

My thinking has taken a much healthier direction in the last several months, but I can’t say that I’m past it all, yet.  The struggle has continued, sometimes like a volcano just rumbling under the surface.  Today though was an eruption.  I find myself shaking my head at the end of this day.  How and why is this happening?  I don’t have the answers yet, but life is a journey, right.  You don’t get the privilege of knowing it all while you’re running the path.

Part of my issue was that I had made myself vulnerable.  I had exposed parts of my life that were delicate and maybe not so appealing to the general public.  It made people uncomfortable.  It made me the target of unfair, critical, judgment and I began to see it, feel it and hear it expressed.  People I had trusted to be with me in this life journey, had backed away.  Wow, does this ever suck!

But what did I expect?  Everyone doesn’t think like me.  Many are uncomfortable with deeper relationships.  Most are ok as long as they can agree, as long as the person is like they are, but what happens when they aren’t?  Should that person who is different from you be devalued in your eyes, judged as unworthy and pushed away?

That’s what I felt.  People that I had no choice but to be around often, people that I trusted and opened up to, I now felt had unfairly judged me, devalued me and pushed me aside.  This little act sucked the life out of me and dealt a crushing blow to my perceived strength to stand up to anything.  My creativity was buried alive.  Intimidation towered over me holding a knife to my throat, daring me to open my mouth and speak.  The perceived threat was real.  If I spoke, any sound would be immediately snuffed out by it’s power.

I’ve had an “ah ha”, God type moment about this day, though.  I love when that happens!  Truth is, I had given over my power to those who I allowed to treat me this way.  I allowed myself to remain silent.  I had allowed the actions of another to rob me of “me”.  Today, I finally had enough.  Months of my life have been wasted because I allowed this to be.  It stops today.  No longer will I allow another to silence my voice or rob me.  No longer will I give my power away.

Truth is, my ability and confidence are not my own, but come from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, my power is not my own, but is sourced from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, relationship, honesty and vulnerability are still worth the risk because my power source has the ability to hold and heal my heart.  It sounds so simple now, but that was my “ah ha”, God type moment.

There’s more to all of this, but that’s enough confession for this day and tomorrow is a new day.  I’m going to get a good night’s sleep now.

To be continued…

The Dark Room… The Final Chapter

Streams of sunlight were beginning to glimmer through the sheer curtains hanging over the open window.  The cool breeze caressed the bare skin of the Princess causing her to awaken enough to pull up the blankets, snuggling them around her neck.  She really did not want to wake up this early, yet so many thoughts flooded her mind, that trying to sleep any longer would be futile.  She had been anticipating this day.  Her plans would include another journey back to her little playhouse in the forgotten forest.

With fearful resolve, she got up and dressed, as she knew what she just had to do.  It was time to come face to face with a teddy bear, a teddy bear which represented a moment in her past that had been hidden in the darkest depths of her mind.  She did not feel like putting on any of the silky flowing gowns that were typically part of the princesses’ wardrobe.  After all, the playhouse was so dusty from years of neglect and today, she just did not feel like a princess.  Maybe the plain black cotton servants dress would do, for this day felt more like a day for mourning.

Grabbing a quick bite to eat, the Princess scurried out into the castle courtyard and down the garden path to the edge of the forest.  She did not stop to enjoy the beauty surrounding her.  She could not be distracted or worse yet, allow her thoughts to cause her to wait until a better day.  It was too easy for her to procrastinate on this one.  This she knew, because she had already put her plans on hold for many days.

Her pace slowed as she neared the edge of the forest.  She hesitated for a moment, finding that she had to force herself to take each step.  Yet there seemed to be something else coming from the inside of her.  She felt a somewhat comforting sense of strength, something that made her feel that everything was going to be okay.  Even though this journey today would be painful, she had a strange knowing that it would end well.

The path before her was clear this time.  She knew exactly how to get back to the place that she had accidently stumbled upon weeks before.  Just a little farther ahead, the Princess could see her old playhouse.  Once again, the fearful anticipation crept over her, but she forced herself to keep going.  She knew she needed to make herself to remember and relive the moment that had changed her life so dramatically.  She stepped over the rotted wooden step onto the porch and pushed open the squeaky door.  Tip toeing as she had done as a child, so as not to disturb her sleeping baby doll in the opposite corner of the room, she approached her old play kitchen set.  There was the prized teddy bear, exactly where she had left it just weeks ago and where it had fallen so many years ago.  She did not pick it up today, but chose to sit on the dirty floor beside it.

The Princess closed her eyes as she reached to hold onto her fuzzy teddies soft paw.  Hot tears began to stream down her cheeks once again as she allowed herself to adventure back to that day so long ago.  She was just a very young teenager then.  She had stopped coming to her little playhouse as often, but still found herself attracted to the peacefulness of the forest.  She would still occasionally sit and rock her baby doll, not seeming to want to let go of the special parts of her childhood.  More so now, she found herself contemplating her future dreams of being the best wife and mother in the whole world.

It was one of these occasions that the Princess had been admiring her treasured teddy bear and thinking of one day passing on this treasure to her own daughter.  She was startled by the sound of footsteps on the porch.  She had never seen another person in the forest before, and only those friends whom had been invited had ever been inside her little playhouse.  The playhouse door was suddenly thrown open.  In walked a man, only familiar to her, as she had seen him before on her trips into town.  She remembered him because it made her feel uncomfortable when he looked at her.  He seemed to stare at her and he was often at the same places that she would visit.

A wave of terror instantly swept over the Princess, even before her eyes fell to the large silver knife that was in the stranger’s hand.  Frozen with fear, the Princess was unable to move. The stranger grabbed her arm and threw her to the ground.  He clasp his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams.  She felt the cold blade of the knife against her side as the assault began.  She remembered the hot tears that had fallen that day, too.  She could not look at this persons face.  He was a horrible monster!

She was having a difficult time grasping what was being done to her.  Her thoughts ran wildly as she attempted to comprehend what was happening.  Why would someone do this?  How could someone be so horrible to another person?  What would people think of her if they found out?  Surely somehow she had caused this.  Had she smiled at this man when she saw him in town?  She was always smiling at people, in spite of being warned that not everyone was a nice person.  She should have never gone into the forest alone.  This day, she was supposed to be working, not day dreaming in her playhouse.

The assault felt like it came to an end as abruptly as it had started.  The monster almost seemed to become afraid of something himself.  As he left the little playhouse, he told the Princess that no one must ever know of this.  He threatened that if she told anyone, he would find her and next time he would really hurt her.  She would be very sorry if she ever told a soul.  The man disappeared into the forest as the Princess sat and cried.  She could not tell anyone what happened that day.  It was a horrible thing.  She felt dirty and sickened by the tragic event that had just occurred.  She knew she had lost some thing that day.  Innocence, worth and value had been robbed from her.  She knew she would never be the same because of this.  She would not realize until years later, how life altering this one event would be for her.  The man was right, no one must ever know.

The Princess sat for a long time in the old playhouse that day as she relived her victimization.  She allowed herself to grieve and thought about the years that had transpired since that day.  She could now clearly see how this one event had caused her to lose so much more than a moment of time and childhood innocence.  Being able to see clearly into the past, brings light to the present and healing to move forward into the future.  Another day, the Princess was sure she would spend more time here.  But for this day, she was done.  She knew that she had taken an important step.  She had faced her past and would tell her story now.  Maybe it would help another to venture into their own hidden memories and allow light to fill that dark room they’ve been unable to enter.

It was time to go back to the castle and put on her beautiful “princess” garments once again. She must never allow fear or the past to keep her from being who she was.   Once a princess, always a princess!  And yes, even when bad things happen, a princess can live happily ever after and that she did!

 

The Dark Room, Continued… Part 2

The night was long, cold and eerie.  The Princess struggled to find a comfortable position on the small porch of the cottage as she drifted in and out consciousness.  She forced herself to keep her eyes closed so as not to observe the shadowy figures moving about the clearing.  Whether they were real or imagined, she did not want to know.  Thankfully, the restless moments of wakening were quickly overtaken by her exhaustion.  As dawn approached, the Princess became keenly aware of her own hunger and thirst.  She needed to get back to the castle, but the door to this room seemed to have a magnetic attraction on something deep within her soul.  She dozed briefly until daylight came.

The little clearing was so peaceful.  The sun light pierced through the forest trees as the sounds of singing birds filled the air.  How could there be something so dreadful in this beautiful place?  The Princess just had to see what was in that room.  What was drawing her here?  Why was so much emotion and fear attached to this place?

As the Princess got up and approached the door, apprehension once again attempted to overtake her.  Somehow, she mustered the strength to face whatever it was that was causing the fear.  Her shaky hand gripping the knob, this time she was able to push the old, creaky door open.  She stood in the doorway for a moment and peered into the dimly lit room.  Yes, this was familiar.  This had been her playhouse as a little girl.  As her eyes skimmed the objects in the room, she recognized each item as having once been a part of her life.  Some items made her feel warm and safe.  There was the little table and chairs with the tiny china tea set still set for a tea party.  Over in the corner was the little doll bed that her father had made with his own hands.  Her favorite doll was still swaddled and appeared to be soundly sleeping.  Next to the doll bed was her little rocking chair where she used to sing as she pretended to rock her baby doll to sleep.  The Princess remembered daydreams of one day being a real mommy and how wonderful she imagined that would be.  From that little rocking chair, she dreamed of someday being the best wife and mommy in the world.

Why had she been afraid to enter this room?  Why had it been so many years since she revisited this wonderful place?  Why had it been suddenly abandoned?

As the Princess felt more relaxed now, she allowed her mind to wander farther into her childhood memories.  She was surprised that she was actually enjoying her little journey.  Suddenly her gaze fell on an object on the floor beside the little kitchen set where she had once pretended to cook wonderful meals.  She moved closer to see it.  As she bent down to reach into the shadows, terror once again swept over her.  With her shaky hand, she grasped the soft furry paw of her favorite, most valuable, childhood treasure.  The Princess brushed the dust off of her old tattered teddy bear.  It had been given to her as a very special gift.  It wasn’t just an ordinary teddy bear.  This teddy bear was considered to be a valuable collector’s item, something to be taken care of, held onto and cherished.  And that she had done.  Tears began to trickle down her cheeks as the ugly memories associated with her teddy bear emerged into her conscious mind.  The waves of emotion once again consumed her as she clutched the teddy bear to her chest.  She now knew why she had not come back to this place, why this place had become a room of terror.  She had a choice to make now.  Once again, she could run as fast as she could far away from this place, never to return, or she could face this thing that terrified her and allow this past part of her history to become part of her story.  The Princess knew that she had to come back here.  She had to face what she feared, possibly reclaim a part of her that had been lost.  She laid the teddy bear back on the dirty floor where she had found it, the same place it had landed years ago when innocence was stolen.  She vowed to herself to come back to this placed.  It would just have to wait for another day.

To be continued…

Do you think bad memories should be buried and left for dead or brought to light and faced head on?  Any of your own stories that you would care to share?

What Has God Ever Done For Me?

A friend in my social network posted a question this week.  I wasn’t intending to respond, but immediately, I had an answer.  It wasn’t just one thought that I could have responded with, but another and another invaded what had been a quiet interval in my mind just moments earlier.  I thought it might be fitting as we come to the end of another year to share my response to this question.  “What has God ever done for you?”

How about the time that I had no money and two of my young children had no shoes?  I prayed for shoes one morning and both of my kids came home from school with new shoes that day.

Then there was the time that our family of six went for a several months with no income, no government assistance, no credit cards and no savings.  We had more food in our cupboards and clothes in our closets than we had ever had.  Our bills got paid and we were even given two cars within a very short period of time.

There was the time that my first son was two years old and stopped breathing.  A nurse happened to live next door and resuscitated him.  He was in the hospital for a week and the doctors were never able to pinpoint exactly what had happened, but he was fine.

There was the time I worked in pain for two days with a ruptured appendix and live to tell about it.  My doctor thought it was something else until they did emergency exploratory surgery because the pain had become so incredibly excruciating.

How about the time on the freeway when my car was about to be crushed between two semi trucks?  I slammed on my breaks, closed my eyes, said, “Jesus”, felt my car start to spin and the next thing I knew, I was ahead of the trucks.   How does that happen?

Just a year and a half ago, my adult daughter went in for a minor ten minute procedure which ended with her getting 12 pints of blood and still bleeding.  The doctors said that they had done all they could do.  She is alive today to tell about it.

There are the family members who have been close to death due to addiction or mental illness, but survived and are still alive today.

There are the very dark times that God has walked us through.  We made it and can tell about them today.  There are the times of great blessing in having nothing and in prospering.  There are the joys in shared memories with family and friends.  I have years of journal entries where I have recorded over and over again whatever mess I was in and then what God did.

Whatever it was, whatever I needed, God came through.  He never abandoned me regardless of my level of faith or trust in him to be there.  He remained faithful, even when I was faithless.  I have no doubt in his love for me regardless of my imperfection, and we all know I have many imperfections.  The breath that I am taking at this moment, he gave me and he keeps giving me, in spite of me.  I did nothing to deserve his goodness to me, nor would I ever attempt to try.  He just keeps on doing what only He can do and He does it so well.

As I think on this, another question comes to mind.  “What hasn’t God done for me?”  He hasn’t left me.  He hasn’t given up on me.  He hasn’t stopped loving me in spite of my times of “unloveableness”.  (Hey, it’s my blog.  I can make up words if I want.)

As we start this new year, another “new beginning” that we will get every day, all year long, I pray that your list of what God has done for you fills the pages of your own story.

Praying for many blessings to you for the new year ahead!  Happy 2011!