In My Doubt…


 

It has been a while since I have felt that feeling of “having to” write. I am not sure what it is. You know, that thought that gets you out of bed in the middle of the night? The one that you can’t go back to sleep until you write it down and then find yourself still writing way past dawn? Well, it hasn’t happened for a while now. But this morning I was reading a comment from a post I posted today on this day in 2013 (5 years ago!)  and it inspired me to come in here and try to write something.

I’ve had a rather sucky time lately. Just really sad. I try to snap out of it but I have all of these questions running through my head. Maybe it is because when my mom died recently, I don’t think I really grieved. I’m not sure I know how to anymore. When my dad died, I cried for weeks. And then as other loved ones followed,  it all just made me feel, I don’t know. Numb. Maybe because my dad died of a heart attack, I wasn’t prepared and all of the others were sick and it was a relief to have them not struggle in pain anymore. But numb about covers it. I haven’t really been able to really cry for a long time. Even when we lost our store in the 2003 earthquake, I never really cried.

And then the recent California fires happened. It was all so devastating. After losing our store, I never look at devastation like that in the same way. Your world just stops, while life goes on around you. People are still joking and shopping and eating out, when you don’t know what your next step will be.  I know the feeling all too well. And then in Montecito, the people who didn’t lose their houses in the fire, lost them in the mudslides.

My poor husband just sat there one morning as I had a total meltdown and let me have it. Maybe I just needed to cry for all of the things that I hadn’t cried for when I should have. And just used this latest sad thing as my melting pot. But I began almost hysterically questioning  him why God didn’t stop the fires, or why He didn’t make it rain when the fires were happening, or why He made it rain so hard when it did rain?!! All metaphoric because there really is no good answer.

Though, I remember a day when we stood in the middle of the street, looking at the devastation on the block where our store once stood minutes earlier with Christmas trees twinkling in the window and customers packed inside just the day before, while my daughter clung to me sobbing asking “Why God made this happen?” I don’t remember my answer, but she does. She said that I said, “He saved us. He didn’t make it happen.” He did save us. Though the two women in the store next to us both lost their lives. It still is a mystery to me. Why not us? Why did they have to die?

I guess I will never know His ways until I can ask Him. But it scares me that I even have these questions. It’s not the kind of thing that people admit. You know… doubting. So I have asked God to speak to me. And it has kind of been amazing. So many things have come up about why bad things happen to good people. To children, and little innocent babies, and slowly I am hearing Him. Not really understanding, but I know He uses us even in our doubt to be a blessing to others and Glorify Him.

I know, I know, all of the right things to say… We live in a broken world. Bad things happen. Period. He could stop those things from happening, and He does. Sometimes. I know, because He has answered a lot of my prayers.  God does not want us to be His puppets.  Why create something that does not have any choice but to love you? That is not love. Love is a choice. He wants us to choose Him. He showed us love by sending His only son to die for us so that we can live with Him forever. This place is just temporary. So temporary. We are just renting these earth dwelling things called bodies. I AM actually understanding that more and more as so many of my loved ones have left this earth.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He cried. Even though He knew that He was going to bring him back, Jesus wept because He could feel the family’s pain. I think that tells us a lot. Though Jesus could have been there to save him so Lazarus wouldn’t die, He wasn’t. Perhaps to give us this message today. Jesus cares what we are going through. Illness, death, devastation. Lets face it… life is hard. Divorce, accidents, catastrophes, financial struggles, relationship disappointments, they all matter to Him. But this world is our school. A place of lessons, some really hard ones sometimes.

The other day, I was telling a friend about my meltdown. And she said she knew of my faith and she was glad I was questioning things. I am still not sure what she meant. But I felt really bothered by it. And felt that I was not representing God in the way that I felt I should. And then I realized that I have always felt that I have never represented Him in the way that I should. And hopefully will never feel that I have arrived. I may never be the believer that I want to be. The one who gets to hear “Well done good and faithful servant.” Though that is my biggest prayer. And still… Everyday I  feel the need to fall down on my face and worship Him. To understand that He loves me so much that when I ask for Him to speak to me He does. I may never understand why He can’t just heal every sick and crippled body,  and give every homeless person a home, and make every mean person kind. So that this world would have no more wars or natural disasters. But I do believe that someday we will live in a world like that for eternity.

I loved when Jesus said  to Thomas, You are blessed because you can see Me. But blessed are the ones who don’t see Me and still believe.

So I guess I will just be sad sometimes. I will still cry when people I love die or when people I don’t know suffer. And I won’t understand a lot of it. And  I may have a few questions from time to time but that is okay. Maybe it’s good to let others see that we all have times of doubt. It’s just about trusting that all things work together for those that love God. And not letting the stupid devil dig up in doubt what  I have planted in faith!

God puzzle piece

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

My Memory Maker


My mom and me in our backyard

I am not sure why I have such a good memory. I think it may be because of my mom. She made the best memories. I remember things so vividly I can still taste the grape juice she always gave me when I woke up from a nap almost six decades later. I can smell the vanilla she always made such a big deal about us smelling together every time we baked. And I can even still smell the kiln that seemed to always have something in it during her ceramic phase when I was just a tiny little girl.

My mom died yesterday. She was a memory making mom. In turn, a lot of my kid’s memories are because I carried on the ones she made with me. She was a natural born artist as was her sister. My mom was always creating. She made all of my gifts for parties I was invited to, and all of my party favors. The flip side of having a good memory are the regrets you also remember about your own attitudes and the things you wish you’d said or didn’t say. Praying you said thank you enough or apologized for the things that you regret. I don’t think I appreciated not having store bought things to give my friends back then. But years later, my best friend told me that she was jealous of how talented my mom was while she only had store-bought things to give. Funny how as adults, we see things with a different clarity and  appreciate now the little things that truly matter.

When I was in Junior High, my mom began painting and doing art shows and had quite a customer base. Though she had a lot of pain from having polio as a child, she was pretty active. We’d always help her set up her A-frames and sometimes she had every weekend a month scheduled with shows. Funny how now I am doing the same thing as has my daughter. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my mom planted many fruitful seeds in her life. She had an art room up to the very end that my daughter and my niece made special memories in as kids. My mom loved making memories for them too. Generously sharing her paint and sewing supplies. She was always trying to teach one of us to crochet. And setting up endless little tea parties. But the best seeds she planted were the ones rooted from her faith.

Everyone knew she loved Jesus. She made sure that we all knew Him personally and I have no doubt that the ones that met her when she arrived in heaven ran to greet her to thank her for planting those seeds in their hearts. In regard to Jesus,  my daughter said, that she was His biggest fan. And my son said that out of all the people he knew who’d gone to heaven, he knew without a doubt that his grandma belonged there most. And my cousin said that it was probably a BIG DEAL when she arrived there.  And we are comforted that our moms are together again, there now. She would always say “Take Jesus with you” when we’d leave. I began saying it to my kids when they learned how to drive. It’s just become the thing to say to each other now.

My mom lived a good life. She was 83. She had two great marriages and during her last years, I could not have imagined a more loving caretaker as my dad. Faithfully taking her to what they call the 2 store. Letting her buy whatever she wanted… even if they didn’t need it. Telling us it gave her joy. Because of her polio she had bad memories of being in a hospital. My dad took care of her as she slowly faded all by himself and thanks to the help of our little Amanda who shared her caretaking experience weekly and helped us get Hospice at the very end. My mom never had to go to the hospital. It was bittersweet. I knew that we’d miss her but both my dad and I and my husband prayed that towards the end she would go fast and not suffer long.

My mom was always my soft place to fall all of my life. It was hard when the phone calls stopped. I tried to help as much as I could. Tried to get the last conversations in while she still understood. To fit in all of the thank yous and I’m sorrys as much as possible. And to laugh and remember all of the memories. The last days were filled with visits from her grandkids and great grandchildren and all of her loved ones who gathered to love her one last time. Ironically there was a baptism at their house the day before she died. Her Pastor and his family prayed for her and the next day she went home to the arms of Jesus. And then, probably attended the best party ever.

Goodby mom. I’ll miss you. But because of Jesus and you, I know that we will be together again.

“Funny How Things Change”


 

marineland

I grew up in Palos Verdes, a small town South of Los Angeles. My bedroom window overlooked Marineland and the ocean. (Now a resort – so sad it is no longer there!) When I was younger I was a Mattel toy tester kid. Not officially, but my dad would bring home random tester toys for me. He was a Marketing VP in Sales there, in El Segundo. I wish I still had some of those toys, I bet they’d be worth gold now.

shrinking violet Shrinking Violet – one of my Tester Toys!

We were not rich, but I was blessed. My dad grew up with a single mom and they struggled. A lot. He had to sell magazines to buy his school shoes. I know that my dad worked hard to climb up the ladder. Always making it to Vice President in all his jobs. Transferring us all over the country as he climbed.

Street I grew up onvallon

My friend Terri once told me that she’d been jealous of me  when we were growing up. I had the dad who went on business trips and came home with surprises for me, while her dad was a Cal-Trans guy who stayed home. I kind of thought it might have been nice to have a dad that was home more. I guess everything is relative. “I used to get lost in your house, I thought it was so big.” she’d told me once. (It really wasn’t that big.) “Funny how things change.” she said.

daddy

My dad and me in the living room of the house we rented across the street from Terri’s in San Mateo. So funny, he doesn’t look real happy about having his picture taken.

My best friend was four when we met in San Mateo where we were renting a house across the street from hers. A few years later, we moved. And moved, and moved, until we settled in Palos Verdes.  Things got given away or lost in our moves, hence why I don’t have my first Barbie, or most of the tester toys any longer. Terri had all her firsts. She lived in the same house she always did until she got married and moved out. Her mom saved everything. Though Terri doesn’t have them any longer. She died last summer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that comment, she made so many years ago. “Funny how things change.” It kind of hurt. She was referring to her wealth. She’d made some good choices along the way. I did not. She worked hard and completed college. I went, I still have my units all in a nice little bundle. I know, because I checked a few years ago. (Imagine they still have my records all of these years later!) She became an Interior Designer and was very talented. She married a guy that  ended up grandfathering into his dad’s business and making it very successful. In the end, they probably had more money than both of our parents put together. And though it makes me a little sad to say it, I know that was important to her.

Terri fought cancer for the last twenty years. Not only that, she fought stage four cancer! Having money has its perks, you can design your own medical team as well as try alternatives and it may keep you alive longer than most. And that was truly a blessing. But the comment; “Funny how things change.” Always bothered me. What did she mean by that? I know exactly what she meant. She had a lot of money and I didn’t. I have to admit that I was surprised that she’d always harbored that competitive bone, and hadn’t realized it until she’d made that comment.

I didn’t not have money. I just didn’t have as much as she did. Between her right choices and hard work, and a little dumb luck, marrying a guy that would someday inherit a business that would be very successful, she never wanted nor worried about paying a bill in her adult life, like I have. Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed. I was just never motivated to need more. Maybe because I was a little privileged as a kid, and stupidly, a little embarrassed by it. Maybe the ones who feel they don’t have a lot at an early age seek for more later. I just know that Terri died with a closet full of clothes with price tags still on them and a drawer full of jewelry with some pieces, equaling a whole year of my salary. That being said, she was also one of the most generous people I know.

Losing my best friend and reflecting on our friendship of over a half a century has made me realize what is important and what is not.  That material things really are just so unimportant. But then, She probably knows that now.

I miss her terribly. I am glad that she is not suffering anymore. Her sister gave me one of her leather jackets. Though a material thing of hers, it makes me feel closer to her when I wear it. Losing Terri has taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. Even if that windfall never comes for me. I don’t need fancy cars, or big houses, I am happy to just be able to pay my bills on time.  And I know that I am blessed. I have a husband that loves me in spite of myself. I have amazing kids and a great family and wonderful friends. And now I even have a job I like going to and a boss I love!

I will always miss Terri. But I am glad she is not suffering anymore. I know now that she is in a place that holds the kind of joy she was always seeking from her “things” here on this earth. She is free from pain and has a new body. I think a lot about her everyday. She has left a gaping hole in my life. I miss the places I would find her, an early morning email waiting for me to open,  a phone call on the way home from work, summer get aways, the way she loved my daughter so much, her quirky  sense of humor,  and laughing at the dumbest things. Sharing things you can only tell your best friend without being judged. (Well probably judged, but that’s okay. Smile.)  I guess now, I just think a lot more about what is important and what is not. And you know she was right It really is Funny how things change.

01p091 One more of me and my dad

Dear Terri


terri, scott and i

We met when we were four years old and from that moment on we were a part of each other’s lives. It all started with a moving box that our new frigidaire came in. Her sister was two years older, and my dad loved to describe the memory… They knocked at the door, eyeing the big old empty box in our front yard and asked, “You got any kids?”

We quickly became buddies and she even shared the little boy next door to me without a problem. We caught frogs in coffee cans, shared the first day of school a few times together, played barbies and learned how to ride two wheelers and stayed out till the street lights came on. I will always treasure those memories those few years we got to live across the street from each other.

When I was growing up, I moved a lot due to my dad’s job. It’s not that easy always having to be the new kid but it’s really not easy being the new kid four times in the middle of a school year when you are in elementary school. I made friends, but there were times when I felt left out or was tired of always being dubbed the “new kid” and just knowing I had Terri was a kind of redeeming grace that carried me through those times.

Through the years we’ve probably written each other a million letters and shared more with each other than someone in our daily lives. There is just something about being able to talk it out in a letter that creates a deeper kind of conversation and a different trust than with someone sitting across the table from you. We’d both find stationey and sealing wax for the occassion and then later, emailed daily for years and years and years!

There was just something about knowing that though she was a thousand of miles away at times, she was also just a letter or a phone call away always. We were in each other’s weddings, had our babies around the same time and emailed each other every single day for years and years. We vacationed with our kids and visited each other as often as our lives permitted. She was my bff.

sealing wax

We had an inside joke about emailing each other…. When we were little, we used to look across the street to see if each other’s garage doors were opened. We knew then that it was okay to knock at each other’s doors and that everyone was up. (No one shut their garage doors back in those days unless they weren’t home or not up yet.) So when we would see an email from each other, we would refer to it as… “I was so glad to come on and see that your garage door was already up!” I have missed that opened garage door for a while now. It has been a funny feeling to want to tell her something and know it will never be opened again.

running through the field2

Today she has been released from this life, from her body, from all the hurts and disappointments this life has held for her to go and celebrate her life and be with our Lord. She lived a wonderful life, had so many people in it that she loved and loved her back. Even in the last two decades of illnesses she managed to weave around it all and embrace life with a passion and energy that few who are gifted with good health, ever manage. We may be missing her but she is in a better place.

I have no doubt that she is enjoying the party being thrown for her right now and will perhaps be in charge of some of the future parties up there in the future! (She always threw a great party!) And I have no doubt that she is preparing amazing places for us all who believe in that better place and in the Lord who has ALREADY embraced her!! Perhaps someday, I will get to live next door to her again! But for today… I am just going to take the time to really miss my very first bff. In these last few months, I have adjusted to the fact that our garage doors will never be opened again, but today it takes my breath away. I guess I always believed in another miracle. God gave her many in her lifetime. I know now the miracle is happening on the other side.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to perpare a place for you. John 14:2

clouds of joy