Sunday, February 9, 2020

Six Month Update

I love our back yard in the Fall
Poor Scarlett got the worst
of the Rottweiler attack

It's been a long time since I've posted an update.   The last six months have been difficult, as I experienced more rejection, took a week long camping trip to southern Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina in October which was the 'trip from hell'  (rained every day but one and my dogs were attacked by a Rottweiler on a hiking trail in Brown County State Park.)   I changed jobs, our department relocated and I spent a Saturday afternoon sitting behind my shed, pulling up dead brush and carrying it by the armload to curb.  Turned out it was poison ivy!  Within 48 hours both eyes were swollen shut and I had a long, six week recovery from one of the worst cases the doctor had ever seen. 

Blowing Rock, NC

Brown County, IN - Vibrant Color even in the rain
Cumberland Falls

On December 14 my brother Tim had a serious heart attack that required quadruple bypass surgery.    It was a rough ending to a year in which I had hoped to find some peace.
December 14, 2019
Meier Heart Center, Grand Rapids 
One week after surgery - Christmas Eve and a
group of Tim's friends & kids came to give us
a little violin concert.  Tim couldn't help but
pick up his director's baton even though he had been
home less than 24 hours. 

These two never cease to bring love and laughter
Same department - new location - new position 

I began 2020 - a new decade - DETERMINED to make this a turn-around year and so far, it has been.   I am more content and peaceful right now than I've been in 4 years.    I have let go and distanced myself from the source of judgment and pain, and am off social media for a year.   I absolutely love my new job and live close enough that I am able to come home for lunch every day which I (and the dogs) love!   Indiana has become home, and my 'home' is a quiet and peaceful place to isolate, rest and heal.   I am reading a lot, taking a class on line and enjoy nothing more than sitting by the fireplace watching the cardinals at my feeder and the dogs play in the snow.   We haven't had much, but it is finally white and crisp again, and I was actually very grateful for calm weather and good roads during the 4 weeks I was commuting to Holland to help care for Tim after his surgery.

The silver lining in Tim's heart attack is that it has caused me to make some lifestyle changes, since cardiovascular disease is very prevalent in my family.   We inherited it from both sides and having already had a stroke which turned my life upside down, I got serious about ramping up the exercise and taking the time to make healtheir meals.   I'm learning to make some really wonderful meals with fish, quinoa, fresh vegetables and cutting back on dairy (my weakness.)
Fun group to work with 

Our director (L) and my direct report (R) 
As I managed Tim's schedule, meeting his many, many friends and keeping them updated on his progress, I received appreciation and affirmation I hadn't experienced in four years.   I found out that the person I thought was gone forever, is still there - right under the surface - just needing to back away from those who were toxic and convincing me that I was without worth and outside of God's love.    I had difficulty backing away from them because 1) they were in my face constantly and 2) I believed them.    Tim's friends and the distraction that his illness brought, showed me that my strength is still there!    Stronger than ever, for I have learned so much!     I finally walked away, and am finding rest and healing in solitude.    The one solid connection I have is a small group I joined last summer  - a group that meets weekly, year round (consistency is something that is very important to me), and has embraced and loved me as I am.   I am so grateful for them - and the bonus is that several of them live in my neighborhood.   My work colleagues are great fun and very affirming too.   I feel like I am starting to find solid ground again.  I had friends from MN stop on their way to Florida a few weeks ago, and that was a wonderful time of sharing and affirmation as well.   I feel like my "old self" is slowly returning as I let "church" go for now - and am focused on staying safe in my own home, reading and listening to messages on line.

This afternoon has been pure delight as I have had a steady stream of cardinals at my feeder ... sometimes 7-8 at a time or waiting their turn in the bushes.   The beauty and diversity of God's creation never ceases to move me.   I had a long talk with my brother Dan this morning (the second this week) as he is currently evacuated on a beach in southern Thailand (hard to feel TOO sorry for him) and teaching his classes on line, while waiting out the coronovirus crisis in China. 


A friend from the Triumph stamp group in MN reminded me of a verse from Philippians 4 recently.  Remember the old Sunday School song, "I've got the joy, joy, joy ....down in my heart."    That joy has eluded me since May 4, 2016 - almost four years!    The second verse says, "I have the peace that passes understanding down in my heart."    For four years I have sought - and at times demanded understanding.      How can people who bear the name of Christ be so unforgiving, cruel and uncaring?     I have come to realize, more than ever, that spiritual attack is very, very real - and that I had to let go of the need to understand those who are so quick to throw someone away.    There IS no understanding.    There never will be, this side of heaven.    So I bought myself a gift to start this new decade with - and wear it nearly every day, along with my semi colon ring.   I'm never going to understand - and I no longer need to.     I have the peace that PASSES understanding - down in my heart. 

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends
all understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.