Got Hope?

Have you ever felt hopeless?

I have.  In fact, there have been many many times in my life when I’ve gone through something that left me feeling blindsided and in deep despair.  

Like when my 3rd marriage ended in divorce. Or the day I came home from work to find my daughter had taken all of her stuff – including my 11 month old grandson – and moved out of the house without telling me where she was going.  

As an early 20something, living with a boyfriend and addicted to drugs and alcohol, I remember being down on my bedroom floor crying. It was after yet another night of partying until I was puking my guts up. I had done something or said something amazingly stupid, and felt ashamed because I knew I was killing myself and couldn’t stop. 

Over the years I’ve had friends – best friends – walk out of my life without a single word.  In 2015 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer with 18 months of treatment to go through.   I have been ambushed with an unexpected job lay-off – more than once – and me, a single mom of two to support.  I’ve experienced the unexpected death of a parent, and nearly being homeless – along with my husband and 2 children – after a real estate agent sold our home from out from under us because “he had bills to pay”.  We had 1 day to find a place.

These hard times, while differing in particulars, all produced the same result:  A dark cloud of hopelessness and depression that threatened to consume me, and which I wasn’t sure I could – or would – survive.  On my own, I didn’t have any of the resources or strength or to change them.  And in a couple of instances, my literal life was at stake.  My life was in the balance, along with my sanity.

Several times I wanted to die, and even prayed for it to happen.

Obviously, those particular prayers weren’t answered.  And oh, how grateful I am for that!  In each and every instance, things did eventually turn around – most of them in quite miraculous ways.

My husband and I are nearing our 7th re-marriage anniversary and we’re closer now than ever. After 18 months of no communication whatsoever, my daughter contacted me out of the blue and re-established relationship. We’ve been a vital part of their lives ever since, and both she and my grandson have lived with us for over 2 years now.  He’ll be 10 in just a few weeks.

I stopped using hard drugs decades ago and only enjoy an occasional drink now and then when out with friends or with my husband.  The weed addiction – it was the strongest of all of them – was finally broken once and for all last summer.  It took 45 years, but I am free. At last!

New friends showed up, I’ve been cancer free for almost 4 years, and I was never without a good job for long until I semi-retired a few years back. In fact, they just kept getting better, and better paying.

Naturally, Dad didn’t come back from the grave (wouldn’t THAT have been a miracle!) but Mom is still around at 86 years old and I see her at least every other weekend.  Her body is in decline, and she’s a wee bit forgetful, but her mind is still sharp and on a good day, it’s a good day.

And lastly, none of us – not me, my husband, my children or grandchild – have ever spent a single day of our lives without a roof over our heads, clothes on our back, and good food to eat.  We’ve haven’t always had “extra”, but we’ve always had enough.

All of these difficult experiences had one thing in common (besides me. Ha!)  They all changed for the better, changed me in the process, and turned that deep, dark hopelessness into joy.  

Was it a 12step group I attended that freed me?  Weeks of Therapy?  One (or more) of the New Age accouterments I tried?  Everything from Tarot to OMing, Reiki to Past Life Regression, Visualization to Crystals?  Did Buddhism or Paganism or Goddess worship help me?

No.  (And trust me.  I tried them all.) 

In each and every case, it was Jesus.  

Jesus delivered me, healed me, restored my marriage and my family and my life.  He protected and provided, comforted and encouraged, and gave me not only a reason to get up in the morning, but a sense of real purpose for living.

And that’s why I’ve come here today.  I felt compelled to tell of just a few of the things that the Lord has done for me.  I know, with all that is within me, that if He would do these things for me, He will do them for anyone because there’s absolutely nothing special about me.  I wasn’t the Favorite Child. In fact, in many of these instances, I wasn’t even a Christian (or if I was, I wasn’t acting like one).  But even then, even during the times when I walked away from Him, He never walked away from me. No matter what dark road I had chosen to walk, He walked it with me just waiting.  Waiting for me to ask for help.

If you find yourself today in a place where you feel hopeless, and beaten down by life or your own bad choices, I beg you.  Give Jesus a chance.  Even if you have before, invite Him into your circumstances, into your heart, and to turn things around. He longs help you – physically and spiritually – and to demonstrate His Unconditional Love. It’s not about you joining a religion. It’s about having a relationship with the Son of the Living God.

God is a good God. His mercy endures forever, and He is near to those who are broken and brokenhearted.  Ask Him for help. Do it now. You won’t be sorry.

“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice,

He heard my cry for mercy.

Because He turned his ear to me

I will call on Him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me.

The anguish of the grave came upon me.

I was overcome by trouble and sorry.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:

Oh, Lord, save me!

The Lord is gracious and righteous.

Our God is full of compassion.

The Lord protects the simple hearted.

When I was in great need,

He saved me.

Be at rest once more, Oh my soul,

for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Oh Lord, have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before You in the land of the living.”

  • Psalm 116:1-9

I’m Moving

Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world.  And, in many ways, it was.   I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some.  The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit,  along with my hair.  I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.

And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive.  All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.

Fast forward to today.   I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance.  I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle.  My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.

This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week.  I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make  even more new friends.  I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.

Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school.   Last year when I did this,  I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”

This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done.  (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ).  I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now.  But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!

The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be.  All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith,  keep moving and remember:

It Ain’t Over Yet

Once Upon Design

 

 

Yesterday, I was clever

So I wanted to change the world.

Today, I am wise,

So I am changing myself.”

– Rumi

 

 

There’s been lots of changing going on around here.

Even before I quit/let go at my job, I was making some changes in my home life.  Not the “relationship” impacting changes with my husband, daughter and grandson (although, I supposed in a way that is ALWAYS happening, and all positive).

These changes pertain to my/our physical space.  I am the “home maker’ in the family. Always have been, always will be simply because it’s who I am and I love doing it.  I “home up” where ever I find myself, be it a teeny tiny one bedroom apartment in the city, a half finished cabin in the desert, or a more roomy home in the Burbs.  I can’t remember ever NOT arranging my space, making do with what I had, trying to make things as nice as possible with what was at hand.

After living with me for so long, my family is no longer surprised to wake up in the morning to find the furniture rearranged, hutches done up differently, or artwork hung some other way.  Don’t get me wrong.  In many cases, once I’ve found the IT Spot for how I want a china cabinet to look, for example, I may not change anything about it for years!

But there’s this other thing that happens.  Early in the morning, while everyone else is sleeping and I’m having my coffee/meditation time, I tend “LOOK” at stuff.  If I’m in the kitchen, I look at the antique hutch that holds my vintage table and bar ware, and my big glass canisters holding baking ingredients.  I might wander into the dining room and look at the corner units I have in there, and check out the way things are set up, or into the living room where I have a lighted display case full of Carnival Glass.

Something about the way one of these hutches is arranged will bug me until I reach that “OK” moment with how it looks.  I’ll keep arranging and rearranging until my sensibilities tell me to stop, even if it’s just a minor adjustment.  It’s unclear whether this need to find “OK” is just having a natural eye for design, a need for control, or needing to tap into a Feng Shui feel, but

It’s

Just

Something

I

Do

And I’m ok with that. I like order, and have a natural bent towards organization. I also believe that our exterior space impacts our interior space.  Having an organized life – be it at home or in business – reduces waste, stress and time. (Side note:  Orderly does NOT mean dust free.  Ha!)

And visa versa, as well.  Our inner state can have a direct impact on our outer world. You know this is true if you’ve ever lived with someone with mental health challenges, be it depression, anxiety or some other mood disorder.

ANYWAY, when the mood strikes to change things up, I like to follow my inclinations and this past week I took advantage of  an empty living room to make a BIG change (furniture moved so Mr. Man could clean the carpets).  Seeing the empty “canvas” in front of me, I got to work right away.  A couple new pieces of furniture, a new rug, and Wha Laa!  I just put the finishing touches on a whole new look.  The room looks more spacious, there’s plenty of seating while still being homey and welcoming, and all just in time for the holidays.  And I reached OK!

I mentioned “control” as a possible motive and, in the case of my living room, there might be a little to that (although our old couch WAS getting a bit worn in places…) There is so much happening “OUT THERE” right now that I have no control over.  For example, we recently got the news my grandson has ADHD, Dyslexia and CAPD, and that he’s being bullied at his new school.  Other than support him emotionally and educationally here at home (and a TON of prayer), there’s little I can do to change that.  I also can’t change the ever rising cost of living here in Southern California, the fact that ageism is alive and well in the job market, my aging mother’s continuing decline or what’s happening on the global political scene.

But, I am not powerless.   With just a little money, a lot of elbow grease and even more imagining,  our home has undergone a positive shift.  Almost every room in the house has now undergone some sort of change that support and assist all of us in differing ways…AND that look really cool.

Which makes me feel good….Makes me feel like I have a purpose and that there is a PLAN for good things for all concerned .   Which, in turn, makes me feel at peace.

And inner peace is where it’s at.