Find Me In The Clutter

All this week I found it tough to find my quiet time and focus. 

Being a wife, mom of 5, grandma of 10. a full time employee of a job that runs more like 12 hour a day and resource minister, what is alone time again? I had pushed my time with God to quick moments…out of focus and not very devoted. 

 Guilt tried to creep in several times as I had been carving some time this week to do some decluttering and downsizing as I am making decisions whether to renovate my cute little house built in 1955 or move on to something bigger. Like I found time for junk but not Him.

Amongst the piles of what to trash, what to give away, and what to keep for repurposing, I found treasures and tears. Joys and lows. Memories kept and some that needed to be let go.  I laughed as much as I cried. I held on to as much as I said “why do I still have this?”

This morning, I go to get up determined that God and I would have coffee no matter what!  Yet before I could fully get out of bed, my foot would rest on one of the many piles of sorted clothes. My mind immediately thought to tidy up a little first. 

“Find Me In The Clutter”

What?

“Find Me In The Clutter”

Clear as day. In my spirit was an utterance to see God’s Glory in all my mess. As I refocused, I see Him.

He is there with me amongst the colorful stick figure drawings and piles of mother’s day cards from the joy of being a mom and Nama.  

He is there with me in  the butterflies I collect in memory of the beloved twin daughters and a grandson lost at birth.

He is there with me in the college diploma I received though I was told as a teenage mother I wouldn’t graduate high school. He is there with me in all 5 of their diplomas as well.

He is there with me in the mesh and metal cage bra I wore during 25 radiation treatments after 3 months of chemo and a lumpectomy.

He is there with me in angel figurine of a woman whom I never met who died herself but left the encouragement to celebrate my 3rd year as a survivor.

He is there with me in every photo of every loved one, every saved wedding announcement, every saved funeral program. In old records, old books, tickets stubs, vacation shirts and on and on.

I am writing to you now atop a pile of clutter in a hot mess of joyful tears mixed with “God, I’m sorry.” 

 I can’t quite find the words to express this feeling of knowing that He is always with me and speaking,  even when I am a mess in a mess. What I had classified as a distraction turned into revelation and gratitude. A different kind of devotion….  initiated by Him.

I still have work to do…… both on working on “our time” and my cluttered environment.  But He urged me to be mindful to let go of the guilt and allow this to be a “rested work”.  A work that has purpose and meaning that will feel less like work as we clean it together.

WHEW GLORY!

So if any of you earth dwellers go looking for me today, listen out for the Hallelujahs in the hallway under the piles of kids clothes!!!!

  • Michelle

Have Faith

Because of our crazy blended family, I don’t get to see all my 10 grandkids during Christmas. So I gave my oldest son’s kids their gifts early so they could have Christmas together before the eldest boy leaves to spend Christmas in NJ with his mom.

The youngest in this bunch, Jonah, had a gift from me that hinted at a much wanted gift that his parents are giving him on Christmas day. He was totally confused as to why I gave him a video game for a console he does not have. I told him to go have faith. We then begin to sing his fav new phrase “Holy Spirit Activate”.

How amazing it would be it we would grab onto the promises of God this way? He has already dropped the hint. Now go have faith!!!!

Merry Christmas, Love Always Michelle

When I knew , I knew

The day my mother died is the day I really knew she loved me. A strange thing to say, I know, but my truth nevertheless.  The understanding of all things from the beginning came with the ending.

I had crawled in bed with her waiting for her last organic breath in a sterile room. My nose irritated by the scents of alcohol and i.v.  Her nose bloody from forcing oxygen. I tried to clean her face.  Lotion even but tears would fall from her left eye.  My strong mother didn’t  cry. She “leaked” as we would call it. I didn’t want to take it away from her.  Truth is, I didn’t  want to lose them myself. If I wiped them, I would never again see the strength of her womanhood again.

She hadn’t spoken for 3 days.  Not since she had given me some rather poetic instructions.  Even now I laugh that she and I could never have a straight conversation.   Always a movie script of some kind.  Meaningful now, drama back then.

When the silence came, her heart monitor spoke for her.  The number of beats would rise and fall as different voices entered the room and addressed her all with the same tone. “Sister?” “Ma’cia?”  “Mama? Mama? MAMA!!”

I knew her 3 day rule. If she didn’t rise in the three days like Jesus did, then she didn’t want to be hooked to nothing that would change that.  She was adamant about not being trapped in weakness. 

But I punked out.  I sang “He’s sweet I know” as if that were going to change her mind.  She waved a few times. I never knew if she was raising her hands in worship or telling me to shut up.

I have always felt I failed my younger sister by allowing her to sign those dreaded papers. I remember the mix of sadness and anger in her eyes as she penned her name and then literally ran from the room. It would be days before I saw her again 

I’m was not quite cognitive of where my older sister was in that moment.  I knew she was there. I suspect she was no longer the Big Sister at that moment but too was again the child with the single pocahontas ponytail praying for Mama not to go. She, like Mama, would try hard to not show it, but vulnerability reveals itself even in stone. 

 I only found out today that they had their private moment at some point  that I must have slipped away. There was a forgiveness time involved and a phone conversation with her best friend. I pray she will tell you all about that someday. 

The youngest was barely a preteen.  Sheltered in the room with the grandchildren.  The “adults ” always feeling the need to protect them from the inevitable. 

I too made that mistake.  I had sent my two youngest kids to school that Monday. Not sure if I was shielding them from death or from seeing me in a child like desperation. Children need to know that their parents are human too.

The treatment of my eldest, I regret the most.  I had him when I was 15. He was her baby. Her son that I birthed. She would laugh and say that I was just the “egg bearer.” 

Through well meaning “it’s going to be okay” I neglected to talk to him about God’s Will and how a person’s will outweighs our tears.  At the moment of her death, he comes flying in with a bouquet of get well balloons, not realizing that her version of getting well meant leaving us behind. 

Let me correct that. She didn’t leave us behind. She left this world behind and we just happened to be still in it.

The room was full though. Sister’s sisters and Sister’s brothers (one on the phone was in New York). There were so many, 10 of them total.  Being on the oldest end, she was a second caregiver to most of them. Missing completely was the youngest brother. He was her original baby boy and had been murdered by a robber a few short years before. Honestly, I believe that was the day she really died.  Her broken heart never quite recovered and affected her body from that point forward.

Her mother, the rock of our family, had been in and out,  wheeled in a chair. But I still  can’t picture her in the room at that moment. I was told later how she drew close to her daughter and gently rubbed her forehead. A silent expression of love that is the hallmark for much of my family. This was the second child she had lost at too young of an age. The baby boy, Ronnie at 33 and my mom not quite 54. Her soul was hurting in ways I cannot and will not try to imagine.

Slowing beeps and tubes being removed, counting each deep draw and release. Five. The number of grace. A number I now have a love / hate relationship with. On Valentine’s Day no less.  A day she has previously disliked and one I still avoid 21 years later.

 I remember my pastor/godmother trying to pull me away and I screamed at her “she brought me in this world, I can go with her out.” I don’t think I ever apologized to Cat for that.  Not sure I should,  that pull almost took my mother’s love from me.

In that moment, holding fiercely to my mother’s arm, I felt her.  Not just a shockingly strange amount of energy that only those who have held on to a transitioning person know.

But I felt her. 

It should have been a peaceful moment. But I was 31 years old  and wasn’t ready for her to go yet. I had questions only she could answer. I screamed. I cried.  I prayed in tongues so strong and loud that Cat asked the  nurse to give me a sedative.. Even now I believe my comical mother got a chuckle out of that. 

But I felt her.

She was free. She was seeing her Savior.  She saw that Ronnie was okay.. Everything that ever burdened her was being released. 

But I felt her.

Though it was only mere minutes it felt like hours. Holding on to her arm,  that ironically had no more strength or warmth, I believe I was selfishly trying to hold on to her.  Hold on to her because  I still needed her. I still wanted her.  

But I felt her. And she was finally fierce. 

Her love was intense. It was given. It was written. It was unspoken. It was taken for granted. It was appreciated.  It was too much and not enough all at once. It hurt her. It hurt others. It healed her and she healed others. 

And in that moment, I felt her. I felt her love and I didn’t cry for her again for one full year.  My mother showed me she loved me when she let me feel her.

November 8, 2021. An excerpt from “My Mama’s Love Is Like …”

#rudeaboutboobs

On this last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I just want to remind you that it is not just about one month but about one life, one family, one community, and one world at a time.

I still believe there is a cure out there but in the meantime there are things you can do to help yourself and your loved ones fight against a disease that robs so many families of the caregivers. Early detection is key. Get them Smash-A-Grams, do your monthly feels, and have honest conversations with your doctor.

Love each other enough to be #rudeaboutboobs .

A Christmas Story

Twas the night before Christmas

And I had just closed my country store.

Turned the locks, shaded the windows

When there was a frantic knock on the door.

The sales were quite over. Merchandise was quite done.

I had had quite enough of Christmas.

Nothing left to sell ya, not a toy. Not a one.

 

I was quite tempted,

To shout “No Room At The Inn”

But remembered my Sunday School Teacher

She’d  say “ Naughty, Naughty Sin”

It was a Papa, a Mama, and a few little ones

How could I pass?

Seeing chubby cheek chilled faces

Pressed against that last pane of glass.

 

The snow and wind came in behind them,

A huge chill filled the air

Yet there was a warm glow all about them

Oh so happy I was there.

“Patch of Ice You Say, Car in a ditch, Everything Tossed”

“Big Boom” the children said excitedly

Mama chimed  “cold and lost”
On the phone  was Papa

“ We can’t wait, no place to stay.”

“Sorry Buddy”  the tow driver retorted

“Don’t you know it’s a Holiday”

Everything then in me

Wanted to hide under my bed and weep.

For surely in house full of strangers

This old shop keeper would get no sleep.

 

So I rekindled  the fire,

Boiled milk  for  a cup of cocoa or two

Exclaimed not much food left in here

But all I have is open to you.

The Kids  Got All Excited,

and  Raced to the Tree

At the prospect of candy canes still hanging

And suddenly free.

Mama was ingenious,

what she did with that spam.

Totally convinced me and the Papa

Of the miracle of canned ham.

 

As I pulled blankets, and soft pallets

And strew them about the floor

I realized though I had made a killing this Christmas,

It was they that truly had more.

They played games,  they told stories

They laughed about with glee.

They had a joy  about them

That had long ago escaped me.

 

My head and heart couldn’t take it

I yelled for them to stop

How could they be so crazy happy

When their holiday was such a flop?

No real food, amiss from  presents,

and sleeping on the floor.

Stuck in ditch and with a grumpy stranger

In an empty Christmas store.

 

When just then ,

a little hand tugged

at the hem of my dress

Said “ Hey Lady ,

in Jesus there are no strangers

and this  aint such a mess.

See we headed to grandpa’s  fancy house

Up on a really big hill

Though we were scared when the car went boom

Daddy said , “let’s find God’s good will.”

We came through the cold and snow

When God led us to your door.

And now you have shared all that you had

So I just know God will bless you more.

 

As I looked into those little eyes

It was very plain to see.

It was not me helping them that was God’s good will

But it was them helping me.

It’s not about the trimmings, not the money

Or any kind of gift

The true celebration of Christmas

Is seeking His will for who you are with.

 

As I settled in a rocker that night

Humming my little messenger to sleep.

I wonder if this was how Mary felt

And I knew why she did weep.

Though His gift was wrapped so quietly

In a manager filled with hay

He was destined to be presented triumphantly

On a Hill far away.

 

So if your Christmas spirit has  escaped you

Look around for who you are with.

Seek the will of Him who sent you.

That’s your greatest gift.

Already bought and paid for

Precious blood, highly priced.

He Reached out for a stranger

And Gifted this day in paradise.

 

Michelle Gillison-Robinson, Christmas 2016

No Seed Alone

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the seed of wheat having fallen to the earth dies, it remains alone.
But if it dies, it bears much fruit.  –   John 12:24 (DLNT)

It is an awesome blessing that, in very recent weeks, my earthly father, most certainly under the direction of my Heavenly Father, had taken great care into making sure that I would be united with my slightly younger sister, Tammy. The two of them had only reconnected a few months prior and though I had heard her name in conversation before, she never really knew I existed.

As I would soon find, timing is everything. On January 5, ironically on my birthday, Tammy’s mother died. My dad was devastated at the thought of his baby girl being alone and though we could not make the services, we had made plans to make a 6 or so hour drive to see Tammy. Daddy felt she needed him and that she would need me.

I didn’t fully understand his urgency, until just 30 days later, on February 5, both Tammy and I would lose Daddy.

As I went through Daddy’s papers in preparation to celebrate his entrance into Heaven, I begin to find “bread crumbs on a trail” leading me where he wanted me to go. I found Tammy’s birth card from the hospital where she was born.  I found her younger brother’s newborn pics. Over and over, I found evidence of the six children he loved, lost in circumstance and had hoped to renew full fellowship with.

Tammy and I have not met yet, nor have I had the opportunity to meet two of my other siblings… yet. The memorial service is in a few days and I pray they will all be able to make the winter travel. But she and I have had a ball getting to know each other via text, phone and social media. We realized that we are actually pretty alike including our bad habit of not being able to sleep past 4 a.m. and that we are both warrior sisters who like to get stuff done and done right. LOL.

During one of our conversations, John 12:24 came to my mind… “Unless a seed falls to the ground…. It remains alone”. God knows we miss our parents. My mom died on a February day as well… on a day ironically important to Tammy’s mom too. But it seems clear to me that they had somehow planted seeds that are multiplying in us.

Seeds of wiping each others tears. Seeds of laughter. Seeds of hope. Seeds of forgiveness. Seeds of renewal. Seeds of never really being alone again.

Tammy says that she had always wanted a  sister. She just inherited more than a few. My sister Melody says that the  girls involved should never call ourselves half-sisters because we are all too chubby to be halfs of anything. Lisa can’t wait to embrace all of us.. thinking she was the oldest… but tickled to find out she was not.

I began to count out all the children from all the parents involved and realized that Tammy has a lot more sisters and brothers that she will be able to handle. All ages, sizes, colors and shapes ….not letting blood separate us …. But embracing each other as what my youngest sister, Cheryl, calls “grown orphans.” LOL.

Even though there are only 5 months between Tammy and myself, I am pleased that she thinks of me as a big sister. It remains to be seen if she will relish her role as a soon to be spoiled Baby Sis. I think we were both feeling loved when I got the chance to nag her this morning about making sure she lets me know that she got to work okay … snowy weather both here in Virginia and in New Jersey where she is. She agreed to comply with the request of this “mother hen.”

The seed has definitely been planted, Daddy.

A Cause For Celebration

Anybody who knows me, knows that I am a bit of a Facebook junkie. One of the apps I use is an inspirational message service that says “Today God Wants You to Know”. It provides little tidbits of wisdom and advice that often have me imagining God at a computer typing away. One particular message came early on February 5th with the notation “Today, you should celebrate what an unbelievable life you have had so far:, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships… Take a time to acknowledge your life.”

It didn’t resonate that much at first, but it has come back to me over and over in the past few hours. Just a short while ago I received a call from my hometown sheriff’s office, “Michelle, we found your dad.”

In between the tears and phone calls and the identification process, I kept hearing over and over “celebrate.”
I found myself at one point wanting to scream out to a voice others could not hear, “ Celebrate What? For What?”
A resounding, “Sunday” was the answer.

You see, my dad had not been a part of my life for a lion’s share of it. I was an adult before I really became aware of him. By the mercies and the promptings of a loving God, the past 15 years were about forgiveness and us getting to know each other. Especially the last 10 where we had become so close that you could not tell he had not been there always.

One of the things we both looked forward to were our Sunday morning chats. Like clockwork, at 6:55 a.m. every single Sunday morning (including on my honeymoon) my dad would call and we would chat about his week and whatever was on his mind at the time. We often “watched church“ together on our respective TV sets as he lived 45 minutes away and was not able to travel as much anymore.

For about a month of Sundays, which makes perfect sense now, Pop’s conversations had turned more serious and purposeful. He talked a lot about regrets, and memories and things he wished he could have done. Our very last conversation, was very much about his biological mother, Ruth and his adoptive mother, Edith, both of whom I never got to know.

He had not been able to locate his biological mother, who had left him when he was four, and had concluded that she was the reason he could not understand the concept of family enough to be there for me and my brothers and sisters when we were growing up. He apologize for it again, as he had about a million times over the past 10 years. My answer to him was to let it go, thank her for giving him life and to release her and himself.

I pray I was successful in convincing him that her giving him away as a single mother in the late 1940s might have been her way of loving him and his younger brother. Knowing that she had no prospects and her rumored substance addiction were no life for them, she allowed them to be delivered to their adoptive mother, a blessed woman who had bore no children of her own.

Of Grandma Edith, he spoke specifically of the day she died, preparing him for what was to come by buying him a car and taking her hidden savings out of her account to make sure he had money in his pocket. Before she went to bed that night, the last words she would say to him were “I just want to make sure you were straight, cause nobody is ever going to love you the way I do, baby.” To this I said, “She was your gift, Pop. Always be thankful for her. She was your real mother.”

My dad went on to talk about all phases in his life. His joys and regrets. It moved me so much that in my spirit, I kind of knew what was about to come. I ended the conversation by telling him that it is not about what happened in the past and who did and did not love him back then, but rather who he was today and who loves him now. We went on to talk about the big birthday he had coming up and that in a few short weeks, I was going to take him out to his favorite restaurant to celebrate. I had planned to surprise him by making sure all the grands-kids and great-grands were in attendance, a feat that always eluded us.

My dad’s last words were to me were  “ Thank you, Baby, you made my mama wrong….. somebody does love me like her… you.”

And I remember saying, “And Jesus.”

As I take my Facebook mandate to celebrate, I will be sure to not only celebrate my life with my dad , but also the one I now face without him. Though my heart is heavy, I have no regrets or qualms about the past because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Pop loved me and he knew I loved him….and most importantly…. AND JESUS.

Enjoy your Flight with Wings, Pop!