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 …”

When Jesus Wept

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning knowing full well that being a member of the over 40 (actually over 50) crowd that sleep was not going to return.

I tried my usual search for something good to add to my spirit. However, my usual comfort of “Christian” television was still replaced by election commentaries. Something I sorely needed a break from. Disappointed, I tried channel after channel, carefully trying to avoid politics and the food shows…..didn’t need to add that stress habit either.

I stumbled across a sweet but simply acted movie called “A Heart That Forgives.” Cliche story about two brothers, one a preacher and the other a drug dealer. Both in need of peace and forgiveness and the road God took them and others down the path to the altar.

I was struck by the bible being used as a weapon to keep one person out of the faith and the bible literally saving another by catching a bullet intended for his heart.

I began to weep. Mourn actually. I had to stifle my sobs to avoid waking my family. But the pain in my spiritual heart was being felt in my physical body. It took all in me not to scream “God forgive us.”

I pause here to say that this is no political statement. I have tried hard to not make any since I have witnessed first hand over the last decade or so how the blessings of democracy has demonized relationships.

Marriages, families, co-workers, friends and now congregations, fractured at the heart. Can’t sit at dinner with this uncle. Can’t go there with this aunt. Can’t be in a meeting with that boss. Can’t go to church because….

Ugh. It hurts just to say it so I won’t.

God put a desire on my heart to have our congregation to take communion every Sunday which is not our custom. I didn’t necessarily say leading up to the election but it fell that way. Communion is a time to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ. How our health, peace and salvation rested on a God that so loved this world…the world of “us”.

In doing so we had to examine ourselves before we could partake. Reflect, release, revise and revive is what I like to call it. A time to focus and honor the goodness of God by getting our hearts right with God and each other.

Here with tears in my eyes, I so pray that the entire Body Of Christ what stop for a moment and take communion. Specifically with a brother or sister of whom your political ideals do not line up with. Reflect, release, revise and revive.

Yes, I know the scripture says “how can two men walk unless the agree.” But no matter who you voted for…can we not agree that the Creator of this universe is capable of fulfilling His Word. Can we agree the He still occupies heaven no matter who occupies the White House?

Why instead are we on social media condemning each other to hell over a manmade desk that suddenly became sacred? Are we not supposed to be winning souls for the Throne of Grace instead?

Why instead are we arguing and threatening civil war over what government should or should not do? Are we not the ones who should seek to help the sick, feed the poor, provide relief for the stranger, protect our brother no matter the color, and provide a way of escape to the mother who thinks there is only one option? Can’t we protect the child in the womb and the child at the border without hating each other?

Is this pain, I imagine I am feeling what Samuel was feeling when the Children of Israel begged for a king like the heathen nations when God Himself wanted to be their Guide?

The worst of it is….the world is watching! They are mocking us as “so called christians”. Lower case c and in quotation marks because they don’t think we follow Christ. They call us “Trumpafiles” and “Bidenites”

How do we win them when they see us this way?

The more I reflected on this, the more my face was soaked in tears. Then I could hear in my mind my young grandson proclaiming the one scripture he knows verbatim “Jesus Wept.”

I remember answering his obvious question in terms he could understand. Jesus cried because he had lost a good friend. His friend was not sick anymore in heaven. But Jesus had to bring him back so that people could believe in God. Jesus cried because he wanted so much for people just to believe God was a good God no matter what happens and that things don’t always have to go your way for Him to still be good.

I wonder even now how many people that day really believed God or just what they saw? How many ran out to do the will of God or just benefited from a good show? How many believed that God can do all things with whatever He needs to…..even if it perceived as dead or stinking?

As I close and attempt to dry my eyes, I remind you that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. I do not use my words to condemn how you voted. I just condemn how we use the bible as a weapon to keep people out of the kingdom instead of helping them dodge bullets.

If you feel otherwise, I invite you to take communion with me and let’s focus on the cause of Christ.

But whatever we do, let’s not make Jesus weep …..again

With All My Love and Hope For Better – Michelle