Tag Archives: faith

Rainbows Around My Soul

This has been a busier than normal 3+ weeks.  My two teenaged grandchildren showed up for an extended stay with us in the country.  They have gone back home now.  I have much to unpack and write about since my last writing, and it will come soon.  In the meantime I decided to share some writing I did a number of years ago.

In it I refer to my “God Spot.”  I know that is an odd term, but it is a term that I came up with in a coaching session on perspectives.  When I go through a challenge, I found the perspective of my “God Spot” worked for me.  When I discovered this term, I was standing in a hotel conference room, and realized I was standing directly under a spotlight.  I looked at the light, and stated that my “God Spot” was a place I could be in where I truly feel God’s unconditional love for me, where even through rough waters, God was there holding my head above the water.  He is the one who made “Andrea Unsinkable.”

I just want to explain this so that when you read my thoughts from years ago, you will know what my reference of “God Spot” means.  Here is one of my journal entries from around 2011.  Hard to believe that was nine years ago!

I found this beautiful quote last night while having a very, very tough evening.   It says, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”  I was in tears. I was in deep sadness and fear. I allowed sadness to kick me squarely out of my “God Spot.”  It doesn’t matter the reason. It is the fact that fear of rejection is so powerful in me that it can happen from a friend, a boss, a colleague. My codependency raised its ugly head and roared. 

I felt hurt, betrayed, and like a failure. But I know I am not a failure, so then I got angry. And the anger engulfed me. And I let it. Lick my wounds and be the victim.  Sleep did not come easily. My head buzzed. My eyes hurt. I wanted to run away. A friend told me a good cry might help. I told the friend, “I’ve cried too many of my years away.  I don’t want to cry anymore. Do I ever get to stop?”

That all being said, we cannot know good unless we know bad.  There must be evil to recognize ultimate good. Why else would God allow bad things in our lives?  I think it is so we can see the contrast and experience the amazement of his ultimate love and good. 

As I slept off the sadness, remembering that I need my “God Spot” back. Nothing was different in the morning, except for me. I was back in the loving arms of my Savior, where I know I am loved unconditionally.  Did I suffer?  Yeah. But nothing like Christ suffered when he chose to take a beating and horrible death to redeem me. That was suffering. 

I had joy in my life today. I have to make amends to those I may have overwhelmed in my sadness and anger.  Yes, there are rainbows around my soul today!  What a lovely image. 

If my eyes had no tears, I would not recognize the good in my life. Otherwise, the good would just be everyday complacency. Good things happened.  I connected with some supportive friends. It was like God knew to bring those people to me. Actually, I would not have contacted one of them if my bad yesterday had not happened.  It’s not like God knew to bring them to me. He did bring them to me. 

I Do Love Gifts!

Businessman offerGifts — who doesn’t love gifts?  As a child, I loved receiving gifts for my birthday or Christmas.  As an adult, I love gifts that bring me memories of the giver.  I got thinking about that today, as I lay on the couch, recovering from the flu, watching the football playoffs, wrapped in a quilt my cousin randomly sent me recently.  Yeah, how often does that happen?  

One day I received a text message from her to be watching for a package to be delivered.  A package from the suburbs of Chicago sent to the suburbs of Phoenix!  I was curious, and had no idea what this package was.  This is what she said, “Expect a package from me on Tuesday for a belated house warming, early birthday wish and a Merry Christmas! I shipped it express mail from the post office and have a tracking number if it doesn’t get there.  Hope you like it!”  My reply was, “Oh okay. What a surprise. Are you coming in the box?  That would be super nice!  I’ll let you know when it arrives.”  When it arrived, I was so surprised to see this handmade quilt from one of my favorite quilter cousins. IMG_1083IMG_1084

What I don’t think givers of gifts realize (at least, to me), is that the gift is not the only thing, but the gift brings memories of the giver each time I look at it or use it.  So, here I am wrapped in this quilt that lays on my living room couch, and I think of Peggy, our years growing up, her kids and grandkids, our times together as adults, and it just makes me happy.

aunt maryI came to this reality years ago, when out of the blue, Peggy’s mom, my aunt, called me and gave me a similar message that Peggy sent.  “Be expecting a delivery.”  My Aunt Mary told me that she found the complete nativity set to the three original pieces I had, and she bought them for me.  It was 2000, and I had recently moved into my new home in St. Charles, Missouri.  I told my aunt that the gift for no reason was too extravagant, and she said it was a house warming gift of something she knew I would like.  Every single year I put out this Coleport by Wedgewood nativity set, and I think of Aunt Mary.  Many times when I would be setting it out for the holidays, I would stop, call her, and make a trip to visit.  The last time I did this, I realized she was slipping.  I told her I came to see her because when I set out this set, it reminds me to visit.  I pulled out my iPad and showed her a photo of the set sitting in my living room. Twice through this visit, she would look at me and ask if I still had the nativity set.  Shortly after that, she passed.

I have informed my children that of all the nativity sets I own, this one is financially valuable, and emotionally valuable to me.  Do not just donate to some charity.  Someone of my kids or grandkids who might cherish this gift I got from Aunt Mary should be the one to take it.  If none of them or interested, maybe they will contact someone of Aunt Mary’s grandchildren and see if they would like it.  Once again, this past Christmas, as I set up this nativity, which each piece is individually boxed in molded styrofoam in a cardboard box labeled by the manufacturer the name of each character, I think of Aunt Mary.  I think of all the times I went to her home as a child to play with my cousins.  Aunt Mary had seven children, so there were lots of cousins, but two were near my age who I played with the most.  Then over the years, I became friends will all of them, older and younger.  When my mom died, Aunt Mary (my mom’s youngest sibling) and I spent much time together, having dinner, watching movies, and spending late nights talking.  I always thought she was taking me under wing with the loss of my mom, but today, I believe I also filled void for her of the sister she was so close to over the years.

SusanI have a ton of little gifts from my friend, Susan Durbin.  She was my sponsor in my 12-step group for codependency, and we became fast friends for years following that.  Most of her gifts were Christmas decor, since my birthday is in December, and she is the great giver of gifts, mostly of giving herself.  I also have little things around the house that are not Christmas gifts.  Whenever I see these items, my thoughts go to Susan, to her sponsorship of helping me to learn to “let go and let God,” to fun times we had doing lunches and dinners, attending my son’s and my granddaughter’s school events, hosting us every summer at her swimming pool where all my grandkids learned to swim.  Her little gifts remind me of the wonderful love we had as friends.  She has been gone for over five years, but these little items bring her spirit back to me.  They bring a smile to my face, that I have been blessed to have her as a friend for so many years.

giftsEven gifts like the multitude of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit we received from cousins who generously shared from their trees here in Arizona — every time we ate the fruit or something cooked or baked with those fruits, my thoughts would go to cousins, Joani, Richard, and Janine, for their generosity, but it also brought back memories of times with them in the past, and now enjoying their friendships currently in Arizona.  All these gifts are bigger because of the givers.

And, then there is the gift that was given to me, that I also did not ask for, did not expect, and definitely did not deserve.  The gift of God’s love and redemption for me through Jesus Christ.  Whenever I am in the presence of the gift, in worship, prayer, in fellowship with other Christians, I am reminded of so many memories, of how God has redeemed me.  How through the death of Jesus, he freely took my sins on himself so I could be in Businessman offerfellowship with God.  I didn’t do any thing to deserve this gift, God gave it freely, lovingly.  It wasn’t an easy gift.  Jesus, being man and God, struggled before his death.  Matthew 26:9 states, 

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”  Jesus prayed if this “cup” (what was his coming death) could be removed, but then he knew it was His will to give his life for each of us.  It was a gift.  It is free!  No strings attached!  We just have to take it, just like I accepted the nativity set, the quilt, and all other gifts I did nothing to earn.  I took the gift.  I accepted Jesus’ death as the punishment for my sins, and accepting that gift, I am a child of the God Most High.  I am a daughter of the King!  Wow!  What a gift!  What memories I have and future memories I will have in His eternal presence.

Thank you, friends and family, for gifting me and helping to remember you as dear friends and family.  And, thank you, Lord, for gifting me, so that I am in your family for eternity.  It is the best gift I will ever receive.Romans 5-8

 

Forever Changing

I realized the other day that not only we were into a new year, but also a new decade.  I have lived seven decades and one year.  This past decade has been one of great changes for me.  I went to my computer to look at photos since my Mac can allow me to look at each year of photos.  This quick review has gone on for three days, and I’m not done yet.  There are a lot of photos taken and scanned over the last 10 years.  I think of myself as a newlywed until I realize that the most of this decade I have been with Dennis.  How time flies.  Not just getting married (something I never expected), but the travels.  I have seen much of the United States this past decade, and even a few countries in Europe and the Caribbean.  There are a ton of photos of time with my grandkids—swimming, overnight parties, and trips.  There are photos of family and friends at our home.  Also during this decade I lost a dad, a sister, and one of my very best friends.  Reviewing these photos brought all kinds of feelings.  One of the things that really stuck out to me is the word change.  I remember years ago a work colleague made a comment to me that I always seemed to reinvent myself.  Reviewing these photos reminded me that not only did I change, but my surroundings changed also.

I thought it might be fun that instead of talking about change, that I would show you change in my life and surroundings by showing photos.  I would call it before and after photos, but some are probably before, later, and after still to come.  So her goes:

This is me before and after.  Not much change except a bit of aging.  I suppose that is a process that cannot be stopped. These are both unretouched photos.  Ugh!

These are three of my grandkids and how they have matured these past 10 years.  They were young children, and are now young adults.  I love that I can relate to them as young adults, but I miss these cute and funny little kids.

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My home in the St. Louis area changed.  It is amazing how changing a floor, countertop, and stairway spindles can give a different look to a home.  I had that home built in 1999, and moved out when I married Dennis in 2013.

The biggest transformation was the home in Mid Missouri.  Here is how the outside looked, and then the transformation to what it looks like today.

And the interior of that house was the same way.  Dennis allowed me to put my touch on it.  We repainted the interior together.  It was frightening to see Dennis on a tall ladder to cut in at the ceiling at 20’ above the ground.

Also, here is the transformed kitchen.  Once again, only the floors and countertops were the big change.

One of the things you may have noticed is that I cleared things out.  When I was a kid I was messy.  I must have been really messy, because as a teenager my dad told me I could never get married unless I cleaned my room.  When I got engaged and called my best friend to tell her, she asked me if I cleaned my room!  I recall telling her that my dad was probably glad to get me and my messy room out of the house.  The funny thing about that is that as I have matured, and clutter really bothers me.  It almost makes me feel claustrophobic.  I need clean lines and a reduction of “stuff” to not feel overwhelmed.  I have learned over the years that less is more—at least for me.

In the last ten years I have changed, not only in appearance, but also on the inside.  I have more confidence than  I ever had.  Maybe I no longer feel I have to prove myself to someone, to be loved, to be valued in the work I do, to love and value my family and friends.  I have grown in my faith, and can see how the challenges I had in the past have made me a more loving compassionate person, and also ever more grateful for God’s loving grace of holding my hand and bringing me through some very tough circumstances.  I have moved from having a career in human resources to being retired, occasionally dipping my toe back into the field, but doing so less and less these days.

time fliesAs for all of us, it has been a decade of ups and downs.  It flew by faster than I could ever imagine.  By the time we end this decade, which will probably move at warp speed, I will be 81, God willing.  I look forward for this decade to be one that I can remain relatively healthy.  I say that because I have learned that once one turns 70, the wheels start falling off.  I will do what I can to keep the wheels in place and the engine running!  I will see grandchildren find their careers and their life partners.  I hopefully, sometime later in this decade, get to meet some great grandchildren, and watch my sons become grandparents themselves.  I know that this decade I will lose some more family and friends.  That is always difficult.  This decade I want to lean into my faith in Christ even more.  After all, being in his presence gets closer every day.  I want to be prepared!

I wish for you a decade of love, joy, peace, and contentment.  I wish for you to let go of what is not important in the scheme of things, and embrace your future, whatever it be, full steam.  May you look to the future with optimism no matter the circumstances.  Happy New Year in 2020 and beyond.

Outdoor Light

She Would Have Been 100

This past weekend marked the anniversary of my mother’s birth 100 years ago.  Although I have written about her in a past blog called, Women of Distinction, I decided since this tombstonemilestone date has arrived that she deserves to have her story told.

My mom, Dorothy Tomich Nothum, died in 1995, and had been ill for quite some time.  I think I knew we would not have her around for long, and I did not want to lose the stories she had told us of her life.  In 1994, I interviewed my mom for four evening, asking questions about her life.  I put together a book written in first person (her telling her story), and I had her read it, make corrections to anything, especially the spelling of the foreign names.

for family tree 009Dorothy was born on November 17, 1918 in St. Louis, Missouri.  She was name Darinka Tomich.  Her nationality was Serbian, and later “Americanized” her name to Dorothy.  She had no middle name.  She was born at home, although shortly after birth, her mother began to hemorrhage, so they both were taken to City Hospital.  Dorothy was named after her paternal grandmother, whose name was Darinka Paunov Tomich.  Mom&Sibs1923Although she was a very loving grandmother, she was the matriarch of the family, was very domineering and directed everything in the family.  I actually have stories from Dorothy’s mom (my grandmother) about the domineering character of this matriarch.  Such stories may make an interesting future blog.  Dorothy was the second child of four children, Angie, Dorothy, Gus, and Mary.

At six years old, Dorothy’s family moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Granite City, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River.  My grandfather was not a good business man and he struggled for years, and even losing their home during the Gus, Mary, Dorothydepression.  Dorothy said they were never in want of food, because of the huge garden they had, and canned food for the coming year.  After the depression, my grandfather started working as a salesman for Hobart Corporation selling scales and meat slicers to butchers.  He seemed to make an adequate living doing this.

Dorothy and her siblings went to public school.  She talked about how she was shy and felt really poor around children who were talking about their family vacations.  What opened up the world for my mom was discovering the local library.  She loved to read and write poetry.  She attended one day of high school.  The students were required to purchase their books.  Dorothy’s father was against girls May 2009 051going to high school.  He thought they would all get pregnant attending high school (I guess I missed that class when I was in high school)!  Knowing that her family was poor, and her father opposed to her attending, she decided it was a lost cause and never returned.  I do know that was something she always regretted.  She would tell me how she envied her younger sister, Mary, who told the principal that her father would not buy her books, so the school supplied them, and Mary got her high school diploma.  Dorothy always wanted to have the courage of Mary, but my mom was the quiet one in the background.

1939~Mary, Gus, Dorothy (on Tire), and their Aunt PaulineWhen I was a kid my mom would always say that we were not allowed to do the kind of mischief she did as a child.  Of course, that raised our curiosity, and we would ask her what she had done.  When she would tell us her stories, we would just roll around laughing and not believing this was the quiet unassuming mom of ours,  Here is a sample, in her words of some of her shenanigans:

  • When I was about 5 years old and Gus was 3, he wanted to bring the horse in from the field.  He wanted me to ask our father if it was okay.  I didn’t go all the way in to ask, but I returned and told Gus that Dad said we could bring the horse in.  We began to tug on the horse’s leg.  All of a sudden the horse kicked and Gus flew into the air about 50 feet up.  A neighbor saw this happen and ran over and caught Gus before he hit the ground.
  • When I was about 9 years old I thew a lit match into an empty gas can.  The can exploded and flew up in the air about 100 feet.
  • When I was about 10 years old, my Uncle Walter came to our house and took the Sunday funnies away from me as I was reading them.  I thought it was rude that he could just take it away from me, so I picked up a waffle iron and threw it at him.  I missed him, but the waffle iron sailed though the plate glass window.

Now you can see why we girls would laugh so hard about this—this is not the lady we knew who was such a rule follower, but back in the day, watch out for Dorothy and possible projectiles!

Most folks you ask today how they learned to drive, they would tell you that one of their parents or a driver’s education class taught them.  My mom was 14 years old when she learned to drive, and she was taught by her 12 year old brother, Gus.  Good to know he survived the horse incident to give her driving lessons.  Dorothy stated that when their parents would attend long members meetings at church, the kids had to wait for them outside.  What else should one do, but get driving lessons in a Willys Knight automobile by your 12 year old brother.

wreckAt age 16, Dorothy experienced a life altering event.  She was in an automobile accident, in which her aunt, who was her same age, her Uncle Walter (the annoying teenage uncle who took her funny papers), and his wife of less than 24 hours were killed instantly.  Only Dorothy and her mom survived the accident.  I won’t go into the details here, since they are published in Accidents Happen.  I suggest you click the link and read that blog.  It will give you an idea how our lives can change in an instant.

IMG_0014Dorothy was raised in a very religious family.  Her mother was raised as a Catholic, and her father was raised in the Orthodox Christian tradition.  I suppose as a compromise, they became protestants!  They were members of the Apostolic Christian Church Nazarene.  The church is a European based church, and in the United States tend to be smaller churches around major cities where Eastern Europeans have emigrated.  Her father became a lay minister of the church.  When her Uncle Walter started going to Ohio to court Anna, my mom and her family would travel with him, and she

wedding color copy

Wedding Photo

had many life long friends from the church who lived in Ohio.  Dorothy met my father, Andrew Nothum, at church in St. Louis, Missouri.  Dating was something that was not in their vocabulary.  They had a lot of get togethers with the other young people from the church.  They made many outings with this young group of friends all around St. Louis, especially at Forest Park.  When my mom started working as a bookkeeper, Andrew came to visit her at work when her boss was on vacation and stay there for hours.  I find this extremely funny, because my dad became a business owner, and in my lifetime, if some young man came to company to visit a young lady, he would have put a stop to that!  He was all business.  But, when you are young, those are not in your Mom&DadFla 2thoughts, but courting the sweet young lady are!

Dorothy and Andrew married in 1942.  They started their family with the birth of my sister, Marilyn, in 1943.  Then Andrew was drafted into the army.  His first assignment was Miami Beach, Florida.  We girls used to chuckle about him spending 18 months at the Battle of Miami Beach.  He had it pretty easy, exercising each IMG2544morning on the beach with the military, working the rest fo the day in a clinic and as an ambulance driver.  Dorothy moved to join him when Marilyn was a baby.  When my mom would talk of those 18 months, you could tell that this was a really special time in their lives.  Dorothy got pregnant with my sister Judy, about the same time that Andrew was now being shipped overseas.  She moved back to St. Louis and lived with her sister, Mary, while my dad’s brother, Joe, who was married to my mom’s sister, was also sent overseas.  My dad did not meet my sister, IMG_0023Judy, until she was around 9 months old.

I wasn’t born until 1948, and by that time, my dad was building our first home, on the property of his parents’ farm.  I was 6 months old when they moved to this home.  We stayed in this home until I was 6 years old, and we moved to the home in a subdivision my dad built in southwest St. Louis County.  My dad by this time had become a building contractor.

Dorothy, with her bookkeeping background, became my dad’s business partner and office manager.  I recall that years later one of my uncles told me that he attributes a lot of my dad’s IMG1832success as a building contractor to Dorothy.  He said she was a very smart and good business woman.  I was very proud to hear my dad’s brother share those thoughts with me.

My parents’ business office was in our home until I was in the 7th grade when they finally moved to a separate location.  Although, my mom worked full time with my dad, she was always home when I got home from school.  The only days that we girls could not run in and out of the offices was on “Bid Days.”  My dad would be bidding for the construction contract, usually a school edition or a church (the two specialties his company became).  Those days the subcontractors would telephone in their bids.  Dorothy, was a meticulous bookkeeper, so on bid days, she would have separate papers for each sub (masonry, plumbing, excavating, etc).  She and my dad would take phone calls until 4:00 pm, at IMG3248which they quit answering telephones.  Dorothy and Andrew would sit down and go over each subcontractor’s bid.  They would select the ones they wanted to use, and of course, then add their cost and profit to the total.  We girls would be upstairs from their basement office, getting dinner prepared, as Dorothy is typing the letter perfect bid.  The bid was complete, dinner was on the table, and we had our meal together.  There was always an excitement in the air on bid days. 

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The office of Nothum Bros. Construction Co., & Grover Machine Co.

My dad would leave the table, and get cleaned up and dressed up to drive to the architect’s office for bid opening.  Dorothy would line us girls up at the front door to give Dad a “good luck” kiss as he was exiting.  Our parents instilled into us how important this bid day was.  If they did not win the bid from another contractor who competed, we would have no income.  It was a celebration atmosphere if Dad walked in later that evening and announce that Nothum Bros. Construction had won the bid!  My parents always made us feel part of the business.  It was very exciting for me, and still gives me as sweet feeling as I write about this.

6000-45th Wedding Anniv - March 1987The years moved on and Dorothy served as a great mother, great office manager, and a wonderful mother-in-law and grandmother.  In December of 1972, shortly after my first son was born, she had her first medical crisis, and had to have a kidney removed.  She was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.  Shortly after that, she retired from working full time with my dad.  I am not sure she was really comfortable letting some other woman become the office manager.  By this time my dad’s business was phasing out of construction to a manufacturing business that manufactured and sold the seamless gutter machine.

Dorothy became the grandmother who took the grandchildren to every Disney movie that came out.  She fed my kids lots of McDonalds, Steak ’n’ Shake, and Danny’s Donuts.  Her health was declining but she never declined an opportunity to be with all her grandchildren.  

IMG_0048My mom, Dorothy Tomich Nothum, was my biggest ally.  When I was going through the worst years of my life, when I didn’t think I could do another day, my mom never left my side.  She encouraged me.  She always told me that she loved me and that she was praying for me.  

Dorothy was a quiet unassuming lady.  She never took center stage, nor would she have wanted to.  She was a prayer warrior.  Her faith ran deep and she was not afraid to talk about it.  She was never pushy, and she never tried to tell me how to live my life or how to raise my children.  She was generous with her time and her money.  She never forget anyone’s birthday.  I can recall many, many times she came to my house to help me with sick children, babysat my kids on a school holiday when I had to work, and bring me groceries when I had none.

07/1993

Dorothy and Mary

Dorothy had a small but loyal group of good friends.  Her best friend had always been her sister, Mary.  They both married into the same family, my mom marrying Andrew, and his younger brother, Joe, marrying Mary.  With such a close family relationship, my sisters and I were able to enjoy years of relationship and fun with Mary & Joe’s seven children.  We were one big family.  When my mom died, my Aunt Mary took me under wing.  We spend many evenings going out to dinner, watching movies, and talking for hours.  

Dorothy Tomich Nothum was a great lady.  She did not do anything earth-shattering.  She just lived her life with deep faith, loving on everyone she met.  She had a servant’s heart.  She never expected anything in return for what she did.  She liked if someone reciprocated, but she never did her deeds for that reason, nor did she expect repayment.  Because of her faith in Christ Jesus, and her love for me, I found my way back.  She was the most instrumental person in my life.  

Thank you, Mom, for all the love you poured out on me.  If I can be even half the loving mom to my sons, I will have done my job!2proverbs

I’m Not Who I Used To Be

FailureThirty-five years ago, I was not in a good place. I was a single mom, and I was living “Murphy’s Law.” If anything could go wrong, it would. I had no money, four small children, lost my job, had no friends. That’s how I saw my life back then—one BIG FAILURE. It was a real struggle, and I felt like it was me against the world. I recently came upon a journal I had written back then. It is good to read and realize that I am no where near that place. I don’t even know that girl who wrote those words. But, they were my words back then.

May 15, 1983: “I’m just so scared of tomorrow—& then tomorrow & tomorrow. Where will I be? Will my lot in life improve? Well, so much for all this—if I don’t get to sleep tomorrow is [sic] also be a disaster.”

Apparently I wrote this late at night since I reference needing to get to sleep. When hardship occurs, most of us have trouble sleeping. My mind is good at going 100 mph trying to resolve issues. I still do that when I am stressed. I will wake up in the middle of the night working though in my head a solution to whatever the problem is at the time. Sleep usually helps in these instances, but sleep is hard to come by when one feels hopeless.

May 18, 1983: “I do not think I am looking for a utopia. Just because I believe there is more to life than a struggle to survive does not mean a perfectly happy and content life is down the line. There is more to life than struggling to keep my head above water.”

I just want to hug that girl. I knew there was more than this struggle I was in. I felt myself drowning, and treading water to keep my head up. I was hurt.  I was angry.  I was lonely.  I was sad.  Have you ever felt that way? It’s scary when one is in that place. I have mentioned in previous blogs, that I am a connections person. I love connecting with people, and I love connecting other people together, so it is really tough to read the following:

June 26, 1983: “I guess I am feeling lonely today. Other than my mother, I have no one I can call and just chat with and no one I can call to get together with.”

I am grateful for my mom. She was my lifesaver. She talked to me on the phone whenever I needed to talk to someone. She helped me with my children. She gave me groceries. Her love was unconditional, and I think that is what held me on.

Loneliness is not a place I wish anyone to be. When I was in my 12-step group for codepedency, my sponsor, Susan, told me about the word “HALT.” She said that people recovering from addictions learned this acronym to remind them that this is a danger area that can cause them to slide back. What does “HALT” mean? I found this great definition online: “This handy acronym reminds us to take a moment (HALT) and ask ourselves if we are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. It seems simple enough, but when these basic needs are not met, we are susceptible to self-destructive behaviors including relapse. Fortunately, hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness are easy to address and serve as a warning system before things reach a breaking point.” 

August 27, 1983: “Tonight I realized that I have absolutely nothing to do on my 24 hours without the boys. That is really sad. It makes me very sad. This is when I feel totally friendless. Absolutely zero to do.”

I cannot today even imagine being that lonely. There was some depression going on, and the loneliness fed into that, or vice versa. There are millions of people in this world, and I felt alone. I knew there was an answer, so I just kept holding on, even if by a thread.

As I flipped through the pages of this journal, I found a page that I wrote about exactly what I was looking for. It was dated March 14, 1983:

It is dark and chilly. The night is calm. In the distance are the sounds of life, crickets calling out to each other, cars with passengers going to or from places where they communed with others. I look at the stars scattered randomly, against the black velvet curtain that seems to divide me from God.

Why do I feel he is out there somewhere? Doesn’t he say, “I am with you always”? Are you here, God? Are you really pouring your love out on me and my family? Why don’t I see it? Why don’t I feel it? Where did you go?

The stars flicker. Is there a star there for me? Just one little flicker of hope that I can hold onto?

I want to cry out, but there is no one to hear. So I just cry silently to myself. The pain tears at my heart. Oh how I wish I could make it stop. I want to be loved but I feel no love. I feel alone. I must survive alone. Death is no answer. It is the statement of failure. I refuse to accept that kind of failure.

00 stasMaybe I do believe God is out there or even here. And maybe I do believe there is that star for me. And maybe I do believe there must be someone out there who loves me. Why else would I refuse to accept ultimate failure when everything in my life has failed.  I must survive. I must fight. I must truly believe there is hope even if I cannot see it. I must endure. Surely there must be a star shining in the dark—not strong enough light to see clearly, but enough to guide my way. Maybe that’s my only hope, but it is hope. Well, just maybe . . . .

I wanted to feel God’s presence my life. I felt like there was this fog over me, and I couldn’t find him. I think I knew if I hung on tight enough, I would find him—or was it, he would find me. I have thought of myself as the “Prodigal” daughter. Remember the parable that Jesus taught about the prodigal son?

“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die. So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he 00 Prodigal3wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” but his father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” ~Luke 15:11-22

Here was this young man who left with his inheritance. He wasted the money, became destitute, so he got a job feeding pigs. Remember, Jesus is telling this story to the Jewish people, so feeding pigs would not be in their vocabulary, it would be on that list of most vile things to do. The son finally comes to his senses, and he decides to go back to his father and ask for his forgiveness. He decides to also ask his dad to make him a lowly servant, because this is all he feels he deserves after making a mess of his life. But notice this, “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” It goes on to say the father clothed him in the best clothes and thew a party for him to celebrate his son coming home. First I want you to notice, that the father ran to greet him. He didn’t wait for the son to make in to the door. The father was thrilled to see his son again. He didn’t make his son a lowly servant, he restored his son back to his family.

In the same way, I believe that God was thrilled to see I was seeking him, and he came to me as much as I came to him. God didn’t care about all the messes I made. He loves me completely, and unconditionally. He wrapped his arms around me and gave me that “peace that passes understanding.”

My life didn’t get fixed overnight. But I was now doing the things that would move me forward. One time I heard a pastor say that we should feel the arms of God wrapped around us. I have found that I can be open and honest with God. I can cry to him and tell him what has hurt me, and what makes me so sad. He hears my cries, I know he does love me, and feel his love envelop me.  I can envision his loving arms wrapped around me.

What did I do over the years to get from there to here? I turned my life and will over to God (Step 3 of any 12-step program). I started doing healthy things, and making sure I took care of myself if I ever got Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I trusted God would get me to where I needed to be.

Over the years, I worked hard at my chosen career, which came after this time. I was blessed by the work opportunities I had, and I moved quickly in my career. I worked on my relationships with family and friends. Today I am overwhelmed by the many, many friends I have. It takes work to be a friend, and I hope I am doing it well. I will never be perfect at any of this, but I give it my best.  My life turned 180 degrees. I have much compassion for those who are going through difficulties and struggles like I had. I know it’s not easy. But, I also know, at some point, like the prodigal son, a realization must come about to go back and make things right.

I write my blogs because it is part of my personal mission, which is:To let others know they are not alone in their challenges, they have value and worth and a voice. I want to be surrounded by those I love and enjoy the grace of their love to reach out and share it with others.”

You are not alone. There are folks around you who love you, and will be there for you. Most important, God has unconditional love for you. It doesn’t matter what you have done, he will forgive, and he will love and strengthen you. Reach out. If you need to find a 12-step group, go find one. If you need to find a place to worship, go find the place. If you need friends, become a friend—it is a two-way street. Ask God to help you. He will.

Jeremiah

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