Remember Who You Are: A Post For the New Year

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Tonight is the last night of 2017. Even though it’s an arbitrary date in a calendar that humans made up, we still use this time to set new intentions, make new plans, and create new goals. At the beginning of another year, there always seems to be pressure to make yourself better, to do better than you did in the past.  However, in focusing so much on the future and how things could be better, I think we miss out on a lot.

I think we miss the chance to appreciate where we’ve been. The past contains important lessons, and a view of our journey. We need to take a moment to stop, and just honor our path to the place we are now.

To much focus on how things can get better leads us to forgetting how blessed we are in the present. This is a big one for me. For most of my life, whenever I set a goal, I didn’t do it to improve– I did it to become worthy. Losing weight (even when I didn’t need to) was to become worthy. Working was to become worthy. Going to school was to become worthy.

The problem with trying to achieve goals to make up for feeling like a defective human as opposed to wanting to achieve a goal for its own sake is that the former will always, always, set you up to fail. Because there is no accomplishment on this earth that can make you feel like enough until you accept that you are God’s creation, holy and beloved, and that nothing can take that intrinsic worth away from you. There is no amount of pounds lost or miles run or money made, no grades high enough or enough good deeds done to equal what you already have right there in your heart, if you’d only recognize it: the beauty of the light of Christ that shines through the darkest depths.

I started college when I was 17. I’m 34, and I only now graduated. Why? Because I only now accepted that I am a whole, healed human being who deserves to be happy, who deserves to graduate and accomplish my dreams. I never graduated before, not because I wasn’t smart enough or because I couldn’t handle the work but because I was afraid of being happy. I honestly didn’t believe I deserved that. So I tanked the play, for nearly twenty years.

Before you set a new goal, make a new plan, or dream a new dream this year, do yourself a favor: stop. Take a few minutes. Look back on 2017 and appreciate how far you’ve come, how hard you had to work to get here. Honor your journey and all the lessons contained therein. Think about your goal and why you chose it. Are you trying to better something in your life for the sake of making it better? Or are you trying to make up for a lack of self-worth? Check in with God, and pray on your goal. You’re going to need His help to accomplish it anyway. Ask Him to be with you as you walk this this new path. Ask Him to heal any places in you that still feel unworthy; to remind you of His promises, His love.

Setting goals and making plans are good things. Keep your heart centered in the right place, and may God lead you to where you’re meant to be in this coming year.

 

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 

The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Judah Levi Brown: One Year

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Last night was the one-year anniversary of the death of Judah Levi Brown.

Judah was the vivacious, beautiful, three-year-old son of my dear friends Mark+ and Christi. He drowned in a tragic accident, and this past year they have lived every parents’ nightmare.

And yet, I have seen more grace through their grief than I thought possible of any human beings.

Mark+ is somewhat of a public figure. He is an Episcopal priest who goes to my church (and often serves there) and he serves around our diocese whenever another priest is needed (called a supply priest). He also has the largest online prayer group in the world, with over 400,000 people on Facebook. His life has been an open book for many years, even through the time he met and married Christi, and they had Judah. When Judah died, there were really only one of two choices: to turn away, shut down and grieve on their own, or to grieve openly with everyone. They chose to grieve openly. It’s one of the most grace-filled, courageous decisions I’ve ever seen two people make.

By choosing to bare their grief process to the world, they allowed people to witness what is usually a private pain. They allowed people to witness them struggle with their faith, struggle with their anger, struggle daily with the devastation of losing a child. They allowed people to witness the deepening of their relationship to God through that struggle. The deepening of their relationship to each other and their other children. They allowed people to see how they guided their other children through their own grief, which they did with such care and love. They allowed people to see them reach out for help, through therapy, for them and the children, and through the church. They reached out to their family and friends. They both processed through writing, but Christi especially took to Facebook nearly every day and wrote journal-like updates, poems, and prayers. Christi’s writing didn’t just tell people what it is like to lose a child. It let us into her heart and soul, to viscerally grieve with her.

As is their nature, Mark+ and Christi used their experience to help others. They created an online support group for grieving parents. They allowed Judah’s story to be used by one of his former teachers to create the Judah Brown Project, which works to prevent drowning in kids like Judah. They’ve worked very hard with his teacher, Annette, to make this project into a full-fledged charity that is saving children’s lives, preventing people from having to feel the pain they are feeling.

Once a month, for the past year, on the day that Judah drowned, and on the day that he died- the two are a couple of days apart, as he lingered in a coma- they lit candles in front of his photo and held a small vigil. In June, we celebrated Judah’s birthday at his grave, and had his favorite foods, shared memories, shared laughter and prayers. The year anniversary drew closer.

I know, from my own trauma, that everyone shows up in the beginning. Everyone is there when the original tragedy happens. As time goes on, it gets less present in other people’s lives, and people begin to drift away.

But it never gets less important in your life.

I don’t know if I’ve really done anything to help, but I’ve made every effort to be a there-for-it-all friend. I’m in, and I’m in for good. I was only friends with Mark+ and Christi for about a year before Judah’s death, and I wish I had known Judah better, but I do remember him and I will never forget him. I wish I could do more, but perhaps the best thing I can do is be there, and make sure they know that their loss is important to me. They are important to me. And their son is never forgotten.

Last night, as we sat around Judah’s grave, we watched a video about him on Annette’s phone. It was a photo series of his whole life. We laughed and cried. Stories of the photos were told. As we watched, it began to rain. It rained gently, and another friend there remarked, “We’re just being baptized.” It was a holy, Spirit-filled moment.

When it got to the minute that Judah’s time of death was called, a candle on his head stone was lit. We held silence for a few minutes. I read a prayer:

 

Heavenly God,

With a mother’s strong love
you shelter us in your shadow,
and you mourn as we do the death of this child.

Love Judah forever
as we have loved him.
Guide our steps in the way of peace
till with our eyes we behold you
and shall praise you with all the saints
for ever and ever.

Mark+ shared a little more with us, and closed with a benediction. We left with hugs and prayers and smiles through tears.

Moments like these are why I feel called to be a priest. It was a privilege to be with Mark+ and Christi and their children as they marked this anniversary. It is a privilege to be their friend, to witness their grace and faith. It will be a privilege every time I am with someone as they grieve, celebrate, wed, baptize, die, are ill, or in spiritual distress. To just be present with someone, without trying to fix, is a holy thing.

Thank you, Brown family, for allowing me to be present. Thank you for letting me remember Judah with you. Thank you for letting me laugh and cry with you.

I love you.

 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

To donate to the Judah Brown Project, please click here.

 

Prayer above adapted from two prayers by Gabe Huck from the Catholic Catalogue.

Published with permission from the Brown family.

Living Water

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“Are you ok?”

“Is your family safe?”

“Did you get any water?”

When I went to church this morning- our first full Eucharist since hurricane Harvey- I was bombarded by those same three questions everywhere I went. Most of us knew how the others were, thanks to social media. But some of us hadn’t seen each other since before the storm, and all the questions were about the water.

The water. This storm has changed the way I feel about water. I used to love rain, and maybe one day I will again, but right now the thought of rain just sounds threatening and terrible. I never understood the awesome, destructive force that water could be until I drove through a river that was usually a street, until I saw the highways of my city turned into seas, until my friends’ and neighbors’ homes were all but washed away. Until I saw water flood the house where my priest lives for the second time in less than 18 months. Water not only took homes, it took treasured belongings, people’s pets, and even some people’s lives. It took the life of my friends’ son a little less than a year ago, when he drowned in a swimming pool.

 

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It’s difficult to see water this way. It’s difficult to feel that the one substance that all of creation counts on to survive has somehow become a force that’s destroying life. Right now, water feels toxic. It feels almost animalistic, like a living thing with a mind of its own, attacking the people of my community, my city, my state.

What brings me back from that fearful place is the reminded of what water means to us as Christians, and especially as Episcopalians. To us, water is living; it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is what baptizes us into our lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ. We are washed in water then sealed and marked with oil as Christ’s own forever. During Eucharist every Sunday, some water is poured into the wine before it is given to the people. I’ve heard several explanations for this: 1) the water and wine together represent the water and blood that poured from Jesus’ side during the Crucifixion, 2) the water represents Christ’s humanity and the wine His divinity so the mixing of the two is us witnessing his human transformation, 3) the water represents us, the people, and the wine represents Christ, and the mixing symbolizes how we can never be separated. My personal favorite is #3, but those all make sense. The point is that water has a very central place in our liturgy, a very central place in Scripture, a very central place in life. It is the most life-giving substance on earth, both biologically and spiritually, and yet here it is, in hurricane form, causing so much devastation. So much pain. So much loss.

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For everyone I know who has been terrorized by water in the last week, my prayer for you is that as you find your new normal, and you work to repair what you can, and as we, your community, help you do so, that you would remember the waters of your baptism. The waters that washed you clean of sin and grafted your hearts onto Christ’s own for eternity. May you feel the healing powers of water: of a hot shower, a good cup of tea. May we remember that everything that has within it the power to destroy, also has within it the power to create.

Together, may we create a brighter future beyond the storm.

 

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And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.

Matthew 10:42

 

 

 

 

God is Where We Invite Him: Eucharist in the Storm

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Some Church hard-liners might shudder at the way I just celebrated Eucharist. I sat on my mom’s bed, where I’m sleeping until the hurricane ends (so I can be downstairs, near the laundry room, our tornado shelter) and put a piece of sandwich bread on a paper plate, along with a small antique glass that belonged to my great-grandmother. I filled the glass with red wine I bought at Walgreen’s a few days ago.

This was the Lord’s meal.

I put my phone and my prayer book out, so I could listen to my priest, Beth+, celebrate Eucharist over a Facebook live broadcast from a fellow parishioner’s home. I was not alone, as so many of my church family also followed along. We listened, prayed, and sang, the way we have in so many Eucharists before. We were together. We blessed whatever bread and wine we had as Beth+ blessed the bread and wine in front of her.

And God was present in every crumb, every drop of this piecemeal meal.

There are perhaps some Church officials who might say that these gifts weren’t truly blessed, because they weren’t touched by a priest’s hands. To them I would say that God is wherever we invite Him with faithful hearts, and especially as we celebrate the Lord’s meal together in a time of crisis. I would also argue that indeed, Beth’s+ hands touched every piece of bread and every cup of wine, in every place someone was watching, as we were together in spirit, and our hands were an extension of hers.

God is everywhere that there is a faithful heart. As so many of us are kept apart by the flood waters, as we are stuck in place until they recede, frustrated that we cannot get to each other, it is a great comfort to know that God binds us to one another still, through prayer, love, and hope.

It is a comfort to know that as always, we share one bread, one cup.

Peace be with you.

 

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

Matthew 18:20

As the Waters Rise

 

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I am struggling to understand.

I am a woman of deep, abiding faith. So far in this terrible storm I have seen God everywhere and nowhere.

If you are in Houston, as I am during this record-breaking hurricane, you probably know what I mean. All around us are beautiful stories of neighbors and friends helping each other, complete strangers jumping in to save homes and lives, dedicated first responders, medical staff, and other essential personnel staying hour after hour to make sure people are taken care of. God is working everywhere.

At the same time, there is devastation all around. Homes are destroyed, precious memories and belongings lost to the water. Whole neighborhoods flooded, businesses gone, so much infrastructure damaged. Tornadoes are touching down, leaving damage and chaos in their wake, as if the flooding wasn’t enough. People are lost. People are dead.

And it is still, still raining.

The thing that has absolutely crushed my heart and I know the hearts of my entire church family is the flooding of the rectory, where our dear priest lives. This house was completely flooded last year, and our priest had just moved back in two months ago after an entire year of exhausting renovation. She and the church had invested so much in that new house, and just like that, it is washed away again.

Beth+ is just…well, she just does not deserve this. No one does, but honestly, I just cannot understand this, and it makes me ill to think of it. The “whys” are too many.

There is so much pain, and so many prayers being sent up all around Texas tonight. My family has been so fortunate. Aside from a leaky roof, we are dry. We are safe. My mom is one of those dedicated nurses who remains at her hospital on emergency protocols, but she is also safe.  I cannot complain. I cannot imagine the disruption, chaos, loss, grief, pain, and distress that others are going through right now. Until the storm passes, and there are more concrete ways to help, I can only pray.

I’ve been praying so much, I don’t even know what to ask for anymore. I suppose all any of us can ask God for is knowledge of His will for us, the strength and grace to live that out, and the knowledge that He is always with us, no matter what. That is the only thing that I know for sure: that God is with us, forever.

May each of you feel God with you, feel His strength bear you up, and His peace which passes all understanding, keep you through this crisis.

Amen.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their                distress. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed.              Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired               haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His                                                                               wonders to all mankind!

Psalm 107: 28-31

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The Third Step Prayer

Content Warning: Anorexia, Specific Weight

 

When I was sixteen, I was at the very lowest point of my anorexia, literally and figuratively. My weight was hovering in the upper 60’s, and I was nearly in liver failure. I had a heart arrhythmia, I was vomiting blood, and I was terribly anemic. I looked like those little gray aliens, all spindly limbs and big head with black holes for eyes. I looked like the walking dead.

My mom had tried outpatient treatment, and it obviously was not working. She needed to do something drastic, which meant sending me to residential treatment. The place that was chosen was called Shades of Hope. You may have heard of this place, as Oprah did a short-lived TV show about it. It’s basically a few cabins in a horrid town outside of Abilene, Texas called Buffalo Gap. I hated this place the minute I arrived. It was based entirely on the Twelve Steps, was incredibly controlling and manipulative, and had some pretty crazy rules about food for a place that was supposedly treating eating disorders.

(Additionally, this is the place that let me get raped by a guy at a hospital in Abilene, but that’s a separate story.)

Don’t get me wrong; I believe the Twelve Steps work. I have seen and continue to see them work miracles in people’s lives. I think they are limited, however, and are better suited for drug and alcohol addiction than they are to eating disorders, which are inherently more complex in nature because one cannot completely remove food from their lives the way one can remove alcohol or drugs.

I remember that before every miserable meal at this place, lovingly referred to by residents as “Shades of Hell,” we recited the Third Step Prayer. I did it so many times in my few short weeks there that it sticks in my brain even today:

God, I offer myself to Thee
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help.

Of Thy Power, Thy love and Thy way of life,
may I do Thy will always.

As I was praying last night, or trying to pray, I found myself stuck. When this happens, I stop trying to talk to God and instead just sit silently with Him for a minute. As I did, this prayer popped into my head. I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to say right now.

As I begin this summer- going to school, working in a new business, working hard in therapy and spiritual direction, continuing to take on more responsibilities at my church- I realized that I need to focus on one thing: praying for discernment so I may try to align my actions with God’s will for me. Because there are my ideas about what I think I want. But when I really dig deep, all that I really want is to please God. So I will go where He wants me to go, whether or not that lines up with my current goals or plans.

So I will be grateful, even for my time at “Shades of Hell,” and I will continue to pray:

God, I offer myself to Thee
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help.

Of Thy Power, Thy love and Thy way of life,
may I do Thy will always.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

 

Tears from Fears

Having PTSD is weird.

Having Complex PTSD is weirder. You know, I have needed to cry for a while now. After a year of grief, death, loss, stress, excitement, pain, hard truths, and very little time to process, I have needed to cry. Really cry. The kind of crying that leaves you a red-faced, snotty, puffy-eyed mess. The kind of crying that comes from your gut. Loud, ugly, soul-cleansing crying.

Thanks to PTSD, I have not been able to do this. In order to cry like that, you need to relax. When your body stays in stressed-out survival mode the way mine does, your sympathetic nervous system does not allow your brain the luxury of feeling safe enough to feel emotions deeply. So they get shoved away, stuck on a psychological shelf somewhere. They wait. The weirdest triggers can bring about the crying, though, and it happened last night.

It was nearly two in the morning. I was about to try to settle down to sleep when I got a message from a dear friend: her cat, who is like her baby and her best friend, had unexpectedly died that day.

Suddenly, it happened. I was crying, and I couldn’t stop. The crying got loud. I didn’t want to have any attention or talk about anything with anyone in my house, so I crept downstairs, grabbed my keys, and went and sat in my car in the driveway. I just sat in the silence of my sealed car, like my own soundproof booth, and wailed.

And wailed.

I’m really not sure how long I stayed out there. I was messaging with my friend for part of that time, when I was able to stop and gather myself for a few seconds.

Here’s the thing about this type of crying: while it’s uncomfortable, I find it to be an incredible relief, almost like a prayer of supplication through my body: God, please take these things which have been weighing on me. As I express them through my tears, please take them from me and by your compassion replace them with your grace. Amen.

You want to know something weird? I almost enjoy crying. I’ve done a lot of it since September. That’s when I figured out how to cry.

See, when I was a child, I literally never cried. Ever. Not when I was being abused. Not when I broke my arm. Not when I smashed my finger in a heavy wooden door and my fingernail came off. I just. Didn’t. Cry. And I thought that was like, just an “abused child” thing. Like I was just super tough, because I had to be. But it wasn’t.

Through counseling I figured out that when I was being abused, it was my father’s specific goal to make me cry, to make me react in pain. He wanted to see me hurting and terrified; he got off on that. I must’ve intuited that, and as a way to defend myself, to hold some control, I stopped crying. I stopped reacting at all. I refused to give him what he wanted. Which meant that he became more and more violent to try to elicit the reaction he wanted from me. Which meant I withdrew deeper and deeper into myself to survive, until I didn’t know how to feel anything.

When I realized this, it was huge. I was able to see my inability to cry not as a fault but as an act of heroism on the part of the child that I was, who refused to feed the evil energy attacking her. And therefore, I was able to redeem my tears as something safe, something holy. Withholding them once protected me. Now, every time I’m able to cry it’s like spitting on my father, and saying: you won’t take this from me. Every tear is like a tiny baptism, a birth by water into the newness of life beyond that trauma.

So you can see how, even though crying is painful, for me, it’s an experience I’ve only really been fully having for a few months, and so in many ways I almost relish it. It’s a release most people take for granted that I never really had. I’m grateful because, even thought crying is usually seen as something negative, to me it has made me more whole, more human. How could I be anything but glad about that?

So yeah, PTSD is weird, and you never know what will set you off crying. I’m just grateful that at this point, that’s something I can do.

 

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:4-5

 

 

Mother’s Day Missing: Continued

Today was a sort of nightmare.

Being on social media today, especially Facebook, is like being assaulted from every angle. All I want to do is forget and grieve in solitude and peace but today the world has chosen to say to every women who can get pregnant, every woman who can do what I can’t do: congratulations on being everything Sarah wants to be but can’t be! Congratulations on being a mother!

God, help me.

This is all very selfish and self-pitying and irrational. Trust me, I am aware. It’s not a conspiracy theory to make me feel like shit, although that’s how it seems to me right now. I am, as my friend Deede says, “all up in my feelings.” It’s hard not to be.

I decided I needed to go to as much church as possible today. For me, that’s the best place to be when I’m all up in my feelings. I need Jesus and my friends to sort me out. So I went to Adult Christian Formation, where we talked about Why Bad Things Happen To Good People. A timely subject. I could have shared for hours about all the fucked up shit that has happened in my life, but I mostly kept my mouth shut. I only opened it to say that the idea of “bad things happening to good people” is a fallacy in itself. Because to believe in that, you have to believe in the notion of “good people” who deserve good things vs “bad people” who deserve bad things. And as Christians, that is fundamentally against our core belief that God loves everyone equally.  

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5: 44-45 

So during the 10:30 service, I was called away to help with Children’s Chapel. Of course. Actually, it was sweet. A little girl who I had in my Vacation Bible School class last year, who has since been quite attached to me, was there and wanted to hold my hand the whole time. We did prayers and songs and what the kids prayed for was adorable. Everything from a dead dog to “hungry people” to “grandma’s hurt back.”

When we came back from Children’s Chapel it was time for blessings. Rev. Beth called up every woman in the nave to the altar rail to receive a mother’s day blessing, because she said, “If you are a woman, then you are a mother in Christ and you help to raise the children of this church.” When I got up there, I was surrounded by friends, people who know about my grief over my infertility. I began to cry, but tried to hold it back. Then Beth+ gave me a meaningful look, and put her hand over her heart. My friend Mary grabbed my hand. So I lost it, and just cried.

I continued to cry through the Eucharist. Someone behind me handed me kleenex. I felt honored, recognized, and deeply empty at the same time. It was incredibly sweet and incredibly bitter.

I don’t know how to do this.

I will never forget the day that I was told in definite terms that pregnancy and children would not happen for me. It was March 11, 2016. I will never forget lying on a table having a pelvic ultrasound, looking at this giant flat screen on the wall where most women see the progress of their growing fetuses, and seeing black. Seeing my big, empty uterus in HD, with a cyst on my fallopian  tube and another on my ovary, seeing the huge, black, empty space that would stay empty forever. I watched as my ob-gyn moved the wand around to check for more cysts, just staring at the black emptiness. That, as Rev. Beth said, is when the death happened for me.

The death of all my hopes and dreams. The death of my identity as a hopeful future mother. The death of my ability to give life through my body. Part of me truly died when my ob-gyn told me my chances of ever being able to carry a pregnancy without me or the baby dying were less than 1%. It’s not just about the cysts (PCOS), thought that’s a big part of it. It’s my bipolar medications, my autoimmune diseases, and scarring from years of rape and sexual abuse. The combination of those factors makes it nearly impossible.

I am not meant to be a mother by natural means.

Maybe I am meant to be an adoptive or foster mother. Maybe God has a child out there that isn’t even born yet, and I am destined to be his or her parent. Maybe I am meant to rescue a child from a situation like the one I grew up in, and because I went through that, I will be specially equipped to help that child. I don’t know.

All I know is that right now, the loss still hurts. It’s been one year and three months, and it still, still, hurts. I sometimes feel silly or stupid for continuing to grieve for so long. A part of me is like, you should be over this by now. C’mon, stop it already. Another part of me says that this will take as long as it takes, and I have to just follow where the grief goes.

I hate that.

That’s the way grief works though. The more you try to suppress it, the more it comes rushing up to make you pay attention. You can ignore it, but it won’t go anywhere. Grief will wait. It will sit there, kick back and relax until you deal with it. So you might as well deal with it.

I am trying.

 

“Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband,”
says the LordDo not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    He is called the God of all the earth...
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.

Isaiah 54: 1, 4-5, 7-8

Holy Spirit, Come: A Poem and Prayer

I wrote this poem/prayer as a way to call on the might power of the Holy Spirit. As a way to bring that power into my life to help me heal and let go and move on. Feel free to use this yourself if you think it would be helpful to you.

5/12/17

Holy Spirit, Come

 

Holy Spirit, come to me

Light on me like a dove, stay on my shoulder and guide me

Holy Spirit, come to me

Like the flames of holy passion

Burn down every remnant of trauma, of shame, guilt, pain, grief, rage, hatred, sin, and death

Burn away anything that keeps me from fully surrendering to God

Holy Spirit, come to me

Like the waters of baptism

Wash me clean in your deluge

Flood me with your wisdom and peace, your energy and courage

Come, Holy Spirit

In your light, let me be light

Fill me with your light of healing and hope

Until I’m nothing but love

And have nothing but the wish to serve

 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

 

 

Mother’s Day Missing

Mother’s Day is just around the corner.

For all the mothers, I am happy for you. For my mom, whom I love with everything I have, I am glad there is a day to celebrate how wonderful you are, to let you know how grateful I am for all that you do for me.

For some of us– those who desperately want to be mothers but can’t, those who’ve suffered miscarriage or stillbirth, those who’ve lost a living, breathing child, for those of use who never had mothers or had abusive mothers– Mother’s day can be one giant Hallmark reminder of what we’re missing.

I do not look forward to seeing all of the tributes to all of the women who’ve given birth, who’ve gone through pregnancy, who’ve nursed their infants, who’ve raised their babies. I’m not looking forward to seeing all the cute gifts kids give their moms, all the hand-colored cards, all the play-doh sculptures that will be treasured like gold. I do not look forward to seeing all the flowers and cards and brunches and whatever else. I will fully admit that these things bring about feelings of envy, sadness, anger, and grief, because I can’t understand and I can’t be part of it and I don’t know if I will ever be blessed with a child. And right now, “bitter” is perhaps the best word to describe where I am.

Maybe that makes me selfish or short-sighted. Maybe that makes me silly. Or maybe I’m just being honest about where I am in my process right now.

For friends of mine who have children in Heaven, I can’t imagine your pain. If this is how I feel just not being able to have them, I simply can’t even conjure what it must be like for you. For my friends having suffered miscarriage or stillbirth, you are not alone. Do not let your pain be silent. All of you, dear friends: Your children are remembered. They are loved. They are important. They are still part of your families. For Judah, for Jamie, for Charlotte, for Andy, for Damian, for Joshua Aiden, for Tyler, for all of those whose names I do not know: I pray for you and your mothers who miss you more than you can know.

For children who had mothers who were abusive or absent: I feel for you. There was a long period of time when my mother and I had a destructive relationship. It took years of hard work to get where we are. And when Father’s Day comes around, forget it. Believe me, I understand. It sucks going through a holiday that celebrates a parent who abused or neglected you, or died early in your life, leaving you with painful memories of absence in any way. You are not forgotten.

This Mother’s Day, if you are lucky enough to celebrate your mother or celebrate being one, please take a moment to remember the ones who are mourning. The mothers who can’t be mothers. The mothers who lost babies. The mothers who lost children. The children who lost or never had mothers.

This can be a difficult and triggering day, so say a prayer of healing for us. Then say a prayer of gratitude for what you have. You are blessed.

 

As a mother comforts her child,

    so will I comfort you.

Isaiah 66:13