Stranger Danger

I was reading my bible the other day, and the scripture about not being of this world, or worldly, if you prefer, hit me like a ton of bricks.  From very early on in my life, I have stood out, in pretty much every venue of my life.  As a child, I would pack my green suitcase and travel the neighborhood, trolling for adults (not children, they pissed me off with their weird Barbie dolls and tea parties) who would dare to “come and play with me.”  I can only imagine what they were thinking, when they answered the door and looked down upon the oddity standing in front of them.  Chubby, red curls and not a shred of inhibition-I would  prance into the home of unsuspecting, stay at home mothers , open my attaché, (full of odd pens, crayons and doll heads) and ask them to make me chocolate chip cookies.  This worked about 85% of the time, and to be sure this was done to appease the weirdo and get her the hell out of dodge.)

I would go to the bar in Avalon, NJ with my father-when we could sneak away from mom-sit with dad, eating clams and drinking Shirley temples, playing Mr. Bojangles on the jukebox as many times as my stash of quarters allowed it.  I was 5 years old.  As I grew, my mother would go to these random thrift stores and buy the strangest outfit she could find, then proceed to argue with my until I finally caved and wore it to school.  The stand out?  A purple, velvet set of knickers with a poufy top and cameo at the neckline.  The white lace boots up to my knees added to the hilarity…….but my peers at Upper Merion Junior H.S. didn’t get the joke.  They gawked, pointed, and called me names until I cried.  I believe my courage began developing way back then, in spite of the meanies, I grew weirder by the hour, and to this day I am thankful……….

I have never, ever followed the fashion scene, (I am dead serious when I say I am only now, at the age of 56, learning how to put on makeup) and my outfits have been raising eyebrows for decades.  I care not what others think, never have, never will-and somewhere in the mix I suppose I owe  my lack of inhibition to Mary Lou, my mother and fashionista extraordinaire.  She went to a dress shop to design her own clothing, and I have to say that she was profoundly beautiful………but she was ahead of her time, she was ahead of my time for crying out loud.

Just the other day, while trying to avoid the dreaded tick bite, I put on my grey long underwear, hiking boots, camo shorts and gardening hat, then proceeded to the local grocery store where I turned heads and caused more than one shopper to slam her cart into the food displays.  I walk blithely to the tune of my own accordion, immune to the whispers and laughter.  I have been told by friends, and enemies alike, that “Only you could pull that off, Michele….”  I never try to be a fashion success, yet my style impresses more people than it offends.  And to this day, I don’t get it.  I am 5 feet tall in stocking feet, have blonde hair down to my waist, and even on a good day, well….my husband usually has to carry me to the truck because my shoes are bought at the Humane Society Thrift Store-it has never been of any consequence to me how the shoes fit, as I am a size 5 1/2 and finding any footwear not of the girls’ department is a total coup.

Another quirk I have?  If I pick something out of my closet (say a dress I’ve had since my freshmen year at Villanova, circa 1979) I am going to wear it whether it fits or not.  Just last week, after purchasing last year’s Vera Wang at Kohl’s with my 30% off coupon, I stood there stumped and provoked, as I tried to figure out how the hell to put it on.  It was a three-part debacle, copper and black sequins cascading down the front.  I finally took my scissor to it, and voila-right over my head it went.

I have been known to garden, in a teddy and sweat pants; to hell with what anyone thinks.  It’s my own yard, my own territory-if it doesn’t suit you, look away.  My best friend will not walk with me in our neighborhood because of the attire I choose to exercise in.  Last winter, and I kid you not, I wore a stunning pink Elmer Fud number to lunch in Lititz (where the snobs and starving artists mingle amongst stores only the very rich can patronize.)  I was with my nieces, who love the fact that I am, well, unique to put it kindly.  Men and women were walking right up to my face and laughing.  Poor manners?  Yes.  Do I blame them?  No.

I simply cannot be bothered with worrying about the Joneses.  I’m too busy living in my own private Idaho…..where I am the queen of the outfit faux pas.

Chasing the Wind

I have always loved this song, from the very moment  I heard it.  To me, as a medical semi-professional, it always spoke of the miracle of life-and I can attest to the notion that when one family elder dies, a new child is born…… was the case when my beloved father passed away.  My sister in law had no idea she was with child, until weeks after the funeral, and to say this brought joy to our family is an understatement at best.

Do I believe that my father’s soul is now Esme’s soul?  No.  I believe that we are children of a God so gracious, so merciful and loving, that nothing is impossible.  I also feel that when He sees our unbearable grief?  He blesses the family with new life.  It may be a pregnancy, an opened door, a new relationship…..whatever the case may be, He sees us in the midst of insurmountable odds, and oh the sheer jubilation he must experience  when he knows that our wracked sobs are about to be turned into cries of joy!

How great is our God?  My wish for you this coming year is for you to open your eyes to the miracles………and they are everywhere.  Rejoice!  He has great plans for your life~

The Silence is Deafening

Trying to get something done around the house, and let’s just say the couch is winning.  After feeding the felines, Jesse and I head to the couch, defeated yet eager to rest.  I flip on some Christmas music, and this song is the first I hear.

I have often wondered why I simply can not grieve in front of my husband.  I believe it is due in part that I know my tears upset him, and I want my lover to be happy, at peace.  Watching my emotions carefully-I just took myself off of a ten year addiction, albeit to Zoloft.  What began as the flu and not wanting to drive, turned into a trial run of freedom from the bondage of antidepressants.  Please don’t get me wrong, I thought I was to be on this drug forever;  I never gave this a second thought really -I am irrepressibly in agreement with anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medications for those who suffer mental illness.  I am the poster child for Ativan, yet I knew deep down that the depression had vanished.  Seven days later and I have no homicidal ideation, let alone suicidal.  But as I sat down to ponder, the haunting taunt of Bing Crosby’s vocals coming loudly from the surround sound, I wept.

Tomorrow my golden retriever turns five.  Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes, and I can’t see the computer screen.  After the loss of Jesse’s brother Dylan, four years ago, I have remained traumatized, the idea of him aging rips my heart right out of my chest, and any animal lover will understand those feelings.  Not for one millisecond do I take the blessings of this year for granted.  My husband’s new career, financial stability (kind of-my SSI check never amounted to much, and the monthly payments help tremendously-I had hoped to give my church an abundant Christmas tithing, and still do-but overhearing my husband discussing our mounting medical bills from a shoulder injury and physical therapy he suffered this Summer? Let’s just say I have devised a payment plan) and the miracles of being set free from physical and mental anguish are miracles, of this I am certain.

Yet I cannot contain the emotions this song bring about, so many memories of childhood Christmases -I would cut off my right arm to go back to those innocent days, ones I somehow knew were precious and rare, even back then.  We lost my parents years ago, and my brother is in California with his beautiful family.  There will be no Christmas phone calls, or holiday gatherings with my sister, or nieces and nephew.  No Christmas Eve conversations with the best friend who tried to ruin the first real vacation my husband and I had taken in twenty five years together, and prior to that?  I should have known her to be a vindictive and malicious narcissist years gift exchanges, no carols sung.

This makes me terribly sad, and lonely with an ache that permeates the air I breathe.

But none of this changes the fact that this is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of our King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and hope to all nations.  And the best part of the story is that He forgives us if we turn to Him with faith and sorrow for our sins.  We are a new creation in Christ and no longer need to carry our heavy burdens or past mistakes along with us!  It matters not what we have done, He will forgive us.  It is because of what He has done that we are set free~

In his great mercy God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.                                                                                                                        1 Peter 1:3


Grace in Spades…….

I just received a phone call from my brother-a phone call you hope to never get, and the news hit me like a ton of bricks, or more appropriately-a bag of broken rocks.   My estranged sister has melanoma, in situ.  She has thirteen stitches in her neck.  They are about to biopsy two more moles.

I gasp for air, stricken with the knowledge that I can do nothing.  Saddened beyond words for so many reasons.  What must my nephew and nieces be going through?  This would have been my chance to be needed, necessary……somewhat redeemed.  The impossibilities of this situation curls my intestines, breaks my heart.  I knew on some level.  I have known for the past few days-a silent scream within my soul, that spoke of malfeasance, illness or accident-involving my sister.  I prayed I was wrong, but this phenomena is common in twins, why not sisters?

I know my boundaries.  I am sickened by feelings of raw, relentless emotion, churning in my stomach like so much cement in the bottom of a body of water.  I am stymied at the grief and ache I feel, she will never not be my sister.

My heart is grieved, and I pray her well.

Green Are Your Eyes…………

My brother came up for a visit a few weeks ago, and as we conversed he brought up the wedding that my father spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on.

“They were devastated,” he told me, dead seriously at that.  Craig lived in California at the time.  My mother was battling ovarian cancer, although she, nor the doctors, knew.  I remember one phone call from mom, in which she told me daddy had cried for days-and to this very day I wish I had run away……because I didn’t have the strength to stop the snow ball that kept rolling, gaining momentum, until it was so big it crushed me in its wake.

I did not choose this particular war.  It chose us, Dwain and myself.  I was in such angst that my mother sent my sister to baby sit, rather than sit down and discuss my strong resistance to a wedding that never, ever should have taken place.  In a therapy session, with my parents, the man with all the answers (he thought so anyway) asked my mother why she was so angry.

“The fucking whore just wanted a party.”

The therapist looked at me and then at my father.  When I looked back at him his glasses were askew and he appeared alarmed-distressed, if you will.  I had warned him.  I knew it was coming.   My father, always and forever my best friend and supporter, offered this:

“Honey, he said, looking at my mother as if she’d lost her mind-“Why don’t you let us get you an apartment, just be by yourself for awhile so you can figure things out.”

I couldn’t and didn’t consider that option.  I loathe the fact that I hurt my parents in any capacity whatsoever.   It breaks me and was a contributing factor in my rush to oblivion, alcohol, pills, cocaine……… heart was a ball of fire, and I wept more than I smiled.

But, green were his eyes…….and their melodic and hypnotizing pull are evident this very day.  And for that, oh for that I am incredibly blessed.

Catch That Buzz……..

JEFFREY DAHMER IS IN HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Read the title of the vlog.  My first thought?  HOW DO YOU KNOW, BEATCH?  🙂  And then I remembered, a medium and New Ager, long since turned to Christ, she could have been speaking her truth.  A few minutes into the video, I caught her drift.  She was reiterating a truth I have always stood by, at least in the last few years-after being enlightened by our church, God and the Holy Spirit.

I remember sitting at a Thanksgiving dinner at my father’s girlfriend’s daughter’s house.  My father was a stoic man, and if I hadn’t consumed a million and one beers?  I may not have had the courage to ask this question:

“Daddy, do you believe in Jesus?,” I held my breath as this was NOT the kind of question you asked Stephen James Elkins.  Oh no, not even close.  And his response?

“Honey, of course I do.  Why would you doubt that?”

I knew in my heart that my father was a good man; I am a bit biased, but I would have to concede that he is the very best man I have ever known next to Jesus and my husband.  However, my mother was the Irish Catholic of the family, my father agnostic.  He never, ever spoke against the church, but I had always assumed he was afraid of my mother, as any sane man worth his salt would be.  I had no idea he believed, as my Uncle Bill would send religious magazines each year at Christmas, and they always found their way into the circular behemoth that was the trash can in dad’s office.

When my father lay dying in the Good Samaritan hospital, (renal failure, heart failure, diabetes, amputations-his poor heart just gave out) after having to be sedated by the nursing staff, I went on a quest for a priest.  I found him, in the chapel-a spark in his eye and what appeared to be pure love in his heart, he agreed to perform the last rites, and told me this:  Ten years is way too long for a man to live without his soul mate.  And Mary Lou was just that, dad told me so himself.  My brother became somewhat hysterical when he found out I had summoned the priest-but when daddy died mere hours later?  I know Craig was relieved the rites had been performed.

Those of you who have read my blog know that I am sickened by Christian hypocrisy.  Jesus came for the wretched, the broken, the sinner-he absolutely did not come for the righteous.  Don’t believe me?  Read the book of Matthew, and it will school you on love.  GOD IS LOVE.  JESUS IS LOVE.  And no matter how cruel or violent a life we have led, God will not turn his back on those who call out to him, even if they do so in the last seconds of living.

There is no fear, nor condemnation in Christ.  Please, adhere to the ten commandments, of course.  But don’t turn away from Abba because you think yourself unworthy-that kind of thinking comes from the enemy, and we know where he’s going at the end of the day.