What the World Needs Now

I had a good day in the ER today, Friday the 13th or not.  This day has always been a good day for me, despite the fear and loathing attached to it.  We were slow today, and that gave me more time to spend with the patients, which brings me to the reason for this blog.  I am seeing so much legalism, judgement and outright hatred coming from people who profess to be “Christians.”  As a matter of fact, it has become so harsh in social media land that I have had to unfriend a handful of people, and these are the very souls that profess to be lovers of all things Christ.

I am a sinner.  I have come a very long way, but I remain a sinner.  I have asked God to guard me against every snare, but I am a victim of my own mind, and when I catch myself judging others, well, I feel shame and 9 out of 10 times?  I have been guilty of the same behavior that irritates me in others.  Today we admitted a woman who had driven straight into a pole, and she was accompanied by the police and EMTs.  She was my age, actually, one year younger.  Her words were slurred and she gave the police officer a hard time about having her blood drawn.  The cop repeated the charges, the protocol, and the penalties attached-at least three times.  I stood there, waiting for her to lose it, as she was none to happy with, well, anyone in the ER.  The nurses whispered, we all came to the same conclusion:  Something is off, she is guilty as sin, how could she have driven with so much medication in her system?  Ambien and Seroquel (relatively strong sedatives) were taken “by mistake.”  She had taken her evening pills in the morning, rather than her vitamins.  Likely story…….

And later, long after the police and EMTs had gone, I stepped into her room.  She had sobered up and I sat at the side of her bed.  Knowing I had words to comfort, I told her the story of an accident many years ago-I had gone out after Thanksgiving dinner, to meet my incredibly irresponsible friend, Bonnie.  I had exactly three dollars in my purse, and we were to meet at 8 p.m. at Houlihan’s.  I was driving my mother’s brand new car, and some time around 11 p.m., I passed the Upper Merion Township building, at 100 mph.  A police chase ensued, and I hit a tree in the center of a field.  I was dazed, but emerged from the car injury free.  It wasn’t until I tripped and hit my head on the torn metal that I cracked my forehead open.  I was walking the street a bloody mess, until the police found me and took me to the Emergency Room.

My parents were called, and when they arrived they were FURIOUS.  It wasn’t until my bloodwork came back free of alcohol that they calmed down.  Drugs of the mickey variety were foundI thought back to the evening, and all I remembered was sitting with a man I had worked with years ago.  I remembered walking outside, I needed some air.  He was with me at that point.  To this day I have no recollection of the hours between nine and eleven.  And let’s just say I know I was drugged, and this time it wasn’t my fault.

The woman began to tear up, then all of the emotion and severity of the situation-the fact that her husband was due any moment, she had to call her insurance company, she was mortified-it all welled up and came out in bits and pieces of hysteria.  Tears dripped down her cheeks; I gave her the number of an attorney.

My point is this:  we are to love one another, (often not easy, often not the case) without judging.  If you are a follower of Christ you should be filled with joy, compassion and a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We are living in the NEW TESTAMENT.  You will know the real Christians by their unabashed love for others, their words, their actions.  I don’t believe that Jesus cares if I cover my head during worship, or if I listen to Hillsong Bethel Music (some say a cult) to worship-he cares about what is in my heart, my devotion to him as my Lord and Savior-and how I treat others, specifically every person I come into contact with.  I am not preaching to the choir, I am singing a song of love, compassion and hope.

Crazy……

I remember, I remember when I lost my mind……..great lyrics, great song.  After years of fighting for Social Security Disability, (I put up with way too much for way too long, and suffered a break down-depression is not a sign of weakness-it is a sign of being strong despite ridiculously mind-boggling stress) I have now been notified that I won.  I am grateful, yes, but now I am legitimately handicapped, according to the state of Pennsylvania.

I didn’t think I would be overcome with the words of the Judge’s decision:

Advanced age.  Alcoholism.  Depression.  Drug use.  Disabled.  Anxious.  Isolator.  Potato Chip Sifter and my personal favorite-mentally ill.  Perhaps it is time that I own these descriptive, if not melancholy diagnoses.  Knowing that PTSD was the problem all along, well, that does help, as at least I know the beginnings of my madness.  But I am proud to be here, proud to toot my horn in support of mental health awareness and the way Jesus will take the broken and make them strong and resilient, eventually.

I am not the poster child for the criminally insane, and for now, well, that is enough.

I Will Survive………..

As we prepare for vacation, the vacation that was supposed to be a family affair, my heart is heavy.  This sounds like a ridiculous statement, especially considering the hurricanes that have devastated Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas and Louisiana.  But you see, this only adds to my feelings of despair.

On the phone with my brother yesterday (he really gets me, inside and out, and for that I am incredibly grateful) we discussed the reasons for my anxiety and heartache.  Part of this is an inability to enjoy the good things in life, I am not comfortable with them.  Set on a path of destruction early on in life, I remain my own worst enemy.  But it is so much more than that.  I hate leaving my home, no matter what the destination.  This is the first real vacation my husband and I have ever been on, so why so glum chum?

Trying to pack with a sinus infection, my head throbbing and tears streaming down my cheeks-I find t-shirts I had packed in June, so excited to vacation with my brother, sister and extended family.  These t-shirts were pulled out and put back.  No reason to wear them.  I had dreamed of Craig and I singing together, charades, swimming, getting close to my nieces and nephew.  It wasn’t to be, and the fact or even idea of going to the Adirondack mountains?  It’s just too much for me to bear at this moment in time.

But what if we could turn what could have been into what is and what will be?  I know we need to get away, and even more than that?  We need to relax, as it’s been a roller coaster of a Summer.  Talks of the Tribulation, Rapture (not happening folks, not for years yet-and my source is pretty reliable) and the hideous goings on in this world make me want to bury my head in the sand and cry out to God.

Somehow, some way, He will lead me to a place of peace.  For He knows better than anyone that when I am weak, only then am I strong.

More of You in My Life……

Well, this morning I flew down to Lititz for my orientation and paperwork-I will be working at the Heart of Lancaster, as an Emergency Room volunteer.  Just yesterday, I was trying to think of ways to get out of the meeting for today-I haven’t felt well, but more than that I have been living in a state of mistrust and fear.  Any person suffering with CPTSD will tell you that trusting people is the most difficult thing for one to do, and I am no exception.  My golden retriever is my therapy dog, in every sense of the words.  I feel a state of angst when I am not with him, and I have a touch of agoraphobia.  All of this I have given to him, or so I thought.

Throughout the last month, I have bonded with Missy Deibler, the head of the volunteer department and the hospital chaplain.  Today, she wasn’t her bubbly self, and she confided in me about some health issues that would put me on my knees in despair.  I won’t betray her trust, but she told me that since a bad virus last year (HELP ME JESUS-I DON’T WANT THIS VIRUS-EVER!!!!) that left her unable to smell or taste food.  To a foodie like me?  Well, that would be so crushing a fate, I can’t imagine not tasting food as there isn’t a food group I am not comfortable with.  In all actuality my diet consists of chocolate, fruit and some protein.  I digress……

I tend to look at others as if their life is perfect, and mine is underwhelming.   Until today-when Abba showed me in real time how bad it really could be.  I will take my afflictions over hers, any day.  And her confession only served to make me like her more, relate on a totally different level.

“We are having a service in the chapel at 10:30, if you would like to stay,” she kindly offered.

Before getting up to head in that direction, I ran into a man I went to church with years ago.  He played in our Worship Team Band, and I hadn’t seen him for awhile.  Eventually, he did remember me.  So, I walk into the hospital chapel, and there he is, Ron, sitting with his guitar-we strike up a conversation.  What transpired next cannot be called coincidence, and I can’t divulge the info, but suffice it to say it affected me very, very deeply.  In the end, there were four of us worshipping, and Missy asked that we bring our prayer requests or praises out into the open.  I am quite shy when it comes to praying out loud-I remain nervous and think I will sound lame, or even worse, not like a Christian should.  It was my turn-everyone had spoken really moving prayers, conveying love, discipleship and concern. 

“I want to thank Missy for inviting me to this service.  And I am incredibly excited to be a part of this ministry……..(sob, sob, SOB) I have been so lonely and I am not good at asking for help.”

PUT THE NEEDLE ON THE RECORD, DJ!  Did I really just spew my insecurity and mental health issues in front of my future boss and coworkers?  I expected judgement.  I was waiting for a sigh of disgust.  I wanted to banish myself from the kingdom.  Instead, the chaplain-Missy- put her hand on mine, and held it for the rest of the service.  I took a deep breath on my way out, as people approached me for hugs and kind words.

As sure as my middle name is Ellen, I know in my heart that the Holy Spirit led me to these modern day saints, into a ministry of helping others whose pain is oh so much worse than my own.

Come As You Are…….

Sitting in bed with a cold…….my husband off to the store for diatomaceous earth-yes, the more we do to rid ourselves of fleas, the faster they appear.  I am convinced this is a persecution of sorts, coming from the enemy, as my blog turns towards Christ centered writings.  I am a Christian, but I just came off of a tirade in which I yelled at God.

“Ok, mess with me-(meaning, allow the enemy an in) but what purpose does it serve to hurt my dog?  He is an innocent.  I cannot go through another day, can’t bare to see him suffer.”

I turn on Fox news and see a police officer speaking about prayer-in disgust I turn off the television.  Prayer doesn’t work.  Don’t talk to me about prayer.  Good luck with that.  I feel bitter and forlorn, angry and lost.  This goes on for maybe ten minutes.  I reach out for prayer to a dear friend, and then my entire Facebook family.  I apologize to my Abba, as I know he is allowing this for a reason.  I turn on the pc and find a video of Joel Osteen, a man I abhor, always have-even when I didn’t know why.  He has lied, blatantly, on national television about flooding in his church, and the Twitter posts are merciless.  I am no better or worse than that man, as each sin is equal in Abba’s eyes.  I repent, then ask His forgiveness…….but I am still shaken.

I begin to pray for the flood victims and am overcome with the parallel between those poor pilgrims and the plight of addicts everywhere, drowning in self loathing, remorse and shame.  I am one of those addicts, only now I am sober.  Each and every addiction begins with a pain that cannot be healed by his stripes-because we are unable to break through the cycle to pray.  We completely and utterly forget that there is a God, as fighting through each day becomes a task so great-well, it is hell, and the problem increases-day after day after day.  I remember laying in the hospital twenty plus years ago, crushed leg, broken arm and clavicle, contusions and broken ribs.  At the time I thought God was punishing me for leaving my first husband.  I had been hit by a drugged out motor cyclist who ran from the scene.  An hour later I am in the emergency room, I hear my husband’s voice, and then I hear:

“Are you the mother fucker who hit my wife?”

A scuffle, two police officers holding Dwain down.  I remember trying to raise my head and stop him, but the delicious and oh so dangerous honey that is morphine dripped through my veins, and I lay my head down.  I didn’t know back then that I would suffer for 20 plus years with opioid addiction.  And if you had told me that evening that this was coming?  I would have shushed you, and let myself be taken by the angel of mercy and doom.

 

 

 

The Pilgrimage…….

I am just a big ball of tears today.  Weeping, blowing my nose, weeping again.  This is nothing new to me, and I have long given up thoughts that my emotions make me weak or unworthy.  This is how I roll, and it is AOKAY with Jesus.  Actually, crying is such a sweet release, but, like today in church, as our Pastor was speaking about his hike on Spain’s El Camino trail-I sometimes wish I could turn it off.  What led to this great display of angst?  While praying, Tony asked that we ask God if there is something we need to let go of, and that is when I broke down.

Call me an Empath, Sensitive, or even a crybaby…..call me whatever you will, my heart breaks in half, not just at my own wounds, but at the great gaping wound that is humanity.  I cannot BARE to see another man suffer, not an animal, not a fly for crying out loud.  I cannot stomach it, and therefore I give it to Him and weep like a child.

We all have things that we need to release, and on this great Pilgrimage of life, some things are easier than others.  Why do we find it necessary to hold on to things, people or places that destroy us?  Because we think we cannot let go.  This morning I wept for the loss of my sister, but there were people in that community who could have wept, could have laid down in the aisles and screamed to the heavens for mercy, because the pain and burdens they are carrying are way too much and often we forget that Jesus is right beside us, weeping, holding, carrying and praying for us.  Tony had some questions he thought would be answered on this journey, and one of them was why does God heal some, take their thorns and throw them into the abyss, and not others?  He came back to Lancaster County with answers, but not for that question.

It is my hope and prayer for each and every one of you that you know this in your heart of hearts:  you are worthy of God’s love.  He will take that aching and turmoil, he will mold it into something that will not only bring Him glory, but bring you to a place of peace, understanding and love~but you must give it to Him first.

Earth Has No Sorrow that Heaven Can’t Heal………….

I knew, deep in my heart, that it was inevitable.  I have been waiting for weeks, on guard, and prepared, or so I thought.

Two years ago this area was rocked by the murder of a mother of two in scenic Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania.  In broad daylight.  At the Jigger Shop, a restaurant full of children, tourists and wait staff.  The shooter sat at a bench, outside of the parlor, in wait.  His woman had spurned him, and this time he wasn’t about to let her get away.  One bullet.  Killed her instantaneously.  But the perp had another bullet he was saving for himself, and let’s just say-he didn’t miss.

The man who was guilty of this unspeakable crime?  My friend Patrick Derr.  Patrick dated my sister in law.  He was the first person I met when I moved out here, and he was an alcoholic and cocaine addict who abused women when he used.  I remember the first call I received from his wife, Pat had come in drunk as a skunk and wrecked the Christmas tree.  I could hear her child screaming in the background.  I ran to the house and talked to him until he passed out-his wife and child upstairs behind a locked door.  He went on to abuse his next wife, and actually did prison time for almost killing her.  He left behind a mother and two brothers, and I ran into his brother Mike today-living out of his car, no teeth, running from the law.  He had just enough money to pay for his drugs, and after that…………nothing.   Jesse and I were hiking at Middlecreek, and as we pulled into the parking lot, unrecognizable to me, he shouted,

“Hey Michele!  How are you?”

I did not hesitate.  I walked over and hugged him tightly, lost for the words I promised myself I would speak should I see him.  His last words were, “I love you, kiddo.”  I had my head together after the hike, and as I approached the lot I knew exactly what to say:

Mike, I beat this.  I know your pain.  Please turn to Jesus, He loves you-I can help you make a fresh start.

He was gone.  And as I started the jeep I looked where his beat up truck had been, and wept.