Monday, April 23, 2018

The Beauty of Our Scars

So often we try to hide them. Scars... They are not attractive.
I had one lobe of my thyroid removed when I was 22 and married barely a year.

I have had a melanoma on my thigh removed and they did and nice job and the scarring was minimal, but the surgery saved my life.

I have a scar on my left arm from a nasty tear in the flesh when I was 18 years old and climbing over an 8 ft cyclone fence...LEAVING...a concert.

At times my scars have throbbed, at times I forget about them. Sometimes I notice them and they remind me:
That was NOT cancer; That WAS cancer, but they got it all! That was a bad choice, but you just missed severing a vein in your arm and it could have been worse.
Just like these physical scars, I carry emotional scars, as so many do. However, they too remind me of God's grace, the gift of good counselors and recovery programs, and the love and support of many over time.
Sometimes the pain resurfaces. I have done the work of forgiving those that inflicted the wounds, but the pain still throbs at times. The scars are a beautiful reminder that there is joy to be found through suffering, not because of it, but joy can be found within the layers and folds of the suffering.
I am understanding more and more that is because I have never suffered alone. One has always been with me, and because of that I can find peace and joy even when I am hurt. Even when the scars remain. His eyes are upon me. His hand reaches out and takes mine. His love soothes me.
Those scars? They are beautiful to God and precious in his sight, so they have become beautiful to me the more I see things through his eyes.
After all, he still carries the scars of his crucifixion, and they are powerful reminders that in the midst of such hatred and jealousy and evil, love always does.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Unison yet with Harmony

The Strength and Beauty of Harmony

When a song is sung in unison it is nice, even pretty.
When a song is sung in three part harmony (or more)
It is still one song, one melody, yet... 
so much more powerful and moving.

Each instrument in a band or an orchestra
Lends its own tones and hues
Yet when they are all focused on one outcome
It is breathtaking

When we as people grow in our awareness that 
Although we all have different backgrounds
We can still each contribute to this song of life
And the richness and depth of our lives and others'...

Will be magnified, deepened and better because of it.
In unison of heart, we are stronger and more beautiful
When each unique voice lends itself to the whole
And God writes his masterpiece through that unity and harmony
Image result for free photos of musical notes

Saturday, December 24, 2016


 I had a bad night. My almost forgotten GI symptoms came on like a vengeance around 2 am.
I went back to sleep for a few hours. Then my nerve pain decided that it was time to also make a dramatic reappearance. I got up, did my extension exercises on our newly gifted PT table, (Thank you Bob and Marti!) and stumbled into the predawn living room. I opened a "real" cola...only thing my tummy could handle and sat in the stillness.
Then you said, "I am here. In the stillness, in the alone quiet, in the pain, and the "retched" nausea. I am with you Marsha. I am Immanuel." 
It is Christmas Eve! Always my most favorite day of the year and of this season since I can remember.
The quiet anticipation. 
The sweet imagery of a baby born in a stable to a teenage mother and her scared, yet protective betrothed.
Then I hear you...and this is what I write:
He came in helpless form to be the ultimate helper.
His power was reined in as he took on a frail human body as his own.
So, there was that , restrained power... for a purpose.
His love, however, was of unrestrained power and passion.
His willingness to go, engage in relationship, and know, all those thirty-three years...
His purpose.
Thank you for your invasion into our world and lives. 
Thank you for touching my heart as a girl with the beauty and mystery of Christmas Eve.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Never ending...Regeneration!


I was writing in my thanksgiving journal this morning and thanking God for the ongoing resurrection gift of life through the seasons, generations, sunsets, sunrises, and all of creation's continual growth and expansion.

I am becoming more and more aware of how nothing ends except something new begins.
I was encouraged by the thought that every winter, life is busy preparing to burst forth again in the spring, no matter how bitter and dark the winter. Especially as I  looked out on my early spring flowers covered in a late dump of snow last week standing strong and tall after the melt!

I am ecstatic that when we leave this earth our offspring will be continuing our legacy and if not our offspring our art, or relationships, or whatever we have contributed to this side of eternity. All of it is a memory imprint, of us, on this world.

I have a hard time...okay, I'm obsessive about not missing sunsets and sunrises! I feel a melancholy settling in my spirit as twilight glows and then fades. It's hard not to sigh. I feel a peaceful energy if I see the first whispers of a morning glow and watch the sun's promise erupt across the skies for quite a while before it actually rises. Daylight is returning again.

Are we so vain as to think that we can end this world by our interference and neglect?
We can damage it and tilt things horribly.
We have a responsibility to treat all of creation with respect and honor life.
However, we are no more capable of sustaining the life flow than we are of creating it.
The very ongoing adapting, evolving process of this world and the universe attests to God's creative, redemptive power.

I love that God left his memory imprint on this world. 
I am reminded of his promise to always exist and to always be present every time I witness these events and realize that death is not the end. Life originally spoken into existence by him regenerates. 
The end is the beginning!

His death on the cross was not the end.
His burial in someone else's tomb was not the end.
The empty tomb always reminds us that it was the beginning.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Brave Things

My favorite relative did an amazing thing that forever made him my hero the last eight years of his life.
He made a life-changing decision to address a problem instead of running from it anymore and I saw him as one of the bravest men I had ever met.
I decided that I would remember him every time I thought of NOT doing something because I was scared, or "too old", or it was "too late". It has served me well...when I act on it!

I am 63 years old as I write this and although to date I've not jumped out of a plane, taken up rock climbing, or learned to surf, I am doing things that genuinely are big and brave and hard...for me.

Let me back up a bit.
I was a shy kid, sort of had a small comfort zone and didn't much like straying out of it.
I was also a tall, skinny, pale, blonde girl...sort of noticeable even though I did everything to NOT be noticed.
My mom, with best intentions...don't we moms often unintentionally give our children fodder for their future counseling sessions by doing things with best intention...but, I digress...which I do a mom used to want to sew or purchase outfits for me that were bright and bold. The tags should have said they were made by "HERE I AM! LOOK AT ME!!!"

I was so very thankful that I went to a school for the first seven years of my educational life that required uniforms.

Anyway, I used to dream of being a pilot, or a singer on a stage, or a heroine of epic proportions and my heroines often my dreams were big, but I hated attention being drawn to me...I was shy.

So, when I say that I am doing things that are genuinely hard or brave for me. I am speaking of that hidden "young self" that will forever be inside of me and that often causes me to be stunned when I make a statement like the one in the earlier paragraph, "I am 63 years old"!

One of the hard, brave things I am doing is an elimination diet. This particular one, for some reason I have forgotten, is called an "easy" elimination diet. It is comprised of four phases of 35 days in each phase in which I eliminate between two and four food groups or additives and then after three weeks one at a time reintroduce them into my diet. The idea is to figure out what I have been feeding my gut that has made it sick and uncooperative for years now...yes, years!

Now, at first I thought, "I should've done this a long time ago,"  because honestly I have figured out two culprits already (I am into phase one for well over a month due to messing up) and I feel so much better already. Part of the reason I thought "Why did I not do this before" is because quite a few friends of mine that are my daughters' ages have done this and are thrilled with how great they feel.

Then I realized: Wrong, wrong, wrong! When I was their age everyone was trying to eat healthier, but no one was  offering this type of program or advice, nor were people even aware of some of our personal food demons that were making us sick or sluggish.

Nope, I am proud that even though I am a bit older- by a lot - than many of these younger friends, (got that?) I am addressing it now....AND, I have a lot more years of eating habits literally under my belt than said younger women, so it is a heck of a lot harder for me to hit the "redo" or "refresh" button at this stage of life...but I'm doing it!!!! A quick shout out to the aforementioned friends for being my inspiration!!

One of the other things I am doing is slowly working at getting back into the music business. My hubby and I played professionally in our pre-children years when you actually played four forty-five minute sets a night at a club where people came to actually listen to the band and dance and drink and other stuff. Well, lots of the other stuff went on in the parking lot or in upstairs rooms in the club, but I once again digress.

We then continued throughout most of our married life to play music, but usually leading worship at church, which we have loved. However, God tried to gently nudge us out of that gig and after twenty-seven years we started going to a new church and, voila, ended up back on the worship team and once again heading the worship team. We left that church, took a year plus off of organized religion and then started going to a new church plant and before we knew it we were back at it.

Well, suffice it to say that God let us blunder about a bit, then we decided it was time to exit their music ministry as well. God is often scratching his chin and chuckling, I am quite sure.

Now we have started working up set lists, and a friend has asked to play with us and we are beginning the arduous task of approaching pub owners, etc. about playing at their establishments.

We also have been playing once a month for an interdenominational prayer group that has the most astonishing array of men and women, usually more men than women which is sort of cool for a prayer meeting when you think about how historically it's the women folk that seem to populate such gatherings. These are sweet and free-flowing and we love them.

The pub thingie is unnerving and scary and we only want to play early in the evening for no more than two hours. Things change, we have changed, and  getting home early doesn't feel uncool hasn't for a very long time!
This is another brave thing.

I am realizing that I am a "hard learner", meaning that for some reason I am wired to use denial and  excuses, and to let my fear of failure or fear of success, keep me in indecision mode...which by the way IS a decision!

I have been in therapy for years, as well as several 12 Step groups and understand the "whys" of many of my behaviors. I have also made miraculous progress in so many areas of my life.

However, there are certain behaviors that reveal themselves in my response to some stimuli and stressors (good and bad stressors) that can only be called self-defeating, fear-driven saboteurs of my growth in certain areas of my life. Such as the above named areas of health and music...and actually, come to think of it, this... writing.

Now, something that has come late to me in my sixty-three years ( remember: "hard learner") is that I am not an extrovert as many have labeled me in my adult years. I am a social introvert. Meaning this: I get recharged and reenergized when I have down time and alone time with me, myself, and I. I love people and love connecting and interacting, but it is often scary and hard for me to walk into it initially , then I engage and most often enjoy, yet when it's over I cannot wait to get home to my music, book, favorite TV show, a soak in the whirlpool, or wherever my retreat mode leads me.

I am also what blogger, author, speaker Glennon Doyle Melton calls a "feeler" and I spent a long time trying to not be a feeler! I am hard-wired to be one and because of some things said to me early in my life about how I was "different" from the rest of my family and "wondering just where I came from" I was convinced that it was a negative thing to be avoided or at least hidden from others.

When we want to hide something or change something about our core selves it means attempting to reshape ourselves and putting on a facade and a persona. We become Shape Shifters of a sort.

We get so good at keeping others from knowing who we really are that we eventually try to leave our real selves behind, bury them. The longer we go before finding and reasserting who we really are, the more painful and difficult the process is.
It took me years...and I still discover pieces of myself that got left behind from time to time! I am working with my Designer to reestablish the 100% true Marsha, and at times it feels like an adventure and at times it is no fun at all.

Here's the interesting part. The whole time we are hiding our genuine self, it is always just underneath the surface trying to break through. It's that subtle yet nagging sense that  "something feels off" or  "I always feel just a little out of kilter with my life and my world" that haunts us sometimes at night and saps us of energy.
I think that is why so often when someone has a serious life-crisis, or a breakdown, it's often more of a breakthrough by their true persona. Those crises are often a gift of grace as they allow us to see that we have been living untrue to ourselves and letting some other false identity take our place.

Well into adulthood I found myself finally admitting that I was struggling with depression and I sought help from a counselor.
Once we began to clear the debris...which was very painful... sort of like shedding my outer skin so I could grow...I saw that the "feeler" introvert that was also extremely creative was not a bad person to be. I began to travel lighter as I threw off the oppressive identity I had allowed to curl about my soul like a boa constrictor.

I accepted a part in a musical, the lead part! I was tricked into that - ha! I continued participating in it playing various roles for quite a few years after that. We are talking a production that our church put on, so not Broadway, but one of the most well thought out productions imaginable with sellout crowds at various venues around the city.

I also began playing bass guitar again and, as I shared earlier, getting more involved in our church's music ministry, eventually as the director of that ministry and then again at the other church we attended for a number of years.

The point is...when we realize that we may be living a lie. We also begin to understand we are not allowing others the privilege of knowing us and not allowing ourselves to flourish as who we are created to be. Then when we take steps to get in touch with who we started out as...well we can flourish and fully be!  And that is the freedom to be. That is indeed freedom to lay hold of!

So, if we ever get hired to play (we are fun to listen to) come have a beer or a glass of wine and enjoy. I will be the one that's not in bright colors, feels a bit uncomfortable and having a blast!

The Who say it pretty well...   check out the link!

Monday, May 11, 2015

When (We) People Unwittingly Say Things That Hurt More Than Help

It is raining hard at five a.m. and the birds are already noisily awaiting the dawn. The cloudy skies are sliding from murkiness into a more defined dull gray.
Now one raucous robin is insistently calling out a repetitive monologue.
Being awake in the wee hours always is at once a place of deep connectivity to God and profound loneliness.

Our daughter's little almost 8 week old baby boy is in the hospital since yesterday early morning. The ER docs were concerned about meningitis so after getting an IV in him and doing some blood draws and catheterizing him they added a spinal tap to the list!
It was so very necessary to rule out that terrible, yet treatable illness. It was also in and of itself terrible for her and her husband to watch him go through such a tortuous diagnostic tool after such a long sick night at home fighting to breathe through the mucous that was accumulating too fast for his little body to deal with.
She texted us to let us know they were going to the ER.
Then she texted to let us know they were admitting him.
We finally got to hear her voice and she was tired and drained and behind her resolve one could here..."I want my mom. I want someone to take care of me while I take care of my new baby boy who is so sick and I am so scared."
Yesterday was Mother's Day...

Mother's Day is a "holiday" that I used to love. Now, I have mixed feelings about it.
My mom is gone...almost five years, but this is one of those "holidays" that for anyone who has lost their mom, has a difficult or broken relationship with her or their child, wishes they were a mom, or anyone who has lost a child feels the pain in their heart not unlike that of salt being rubbed into a wound.

I will go to my daughter if she asks me to come into their struggle over 800 miles away. I will get on a plane and be there with her and her little family of four. She texted in the middle of the night that it was "a lonely feeling to be there with her baby" who was spitting up his entire feeds with so much mucous, then falling to sleep with his little IV in. She said, "I work in this place weekly. I have a deep empathy and compassion for those who must spend weeks and months in the hospital." She is an oncology nurse. You would want her for your nurse if, God forbid, you ever needed one.

Our entire family has a strong faith in God who created and designed each of us and numbered our days. We know he is mighty and powerful and able to save the helpless. We also know that he realizes we are frail like the grass that flowers in the morning yet withers at night. He is a God who weeps with us and holds us and carefully tends our hurting hearts.

There are evidently several nasty viruses that are going around right now. The doctors told our daughter and her husband that the older kids and adults can fight it off better than these new little ones can. Their 23 month old had the virus first, then the little one, and both our daughter and her husband are coming down with it now as well. He let them know that not getting their little guy into the hospital would've had disastrous consequences and the docs were so glad they had gotten him in.

I know that when people tell you that " We went through this" or "My (older) child or grandchild went through this" and "are fine" or "quickly bounced back", they are trying to help and offer some sort of encouragement. However, it FEELS like a dismissal of the real fears and struggles our family is vulnerably sharing with them, inviting them into our moment to just be there with us and offer prayer and support .
How does one let others know that they covet and appreciate their prayers, yet please do not offer platitudes or try to minimize what is going on at this time in our lives comparing this situation to one that is truly not the same, and even if they were, that is not, in my book, the definition of empathy.

I guess what I am realizing is that it is at such times we are called to take the higher ground and exhibit grace, even if what someone unwittingly does feels graceless. I also realize that I have most likely done the same unwittingly and may even do it again (although I hope I only grow in this area).
So, I rest in the knowledge that the only perfect co-sufferer and compassionate friend is Jesus and not expect all of our friends and family to respond perfectly or at times even well.

Thank you God for caring through the long night watches so far for our little Crosby. Thank you for friends and family that "get it" and for those that love us clumsily as well...they do love us, and for that I am grateful. I have loved You clumsily and yet you never alter your love towards me!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

 Complacency and lethargy swirl about the soul like a net entangling our feet. We would swim and leap through the water, gliding as we were created to do, but cannot. We would embrace our days and move through them with purposeful energy, but this lethargy is a shadowy weight that causes mind and body both to respond with a sluggishness that fatigues a person more than any hard labor ever would. What or whom is the origin of such lethargy? Hmmm...Oh, but that we would respond like the Psalmist! 

Psalm 57:

"5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6 They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth."

And so in my heart being steadfast to God, I will sing and make music and awaken the dawn! 
Thank you God that you are stronger than our enemy who uses my flesh against me to render me inactive in my pursuit of you and all that you have for me! Just keeping my eyes on you...let's me awaken the dawn! Wow!!!!
"But I will sing about your strength. 

In the morning I will joyfully sing 
about your mercy." Psalm 59:16