Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

Them’s Fightin’ Words   Leave a comment

For those of you who find encouragement from challenges to fight on, here’s a great video:

mandisa-overcomer.png

Posted July 7, 2016 by janathangrace in Story

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The Best of All Things   3 comments

Today is our anniversary.  Since I come home from work after Berly is in bed, I was able to do some shenanigans to surprise her in the morning.  She woke up Wednesday to banners draped from the rafters reading “BERLY IS THE BEST”.  On Thursday she found a 3 foot paper flower I had made and a love poem.  This morning she came downstairs to see an 8 foot tall card I made her covered with a list of her attributes.  Here’s a snap of the card and the ten page list of attributes follows (I could have written hundreds more)–hey she deserves a lot more than a giant card!  I spent some time this morning selecting a few of her good points and expounding on them to her.  I was thinking to myself, “Hey, she’s married to me, so that wealth of goodness is all mine too!

Me and Berly

“A few of the hundreds of reasons I am glad you are my wife”

CAPABLE, ENDURING, FORBEARING, FORGIVING, GENTLE, LONG-SUFFERING, MEEK,

MILD, PERSEVERING, PERSISTENT, SELF-POSSESSED, SERENE, TOLERANT, TRANQUIL,

UNDERSTANDING, CONSIDERATE, CALM, COMPOSED, EQUABLE,

KIND, TEMPERATE, CONSIDERATE, RESPECTFUL,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

MILD-TEMPERED, ACCOMMODATING, VALOROUS, ATTENTIVE, BENEVOLENT,

GLADDENING, COMPASSIONATE, KINDLY, MINDFUL, OBLIGING, SOLICITOUS,

SYMPATHETIC, TACTFUL, TENDER, LEVELHEADED, TENACIOUS, THOUGHTFUL,

UNSELFISH, WARMHEARTED, UNCRITICAL, UNDEMANDING, UNHURRIED,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

DISCERNING, STABLE, STEADY, TOLERANT, FORGIVING, UNDAUNTED,

MERCIFUL, MILD, DILIGENT, STEADFAST, AFFECTIONATE, VALIANT,

APPRECIATIVE, BENEVOLENT, CARING, CONCERNED, EARNEST, EXPRESSIVE,

COMPETENT, FAITHFUL, LOYAL, SWEET, THOUGHTFUL, GOOD,

COURTEOUS, FRIENDLY, PERCEPTIVE,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

GOOD-HEARTED, GRACIOUS, KINDHEARTED, LOVING, STRAIGHTFORWARD,

TENDERHEARTED, CONSIDERATE, RESPONSIVE, CONSCIOUS,

PEACEABLE, ENCOURAGING, HEARTENING, COURAGEOUS, INSPIRING,

ADMIRABLE, DELIGHTFUL, ENGAGING, ENJOYABLE, GRACEFUL,

DAUNTLESS, REFLECTIVE,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

LIONHEARTED, STRONG, BRAVE, PEACEFUL, TRUE,

VALOROUS, HOPEFUL, SELF-RELIANT, SELF-SUFFICIENT, TRUSTING, WISE,

INTELLIGENT, TOUGH, REASONABLE, ASTUTE, AWARE, CAREFUL,

FRANK, CONTEMPLATIVE, INSIGHTFUL, PRUDENT, SENSIBLE,

TACTFUL, SOFTHEARTED, ATTENTIVE,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

SUPPORTING, AWAKE, GROUNDED, RECEPTIVE, SENSIBLE, CLEVER,

ABLE, BRIGHT, DEEP, GIFTED, TALENTED, COOPERATIVE,

TRUTHFUL, CANDID, ABOVE-BOARD, AUTHENTIC, CONSCIENTIOUS,

DECENT, DIRECT, EQUITABLE, GENUINE, INTUITIVE, HONORABLE,

INGENUOUS, OBLIGING, OPEN, PLAIN, REAL, RELIABLE,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

SINCERE, STRAIGHT, STOUTHEARTED, TRUSTWORTHY, TRUSTY,

UNFEIGNED, DIRECT, GENUINE, GUILELESS, UNCONTRIVED, UNPRETENTIOUS,

DEPENDABLE, COGNIZANT, RELIABLE, SOLID, SIMPLE, MINDFUL, THOROUGHGOING,

LOYAL, RELIABLE, CONFIDING, CONSTANT, ENDURING, HONORABLE, STEADY,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

ACCOMMODATING, SOUND, AUTHENTIC, REAL, SOUND, STERLING, UNADULTERATED,

UNALLOYED, UNVARNISHED, PRAISEWORTHY, GENUINE, PROFOUND,

CONSCIENTIOUS, FORTHRIGHT, GUILELESS, COMMISERATING,

RESPONSIVE, SENSITIVE, SOFT, SUPPORTIVE, SYMPATHIZING,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

EMPATHIC, RESOLUTE, HARMONIOUS, LISTENING, ACCEPTING,

ATTENTIVE, INTERESTED, OBSERVANT, ACCEPTING, DEPENDABLE,

AFFIRMING, TRUSTING, RESPECTING, AGREEABLE, EMBRACING,

COMPANIONABLE, SUPPORTIVE, ENCOURAGING, REASSURING, COMFORTING, GROWING,

DEDICATED, HARD-WORKING, FAITHFUL,

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

PURPOSEFUL, DETERMINED, ENGAGED, INDUSTRIOUS, UNFEIGNED,

SOFTHEARTED, SHARING, INTIMATE, PRINCIPLED, CONSISTENT,

UNBREAKABLE, BROKEN-HEARTED, EMPATHETIC, UNDEMANDING, WELCOMING,

WOUNDED HEALER, OPEN-HEARTED, WILLING, COMFORTER

AWESOME

Posted May 10, 2013 by janathangrace in Story

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Embracing the Cactus   Leave a comment

Today I ran across this video from 2011.  It is a vignette of two famous actors who have been in the gutter more than once, but prop each other up with forgiveness and acceptance as they stumble along.  Hollywood films portray beautiful truths, but Hollywood lives rarely do.  Here is a two minute “acceptance speech” by Walter Downey Jr. that is a message of hope for those of us who are recovering sinners

EMBRACING THE FALLEN

EMBRACING THE FALLEN

Posted January 15, 2013 by janathangrace in Story

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The Gift of Life   6 comments

Kimberly woke me at 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.  She felt uneasy, restless, and her heart was racing.  I couldn’t find the pulse at her wrist, so I tried her neck–boomboomboomboom–the staccato thumping of a quarter-mile sprinter, probably 200 beats a minute.  That scared me.  We were at her aunt’s home and I had no idea where the hospital was… I didn’t even know our address.  “Should we go to the ER?” I asked.  She said, “We can’t afford it, we don’t have insurance.”  I quickly answered, “That doesn’t matter.”  She responded, “I don’t want to sit there for hours in the waiting room.  By the time we see a doctor, I will have no symptoms to check.  Let’s look it up on the internet.”

WebMD called it “Supraventricular Tachycardia”– her heart’s electrical system was misfiring–and we should go to the emergency room if it “persisted”–how long is that?!  Her veins had been drumming for 10 minutes, but she had none of the listed signs of heart failure, so we kept reading.  It offered some home fixes–cough, gag, or shove her face in ice water to shock her pump steady.  She tried some dainty coughs, afraid of waking up others.  I told her to cough hard as I kept my finger on her jugular.  Within minutes the beating slowed.

So, tell me… what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Posted November 27, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal, Story

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Leftover People   1 comment

Mike Yaconelli in Messy Spirituality:

It was time for the Scripture reading and a girl shuffled toward the front of the church. What a moment for Connie. She had finally mustered enough courage to ask the pastor if she could read the Scripture. Without hesitation, he said yes. For years Connie had stifled her desire to serve in the church because of her “incompetencies.” Reading was extremely dif­ficult for her, and Connie had a terrible time enunciating clearly. But she had been in this church many years, and she was beginning to understand the grace of God. Jesus didn’t die just for our sins; he died so people who couldn’t read or speak could read and speak. Now she could serve the Jesus she loved so much. Now she could express her desire for God in a tangible way.

Connie’s steps were labored as she made her way to the front; one leg was shorter than the other, causing her body to teeter from side to side. Finally, she was standing up front, looking at the congregation with pride and joy.  The congregation was silent. Too silent.

The screaming silence was covering up the congregation’s discomfort. Clearly, most of them were trying to understand what Connie was doing, and they were trying not to notice her many incompetencies. Her eyes were too close together, and her head twisted back and forth at odd angles while her face wrenched from one grimace to another.  Connie began to read, and stammering, stuttering, she stumbled proudly through the passage in a long sequence of untranslatable sounds, garbled sentences, long tortuous pauses, and jumbled phrases. Finally, the reading was over, and the congregation was exhausted.

Connie didn’t notice the exhaustion. She was ecstatic. Her face seemed no longer distorted, only full of joy. Her cheeks were flush with pride; her eyes were sparkling with the joy of accomplishment; her heart was warm with knowing she had served the congregation, participated in her faith. Yes, she would remember this day for a long time. How wonderful it was, she thought, to no longer be a spectator in church; she was the church this morning!

Thank God her mental capacities were limited. Thank God she was not able to discern the faces of the congregation or she would have crumbled in despair. Thank God she wasn’t able to sense what people were really thinking.  Almost everyone in the congregation was thinking, This is an outrage! I know this is what they were thinking, because the senior pastor, my father, was ordered to attend an emer­gency board meeting after the service.

Stain Glass Masquerade
by Casting Crowns
(click image to hear)

 “How did this happen?” they demanded to know. “What were you thinking?”

“Connie wanted to read the Scripture,” he replied softly.

“Well, let her stand at the door and pass out bulletins, or help in the mailroom, but don’t have her read! The girl can’t read or speak. Her reading took ten minutes! The church,” they said, “is not a place for incompetence.”

My father believes, as I do, that the church is the place where the incompetent, the unfinished, and even the un­healthy are welcome. I believe Jesus agrees.

Posted April 15, 2012 by janathangrace in Story

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When Joy Is Out of Reach   Leave a comment

This morning NPR interviewed  a man with catalepsy, a cousin of narcolepsy.  During REM sleep, our bodies release a certain chemical which tells all our muscles to relax (so we don’t literally act out our dreams).  Unfortunately for a few folks, this chemical is released while they are awake, causing all their muscles to let go and thus paralyzing them.  The release mechanism for this chemical is the person’s emotional response, and for the man on NPR (Walter?), it was especially triggered by his pleasurable emotions: excitement, happiness, love.  

You can imagine the impact this would make on relationships, especially family relationships.  With his wife, think of not only sex, but kissing, holding hands, talking about the children… engaging in any emotional connection.  Walter described collapsing at a grandchild’s birthday party and on phonecalls with his children.  He spent the whole time at his daughter’s wedding propped up like a bag of potatoes against the wall.  Not just happy events themselves, but simply looking at photos of happy events can paralyze him.  There is no cure, but he takes a medication which slows the attacks, so it now comes on at a pace which he can recognize and respond to.

On the radio he spoke slowly and with no inflection in his voice, trying to speak of emotional things while blocking out the natural emotions.  His speech became slower, with more pauses, he remarked that his eyelids were feeling heavy, and then the NPR interviewer told the audience that Walter had to go lie down because he was slipping into paralysis.  The show host went on to describe how Walter could only function in life by avoiding happy occasions, turning himself more and more into an unemotional machine.  For Walter, happiness is not a good thing nor is connecting with others emotionally.  Such a heavy burden to bear through life.

My struggles in life are much smaller than his, but his experiences had an echo in my own.  Those things that once gave me pleasure in the first half of my life–whether great or moderate, exciting or fulfilling–are beyond my reach now.  I am always tired, so tired that doing something enjoyable feels like a burden rather than blessing.  When I have emotional energy I get great pleasure in so many things–reading, writing, conversing, celebrating, creating.  Those are mostly a dim memory now, and I only eke out small, brief pleasures.  The more taxed I am, the less ability I have to experience the good.

For the last few weeks, my heart is starting to recover from its latest downspike.  The telltale sign of my recovery is that imagining the joys of life feels good rather than painful.   Merely the thought of blogging, for instance, has  been lead to my heart, but imagining it these days feels more like a little red balloon… even if I still have little energy for actually doing it.

Posted February 25, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal, Story

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What Matters to Us Matters to God   Leave a comment

My sister Mardi emailed me this a few years ago:

On NPR I heard a really sweet story of a Dad and his little boy. The little boy had had a serious illness, had nearly died and had a long hospitalization and lots of surgery and treatments. Through it all he had clung to his Teddy Bear, Toby. Even after he had gotten better, he carried Toby with him everywhere. Then when he was 7 the family was on vacation and when they got home, Toby was missing. They told him and he said “I don’t know how I can go on without Toby” and then he said “I feel like I’ve lost my soul”!

Well, his Dad promptly got on the next plane back to Anaheim and went straight to the hotel.  The hotel people looked and looked and asked the staff and found that the bear had been found by a cleaning person, but it was in a trashcan and so they had thrown it out. Undeterred, the father asked where the trash was put. They showed him the large (size of a semi truck) dumpster in the back. Good news, the truck had not yet come to pick it up, it was scheduled to pick it up the next day….bad news, it was completely sealed with no way of getting into it. But, as they were talking about it, the truck drove up! The father convinced half a dozen of the hotel employees to go with him and help him look for Toby. He said that they were all parents and understood why he needed their help. He also offered $100 to the person who found the bear. So they all get in a van and follow the garbage truck to the recycling facility. (at this point I am crying in the car as I am listening to the story unfold) Now, this facility is not just a city dump; it is a huge building with many bays where the trucks pull up and cranes lift off the dumpsters. Inside is an area the size of an airplane hanger with all sorts of equipment and vehicles and people working. The people at the facility are not going to let them go in there. But after a lot of talking they agree to shut down the equipment and let them look for Toby….but only for 15 minutes.

Well, when they empty out the dumpster on the floor, he said it was a huge mountain of garbage, bigger than he could have imagined. It was all runny with a lake of brown garbage liquid with all these plastic bags sitting and floating in the brown goo. The hotel people jump in and start tearing open bags looking for the bear. The father is overwhelmed by the enormity of the task but begins tearing open bags too. Then a number of the employees of the facility put on their gloves and begin wading through the muck tearing open bags too! (I’m bawling in the car). There are now about 18 people looking through the mountain. But as the father looks at the size of the pile and the number of bags, he realizes in despair that it will be really impossible to look through it all. And in his heart he just says “Toby, we’re not going to be able to find you unless you somehow show yourself”. He said that he is not a particularly spiritual guy, he’s an accountant and auditor…. a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of a guy. But as that thought went through his mind, he tore open a bag, and there was Toby, dry and clean. Everyone, of course was jubilant. The father immediately calls home to tell his little boy that he had found Toby. He said his little boy was happy, but seemed kind of matter-of-fact and the father realized that for the little boy it seemed that his father had just gone and gotten his bear back. The child had no idea of the super-human effort that had been accomplished for him.

Posted November 1, 2011 by janathangrace in Story

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