01 Jun

Happiness is an Inside Job

 

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It took 47 years to figure out but at last I know my identity. In the aftermath of the flood in 2011, I ended up in therapy. Yet another search, for what you ask? My smile. I could not get happy. After numerous sessions, sitting on the sofa in her office, she inquired about the last time I remembered being happy to which I replied, I was ten. She said,” that is aswesome, can I use it in my book?” I said, “sure”,  that was the end of therapy.

I wandered back to my life and am always searching for my truth but yesterday, an ordinary day, turned out to be a window to the past. I studied it, I saw answers, I found healing, lost girl, found. For so long I feel like I have been putting together a puzzle, I got so lost in this illness and could not find the pieces. Waiting on God’s timing has been the hardest part, I wanted the answers but was I ready for them. As he rolls out the tapestry of life I see more of the missing pieces fall into place,  as my trust in Him deepens my faith grows stronger. Many of the pieces are people and events, we walk in and out of the doors of each others hearts, left behind are footprints and memories.

Yesterday footsteps came back into my heart and brought a looking glass, I had the beautiful gift of seeing my mother through another families eyes.
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I was about 10 in this picture, and my life was about to change. We moved 3 times, I changed schools 3 times, but the time I walked into public school in 5 th grade my self confidence was dampened once I understood what popularity was. I got very lost in the race to be somebody. I tried so hard, too hard but realize now that is not a bad thing, I just give 100% to everything I do. I just happened to be in all the wrong situations. How I got there into those situations is nothing but a blame game and I won’t camp there. Three years of being sick and trying to lie my way out of admitting the truth about myself, took me places you cannot dwell in and be happy in. I had to seek forgiveness but I did not have any strength left in me to do anything, this disease had cleaned me out. The grace of God covered me and by reading God’s word and praying I found the whos,  the whys and the what’s don’t matter. It is the assignment given to me, my motive and my intention that matter.

In my search to find me, I found God, who suprises me so much. The God I have been praying to since sin began to separate me in my teen years, is not the same God I knew as a child. What did I know then, or rather what didn’t I know, I had no pre-defined image of God. My understanding was acceptable before everything began to challenge what I knew and believed.

I was told God created the world-each tiny detail. My mother was a “Dorothea Lange type”, you didn’t just look at the tiny flower, you “saw” the flower, she gave me eyes that looked for the supernatural, the essence of the mystery of God and the created world. I was born a seeker, I looked in every door, in every corner, I turned every stone. I found so much, things I wish I could forget, things I should have run from but the pressure to fit in, to be accepted and included always trumped my sense of ought.

I had my first beer not long after this photo was taken, I was 13. The ease of personality it gave to me was a trap, I know this now, a hard, painful lesson. Social graces, they are learned, coveted, even sung about, I quickly learned how to fit in but was never my authetic self. There were high highs and low lows and I kept my mask evolving, the one that hid my deep pain, confusion and a fountain of tears.  I built an empire, a castle around my life and in my tower of pain I sat. People have always told me I am strong but I am not. I am an excellent actress. I am a stuffer of feelings that spews when she gets too much. In my stuffing I have stuffed my pain and pain from things I have observed, I had a front row seat to my mothers life, her pain, her joy. Some may say in her life she gave too much but the doors to her heart and our house were always open. I saw that crystal clear yesterday.

She is a lover, a caretaker, a mother, a nurturer. She worked for the same family for 22 years, as teen I knew she was a housekeeper but yesterday I saw she was so much more. I saw the faces, the smiles and the tears, I heard the stories she is woven into and realized she was so much more.

In these realizations there are memories that answer questions, there is forgiveness for time lost, there is clarity for the journey ahead. It is so apparent we all belong involved in each others life, in the age of texting and tweeting don’t ever discount the value of your presence. The most wonderful thing I learned the best of her of her is woven into me. I thought for so long that when she had to go to work she left me only to realize how selfish that idea was, these are doubts that I had due to my lack of faith. When you are looking for someone to blame for all of your problems, when you are so the victim and life is standing on your throat, it is shocking what you can remember about who and what hurt you. I had to let it all go but I prayed and prayed for understanding, I got it and it is all tied up in love, that is cool with me.

Today I am Marla, not too far off from the girl above, I am happy, I am open perhaps naive at times, I still love to sing and dance, I am a nerd and a bookworm, I love nature, animals and pictures, I study life and like to make people happy. I am on an adventure and have found my “other human”, we balance one another. I know where I came from, a source of pure love, God’s design for humans, I know where I am headed, back to that source of pure love. I simply aspire to be better tomorrow than I was today.

I am happy to make your aquaintance, I no longer hide. I am not afraid, that is the best part. That confidence is not in me, it is in the one who cast the stars into the glaxy and created the endless oceans. I no longer worry, I know who goes before me.

I am Marla, custodian of the created world, I live my life a servant to others, I no longer look to be served but to serve, Standing in the shoes of peace with a crown of forgiveness on my head, I am daughter, sister, friend. I strive to live kingdom, thy will be done.

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Blessings to you,God bless you,

Marla

 

 

04 May

Duck, duck, duck…Goose!

Afternoon trips to the barn often result in playful behavior from this 46 year old student of life. Yes, it is true, the discipline of living with illness and balancing it with a sustainable life requires sustenance and hearty laughs are a gift from God. The soul bouncing about in mirth. When was the last time you employed reckless abandon and just followed your heart for 20 minutes? What began as chores evolved into a pail of corn and a “let’s see” attitude and the happiest 20 minutes of my day.
Since Stella died Fred the duck is lost, he doesn’t know who to hang with, turkeys too big, the chickens only care about the next piece of food and cannot commit to anything and the guinea hens are neurotic and loud.
I was luring him kernel by kernel to see if he’d dip his webby toes but instead the brave ones are the guineas, only one or two bold hens wanted to get close. They pecked the rest of the corn and I was left to sit in the grass in the spotty sun peeking through the trees and whisper, “Father,today is busy and hard but my heart is heavy, I need you.
Palms turning open I breathe, my Abba Father, I belong to you, my Abba, my Father I belong to you and breathe in the warm, sweet air, feeling such love all around me, inside of me, consuming me. I take for granted I am sure how beneficial my letters to the Father are, I began to write to Him every day and it became a relationship that has consumed all of me.

That is today, but I have been in Fred’s spot, I get it. ..the misfit, the outcast, the one left out.
What about humans, when we reach the place where society fails you, there is none speaking your language and you can’t find a friend. Where do you go? Churches and bars have codes, Wal Mart is scary and counseling is expensive.

Me, I  dug deep,  I asked the hard questions and today I’d love to share my perspective, thank you all readers, my freinds, for taking the time to read it.
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We need a call to rouse the collective conscience about what is a human and why are we here. Humans have forgotten that the “Common Good” is the same as the Will of God. God wants what is best for all of us and for the universe as a whole. There was no conflict between what Jesus wanted and what God wanted, that is true freedom. As human beings in nature we belong to the greater community of all living beings, what if we all got along?
Science cannot tell us everything and the mystery of our universe is one of a mind boggling unity or oneness; yet for as smart as we are we miss it by a mile.
We’ve never been more connected yet we are all Fred the duck isolated by our differences and  individualities, we all hold things we are ashamed of that lead us to belief systems about God and ourselves.
Reading about the Civil Rights movement this morning really was eye opening to me about where we are as people. Martin Luther King was a preacher man, when he spoke it rumbled from his gut, he was a man convicted about humanity in God’s eyes. He spoke of things like content of character and emotional acceptance and those words are echoing today in my ears. Racism is a horrible human crime and we won’t solve it by becoming racists, which I see today.
I scroll facebook and watch the same hate spinning as there was back them then, only now the entire planet of humans is involved. We have lost touch with our spirits and one can see by the behavior that it is so. You cannot replace the One True God with anything and expect to find results, every single religion out there has a some means to an end, Jesus Christ doesn’t harp on that though, he is all about Love.
The greatest commandment was to love, combining the love of God with love of neighbor. See Matthew 22: 35-40 There is an indissoluble unity here. We cannot ever play God against man, backpedal to Matthew 5: 23-24, that goes farther to say before we approach the Lord we must be reconciled with our brothers. This creates the law of Humankind.

Because of this every encounter with another is and encounter with the Lord. We are given time in our lives to grow and the success of our lives will be measured by how delicately and sensitively we have loved. Yet, as human we are often narrow in mind, cold, haughty, unforgiving and judgmental are we not booting God off of the throne?  Me-thinks yes.
Motives are unseen and none can read them, but suspicions are the biggest problem we have and on most of them we are wrong. How many times have we seen this in recent news?

We are told not to judge in Matthew 7:1;  then we are told if we do judge others the same measure used on them is used on us in Matthew 7:23. God has blessed us with speech, do we bless or do we curse others? Build it up or tear it down, the spirit is hard thing to repair, please be kind, be colorblind.

It is a compete tragedy that our attention is on what people are not rather than what they are and what they can become, as families dissolve this is so crippling.

We are surrounded by need, it sleeps in our streets, it is in daycares, orphanages, nursing homes, schools and in our daily lives, the people we interact with at home, work and play.
The truest test of our faith is how we interact with each other every day.
I leave you with 2 things, St Francis of Assisi’s prayer for us all to say, let’s ask the Father to create our hearts as His.
And lastly the wisdom of Sesame Street, it is okay to be different actually it is cool. Ask Fred, he is learning one day at a time like the rest of us. You are it…go!

Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon;Lord
Where there is doubt, true faith in you;
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life,let me bring hope;
Where there is darkness, only light;
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I never seek
So much to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace
It’s in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving to all men that we receive;
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Blessings to you and prayers that you find peace, each of you.

God bless you,

Marla

 

 

17 Apr

No Risk, No Faith

Winter always descends upon me like a lead blanket, this body doesn’t do cold anything happily. This winter was the winter of all winters and almost took my soul. It has been very painful for me so I ask you read tenderly, but listen please, I have to tell her story.
In my quest for fulfillment as an independent person, once I gained my career as a bank manager I accumulated money via a nice income. When I did I set out to fill every wish I had, my return to afarm life opened certain doors. I began to acquire things that were passions to me, a dog, a horse, big gardens, an active social life, but eventually when my body broke down the same things began to consume me, I could no longer perform the tasks assiciated. So along with the acquiring comes parting, and we did.
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Lady was everything I could have wanted, she was obedient and sweet, she sized me up and we decided before I would ride her we’d be friends. So mornings I would bridle her and grap the rope and we’d walk the farm road to patches of grass and we’d talk. This went on some time, I got on her but knew we were still getting to know each other and my body was failing.
In the years that I had her I got sicker and she became my friend, riding was off the table. She was still mine so I would drag myself to the barn to feed her and let her into the pasture. But many mornings we just stood and talked, I would tidy her pen as best I could and try to brush her even though it was physically hurting me. We shared so much, she kept secrets and was non judgemental and never denied me a hug. She even let me sing, bless her heart.
This past December my body descending, I made the decision to let Lady go. My son was riding her but she was not the right horse for him. No one wanted to assume my responsibilities and the guilt of responsibility shifting was heavy, it always is for the chronically ill.maglia juventus
The day I walked her into the trailer was the hardest day of my life. It broke me in a way I had not anticipated. The year prior I had to do the same letting go with my job, my friends, my career, my dog, my independence, I had practice. Christmas was on the way and I tried to get into the spirit despite the fact that mine was at it’s lowest. Each day I went to the barn and was met with quiet.
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I was not prepared to finally face the fact that my castle I built was crashing, there was one fortress remaining and I held on for too long. Facing the fact that all I lost I had acquired while I was in the biggest heart compromise of all time. If I am to be very honest, I remember the day I shelved my Bible in 2005 and said, “God, this is nice but I think I can do this alone, I am good for now” and in the cabinet it went. I though about God and even began going to church which left me emptier that before I walked in the door. I had been “on the wagon” since 1998 when my son was born and in 2004 began to consume to fit into a format. I felt I was a strong enough Christian to blend and be okay. I have never been more wrong in my life.
The declining health situation was a medical nightmare, I was so drugged by pharmaceuticals, working feverishly to achieve my insane work goals, managing an office and a home, and trying to save the world. Wine and weekend fun to the rescue or so I though, I bought a trip to deaths doorstep. My body so ill I was not longer tolerating the booze that kept me placid. I would be so sick with dry heaves for 2 days straight, refusing the ER and self loathing in my bed. I hated my body, it was betraying me. 2 years of pure hell following  this, I sobered up and began to realize that happiness had been hijacked my madmen leading the planet into greed driven destruction. I began to read my Bible and search for truth.
This December after Lady left, the truth showed up with a 2×4 to my head. There was no turning from the fact that I had done and undone myself, something I have been saying since childhood, “we will eventually all do ourselves in”, it was an inherent belief in my heart.
I had to admit there was noone else to blame for the roads I took and all I could think of was the one that changed me from curious kid to very aware.
I was 13, somehow I managed to get out the door with my older sister, we ended up at a party and I remember it well. The pretty, popular girls around the fire were singing Fat Bottomed Girls and dancing to the radio. I was handed a beer and drank it, and another, the evening ended with a senior at the time taking me into his car and innocence was gone in a flash. I did not tell my mother, instead fueled by soap operas and music videos I made a dangerous connection from me in my body to beinbg something men wanted. My body became a tool, I was desired, that meant something. It was my entire life up until very recently, I still believed that and resented it.
I believe that God send messengers and I married one. In the worst times of me 3 days unwashed, covered in hives and too sick to move this man said “You’re beautiful”. I began to want to punch him in the mouth, stop patronizing me!
But over time his relentless message backed by love began to sink in. So I got to the place where I realized deep down I am beautiful, the girl my momma raised was still there but I hate who I am today.
Rage is a frequent issue for Lymies and the day came when I cracked, the urge to destroy my mask came and I did. I began to scare my family with my words and actions. One particular day I left the house, in my truck, no phone, no purse or money, no coat. I drove to the field where the party was 33 years ago. I parked and prayed and somehow in the conversation I laid it down and let it go.
The months since that have been the best of my life. Rather than running from my truth, I embraced it. I began to forgive myself for being a naive kid who was so easily led, circumstances cannot be blamed, they are what they are and I love the people involved, I have to leave that alone.
Lady was a messenger too, just yesterday driving down the road I said to my son, “your dad asked me if I want to get a horse gain someday, that is funny so did you just last week”. We talked and I told him what I have learned.
Lady was trained, very well trained, in the hands of Debbie her new owner she was peaceful and obedient, Debbie has a peace about her. I had no peace at all, anywhere in my life, Lady knew that.
Fact: She may have been here but I was not ready for her, I was not the person she needs, Debbie was.
I had work to do, so daily I make deliberate and conscious fully present decisions and I move forward. No horse now but someday, maybe when I am fully healed but today I still am working toward that.
Today I am following my heart and I won’t ever sell it on short sale again. I get my cue from God and have learned to wait. Do I beleive in God to the point of risk, to the comfort of giving it all up and only having Him? Yes. That is what He is building in me, every time I hand it over and trust him. Faith.
If you build it, they will come. I am patient.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Much love friends.
Marla
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08 Apr

Welcome Spring Things

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Spring emerges and one thing I know about spring is it is a time of changes on a farm. We lived saturated in humbling miraculous events, in nature and animals that redefine the constant din of the story the world tries to spin. Eggs that turn in to fluffy peeping balls are a great reminder.
Spring often means cleaning, houses, garages, barn and hearts while we are at it, my heart has had the doors open for some time, I needed an overhaul.  Open the bay doors and get the dump truck.
Easter came and went it this year really uncelebrated at our home, we had a family gathering but no bunny or chocolate themes, not church either. I have come to a place at 46 years old where I was at 26. Too old to go back to training so I self taught and passed with flying colors anyway.
I do not fit in at church, yes I live in the country and share many similarities with my peers but over time became far more comfortable with a mountaintop than a steeple.
I used to cry at church, seriously, I did, it really used to embarass my kids, (sorry guys). I used to believe it was because I could not find God there. For years I was ticked at the entire church process inside and out. It failed me, numerous times, flagrantly and very not like Jesus at all.  I didn’t want to be there, they were snobs and I am sure God was right behind me.maglia atletico madrid
Yes I said behind me.
Not so fast,  we covered that, He is in front now where He belongs. On the other side of that is the here and now, one hellish winter behind me and an epiphany.
I had to hear ithe words from another addict, Self Hatred, it hit me like a 2 x 4 across the head.
I, the task master in my head, had deemed myself too bad for God’s work, I would never be a Sunday School teacher, never one of those super trendy involved moms, I was never even allowed as a member in the church, I am a risk, I walk the line as many former addicts do.
I spent years denying my love affair with booze but it has come out of the mouths of humbling places, in my childrens words and my mothers tears. There is nothing more painful as a parent than to hear how your selfish, impaired  choices  hurt their young lives, it is a fact that brings me to my knees before God, no faking from this girl, I know what I am.
So all that said here is your good girl gone bad, then bad girl gone good blog,  I promise I will not feign perfection, oh no, I have learned to fall, somewhat gracefully at times.
Which takes me into relearning how to live, outside of bars and bike rallys, outside of corporate America, they didn’t want me either. This life calls for one being comfortable in one’s own skin, being honest, being present and standing alone.
I have done alone a lot, every new situation seems to take me back to 5th grade and a classroom of faces I did not know, all eyes on me, I learned to survive until the bus took me home to my Dad.
Oddly at 46 I am no more popular than I was at 11, but what a ride I had trying to make them all love me. We are born with a deep longing for love, we could talk for months on the ways we try to fill that longing inside of us, I am sure our hearts would break over the stories.
Today I sought clarity for my own life, my love searches have crash landed in the past and the book of Ephesians is a fine stopping place. I developed self accountability a very long time ago, I had to do it to survive. I have been told I am too hard on myself but if I am honest I am hybrid personality, pair the self driven with the reflective and innovative and you get me.
When a type B goes into a job made for a type A,  voila!
The day I began morphing myself into a successful banker and denying the flower child it was a bad idea although it developed my business side and my analytical skills and I made a slew of awesome friends who I love.
I really don’t know what that makes me but I follow the beat of my own drum these days and seek my wisdom on my knees instead of in my own design studio.
When God allows life to “sit you down in your seat” to listen He will go to great lengths to get your attention, trust me, it is a good idea to listen.
I have never been obedient and I am willful and stubborn, (love you Mom), I haven’t changed. So you see I need to read Ephesians, I sin, case in point. ( I said I’d be honest)
Ephesians 5:18 is interesting, it says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit”.
An important verse I most likely skimmed over for years but I am learning to decipher my Bible and am shocked at what I learned today. As someone who began drinking at 13 years old I knew all about Do no Drink but curiosity killed the cat you know.
Debauchery defined by Noah Webster is: Immoral Self Indulgence, Binge, Burn Candle at Both Ends, Carousing, Fast Living, Indulgence, Intemperance, Lust Sensuality, Lewdness, Gluttonly and Excess.
 The opposite of debauchery is: Benevolance, Mercifulness, Unselfishness.
Okay, we have the quiintessential bad girl Kesha vs Mother Theresa, need I ask whom we all should seek to model?
Being a former addict I can speak on how booze greases the inhibitions of a nice sweet kid who is naive to what goes on in the big world. But that was 1981and this is now, one thing I can tell you about today’s teens is they are smart and savvy. Do not try to sugar coat anything they can spot a fake a mile away.
It also greases the social inhibitions of bored, frustrated and despressed adults worldwide. This is an issue that it seems only AA is attacking. The media glorifies it’s use, it is reveled in, endorsed, marketed, kids watch mom and dad use it, they become desensitized and see it as a tool for fun. By high school and college age they are dipping toes if not swimming in it.
As parents we are called to live an authentic life and be honest, we can deny our actions with words but just as cream always rises to the top, truth emerges and 10, 20 years later, it hurts worse to clean up the damage, trust me. I set so many bad examples along with my attempted good ones.
For us Ephesians is a handbook, a manual of sorts, fit for family study, read it aloud, what does it mean to you for your life? Have a discussion, what does it all mean for your family?
It tells us how to live in peace, actual instructions with easy to understand words like be gentle, humble, live as children of light, bearing with others in love, speak truth, don’t hold onto anger, build others up according to THEIR not YOUR needs, be kind, compassionate, be strong in the Lord, do things wholeheartedly, be obedient children.
We are all born from a spirit created by God, yes your parents did their parts but God is the designer. He made us in the secret place, Psalm 139:15, think life creation of the world, same place, God’s design.
This journey through life is hard, I will not lie, it is brutal at times. I read Pilgrims Progress as a kid and identified with Christian, the roads he traveled, the  pitfalls he ran into or created by his choices on his way to the City. I see my journey littered with debris but so many flowers on the way, messengers of light who came to me, many of them you, people I love, people who changed my path. People are wonderful, we need other people.
There were huge disasters but clarity of mind followed them, the blessings always surfaced and were the dominant memory. And God was always there, wasted out of my mind, even in my deepest sins, His love and care was over me. In reading my Bible I can see all of the messages from God I missed. This being loved by God, it is a 2 way street and you need to show up, I was detained, at the bar and many other destinations.
My mis-interpretationof God, my distorted view of love, the walls I built, the hatred I had for my own actions all blocked His voice , I was clueless to all that I see so clearly now.
In the coming weeks we will talk more about those walls and how they are created but for today I want to meet you, right where you are. If my words mean anything to you, then great, let’s be friends.
I don’t need a stage, a name or fame. My daddy was a soldier and he discipled me, I took up the charge when he went to be with Father.  My job here is to be a steward of what God entrusted to me, my husband, my kids, our family, our farm, our friends, animals and gardens and a life that can be used to make things here among my fellow men bettter.
Here is the self assured Warriors Prayer for you to use, I made edits to cement in my mind exactly what my mission is. Say it confidently and envision the metal clinking into place. Don’t start your day without it. Be fierce.
All we need to do is Believe.
Blessings,
Marla
Confident Warriors Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father
I am preparing for battle today
My goal is to claim victory over Satan by putting on the whole armor of God
I will wear the Girdle of Truth
I will stand firm in the truth of your word
I will not be a victim of Satan’s lies
I wear the Breastplate of Righteousness, it will guard my heart from evil, 
I will remain pure and holy protected under the blood of Jesus Christ
I walk in the Shoes of Peace. I will stand firm and walk in Jesus’s love
God’s Peace will shine through me and be a light to all I encounter
I carry the Shield of Faith. It deflects Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, denial, and deceit
I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat.
I am safe in the Helmet of Salvation
I will keep my mind focused and Satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts
I wield the Sword of the Spirit. The two edge sword of your word will be ready in my hands and I will expose the tempting words of Satan.
In full faith your warrior boldly wears the whole armor of God
I Will live this day and spiritual victory amen!