Infection and Random Thoughts

Well, as said before, my hernia surgery went well enough, but then yesterday (August 2nd) the doctor/surgeon informed me that the area of surgery has become infected with some fluid build-up. Of course, I knew something was not quite right because the surgical area had reddened considerable and the incision was beginning to ooze … not to mention increased pain and burning. Anyway, my doctor/surgeon prescribed a fairly strong antibiotic and scheduled me to return Monday morning. She said she might have to drain the fluid and also run a couple of tests … Possibly!

Encouragement or Not

Why would anyone discourage someone from continuing their education? Most everyone in my immediate family has taken the opportunity to try to convince me not to take online courses in pursuit of a Master of Arts degree. I truly fail to understand, but my eldest sister told me the other day that it was only because they love and care about me… Huh? I don’t get it!

Yes, I already have an M. A., but it is in an area that is rather obscure and really doesn’t amount to much more than one bright spot on my resume. In other words, I really can’t do very much with an M. A. in Christian Studies. I know because I’ve tried. So, yes, I’m quite pleased that I obtained that Master’s degree. It’s a symbol of accomplishment; however, it doesn’t really qualify me for very much at all.

No, I’m not shaming myself or belittling the degree, but I’d like to move into some truly rewarding profession, be it counselling or teaching (on the college level) or whatever… Consequently, I’ve decided to retool, plain and simple. And this is a good, healthy goal, so if I have the time and obtain the necessary financing, why should my own family come around telling me I don’t need to do it, and therefore shouldn’t go for it???

Come 2020 It’ll Hurt: Talking Impeachment

More and more Democrats are yelling for the impeachment of Donny Trump, and there is certainly good reasons for this; however, it’s unrealistic to think he’ll actually be thrown out of office. On top of this, the American people, by far, are really quite tired of hearing about it, and just want to move on. The Dems would be better off focusing on important issues, offering the American people a sensible, well-balanced agenda for the coming decade. Getting bogged down in the quagmire of possible impeachment might just cost them come 2020.

On Leviticus 19. 33-34

The word “alien” is also sometimes translated as “foreigner” and “stranger,” with the clear idea being that such a person is not a member of the community of Israel. Consequently, divine laws are established regarding foreigners (singular or plural!) who either visit, pass through, or reside within the land. Generally speaking, the same Law was to apply to both native-born and aliens (or strangers); however, when the Law did make some distinction, “the obligation to love and treat aliens like fellow citizens is a striking aspect of the Mosaic code.” (Revell Bible Dictionary, 44 – 45)

Along these lines, it is important to note that over and over again, “no fewer than 36 times,” the Hebrew scriptures warn Israel about the just treatment of foreigners, as well as orphans and widows, which ought to be especially inspired by their collective memory of having been strangers (or aliens) in the land of Egypt. (A. Noordzij, Bible Student Commentary: Leviticus, 207). The point here is really rather clear and simple: Israel endured oppression and injustice in Egypt. They ought to remember this “and seek to overcome” oppression and injustice “in (all of) their relationships …” these ethical demands “flowing from … concern for the weak,” the marginalized and disenfranchised, “such as the resident alien.” (W. H. Bellinger, Jr., NIBC: Leviticus, Numbers, 120; NISB, 174)

Good, solid research goes much further in fostering good, solid understanding than memes and/or opinions any day. The implication(s) of the Word of God regarding foreigners, strangers, the oppressed and marginalized, orphans and widows, and the poor is very, very clear and straightforward. It’s simply up to us as Christians to decide whether or not we will follow the divine mandate so forcefully laid out in Holy Scripture.

Some Lessons Learned Along the Way

Since leaving the group home last year and moving into a nice, middle-class home out in the countryside here in southeast Alabama, I’ve learned some important lessons ~ potentially life-changing lessons ~ that are bound to be for my eventual good, even though it’s now pretty painful. Anyway, I usually sort through things like this best when I collect my thoughts and write, so … I’m kind of thinking out loud here, getting it all down on paper, and maybe I’ll even receive some valuable feedback (and encouragement) from my readers. So, here goes, lessons I’ve learned over the past year or so:

  1. It is impossible for me to provide total care of another individual having very specific and special needs, such as, in this case, being a full-blown schizophrenic. I can love and try to understand, be compassionate and helpful, but I cannot, as my friend and landlord has put it many times, “handle” this person. Really, I’ve come to realize that probably no one individual can “handle” a full-blown adult schizophrenic on their own, without any help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether that’s true or not, though, I realize that I can’t do it … and that’s okay. Which leads to number two.
  2. I am who I am and what I am, and it’s not bad or wrong. I have intelligence, gifts, talents, and abilities, but I can’t be everything to everybody … even my best friend. Period. I have my limitations, part of which involves being bipolar with depressive disorder as well as general and social anxiety disorder. And this is simply true, period. And no one is going to wave a magic wand and make it go away, and I can’t just “get over it.” No, there’s a lot I can do to deal with it and even live a fairly healthy, productive life … but I can’t just “get over it.”
  3. Along with this, I’ve come to realize that my plans for my life have to truly be my plans. And it doesn’t matter … it can’t matter what others think, even if it’s a close family member or my best friend. And they may want to map out my life for me, but that wouldn’t be good and healthy for me. If I’m really that bad off, then I probably need to just go back to some structured, group setting rather than being out on my own … but I’m not that bad off! Period.
  4. And so too, I can’t accept shaming… If someone is constantly reminding me of how good, gracious and generous they’ve been to me, and continue to be, then something’s wrong. Point in fact, whether they consciously realize it or not, they’re engaging in shaming. Whether it’s their intention or not, they’re embarrassing and even humiliating me, and that’s not right. It’s certainly not healthy. If someone ~ family member or friend ~ makes a truly genuine offer, whatever it may be, then it’s not going to come with strings attached, and they’re certainly not going to constantly, repeatedly remind you of the wonderful gift they’ve given you. If they do, then guess what? It wasn’t really, truly a gift, which leads to another lesson:
  5. Yeah, it’s like the old saying goes: If it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably not true! So if that family member or friend makes an offer, again whatever it may be, and it almost seems too good to be true … look for the hook! More than likely there’s more to the picture than you’re seeing at the moment. Especially if they tell you again and again and again that they’ve given you something oh-so good and wonderful, something you couldn’t hope for elsewhere, and repeatedly remind you of just how thankful you ought to be, well … something’s terribly wrong. Loving family members and good friends just don’t do this. Besides, you just can’t live with this hanging over your head, at least you can’t live an authentically healthy life. So, yeah, look for the hook, because it’s very likely that, really and truly, there’s something in it for them. In other words, if they’re shaming you to keep you humble and grateful and essentially under their thumb, then there’s a reason they want you in that position. You have to ask yourself why… Look for the hook!
  6. And speaking of family and friends, I’ve had to realize that not only are my relationships my own, and no one else, I also have to guard those precious relationships. For example, with my children. I have a fairly decent, healthy relationship with both my children, and our relationship is primarily between me and each of them … no one else. Therefore, I cannot abide someone, no matter how close they may be, analysing and critically critiquing these relationships. Yes, family and friends have the right to talk with me, encourage me, even politely offer advice, but when that friend says something like, “I’m really surprised, even shocked, that your children still speak to you, much less love you and want to have anything to do with you,” they’ve gone too far. That person has crossed the line, period. And, by the way, I told my children about this (yeah! it really happened!)and we talked about it at some length. Both of them were blown away that this person would say something like that. And they lovingly reassured me that, though I’ve made my share of mistakes, I’ve never done or said anything at all to lose their love. So yeah … both of them love me, respect me, and certainly want to continue being an important part of my life. Far, far from writing me off … they love me and want me! Period! So this “friend” was just wrong, plain and simple. But he was also very hurtful. So anyway, no, I can’t have that sort of crap in my life… I don’t deserve it, which leads to the next important lesson:
  7. I am valuable. I have real worth. Consequently, I deserve as much respect as the next person. Yes, of course, I’ve had my issues and problems and struggles, but I’ve also accomplished a lot in life. And I’ve almost always been kind, compassionate, understanding, and generous. I’ve certainly always given others consideration and respect, so I deserve at least as much in return. This means, of course, that I’m simply not going to put up with condescending attitudes and total disregard for my thoughts and feelings… You know, it’s like this: I don’t treat others this way ~ I don’t treat others disgracefully ~ so I sure as hell don’t expect to be treated this way!
  8. And finally, it’s probably best not to become too entangled with family members and friends. You know, if I’m going to maintain those relationships, those friendships, then (at least in this culture, in this society) it’s probably best for me to be as independent as possible. Sad to say, but at least in this day and time, in this part of the world, dependency leads to subservience. The person who even partly controls your life, effectively controls you. So if I don’t like this kind of arrangement, then I need to break free and be as independent as possible. No more, no less. It just doesn’t work out, at least not without ruining that friendship, or other relationship.

Oh, and one more lesson just from my observation of a grieving friend:

  • You can’t keep someone alive through some mausoleum or memorial… Memorials to loved ones who’ve passed on is perfectly okay, so long as you’re not holding on in some really unhealthy way. When a loved one dies it’s sad, even tragic, and you mourn and part of you will probably always miss them, but … you’ve eventually got to let them go! And you’ve got to move on. This doesn’t mean you’ll ever totally forget them. Of course not! But it does mean that you pick up the pieces, get yourself back together, and move on! You get on with truly living real life! Yeah, it can be really difficult, but it’s far worse to somehow try to artificially keep that person alive after they’re dead and gone and buried… I hope this doesn’t come across as cold and cruel, really. I mean I’ve lost plenty of loved ones already, including my dearly departed parents. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them, but … but I’ve moved on … just like they intended! Let me say that part again: Just like they intended! My folks would be horrified, in fact, if they thought I was holding on and somehow trying to essentially keep them alive in some sick fashion… That’s not good. It’s not healthy, but … I know someone right now who’s doing this. I see it. I know it. And I know it’s not good, not healthy. In fact, in many ways I think it’s tearing him apart. 

Anyway, thank you one and all for letting me share. Thanks for letting me “unload” some of my burdens, clear my head, and whatnot. Most of all, thanks for reading, and if you have some thoughts or observations to share, please do so in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you, as always!

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Brothers

Comfort of brothers in true love’s hold forevermore

With no distance unbridgeable between two hearts

Beating together in symphonious adoration of joy

That comes when simply being together ~ brother

To brother ~ without another betwixt or between

To sever such an heavenly bond forged in the fires

Of eternal flames burning on the altars of Arcadia

As one rests so safely upon the bosom of the other

~ brother companions and lover friends evermore ~

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part IV

It was almost like a Twilight Zone® experience, seeing Angela and my brother-in-law, Charles, for the first time in about three to four months. It was as if I’d been somehow severed from my past life. This was necessary, I believe, in order to begin healing and growing stronger mentally, emotionally, spiritually… Mind you, I was very glad to see my eldest sister and her husband; it’s just that it was like some tidal wave washing over me from my previous existence.

Sitting in the small chapel area of the Samson Group Home on that Saturday morning, I found it somewhat difficult finding anything to say. The ensuing conversation was a bit stilted, but happy nonetheless, and, to my surprise, my sister actually said I looked better … stronger, more relaxed, with good complexion. Her appraisal made me feel good and added to the sense of hope that had been growing inside me over the past weeks in my new residence. Evidently she could see something outwardly that I felt inwardly.

She hadn’t called or visited before in order to give me time to really settle in and begin my psychological recovery. I completely understood. I needed the time in that safe, secure, and structured environment apart from the outside world, and I needed this because, quite frankly, I couldn’t handle “life as usual.” I could no longer shoulder life as it had been — hours upon hours behind closed doors in self-imposed isolation, deep depression, fear, mania, frustration and anger, strained relationships… 

I had been living to write, which was my love and passion, but even this had become an unbearable strain. Consequently, I’d started to keep a journal shortly after I arrived at the group home, but quickly had to leave off on that simply because it caused to much anxiety … or, at least, it was one contributing factor. I’d also loved to read, but after moving into my new residence I found that I just could not bring myself to open a book. Even the very thought of reading felt burdensome … stressful. 

Yes, sitting there in the little chapel area, looking at my dear sister, carrying on an enjoyable (however stilted) conversation … it all felt so surreal. I wish I had words to explain just how detached from the past I’d become. I suppose it was as if I’d entered into some kind of cocoon, and maybe I had; after all, the cocoon is where the beautiful butterfly grows. And in a very real sense, I would eventually emerge from that cocoon, splendidly reborn … heartier, braver, sober-minded and far more tranquil.

Of course, my emergence from the cocoon would come much later. During that first visit with my sister and brother-in-law I couldn’t imagine ever leaving the group home. This is not to say I wanted to stay there for the rest of my life. No, I deeply desired to leave at some point in the future… I just couldn’t conceive of that actually happening. As I sat there looking at my sister’s radiant smile, listening to her encouraging words, it felt like I was looking and listening from across a great ravine … one without a bridge.

After about an hour, we hugged and said our goodbyes. Despite feeling somewhat detached, I was very grateful for the visit, and my spirit felt lifted. All in all, it was a very good (and important) experience. Really and truly, it came at just the right time. Looking back now, I can actually see God’s hand in that event. One might even say it was divinely orchestrated. At the very least, it was a taste of the outside world that I needed then, even if I didn’t consciously realize that at the time.

The next time Angela came, she came alone and took me on an outing, but before getting to that, I’d like to introduce you to some of the precious souls in what really became (in many ways) my new family. Until then, blessings to you and peace.


For previous articles in this series, go to:

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part I

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part II

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part III

Plea to My Son: Wisdom Living

So many times in life I thought I knew what was best
And I wore the vest of pride in stride with arrogance,
And I tried with all of my might to make it all so right
Only to fall into the dark night of the soul with a hole
In my heart and my mind bound against sound reason,
Collapsing into an awful season of tumultuous unrest,
And all the while there were blessings untold for me
That I could just barely see in the distance but would
Not touch in my insistence to forge ahead with plans
Of my own that were sown in isolation and darkness;
And, oh, how I wish now that I could go back and bow
To sense and sensibility, to rewrite my past in lasting
Joy and peace with a new lease on life . . . but no, son,
This I cannot do and so I sue myself in the court of life
So rife with pain and such little gain from such insane
Decisions and I hold my history in derision, my child;
So I say to you, do not walk the same path I’ve walked,
But be sober-minded and clear-headed and do pray
Before you say what you think you want and then leap
Without looking! Read the book of your own father
To learn and burn not with zeal but hear without fear
Wise counsel offered and open your eyes to see gifts
Already bestowed in your life and do not thrown away
What has been so freely given to enliven your fantasy!
Sense and sensibility under the cover of prayer, my son;
Take the higher and better road; yes, the better road!

A Place Called Home

Setting your pace within your very own place
Known to you as home, where seeds are sown
In assurety of the security of your safe haven,
A place you do not have to hide in craven fear,
Where you can freely visit those near and dear,
Somewhere dry and warm where you fly high
And no longer have to try to smile a mile wide
Or hide how you feel, and kneel down in peace
With a new lease on life; after all you’re home
. . .
Setting your pace within your very own place
Somewhere dry and warm where you fly high

Home

Home . . . a place to call my own
Where in secret dreams are sown

A bed where to lay my head
And find the best rest for my body weary

A table where to eat my daily bread
After thankful prayer is said

Home . . . where ideas are freely sought
Home . . . where there is liberty of thought

Safe and secure from all alarm
Walled in securely from all harm

Far above and beyond mere survival
Home . . . where there is daily revival

Home . . . where God is ever so near
And there is no need for fear

Home . . . where there is the heart
And of life every best part . . . home

Cry for Me Crying for You

Ah! My love! Cry for me crying for you
So emotionally bruised and confused;
You have been used and misused now
For so long you think it’s where you belong,
But how wrong you are! O sing a new song!
Take my tears and wash your face
And embrace a brand new reality
In finality of chasing what is base!
Ah! My dear! You pull tears from my eyes
As I spy him round every corner, lurking,
Knowing he’s bound to hurt you yet again
But you can’t see the sin ‘n you never win!
Oh my God, my God! You call his hate love
And I cry above to every angel who’ll hear
To steer you away from this dark delusion
And I know they care but can they repair?
Can they repair the damage already done
Under sun, moon and stars so far away?
No! No! You pop his pill
And then lay so very still
To bask in sleepy fantasy
To mask a very real pain!
What do you gain, then, save stain of guilt
And remorse ‘cause you took that course?
O can you not see and finally be free?
Or do you rather enjoy your chains?
Are you so insane that
You’ve slain your heart?
Ah! My love! Cry for me crying for you
So emotionally bruised and confused!
Cry for me crying for you to be so true,
So true to yourself to finally be free . . .
Ah! My love! Cry for me crying for you


Note: It must have been a better month for me than I knew at the time. Here is another poem previously published in November 2016, being republished now due to some renewed interest as well as for the enjoyment of new reader-followers. (And I’m very thankful to say that quite a few folks have decided to follow this blog just over the last few weeks! Thank you!)

Oh Sister! Needless Complexity in Life

Profusion of confusion
Complexity of perplexity
Exclusion of conclusion

And you feel wired and tired at the same time
And you feel cheery and weary at the same time

Ignoring the real-time life crisis
Trying psychological zymolysis
Result is your psychic cytolysis

And you are in a turmoil
Your brain about to boil
From the truth you recoil

But . . . this is your life, so rife with pain, no gain,
And this is your choice to ignore your inner voice,
So what am I to say? This is certainly not my way!
I truly do love you and wish you all the best
And eventually, one day, peace and rest . . .
One day, some way
Someday, I do pray