Accepting Good Things Without Guilt – and Defining “Family” Along the Way

By: Jana Greene

Many years ago, there was a fracture in my family of origin. I have forgiven, and am doing a lot of hard work in therapy to heal. The truth is that just because you are related to someone, it doesn’t mean they are not toxic to your recovery and well-being.

Yes, you can forgive and yet still not break bread with someone. It’s called boundaries, and when those are trampled, often there is necessary estrangement. It’s an ugly and tragic little truth.

I am loathe to even share this, because I have heard, “Just build a bridge and get over it,” and “Christians shouldn’t be estranged from one another, period!”

You know what Christians shouldn’t do? Judge another person without having the slightest clue what they’ve been through.

Walk a mile in my shoes before judging, please. My sobriety has to be paramount to anything harmful, or I won’t stay sober long.

Fast forward to an experience a few years ago. I am surrounded by my husband’s loving family. There is no screaming, only laughter. There is no manipulative mind games, just warmth.

I hole myself up in the guest bedroom for a while because happy extended families are still a little strange to me. I sat up there and thought about what I’m learning in therapy…. it’s not betrayal to my own relatives to enjoy the unconditional love of others who include me.

I don’t have to worry that yelling will erupt at any second. It’s probably not coming!

These people – my in-laws – are a pure gift to my life; it would be yet another loss not to enjoy them or claim them as mine.

It’s true that no family is The Waltons. My husband’s family isn’t either. Ain’t no thing as a perfect family, because it’s made up of imperfect people. But it also doesn’t have to be one long Jerry Springer episode either.

Only after cognitively thinking on these things could I join them downstairs, and hear about all the shenanigans my husband pulled as a teenager, how he and his sister picked on each other as kids, my Mother-in-Laws stories of growing up in a huge family, and all of the things that made each of them who they are.
I feel a part of these good things, finally. Bob and I have been together 14 years…maybe it’s about time.

I still feel the loss of a few family members, because a loss is a loss is a loss. I love them still. But I’m learning to focus on what God has given me; what he has positively poured into my life: My Beloved, his family (now also mine,) and so many dear, wonderful, amazing friends. To say I’ve been blessed ten-fold is a gross understatement.

Meanwhile, I pray for those with whom I don’t have contact, always. But it’s okay to appreciate others in my life who have made me family by choice (or at least by Bob’s choice!) and all the incredible people I know who love me back. How I love my friends!

And my daughters – Thank you, Jesus, for choosing me to be their mom! Oh sweet lord, how I love them. Family in the truest sense of the word. For a long time, it was the three of us against the world. But it doesn’t have to be anymore. God had even granted me yet another daughter. He truly is as good as they say.


Who knows, maybe someone reading this can relate. In that case, you are worthy of the love of your family and friends – just exactly as you are. No matter your history, no matter your childhood, no matter your struggles.

If you are accepted into a tribe, don’t feel guilty about it. If others wanted to be in your life, they would be.

Don’t push people who volunteer to love you away because those who traditionally should love you don’t (or can’t.)

Focus on who loves you with no conditions attached, and love them fiercely in return. Cherish those friends who make you family.

There is no love shortage. And you are worthy of happiness.

Why I Sometimes Hesitate to Ask for Prayer

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

The great Anne Lamott likes to say that her two favorite prayers are “help, help, help,” and “thank you, thank you, thank you.” And I agree that those are perfectly adequate, perfectly reasonable prayers. They are also the only ones we can voice at times.

It’s one of those days.

The kind of day where general malaise is completely overwhelming. When I’m trying to mentally work out a few personal situations, and meeting with COMPLETE overwhemled-ness on every front.

I started to post a prayer request this morning on my Facebook page to ask my long-suffering friends to please pray for me, because I’m having a day of consecutive panic attacks and wrenching pain, but stopped myself because HOLY SHIT, I don’t even know where to start.

What am I even asking people to pray FOR? Everything is kind of running together. Where does one issue start and other stop?

I feel like I need a special IRS- type  form letter for listing out all the things that my spirit, mental health, and clunker of a body need attention for. Like, maybe I need to itemize or something. It’s our tendency to like to identify and specifically pray for things as if they were itemize-able, isn’t it?

I don’t want to be that one asshole who is always asking for prayer for the same damn issue over and over, for years and years. That is a MAJOR bummer to everyone involved in trying to “pray me better.”

But sometimes our anxieties and depression and needs and concerns all like of get stuck together like a yucky wad of Life Goo. A big, heavy, sticky, ball of slime that started at the top of the hill as ONE thing, but has slowly rolled downhill and is swallowing every piece of  absolute rubbish, until you can’t tell what it’s made of at all.  It’s just a ball of chaos, worry, crushing depression, hopelessness.

And too heavy to lift at all.

So essentially, I am coming before God this morning with my unwieldy, completely nonsensical ball of Life Goo, and petitioning him to chuck it into a black hole, or at the very least, help me carry it. Or at the very VERY least, TELL ME HOW TO HANDLE IT. Because there is no worse feeling than being so overwhelmed, you cannot function.

My current physical health, which is thus: I have been in pain every day – to some degree – since 2008. Needless to say, Christian hard-liners get sick and tired of praying for me because everyone (including me) loves a good “before and after” story.

And although I get respites, there is no permanent “after.” That’s the “chronic” part of “chronic illness.”

And what else do I need prayer for? Here’s a synopsis, very over-simplified.

I’m not doing so well financially, as I cannot work outside the home right now. I need a job from home, or to get approved for disability, or find out I have a very rich old relative somewhere out there who wants to make me benefactor (c’mom, 23 and Me, step up to the plate already….don’t I have any rich third cousins once removed???) For the record, ALL of these possibilities give me anxiety on top of existing anxiety.

I lose sleep every night worrying about my children. All of them.

I’m afraid I’ll lose the mobility I have and thus lose so many of the things I still can do and enjoy doing.

I worry that I’ll get worse and worse until I can’t handle living like this anymore. I’m just being honest. What if self-care for days like this of eating pizza, listening to music, talking to God, writing, painting, spending time with friends….what is none of these healthy coping strategies (except for pizza…..which isn’t healthy but is good for the SOUL) doesn’t cut it anymore. What if I get to the point where I can’t laugh about things, and find that incorporating humor into my “wellness” (or “just don’t die-ness”) plan isn’t helping anymore.

What if I start to drag my family and friends down with me? I HATE the way my illness effects everyone.  I guess  I’ll be all alone forever. (SEE? That strategy is called “SPIRALING” and I’m quite good at it, if I do say so myself…)

I need to feel like the Living God isn’t “punishing me” with sickness (yes, I’ve come a long way in the Grace Gospel and no longer agree that God is “punishing” me, although that fundamentalist stuff runs DEEP and every one in a while rears it’s ugly evangelical head.)

I’m afraid that all my best work – my writing, my art, my poetry – is over and I’m passt my prime, destined to crank out crappy words, and paintings, and concepts, and all other manifestations of creativity. I fear that I’ve peaked.

I’m afraid My Beloved will tire of my constant illness and chronic pain, and will want to find a more healthy (and less neurotic) specimen with which to share his wonderful life with.

If there are any disastrous outcomes to ANY situation, I will find and assume it is coming to pass when I’m in this mental state. And I don’t WANT to be that way. I want to be a fount of hope that springs eternal. I just don’t have it in me today.

What people may not understand is that even if you pray for me and I don’t “get well,” it is the wellness of my spirit that gets renewed when you pray for me. When we pray for each other. God is not a genie in a bottle. Sometimes the healing we get doesn’t look like what the world thinks it should. It doesn’t mean that your prayers are not the sole and entire reason why I get up another day to fight. Sometimes that’s ALL that gives me that courage.

So, friends? If you’re the praying type, please petition Heaven to send me HELP, HELP, HELP. For what I’ve requested prayer for. And for every other issue that’s part of the ball of Life Goo that keeps rolling downhill.

And you guys? THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

I love and appreciate each one of you, readers. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, as always, and God bless us, every one.

 

 

 

Half-time Shows and Other Mixed Messages

By: Jana Greene

Hi, Dear Reader.

I have a four year old granddaughter. A couple of things have given me pause as of lately, and last night’s Super Bowl halftime show featuring Shakira and J Lo made me think about them in earnest.

I’m worried for her and her generation, because we say we are trying to impart the importance of being a strong, smart, self-accepting woman, but our culture sends a very different message.

If it’s confusing to me as a 50+ year old female, I can’t imagine how confusing it will be for young girls.

Example 1 – Here is what we claim we are teaching them (and what we should be, because it’s TRUTH!): Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Natural hair is an asset. What makes you different makes you beautiful. All colors of skin are gorgeous. You are not just a size number. This is the time for women to shine. Be proud of your unconventional features and celebrate the way you – and you alone – are physically formed!

The cultural reality: “Beautiful” is widely represented in the media and via peer pressure as fake tanned, fake hair, fake nails, fake eyelashes, so much makeup coverage that one girl is virtually indistinguishable from another, and being ONE certain size. Like, FAKE is being celebrated. Not beauty.

Example 2: We as a society are all about some shaming people for “objectifying” women, when the female half time show is nothing BUT and it’s called “empowering.”

Look, I am no prude. J Lo and I are the same age and I say YOU GO, GIRL! I can’t get up from sitting cross-legged on the floor by myself. Like…That’s some impressive moves!

But maybe not for a generation of females who claim they are sick of the mass sexualization of women and all that it entails? And maybe not for the biggest televised event of the year, when there are SO many talented female entertainers who carry a less shallow message and are better musicians? THiS is the best we can do to celebrate “girl power”?

We need to stop acting all aghast when women are objectified, if we are going to keep up the crappy status quo.

Let’s raise strong, confident women who are happy in their OWN skin and don’t count objectification as empowerment. Because it’s just not.

Peace out.



When Faith – the Opposite of Certainty – Holds Space for the Light

“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”

By: Jana Greene

So, sometimes I feel like tapping God in the shoulder and politely saying, “excuse me….but I think you have the wrong person. I’m clearly not cut out for the particular set of challenges I’ve been assigned; you might want to re-check your paperwork, or golden scroll, or copy of “Thine Heavenly recruitment Guide.”

Because I fear I’m too wussy to handle this life, especially the pain and sickness that’s a part of it – and I’m sure there are braver and more qualified candidates.

Not that I’d wish it in anyone else.

I call BS on the old adage, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I’m pretty sure the accurate interpretation is that he will never give us more than HE can handle.

Like, I’m either going to emerge from this (the mess, the emptiness, the discomfort) being humbled, grateful, and accepting; or frustrated, disappointed, and bitter.

I hate to think that the jury’s still out, but that may just be my neurosis talking smack again.

What will probably happen in reality is that I’ll tell you guys I’m upset, register my complaint with God, throw a little emotional tantrum, pout spiritually for a bit, and then ultimately trust God and get over myself. Hopefully, I’ll find the humor in things in the process, too. This seems to be the pattern anyway.

Maybe nobody feels equipped to fulfill what is asked of them, or to haul around leaden worries and bodies they aren’t sure they’re cut out to.

Perhaps “certainty” really is missing the point of faith entirely?

And maybe God is not deterred by our frustrations?

I think Anne Lamont, my favorite author, got it right: Faith DOES include noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.

May God help each of us to get through our callings with acceptance, trust, love, and a generous smattering of humor, until our light returns.

Let it be quickly.

Faith Reconstructed (or, I think I’m ready to write again…)

black and red typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

Hi, my name is Jana and I’m a writer.

Sometimes, I forget that.

I used to write quite prolifically, and about everything.

As a matter of fact, this is the 475th blog post on The Beggar’s Bakery.

Sometime in the past few years, I’ve misplaced my writing mojo, which is to say that I’ve slipped into committing the cardinal sin of true creativity, which is to worry more about what people might think of me than to have confidence in what I have to say.

I think I started writing less when a series of unfortunate events took place, namely the catalyst for me to question, test, and try the faith that I’d inherited from my ancestors and never outwardly doubted.

It started when I got sick, and stayed sick. It started when well-meaning churchy people attempted to cast demons out of me (no, really) that weren’t really demons, but infirmary. The thing about sickness is that it is actually more threatening than demons to religious people, of whom I was chief amongst. After endless rounds of being prayed for, having “deliverance” ministries, and demon casting, well… it turns out that my illness is genetic, and while God CAN and DOES heal instantly, that was not the case for me, which led me to one of two conclusions:

1. I was doing something wrong and was a fundamentally flawed Christian. Or

2. God isn’t real. Healing isn’t real. My life is based on lies.

Now, I’m all about that –  laying on hands and praying in Jesus name. That is GOOD STUFF. We should always aspire to heal one another. We should always ask for our own healing and petition God to heal others. It’s just that when it doesn’t happen the way our religious leaders aspire it to, it leaves us in a spiritual lurch.

A few funny things happened on my way to figuring out that neither of those conclusions are true. It’s kind of a long story, and I’ve taken to the blog to tell it piecemeal, as best I can, whether anyone reads it or not. For a long time, this blog was my sanctuary, where I came to be raw and real. Then I underwent this huge physical and spiritual metamorphosis, and I wasn’t the chipper writer with a fast answer and scripture reference to throw out there anymore.

And I stopped writing here because that little Southern baptist girl inside told me that I had NO right to pen a blog that claims to be “one beggar telling another where she found bread,” because I am not a conventional evangelical anymore. Sickness changed me, yes. But the spiritual angle changed for me in ways I can scarcely count. What if So-and-So thinks I’m a big, fat heathen because I ascribe to this hippy-dippy, love one another craziness that has taken the place of my rigid, religious persona?

I guess that’s what they’ll think, then.

God and I are square, more than ever.

There was a time that I was sure my calling was to be a mom. And then my kids grew up; they still need me, but in a different way. I was sure I was called to be an artist, and poet, and for a season, I was. For many years, I thought my calling was to minister to recovering alcoholics, and that is still true. Those things will always be parts of my mission.

But here’s what nobody warns you about: Our “callings” change. They morph. We are always called to something new because Papa LOVES opening our eyes to the NEW!

So I guess for the foreseeable future, The Beggar’s Bakery will again be sanctuary for my words. Because I badly need to get these feelings out, and why not bring along 1,940 of my closest friends with me?

It isn’t a pretty journey.

It isn’t even a COMPLETE journey.

Just a leg of the trip, replete with all the joy, angst, confusion, acceptance, and hope I can muster and share with my readers.

This revival is for the doubters. It’s for the broken-hearted, and the disenchanted. It’s for those who always feel that they fall short of the glory of God, and the expectations of men. It’s for the marginalized and the giver-upper. It’s for the real people, the ones trying to figure out and complicate what is really, really simple – that God is Love itself and YOU are an expression of that love to the entire universe.

I’m still struggling with a lot, so don’t look to me to feed you in whole – to hand you the Bread of Life – the truths, mysteries, and answers. But I CAN tell you where to find that bread still. The Bakery is open – loaves and fishes for all.

It’s all love.

Til’ tomorrow….

 

The Case for “Kind-ing”

By: Jana Greene

It’s a fine line, if you have anxiety.

You want to keep up in world events and current news, but everything you watch or read pulls you into a spiral of panic. When you’re sensitive, it’s hard to know how much of a boundary needs to go up, because you care deeply about what’s going on and the suffering of others. But you are also learning to monitor your own suffering, and you sometimes have to avoid the subject matter, because it’s plain old self-care not to obsess over what you cannot control.

I don’t know what’s more upsetting – having anxiety over the state of the world, or having anxiety over the nastiness that comes in response to a Facebook thread.

Because people are not very nice sometimes. I mean … they go out of their way to be ugly.

Add to this state our world today, where social media enables every single person in your sphere to be an “expert,” and every other person who doesn’t agree with you wrong, wrong, wrong.

The stakes are high – peace, equality, protecting the innocent, keeping our rights under the Constitution- and because they are so high, passions run high.

We are doing too much fighting.

And not enough KIND-ing.

We ALL think we know what’s best for our nation, our world. Once more than one person reads any geopolitical or controversial post, fingers start flying. We forget that we are first and foremost human beings.

And then R.I.P. civil discourse at that point. If I feel strongly enough that you’re wrong about it, all Whatever “it” is. It reduces us to graceless, angry, self-righteous (dare I say) trolls.

So much contention, and I get sucked into it in the regular. As a person straddling being “woke” enough to know what’s happening and prone to panic attacks and generalized anxiety, it’s a slippery slope.

So much division. It is getting us NOWHERE, and we are hurting each other. That’s a problem because we NEED each other, ya’ll.

A compassionate governance would be such a blessing about now. And honestly, it’s not gonna happen. It will never be compassionate. That’s why WE have to so the kind-ing.

I’m talking to myself here, too.

You guys, when I am tangry (“typing while angry,”) I become a maven of the poison pen. I don’t like myself when my anger seeps up from God-knows-where, and I don’t like the “courage” that being online affords me to say whatever the hell I want to that little person in a round icon on a computer screen.

The world is on fire – literally. It’s a mess. But can we please try to be gentler in our online communities? I’m really going to try.

The world has never needed it more.

Dreams for Hope – considering the bigger picture

blue and brown milky way galaxy
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

Hello, Dear Readers. It’s been a minute. And just after I promised to provide more content. Isn’t that just the way? I’ve been ill to a ridiculous degree as of late. Yesterday, I hopped on my social media and once again asked for prayer. Because doggone it – even though I might not see complete healing on this side of the Kingdom, prayer still works. At 2 a.m. this morning, I woke from a dream that I hope I never forget. And to ensure it sticks in me – and maybe even helps one of you out there going through some stuff – I sat up and dictated all of it into my “notes” on my iPhone right away. I’m sharing it here on The Beggar’s Bakery.

By: Jana Greene

Have you ever had a dream that engaged all of your senses to the point that you knew and understood in your spirit it was true, and when you woke, you were disappointed by all the clunky, awkward, itchy reality that is our physical embodiment?  And when you woke, your eyes were blurry, but not just from sleep or astigmatism, but because it’s a part of your physical being and that’s the best it was designed to do here, really. The sudden realization that you are still in your flesh can be jarring.

Physical beings are far inferior to whole souls. Nothing like chronic illness to drive that point home. But in this dream, I feel like I received confirmation that what we are dealing with here on earth is but a vapor. All that seems hopeless and heartless is actually quick, like a measles shot. And when you’re a kid and you get the measles shot, they tell you it will only hurt for a second – and they are right. But even after the sting, you cry loud and long anyway, because you don’t FEEL it anymore, but you feel the indignity of it. Yeah, sometimes I keep squalling even though God is well underway protecting me from harm….just to make sure he knows I was inconvenienced.

That being said, platitude and analogies help NOT ONE BIT when you’re going through really hard shit. You don’t want someone to tell you that it’s temporary, because when you are in searing pain, you’ve already had enough. You had enough yesterday. You had enough four years ago!

In those times, I see with my eyes one who is aging, sick, and cannot see a better way coming. That’s the shadow me. That’s the bone and blood me – the one who eats an entire tube of cookie dough to self-soothe, even though she’s diabetic. The “me” who can be frustrated, petty, and throw emotional tantrums. That’s the me who forgets to look further than what she can physically see.

We are not just our bodies, which get sick and old, janky and irritable. It bitches when the weather turns cold. It runs out of breath going up stairs. It has only so many resources with which to aide in life.

These bodies that so often dictate to our soft, wonderful vulnerable and gooey centers – our true selves –  that we are doomed. That was my mindset last night when I fitfully fell asleep after carefully rearranging my body parts a hundred times so that no one part was screaming over all the others.

In my dream,  I had woken up early in our favorite cabin in the mountains, and wondered how the hell I got there, since I just fell asleep in my own bed. I actually did a “sensory check” to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. (I don’t even trust myself in my sleep, apparently.) I could smell the pines, and see the dust floating in the air, made visible by the rays of sun shining through the slats of the blinds. I could hear the creek below the cabin. I reached down and felt the soft, cozy quilt. The gas logs in the fireplace were even burning.

I slip out of bed to go out on the back porch, but the landscaping around it was all different. There were fences with razor wire where lob-lolly pines should be. I’m squinting hard to make sure I’m really seeing it. Where is all the nature that we so know and love on the premises? Backhoes and other equipment were splayed about, and trees where being felled everywhere. I ran back in to wake my husband. I shook him until he came to, and made him follow me to the back porch. He sleepily stood there, rubbing his eyes. He saw nothing – not one single thing – out of the ordinary, and as such, returned to bed.

I followed him back on his heels. The more I tried to explain what I was saw, the more frustrated I became. I couldn’t make him understand what was happening.

But then I felt a tug from God. And I knew it was God because it certainly wasn’t ME, who was freaking out at that point. I always expect Jesus to come in like thunder and lightning, but no…it’s more like someone gently taking my hand – if my heart had a hand – and leading me somewhere new.

And I WAS somewhere “new.” Back on the rear porch, I observed a virtual Garden of Eden. Not only were the grounds restored, but they were indescribably stunning. Where the pines I love so much are apt to be, were trees I have never seen before and couldn’t accurately paint for you with a paintbrush. Taller, bushier, trees – bright and soft green at the same time. The creek looked like it was made of diamonds – liquid diamonds. And the sound was more a musical rushing than a tinny tinkling. Giant flowers surrounded the cabin, in all shapes and sizes, and they smelled like the breath of angels and a thousand unicorns or something.

Now I knew I couldn’t be dreaming! It was a feast for the senses a million times over!

So I ran back through the cabin onto the front porch and into the wide space directly in front of it. I didn’t wake my husband this time. That nudging again…it led me there. I didn’t need a cane to get there – I RAN! I knew I wasn’t alone at all – as I have been feeling lately –  and that I couldn’t even be alone if I tried.

Absorbed in the experience, I looked skyward to observe the stars, but as I tried to focus, all I could see were heavy clouds. And the the roar of a jet. So I closed my eyes and specifically asked God to let me see with my other eyes – the ones that don’t only perceive the obvious. And closed my eyes with this prayer.

When I opened my eyes again….Majesty around me. Again, I tested my surroundings, bending down to feel the dirt underneath my feet. I could smell the flowers again, and hear the most amazing cacophony of cricket song all round. Simply put, I just saw with my spirit and everything was beautiful. Each time I blinked, a new layer of majestic-ness displayed itself. I couldn’t blink fast enough – couldn’t wait to close my eyes and re-open them, because it was something new and different and beautiful every time. With acknowledgment that I knew God was right next to me, my spirit understood that he was making it happen

When next I looked down at my feet, I was standing on water! It’s impossible, but TRUE! I was standing on the ocean and it was crystal clear. Now, it would be weird if this extraordinary dream didn’t feature a large body of water – its always in my most God-drenched dreams. I could see beautiful sea creatures swimming around below me. Whales, even! Manta rays, sea turtles, colorful fishes.

So above my head now,  it was night, and the stars were mesmerizing and swirling about. Below me was clear, inviting waters, somehow illuminated from below. I wanted to fly to into the starts and let them absorb me. I wanted to dive into the sea and swim with the creatures.

When I’d tried to show my husband the chaos from the back porch earlier, I became frustrated. If you’re not seeing what I’m seeing, I must be wrong. I must be defective. It’s the only explanation. Maybe I’m seeing what I want to see now?

But no. Now I knew in the deepest recesses of my soul that what had upset me earlier was truly happening at the time, but only I could perceive it. Like chronic pain. Like being sick 80% of the time. It’s my reality. But perhaps the bulldozers and fencing – the symbols of destruction and being caged – were only there in the blink of an eye so that I could see they were only making way for the Garden of Eden itself?

Aha.

Suddenly I understood that we are eternal creatures living in a little, poorly-ventilated and inadequate-feeling terrarium. At the risk of channeling my inner hippie, no..man….it only feels that way. We are stardust. We are all one with all creation and any pain or shitty circumstance is a little snapshot from our terrariums. The TRUE us isn’t limited by our ageing bodies and grumpy minds.

We are not our clunky, awkward, itchy realities. Although it’s hard as Hell to remember that when you’re going through the dozing.

And I love “aha” moments, because they can be powerful enough to be the catalyst for new thought patters. And I’m going to try to think more positively today, even as the dream fades. (Check back with me tonight, when I’m soaking in Epsom salts, ha!)

When God sends me dreams like this – and I wish it happened more often – I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was out of my body for a time – senses intact. I don’t need science to prove a thing, I have a soul knowing. And a delicious feeling of familiarity when God casually hangs out with me like that.

Like an inside joke that’s really the truth.

Like an enlightenment that you stumble across, that doesn’t require further validation.

I’m now – in my sweet dream – both swimming and flying. I have no fear whatsoever. And no pain whatsoever. All I know is joy, and that’s a feeling I haven’t had in a long time.

As I’m soaring through nebulae and galaxies, I can clearly tell that every atom is in perfect alignment and in the Heavens, there is no need of improvement. As I swim the depths – somehow breathing in the water – a whale slows down so that I can wrap my arms around his massive being.

And all this time, I sing a song I’ve never heard before to God, who is with me all along for the ride, delighting in me. I sing to him about how majestic he is, and I felt this overwhelming sense of peace that he had the whole universe swirling in the whole of creation was going to be okay.

And at the pinnacle of song, I have to pee.

Yep. That’s how the dream ended! I woke having to pee – how is THAT for a majestic climax! This old body still going to make demands no matter what.

I hear you, I hear you, I said to my bladder, realizing that I’d been asleep all along. But I wasn’t sad anymore. Or lonely. No matter how alone we feel in any experience, I assure you, we are not.

I know I’ve heard and seen and felt a truth that surpasses every reason for every frustration. Yes, it was a dream, but it was also confirmation that the same Power that swirls the stars and combs the seas hasn’t forgotten about little old me. Or you.

I think when I looked out on the initial destruction behind the cabin, it was all I could see. When I returned from trying to convince my husband of it, I felt God say “Use your other eyes. What do you see with your spirit?”

Eyeballs don’t see it all. That’s my take away. They see what shines on the back of our retina. They see light and color but only as the mechanics that biology makes possible.

Our peepers get eyestrain from computers, and reading, and just existing. They only see in the natural, and that’s the problem with eyeballs. We rely on them, I know I do. I trust them to see the world around me with the problem comes when I expect them to see the world in which we live, which, comparatively,  is nearly nothing. We truly see through a Glass.darkly.

When I feel l pain, all I see is pain. And we trust everything around us to be evidence of our senses, but we are so much more than our senses. There’s so much more. And I badly needed that reminder tonight.

The dream was so realistic that I am going out on a limb and I’m going to say that it was in fact, real. Because who’s to say that revelations like this are less real than the tangible world that disappoints us so?

Certainly not me!

I have little doubt that this dream manifested as a result of the prayers of good and faithful friends, who took the time to say a prayer.

And even when biology points otherwise, my prayers always are answered.

Last night didn’t come in a dramatic throwing down of my cane, or doing a Benny Hinn jig, or even waking up without a headache. But it came with fresh hope, which has a much longer shelf life.

You see, we think we know what we want manifested prayers to look like. We think it is like ordering at McDonald’s. I’d like a cheeseburger with extra pickles, and a Diet Coke. When I drive up to the window, I expect a cheeseburger with extra pickles, and a Diet Coke. The prayers are not made to order.

When we petition have an on behalf of some other person we love, God always gets the order right. It may not look like what we thought, what we “designed,” what we ordered off the menu.

But it’s always what we need. And in the end, that’s so much better.

So much tastier. So much more satisfying.

So thank you, dear ones.

Thank you for praying for me. Because God gave my soul what my physical embodiment could never provide or handle.

God bless us, everyone