Turning Point in a Storm (Scintilla Project – Day 7)

summer storm

There was a storm coming.  It could have been a tornado.  We wouldn’t know until it came, so we had to be prepared.  When you live in the Midwest you just know to take those warnings seriously and get to a safe place. I had the kids come to the basement with me, hoping this one would blow over soon.

For many years I would get the same gut wrenching fear when a tornado warning was announced.  Didn’t matter if the sky was calm, if there were tornadoes around or the potential for one, I felt a deep, real fear.  We never lost our home to the damaging winds, never were physically harmed during a storm.  Yet I think collectively, in my community, there were memories of those very things, of loss of property and even lives. 

So we took the warnings seriously.

That fearful little girl in me stayed around until later in my adult life, bringing some intense fear to the surface and throwing me into panic mode at times.  When this storm was coming my son and daughter were old enough that they understood the dangers and reacted appropriately. 

But I wanted to be protected myself.  As I lashed out verbally to their dad about his own actions of trying to be ready to help others during this storm, I suddenly heard what I was saying, and heard my own fears.  

Then I looked around me.

What was I teaching my kids? Who was going to be brave for them, as my parents had tried to be for me and my siblings?  Who would keep a level head and know what to do if the storm actually hit our home?

This little moment in time became a turning point.  I had to let that fear go.  I had to release that childish need to be protected and comforted, and instead try to be that source of strength and courage for these two amazing young lives.

Letting go of that fear did not mean being lazy about storm warnings. It meant taking them seriously as before, giving a lot of respect to the natural forces around us, and remembering that I knew what to do.  I was armed with the right tools to protect my children as much as was in my power. 

And the courage to guide them through whatever lay ahead.

A Story of A Chance Meeting

This is the true story of a chance meeting that has stayed with me ever since.  Call it chance, coincidence, Divine Providence…whichever label you choose, I’m a much better person today because of this.

*   *   *   *   *

For the first time in my life, at the age of forty, I realized that my faith was my own.  It was not what I was raised with, not entirely.  And because of this faith I knew that I wanted to find a group of people to connect with, a place to practice what I believed. 

For several weeks I found my way to a certain place where men and women shared the leadership roles, where grace was offered freely, where acceptance and love poured out to everyone, even to me…and I felt the least deserving of all.  How could I not be a part of this group of loving people? 

There was always the necessary handshake with the pastor after service.  Most of the time I met the senior pastor and shared pleasantries with him, but did not see the associate very often.  I thought perhaps he was with his own family and attended a different service than the one I usually attended. 

Finally that fall I shook his hand and we shared introductions.  Nothing more, just hi, nice to see you, kind of stuff.  Eventually we would find each other in the hall after worship, usually by coincidence, and we began to talk.  These mini conversations became a regular thing…and when he had to ask me again what my name was, I told him.  He really looked me in the eye that time.  And he never forgot my name after that. 

I remember when he mentioned one Sunday in a sermon that he was single, and I was surprised.  How could such a nice guy not be “taken”?  I did not entertain any ideas of taking him for myself because I was not worthy…that is exactly how I felt about me at that point in life.  Divorced, raising two teenage kids, working two jobs, feeling like a failure in the relationship department..who would want anything to do with me?  That was my mindset.

A gal I had met asked me in the winter if I was thinking of joining the choir. Her mom encouraged me and said her daughter who had just moved back to town was going to go to choir practice that week, and maybe we could meet there together. I tought I’d give it a try since I love to sing.

Choir night arrived. I walked down that hall toward the rehearsal area, and he was doing the same thing, going to choir practice.  He looked surprised to see me, and said “What are you doing here?” 

“I’ve been invited to join the choir so I thought I’d give it a try.”

Then there was the conversation about music and gifts and sharing them with others, and I don’t know what all. By now we had become friends. I valued his frienship more than anything those days. 

The next day I had questions about the expectations of choir members, so I tried to call the church office. No pastor was available.  I saw his home number on a church bulletin, took a deep breath, told myself if he didn’t answer that was okay, and I dialed. 

He answered the phone, and then answered all my questions and then we talked for 45 minutes.  I apologized a lot for bothering him at home.  But it was okay.

A few days later, at the next choir practice, he asked me to go out for a coke before going home.  Another long conversation about choir, about worship, and then about our cats, the books we liked to read, and so much more.  Soon there was a time to meet for dinner when we each had meetings to go to, and I shared something I had written.  He said it was like standing in a sacred space to read my words.

Then in March he called and asked if I would go to dinner and a movie with him. I said yes.  My daughter made fun of me as I tried to get ready that evening.  Later I found that I wore two different colored socks….

In his Jeep, after he picked me up for that date, he asked if he could pay for the evening, to which I said yes.  He said he knew it was the 90’s and all that, but he wanted to  buy the dinner and movie.  I was so relieved because I had not brought a dime with me! 

Then as he heard me tell how nervous I was, how I had not been on a date in years, he began to understand that I thought it was a date, but he thought it was  just two friends going out to dinner and a movie. 

That is a conversation I will not let him forget.  We now have an understanding about what a date really is.

*   *   *   *   *

On April 20th we will celebrate our seventeenth anniversary.

If you had told me that winter eighteen years ago that this man who I called a friend would one day be my husband, I would have been scared to death…might have even run the other way. 

But love unfolds as it will in it’s own time.  Love takes away the fear, and gives us space to breath again.  

The Scintilla Project

Scintilla Project (Day 3) Singing in the Car

Prairie winter

It was the winter of 1985. I was working full time as a Licensed Practical Nurse in a local hospital, on the daytime shift.  That meant getting to the hospital by no later than 6:30am so I could be on my unit, ready to listen to what they called “report”, the verbal dialogue from one team to another explaining what was going on with our patients.  Work officially began at 7:00am.

We lived about ten minutes away, or perhaps fifteen minutes if you drove the speed limit, which we seldom did unless we knew a cop was watching.  Getting from home to the work place meant driving on paved roads that traveled through flat and fertile farm land.  The flat part is significant here because in the winter the winds would roar across those fields and create amazing snow drifts if there was even a few inches on the ground. 

The little beastie I drove during this time was a 1969 VW Beetle, all black, with the original heat exchanger heat – meaning almost no heat inside – and a metal steering wheel. I can still smell the ‘aroma’ of that little car when I think of her.  And the sound of the engine on an old VW Beetle is unlike any other engine sound, kind of like it has it’s own jingle. 

Sound. There was a radio that I think could only get AM stations.  On snowy winter mornings I would often have the radio on so I could listen to music. That winter I often heard a particular song, made popular by Linda Ronstadt, entitled “What’s New”.   Her voice was amazing, honey smooth and clear, and the notes were in my own voice range…so I would sing my heart out right along with her.   It didn’t matter to me what the song was about particularly, it was just the sound of her voice that I fell in love with. 

There was romance in that song.  And I look at that time of driving to work so early in the morning, in that tiny car, and the whole scene takes on a romantic look of it’s own.  I still ‘see’ the yellow glow of street lights near where I parked, the fluorescent glow of the windows on the hospital as I walked to the door.   I can feel the crunch of the snow beneath my boots, the warmth of the long down coat I wore and my leg warmers.  (Loved those leg warmers!)  

Then there is the ice on the windshield that would have to be scraped off, both inside and out because defrost was nonexistent.  Not so fun.  Kind of blows the whole romantic memory thing out of the water. 

Yet I still feel the lift in my soul when I would sing along with Linda…because many times I still do the same today. Different artists and songs, but still that same thrill of singing my heart out – in the car where no one can hear. 

The Scintilla Project

Mask (Scintilla Project – Day 2)

mask

 
A Conversation Overheard….

Don’t forget to wear the mask.
Above all else make them believe
that you are
         This.
This perfect little person
who never gets angry
who always is agreeable
who believes every word that comes
from those voices in authority
and lives such a happy life
that way.

And when the mask slips off
be sure to put it back carefully
so no one will know
the real truth.
Because they might not like
what they see.

Why?
Oh, because we can be
so much more-than-_____
and you just need to do as I say.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to wear
the Mask
but everyone does it, see?

No, I mean all those people
out there.
I’m telling you how it is.
Listen carefully.

A lie?
No, no, no. 
This is just a very important lesson.
You need to pay attention to ME here.

What do you mean?
Yes, of course, I know how old you are.
What difference does that make?

NO!
If you take that off
bad things will happen to me you.
They’ll see how you really are
and you won’t be part of my their
fun anymore. 
Do you hear me?
I can not be responsible for what
happens to you
if you insist on removing
that mask.

I can’t believe what I’m seeing!!!!
How can you do this to me yourself???

The Scintilla Project