The Gift of Shedding

The Gift of Shedding
From the beginning, the key to renewal has been the casting off of old skin.

It is interesting that the earliest peoples believed in something that we, in our modern hive of manufacturing, have forgotten — that immortality is attainable by shedding. The Dusuns of North Borneo have believed for centuries that when God finished creating the world, He announced that “Whoever is able to cast off his skin shall not die.”
But what does this mean? Not that we can live forever, but that the way to stay closest to the pulse of life, the way to stay in the presence of that divine reality which informs everything is to be willing to change. Still, change what? To change whatever has ceased to function within us. To shed whatever we are carrying that is no longer alive. To cast off our dead skin because dead skin can’t feel. Dead eyes can’t see. Dead ears can’t hear. And without feeling, there is no chance of wholeness, and wholeness remains our best chance to survive the pain of breaking.
Of course, for human beings, dead skin takes many forms, the most significant of which remain intangible but suffocating, such as a dead way of thinking, a dead way of seeing, a dead way of relating, a dead way of believing, or a dead way of experiencing.
In essence, shedding opens us to self-transformation. Paradoxically, those of us who refuse such renewal will, sooner or later, be forced to undergo transformation anyway as a result of being broken or eroded by the world. Very often both occur at the same time: that is, we shed from within while being eroded from without.
* Center yourself and meditate on what you are carrying that is dead skin for you.
*Breathe cleanly and deeply and ask yourself, What are you being called to shed, to put to rest, in order to gain greater access to the hidden wholeness of life.

What Keeps Us from Shedding
Often we give up our right to renewal to accommodate the anxiety of those around us.
For sure, living is not easy, and living openly is both wondrous and dangerous. The fact is that shedding, no matter how useful or inevitable, always has a pain of its own. Unfortunately, there is no escaping this underside of growth. So it is not surprising that there are many feelings peculiar to human beings that prevent us from shedding what has ceased to work, including fear, pride, nostalgia, a comfort in the familiar, and a want to please those we love. Often we give up our right to renewal to accommodate the anxiety of those around us.
The Melanesians of the New Hebrides content that this is how we lost our immortality. Sir James Frazer has preserved their story. I seems, at first, human beings never died, but cast their skins like snakes and crabs and came out with youth renewed. But, after a time, a woman, growing old, went to a stream to change her skin; according to some, she was Ul-ta-marama, Change-skin of the world. She threw her old skin in the water and observed that as it floated it caught on a stick. Then she went home, where she had left her child. But the child refused to recognize her, crying that its mother was an old woman, not this young stranger. So to pacify the child she went after her old skin and put it on. From that time, human beings ceased to cast their skins and died.
And so, when we cease to shed what’s dead in us in order to soothe the fear of others, we remain partial. When we cease to surface our most sensitive skin simply to avoid conflict with others, we remove ourselves from all that is true. When we maintain ways we’ve already discarded just to placate the ignorance of those we love, we lose our access to what is eternal.
*Sit quietly and ask yourself, What voices are asking you to keep your old skin and not to change?
*Center yourself and ask, What is the cost to you for not renewing your connection with all that is eternal?
Mark Nepo…The Book of Awakening Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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A New Creation

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My life is different today because I’ve fully surrendered to God, and His will for my life. It took so long, but there are times when we have to go through the fire to be refined.

Today is a test for me. My son (adopted grandson) was told by his biological mother on his birthday (May 18) that she was sending him something in the mail. It never came. He was disappointed and began acting out. After 2 weeks of this, I finally had a talk with him and had him write down everything that had been bothering him. Everything was just a symptom. Then, the very last thing was the fact that she didn’t keep her word. That was it. I allowed him to text her about it, and she told him that she would send it out the next day. Still nothing. More disappointment for him.

I’ll take a step back in time now;

When my first husband and I got divorced, I had no clue of the impact it would have on my kids. I had never experienced divorce, only the fighting of my parents (which was almost as bad). I learned at a very young age that when people wronged me, if I didn’t stand up for myself, nobody else would. So, in that part of my life, I became very confrontational. When my kids were wronged, I became their advocate and like a lioness, I would be aggressive. I had no role model. I didn’t realize how far I’d allowed myself to go. My yelling, screaming, cursing, and rage was out of control. It became a ‘default button’. Not good. I couldn’t even stop myself once I got into that mode. It was very bad. It started when I was about 7 or 8. A Christian Counselor once told me that I’d made a deal with Satan. “How could an innocent child have the awareness to do such a thing” I asked. He explained that I wasn’t aware. I had just made my mind up at that time that nobody would do this to me again, and that was an agreement. I didn’t like hearing that, and as hard as I tried to change, I continued with the same anger.

Then, one day I started changing. Slowly, but surely, God was showing me things that really opened my eyes, and it’s because of His truth in scripture that I was able to see how I was at fault. Although it was somebody else who had wronged me, I was responsible for how I handled the situation. I became the judge and prosecutor. By my reliving the events in my mind over and over, I would give myself permission to behave in that manner as well as justifying my behavior. I was just as bad as those who wronged me. I’m continuously being tested. So far, I’ve passed.

Today is a test as I said. No more confrontation. No more anger. I understand his bio mom. She, too was a product of an adoption by a mother who didn’t want her. She is repeating behaviors. It’s not my job to bring this to her attention. I’m not taking God’s job away from Him anymore. It’s my job to protect my son from himself. Instead of allowing him to go through life feeling betrayed, hurt, rejected and lots of anger and resentment that stems from all of that, we talk about it. We go to the promises that God has given us.

Blessing – God has put a godly man in our lives who is able to minister to Isaiah. He counsels him, he has been through a great deal himself, so he has much experience and emotions to draw from, and is able to speak truth and life into him.

A small voice tells me to contact the bio mom and give her a piece of my mind, but God tells me  “I’ve brought you this far, I love you as you are, there’s no need for you to tell her anything.” I know this is her life, and it’s not about Isaiah.

I’m feeling very loved by God. I’m obeying Him, therefore, I have no drama, much peace and complete Shalom in my life.

P.S. One more thing…..I found Erica’s son, Braden. I know where He is. God has really opened doors for me. I don’t feel led to contact the family. I want Braden to be happy, and heal from all the negative that he endured from his early life in those very short years he was with Erica. I’m praying for him, and would like everybody who reads this to pray for him as well.

I love you, Erica and Braden. I miss you both so much! That hole in my heart is starting to heal, but it will always be dented.

BROKENHEARTEDNESS: A Shattered Life

The psalmist speaks of a “broken heart” and a “contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18). A broken heart is experienced when someone else causes a breach in a relationship with us, while a contrite spirit results when we feel sorrow for having caused such a breach, against either God or another human being.

The woman who experiences a broken heart, in many ways is  a “victim” in the wake of another person’s actions, whether intentional or unintentional. The broken heart she experiences may be the result of abandonment, rejection, oppression, abuse, or even death. Regardless of the cause, the typical feeling is one of being devastated or feeling as if life has been shattered. Three other emotions are usually quick to arise: fear, loneliness, and despair. In many ways, a broken heart is a “broken spirit,” in which you may lose the will to live, to love or to trust.

One of the foremost roles of the Messiah, and one which Jesus embraced wholeheartedly (Luke 4:18), was to “heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus very specifically addressed the underlying nature of a broken heart on several occasions. He dealt with fear (Mark 5:36), rejection and feelings of isolation (John 14:16), despair and a loss of will (John 14:1).

The brokenhearted woman finds healing when she chooses to believe again-to believe that she will live, to believe that she will experience love again, to believe that God has a future purpose and plan for her life, or to believe that God will be with her always, even in the darkest hours of her hurt and sorrow (Jeremiah 29:11-14). In embracing fully the promise of Christ Jesus to heal her broken heart, she finds strength for reaching out to others, trusting that God still has “something new” for her (Lamentations 3:22-24).

…..author unknown

There is no time frame for healing, as all of us are different. In my brokenness, I was only able to see inside my hurt. God is truly my salvation and healer. I thank, praise and worship Him for bringing me out of the deep dark valley of the shadow of death that I went through. Joy didn’t come in the morning for me, it came when it was my time, and my time is now.

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. [Ps. 34:4]

Healing as only God can do.

 
I don’t like talking about Erica’s death. I didn’t like thinking about her. Because, If Erica had any place in my world for more than 5 seconds, I would go into a deep dark place. A place that nobody is prepared to face. The pain was more than I could bear.
My grief had turned to anger. It seems that whatever happens in my life that is a negative, I default to anger. Not because I want to, not because I it helps me, but that’s how I’m wired. So, considering that I can’t be an angry person, I chose to not deal with my grief.
I’ll say this….every person who I’ve met since she passed away who has lost a child won’t talk about it. They are not good for support. We all have deep side affects as a result and I don’t know about you, but I’m a changed person. I don’t like the new me, and I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel the same. But, how do we get past it? We’ll never be like we were before. But, who do we turn to for the help that we all need? For me, it was nobody. Words will not console me. Hugs and sad, empathetic faces will not console me. 
For me, grief has become a shadow to me. It’s there the same way love, hate and anger are. It has become part of my life. The same way losing a limb would forever change me. 
A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some shopping. Once I was through and in my car, it hit me from out of the blue, as it does. Erica came in to my mind. This time I decided that I would allow what ever happened to take its’ course. And, take its’ course it did. The floodgates opened for me. I cried, and cried and cried and sobbed and sobbed. I didn’t know it was in me. It’s hard writing this, as the tears are welling up. I yelled, I was screaming, and asking God so many questions that I’d had bottled up. Yelling at Erica! Yelling at the air….whoever was listening! All the way home I did this. I’m sure passing motorists were wanting to call 911 on me. For over 30 minutes, I was this way….and you know what? It felt so good when I was through.  
That was it. There was more healing in those 30 minutes than there had been since August 30, 2012.
I wasn’t ready to grieve like that until that very moment, and God knew. Everybody handles their grief in different stages. Not one stage is the same for 2 people. I would ignore the emails I got from support groups I had joined. I didn’t want to hear somebody else talk about losing their child, because I know that pain. It’s a loss and pain which alienates many of us.
When Jacob thought he lost Joseph, he went into mourning and lived that way. It was as if he had died with him. Of course, he had many other children, but he really loved Joseph, and he didn’t hesitate to announce the fact that Joseph was his favorite. Once he discovered that Joseph wasn’t dead, and in fact was alive and wanted to see him, he came back to life! I have a feeling that he wasn’t the same person as before he thought Joseph had died though.
I’m OK now. I’ll never be good or perfect to suit myself. I can think about Erica now and know that that deep, dark place is gone. She will be waiting for me when it’s my turn. She and my dad are waiting for me, and my time on this earth is not at an end yet. Until then, may God do in me what He wills. I’m His vessel and I want to laugh again. Be happy again. Most of all, I have peace now. A peace that passes ALL understanding.
God Bless all of you who are struggling as I do.
A daughter of The Most High God,
Eileen

My Season when The Lord is My Shepherd

As I sit here and think about everything that’s bottled up inside me, wanting it to all come out at once, I wonder what should come out first. Am I supposed to feel guilty for not thinking about Erica as much as I used to or should? Who knows how much I’m supposed to grieve. I’ve found myself thinking about Erica and Braden, and immediately dismissing them. They were a major part of my life. I cannot continue to live in sadness. It’s destroying me. It’s affecting my relationships with other people. I no longer want to define myself as a mom who lost her child. Since May of 2008, stuff just started to happen and I was in a downward spiral. I hit bottom. I’ve really been down there for a very long time, and there was no rope that I could use to pull myself out with. I’ve tried for 61/2 years on my own, and to no avail. Hurt, anger, depression, self hatred, guilt, condemnation were my hats. As much as I’ve tried with therapy, and prayer, nothing seemed to work. That season in my life…

A time to die, A time to uproot what was planted, A time to tear down, A time to weep, A time to mourn, A time to shun embracing, A time to give up as lost, A time to throw away, A time to hate, A time for war.

….is over

Seasons –

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace

I had a life changing moment today. Well, yesterday. I didn’t realize yesterday that in that moment, my life would change as it has. There’s only been one other time in my life that I can recall that this has happened. But, as my moment from yesterday continued to grow into today, I realize now that it’s life changing. I’m holding on, feeding it and I know that it will continue to grow. My hat is gone. Just gone….and I’m not searching for it. I no longer want to entertain a single thought that will hurt me.

In my spirit, I have just entered a new season –

A time for PEACE, A time for LOVE, A time to be SILENT, A time to Keep.

I’ve been through a lot. I was unable to identify the specifics, but looking back, it’s very simple to see.

I’m looking forward to the future now.

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd,
I [a]shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside [b]quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the [c]paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the [d]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no [e]evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You [f]have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
[g]Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will [h]dwell in the house of the Lord [i]forever.

The most difficult thing in my whole life was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I know what that means now.

God was there all along. He allowed me to go through all of that so I could appreciate ALL of His goodness. And, I am.

I Miss You

Once again, I’m sitting here writing because I can’t pick up the phone and call you. It seems like so long ago that I heard your voice. I’ll never forget what you sound like. I’ll never forget your laugh. I’ll never forget what you sound like when you cry.  I’ll never forget what it feels like to hug you. I’ll never forget what Braden meant to you.
I still wonder if you can see or hear me. I’ve never thought so much about life after death until you left us. I prefer not to, because it takes away from my quality of life here. I find myself at times just dwelling on it. I don’t like it. I want to go back in time. I want to go back to when I had you. I want to believe that I could have changed our future.

I know that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and it doesn’t include our parents, spouses, children, siblings or friends. Are you walking with Him? Talking with Him? Watching out for Braden? WHERE ARE YOU???

Love is such a complicated emotion. Without it, we cannot have precious memories. We cannot see ourselves and the need for change. Without it, we wouldn’t continue to have more children. Without it, we wouldn’t have the need for social interaction. We wouldn’t grieve. I can’t imagine having no love and just never thinking and grieving over you! I don’t ever want to know that feeling, because that would mean that there’s no love in me, and what’s the absence of love? Nothing.  It’s nothingness. God truly IS love. He allowed me the miracle of having this great love with you, Bryan, Lindsay and Isaiah. I’ve come to know that you don’t have to give birth to have the same love with an adopted child. He’s just as precious to me. Maybe in a way, I see him as a different type of blessing because he’s my grandson and I’ve seen God’s hand at work by placing him with us, and seeing the fruit of my (and dad’s) work with him.

You know, life since you and Grandpa left, the family has completely deteriorated. I don’t feel any hope of a reconciliation with anybody anymore. Grandma has become heartless, cold, calloused, and indifferent to life and people. Even though she has Carl, I don’t think she has the capability of loving or caring for anybody. The few times I was around them, I saw the interaction between them. I think he loves her, but I don’t see it in her. I don’t know if she’s ever had it in her.

Well, I need to get on with my day. I’m very happy to get up every morning, and for my life to look forward to. I pray for Braden every time he crosses my mind. I trust God that he is living a blessed life.

I will always love you,

Mom 

BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU JUDGE OTHERS AND OFFER YOUR OPINION

Just today I received a comment from somebody who thinks that I should send Erica’s stuff to Braden. It’s very easy for an outsider to tell others that they’re wrong and what they should do. Karen is involved in his life. She has communication with the foster parents. She’s my sister. She will always be in touch with Braden, so when he wants his stuff, he will always have a way to contact me.
There is no “HIGH ROAD” as that person states in her comment. He’s been ripped from our lives without even an explanation, and then tossed around like a rag doll. Social Services has been the ones to treat me as a criminal. They have with held very important information from the Foster Parents concerning the very reason Erica died. They made up a story that it was drugs. They want me to send her stuff to THEM? To make sure that it gets to Braden? I don’t think so. I told them that the Foster Parents can contact me personally and once I’ve established a relationship with them and feel comfortable, I’ll make sure Erica’s stuff gets to Braden. I WILL NOT allow California Social Services to be a middle man for my grandson. They have lied to me too many times. I DON’T TRUST THEM THAT BRADEN WILL GET EVERYTHING I SEND. THEY WILL PICK AND CHOOSE. He deserves EVERYTHING from his mom…..not just WHAT SOME AGENCY THINKS IS APPROPRIATE….PERIOD!!!!

Long Time

It’s been so long since I’ve written here. I’ve never been good at journaling or writing daily, or often. It’s just that when I get depressed, upset or stuff happens, my mind feels like it’s in a blender. I think about you, Erica every single day. I feel like I’ve failed you in so many ways, and the lastest way is about Braden. You have to know, as I’m sure you already do that I’ve tried so hard to get him, and because we live in Oregon, it was more difficult. Karen betrayed me and made it possible that Braden went to live with Lindsay and Ben. They didn’t keep him and took him back down to Social Services. He’s in a foster home now. Nobody will allow me to talk to him, or have any communication at all. They’ve been treating me as a criminal since you passed away. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I withdrew my application. They’ve contacted me about sending information about you to them so Braden will have it. Yeah, right. They’re not getting anything from me. If they don’t want to allow me to have a relationship with him, then I’ll wait for him to grow up. I’ll be praying that he comes to see me when he gets old enough.

I don’t know where or how he is. It’s so incredibly painful to think about it, that all I want to do is just cry when I do. I try to busy myself and my mind to NOT think about it. Now I know why people self medicate. Numbing is sometimes easier…..although I, myself wouldn’t know because I haven’t done that. Something inside me just can’t. I feel the pain. It’s like I’m meant to experience it. Losing a child is like losing part of me.

Bryan has disappointed me beyond belief. Lindsay still doesn’t talk to us, and we still don’t know why. She has the most beautiful baby girl. Her name is Emma Kate. I don’t have a relationship with any of you kids, and I feel like I’m living in somebody elses’ life….not my own. This seems like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I just seem to go through the motions of living my life here with Dad and Isaiah. I try very hard to be a good wife and mom, but it’s overwhelming at times.

I’ll try to write again soon. We’re going to see Grandma and Carl in a couple of days. I need to show her how to use her Tablet, and give her a laptop, and teach her how to use it as well. Grandma really misses you and is broken over what’s happened with Braden as well. I’m glad that she has Carl.

I love you so incredibly much, and miss you the same. Someday I will see you again…..

THE NECKLACE

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A couple of days ago, I was looking for a different necklace to wear. As I was fishing through my stuff, I came across a pendant that Erica gave to me many years ago. Because of the fact that I had other kids, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by wearing something that only one of my kids gave to me. I was always concerned about one child not feeling as important as the others. That type of thinking is so wrong. Considering that my other kids weren’t as generous, but had other qualities, I didn’t know how to embrace that mindset. I’ve hung Bryan’s drawings on the wall. I’ve posted and hung pictures of Lindsay and her achievements. I suppose that NOW, it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters now is that I KNOW. I will wear this necklace with pride. I’m proud that I had a daughter who thought enough of me to gift me with jewelry. She was always a very giving person. She has given me other things that I didn’t put out because ‘it wasn’t my taste’. Shame on me. It was HER taste. It was an extension of who she was. My home should have been filled with ‘family’ stuff….not just ‘Eileen or Paul’s things’.
When we were selling our stuff in Redding before we left, Erica bought a set of dishes from us, and many other things. Not for herself, but for her friends’ mother. I didn’t accept Erica for who she really was. I was always pre occupied with her ‘lifestyle’. There, I said it out loud. God always knew this about me. I always knew this about me. It’s very difficult and shameful to say. I would do anything to have her back to change things. Considering that I can never have that wish, I can only go through the rest of my life as a changed person. Just for the record, it was only in her adult life that we had this conflict of interest.
Sometimes when we give birth, we change. Sometimes when our child dies, we change once again. This time, I’ve changed in the way God wants me to see others. He doesn’t want me to see their ‘lifestyle’. He wants me to see their heart.
This is my most precious gift from my kids. Thank You, Lord for opening my eyes and heart.
Erica was born to save me, she died to save me from myself. Her death was NOT in vain.
She will always be in my heart, and now around my neck.

One year ago yesterday

erica and lesa

It’s been one year since Erica’s been gone. In so many ways, I still believe that my phone’s going to ring, and she’s going to be there. All I have left are my memories. Her laugh, her crying, her sadness, her joy. I remember when she told me that she was pregnant and having Braden. He was her ‘miracle’ baby because she had been told that she couldn’t get pregnant. She had a disease that affected her ovaries. It’s called ‘Polycystic Ovary Syndrome’ http://women.webmd.com/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview. I wish I had taken it more serious, as it causes heart disease. I probably couldn’t have done anything about it. She told me many times that it caused weight gain and the other health problems that she had. I’ve felt so bad about her health problems, and although I know there was nothing I could do about it, I still somehow felt a little responsible.
I kept myself very busy yesterday, so I didn’t sit and cry. Paul was so gracious and thoughtful. He brought out our memorial light, and as we stood together, he prayed. I didn’t need anything else from him….just that. I can’t thank God enough for him.
I’m also very thankful to God for allowing me to spend the first part of my day with not only Paul and Isaiah, but my mom and Carl. They had been visiting with us for a couple of days, and made sure that they were with me on that day. It was very meaningful to me. I know Erica would be very pleased as well. I don’t believe that she would want me to sit around in grief, letting my life just slip away.
My sadness is still there when I think about her. It’s just not so overwhelming that it feels like it’s going to swallow me anymore. There’s still part of me that’s missing. The part that grew when I gave birth to her. Even now, I still feel very different than before August 30, 2012. I will never be the same. I never knew that a loss like this changes a person whether we want it or not. Our identity is in the ones we cherish and love so deeply.
If you’re reading this, my prayer for you is that you will never have to walk in my shoes. I don’t wish for anybody to experience this. It’s more than we can bear at times.
I belong to a group that nobody wants or wishes to join.
Take care, all who read this and make sure that you love and cherish your loved ones with all of your heart. Make sure you tell them not only that you love them, but how much they mean to you. Saying the words “I love you”, “luv Ya”, and the like are just shallow words unless you express meaning behind them.