Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's All In A Name

I was the middle child of five -- a brother and sister older, and a brother and sister younger - right smack-dab in the middle. What do they say about middle children???? We are peace makers, good listeners, see both sides, hate turmoil, get lost in the crowd, make good baby sitters, etc., etc. We have nothing that we can call our own --- it’s either handed down to us or it’s taken from us and given to the next one down. We share bedrooms. We are either being taken care of or taking care of someone else. All of these things describe ME. And a little of all these things are still there.

I look at pictures of the 5 of us and I think of a litter of puppies. A few bigger, a few smaller, but you just knew we belonged together in the same doghouse, in the same backyard, on the same street. There on the couch sit three girls with the same haircut, the same dresses, the same shoes, and the same socks. Everything the same --- except the sizes. The up side? I knew I belonged somewhere. The down side? I was just number three.

It even spilled over into my name. I hated my name, and I still do. Typing it here is even hard --- CORNELIA. There. I did it, but didn’t like it one bit. For one thing, it isn’t one of the modern, feminine, trendy names like girls had back in the 50’s. My friends were named Candy, Susan, Nancy, Judy, and other “normal” things. Secondly, I was once again just one of three. Both grandmothers on either side were “Cornelia” so it wasn’t even an original pick. The worst thing of all was when I looked up the meaning of my name. My interpretation was, “Old Maid.” The book said, “Maiden of God,” but since I was single and not liking it, I took this as my predestined confirmation of my marital status in life.

Such big problems for a 5 year old facing kindergarten, aren’t they? Yet, I can still remember worrying about what they would call me --- Cora or Cornelia????? Both were terrible, but please, NOT Cornelia! My poor grandmother was so hurt by this. She could NOT understand why I didn’t cherish the fact that I was her namesake. I cringed every time she brought it up.

Little wonder, then, that I was less than thrilled later in life when I found out that my name was forever carved on Christ’s hand. I stewed about that for a long time. Then it all turned to guilt: How in the world did my name become such a big, important issue??? ME, of all people, thinking that my name meant anything to anyone at all!! Most of the time, I was called everything BUT my name. My parents had to go through the list of all 5 to get the right one. But usually, I was called, “Sneaky Pete”, “Pony”, “Stallion," "bean pole," "corn stalk” and the crowning name of them all, “Dirty, Rotten, Lousy, Stinkin’, good for nothing Bum.” It’s amazing how, as I type those words, I can feel the knife turn in the heart of the little child in me. As adults, we laugh now about those name-calling times. But isn’t it true that what we are called defines who we are? There was a period of time that I thought perhaps it was one of these nicknames that was carved on Christ’s hand.
Maybe it was true --- that I was all of these things.

I HATE name calling. Call it what you will --- I call it down-right bullying, belittling, heart-breaking, tear-jerking, rot. And when I look into the puddles forming hot in the eyes of a child who has just been “renamed” like this, I feel it burn in my own.

Someday, I will meet Him. And He will reach out His hands to receive me. And I will quickly look to see what is carved there -- Cora or Cornelia? I’ll settle for either of those. But then, surprise of all surprises, He will bend down and whisper in my ear so only I can hear --- A NEW NAME! Something just between me and Him. And there I’ll be, dressed in white --- my very own robe all trimmed in gold -- His hand holding mine. And in my other hand? A stone. I turn it over carefully, and YES, it’s true. There, carved perfectly just for me is my new name. It just makes me wonder. . . . . . . What DID He see when I sat on that couch and posed for the picture? What DID He call me?????

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Story to be Told?

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading (and rereading!) Dan Allender’s book, “To Be Told.” I can’t remember where I heard about it, but whatever it was that I read, it sparked enough interest in me to order the book AND the workbook. I thought I was over that. I can’t tell you how many books (AND the workbooks) I have purchased that I thought would “fix” my life. I don’t think I ever once wrote one word in any of the workbooks. And I’ve come to realize that probably no one ever does. Most of them can be purchased on Ebay for less than half the usual purchase price, and they all say they have NO WRITING in them. And along comes another sucker like me, pen ready to go as soon as the mailman delivers my books.
And there I sit with what I hope will be my new bag of fairy dust that will fix whatever is bothering me at the moment. Reality check!!!!!! THERE IS NO FAIRY DUST!

So why this book? First of all, it nipped at my heels because I like to write. I’m not polished, not an author, and probably not that good at it, but if given a choice, I’d rather WRITE it than TELL it. So when the back of the book tells me that I have a story that God wants me to tell, that He has been writing the story of my life up to this point and would like me to pick up my pen and help Him finish the story ---- it got my attention. The author believes that our main purpose and goal of our life is to magnify God’s character and each of us does that in a unique and original way. And once we discover what it is about Him that He wants to show through us, then we find the real and true purpose of our past, our present and our future.

I can’t get away from it. I started with chapter one, reread it to make sure I “got it,” and then went to the workbook. These were not just little “answer the questions to see if you got it” type questions. These were “projects!” Things you need a notebook for. Memories. Lists. Descriptions. OK --- I’m in. I began with a list of the “players” on the stage of my life where my first memories can remember. Just doing that made me take a trip down memory lane.

I’m telling you all this because I think I will post some of these here on my blog. You know, I just love it when some of you have taken the time to tell your stories --- where you grew up, what your grandparents were like, what school was like, your Sunday school teachers, your parents, etc. Those posts just draw me in. It lets me know who and why you are what you are today.

So just in case a story pops up out of the blue about something that took place in my life, you will understand where it’s all coming from --- and where it’s all going. I am so curious! If God wants to show the world just one thing about Himself through ME, what would that be????

Pick up your pen, Lord,
Turn the pages in my book called, “Life.”
And write your Story!
All for your Glory!
And when it all is written
Of what You want to say,
And somewhere in between all the messes I have made
I see grace on every page,
Sign your Name, Lord.
Sign your Name.

Little by little,
Tell of how You loved me.
Fill all the pages others would erase.
And where I tried to write it all my own way,
Cross through my words with ink so full of Grace!
And write Your story!

Little by little,
Tell of how You found me --
Pages of a life all filled with shame --
Write with inks of love and deep compassion,
And when You’re done, sign each and every page!
And tell Your story!

Little by little,
And one soul, then another --
Write Your story for the least of these!
Fill my book, Lord,
Let there be no empty pages,
Pick up your pen, and write about Your peace --
And tell Your story. . .

--Cora Eelman

Monday, June 27, 2011

Showers of Blessings!

It's literally true: Sometimes blessings do come in raindrops! I don't think I've ever seen it so dry here for so long. It was heartbreaking to see trees dying --- large, mature trees that were full of green leaves, now brown and dead. I have 4 in my yard alone. So when the rains came this week, no one was more thankful than me. I've often imagined what it must be like as the Lord listens to ALL the prayers from around the world. Here I am, begging for rain, Texas needs rain so badly, and others are dealing with floods and rising rivers, crying for a break from all the water! Yet, He hears our cries, takes us through whatever it is that sweeps over us, and we say, "thank you" once again. His way for me is best . . . always! And so, I continue counting the blessings I see each day:

510. Several days of gentle rains after a very long, dry drought. Fires were becoming a threat, trees were so droopy, and gardens failing. Thank you, Lord, for showers!

511. Watching happy birds in the rain!

512. Realizing that many of these birds probably never saw or experienced rain! It’s been that long. They’ve been hatched, raised, and out of the nest --- all since the last time we even had a shower.

513. Seeing how squirrels hang on the underside of tree branches and catch the little streams of water
As they drip. Long, slow drinks! Then a washed face. And all is well!

514. Leaves, all shiney and clean.

515. The peaceful sound of drips from places where God gave an over abundance.

516. Puddle splashers. There’s always the party bunch, aren’t there???? They come with their music and all!

517. That I was challenged this week to find words for things I couldn’t explain clearly. One of those -- You know that you know but you can’t explain it --- type of things.

518. That in this search I learned so much more than I thought I knew.

519. Goats and chickens who love string beans. They are getting the last of the stray beans.

520. Watching Buster push his head deep into the cherry tomato plants, finding the ripe ones, and eating them all. Oh, well! I’m just glad he was smart enough NOT to try the HOT peppers.

521. Reading an exciting and challenging book called, “To Be Told” by Dan Allender. I have bought a million books throughout my life, all promising to make me into the person God meant for me to be, or dealing with my past, and everything else that’s wrong with my life. I got all the workbooks, too. And they are all blank. But this one grabbed me. And since I like to write, this pushed my buttons. More about this in future posts.

522. Finding out that declaring war on negative thoughts is a really BIG war! It’s amazing when I start writing down all the negative things that I think about myself and then find out what God has to say about them. . . . It’s REALLY WAR!

523. Why does that make me smile? Somewhere in my heart I already know I’m on the winning side.

524. Air Conditioning!!!! Just the sound of it coming on makes me feel cooler!

525. That He is in my boat with me when the seas get stormy.

526. That He told me we were going over to the other side, and once He tells me where we’re going, there are no storms that will keep us from going there.

527. That no matter how many times I ask Him why He doesn’t care, He always calms the storms and reminds me of Who He is.

Linking up with so many others who see their blessings each day and share with us their lists:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Just Ain't Right!

I knew this day was coming for a while now. And I dreaded it. I mean ---- how many women look forward to going “Boob Shopping?” Not something that pops up regularly in your day-planner, is it?????

But it had to be. You see, I poked a hole in my Boob. It happened a couple of months ago. I always tried to be so careful when putting that thing into the bra. There is a nice, little 1-inch hole in the pocket of the bra cup into which you have to get this 3 pound, cantelope sized boob form. Add to that, it is like a thin skinned balloon filled with silicone gel and a finger nail can go right through it. Add to that, it costs about $369.00.

So. . . Rather than run right out and get a new boob, I got my packing tape out and did a repair job. It did the job until the other day, when the whole thing just went rrrrrrrrrrrip! Since I had to go out, I got the tape out AGAIN and held life together for a little while longer. It’s amazing what a little tape can do to get you through the hard times in life!!!

But today. . . I knew the time had come. In the back of my mind, I just knew that one of these days that thing would burst like a water balloon and I’d be in big trouble. It would most likely happen in a public place, like church or something, and I would never be able to show my face again. So for my own peace of mind, I broke down and went for it.

It’s been two and a half years since my mastectomy. I can hardly believe that much time has past. At first, I thought, “What’s all the fuss about? Who really cares?” I’m 63 years old, so “looks” didn’t seem that important anymore. I was just glad the whole ordeal was over and if it cost a boob, so be it! But I have noticed that I’m becoming more self-conscious about it. I almost never look in the mirror at myself --- it’s too freakish and “It just ain’t right!” I just can’t imagine what younger women go through. It must be the hardest thing in the world to find some form of normal in all of it.

“Normal” for me today cost over $400.00. A boob and a bra. I don’t think I’ve ever spent $400.00 on any one piece of clothing, pair of shoes, purse, etc., ever. But just to look “normal,” I did. Yes, I’ll be reimbursed for a little of that, but even if I didn’t get anything, I would have paid the price. It just ain’t right!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Whispered Gratitudes

It’s Monday today. The day I usually post my list of gratitudes in a community of people who are living in the moment and seeing there what God has so graciously given. It has been 16 weeks for me. And perhaps these have been the richest of times because I have never realized before how much God has blessed me. But underneath, there has been this knowing thing going on in my heart ---- the wanting to add the “deeper” gratitudes, the “eucharisteo,” the hard thank you’s that get all blurred as you look up with tear-filled eyes and look for the Father’s face. I have not put them on my lists. Not because I am not thankful and unable to say them. They are just too personal to post in a public place. Do you have those? Do you keep a separate journal for these? Today, just putting these numbers in their place bring a lump to my throat and a sigh is whispered with each one. I know He hears. . .

505. . . . .

506. . . .

507. . . . .

508 . . . . .

509. That He understands, accepts my whispers, and keeps them safe within His heart!

Join so many others, won’t you, as they continue to share in the community of gratitude with Ann VosKamp here:

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Gratitude - Week #16

487. Hearing God’s Word preached and knowing in my heart it came straight from God.

488. Having the resources to dig deeper into the questions that were raised in my heart in response to this preaching.

489. Sharing this with friend.

490. Friends who encourage me to share my heart without feeling intimidated.

491. Knowing that God is NEVER intimidated by what I say --- He already knew it anyways.

492. Hours of talk with my sister. It’s amazing how there is “talk” and then there is “REALLY talk.”

493. The aroma of a pot of baby limas cooking with tons of carrots and little pieces of ham.

495. A friend who lost her job with the school system because of state job cuts, but was called back 2 days later. We were all praying she would find another job soon. Who knew the Lord would reopen the same job???

496. The internet. What did we do before this??? Chuck full of information, answers, encouragement --- to say nothing of the friends and mentors and teachers we meet here.

497. Little red cherry tomatoes hiding among other plants. I let those wild tomato plants grow. Do I remember correctly these kind of plants are called “Free Will tomatoes?” They did really well, much better than when I planted the plants last year and babied them so much. Buster loves them and eats them right off the plants.

498. Momma cardinal feeding her baby at the feeder.

499. Fresh eggs.

500. Laying my hand gently on Buster when he has his nightmares and hearing him heave a big sigh and relax again. Whatever it is, he’s had these heartbreaking dreams since puppy hood and it’s pathetic to listing to him cry like that.

501. Cold ice tea on a VERY HOT day.

502. For struggles that seem to have no answers except to make me think and grow stronger.

503. For questions that make me dig for answers.

504. For answers that bring up more questions.

Joining with Ann VonKamp and a multitude of others who are counting their gifts in everyday moments. . .

Monday, June 6, 2011

So many Things to be Thankful For!

455. Still bringing in beans --- those long, asparagus beans. Vines are starting to thin out, so I may just get a second planting. They love HOT weather. Trouble is, I DON’T!

456. Mornings still cool enough to do some yard work without becoming buzzard bait.

457. A REALLY GREAT hot dog with saurkraut. Every once in a while, you just GOTTA give in to those cravings.

458. That God can change people, even old people, like ME.

459. That I would even WANT TO change.

460. That I would want to do it with accountability to a trusted few.

461. That He orchestrates it all, bringing other bloggers into the picture because they are sensitive to God’s direction and leading in what they say.

462. That keeping this list of blessings, gratitudes, and simple thank you’s has changed so much in my life:
I have seen light shining where there used to be only darkness, and guess Who was there? Makes me want to venture a little deeper and let Him shine the light on it.

463. That the title to my blog, Hidden Riches in Secret Places, is coming full circle back to me.

464. That when darkness veils His loving face, I can rest in His unchanging grace; Through every dark and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

465. That God can resurrect trust even when every shred of trust within me is dead. Thank you, Craig!

466. The sound of thunder in the distance. Rains coming? We need it sooooo badly!

467. Darkened skies. Rain is coming!

468. Hearing first drops hitting the leaves of my sycamore tree.

469. Gentle showers washing away dirt and dust, making all things new and beautiful again!

470. Walking through puddles. I’ve been a puddle splasher since grade school!

471. Watching birds who can’t get enough of puddle splashing either!

472. That God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

473. That sometimes I’m in the middle, that place between the making of the promise and the fulfillment.

474. That I can continue walking, knowing it will be --- maybe not today, but IT WILL BE!

475. That He is able to keep me from falling.

476. That He presents me faultless before the Throne of Grace! Faultless!!!!! ME!!!!!!

477. Reading “The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken” by Naomi Zacharias and feeling my gut being wrenched already, though I’m only in chapter 4.

478. That I’m finding I’m doing better with reading! I used to read everything I could put my hands on. Then found I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t remember what I read, etc. Chemo brain???? I don’t know! It really bothered me for a while. Lately, the desire to read has been overwhelming, and I started again by just reading and rereading until “I got it!” Slowly but surely, it has come back again. Thank you, Lord!

479. Finding so many little, tiny eggplants on my plants. What to do????? I don’t like eggplant that much! They look like little Christmas ornaments perfectly placed on little trees. Maybe by the time I try a different recipe each time I bring them in, I’ll find SOMETHING that I like.

480. Hearing all the frogs “singing” at night and others singing back from far away. Add to the chorus, a whipoorwill, a rooster that doesn’t know it’s night time, and a mockingbird that hasn’t stopped singing for a month now, and . . . . Yes, God DOES give “songs in the night!” Kind of sounds like I live in a swamp. Swamp songs!

481. That I still have time to replant beans for a second crop. The question is, WILL I???? It’s REALLY HOT out there.. . .

482. That I have a brother-in-law who handles the “man tools” and saws and chops trees that fall across my driveway.

483. That nothing goes to waste, as birds pull away loose bark off of the fallen tree and find lunch ready and waiting for squawking babies.

484. That my sister, who seems to have gone over the edge in her determined efforts to get rid of the vultures, is winning the battle after all ---- BB guns, bobbing-headed plastic owls, garlands made of shiney silver and bright plastic ornaments hanging in trees, a good hosing now and then ------ I only saw one last night, and Buster did a good job is chasing that one off. I used to think the obsessions of older people were a hoot when I was younger --- like my father sitting in his lawn chair with a poker, waiting for the moles to come and then spearing them with shouts of victory. But my sister and I are there now. And there is something about being old and not letting a vulture get the best of you. It’s like your last stand in life, your claim to victory. So please bear with us, you younger ones who think I’ve lost it!

485. Spanish Rice! When was the last time you had Spanish Rice????? When I was a kid, this came in cans, ready made, and you just heated it up as a side dish. We had it all the time and I loved it. What happened to Spanish rice????? Another significant sign of old age ---- craving the foods of your youth! I made it from scratch, and I couldn’t get enough. You’d think it was the last meal I would ever get.

486. Sycamore leaves, now full sized, doing what they are made to do ---- make shade. Watching the breezes make these leaves dance, which make the shadows dance . . . And makes me smile. It’s been almost 3 years now since I nearly killed this tree. It’s planted close to my septic tank. Too close, but I don’t care. When I went through chemo treatments, I never gave it a thought that all that poison would go OUT of me, INTO the septic tank, and end up in my tree! I cried when I saw all those beautiful, perfect leaves turn brown and curl up. I wondered if it would come back the following year ---- I wondered if I would be back the following year!!!!! It did come back, more full and stronger than ever. And so did I.

Joining with so many others who find blessings in the most wonderful places. . .