Month: January 2014

When death is the only hope…

My maternal grandmother, Marquerite, died yesterday morning. Her death was the only hope of our reconciliation. I had not seen or spoken to her in 18 years ~ my oldest child met her once, but thankfully doesn’t remember it. My husband and my other two children had never met her. Marquerite struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. In my unprofessional opinion, it was a result of chemical inbalances in her brain and years of physical and sexual abuse, first from her parents – then her husband – then her son. She was also physically handicapped; her right knee cap had rotted from multiple injuries that were never taken care of, so when she married, her Army husband had it removed and the bones fused together. She could not bend her leg at all; she wore a specially made built up shoe to walk. When Grandma was on her medications, she was a wonderful woman. She knew Jesus as her personal Friend ~ she loved her 4 grandchildren (my siblings and I) to distraction ~ she played Simon Says and Mother May I? up and down our driveway summer after summer ~ she taught us card games and funny songs and crafts. When Grandma was not on her medications, she was a horrible woman. What faith she had disappeared ~ she fought with her grandchildren, daughter, and son-in-law as if we were trying to kill her ~ she assaulted police officers ~ she attempted to assault my oldest child (who was 5 months old at the time). Grandma often went off her medication believing that Jesus would heal her ~ or that she didn’t need it ~ or that the doctor was trying to kill her. For the sake of my family, I drew boundaries that she could not cross. After that last time of seeing her, the one time we tried to talk over the phone left her thinking she was talking to my sister and being totally confused about who I was and who my family was. She mailed back pictures I sent her, including the letters, with pages and pages of nonsensical ramblings where she thought I was my mother. I couldn’t handle her physical presence or written/spoken presence in the life of my family, so I cut off contact. Now that she is in Heaven with her Savior, I believe she is whole again. Her mind is balanced and free of fear ~ her leg is fully functional ~ her wounds are healed ~ her spirit is well. When my family and I join her there someday, we’ll have the reconciliation we could not have on earth ~ the relationship with her that was never possible here. So, part of me rejoices in her death ~ that she is finally whole and the wonderful woman I caught glimpses of throughout my childhood. And, part of me mourns in her death ~ that my husband and children will never know her on earth, that she and I could not have and maintain the grandmother/granddaughter relationship I so longed for. I will remember the bright summer days of Simon Says and Mother May I? ~ of Sound of Music plays in the yard ~ of blackberry picking and creek swimming ~ and be thankful that I was blessed with a grandmother who, as much as she was able, pointed me to my Jesus.

My One Word for 2014

All over the wide world of the web, there are posts about choosing one word for the new year instead of doing a New Year’s Resolution. I’ve never done one word for a year, and most new year’s resolutions (at least my own) rarely last past January 2nd.

I like the idea of one word for a year… it is simple ~ but with focus ~ with consistency ~ and I believe I was given my one word as I was reviewing my 2013 journals and notes from spiritual dimensions trips.

My word for 2014 is…

    closer.

Closer as in moving closer ~ moving closer to God. This idea came from James 4:8 ~ “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” (NLT) Other translations say “draw near“. Both ways get to the same point, drawing near ~ getting closer ~ to God with the benefit of Him coming closer to me.

Out there on the web, I recently saw a post about not shining so people see me, but shining so people see God in me. This is similar to what my desire is ~ to draw closer to God, so close those around me cannot tell where I stop and He begins. I’ve often pictured holding God by the hand, standing so close to the back and side of Him that my nose is pressed into His shoulder blade, and I’m clinging with my other hand to His arm. From the front, a person would see all of God, and just a little bit of me off to His side.

I would not be able to breathe without breathing in His scent ~ I would not be able to move without His going with me, leading me ~ I would not be able to

    be

without Him.

This one word ~ closer ~ would give me focus.

I would not do things ~ buy things ~ participate in things ~ pray about things ~ dwell on things ~ that did not bring me closer to God. At least, I would try not to. And this closer to God… it would impact other things. I would be able to be closer to my husband, my kids, my friends, my family.

Closer.

© 2017 Charlene Birky

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