Apr 152010
 



I know. I was there. I felt it.



Ten years ago I lost my mother to colon cancer. She fought a courageous battle for eleven and a half months until her body just couldn’t go on. I remember the day she called to tell me. I was sitting on my couch, the phone rang and my step father said “they found something.” I repeated what and all he could say was the same thing over and over. I finally said put mom on the phone and she told me. “They found a tumor.” I became very matter of fact. It’s ok, I said. We will beat this, I said. Not to worry, I said. And then we hung up and I flung the phone across the room and began to shake. I sat there for what seemed like hours before I could pull my cried out self together. That day I began to pray. I began to pray for what I wanted. My prayers were more of a begging, a pleading of sorts rather than a prayer. I didn’t pray for what would bring God glory. I didn’t care what would bring Him glory. I prayed for Him to spare my mother’s life.

Those eleven months were the fastest of my life. She called me June 2000 and told me to come home. I immediately understood why. I arrived home just a few short hours before she slipped into a coma. Our preacher was there and as I sat by her bedside and he on the other side, I asked my mother if she had any questions. She shook her head no. The preacher took her hands and prayed with her. I sat there in awe. Really??? No questions, at all???? None. Nada. All I could think is if all that “stuff” in the bible is real and you are about to die and go to heaven, how could you NOT have questions???? She didn’t have a single one.

That night dragged on and on. My mother’s body continued to give way. Her breathing was incredibly labored. If you have never been with someone passing from this life to the next, it is every bit as painful, heartbreaking, and down-right amazing as you’d imagine it to be. Throughout the night I had gone from lying in a twin bed beside her to sitting by her side caressing her hand.

You might feel a little skeptical about the next part, but I tell you without hesitation, it is the truth. Nothing less. As I lay there watching my mother in the dimly lit room, I felt a warmth pass over my body as if someone had just momentarily placed an electric blanket on me. And just as quickly as it was laid on me, it passed over me. I looked up at my step father and said “she’s gone, isn’t she?” My mother had passed away at three am. And without any doubt in my mind, her spirit passed right through me as it left her body.

I tell you these things because this morning at church our preacher spoke about the Resurrection. He told of all the theories. The “swoon” theory; that maybe Jesus just fainted on the cross but wasn’t really dead. The “theft” theory; that the disciples wanted so badly to keep this good thing going so they stole his body during the night. The “hallucination” theory; that each person that saw Jesus that day had only hallucinated. Each of these theories have been dispelled. Today when I was sitting in church listening to the preacher talk about all this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my mother and her passing. The Holy Spirit reminded me that I have had a first hand account of what it is like when the spirit doesn’t need the body anymore. When my mother’s scarred, cancer ridden, broken down, tattered, worn out body was left here on earth and her spirit ascended to heaven. I know. I was there. I felt it.

My spirituality, as I used to call it, has taken the long way to get to where I am today. But for me, that’s what it took. There are so many other stories that I could tell that helped me get to where I am today, and maybe Glennon will be so kind as to let me tell them in time. But the short of it is, I needed to know it was real. I needed to know what I was believing was solid. Today my faith, which is what I call my sprirituality now, is unshakable. I know if I were to be on death’s bed tonight, I wouldn’t have any questions either. Not one. None. Nada.

Each of us have our own beliefs and I respect that about each and every Monkee. I hope you will also respect mine; for this is the only belief I have got.

Love, Tricia


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Monkees, I moved Tricia’s guest post up in the queue immediately when I discovered that this week she found a lump in her breast. Her doctors will give her more information on Monday. She’s full of hope but also afraid. Just like the rest of us.

This is what we’re here for, Monkees, Tricia and her faithful, fearful heart are what Momastery is all about.




Apr 132010
 

Showing Up

Joey, opening her drawing table at her wedding shower. Guess the theme.



Wow, if I could just start my post with, “There is a woman named Glennon, and she lives in Virginia…” then I think you guys would get the point.

I knew exactly what Glennon was talking about in yesterday’s post…to feel so incredibly loved by a friend. I had that exact same feeling when Glennon bought me my very first drawing table last year. It was huge, heavy, expensive and something I would have put off buying for years. I was floored. I couldn’t believe she had done it for so many reasons. First of all, I was shocked that someone as small as Glennon could haul that huge table into my wedding shower. Secondly, I couldn’t believe that someone would pay close enough attention to me to know that a drawing table is exactly what I needed and wanted. Lastly, that someone would actually love me enough to make it happen.

So I guess when I logged on to Facebook that day and Krystal’s post came up, going to the book signing was a no-brainer.

When I first moved back to Virginia, about 3 years ago, Glennon gave me an Anne Lamott book. That book sat untouched on my shelf until this past weekend. I even tried to give it back to her at one point because I felt bad but she refused to take it back until I read it. I still wouldn’t read it, though. I knew it had the word “faith” in it lots of times, and I don’t read those books because I think of them as preachy and self-righteous. But Glennon told me, with great passion, that this woman was someone who had helped her with her struggles. Her writing was so outside-the-box – it made Glennon feel like she had the right to say what she wanted, the way she wanted to say it. She said that I would really enjoy it and I would laugh hysterically. But I didn’t read it. LESSON 1: Listen to people that you respect and admire. They have something to teach you.

So that leads me to this book reading and signing. I walked in and the place was packed. People were laughing loudly and clapping. At the front of the room, at a podium, stood a hippie with dreads. Am I at the right place? I sat down for about an hour and listened to her speak. To steal another person’s words from the reading that night, I was charmed. Anne Lamott was saying so many things that sounded exactly like Glennon. I wanted to raise my hand and say, “OMG, YOU would TOTALLY love my friend Glennon. You guys would be like really good friends!!!” But I didn’t. Probably a good call.

She talked about her struggles with drugs, her new book, her past relationships, Jesus, politics, her son, and she even told some great jokes. But what really resonated with me was when she said, “If you don’t do what you want to do right now, you’ll never do it.” With that, I woke up. She went on to say that lots of younger women come up to her and tell her their dreams of being a writer, but they always had an excuse as to why they couldn’t be. “I’ll start when my husband retires” or “I’m so busy right now, I have to wait a little while.” She went on to say, “You’ll be 80 years old and STILL be wishing that you were a writer.”

I looked down and felt sad and guilty. I had been doing that exact same thing with my dreams of becoming an artist and I knew it. I make a lot of excuses to put off doing things I love because I am scared. I am scared I won’t be good enough. Then, you know what Anne Lamott said? She said “If you are trying to do anything well, you’ll be really shitty at first. If you’re trying to play piano, you’ll botch Farmer in the Dell for months and nobody will ever come to see you play.” The she quoted Woody Allen and said, “80% of life is just showing up.” So if you just SHOW UP and keep at it, you’ll be a master before you know it. LESSON #2: Show up.

At this point, I rushed up to Anne Lamott with tears in my eyes (I’m pregnant) and handed her the card that I had written. I thanked her for being awesome and told her my friend couldn’t be there but I wrote a card on her behalf. I walked out mesmerized by her message.

Upon leaving the bookstore. I was immediately motivated to go home and do some artwork. I was inspired. More than anything, I was grateful I had I shown up. LESSON #3: Whenever you set out to help a friend, you end up helping yourself.”

The next morning, I was sooo excited to talk to Glennon. I was excited to thank her for loving Anne Lamott. I should have KNOWN that if Glennon loved her, I would love her too. I couldn’t wait to tell her how cool I thought Anne was. How smart, articulate and inspiring she was. I told Glennon all of her jokes, all of her recommendations, all of her stories. Glennon was, of course, equally as enthused by all of my previous night’s action. She was glad I “got to know” Anne Lamott and saw something great in her. As excited as I was about seeing her speak and about Glennon’s reaction, I was happy and relieved that Anne Lamott (unbeknownst to her) had gotten me out of a very long funk. She made it so simple. She cleared all the clutter and excuses.

A few days before this book signing, I had mentioned to Glennon that I wanted to do a blog a là Julie & Julia – posting an original drawing each and every day for a full year.

Now, I’m not the quickest to put things together, so as I continued to speak about what Lamott’s words meant to Glennon, she patiently interjected. “ Hm. I wonder what this means for you? Don’t you think it might mean that you shouldn’t put off your blog idea any longer? I mean, if you’re ready. But she did say if you’re not ready now, you’ll never be, right?”

Ahhh, Glennon. Why didn’t I think of that!? How come things can be so obvious to everyone but me sometimes? LESSON 4: Always tell people your dreams. If nobody knows them, how can they help you follow them?

Ok, (oh God) so…HERE GOES!

I spent all weekend putting this blog together, clearing off the drawing table that Glennon bought me and getting my supplies together. I am mortified, terrified and extremely curious to see where this goes. I guarantee it will be really rough at first but perhaps at the end of this year I’ll have something I’m proud of!

I’m thinking by sort off “announcing” this, now I’ll be held accountable…and there’s no turning back!!! (I feel like I’m at the edge of a really high diving board.) Thank you, Monkees. You guys are responsible for so much more than you’ll ever know.

Love Love Love,

Jo

PS. Oh yeah, I got to Chapter Five of the Anne Lamott book that Glennon gave me three years ago. She was right.



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Hi Monkees. It’s me, G. Please, if you find the time, follow Joey’s progress as she takes on this challenge. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all encouraged each others’ dreams? We’d be like a little slice of heaven on earth.




Apr 022010
 

A guest post, from our Mike.

I love it when an artist finds a creative way to take something that has become worn or broken and make it like new, but better. Easter has become one of those worn out things in my life, despite my growing faith in God. While I can tell you all about the religious significance of Easter, for me personally, it has signified brokenness. Broken dreams, broken promises, and a broken family.

Twenty years ago. During some frantic holiday preparations, and argument erupted between my parents. It was one of those epic arguments that only ended when infidelity was confirmed and a separation planned. The marriage had been weakening for years as they each chased after their own definition of the American Dream, so why shouldn’t the “dream” end like most? Because we were that “religious” family everyone had in their neighborhood. We even had a pillar at the front of the driveway reading: The Clarke Family, “See Ye the Kingdom of God.” And the holiday they were preparing to host was Easter Sunrise Service…in my front yeard. Thankfully, the service rained out that morning but I would have been a no-show either way. If my family was the best that God could do for me, I decided to pass.

Insert and fast forward past 10 years of cliché’debauchery, where I tried to run from the Truth that my parents talked better than they walked. Years of putting hope in other things and other people, and being disappointed when reality didn’t measure up. My last ten years have been a crawl, walk, and recently a sprint back to my perfect Father. He and I have gotten to be quite close as I’ve been asking Him…OK, begging him…to let me be a father and to give my wife and I a family. After we answered his call to adopt, wewatched our projected six month wait turn to twenty-six and counting. I struggled with how a “Perfect Father” could hold out on me.

But He, being the ultimate Dad, had something better than we could ever imagine. He took this time to grow our relationship with Him (and each other). He blessed us with friends with the same heart for Him and His heart for orphans. Friendships so tight that late night prayer or praise conferences are a common occurrence. Most importantly, He took this time to demonstrate that He is more that we could ever want.

A couple of weeks ago, the circumstances of our adoption journey led us for the first time to pray for peace in the reality that maybe kids weren’t in the plan and for the strength and joy that comes from knowing that He is more than enough.

The next week we received an from our orphanage in Uganda, asking us to come meet our kids (that “s” ain’t a typo). With less than three weeks of notice, preparations have been a bit frantic. Since our travel dates were picked by the orphanage and the flights by their travel agent, you can understand why it took me a while to realize the significance of tickets reading, Arrival: 0700, 4APR10.

Our dreams and His promise will come true in the Easter sunrise service of a lifetime.

He makes all things new.



Happy Easter, Monkees. Kiss your babies for us, Mike and Megan.