Lord, You Know

1 “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeedthey were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am theLord.”’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.”

April's Swoops crop

My Pastor was preaching on Ezekiel 37. I’ve heard the passage preached many times. But this time, one phrase jumped out at me. God asks, “Can these bones live?” What I heard was, can what has been dead/impossible come alive/be possible? Only God can know the answer to the miraculous. Ezekiel was so wise and humble to know that when God suggests the impossible, it’s never about what we can do to accomplish it.

Ezekiel’s response was simple. “Oh Lord God, You know.” In that I heard, “Lord I have no idea, but I know you do and you are able. I trust you.” That resonates in my spirit these days. It feels like He suggests the impossible to me everyday. My humble whisper is “Oh Lord God, You know.”

Is He asking you about some “dry bones”?

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I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Last weekend I had one of the best times of my life! I was staying at the Chicago home of a best friend from college. She and another college buddy had planned a private book signing for me at our buddy’s home. My hostess and her husband are gracious and generous. Their home is decorated in authentic Asian wall art and sculpture from their time in Hong Kong. However, the best decoration is their mutual love and respect wafting up to the ceiling like the curl of smoke from the Tahitian Vanilla incense gently filling the foyer. Their relationship is the sweetest I’ve seen.

I had been a bit anxious about the event. However, once I arrived at O’Hare, my jitters settled. My hostess and I reached our buddy’s home to find a fancy and fun spread with everything from shrimp to Sprinkle’s cupcakes. We had time to catch up a bit before the event began. I greeted each guest with a hug and committed to remembering and using every guest’s name.

Ultimately we had about 20 attendees. I opened by talking a bit about myself to provide some background. Then I read an excerpt from Turning Blue to Blue. I opened  it up for questions and a wonderful exchange began. Everyone contributed to it. I sold about 21 books and made at least two new friends. Most significant, my confidence regarding speaking to strangers, increased dramatically and I was inspired to challenge myself to accomplish some other projects I had been avoiding.

MBiB cover

Thanks to my four Wellesley College sisters for their tremendous support. It was a wonderful evening.

By the way, I only muffed one name. Sorry Jeff.

COMING SOON: A Day at the Museum

Why I went to a 7:30 am meeting

Yesterday I agreed to attend a networking meeting hosted by a friend. When he said it was at 7:30 am, I thought he was joking. Who wants to meet new people at 7:30 in the morning? I agreed for two reasons: I wanted to support him and I backed out the last time he invited me to a networking event. (And that one was at a reasonable hour.)

I also thought I might get a free bistro-style breakfast out of it.

Now, it’s not that I’m not up at 7:30. On the day before, I had a load in the washer and had been on my knees to scrub half the grout lines in my kitchen’s ceramic tile floor by then. But I was unwashed and wearing only one of my husband’s shirts.

So at about 11 pm last night, I told myself, “I’m going, but if I hit any major hurdle, I’ll bail-out.” This removed some of the stress of picking out an outfit, getting my directions and navigating morning traffic.  If I couldn’t match up an outfit, if the closet had caused my pants to shrink again, if anything needed to be ironed, I was off the hook.

I continued that mantra as I laid out my clothes and prepared to shower this morning. I calmly checked Mapquest.com, which said it was only a 21 minute drive. “Hmm, wonder if that is what I will really find.” I headed out at about 6:55 am. As I was cruising up the tollway, I thought more about why I was risking having to deal with commuter traffic and a roomful of strangers. Was I kinda dumb, gullible, a pleaser? Would I regret using the gas and toll money? Then, suddenly my whole outlook changed.

I said to myself, “Hey, I’m up, showered, dressed, and out of the house before 7 am! My morning has tremendous possibilities. Even if I were to wipe-out in the meeting, (which I won’t) afterwards I can go find a place to write and think and plan for a few hours.

Interacting with other humans before 8 am is what super successful folks do. Hey, networking is what super successful people do. O.k., regardless of outcome, this is a worthwhile adventure. And Pastor asked us to prepare for a breakthrough this week. I suppose I should do something different to help usher that in.”

English: High Speed Business Networking Event ...

English: High Speed Business Networking Event (Paris, 2006) by JCI. Français  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, there was no free breakfast, but I connected to seven out of about 20 professionals. They are people I want to partner with, can learn from or become their customer. We will see what develops.

Super Happy and the Every Day Struggle

“It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you, without a strong rhyme to step to…” – Eric B. & Rakim

comet2Wow, life has been busy. Let’s jump right in.

I am super happy with my life. Almost every day is a struggle.
I love having an unstructured schedule. I can pretty much plan my day around my workout. I hit a gym about 3 times a week. My body has changed a lot. I’m not as frail looking as I was originally after the 40 lb weight loss. I’m developing definition in my arms. Watch out now!

Just about everyday I do something related to painting. Sometimes it’s studying techniques or products. Sometimes it’s looking for or organizing inspirational pieces. Sometimes it’s spending 8 hours on one piece or 8 hours on four.

Marketing the book is just as challenging as I expected.  But lots of folks have shown their support with purchases, leads and introductions. Actually, I’m having a little trouble keeping all the info organized and followed up on.

In spite of all this, almost everyday I find myself lonely, bored and or restless. I have to consciously use my positive coping techniques and self talk. The positive activities to cheer me include painting, getting outside, meeting friends and new people, prayer, exercise, aromatherapy, beverages with a lot of caffeine and sugar and thrift store shopping. Well, maybe those last two really shouldn’t count, huh?

Left to its own devices, my mind wanders off to various dark corners. I think the interesting part of it is, while it probably always did that, now I notice it and it bothers me! Yes, now that my head is clearer, I can see just what a mess I really am. Chuckle.

I’m kinda at a crossroad with my meds. My doctor and I tried to take me off one, but I began to really struggle. Now we need to figure the next dosage or combination of medications. I had dropped out of talk therapy for over a year. I can see it is time to go back and tackle a whole new set of issues.

I thought getting  well was a full-time job. Staying  well is a full-time job! I love my job.

“When I”m writing, I’m trapped between the lines
I escape when I finish the rhyme…
I got soul.” – Eric B. & Rakim I Know You Got Soul

Guest Post from Jon Acuff

Almost sucks.

For decades, I wrote a lot of “almost books.”

I wrote thousands of words, dozens of chapters and even got one illustrated by an amazing artist.

And nothing ever happened with them.

Why? 13866097_s

Because I was afraid to turn my almost books into finished books.

Right now, you’ve got some almost in your life too. We all do.

The problem is that almost sucks.

It gives you the nice, safe illusion of mattering. You get a percentage of the good feeling you get from actually completely something. You get to feel like maybe you will do that someday. Maybe someday it won’t be an almost project.

The truth is that almost never changes to finished unless you do it.

How do you do that?

Simple, stop your almost project right where you are, right now.

Put a stake in it. Surprise your fear by sneak attacking it with an unexpected finish line.

Is your book done? Maybe not. Is your painting complete? Maybe not. Is your blog perfect? Maybe not.

It doesn’t matter because this is not the last thing you’ll do. This is the first thing you’ll finish.

If you have something that’s been hanging around for years, I dare you to finish it. Today, sooner than your fear thought, sooner than you were ready for.

Finish it because almost sucks.

– See more at: http://acuff.me/2013/10/almost-sucks/#more-203

Guest Post from To Write Love On Her Arms

CHALLENGING STIGMA.

  • Posted on: 9 September 2013
  • By: Aaron Moore

If TWLOHA were to update a status for this week, it would read that we feel “hopeful.” Much preparation has gone into 2013’s National Suicide Prevention Week, as it is a unique opportunity to address a topic so often neglected in our world. This week never ceases to be something beautiful, a chance to fight for the lives of loved ones, strangers, maybe even ourselves. At the same time, however, this week can feel like a necessary evil for many of us. It may remind us of those we’ve lost or of our own struggles. In this way, National Suicide Prevention Week is something we wish we did not need, but sadly, we have great reason to engage in. Which is why many organizations and groups are using this time to focus on the stigma and shame that keep these important conversations from happening.

We have said in the past that we know stigma is built on lies. It is founded and fed by the myths we believe about mental health issues and about those who struggle with them. Perhaps it is the lie that suicide only affects people who are “messed up,” the idea that depression only reaches those who are weak, or even the belief that if we share our struggles with someone, they will not understand or care. But the more we learn the truth about these difficult topics, the more we can bring it into the light and move toward healing and recovery, as well as the work of prevention. We have to learn that issues like depression, addiction, and suicide are not partial to weak people, but are struggles any of us may walk through, simply because we are human. We have to continue to filter the lies and myths about mental illness out of our society, replacing them with facts. This will go an incredibly long way toward eradicating the stigma that is still so prevalent.

But just knowing the truth is not enough. While stigma may be founded on lies, it is also built within a social context, woven throughout the intricate fabric of our relationships. It is within our society and culture that the effects of stigma are felt. These effects range from the silence and shame surrounding mental health issues to the oppressive attitudes toward those struggling, even influencing the way treatment options such as therapy and medication are viewed. The powerful stigma attached to mental health communicates an illusion of separation between those who struggle and those who don’t—a false dichotomy between the healthy and the sick. The damage this creates extends across our society and into each of our lives and relationships.

As we work to reduce the stigma attached to mental health, we can learn much from the fight against the stigma connected with HIV. One main way it was reduced was through learning the truth about HIV—how it was transmitted, who had it, what treatment looked like, and more. This knowledge went far in combatting some vicious lies that hurt so many in our society. But some research pointed to yet another component that proved powerful in greatly reducing stigma toward HIV: individuals who had a friendship or relationship with someone who was HIV-positive. Those with a personal connection to someone with HIV were drastically less likely to have a stigmatized, discriminating response.

What does this mean for us? It means we need each other. We need relationships and community around us. It means we have to continue listening to each other’s stories, and we must continue sharing our own. We need to know each other’s accounts of suffering, as well as our experiences of healing and recovery.

Thomas Joiner, one of the foremost researchers in the subject of suicide, has found that one of the most common thoughts present in those who are suicidal is the idea of being a burden on others. A second was that of being “hopelessly alienated, cut off and isolated from others”—a feeling of not belonging. Both of these speak to the power of our relationships and communities, whether or not we realize it.

The more we walk through our struggles in silence, the more we deprive others of the benefit of knowing they are not alone. Knowing the truth about the issues isvital, but we can get it from a textbook or Google in just a moment. Unless it is connected with real people, it lacks the power needed to combat stigma. We have to move beyond an awareness of the issues and become truly aware of each other.

Real relationships are the true antidote to the separation that stigma breeds between “healthy” and “sick.” Relationships require us to see the real person who is suffering, struggling, recovering, and healing. They are the place in which we find hope and encouragement to keep fighting, and the place where lies are defeated with truth and compassion. This is the path toward hope and healing—for ourselves and each other—and ultimately, toward a society where stigma, shame, and suicide are struggles of the past.

Aaron Moore is a licensed mental health counselor and co-founder of Solace Counseling in Orlando, FL. You can also hear him speak at MOVE Community Conferences.

 

http://twloha.com/blog/challenging-stigma

Unfortunately, he was a stone cold drunk…

www.carsforcollectorsclub.com

My parents separated when I was three years old. The
story is my dad started selling drugs and brought some
guys back to the apartment. My mom said he absolutely
could not expose her babies to “those folks” and “that life.”
She told him he needed to head back south to Georgia
and his parents’ house. He went, but they never divorced.

Through the years a few men drifted in and then
out. Only one stuck. Unfortunately, he was a stone cold
drunk. I believe he loved her. He tolerated us. But the
booze had a twenty year hold on him. And actually I’m
not sure my mom ever required him to stop drinking. I
can honestly say I liked him more when he was drunk. He
was angry and mean when he was sober. Even as a twelve
or thirteen year old I knew to be alarmed when he drove
his light blue Cadillac fast through the bumpy streets of
the Bronx, clearly intoxicated. My brother and I were in
the white leather backseat. Back then, seatbelts were just
a suggestion, but I made sure we were strapped in tight.

Even though my mom had a stable job working for
the City of New York and didn’t have a car, high inflation,
high unemployment and the energy crisis at the end of
the 1970s hit hard. I remember watching the news and
seeing cars lined up to get their gas on odd and even days.
Our landlord decided to sell the house we were renting.
My mom couldn’t buy it and she didn’t have the money
to secure an apartment. At that time in NYC, not only did

you need one month rent and one month security, but
you needed an equal to or greater amount of cash to pay
under the table in order to have your name moved up on
the list. We moved in with the alcoholic and stayed there
for a year or so.”

– excerpt from Turning Blue to Blue: How God Used Art to Lift My Depression