Posts Tagged church
It’s been an interesting weekend and I started to not blog tonight but I had all these thoughts running back and forth in my head and this is a good place to put them and leave them! The weekend wasn’t bad although I did battle some with being lonely. I still have a really bad case of cabin fever and am trying to figure out what to do with this aide. It’s seems to be this vicious cycle. In my alone-ness I wonder how significant I could possibly be in the scheme of things. What will I leave behind when I am gone? Anything?
I’m not really one who wants to be noticed. Even recently when people were sending a lot of attention my way I sort of backed out and tried to be less visible. I don’t need accolades and I despise flattery. But I do want to know that I made a difference while here on this journey called life. And somehow in the mix comes all these questions about if I even matter to God. Honestly, I really struggle with this question sometimes because it seems as though He spent all these years developing gifts in me and Chris and now we are simply discarded. Were the gifts in us unimportant? Why did He bother giving them to us? We certainly do not live life like others get to. And we certainly can’t belong to a “church.”
That of course opens up another whole area that I’ve thought about this weekend to. Just because we cannot attend a service in a building that is called a “church” does not mean that we are not part of the church. That is one thing that has not changed- the question is how do I play a part in the real church if not inside four walls? I’ve always thought my role was inside and I am seeing that it is very different than what I used to think. Maybe more on that later…
In all the questions and wonderings this weekend though there are some good things that have run through my mind. Like I do not have to worry about what man thinks about me – there’s no one around to care! lol… seriously I have lost the need to please. My need to please God, my Father is greater – but I have no worries about pleasing man or measuring up to their ideals or expectations.
I have to believe that I am significant to God – or else He would not have created me – nor sustained me. I do think that we have messed up our ideas of church though. I am finding more freedom in my music of late too. Not that I am pursuing it too much anyway – but when I do play I do not have to worry about anything except my heart and His. That’s a wonderful freedom; and I do not think I would want to trade it back for leading in the public setting. It’s the way it should be – my heart singing to His listening ear – notes and melodies that He put inside in the first place freely flowing back to touch His heart….now that’s significant.
I won’t even try to update you on everything – just suffice it to say that I will be trying to keep up with this a little better. It’s sort of irrelevant if anyone reads or not; I need it too! Writing helps me sort out my thoughts and get them all in one place and hopefully on one page.
This has been an exceptionally trying week for me. It started with a horrible wreck. I take those a lot harder since Christopher’s wreck anyway. But this one involved an officer that the whole community has been following. He had been injured trying to break up a bar fight. His neck was broken and he was slowly beginning to regain his mobility. He had therapy at Jim Thorpe where Chris goes and I had spoken with him at a couple of races. He was a very kind man and the community was behind him as he stood and took his first steps recently.But his life ended in the wreck and it hit me very hard.
Then of course the Boston Marathon bombing really got to me too. Who would have ever thought? It certainly adds a new dynamic (and one more reason to run) to the OKC Memorial marathon coming up next week. Plus the huge explosion in Texas.. my emotions were all over the place this week and once again I bottomed out.
It’s really bad when I bottom out because I go into shut down mode and can’t get my work done. But I began to sort it out this week and realized I am really battling with depression. I think it is common with caregivers; but I still have had to figure out how to function. So I am working on all that….but in the process I really learned something in a totally different arena this week.
I have talked about how I understand the love that held Christ to the cross- it’s the love that keeps the caregiver sort of imprisoned and bound to their loved one. But this week while sorting through some things I learned something else. I was thinking about how relationships have changed since that tragic day in November 2008. I was thinking about how to overcome the loneliness (also common to caregivers); how to battle depression and how to win at this race called life. In the process I was also thinking about Chris and how he can do so very little for himself.
In my thinking I was also thinking about who he was before the accident. Then my mind started to think about how I love this Chris too. Of course he can’t actually do anything for me now – he can’t throw out all those philosophical questions that would keep us up all night drinking coffee and looking for answers! He can’t share his latest lyrics or song with me. He’s not the same Chris – but I still love him.
That’s when I got it. So many times in life we love someone for what they do – not who they are. I loved Chris’ music, his humor, his thinking, etc. But it’s the love for HIM that drives me to care for him day in and day out, through thick and thin. I also thought of all the people who loved him when he was in school at NSU. I know they genuinely “loved” him. But they do not know what to do with him if he can’t do the things he was doing before.
So this made me think about how God loves us – not what we do. Maybe we can write and play songs – perhaps that’s even a gift. No problem – but that’s not what God loves about us…He loves us. He loves past our doing…
Flip Side–do we love God for what He does? Or do we love Him just because we love Him? We can measure many things by what God does especially in our western culture. If we have money,houses and cars; He has blessed us. If we have a good time at church, He “showed up”. If we are spared an inconvenience, or had a close call, He was watching out for us. These are all great “experiences” but are we loving Him solely for what He does? What if He didn’t “do” anymore? If we didn’t feel His presence, had to drive an older car, friends walk away, or we have a wreck? Job faced these things – he lost everything – literally.But he clung to God even in his darkest night. He served God because He is God, not just for what He could do.
I’ve been thinking about this over the last couple of days. I’ve also shared of my trust issues with God because before I felt like that trust had been broken. I thought God was protecting my kids and He let me down. I’m learning that trust, faith and now love have nothing to do with circumstances. Unfortunately we are taught to measure spiritual success by circumstances. Too bad for Job, huh? I want to learn more – I want to love and trust God just because I believe He is there….He already “did” stuff for me He rescued my soul from the clutches of darkness. That’s wonderful – but I’m ready to know more about Him…I want to love Him for WHO He is – not just what He does.
This has been a very trying journey…and it’s not even close to over. I figure I’ll take care of Chris until I can’t anymore then we’ll go to the nursing home together! But I have learned so much during this trial. My faith has been rewritten, love is different and I view many things (like church and friendship) much differently than ever before. I am not thankful that this has happened to my son. But I am thankful that God has continued to reveal Himself to me even as I learn about life in Him from the furnace.
Well, I am not really too sure that I am doing an adequate job of getting it together, but I am trying. I am seriously trying to draw back into my cave and for the most part so far – it’s working and it seems safe! I really need to refocus…but I am not sure how to do that from here. Oh sometimes I feel like I sort of have “it” all together – but that usually lasts for a brief moment! But I have been thinking about a lot of different things and somehow it seems like there is some sort of forward progress in my life…sometimes.
I’ve thought back over the last three (plus) years and this furnace that I am living in. I must say I have seen God provide even through all the adversity. As we have taken each step He has been right there providing. That is not to say that he dumped money into my bank account or anything – but I have generated a small freelance writing business that is doing pretty well. I actually have to work diligently to keep up with it. I have no complaints. My lights are on, there is food in my cabinet, we are clothed and have a vehicle. If you are aware of any parts of this journey – especially early on – you know how amazing all of that is. And of course some people have generously given… some over and over…it’s been amazing really! ….no complaints…
And Chris is still making progress. That is very good, even though it is still so very slow – there is overall improvement each day. But the improvement does not dull the constant nagging pain of knowing who he was and all he had going for him and seeing him like he is now. Nothing erases that. And that’s really what eats at me…day and night. I have to work to stay ahead of it – to keep my mind on scripture and concentrate my effort on embracing hope and faith…and that’s what can make me so tired sometimes! We’ve had these two things (hope and faith) so tied up in things we can see – we forget that they are eternal forces. They are at work outside this realm we can see – working for us toward far better goals than the physical things we can see here…
I’ve also thought a lot about people. I think about people who were large parts of my life – and are no more. People who I admittedly gave too much allegiance to and got burned… part my fault – part theirs. Some who I thought were friends only to never hear from them again. Today I thought back about when we were in the hospital and one such “friend” asked me what I needed. I told her I needed contact with people who cared and could pray for me and with me. She said she would call me every day to encourage me. I have not spoken to her since that day. Sad really…but at least there is no question in my mind now as to where she stands! lol! (you gotta laugh or it will eat you alive! ) I was also under the illusion that coming “home” to Oklahoma would help me reconnect with some of what I thought dear friendships… boy did I have some learning to do! lol!
But on the other side of things I have to think about the good relationships that have developed over the last 3 years. Some were already established and can easily name several true friends who have continued to walk through this with me. Some of them are located in various states – but have found a way to stay connected through this whole journey. For this I am so thankful. And I must also think about the new relationships that He has given me… I have some new precious friends for which I am so thankful… both online and off. I will never make light of true friendships again…precious is the only word to describe them.
So here I am trying to get myself together to face another year of who knows what…knowing that no matter what a day brings (and I don’t take a day for granted anymore either…) He will be there with me. He will carry me through both fire and flood. Holy Spirit will comfort me – if I will sit still long enough to let Him! lol! So I am just thankful. Not for the pain, not even for the journey (honestly, I hate the journey)…but thankful that I am not alone – whether or not I can sense anyone walking with me or not… He is with me – He is my hope… and with that I can go to sleep knowing that He will see me through the night no matter how many times I have to get up with Chris – and He will see me through the day no matter what it brings….
I am not sure where I will even start here… my emotions are all over the place… you should recognize that by the silence of the pen. When i am totally overwhelmed I do not write – I know – backwards…but just the way I am. Since I don’t know quite where to start I’ll just jump in.
Yesterday I was totally surprised…like a real surprise – don’t think anyone ever got me this good. My friend Prophetess Mary from Indianapolis had requested a skype meeting at a certain time. Which was really odd…but I agreed. While we were “chatting” this group of people walked through my front door being led by my daddy carrying three pizzas. I was like “what the….?” To keep it short basically my friend Mary and my daughter Ronella had collaberated and came up with a big surprise “minister’s appreciation” party for me! It was quite amazing that they pulled it off using facebook and texting! lol!
I just kept thinking that I was so unworthy of such a party. All that was going through my mind was how I felt I had given up on ministry…I really want a new definition on that term…I think some of my trouble is of course from the abandonment I have felt…as far as how the journey has been too long for the “church” to help me carry the load…I’m better off for it though.. I’ve said before – Chris and I were the church’s test…and we fail miserably. And I fail miserably… I have wanted to give up on literally everything…everything…and all of the hopelessness and faith-lessness kept going through my mind.
Don’t get me wrong – I felt very appreciated and loved and it was an amazing experience that I will not soon forget! I very much appreciated it…I just couldn’t get past my own inadequacies…at that point. But when you get to the end of this post (if it goes like I think it will…) you’ll see what actually happened in teh spirit realm because of this spark they started yesterday….
So today I was still struggling with my “supposed to’s…” you know…
supposed to write
supposed to sing
supposed to write music
supposed to teach
But I keep getting hung up on where I am at. As my thoughts captured me and I fell into a pity party and got back around to all those questions about dreams… did He give them or did I make them up myself… type questions…I had this thought – why would He speak things into me and not plan on them happening? I shook it off though – it couldn’t have been God! After I thought about it a little bit I just got plain mad…then totally depressed. How could He expect me to fulfil the call He placed inside of me from here? Inside the furnace…inside the cave…inside this prison…?
So I took Chris for a walk through the park. He hated it.. toned out on me (I think the wind bothered him) I told him I was sorry but we both needed some sunlight. (I hadn’t been out since last Monday)…When we got back I let him lay down for a nap and I jumped on the treadmill for a quick training run…by the time I got off…I was okay. My conclusions?
I decided this is where I am (..deep huh?) I can either let it be my prison or figure out how to be free while bound. Unless God performs some big miracle (which honestly I doubt at this time…) this is it. I have lived the life I was going to live and now the rest of my days will probably be spent taking care of Chris and making sure that when I am gone he is okay enough to be cared for easily….that’s just the way it is. But that does not mean it has to be my prison…
I will figure out how to take him places. It is very difficult on my own – but as he is getting better (and is getting amazing at getting in and out of the car ) I have to get out… I’ll figure out how to not let the stares get to my emotions… and how to not let his deformities eat at me as people walk by and I wish he could walk or talk like them again… I’ll figure out how to get past the emotions of hearing music and longing for him to play one more song…I’ll figure it out! I don’t know how yet – but I will!
So I decided that since God put some stuff in me and wasn’t going to change His mind no matter how I pouted or fussed or refused…I better get busy. So I am trying to get to writing agian… probably a real weak attempt – but hey – it’s an attempt….
So I sat here tonight thinking about how this will not be my prison…and some of the things I can do to start getting Chris out…and try to do it without fear… which isn’t going to happen…but in the fear I am determined…to find a way to keep this prison from imprisoning me…and to know God outside the church’s weak walls. I do not want to read the word anymore and make it fit our organized religion…I’m hoping some parts will start to make more sense without my religious jargon….
So this morning while joining Prophetess Mary at her gathering in her home via Skype….and the Lord pulling at my heart and me trying to pull back as hard as I could…I kept thinking about how I don’t want to do music, or teach, or preach (or share if you do not believe in women preachers! lol — too late!)…And the birthing I went through all day long to come to a sense of peace in it all… from here….
Only to have my friend from Pakistan hook up with me via Facebook…(instigated by Mary I am sure now…and Holy Spirit of course) and I am teaching via SKype agian in Pakistan this weekend….did I mention I don’t feel like teaching? lol…
So here I am getting ready to retire for the night…bolus Chris.. tell him how much I love him and how good he’s doing one more time today…and determining to live from here…somehow…some way. I simply cannot find it inside myself to think that God would put a bunch of stuff in me to do and tease me by not making it possible…so there has to be a way…from here. Sure it doesn’t look like I thought it was going to…but hey – I’ve been surprised at least once before!
There are so many things on my mind right now I am not even sure where to start. Guess I will start with yesterday. You know I am trying to take Chris out more – at least three times a week. We took him out to my sister’s for a very unique family get-together. When it came time to pray before the meal everyone gathered in the dining/kitchen area…leaving Chris alone in the recliner in the living room. I decided to stay with him. I know that as a general rule he does not respond…but he is in there… and I hate it when he is just ignored. (I’m not saying anything was intentional or anything.. I just noticed it so I stayed with him.)
They kept saying, “Come on Jeanie, let’s pray.” And I replied, “I’m staying with my son.” It didn’t take but a second for everyone to realize I was not budging, prayer or no prayer. So they all gathered around and included Chris in the family circle to pray. (check out his blog to see how he responded and what a difference it made: www.updatesonchrishampton.blogspot.com. )
We really just do not fit into normal anymore! But that’s okay, really. I just see Chris as so vulnerable and tender. (I know he’s a man so don’t tell him I said so! lol!) And I want to do whatever I can to protect him. I love it when I go someplace and people address him. That’s what I like about Among Friends, everyone talks to Chris and includes him in the conversations even though he does not even look at them.
My family is great, don’t get me wrong. They all took time to come and talk to him personally and he engaged with each one of them too! I realize it’s so difficult to know what to do with him…but it makes me hurt for him…and for my family too. I hurt because I see my daddy so wanting Chris to speak, move or do anything…my brother missed the gleam in Chris’ eyes…and my sisters just want him to be back. And I know Ronella hurts so much too. It’s almost like she’s become an only child,,,except Chris is still here. There’s no end to the pain from where I am…it all hurts…all the time.
To be perfectly honest, I am just emerging from a very dark, desert place. I really cannot describe it yet…don’t know if I will ever be able to fully explain it either…don’t know if it is even necessary to try to do so…but God has felt so far away. My heart and mind know that He never leaves us and He is always present…but my feelings were far removed. Don’t go all religious on me and act like you have never felt this way. We all go through the desert…pain can do some crazy things with our minds…I have been so far “gone” I haven’t even tried to find a way “back.” It just didn’t seem relevant somehow…
But it seems as though I am finally beginning to emerge. It’s not by anything I have chosen either.. it just seems to be happening. I cannot explain it, or deny it nor will I try to stop it….but I will embrace it…
So this morning I was reading Psalm 63 about thirsting for the Lord…longing for Him…looking toward the sanctuary. I have taught for years (perhaps unsuccessfully) that we are His sanctuary. So as I was reading through this today and sharing about it in my devotions for caregivers blog (www.dailydevotionsforcaregivers.blogspot.com) it really stirred my mind and heart up.
We really do not have to go anywhere to meet with God. Think about it even if we do not totally get the concept that we are His dwelling place – He lives in us. When I thought about how I have erroneously thought and felt through the years that the local church was the sanctuary, it made me sad. We do not have to go to church to experience Him. We gather in a facility because we are looking to be with people who love HIm too. I think it is that simple, and if we are gathering for any other reasons it’s more like we are just trying to gather together with people who agree with us….God is already there…He’s already everywhere. He actually cannot even go away from us…
I am chosing to think about that today… just the truth that He is with me through the pain…in the dark…and He will bring us out. I am not sure why that is comforting all of a sudden…I am determined to know HIm without seeing Him through religious lens…I want to know Him open, honest and unreligiously.
It’s just so back and forth for me still. Chris is doing really well, and that always helps me – well mostly. I think it really helps but then I get overwhelmed because I’m not sure how to get him to moving. I really believe that the bruise is gone – and that’s what we were waiting on. But now to figure out how to get everything moving again – turning all those switches on…I don’t know how yet. I am ordering some more equipment tomorrow that will hopefully help a lot…but who knows?
It is so easy for me to get bogged down in the moment…whatever it has brought to the table. I can get overwhelmed by Chris’ condition, financial decisions (or juggling!), and keeping my own spiritual sanity. And honestly, the changes I see in myself can really scare me sometimes…just between you and me…
I am not sure I can exactly explain what I am feeling, but I am so wanting to know God on such a different level…in a different way than what the church has always presented…I think there’s more. And while I feel abandonded by the church (which a normal thing among caregivers I’ve found…sad) I don’t think that has anything to do with the changes.
For one thing, I have been thinking about our Bible heroes. And what I am thinking is that we read stories about them and most of the time it is one or two stories. Perhaps the ones who give more detail span even a few years. But we don’t have their whole life stories – just an isolated incident or two. But they lived whole lives. They bore children, worked the ground, saved money, helped the poor, had jobs, learned a trade…they did not build big ministries – thier ministries developed as they lived out their lives before Him…
I think instead of being so “ministry minded” that we build a system that actually excludes God – we should just live with Him…and let His love touch lives as we walk through life. I’m not sure what to do from here – but I know I gotta be different, less complicated. Faith is simple – I’m the one who makes it complex…and I want to learn to live in the simplicity that is in Christ…
Well, it may not be much but I started a broadcast for caregivers yesterday. It will be geared totally toward them and the rest of the world doesn’t have to “get it.” Of course – they can “get it” if they want to.. but in my experience so far – most don’t want to get out of their little comfortable boxes to find out what our worlds are really like. There are some exceptions for which I am thankful…for sure!
I think it really wears on me though – I get so tired of people trying to get me to go to church. They have no idea how totally not feasible that is. Chris is not real alert most mornings to begin with – and by 7 at night he’s pretty tired. (especially the days I push him more)
I spoke with a friend in another state this morning and that was one of her main concerns have you found a church home? I tried to keep back the laugh and nicely comment about not being able to get out much…that I cannot take Chris yet…her heart was right and no offense was taken…and I appreciate her concern.. but wouldn’t a better question be do you get time to fellowship with God every day? Now that brings with it a little conviction too… I like that one.
I had this strange illusion that I was coming home to Oklahoma and all my friends would be glad to see me… I had one friend come once and then I had lots send messages through Ronella that they are going to call sometime… I sure am glad I am not waiting on them to live! lol! I don’t really even care anymore…it was just an illusion.
But yesterday I did have an old friend come by (not that she – or we – are old.. just we’ve known each other for a really long time… ) it was just great to share a cup of coffe and laugh and carry on some real good debates about the interpretation of scriptures! I hugged her twice and told her it was great for her to stop by! She lives in another state…but I hope to see her again soon!!
DOn’t get me wrong -I’m not complaining by any means…I just wish the church (we are all the church) could see past the four walls…I looked for a church service to join yesterday morning.. via video… there were lots of churches saying that they were for hurting people… but every single thing revolved around attending their church…Maybe that’s one reason Jesus traveled so much – so we’d figure out that we were supposed to go. Keith Green said it this way Jesus told us to go, it should be the exception if we stay.
I am wanting to go back and study the baby church.. which was more mature than our “maturity”…they came together no doubt. But it was to share what they’d seen God do that week and to encourage each other to go back out and follow Him again! I want to be found following Hm….and I’m determined to figure it out!
Well, almost anyway. It’s been a long day. It was a quiet day and I think that may have made it longer. I really don’t like listening to my own voice so much! I’m sure Chris doesn’t either! His first words will probably be “Will you please shut-up?” lol! He doesn’t seem to be too annoyed at me too much. And he’s getting pretty good at being able to show it…like this morning.
It was one of those times I let it get to me; well, we have a schedule to keep you know! But Chris decided he didn’t want to get up… and he literally pulled his arms in so I could not get his shirt on him! I got too frustrated because our schedule is really working so well and we were running just a little behind. I was flustered, especially when his stomach started growling! (Which is a really good sign of improvement!) So I finally tossed the controller on the bed and told him to call me when he was ready to get up! I came in the living room for a few minutes until I could quiet myself down. Then I felt bad for being upset…and glad because he made a choice! – but it was the wrong one! lol! We worked it out and he got up fine in a few minutes, guess he figured it was Sunday!
And there were other improvements along the way today as well… but you can check them out at the new blog I made for him. I am putting updates so many places I finally just started one blog and that’s where all the updates will be from now on! It is simple to find and read. Check it out at www.updatesonchrishampton.blogspot.com
I am working to make my life more productive and simpler at the same time. so far it’s working, at least I think it is! I worry that I am becoming more of a workaholic to give me something to do. But I don’t think I am. I have lots of work, but I am so breaking it up to give Chris the things he needs in a day too. We have a really good routine now – and I finally am nailing good bed time habits. It’s funny how much more you can do when you get organized, isn’t it?
It seems like there’s so much going on even though I am home all the time… I feel so stretched out inside.. you know? I have to work and care for Chris and remember to take care of me in there too.. somehow. Well, I shower, and I eat! Oh yeah – and I run! That oughta do it! I’m busy and have a full schedule but I can still feel so empty sometimes. I think doing the devotional for care givers has helped me a lot. I know I did it to help others but I have to get myself in line before I can write it! And that actually helps me get things in perspective each morning.
Speaking of caregivers…I was really sad this morning when I was in a support group for caregivers and found that all the things I deal with (extreme emotions, loneliness) is all too common…I was glad that we could understand each other…but sad that it happens every where. People can walk with you for a while, but when it goes on for years they bail. I tried to explain that it wasn’t because they don’t care but because they don’t know what to do with us…and over and over the church is mentioned…they really don’t know what to do with people who do not have the ability to come to their church. I’m still trying to remember why I spent all those years going…
One good thing that God is bringing out of the terrible situation is that I am getting to know Him without the filters of the church. We tend to see HIm through church shaped glasses…but He doesn’t really fit in them…And for that I am thankful. I wrote this in my journal this morning:
I still have this intense desire to be with God – to know Him – to know His ways
but now it’s coming out differently.
It’s not a pray-until-you-see-it or sing-until -He-comes kind of thing
it’s a day by day unfolding of His heart in my daily walk
when I don’t walk with Him – I dont’ see HIm
But when I position myself to see Him
He reveals Himself to me more and more
until my actions are determined by His
It sounds crazy that I would know Him more in a dungeon experience…in a sort of prison I would encounter His sweet presence.. but then if I have the facts straight His specialty is making beauty from ashes!