A Glimpse of REAL Love

Today marks two years since my grandmother passed. Seems like just yesterday. It’s amazing how fast time flies when life gets busy. I wish I could go back in time and just sit with her awhile. There’s so much I never got around to saying, and there’s so much she never got a chance to listen to.

Even as a little girl, my grandma was my hero.  She always had a smile on her face, whether times were good or, uhm, not so good. But it was her eyes… Her eyes were a clear window right down to the innermost parts of her soul. I could read her. Complete novels hid behind those eyes. Stories of struggle, fear, doubt, and worry; but I never heard her once complain. My Grandma was a WARRIOR. She was the super glue that held my crazy family together.

My grandma was the model Christian. Church on Sundays, worked at the ORU Prayer Tower during the weekdays, and CBN at night. But there was just something different about Grandma’s “Christian”.  I didn’t know what it was as a child, but I know now. My grandma knew how to LOVE. I mean, lay the judgement down, look at the heart, and put-yourself-in-their-place kind of love.

There’s so many wonderful memories I have of this woman. Christmas Eve parties complete with bar-b-que dinners, Dirty Santa games, and what felt like a hundred children running through the tiny, yet just big enough, house. Saturday morning trips to the Swap-N-Shop flea market, and her prayer meetings. You can’t forget her prayer meetings. But the one memory that I love her for most, comes in the form of a bicycle.

My mom always prided herself in making me the daintiest little thing around. Home sewn dresses and bows to match, I was her “Darling Daughter, Darla”. After all, she had three boys prior to me. She was ready for her girl, and she was going to do it right!

It wasn’t just my clothes, however. It was pretty much everything I owned. Dolls, barbies, you know…”girl toys”. My bikes would always be the pink and purple banana seat bikes with tassels in the handlebars and flowery butterfly stickers. Oh, and of course, a basket. Gotta have a basket!

I put on a smile and said thank you, and tried really hard to be the girl mom wanted me to be. But inside, what I REALLY  wanted was my brother’s black and gold BMX bike with the black grips that kinda wrapped around your hands, and the really awesome pads that wrapped around the bars. It was really cool!!! I rode it when nobody was looking…

One day, I was playing in the yard when my grandma’s cream colored Buick boat appeared in my driveway. I ran up to her for my usual greeting hug, and she told me she had something in her trunk for me.

“For ME? In the TRUNK???” I knew if it was in the trunk it had to be big. I ran to the back of the car and waited for what seemed like an eternity. She said she had found it at a garage sale for 20 bucks. I’m sure my eyes were as big as baseballs as the trunk opened.

And there it was. An all-chrome BMX bike. Knobby tires; black and white grips. Raised seat (Not a banana seat!!!). The pedals were black metal instead of white plastic. There were no pads. It was a little more than gently used, but it was MINE. And there was nothing more beautiful to me.

It wasn’t the bike that was the biggest gift, though. It was the fact that my grandma saw me for ME…for who I WAS instead of who everyone wanted me to be. That would be the gift that drew me closer to my grandma than any other gift she could have possibly given me that day.

Fast forward about 27 years. I had just left my husband for a woman. My family, who always preached God’s unconditional love, had shut me off. My brothers didn’t speak to me. My nieces weren’t allowed at my home. My business was broke into by a family member, and other family members talked about me behind my back. The church I went to told me to “grow up and stop being so selfish.” I was homeless. I was cold. That winter was emotionally and physically brutal.

Until one night, when my cell phone rang.

“Darla? This is Grandma”… I could hardly talk, so she did the talking. “I don’t really know what you’re going through, honey, but I want you to know that I love you. I’m here for you. I don’t understand those feelings you have, but if you ever want to talk, I bought a book on it.”

A huge smile crossed my face.

She bought a book on it. My grandma had bought a book on it. She did that for me. My heart smiled, and I was laughing so hard inside.  She bought a BOOK on it!!! She didn’t understand me, so she was looking for a way. That’s all I needed. Someone just willing to listen, and to love me, and to “buy a book on it.”

I never saw that book.

I didn’t need to.

 

 

I love you, Grandma. And I miss you so much….

Love you more…❤️

 

 

 

 

Dear Mom, I Don’t Believe the Same Way You Do, and It’s Okay

Dear Mom,

I know lately you have been frustrated with me because I’m not going to church. I understand your frustration. I know you love me, and because of that, you worry for me. You worry for me because you have been taught all your life that going to church is just what we are supposed to do. You quote the verse that talks about assembling ourselves together with people that are like minded, and there is where the division lies.

I am not “like minded” with any organized religion, especially churches who preach God’s unconditional love, yet fail to show it. It is to my understanding, that we are all sinners. Why we think we have the right to pick and choose which sinners are worthy of love and which sinners aren’t is beyond me. Christians claim that they have to avoid some sinners because of a “lifestyle” sin… but isn’t hatred, slander, gossip, and rejection also lifestyle sins?

I don’t understand how people can look at the life of Christ and think that this is okay. Treating people the way the church has treated people is so far opposite of who Jesus was.

People tell me all the time that I need to focus on God and not people, because people will let me down, but God never will. So here I am. Focusing on God, and not people. Lately the Church has had a lot more people than God,  so I will remove myself from the people, and focus on God. Who is He? How does HE want me to treat people? How does He want His love to look like in my life?

I have decided that I need to seek and find God for myself. I want to know what I believe is what I believe instead of just what has been taught to me. I am studying the Bible in a whole new way, and finding that I don’t agree with everything that I’ve been taught. There are scriptures after scriptures that I’m finding have been sorely used out of context, and others that have been so horribly misunderstood. Even some that I believe are just wrong. So, I have to sort them out for myself.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

I don’t want to be a puppet. I don’t want to believe something just because someone told me. I want to find my own truth. In order to do that, I have to question, seek, and find my own answers.

I also don’t want to  live in a cookie cutter world. I believe that we are all different individuals on every level, and not everything that is true for one will be true for another.  That’s why I believe  it’s important that we remove ourselves out of the judge’s seat and let God take His place. He is the ONLY one who can see a heart, so He is the only one who can KNOW a heart. Many times we judge actions instead of the heart behind the actions. God doesn’t. He starts with the heart first.

Listen, I appreciate you. I really do. I know you raised me to believe like you because you felt it was best for me. Thank you for that. I know your heart is very good, and I know you love me. I love you, too. But things like religion and going to church are just things we are gonna have to agree to disagree on, and love each other through.

I will not shame you or make you feel guilty about how you believe. I will not try to change you; I know your heart is good. I know you are locked into the way you believe, and I will respect that. I just pray you offer me the same respect in return.

 

 

I Love you much…❤️

 

 

The Invitation

There’s nothing as inviting as a patio set. It’s drinking coffee on a cool spring morning as the birds welcome the day;  the earliest one, pulling up the fattest, juiciest worm. It’s memories made with my best friend; long talks, laughter, and tears dropped in silence as we both just sat there together. It’s the daily buzz, blocked by the barriers of a waist-high wall, but open to the breeze and scent of freshly cut grass. It’s the close-my-eyes-and-just-listen-for-a-moment favorite way to start my day.

And here I sit.

I have been in this duplex for going on six months now. This will be my first Spring; my first rebirth. During the past six months it has been all about setting up the inside of the house. Furniture, utensils, and, oh yeah, don’t forget to buy some milk. Up until yesterday, it had been all about the inside of four walls. Not just in my home, but in my heart.

Yesterday morning was different. I woke up as if Spring had awaken in my spirit. It was time for something new. I was tired of hiding behind the four walls; it was time to venture out.

I decided to take myself on a brunch date and try something new. And, Oh. My. Gosh!!!  My taste buds exploded with life with every bite!!! I was in heaven. I just smiled to myself, loved every moment, and savored every morsel. I was breathing deeper, and I was happy. I put down my fork. Time for the next adventure.

I found an outdoor garden show that was swarming with people. The sun was shinning, breeze was blowing, and the hum of laughter and bargaining filled the air. It was picture perfect. I stopped for a  minute, closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and took it all in. I needed this. THIS is who I am. I felt the sunshine start to peek through the cracks in my heart. Something inside me was waking up.

I realized I needed this “waking up” every day. If I was gonna get out of the walls that separate me from the world, I was gonna have to make the effort. I knew what I had to do. I drove straight to the store and bought myself a patio set.

Today is my very first morning to enjoy the full benefits of it. I woke up early, fixed my coffee, and headed out here. It was so peaceful and relaxing. The birds were singing me a song, and even Mr. Bumble Bee stopped in and said hi. Seriously, ya’ll. He just flew up to me…about a foot in front of my face, hovered for a second, then flew off. He was just there to say hi. He made me smile inside and out.

Then the next wonderful thing happened. My neighbor came over and said hi, too. I have been here for nearly six months and have never spoken to him.  I mean, we have smiled at each other on several occasions, just in passing. But today, he actually came over and said hi. We talked about how beautiful today is, and then he went back to his gardening. Not ten minutes later, my other neighbor came out. She walked over and we talked for awhile. My heart smiled.

Yes, there’s nothing as inviting as a patio set. Something about it made me approachable. But you know what? Without me in it, it’s just a patio set. The invitation wasn’t the patio set. It was ME, just being there.

I’ve often wondered how I was gonna break free from lonely. Maybe it’s not the world that has been avoiding me. Maybe I’ve just been avoiding the world.

I guess it’s time to break out my spiritual patio set and make myself available.

 

 

 

Love you much—