The Strong Women Beside Me

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Today we lay to rest a mighty woman of God. Terri Rivas, on the left in this picture, came to our TLC4Women bible study years ago. A quiet woman with a bible and pen in her hand, she had been invited by a pillar in our group her best friend Bernie, on the right above. Both women had been friends with each other for over 50 years. They each attended different churches but they each loved to study the word. Bernie is a solid, grounded, woman of the word and so I knew her friend would be as well. What does it say that two women are friends for 50 years? In a time when we are offended so easily and friendships tend to come and go, this was something to be admired.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that Terri was not quiet at all. She had a quick wit and would make all of us laugh with that smirk-y smile she would get right before she made a comment.  She celebrated all of our successes and she told about her escapades with Bernie. Bernie and Terri wouldn’t sit together in study because Terri would say she was afraid Bernie would get her into trouble.

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I discovered that I could go to Terri for anything and she would pray. She wasn’t about gossip and she wasn’t about drama but she could pray. I saw why she and Bernie were such great friends. Two women who stood strong on the word of God and were mentors to each of us in the group. When Terri decided to move her membership to our church, she came with a notepad, scriptures, and a word from the Lord, BUT she wanted to talk to us first to make sure that we knew she would not to be any trouble. She taught me about honor and hearing from the Lord.  She wasn’t going to walk on what she thought was the right thing to do she weighed it out, got counsel, and waited on God.

When she decided to retire from the hospital we talked about it and it turned out she didn’t have to retire she could work from home. She was thrilled to do that but again, wanted us to pray to make sure it was the right thing to do.

When Terri developed Parkinson’s she came to me with a quake in her voice and announced the news. I could tell it had shaken her and I had never seen her scared before, she had faith for so many others, in that moment I needed her to have that same faith for herself. I reminded her that the Great Physician had the final say and we prayed together. I honestly didn’t think I would lose her. I thought she would battle on. She had been through a lot in her life and I thought this would be another victory story. When she determined that she could no longer trust her driving at night she told me bible study would be out. I told her to let Bernie bring her. She instantly replied, “Have you ever been in a car with Bernie? Pastor Susan I want to live.” I answered, “Well, at least you’d go together right?” She laughed and said, “Bernie would probably survive.” But laughter or not, scared or not, there would Terri be, walking in the door of bible study with Bernie.

Terri, I love you, I will miss you. The impact you have made on my life cannot be measured. I was graced by your friendship. I was graced by your love of my children and my grandson. And even though I mourn the loss of you here on earth, you won the victory. I know that you made it home safely. That all of the promises of God are true and that we will one day be together again. I’m sure you are talking to loved ones and strangers and everyone you meet. You’re making people laugh, and you’re awaiting the time when we’re all joined together again.

Proverbs 31:29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

terririvas

 

Left Behind

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Yesterday driving between appointments I heard on the news that Kate Spade had taken her own life. Beautiful, fun, adventurous, Kate Spade. The woman who seemed to be on top of her game. A beautiful family, a career of her own making, launching a new line, and yet we will never know what was going on inside of her. Life is like that. We see the outward success and aren’t privy to the inward struggle.

If you are suffering from depression I urge you to seek help. Suicide is often an act done in hopelessness. Think about it, it’s not having anything at all to live for. There is nothing that depression doesn’t take away, depression lies to you and mental illness is a very real thing. Depression torments and tells you that there is nothing worthy about you.

How do I know this? I witnessed it first hand. Those of you who have read this blog for years know that my husband committed suicide. The questions, the guilt, the anger, the despair are overwhelming for those of us left behind, those of us who loved, and some of these issues are never resolved. Oh sure, you learn to live with the feelings of not being or doing enough, but you never get over it.

Was there something you could have said?

Was there something you could have done?

Were we not important?

The simple and complete answer is No. However knowing the answer doesn’t change the mindset. Knowing that there was nothing you could do to stop it doesn’t make it better.

So with a heavy heart I write to you to tell you to always take threats seriously. Always, always, always, get help if someone you know is contemplating suicide. Don’t think they are attention seekers or just talking, or not really going to do it because you honestly don’t know anything of their internal struggle. Take every single threat seriously. Then in the same breath that I say this, please understand that there is NOT ONE SINGLE THING you can do to stop them if they choose to do it. Sometimes, those who commit suicide never even say anything at all. They leave their feelings in a note after the fact. Or they leave nothing behind that would give you any sort of clue as to why.

I have firsthand knowledge of how suicide can destroy the lives of loved ones left behind. I know firsthand how therapy can help but nothing ever truly heals completely. Today I am praying for every person who has lost hope. I am praying for Kate Spade’s family who is devastated, and for their lives whose course has changed forever.  I am praying for you too, the survivors who have lived through it, and for you, who are watching a loved one suffer and are scared it may just happen.

 

Reflexology

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My friend Roxanne kept telling me to go get reflexology for some issues I was having. She swears by it. Then another friend Linda said the same. They both told me it would be painful so I made an appointment for my husband to try it on a day I could go with him. I mean, he’s tougher than I am and I wanted to see in action before I committed to getting it done. Admittedly I was quite skeptical. I am not one who jumps on the latest fad band wagon and yes I know reflexology has been around for much longer than a fad, but enough justification, off we went to see what it was about.

And this is how I know God has a sense of humor because just as we arrived there was a cancellation and guess what? My husband pipes up and says, “My wife would like to take that appointment please.” He’s such a thoughtful gentleman.

So the next thing I know I am putting my feet in hot water and getting ready to enter a room. The room was just like an examination room. I lie on the table the reflexologist begins to talk to me as I explain it is my first time and I have no idea what to expect. Then he grabs my toe and says, “Have you had your pituitary gland checked? Something is weird with it.”(Insert Twilight Zone music) Those of you who have walked, no pun intended, with me on this blog know that I was diagnosed with a tumor on my pituitary gland in 2014. Was this a lucky shot or was there something to this reflexology thing?

My first session was very painful. At one point I was holding my breath and my heart was pounding and I wanted yell STOP and fly off of the table. He wasn’t by any means Jesus but he told me about myself, my health and the pain I’d been having. So, I’m going to give this thing a try. I have to go every six weeks. It’s supposed to get less painful as we go and I’m supposed to get some relief from pain as we move forward. Stay tuned for the updates.

What do you know about reflexology?

 

What If We Didn’t?

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There used to be a day when we had Polaroid Cameras. We snapped a picture, and out popped a black image framed by white paper that within a few minutes time turned into a picture before our eyes. They were candid shots. There was no delete and do-over, film cost money and you only got a limited amount of film. They were real.

Now we practice selfies. We can take a hundred pictures until we get it right and we practice angles, and we practice lighting, and we watch make-up tutorials, and then we pretend this was a candid shot and that we look this way all of the time. It’s completely fake.

When I was four, my father lifted me into his arms and we went into the den. My mom, my baby brother, and our nanny were sitting in the den and my dad said, “Remember this, you’re watching history.” I sat on the floor as we watched the first man walk on the moon. I don’t know if this is where it started but throughout my entire life I have memorized moments. Pictures can fade but memories are what life is made of.

What if we played with our children and didn’t post about it?

What if we drank coffee and didn’t advertise the fact that we did?

What if our ordinary daily lives were lived not in an underlying need to be seen and thought of as good but just to be who we are?

What if we got real and didn’t protest the opinion of others and instead embraced their right to feel differently?

Would the need for comparison end?

What if we just didn’t participate?

What if we checked out facts before posting our agenda?

Would polite conversations be had face to face?

What if we told the truth?

What if we stopped living to one-up our neighbor?

What if we stopped having wars on social media?

Would we stop having wars in the street?

 

 

 

Keep Fighting

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In the midst of a carjacking in 2001 I cried out to Jesus. I heard Him powerfully speak, “Keep fighting, he is just as scared as you are.”

This morning as I awoke from a dream, I saw myself standing with a sword lifted in front of me. I knew deep down that I would never have to use it in the natural realm but that I had been properly trained to. The sword felt comfortable in my hand and the grip was made to fit me. This sword had been given to me as a gift and I had studied its use and practiced to be able to use it with skill. In that moment as I stood my ground it was enough to know that I knew how to use it and that I could, and would, push through fear to victory.

If, in fact, everything happens for a reason, then the carjacking taught me a lesson. I may fight like a girl, but with God I am mighty and equipped to defeat anything that is coming my way that is not of God. So are you.

What have you been through in your life that has taught you to know who you are?

Now ask yourself, are you properly trained? Do you know how wield a sword? A weapon in unskilled hands will be turned against you.

Saying What I Want to Hear

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My girlfriend is dating one of those undateable guys. The no job, no car, going to be a millionaire one day, you need to check out my abs kind of guy. He keeps talking about what he is going to do one day. Except if you looked at his life five years ago, it looks just like right now. When we talk she admits she has reservations but he keeps saying what she wants to hear.  All the while she has to pick him up and pay for the dates. THAT’S another topic for another day.

We talked again last week and I asked her if I could blog about her. She laughed and agreed.

Potential is one of those things that can trip us up. You can see it but it doesn’t mean the person who has it will ever play it out.

The key here is to know who you are and know what you want because if you aren’t clear you’ll make unhealthy decisions that will wreck your life and you’ll ask yourself one day, “How did I get here?”

When I think about it, this advice goes for any decision in your life.

Do you have goals?

Do you have vision?

Are the things you are doing today leading towards or away from those goals?

 

 

Boundaries

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I admit it. I was a little crispy fried a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t had a full day off in a few weeks. A few hours here and there but there were a couple of short term projects that needed to be completed and this wasn’t the normal schedule.

Finally, Wednesday came, our day off and and I took full advantage of it. I woke up early, and stretched out and decided I had nowhere to go, so I read, watched some TV and stayed in my pajamas. Until about 10:30 then Doug and I got ready to go out to eat.

He surprised me by heading out of town to go have some fun. Both of our phones kept ringing. Work, counseling, work, advice, work. At one frustrated point, I said,

“Wait! Everyone knows it’s our day off. Why do they call us anyway with non-emergencies?”

The answer was simple, we didn’t have boundaries.

The calls weren’t emergencies. They were simple things. I wasn’t mad at the people, I was annoyed with myself knowing that I hadn’t set boundaries to protect time off.

Sometimes, things are your own fault. So when you are feeling frustrated, ask yourself, “What am I doing to cause this?”

No, you didn’t set up the phone calls but you did respond even if it was just to open and read the text message or the email or listen to the voicemail.

What boundaries do you have to put into place so that you can get quiet and have some down time?

Remember, Sabbath is not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.