Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Worthy? Healed?

I should probably preface this blog with the disclaimer that I am just coming out of a few days of funky heart rhythms, and when that happens, it messes with my whole life.  It shakes up everything, and sends me to the couch, floating on beta blockers, and feeling very "disabled".  I don't like it one little bit, so I act like a 2 year old, and throw a little fit.  The fit turns into anxiety and a full-blown pity-party if I let it, and then I'm just sad for a minute.  (Big sigh.)  Then I pray.  God has taken some words from the Mass, and has put them on a continual loop in my head. 

Right before Communion, just moments before we take the body and blood of Christ into our bodies to become one with Him on a cellular level, we speak the truest words ever spoken.  "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you..."  Most people kind of mumble these words in that hushed monotone church voice that blends into everyone else's monotone church voice.  I know these words are true.  I am NOT worthy!  I'm human, therefore I'm naughty by nature.  For some reason, every time I say these words I channel my "inner soul sister" and it comes out sounding like it might have a Z-snap and one hand on a hip, and big BIG emphasis on the word NOT!  But I mean it! I'm NOT worthy.  That's the good news, He loves me anyways.  I mess up and have to reconcile with God over and over and over. Fortunately, he's like a loving grandmother, and punishes you with his "big hand" for a minute, then tells you how he loves you and doesn't want you to get hurt.  Then he holds you close and offers you a Little Debbie snack cake...or some kind of equivalent, comfort-type thing. 

The second half of this prayer is really hard for me to understand.  The whole thing goes like this: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."  Healed?  I'm not sure if this prayer is talking about healed of my unworthiness or healed, like healed of my sickness.  The story in the Bible is about a guard who wants Jesus to heal his loved one, and he says these words, and Jesus heals the guy's daughter (I think it was a daughter).  So when I pray this part, I'm asking for healing of all of it.  And I wait and watch.  I accept the body of Christ into my body with love and respect, knowing exactly who he is and exactly what I am not.

 "Only say the Word." God, please!  On a day like this, say the word!  Heal me and make me whole.  Just like Peter's mother-in-law, heal me up so I can serve you.  All it takes is one word from God's lips, and it's all healed.  All of it!  My sinful nature, my flippy-floppy heart rhythm, my fear, my anxiety, my worries about those people I love who count on me to be the strong one.  All of it.  So why doesn't he just say the word? 

The truth is, I'm not ready for him to say the word.  I'm not ready to be healed.  Of my unworthiness, I am ready, but of the rest of it, No.  I need to learn more about suffering and pain.  Just like a little kid that stomps his feet to get what he wants, I have to learn a different way.  I send my kids to the pew, God sends me to the couch.  It's fair, but I don't like it.  I still need to truly understand that He can "say the Word" and change everything.  He IS "saying the Word" every single day I wake up still in this life.  I don't get to choose what my healing looks like.  I know God has things to teach me. 

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you" and I am not yet ready for you to receive me into your kingdom.  "But only say the Word," when you are ready and I am ready, "and I shall be healed." Whatever that looks like to you.           


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shepherd me

To say I cry sometimes during Mass is the understatement of all time.  Last Sunday was no exception.  I was doing great until we got to the psalm.  Rita sang it so beautifully!  "Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from Death into Life!"  It is a variation of the 23rd psalm.  You know the one, "The Lord is my shepherd, there's nothing I shall want...surely goodness and mercy follow me..." It's a pretty standard funeral reading, and for good reason.  Who doesn't want to think of their newly deceased loved one in the arms of their maker.  That's not what makes me cry, however.  It's much more personal than that. 

I can't count how many times my soul has personally cried out these words.  (Usually in this same tune, in fact.)  Shepherd me!  Draw me in, and don't let me stray too far from you.  Keep me in mind, and in eyesight.  I'm known to wander off and be easily distracted by the shiny things of life.  Please, PLEASE, O God, keep seeking me out and keep bringing me back to the fold!

Shepherd me beyond my wants!  I see something that looks like it might be tasty, so I wander over to it.  It's what I want and I fight you for it.  Of course you know better, you know that what I want is really poisonous to my soul, but I am a sheep.  I want what I want when I want it!  Lead me away, Lord.  Protect me and shepherd me! 

Shepherd me beyond my fears!  When I am frozen with it.  When I just can't move because the wolves appear to be everywhere, stalking me, licking their lips waiting to consume me.  Shepherd me!  Pick me up and carry me on your shoulders and calm me, telling me that you have me and I'm going to be alright!  Shepherd me, O God, beyond my fears! 

Shepherd me from death into life!  When I am physically dead.  When I am spiritually dead.  When I am mentally drained of all that is me, shepherd me back in the way that only YOU can heal.  You allowed me to experience my own death, and you were there for me.  Escort me back to life.  Not the life I had before, but a newer, fuller, more vibrant life, filled with your love and goodness.  Surely, your goodness and mercy DOES follow me all the days of my life. 

Thank you, O, God for shepherding me.  Even before I knew I was your sheep.        

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mothers Day, Mrs. Swager

In honor of Mother's Day being yesterday, I wanted to share something I wrote a while back when Janice and Karl were preparing to marry.  (This was written when Pops Swager was still with us.)  This essay was my shower gift to her, since I didn't think they needed any more kitchen towels, and they already had a toaster.  Love is something you can never have too much of (actually, so are kitchen towels.) 

So here it is.  Enjoy this insight to this wonderful family I married into. 

Dear Mrs. Swager…
Welcome to the family, Janice. Welcome also to the growing ranks of those of us proud to call ourselves "Mrs. Swager". It’s a very useful title. You will hear it used a lot, such as, "Hello Mrs. Swager", "Nice day, Mrs. Swager", "do you really think you should let him eat that off the ground, Mrs. Swager?" and my favorite, "how many kids DO you have, Mrs. Swager?" It’s a beautiful name, and I hope you wear it proudly.
None of us would be "Mrs. Swager", had it not been for our Matriarch, Kathryn Swager. Those are some big boots to fill. She seemed to always have it together. Every time I saw her out with a handful of kids, she always had a smile on her face. I wish I’d had the opportunity to know her better, but from what I am told, she had a way of dealing with everything with a certain joy and grace. Karl’s "Cowboy kicks" that led to Luke’s broken wrist (Twice!) had to be frustrating, but probably not as much as a certain brother peeing on another certain brother from up in a tree. Or another Swager-boy infuriating his sister until she threw a knife at him. (We all know he had it coming!)
I wish I had her patience.
I can’t imagine what you thought when you met the rest of us "Mrs. Swagers". We don’t seem very much alike. Edith, Jennifer, Arlea, Julie, and myself couldn’t be much more different from each other. Some of us scream and shout and others run, and others bravely enter a war zone. And some are in the Army.
We do have a few things in common. For one thing, we’ve learned to speak the language. "Reverend" is a term that mostly means, "I agree with you". You don’t want to be a "Reeves" or a "Clemmie", and "McRoin" is a Mexican guy that used to live with Walter.
Another thing we have in common is our father-in-law. We all love Dad. Here’s my advice about Dad: if he wants to show you what he needs at the store, and reaches for his pants, LOOK AWAY!!! Other than that, listen to him. He knows so much, and wants to share it. Ask him about his family. It is our family, and our children’s heritage.
The best thing I have found that we have in common is a love for our Swagers. It is amazing to me to see that love every time we’re together. When I hear Edith upset at Walter, I remember her sitting by his hospital bed reading to him from the Missalette and praying with him out loud while he was unconscious. I see that love in Arlea when she hands a twin to Adam at church, to take them up for their blessings, together. Love is there when Julie is corralling the boys so that Eric can…well, be Eric. She is the glue that keeps the family together. And how much more could Jenni love Hugh than to give him the greatest gift ever—his very own kids. As for me, are you kidding? I never knew love could be so strong. He has seen me through the very best times and the very worst. These Swager-boys aren’t perfect, but they are some of the finest men you will ever meet. Their hearts are beautiful, like their mother’s.
We all wish that same love for you and Karl. They say men marry someone like their mother. Marriage may be the greatest compliment Karl ever pays you. It is clear that he sees the same beauty in you. Love him always, and steer clear of his "Cowboy Kick". Welcome to the family. We are here for you if you need us. Welcome also to the very blessed, elite group of those of us sisters fortunate enough to be called "Mrs. Swager".

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Post of the NEW BLOG!!!

Hello!  It feels like it's been forever since I blogged last!  I have missed it SO much!  I started the last blog as a lenten promise, but this one is different.  I'll still blog whatever God puts on my heart, but I didn't make any promises this time.  "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit" according to preschool rules! 

Those of you who know me have figured out the name of this blog.  "The View From The Shoe" refers to the little old lady who lived in a shoe who had so many children she didn't know what to do.  I am heavily blessed in the children department.  I have seven that came from me, one my son married and gave me as a daughter, and the many school, church and neighborhood kids that call me Mom, Aunt Amy, or Mrs. Swager. My life is surrounded by children, and I embrace them whole-heartedly.  I love being the Kool-aid house, and the place other parents look when their kids aren't home yet.  So most of my point of view is that of mother, grandmother, and child advocate.  Thus, my view is usually from the shoe.  Being surrounded by children is a lot like being in a shoe.  Sometimes it's cramped in here.  Sometimes we could use some odor-eaters.  But no one is sent to bed with broth and no bread unless their behavior tells me they have chosen that. 

Like the old lady, sometimes I don't know what to do.  I get overwhelmed with the vast opportunities that I could be taking advantage of now that the kids are all in school.  Should I keep my special ed job at school?  Should I become a full-time writer?  Should I do public speaking about heart health?  Maybe I'm supposed to finish my degree and substitute teach?  Sometimes OT calls to me.  TOO MANY OPTIONS!  It's hard to know, so of course I do what I always do, and pray.  I still don't know, but today I went to work and I hope I made a difference in the lives of the kids I work with.  They certainly made a difference in mine.  Now I'm home, writing this blog, and waiting for my beloved daughter, Misty and my grandkids to get here for a visit.  STOP!  Gramma TIME!  Woo hoo!     

One of my students was very upset today and went on an autistic rant.  I just let him talk for awhile, and I was intrigued by what he was saying.  "Jesus said yes, so no one should be saying no to me because Jesus talks to God and he said Yes!  So this is a yes day and not a no day and I am angry because you are saying no and it is not a no day because Jesus said yes and God said yes and I said please and God doesn't like it when people say no and it makes me angry and I don't like it either!"  So I guess I got ganged up on, since he had 2/3 of the Trinity on his side, but he still didn't get to use the computer because I said it wasn't a computer day and I meant what I said.  (Footnote:  God likes it when you stick to what you said, but I didn't want to make it worse, so I kept this info to myself.) Then he told me about the robot he was going to make to kill my friends, so I nipped it in the bud.  He still likes me.  He also still didn't get to use the computer.  I'm tougher than killer robots.       

Well, that's all for today!