finishing grandma’s work

the mystery of this place began when she was small. once the beckoning began, it never really left. indeed, it grew over time as more clues were given to her. it was akin to following bread crumbs. when ‘birds’ got to them (aka distractions) before she did, the trail would grow cold.

the first trip to the enchanted land was to celebrate a wedding. their little family got in the car for a two week long vacation, nearly unheard of for farmers in the midwest. you simply did not leave your cows in someone else’s hands for that long. but here they were, taking a break from milking cows and slopping hogs. the adventure took them across the country to hillsboro, oregon.

the memories were foggy. she was in second grade at the time. momma’s momma had died, and the relatives on this side of the family were dwindling. it quickly became important for momma to meet her momma’s surviving relatives. there were two uncles. this visit would introduce them to uncle dwight, married to aunt joan who had three daughters from her first marriage. her oldest daughter was getting married. it was hard not to get it all confused.

the ride across the country was almost tortuous for her and her brother. neither of them fared so well in the back seat of the chevy malibu. there were a lot of stops to manage car sickness, especially over high mountain passes. daddy was angry and frustrated, often getting sick himself just because the kids were. momma had the baby in the front seat with her and daddy, too.

after endless miles, they got into a big city with bridges everywhere. she vividly remembered the double-decker bridge with police sirens and lights going all around them. it was a lot for farm kids to take in. they got to uncle dwight’s house, stayed a few days and went to a wedding. she didn’t remember much else. the place stayed with her, though.

oregon came back into focus via a long-distance relationship years later. the fascination grew like wild ivy. it seemed father god was using the relationship to draw her. it worked. she made plans to visit her friend and looked into a job transfer at the same time.

she went west for a short visit and was completely enthralled. this place was like narnia in every good way – flora, fauna, climate, mountains, ocean. it was all there. it was alive and it called her name.

as she dreamed of moving and transferring her job, a roadblock appeared in the form of an angry boss who wouldn’t approve the transfer. complications, delays, frustration came again. more time passed.

then that book came out, the one that made everyone crazy. it was called, “the shack.” a friend sent her a copy in the mail. when she got it, she opened it up and began to read. by 2 am, she’d read through it twice and within 24 hours, she’d been through it three times, laughing, crying, sobbing. it wrecked her through and through.

not only was papa god doing things in her heart, he was also calling her home, back to her roots. this time, there was no doubt. she had to go. the relationship had fallen apart almost two years earlier after his sister had died from breast cancer. it had devastated him.

she decided to check in on him, and they picked up right where they left off. they talked on the phone every day, sometimes for hours. it was good until she told him she was coming for a visit. he wasn’t ready, afraid of loving again, but he didn’t know how to say it. he stopped answering her calls. he was on the run.

she bought the one-way ticket anyway, she had marching orders. when he didn’t show up at the train station, it wasn’t a surprise. inconvenient, yes, but not impossible. it was a rocky beginning to a new life, but she kept moving forward even in the uncertainty.

after nine months of scraping by, she got a full-time job. her dialog with papa god shifted to asking more focused questions that began with ‘why’ and ‘what.’ “why am i here? what am i doing?” those were the big ones, the questions that burned in her.

one day, she asked the question again. keep asking, right? this time, she clearly heard the response from papa god. “you’re here in part to complete the assignment given to your grandmother.” what?? she wrinkled her brow. sometimes she wished he would just give the answer clearly, right up front. really.

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photo credit: pixabay

he enjoyed the process of walking her through these opportunities for delight while she wanted to stomp her feet in frustration. his answer only led to another question. “what does that mean?” she asked herself.  no one knew much about momma’s momma, her grandma. this woman’s life was like a mist. there wasn’t much to grab onto.

the digging began again, with more intensity. it meant more conversations with momma. and there was more reconnaissance to do. over the years, momma and her stepsisters got disconnected again. they didn’t know she’d been sick, had part of one leg amputated and was now living in a nursing home.

for the past few years, momma had talked about getting in touch with them but never pursued it. she and momma talked about it again over the phone on a lunch break. it was clear that momma wanted to talk to her stepsisters again, problem was she didn’t have contact information for them anymore. she didn’t, no, but the internet did.

she almost ran back to the office to get on her computer. in twenty minutes, she tracked down an address and phone number for the oldest stepsister in kansas city. she ran off to the conference room and made the call. she knew it was the right number when she recognized the voice on the other end. they talked for a little while to get caught up. she gave the stepsister momma’s number so they could reconnect.

there, that piece was done. now it would be easy to get the answers she needed about the grandma she’d never met met. what were her hobbies? her likes? her dislikes? had she hiked mount hood? did she like to go to the coast? what made her laugh and cry?

the most important question loomed larger than all the others. what was grandma assigned to do in the earth that she did not finish?

it was a grand mystery.

(copyright © 2017 jane doe productions)

 

 

 

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certain things require change

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photo credit: jane doe

she was late running her errand, which meant she’d be late picking him up. she called to let him know. and to ask if she could use the restroom when she got there.

some things never change. “you know, i knew you’d ask me that! the toilet handle broke this morning. you’d better stop someplace else to go first.” she howled in laughter. there was always something wrong with the toilet.

ten minutes later, she was there. responding to the car’s gentle honk, he walked out the apartment door, crossed the street and got in the passenger side of her car.

with twinkling eyes and a big grin on her face, she looked him over. he looked her over, too, with the same goofy expression and cocked head that had made her laugh so often before.

they were uncomfortable for no more than twenty seconds. then the chatter began as though they’d never been apart. in reality, it had been nine months.

a lot had changed in nine months. he still looked like a giant teddy bear, and felt like one, too. he’d had surgery on his leg and had most of the hardware removed. but there had been complications and he still needed healing.

she was continually amazed at all the times the enemy had tried to take him out but never succeeded. that was a testimony all on its own.

they took turns in the catching up until they got to the theatre. once inside, they debated on whether to purchase overpriced popcorn and candy. wisdom won, and they opted for a late lunch after watching, ‘the shack.’

he hadn’t seen it yet. this was her second viewing. she offered him a kleenex as the movie began. he declined her offer and took a hanky out of his back pocket instead. all right, then.

the similarities between his story and the main character’s were too many to count. neither of them attempted to gloss it over. it was the pain of the past that had destroyed what they’d attempted to build.

when she had a break from wiping her own tears away, she looked over at him occasionally to see how he was doing with it all. he was hard to read. she held his hand in the places she knew would be hard for him. some things never change.

then the poignant and profound quote came from papa’s lips as she spoke to mackenzie.

“when all you see is your pain, you lose sight of me.”

she looked over at him again. this time there was no subtly. this time she said, “this” with tears running down her face. he caught it.

they finished watching the movie in silence and walked out of the theatre quietly when it was over. bj’s bar and grill was the chosen location for late lunch. after ordering, more real conversation came.

some conversation unpacked the movie. it offered further explanation of what papa had available to him if he would simply agree that papa was especially fond of him. if he would shift, he could live an abundant life. no, it was not without pain, but he could live well-loved, and that made all the difference.

tears sprang back to her eyes when she said it, but he had to know. “i didn’t leave because i didn’t love you. i left because i was dying. you were so consumed with the pain of your past that you had nothing to give me.”

he answered her slowly. “i guess that’s true.” his own feelings of unworthiness had made him unable to receive, love and cherish the gift papa had given him in her. he believed the lies the enemy told him, without ever questioning their validity.

he took over the conversation with the experiences he’d had with papa since they’d last been together. he talked about how papa was working in his heart, but she heard some lying green mist in his words. self-pity was holding him back from going after a full-on relationship with papa. she heard it. what was at the root?

after lunch, they visited places they used to go together. wildlife was always a shared joy. they watched ducks, geese, an eagle, and an osprey. a sweet little bird sang a melody that sounded like twinkling stars.

as they walked along the path at the nature preserve, he mentioned how the guilt of a rescue worker dying while trying to save him still tore him apart sometimes.

she stopped in her tracks. this was a piece of the puzzle. “wait. this is why your leg is not fully healed. you are judging yourself guilty for what happened to that man, when in fact you had nothing to do with it.”

“yeah, you’re right. it wasn’t my fault. but it really doesn’t bother me anymore.”

“you just said it still tears you up sometimes, so let’s deal with this.”

she saw the demons were opposing this process. after some persistence, she got him to say it. “father, in the name of jesus, i come out of agreement with the spirit of condemnation.” it was a start. truth had been spoken. this was new for him.

he was not used to doing anything that empowered him or made him free and strong. but it was a start, and a good one. she stopped there. it was enough for now.

she wanted to go back, but he encouraged her to walk a little further. she soon saw why. the path that meandered to the far end of the park was under water. in fact, the whole park was almost entirely flooded from heavy spring rains.

the drought was over.

they finished their walk and headed back to his apartment. he thanked her for the movie and for lunch. he had some things to think about.

she prayed he would choose the path of life papa had for him.

certain things require change.

(copyright © 2017 jane doe)