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Pen Flights of Nancy Roe

Lending voice to life in search of beauty…

HEAR ME

Hear Me

It is not easy to be me.

My life of 65 years has been a patchwork of light and dark, though the dark has ravaged deep from a young age into the present. Those holds and chains pervade hard, immovable, unyielding, and stubborn. I am too familiar with the lies and nuances, and they hide in the habitual. “The what has always been and what will always be” are insinuated into my psyche. The lies insist they are stronger now that I am older, that I am too weak, too fragile, too broken, too damaged.

I was 18 when my drug addled hedonism and atheism gave way to idealism, discovery, and faith in Jesus. The Great I AM showed Himself to me and I was utterly taken. All and everything, He was my desire. I swooned for Him, floated in Him. Such bliss in those days, heaven pulsated in and through me. The sheer intoxication of Him filled me with the ecstasy of joy, peace passing understanding, laughter, purity, and the warm palpable healing oil of His Spirit.

Heaven came to me on earth for a while. But I was young and had much living and learning in store.

The damage done by legalism and condemnation was far more heinous than I could have ever realized. No wonder Paul wrote so repeatedly, passionately and emphatically in his letter to the Galatians.

“See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” (Galatians 6:11)

Paul urged the Galatians to take heed:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:6-9)

He implored them:

“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

Paul’s fierce protective ardor is so evident in this:

I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” (Galatians 5 :12)

Now, I get it.

But then? I was years in a “Christian” mind control cult. Though prior to this at my faith’s inception, the wolves in sheep’s clothing subtlety held sway. All those cunning, cruel, and wicked cords wove through my belief experience, tying me, locking me down, imprisoning me deep. This was new bondage, this religious dread and panic that wove itself into the older tapestry of my childhood guilt and shame.

Fear sets us out as fugitives on the run from God. So run I did, trying to find my way to what was real.

But, God…

His holy beauty swathes us, holds us, tethers us to His heart. In ways outside of our awareness, as we wander, as we drift, in all our clueless obliviousness, He keeps us. My drifting eventually plunged me into the currents of popular culture. I rode those waters for twenty years but not alone. Jesus was with me.

His scent was on me. It had never left. It wafted into my deepest longings, my reflections, in the stillness. He was there in the middle of my hedonism. He wooed me. He drew me closer as I felt safe. He groomed me for our Homecoming.

It was loss and books that ended it. My running and drifting stopped. I lost my job and devoured books. It was then and there that I found the ancient words. His words, love language, captured and melted my heart, inflamed holy passions, and pooled deep and refreshing in my parched longings.

I found myself all in once again forty years later. Though much difficulty lay ahead of me.

He melted me in a moment. I was in the middle of making my bed when the Voice came.

It had been months and months since I had returned to faith, and I so deeply admired the heroes in my group. They were the doers and the rescuers who poured out their lives to meet the needs of the refugees.

But for me, there was a flip side, a dark undertow to this admiration. My “doing and performing” motivation did not come from an overflowing, pouring out place of God Most High. Rather it was one of anxious, compulsive striving laced with panic and guilt. I saw myself as less than, defective, and not enough in my comparison to them. Waves of guilt and shame washed over me and through me, agitating my sin-sick soul like a washing machine.

I did not know who I was.

This is a hard thing, knowing I am loved. It does not come easy. The learning is in the wait, so I have found.

But that day in my bedroom, I had a glimpse when He came to answer the question I had been repeatedly asking, over and over. I asked “what is it that you want me to do?”

I crumpled to the floor in tears of sheer unbelievable wonder. His tenderness, indefinable gentleness, kindness, and compassion surprised me. It overwhelmed me, utterly delighted me. It was an “exceeding beyond what you can ask or imagine” moment. The words were Pure Love and I strove to interpret them into language.

“HEAR ME.”

And so, I saw myself sitting at the feet of Jesus as Mary had so long ago, having chosen the better part (Luke 10:42).

Today, I am not out of the woods yet. I struggle, flounder, fumble, and fall. I strive and get caught falling into the old traps that have worked so well so long. There I go. I am up there again dangling upside down by my heels in dismay.

I call and I cry and He hears me. He is on His way coming for me.

I learn. I discover truth in the wait.

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UNITY AND RECONCILIATION: JOINING THE DISCUSSION

UNITY AND RECONCILIATION

Dear Deidra,

First, I would like to say, I love everything I have read, seen, or heard you do! You are one of my favorites. A little about me. I devour books and blogs, love to read and write. I am almost 65 years old. Ten years ago my husband and I were backpacking around Ireland for our honeymoon. Today, I find myself in a wheelchair and using a walker as I recover from my traumatic lower leg fractures which incapacitated my knee. I am a year out from my injury and probably a year from “full” recovery. I am largely a shut in. Wow! The changes of aging. But, I thrive on opportunities to write! Thank you for opening up this discussion.

THE “R” WORD

This topic stirs it all up! Where to begin? I am convicted it starts here with me, my heart. My views: the way I see it, the god of this world devises endless ways to promote hatred, strife, and division. These ways permeate ALL the cultures, nations, religions, governments, peoples, families. The prince of darkness is afoot. He it is who divides and accuses, the prosecutor. It is he who turns us to his will to hate and harm and become divided within our very selves. He is the one who steals, kills, destroys. It all began in the garden in the beginning and spins out of control till this day.

TRUST

Abuse and shame damage and perpetuate guilt and self hatred over the life span. I am close to 65 now, and all these things have been woven through my experience much of my life. I find myself quite brittle and sensitive now. Trusting God and others is a real issue. I am on airport security mode.

Hurt people hurt people.

But, I am not alone. In my experience I have found, we all are the walking wounded to one degree or another. Blind, numb, and distracted, we move like zombies in a war zone caught between the forces of heaven and hell. Years ago I read a book, “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix. He wrote about the reptilian brain, those centers where emotions assess, in lightning speed, our relational environments in 3 basic ways. Is this person a safe nurturer, a hostile, or someone to have sex with? I think there is some truth to this. I have found myself stereotyping others based on my past experiences. For example some time ago in a group setting, I met a beautiful, young, Barbi doll appearing girl who triggered painful teenage memories of “the blonde cheerleaders,” the ultimate “it girls.” As I got to know this young woman, I discovered that she was tenderhearted with a passionate heart for Jesus and the suffering. We are now dear to each other. I believe that in our lives there are myriads of these and other more painful experiences that potentially result in misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and ostracization.

GOD SEES OUR HEARTS

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Oh, to have those eyes! It is really hard, first, to know God loves me, really resounding love in the deepest part of my being. But this is the key on which all else hinges.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

So, to see His Transformative LOVE, the resurrection power making all things new in us, to enter into this place. It has to begin here, the knowing that we are His beloved. And OH! the ways He loves us: purely, powerfully, freely, wildly, passionately, tenderly, sacrificially, selflessly, jealously, exquisitely, perfectly, justly, infinitely. Here is the womb space, the supernatural birthplace of love, receiving from Him, abiding in Him. All other attempts to “love” become contrived and ineffectual. I believe we love others when we, the beloved, are full of His love and wisdom and overflow to see the essence of the hearts of others with tenderhearted soft throbbing grace and compassion. No matter the outward appearance, or culture, or religion, or smell, or negative emotional state. God sees beneath, at our core, the place where we hide often unbeknownst to ourselves. We all long for love. It is the alpha and omega of us, the place to find ourselves and others.

SEX MONEY POWER

15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John: 16, 17

The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life: Satan rules in these realms as we give them place in us. Here arises the divisiveness of ME FIRST, the pursuit of MINE. And we see the endless stratification of economies, wealth distribution, fame, renown, power, position, beauty, youth worship, ability versus disability, dogmas, doctrines. And on it goes: cults, sects, denominations. Divide, divide, divide. And then there are subcultures in churches promoting homogeneity, exclusiveness, and cliches.

I have been in an abusive mind controlling “Christian” cult and have also worked for state government, hospitals, and health care settings. I have seen a common thread running through all these environments. The survival of the organization is primary, people are secondary. The bottom line rules. Individuals are dispensable. I have also experienced this in a non denominational church setting as well. The dynamic being more subtle here as the church cultural norms promote a “pouring out” of congregation members. Yes, a perceived using of the person. This for me resulted in feelings of low value, feelings of being unconnected, unseen, or unheard. It was a lonely place, a sad place, and I was not alone in this. I saw other sad and lonely people there. In my experience there, I tried to make friends only to find that, for the most part, those doors were not open. Attend, serve, and give. Homes and lives were not open. I believe, here exists a state of pharisaical blindness. The perpetuation and survival of the institution are primary. Love has little chance here. It was as Jesus said,

“by their fruit you will recognize them.”

15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20

Wait! What? I admit, it gets more than a little tricky here. Good upstanding church people are not necessarily false prophets. Though perhaps it may be a case of congregation members following the ways of what has “always” been and how that has played out over time with the development of social mores and norms, the creation of a familiar culture and traditions. The words of Jesus stir up questions and cause me to look harder, more circumspectly at my plight. What are you experiencing? What do you see is the nature, the essence of the relatedness of those with whom you are interacting in the households of faith? Is this essence true? Is it love? Is it inclusive, warm, accepting and welcoming? Does it look like 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8?

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Does it reflect God’s personality? Do we? I believe the exhortation and warning from Jesus stands as a beacon. Be awake! See the fruit. Notice, observe, consider, ponder, test the fruit. Be wise and discerning. Don’t get stuck. In my case, the time had come to fly, to spread my wings and slough off the remaining grave cloths of legalism, to come away from the teachings and traditions of man. It was time for me to be free to pioneer the MORE that was the bigger, the all inclusive body of Christ. It was time to seize the freedom to seek the heart and essence of God.

TRUE WISDOM

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:17-18

Ah! This! These words shine powerfully in me like a mantra, like a lighthouse guiding to safe shores. I ponder them and turn them over and over as if studying the brilliant facets of a jewel, awestruck by the purity, beauty and wonder of it all…peaceful, humble, abounding in mercy, fruit bearing sown in peace, gentle willingness to yield, offering life, making peace. The peacemakers are defined here, those who are blessed, the children of God, as Jesus said in the beatitudes. Here I find the call, the cry that begs us to engage in the shedding off of partiality and hypocrisy. How may I shed my own partiality and hypocrisy? We all have it. But God is not a respecter of persons, neither should we be.

It is as Peter and Paul so plainly stated and James clearly explains: Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, James 2:1-4. Moreover, God makes this point apparent found over and over in the Old Testament books as well: Deuteronomy 10:17, Deuteronomy 16:19, Proverbs 24:23, Job 34:19. (Whew!) To name a few! So, how can we be made new to not follow those habits, cultures, and traditions that are not just, wise, humble, peaceful, and loving? This narrow path, the one less traveled, that leads to life is worth the search, worth the trek. Eyes are looking for it, longing for it. The world scans, watches, waits to see the evidence of the image of God, the Christ, in people.

GOD SENSE

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
Romans 8:19

I have come to see the “God Sense” in our contemporary culture. The more I see it, the more I discover it. It threads through story lines in movies, TV shows, late night comedies, satire, news, music, books, and more. This God Sense, our innate existence as image bearers of God, pours out of us, whether we know it or not, whether we know Him or not. It weaves through the warp and woof of our human expression, through our awareness of life on terra firma.

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,
Romans 1:19

Ah yes, in spite of all the dark, it threads as luminescent skeins of glimmering beams of hope, of cries for justice, beauty, authenticity, compassion, raw truth, rescue. It beckons from us and to us. It weaves and leaps through the dense dark tapestry that has become our existence in enemy occupied territory where the god of this world holds sway. The God Sense declares, protests, we are meant for more than this! How else is it that we have a deep birth sense of what is just and unjust, of heroism, selflessness, humility, and kindness? How else, as a collective, do we have such keen radar for the fake, the contrived, the hypocritical, the exploitive, the manipulative, the cruel, the arrogant and indulgent?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares, “He has put eternity in their hearts”

We come from eternity and we yearn for home. And so, the religious, the pharisaical pursuits, the playing church, these are no substitutes for the REAL. The world, the unbelieving intuits this and has no qualms about calling it out. Our culture recognizes it, smells it. The fear, the hatred, the divisiveness, the homophobia, bigotry, prejudice, greed, exclusivity, domination, the legalistic dogma, the people are not fooled by these. Because they are waiting for this!

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

This is LOVE, GOD MANIFEST in his children. WHO HE IS.

23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
John 17:23

Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

LIFE IN THE WAR ZONE

My writer sister births life in her words like a doula. Her raw beauty and honesty beg me to move, to respond as in song. In safe open sacred spaces, her words welcome and invite me to find and birth my own. So, I am raw here.

Dear Lord, HELP!

I am caught in a whirlwind swirl of sweet hope, a glimpse of life, and the forces of hell shrouding my identity with ugliness, emptiness, despicable shame, a reject. I’m lost in the void of panic, restlessness, purposelessness. It comes every day. I laugh when I’m empty and hurting. I grasp at TV viewing to find relief. I eat, drink trying to fill in the gaps. Panic infuses, what do I do? I do not know what to do.

One thing I discover as I reflect and view my thoughts and feelings is this. I am caught in the lies of my captor. These are the lies formed to destroy me. These are the lies that he wants me to believe, know, think, and feel about myself. This is the trap, the false identity that feels real. He tells me I’m too evil to consider Sacramental living, that I am outcast, unacceptable. I’m not like those good religious girls. And the telling is done with innuendo like a smear besmirching their characters.

This is life in the war zone. I live suspended between heaven and hell, and the forces of both are palpable and active.

My dreams at night are filled with hellish intensity trying to pull me under into torment. I wake in a stupor covered with oppressive death shrouds.

I have been embattled for years now, and I am worn out, worn down. I have suffered from shame and self hatred my whole (long) life. So I am easy, susceptible, a sucker for a bad familiar lie.

My habits need to change. I want to LIVE REST. LIVE STILL. LIVE ABIDE. LIVE RESTORED. LIVE FREE. LIVE tenderheartedness. LIVE GRACE. LIVE WISE. LIVE LOVE.

I want the Holy and the Sacramental.

I want shining boldness. I want to live a beloved warrior, an ezer kenegdo.

I know I must continue to seek, ask, knock. I know I must continue to follow my homing instincts.

Thus, I tumble to safety. Rescue from the fight, I find myself again in the Psalms. The Anchor secures me safely in the ancient words. My eyes stumble upon the mirrors of my soul looking back at me. Here the words echo my own anguished cries of longing, desperation, languish, and pain. I can exhale here. My prayers form and come alive, a familiar whisper, seeing and being seen, knowing and being known. Relief! Hope!

The war zone teaches me. I discover that in the deepest, blackest depths of all my darkness, GOD is afoot. He works, even when I have no awareness of Him. He works, breaking life, hopefulness, a sense of surety about HIS VOICE. PEACE. LIGHT. LIGHTNESS, springing up joy, whispering a future…

The casting off of death is rising now as sure as the slow steady indomitable move of flood waters. Coming. SURE. TRUE. FREE.

COME LORD JESUS.

I USED TO THINK______AND NOW I THINK______FILLING IN THE BLANKS OF MY FAITH JOURNEY

outofsortsgodwaitsforus

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

Memories, reflection, and hope for resolution fill me these days. My life’s journey has brought me to a vantage point in time where I look back over the vast plains of my life. More has gone before on this side of terra firma than will be. My 47 year faith journey has held adventure indeed replete with extremes. Bliss and ecstacy, healing and freedom, the murder of my young husband, torture, grief, loss, and brokenheartedness have all filled the landscape. Now, me thinks, the time has come. I want to finish well. Not only for me, as our faith stories are all woven together, “our roots are all tangled together,” writes Sarah Bessey. No, my longing, hope, desire is for you too. That all this wild myriad of broken pieces may come together to form a puzzle as a gift for you. I pray this gift to be a tool, a key to open heaven’s fissures to leak glory and bathe those wounded parts. I wish this for us all.

The coming to faith part of my story began when I was 18. It was 1969 and I was immersed in the hippy drug culture. I was on a mad search to ease my desperate, deep seated, long held pain, driven hard by compulsions lurking beneath conscious thought. I engaged in all the wild excesses du jour: sex, drugs, hitchhiking, homesteading (of sorts) the breaking off from cultural norms with iconoclastic intensity. Little did I know that God had His hand on the pulse of all my longing, exploits, searching, and pain. Little did I know that this wild journey was leading me right into His arms. He was the destiny, the ultimate bliss, the healing balm, the warm soothing welcoming comfort, the mystery, the inexplicable beauty, the wonder. I came home to Him in 1970 in response to an alter call in a small rural church. A lady who prayed with me, the wild hippy type, asked me with seeming incredulity, “Do you want to become a child of God?” My words, my heart, all of my soul resounded echoing in the heavens, “YES”! And so began the journey…

Cool fresh droughts of sweet air currents alive with wild green scents infused the dusk as I floated into the beauty, afoot a winding dirt road. Here the steep rise of a wooded hill flanked the gentle sloping road and echoed the rushing waters of a shallow rocky spring fed stream. At my side as I walked into the fading light, timeless bright murmurs of water song sprang joy to life as they whispered the deep wisdom of the ages. Stepping deeper into the night, I happened upon a clearing filled high with floating blinking fireflies, a galaxy of lights hovering in the dark. Thus, my senses and heart were flooded with delight, wonder and pleasure. All was well indeed. Silhouettes of the barn and silo rose against the soft violet night hues to welcome me. This was my home and my Eden where the great “I AM” came to make me His own. All was bliss. I was young and in love and my whole life beckoned me to discover it.

As the story goes, a snake dwelt in Eden. This serpent who hissed then and hisses now, “Has God said?” “You are free. You are wildly and deeply and eternally beloved. You are perfected in Faith, in Love. I am for you. It is gift. All is gift.” So in my Eden too, the destroyer of souls lurked in the dark places shrouding himself with light to wreak havoc in hearts and lives.

The warnings had been so clear, so tender, so powerful as I devoured scripture. Matthew 7:15-20: 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?” But sheep are notably stupid animals that blindly follow the herd. Unbeknownst to me, wolves in sheep’s clothing dwelt among us. They were there with me in the beginning, but all I saw was sheep.

You see, I did not come from a religious tradition and didn’t know what that looked like. My family was atheistic/agnostic, though we made the occasional visit to the Unitarian Church. However, what was core to my growing up experience was the scarcity of love and affection and the presence of acrimony in my home. Shame became the back drop of my life; and as it grew, expanding and rooting deep, it made me an easy target for abuses. So later as a neophyte believer, I joined a cult that promised healing, safety, life, and family. It was there, in this place where mind control ruled, that I surrendered my free will at the door, the cost of admission.

Caveat here!! Beware the legalistic doctrines! I ended up in this predicament because of my vulnerability. I was spurred on by my recent trauma, desperation, fear, and ignorance to pursue legalistic doctrines as a solution. I then naturally followed all the proverbial bread crumbs of legalism to get to the cult. Thus, the die was cast. I was enfolded into the imprisoning dark.

I used to think damnation lay right below the surface, ready to overtake me if I did not follow ALL the rules. Deeply entrenched enculturated currents of shame and condemnation washed over me and through me if I did not follow all the Biblical interpretations, the church practices, the customs, cultures, styles, the nuanced expectations of others, the ultimate submission. SHAME, FEAR, CONDEMNATION giant “haints” of overwhelming proportion towered over me and ruled my experience. I held a slave mentality, a scarcity mentality, an orphan mentality. I labored under a guilt induced compulsion to “witness,” to be a proselytizer of Christianity. This took on the form of prescribed parroting “in your face” telling, teaching, speaking at people, handing out tracts, rebuking, correcting (incessantly, my poor husband). My self view, my identity was one of being “not of this world.” Thus, I was not able to relate to almost all the people, those who were. Isolated, lonely, and maladjusted I skirted the edges of sanity.

Over time, I became burnt out on religion and walked away from it all.

The wandering from faith was gradual, seamlessly imperceptible. I did not step out of the doors of the religious institution one day and find myself waking up with bruised and blackened eyes and a tequila hangover the next. That was to come later. In my new institution free days, a sweet comforting faith buoyed me and held me with euphoria and hope. Leaving the cult felt like throwing off the bonds and chains of bad religion to forge a new and free life. And so the life building began. School. Work. Parenting. Friends. But over time as I drifted more deeply into all the ways of popular culture, the sands of my foundation were shifting. Then came the culmination, the crumble and collapse of my life on the heels of betrayal. My spouse and I divorced.

Desperate pain filled my existence. My survival hung in the balance. The grasping search for love in all the wrong places began. Let’s just say, it did not go well. But, God…

outofsortshidesinplainsight

As if in a hazy dream of a long lost memory, He was there in the midst of my hedonistic pursuits. There He whispered to me softly and sweetly. His pure sweet breath washed over me stirring hope, recalling beauty and longing. He drew me. Through my waywardness, I came to KNOW what was true. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 In running far from Him, I ran right into His waiting arms. It was as Jesus, the good Shepherd of the fold, said, 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” Luke 15: 4-6

It was decades in the making, this Homecoming. All this wandering and wooing occurred over a 20 year period. Much living, learning, pain, loss, and pleasure needed space…distance…time. Then one day when the time was ripe, I discovered a love letter written with deep pointed intimacy just for me. I opened my Bible to Isaiah 55, and there it was. Love, joy, promise, reassurance, and life spilled out of each word, breaking heaven open and my heart free. Through currents of cleansing tears, my melting heart rejoiced as I wondered at the sheer miraculous astounding beauty of it all. My Love, my Life had never left me. I just didn’t know it. I just thought He had.

“20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.21 You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.” Psalm 71:20-21

Older and wiser, I now see things differently. My theology has greatly changed, is still in process. The seeking is gift. The slow, the listening, the leaning in is gift. My herd animal instincts have changed. I hear the warnings. I see the danger. And I turn away from the lies to find PURE astonishing simplicity. To find life. To find peace in the quiet.

“HEAR ME. I AM LOVE, I AM GIFT, the SOURCE of Life. BE Loved, receive my Love, then you too can love others. Apart from my Love, your hands are empty, you have nothing to offer. BE IN ME AND I IN YOU. COME out of hiding to me. I am a safe haven. Nothing about you is a surprise to me. Be who you are! REST in me and I will do the work to RESTORE you. Hush, Shh! BE STILL. ALL IS WELL, and you are loved. FEAR NOT. TRUST ME. I’VE GOT THIS! WAIT FOR ME. I AM here for you.”

It is as Sarah Bessey wrote in her book, “Out of Sorts,” “You may be surprised someday to find yourself right back where you began, but with new eyes, a new heart, a new mind, a new life, and a wry smile.”

My theology now has become expansive rather than restrictive, inclusive rather than exclusive. There is boundless room for awe and all here. I believe the Essence of Humility, infinitely vast and mighty, infinitely minuscule and gentle, is the great “I AM.” The power of His Sovereignty works ALL for good. Really! All the darkest, all the worst is a part of a remaking transformative process. HE makes all things new. Unimaginable beauty and ecstasy await. I believe a new epistle written on our hearts manifests itself in the beating, throbbing, soft, tender heart of Love. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). God’s Love in us. God for us ALL. That we may learn, by the miracle of loving grace, to see the hearts of others with eyes of love. We ALL are the broken sinners, the ‘ne’er-do-wells, the hypocrites. We ALL are created in His image, the image bearers. We are His Masterpiece, the culmination of His work. His children. His bride. His Body. His Church.

He waits for us. “Grace waits for us in the liminal space,” writes Sarah Bessey. His spirit breathes into our scary, painful, difficult change, she explains. This, our Great Transformation. Metamorphosing in all our suffering, we rise, beauty from ashes as we prepare to be with Him. His doors are thrown open wide welcoming us! “Come! Welcome Home!”

“For this my [daughter] was dead, and is alive again; [she] was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:24

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Mother: 1,000 Gifts

6 MAY 1922 – 3 MARCH 2012

MOTHER

Few relationships rival this! Do any relationships rival this?
We are a part of her body. We live within her and because of her.
We come from the very essence of her being. She is our life source.

When I was little in Laconia, New Hampshire, I was gripped with episodes of fear/terror of death which sent me running to my parents’ bed. Death fears of my death and my mother’s death.

I no longer fear this. Now I joyfully yearn for reunion with those who have gone before.
I rejoice with Mother today that we have reached this place!
I am here to savor and honor her memory.
So, I wrote “1,000 Gifts”

Those she gave to us and for us over and over again.

By: Nancy Roe, March 2012

MOTHER: 1,000 GIFTS (Unabridged)

Soft gentle stroking hands giving peppermint lifesavers.
Animal crackers in the grocery store. Laying my 5 year old head in her lap in the car. Cream puffs!! Oranges with straws to drink the juice from the fruit!
Collecting monarch butterfly eggs and watching the miracle from egg to flight!
Hearing spoken and being taught correct English.
Learning Christmas window stenciling when I was just 5.
We learning the joy and art of light, crisp Christmas cookie cutouts and decorating. (Mother’s patience with that task!)
Flaky pie crusts! Boston and coconut cream pies!
Bread pudding and milk chocolate pudding!
Porcupine balls! Cocoa with marshmallows, toast.
Her labors to provide wonderful holiday meals!
Fannie Farmer Easter eggs (only the best)!!
Endless keeping of a clean house. Remodeling and redecorating, making draperies.
Sewing us beautiful clothes!! My bright orange 2 piece wool suit.
Costumes sewed for her little girls! Detailed baby books.
Teaching cooking and baking and the love of plants and animals.
Bird watching excursions at dawn, learning their songs.
The garden: lettuce, carrots, chard, raspberries, corn, more!
Boston brown bread, tuna casserole, homemade macaroni and cheese.
Birthday parties and sleep overs! Cousin visits!
Family travels and outings, travels to grandparents.
Wise advise about teenage boys that I didn’t take and wished I had!
Family and holiday traditions. Visits with my new born babies.
The art of decorating the Christmas tree with tinsel, immaculate!
Her love of music, dance, languages, reading, colorful clothing!
Loyalty to her father and Ruthie, love for her baby boy.
Her talk of her love of being pregnant.
Told us, we girls are strong. Her acceptance of my Bohemian life style.
Encouraged and praised my talents, my large morbid oil painting graced our diningroom!
Her hand made creations: macrame, latch hook, crewel work, crocheted afghans.
Her passion, intelligence, expressiveness!
Her love of travel and adventure, her love of other cultures and peoples!
Amazing trouper at age 78 when all her luggage was lost as she traveled to Karin’s wedding!
Civil rights advocate, civic minded.
Soft hearted, taking in stray animals and friends in trouble.
Friendly, socialable, enthusiastically chaperoned for my Junior High School Chicago Field Trip.
Her phrases, “highway robbery” and “Grandma’s yummy boy!”
Daily relaxed, ‘life debriefing’ talks in the kitchen, I on the stool next to the stove, time to pour it out, she there for me.
Laughter, tears shed for us and with us.
Strong minded, resolute, unyielding, knew how to say “No” to solicitors and a very strong willed teenage daughter! She held her ground!
Genuine, shot from the hip.
Highly intuitive! She ran from the house the day of Jon’s accident before she had evidence of what had happened!
Generous!! Huge moving barrels under the stairs filled with all manner of domestic ‘treasure’ from earlier married life! Mine for the taking!!
Gave me all her furniture and appliances when she moved East as she was “footloose and fancy free at fifty four”!
Worked at giving us what we needed and wanted as children and adults.
Served her husband by enthusiastically entertaining his work colleagues.
Travels with her and to her she paid for: the scenic train ride in the upper deck from LaCrosse to Chicago to visit Carol. Visit to her in D.C. and her parakeet, Pepper.
Soothing, balm comfort she gave, I, beside myself with overwhelming and broken hearted grief.
Her gentle kindness calling us to wake up in the mornings for school.
Gentle visits to Dr. Peire Hellieson, my pediatrician, with the piercing blue eyes and thick Norwegian accent.
She cared for me and nurtured me back to health after a week long drug bing. I returned home and slept for 3 days. She tended me and fed me and took me to the outdoor drive in theater.
Fostering ‘Innocence’ my Cheshire appearing large mackerel tabby cat with pot induced behavior problems….my Mother with rolled up newspaper to fend off the cat from attacks as she lay on the couch watching TV with popcorn and Pepsi!
I remember her visit to Esofea and she marveling at my transformation from rebel to flower child and my domesticity as I hand patched jeans.
She supported me (not always) My faith and Jim leaving us with her infuriated her.
I enjoyed conversations with my Mom. I enjoyed many phone conversations and visits with her late in life. She was always happy to hear from me. I was happy in the those times to be with her.

Mother, as we, could not give what she did not have.
She strove to impart to us what her mother could not impart to her.
Mother was broken, and to quote Ann Voskamp from her book, “one thousand gifts”, (p.172), “The Wounded Warrior is achingly tender with the broken ones”

Mother spoke destiny to me. When departing home at 18 with little more than the clothes I wore to hitchhike the wild open road, she tearfully held me in her arms and said, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.” I did.
Mother provided for us well. She powerfully impacted us all.
She gave herself for her family.

Thank you, Mother, for all your endless 1,000 gifts!

HELEN ELIZABETH WILDE SARTZ

6 MAY 1922 – 3 MARCH 2012

MOTHER: 1,000 GIFTS (Abridged)

Soft gentle stroking hands giving peppermint lifesavers.
Cream puffs!! Oranges with straws to drink the juice from the fruit!
Collecting monarch butterfly eggs and watching the miracle from egg to flight!
We learning the joy and art of light, crisp Christmas cookie cutouts and decorating. (Mother’s patience with that task!)
Teaching cooking and baking and the love of plants and animals.
Bird watching excursions at dawn, learning their songs.
Wise advise about teenage boys that I didn’t take and wished I had!
Told us, we girls are strong. Her acceptance of my Bohemian life style.
Encouraged and praised my talents, my large morbid oil painting graced our diningroom!
Amazing trouper at age 78 when all her luggage was lost as she traveled to Karin’s wedding!
Soft hearted, taking in stray animals and friends in trouble.
Daily relaxed, ‘life debriefing’ talks in the kitchen, I on the stool next to the stove, time to pour it out, she there for me.
Strong minded, resolute, unyielding, knew how to say “No” to solicitors and a very strong willed teenage daughter! She held her ground!
Genuine, shot from the hip.
Highly intuitive! She ran from the house the day of Jon’s accident before she had evidence of what had happened!
Generous!! Huge moving barrels under the stairs filled with all manner of domestic ‘treasure’ from earlier married life! Mine for the taking!!
Gave me all her furniture and appliances when she moved East as she was ‘footloose and fancy free at fifty four’!
Soothing, balm comfort she gave, I, beside myself with overwhelming and broken hearted grief.
Her gentle kindness calling us to wake up in the mornings for school.
She cared for me and nurtured me back to health after a week long drug bing. I returned home and slept for 3 days. She tended me and fed me and took me to the outdoor drive in theater.
Fostering ‘Innocence’ my Cheshire appearing large mackerel tabby cat with pot induced behavior problems….my Mother with rolled up newspaper to fend off the cat from attacks as she lay on the couch watching TV with popcorn and Pepsi!
I remember her visit to Esofea and she marveling at my transformation from rebel to flower child and my domesticity as I hand patched jeans.

Mother, as we, could not give what she did not have.
She strove to impart to us what her mother could not impart to her.
Mother was broken, and to quote Ann Voskamp from her book, “one thousand gifts”, (p.172), “The Wounded Warrior is achingly tender with the broken ones”

Mother spoke destiny to me. When departing home at 18 with little more than the clothes I wore to hitchhike the wild open road, she tearfully held me in her arms and said, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.” I did.
Mother provided for us well. She powerfully impacted us all.
She gave herself for her family.

Thank you, Mother, for all your endless 1,000 gifts!
HELEN ELIZABETH WILDE SARTZ

6 MAY 1922 – 3 MARCH 2012

LAUNCHING “OUT OF SORTS”

Praise for Sarah Bessey’s “Out of Sorts.” In this book, she speaks to us, the marginalized, wounded, wondering, wandering, doubting broken, us who are caught in the throes of faith crisis. And she bids us, “Welcome, Peace.” Not only does she invite us into her personal life stories where she has woven, as if just for us, comforting and reassuring metaphor, but she cogently calls out the “elephant in the room” of contemporary Christian culture. In this book we discover our own “Out of Sorts” to be gifts, growth pains, a critical metamorphosis in a faith journey toward grace and truth. Be ready to find Freedom and Exhale! outofsortslighton

Patchwork musings….

Time…

She wasn’t doing this for fun. It wasn’t even a compulsion. It was simply Time. Time bearing unexpected healing gifts. Time as gift itself. This slow boundless space that spread out like vast water skirting sand as receding waves tumbled tiny crystalline boulders of endless granules. It was here that she made the discovery. Here in this full lazy rhythmic place, golden and replete with wonder and luminous with possibilities that the words came. Long had she sought to unravel the mystery of all the ugly that had gone before. And often it had eluded her until now.

Superior Awe…

Summoned by cool drafts wafting over the vast surface of Lake Superior’s summer waters, the cloud mists billowed soft droplets over the landscape. Slowly but indomitably, the fog advanced, lacing and shrouding the North Shore’s steep conifer peaks in gauze breath raiments of beauty and mystery.  The cloud mists came, calling soundlessly to the ancients heralding from a distant past. She beheld their wonder and heard their whispered call, and it awakened in her heart memories of awe, majesty and joy.

“LOVE FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER”

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17571174-preemptive-love I have lived in this culture for 64 + years and have been desensitized to wars and genocides of many peoples at many times, here and abroad, those strange ‘others’. Those ‘others’ who are just like you and I are. Those ‘others’ who have been dealt with horrifically often by this culture and this government from where I come. Thus!! What a ride this book is! It is a beacon of light to shine in the dark. For me, it was not only like fresh cold water cleansing and healing dry dead places, it was like open heart surgery removing the stony places to allow the freshness of truth and love to flow…I am astonished to see real live contemporary Peace Makers! “Love first and ask questions later.” DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK!!!

WINGED MAIDEN VOYAGE of FLEDGLING PEN

Note to Out of Sorts Launch Team. This piece was written to and for a community of people who had lived in the group Jesus People USA (JP) like I had, (some born and raised there) many of whom were sexual abuse victims. Thus the inside language and references. For more information about this see:

https://www.facebook.com/NoPlaceToCallHomeDocumentary?fref=ts
WINGED MAIDEN VOYAGE of FLEDGLING PEN

By Nancy Roe, June 2014

Here is my attempt to give my fledgling pen wings. And in the words of Mary Oliver: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Talk about it.”

I am on a vision quest. A quest for raw visceral authenticity. A quest for deep inner healing. A quest for peace and contentment. A quest for light and truth. As I seek and find and burn the old grave clothes of bad religion, I have unearthed these treasures. BE LOVED. BELOVED. REST. RESTORE. WEIGHTLESS. Like pebbles thrown in a pond cast ripples in ever expanding circles, these words in me open vistas of ponder and wonder, space and awe. Though in the midst of this, my quest is immersed in human tragedy, loss, and pain. Our shared pasts. And the pain, the injury, and loss that came before our sharing of that time, that place, those wounds that echo in us still. But as I have persistently dug away while embroiled in all this history, I have uncovered a gem of beauty. I am having an epiphany and I would like to tell you about it. I am having an epiphany about divine design. Love’s design for us and for children and for the children we once were.

It is some time now that we have embarked on this dark journey back into our past and our children’s past. A past that was replete with child sexual abuse in the context of a religious cult/commune. A cult that not only cultivated, but was a hot house to breed secrecy, power and control abuse, blind following and ignorance. Like a dark putrid tsunami, this onslaught of histories laid bare before us tore open the veil of deception and illusion that had shrouded our hearts, our minds, our lives. Unveiling the cruel torturous dark left a wake of heart break, pain, alarm, panic. But, opened up a needed awareness of the nightmares those little ones (who are you) have had to endure.

Such knowledge tore open the wounds afresh, but deeper this time. This awareness was good. This surgery was good, right, necessary. It was the opening up of old wounds to clean them and set things aright so they could heal properly. And I am making a discovery on the other side of this. On the healing side, the side where new cultures are created and implemented in churches and organizations to protect and guard, nourish and nurture the innocence and safety of children.

As I poured through the referenced works made available by Boz Tchividjian’s G.R.A.C.E., Doulos Resources, http://www.doulosresources.org/other/other/CP_resources.html
I found a wealth, a heaping treasure store of Biblical mandates and Biblical emphases. Repeated mandates in various contexts to advocate, cherish, recognize the inestimable value, prioritize, protect, and fight for the well being and safety of children and the vulnerable, the weak, the powerless. I also discovered referenced there God’s fierce love for the vulnerable, powerless, weak, the little ones. FIERCE! A call to arms, to courage that people step forward in behalf of justice, to provide strong protection without thought of personal difficulty. God’s desire and intent that others cherish the little ones, be His Love with skin on, to defend the birthrights of children. Contrast this to your/our experience that has happened at JP and prevails in our culture, the shrouding and minimizing and perpetuation of child sexual abuse. I see stark arenas of dark and evil, light and justice. You too?

All this dark, all this light, our lives, these epic stories. These threads are beginning to weave together. Threads which contain the love I so desperately need to heal and threads of the love we all need to heal. We who were the children, who were orphaned, abandoned, wounded, left with broken hearts (many of us before JP). This happened to us in various ways in our stories, our epic journeys that are not yet over. (Anybody else love Charles Dickens?) Then in the midst of my now uneventful current life, an unexpected gift dropped in my lap. Last week, I got a chance to be with 3 year olds…

Last week was my first time to do this. (This summer, I am a volunteer at my church to care for 2 and 3 year olds. This will happen only 3 times, once a month, for an hour and a half segments.) Let me tell you!! It was SO FUN and RICH!! 3 little 3 year old boys and 3 little 3 year old girls were in the care of another woman and myself. Now at my age, I can no longer get down on the floor and play or pick them up, and my memory is not quite what it once was in navigating some of the more structured aspects of what is required. But in spite of these things, I want to tell you about the ways I found myself experiencing and interacting with these little ones….

First, I saw the tenderness and beauty of each unique blossoming personality. My heart was touched by simply beholding them and their sweet ready acceptance of me/us as their teachers. They looked to us for attention and help and recognition. It was as if they invited us to “see them” and readily welcomed us into their experiences. Feelings of joy and delight, admiration, affection, and enjoyment of them arose in me as a response to simply being present with them. I also found myself focusing on being intently present, available and responsive, attending gently and affectionately to them. In this process I reflected their experience and validated their feelings. I comforted and encouraged, directed and inspired by voicing and praising their unique actions, contributions, and skills. I carefully observed and applauded specific learning and skill acquisition that seemed to thrive in that emotional climate.

As a result, I discovered a snap shot of the heart and essence of the tenderness and beauty and vulnerability that is inherent in children. The children in our midst, our grown children, the children we once were. Like little thirsty sponges they absorb the emotional climates that exist for them in their worlds. As we did. I was delighted and privileged to tap a huge unending vast God store of love for these little ones who, baring disaster, will grow up to be the ‘yous’ and ‘mes’ of tomorrow.

But as I write this, I am becoming aware of just how susceptible and vulnerable the little ones are to predatory types. It is sickening to realize how easily exploited are the innocence and trust and sheer openness of children, and how the very essence of their tender beauty is used as a vehicle for abuse. How as children reach out for needed attention and interaction with bigger people, they are met with crushing, mangling, enduring injury. And so it has been with you, the vulnerable and susceptible. You followed instincts to be cared for, nourished, nurtured, loved and cherished as was yours by birthright. You met instead with life crushing pain. Unbearable. Betrayal. And now, it is some thirty years later…

After these decades, the stories are breaking wide open and spilling forth. And we see you survivors, luminous and true, the phoenix rising from ashes. And we hear your call, as you are finding this amazing voice, a trumpet song. Of Courage. Advocacy. Transparency. Transcendence. And we stand together. A life force. Hope. And here we find it. Love’s design for us and for children and for the children we once were.

And my theology pierces into me clear and simple. BE LOVED. BELOVED. REST. RESTORE. WEIGHTLESS.

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