I am a brain injury disabled, 20-year nurse. My brain of short-term-memory-loss thrives on patterns, numbers, repitition, and typing with my right thumb on my phone as my dominant-left-side is just a blob of dragging annoying sludgeful flesh at this point. I look like I have had a stroke. Nurse brain still works, albeit short-circuiting at times. I am currently unchurched, I have a profound belief in Jesus & God just not the many versions I have been presented. God & I are tight, we talk constantly, mostly my requests for His message to me, my calling for life, to be placed in the sky in flashing neon lights. My brother and only sibling is dead. My second marriage is in shambles. My primary loving-adult relationship was my nursing career — my calling, my spiritual gift. Now I am a disabled, disfigured, gross, alzheimer-like, dependant-of-my-children 41 year old, not-even-a-good mother of 14, 12, and 6 year-olds. My eldest son has a 6 week ear infection, and we are on our 1 millionth stomach bug of the season.
I despise vomit!!!
April or early May 2015 I am scrolling my phone facebook feed searching for keywords: “stomach flu,” “influenza,” & “vomit.” I am on a mission to find Facebook “friends” guilty with target words spreading their wrenching slimy germs — the kind of germs more contagious than playground “cooties” 35 years ago (so I can speech my spewing of virulent things children into staying away from these children of such families who laugh publically on fb after sending their germ infested “up all night vomiting” kids to school) and stumble across a “suggested post” from Jami-something about parents who do this also. She despises vomit also.
I fell in love with my kindred spirit. From afar, the kind of love where I am eating popcorn, reading my computer screen, laughing hysterically. Jami is real as they come.
On my so called good spiritual days I cheer Jami from afar, my bad days her message provides me hope & encouragement. My better days Jami & her writing friends are a light of inspiration re-sparking my passion of writing and curling up with a good book in your hands you can’t put down. I still sincerely lack the cognition, the memory for recall, to hold in my hands & read a good book, instead reading the first page over and over and over again. Writing these days are less passion and for desperation to recall daily memories with my children for fear I will forever forget.
Not many friends or family remain in my life at the point of chronic disability I currently am in. Jami feels like a friend. I empathize during her struggles, I applaud her successes (from afar, behind a computer screen, kinda resembling a stalker). I have managed to shut out every make-me-want-to-vomit “Christian” “friend” posting first world problems/complaints about flawed manicures & hairstyles, complaining about incorrect drive-thru orders while basically damning the offenders to hell, pleading for prayers for guidance on finding a proper beautician & choosing the correct pageant to place their 1st grader in & which $300,000+ house purchase should they choose. I love the few tried and true, Christian and non, rich in debt and poor, friends and mere acquaintances who continue to provide light.
I am over here scrolling social media and news stories like, well – another child with cancer, another wreck & deaths of 2 teenagers in the local paper, another catastrophic natural event, one more town leveled by weather. “Christian” “friends” proclaiming the world (including you and me) only need to get right with Jesus to be successful, financially superior, healthy & healed, etc etc.
Whatever, not my Jesus.
My Jesus is Footprints in the Sand, arms wide around you to hold so gently, and never to hurt you.
I imagine the pain of lashes and those bloody thorns Jesus endured so we don’t have to.
Meanwhile, late September 2015 Jami posts her most recent blog, “My Children Your Not That Great,” or at least that’s how my brain remembers. Wow, I am applauding for no one to hear. My children are eye rolling and I am watching Jami go viral.
Fast forward to 2017, two years of social media comments between us, cheering at accomplishments, consoling at hard times & tragedies.
I receive an invite to join “Stolen Jesus book launch team“!! I will be provided my very own “Advanced Reader Copy” just for giving my honest opinion, no worries there it’s freely given in all circumstances (wanted or not).
Stolen Jesus being only the second book I complete since my brain injury. Oh, let’s do this. I have whole lifetime with a lot of emotional and physical hurt as I begin reading my PDF version from my phone. Jami’s honesty seer through me with long forgotten memories remembered. My own Stolen Jesus‘s from 1st grade & 4th, 8th grade & high school too. Alas, a migraine ensues. I must stop on page 100, read in just a couple of days, briskly for post-brain-injury Debbie. Wait for my buttery soft copy days later in the mail. I ponder all Americanized Jesus has stolen from me. I left-thumb type briskly during a football practice of my youngest son. I will save that note just for me. Few days later….
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek, I have mail!!!!
I tear in the package as my eldest stands back in wonder, as I scream in the front yard clutching my very own copy of Stolen Jesus, oh my these pages REALLY are buttery soft how did they do it!!
My eldest son, “oh is that the author you creep?”
I begin reading from page 1 again because really nothing like a book in your hands. I truthfully laugh out loud, not just the acronym. I cry, I sob, I wail, I keep a box of tissues nearby. I end yet yearning more. More Real Jesus, stolen no more. Daily I am taking my Jesus back and yet tugging my heart that Real Jesus of mine, shoving me out of my little safe circle of self seclusion, me with my heels dug in. Real Jesus wanting me of all people, to encourage others take their Stolen Jesus back also.
I delay my review — stressing for words post-brain-injury overstimulation, as anxiety overwhelms, shutting my brain down. Less me, more HIM, over and over again in my prayers. Just when I am afraid I can not make good on my word, scrolling my notes kept on my phone…
Then I come back to my writing in the rain from under my umbrella, my words of review already had flown…
UMBRELLA OF GRACE
Smiling as I find myself in the rain. I embrace watching an incredible storm.
SMILING at the thought of My Father showering me with grace over and over again. Despite myself. Despite my refusals accepting I am good enough. I am worthy. I gleam watching my youngest so happy to “play football in the mud.” Smiling at my thoughts — my almost ex gets to deal with the mud.
Clenching my ginormous golf umbrella, sheltering a constant straight rain. Everyone else scrambling for cars.
I am smiling. I own God Almighty Father’s grace. Forgiveness and grace lent to me…over and over and over again. And again. And again…You get the idea.
I study a scowled face kid when the sun was shining. Arms crossed, clenched tightly, a furrowed brow with lines holding a sad story. Now running the track with arms outstretched wide, smiling, eyes winced, and free…
I longed for fierce free-ness. I longed the innocence of that child again.
Free of bad choices. Free of trauma after trauma. Free of tragedy upon tragedy. Free of purposeful sin. Free of wanting to be seen. Free of wanting to be heard. Free of being me. Free of a dead brother. Free of ill-fated marriage, now twice. Free of umbrage decisions. Alas…then here, right now, I would not be. Nearly 9 years later, the first football season for the same child growing in my belly, as the eldest finished his first season between tears and hospital visits. Now a mother to three — ages 8, 14, & 16 are quickly fleeting as 43 swiftly passes me by.
So I cling to this umbrella, smiling and dry,
glowing from grace as the youngest glows – ecstatic to get muddy with not a single dry stitch. An entire team awaits instructions from coach.
Reflecting upon Sunday’s sermon, one of the few I attend chronically disabled. Shouting straight to me. I felt the impact immediately:
“BE STILL, BE QUIET, LET ME WORK”
and just like Ian… I listen to my coach with grace.
I smile, I straighten in my chair, breathing deeply inward the smell of sweet rain, filling my empty lungs, eyes gently closed, as the sun softly shown. Softly shining as a loving parent. Twin rainbows omnipotently part tremulous clouds as Ian tackles with big, wet hugs. Muddy and laughing as he falls to my lap.
LAUGH on myself, laughing at the thought of my almost ex, dealing with the mud, now I am covered!
Old Deb would have came undone, alas grace and forgiveness.
Graced Deb laughs instead, vigorously rubbing his wet head, a quick kiss of the forehead. Hurry now the rainbow’s fading, a photo of him with the end rainbow at his head. Sun shining, storm clouds forming, flashing a grin and a peace sign of his hand.
Peace is what I am feeling,
Wayward signs are leaving,
Few more plays, he gave all he had.
Rolls of thunder loudly,
Vibrea of lightning through the rainbow came,
The beginning of rainbow to the track field glowed.
My new child friend runs with delight,
“Run in the rain, it’s so fun,” he said.
Bright as a sailor’s stormy beacon of light,
Shining bright pre-dusk to my back,
Players running swiftly, coaches with phones to their ear.
Calling on parents, counting, checking off those leaving,
Still giving direction, protection, yet gently steering,
Ian begins fretting over the storms crashing, hugs & kisses night night, he’s in a hurry to go home with his dad. I am standing head to the sky, umbrella in hand, grace ever felt, every fiber head-to-toe. Goodbye waved to my new child friend as he rode by. Maybe he too felt God’s Umbrella Grace protecting us from the storms. Umbrella Grace and Fake Jesus no more.
Onward home for reflections of God’s good grace bestowed upon me again. Page after page of reading I allow all to sink in. I accepted so many versions of Jesus beforehand, now just Stolen Jesus in my hands. Lost for words no more, my first blog I have wrote. Much stalker love to my cyber friend Jami!
Getchya some grace, the Real Jesus kind feels incredibly different. The kind of different you feel in your every being.
I have received an ARC, Advanced Reader Copy, from the publisher — nothing received for my honest humble opinion. Grab some kleenex, an old friend or two may be remembered, a folly of foes from forgotten lane also. Curl up with a blanket, on your sofa or bed, let all old thoughts escape from your head. First time you’ve met Jesus or two-thousandth and one. Grace can find you. Stolen Jesus can open the door.
Find Stolen Jesus here — Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, Harvest House publishers