My 50 Year Old Face

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Did you see my Instagram post yesterday? It was pretty special. I had tried to put my makeup on without my glasses. It’s so hard to put eye makeup on when I’m wearing them! They are always getting in the way. So I, ever the rebel, stood in front of the mirror and filled in my eyebrow sans spectacles. A few strokes of the brush and voila! The perfect eyebrow. I stood there for a minute admiring my handiwork and my sheer awesomeness for having accomplished such a feat. Until I put my glasses on to get a closer look. This is what I saw:

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Yup. I completely missed my eyebrow.  When I saw it, I was having so much fun laughing at myself that I grabbed my phone, snapped a picture, and shared it on Instagram so you could all laugh with me.

And that, my friends, is a miracle. Let me tell you why. Less than a year ago I was in such a deep depression that I couldn’t stand the sight of myself.  I felt gross and disgusting, like a hideous blob of flesh that repulsed anyone who saw it.  I literally closed my eyes or turned my head whenever I passed a mirror or a store front so I wouldn’t see my reflection.

And it wasn’t only my depression that made me refuse to look at myself. Because of my  health problems my body was different than it used to be. I had gained a lot of weight. I couldn’t stand up straight.  I walked bent over with a cane and my legs were always swollen. On top of that, I turned 50 this year and that opens up a whole new set of wrinkles and drooping skin and, for those of us with Italian blood, the occasional mustache hair or three. I just felt ugly, inside and out.

In the last few months, as part of my healing process, I’ve been making a conscious effort to  get comfortable in my own skin. I prayed for God to let me see myself through his eyes. I intentionally picked up a mirror every day and studied my face. As that became more comfortable I started taking selfies and looking at them. And what I started to see looking back at me was not a hideous troll but a beloved child of God. I began to embrace my 50 year old face and actually liked looking at it because I saw the love of God looking back at me.

So, knowing a bit of the backstory, you can see the miracle it took for me to post my unretouched, makeup free, red blotchy, wrinkled 50 year old face on Instagram for the whole world to see! I didn’t even think twice about it because I don’t see ugly when I look at myself anymore.  I know who I am in God’s eyes.

“You are altogether beautiful my darling; there is no flaw in you.” -Song of Songs 4:7

That One Time That I Almost Died

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Did you know that even when you’ve walked away from God he doesn’t walk away from you? Even when you’ve kicked him and punched him and called him every name in the book he doesn’t love you any less? Now that’s love. And I’ve got a perfect example of it.

It was May of 2009 and I was 43 years old. I had walked away from God several years before. I wasn’t even sure anymore if he actually existed. How could he? It didn’t make sense that all the awful stuff that happened to me and my family would have happened if there was a God in control. And even if he did exist, I was angry at him for abandoning me and letting me get hurt over and over and over again. I figured I’d rather just take my chances without him. (Think Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty saying “Smite me, oh Mighty Smiter” here.)

I was being treated for some female issues.  I’ll spare you the gory details (you’re welcome) but one day it got so bad that I found myself in the ER. I was hemorrhaging.  They admitted me for blood transfusions and high doses of IV estrogen to make the bleeding stop. It worked and I was sent home a few days later. But I never really felt well after I got home. I was shaky and anxious and struggled for air when I walked more than a few feet.

The next morning I got up and the shortness of breath was worse. My arm was all swollen, my wrist was numb, and the area where the IV had been was hot and red. I went back to the ER and my worst fear was confirmed. I had developed a massive blood clot that spanned the entire length of all three major blood vessels in my arm, and multiple pieces had broken off and gone to my lungs.

To say I was terrified is putting it mildly. You see, I had been a registered nurse for 20+ years and I knew that blood clots in the lung can kill you instantly. In fact, when I say my worst fear had been confirmed, I literally mean my WORST FEAR. For some reason, I had always had a nagging fear that I would die of a pulmonary embolism. Maybe today was the day.

They wheeled me down to ultrasound to have more tests done. I was laying on the table, frozen in fear. I was pretty sure this would be the day that I died. As I was laying there wondering which moment would be my last, I heard the ultrasound tech’s voice break through the noise of my fears. “I can see that you’re scared” she told me. “You know what I do when I’m scared, I pray”. And then she quoted Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. She  asked me if she could pray with me and when she touched my hand I felt a rush of warm energy flood through my body. I looked up at the ceiling and noticed the tile above me had an angel painted on it. There it was right above my head. A beautiful reminder of the protection provided by the God I had abandoned. It had been there all along, of course, but my eyes were not opened to it because I was so distracted by my fear.

At this point I began weeping buckets of tears. I can’t even describe what I was feeling. It was an overwhelming sense of sorrow and remorse for the way I was living my life. Yet at the same time it was an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort and an absolute awareness that I would not die that day. I had an instant recollection of the goodness of God and all that I had walked away from. I thanked the technician and told her what happened. Now, do you want to know what she told me? Of course you do or you would have stopped reading by now. She told me that her shift had actually ended right before I came in but the department was busy so she stuck around to do one more ultrasound!! Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Whoa! Look at everything God did that day! He used my BIGGEST FEAR to get my attention. The he meticulously arranged for just the right person to be in just the right place at just the right time, and he used her to deliver a message — and I received it loud and clear! He said :

“Lori, quit messing around now. I don’t care what you’ve said, I don’t care what you’ve thought, and I don’t care what you’ve done. You are mine and I am yours and it’s time you got that through your head. I’m going to prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am real. I’m going to show you that I am bigger than the thing you’ve feared the most.  And then I’m going to show you that I love you enough to move one of my soldiers into place to bring you back to me. Just like the angel tile above your head, I’ve been here all along but you couldn’t see me because of your fear and your anger. Here I am, come back to me.”

Ok, now, a disclaimer – – He didn’t speak those actual words to me. I made them up. But that is the knowledge he gave me that day, and I am so grateful for it. Now I know for sure that God is real. And I know that there is nothing I can say and nothing I can do that will turn him against me. It doesn’t matter to him how awful I’ve been or what terrible things I may have done. He LOVES me and he still wants me (and you) no matter what.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

My very first blog post!

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Well now I’ve gone and done it. With this post it’s official. I’m a blogger. Normally I might be tempted to write my first post about who I am and why I’m blogging in the first place. But I’ve already done that in the About page. If you haven’t read that yet you might want to check it out. There’s some interesting stuff about me in there.

It’s Monday and I’m in the mood for some music. Hey– music… Monday… I think I’ve discovered my first feature. Music Monday. I like it.Maybe we’ll talk about music every Monday.  Music has always been a big part of my life. I can’t imagine life without it, really. I love all of it. (Well, almost. Sorry thrash metal. I just can’t deal with you). Music has this incredible way of going in through our ears and flooding us into our deepest parts with intense emotions, doesn’t it? Or is it just me? Maybe this isn’t the normal response and if that’s true it’s unfortunate. I hope music does to you what it does to me.  I  hear a song and I’m instantly transported to a very happy place, or a very sad place, or a very whatever-the-emotion place.

My intense connection with music is why it works so well for me when I’m in a dark place. When I’ve got one or two toes into the abyss of self-loathing, depression or despair I can always count on music to lift me out of it. As long as I don’t play something sad or sappy that is, which I’ve been known to do. For some reason when I’m feeling really bad about life I’m drawn to music that makes me feel worse. That’s a mistake. Don’t do it. It’s pretty darn counterproductive. But if I listen to a song that makes me feel, even for a moment, a glimmer of what’s good in life, well then I’m golden. It speaks to me like nobody else can. It grabs me by the soul and digs in deep and pulls me right on up out of the pit. At least for a little while.

That’s exactly what happened when I first heard the song, My Beloved, by Crowder. It was in January of this year and I was in my last week of a partial hospitalization program for severe depression. When I started the program in October of last year I was in the deepest, darkest pit I’ve ever been. Now I’m not going to tell you that music alone got me out of it. That would be just silly and I’m sure (I hope!) you wouldn’t believe me. Therapists, and medicine, and prayer and hard work got me out of it. But music helped.

Anyway, I might be digressing a little bit so let me reel it back in. My Beloved is a song about waiting in anticipation for God and the light he brings to our lives. When I first heard it in January (and maybe a *few* times since) I had tears pouring down my cheeks. Especially when I heard the lyric “there’s a sun coming up in my soul”. That’s what was happening to me. I had improved so much since October, and that’s exactly what it felt like. A sun coming up in my soul. I still get emotional when I listen to this song because it’s a sweet reminder of how low I was and how high God has lifted me.

On that note, may I present to you, My Beloved by David Crowder. Enjoy!

Are there any songs that can lift you up when you’re feeling down? A song that just makes you smile? One that makes you get up and dance even when you’re feeling crummy? I’d love it if you would share them with me in the comments! I’m always looking for new music to add to my repertoire.