This is my healing journal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Gosh, I sometimes hate Email lists. When two of the lists go off on the same subject in different ways, and you get too much Email. I've kept my own list down to a dull roar on the subject of faith, though faith is the basis for my starting the list. But, when the other list is a list for school alumni, and it gets out of hand, you have to wonder. Tom, I'm in a way grateful you're on both lists with me, because it gives me someone to go back to and ask, "which way is up".

Watching the various threads on the MSB list that had to deal with faith, I found myself wondering about a discussion I had had with several people about my faith lately, and I keep asking myself, do I talk too much about my faith? Do I not listen? Am I not silent enough when I need to be? Do I scare people away? Am I really being a credit to God's kingdom?

I was riding to BNI this Tuesday morning with my friend Wess, ostensibly because I was feeling a need to be in a car rather than on a city bus, and I posed some of these questions to him. He wisely let me talk on and finally, when I said that maybe, if I'm asking these questions, I'm really okay, he looked at me and said that everyone goes through that at one time or another.

I hope that in my head, I can believe that. However, my heart would rather know if I'm being too forward with certain people, and I guess I would want to know if they really think my compassionate side is not showing the way I would want it to.

Just heard from my sister Sandy on Mom. She's resting comfortably. The breathing tube has been removed and she is breathing on her own. She might be moved to palliative care in a couple of weeks if all continues to go the way that it is. Thank you so much for your prayers!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving, 2007

I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a roof over my head. My husband and I have been married fourteen years. We bought this house seven years ago. Yet, I feel like it's become my home. I have my guitars, my keyboard, food on the table, clothes to wear and friends who write me often, just to find out if I'm okay and this computer from which I can write to all of them.

So, why is it I feel so helpless, so small?

I think of Mom, lying in her hospital bed. While the doctors are saying that she is strong and she is fighting to stay alive, it's taking her a while to respond to questions asked by my sisters. Sandy told me that she got her to open her eyes and move her feet on Tuesday. Ebba has only gotten her to open her eyes. Sandy said that she tried to talk to her. But, Mom's face became constricted in pain when she tried to speak.

Sandy said that if she stops responding and the doctors tell her and Ebba that she's given up, they will pull the plug. Surviving on a respirator with IV needles, medication that keeps her sedated, whatever treatment they're using for MRSA., becoming agitated if someone stays too long. I can't imagine what she's going through.

Waiting, waiting for what? I just pray whatever the outcome, I will be brave enough to walk down whatever road God has in store for me. For now, I will be thankful for what time I've had with her, for everything going on around me, the blessings all of you have been who are reading this. Yet, I feel so alone.

Sometimes, I hate being the link between Mom's friends and the rest of the family. Mom and her oldest son are not speaking to each other. They haven't for six years, since his wife took over Mom's business when she retired. Ebba and I have taken turns calling Bob and letting him know what's going on. Well on Tuesday, a friend of the family, who has sided with Bob and Karla all along, called me and dared to suggest to me, that we should try to get Mom to speak to Bob. I told her that she needed to let it go, that she needed to understand Mom was fighting for her life. She then said she was sure Mom had told Ebba that she needed to smoke when she came round.

Other frirneds, like Jane McChesney, broke down crying in my years, and I had to be strong for her. Donna, her other friend, who I know probably is reading this. Donna, dear friend to all, gentle and calm, even now.

Sometimes though, I just need to know someone is there for me, and right now is one of those times.

Waiting. How long, Dear God? How long?

Friday, November 16, 2007

More on Mom

Just talked to my sisterSandy. Mom is stable. But, really no change in her condition other than that. They still don't know everything that is going on. Visitation is not recommended, as she is contageous. Plus, she gets agitated if anyone is there.

At this point, my sister Sandy is waiting for my sister Ebba to get there. Supposedly, she is coming on Tuesday. We are concerned though, as Ebba has a compromised immune system, due to cancer treatments she's had in the past.

Ihad thought about going away for the weekend on a one day retreat with the Center for Women. However, I just found out how my Mom is doing at 8:00 this morning, and can't realy think about anything else. I realize there's nothing I can do to help. However, I'm also the link between my family and our family friends however tenuous that is, as I have to wait on information.
So, the waiting continues. It's hard, not knowing how things are going to be. Personally, it only makes me treasure the time with my husband that much more and with my friends, whether on line or physical. I love and appreciate you all so much. You truly are the family I was supposed to ahve and at this time of year, when we should be thankful, that is what I am thankful for.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Yesterday, I received a phone call from my sister Sandy. The phone call was in regards to my mother. I knew something was wrong, because the caller ID said "Call from Raynor Sherry", and it was a little after 3:00 in the afternoon. Mom never calls me at that time.

I had been dreading just such a phone call, since I had visited Mom after her last hospital stay last month.

At that time, Mom had come home from somewhere, went to get out of her car and fell into a sitting position outside her car. She then spent the next ten hours sitting outside her locked car. Actually, it was a little less than that, because at around 3:00 in the morning, she was able to get up enough strength to get into her car, retrieve her cell phone and try to call my brother Nels. She left a message on his cell phone and he came and found her three hours later. The date was October 2, a relatively warm day as I do recall, thank God.

At that point, Mom was in the hospital for close to a week. My sisters were all there to take care of her. None of them thought that it would be a good idea to call me, until things had settled down a bit. Typical of my family. I'm usually the last to know, though now that Mom isn't speaking to her oldest son, he's the last to know anything, because I'm the one to call him.

On October 17, Bert and I went to visit Mom in her home. My sister Sandy was visiting with her at the time, and we had a nice visit. Yet, we both walked away, knowing that we probably would be getting a call similar to the one we got yesterday. It's just none of the family thught it would be this soon.

Four days after my sister left my Mom's on October 23, she was checked back into the hospital again. They don't know totally what is wrong with her. They are running all kinds of tests, with results that are inconclusive in showing what is wrong with her at this point. Sandy said that she would have called me sooner. However, she has had to field all the phone calls that have been coming n for Mom, cancel all Mom's appointments, assure friends that Mom is still alive, because one friend actually told a bunch of people Mom was dead.

They do know Mom has MRSA. My sister Ebba had gone to visit her at the time, not knowing Mom had MRSA. She herself has a compromised immune system due to cancer treatments. From what her doctor said to her, she has been ordered not to come down again, until they know that Mom is well enough for Ebba to visit.

My sister Sandy said that Mom doesn't recognize anyone, except at short intervals, probably because of all the medications they have had her on. The have transferred her from ICU several times to a main floor, only to have her get worse again and have to go back up to ICU.

As I heard about Mom's health deteriorating from a distance, I found myself thinking how grateful I was that anything I had needed to forgive Mom for had already been done. Yet, I knew, just about everyone else in my family has a grudge against her. My older brother Bob, (her oldest son from a marriage before she married my father), and my Mother are no longer speaking to each other. They haven't for the past six years, since Karla my sister-in-law had taken over Mom's work when she retired. Mom actually told him that she would disown him, unless he divorced Karla. How wrong it is for one to dictate what their children should do, as she often did to all of us in our adult lives. But, that was just her way of exerting control.

I've often wondered why it is my brothers and sisters have chosen not to talk to me about this particular topic. The only answer I can come up with is that none of them have truly forgiven her. All of them were extremely apologetic the last time Mom had ended up in the hospital, because Mom was furious with them all for not calling me, her baby. They had sworn they would never do thatagain. Yet it happened again yesterday.

Mom, I'm so sorry, that none of your children seem to think it best to keep in touch with each other, due to problems we had at home with you. My prayer is that some healing will take place before you go wherever God leads you to. We need to forgive you, as you also need to forgive us for any wrongs that have occurred in our lives. I pray that my siblings will be able to do that soon, before it's too late.

Monday, November 12, 2007

To serve one's country and one's God

Veterans Day yesterday at church was special. First James had all the Veterans and all those who served in the military stand up to be acknowledged. Then, he had all the men come up and sing "Holy Holy Holy" as a group.

As I listened, I thought all of us who had served the military at home, while they were off fighting in the different wars that were represented. My heart swelled with pride, as I thought of my years of service and how my Father, (a navy man in World War II) told me he was proud of me for serving my country in a way that on one else in my family would have done.

From 1991, until 1995, I was a Red Crosser. I signed on during Desert Storm. I think I called to be interviewed as a volunteer, three days after the air war began. That's really no surprise to me that I signed up then, because we as a nation were inundated with presse confrences, war footage, reports of Bob Simon being captured while reporting, Israel being attacked by Iraq in retaliation, and one woman in our church crying repeatedly for her husband who was serving in the Army.

I remembered when I interviewed, they first had me sign up to be a receptionist for the health and safety branch, which I did until I left that particular Red Cross chapter in Kalamazoo in 1992. But, my heart was elsewhere. I wanted to serve the men and their families. How could taking calls about First Aid classes do that? Plus, I thought with my social work background, I would be needed there. But, that was God's way of telling me to be patient.

Two weeks later, I interviewed with Evelyn for the Community Services branch. Well, serving the community was a closer step right? But, as Evelyn listened to me, she told me that she thought I could serve them better elsewhere and then went to get Phil Ackerman.

Phil was the head of the service to military families branch. He took one look at me, and he told me that he knew I could do the job, because he had known a woman who was a social work student with him in college who was also blind. I knew whom he spoke of, as I had heard of Marcie Couch for years.

I started serving in the office for a time. But, Phil noticed that other workers either out front or in the office with me, were not really utilizing me. So, when Terri said she needed me another day in the health and safety branch, Phil suggested I could be an overnight sub and work the overnight shift. He thought this would be more than possible that I could do a good job at that.

My first couple of shifts, I had a couple of community emergency service calls and probably one services to military family call per night. Then, came a night in mid June, early July, when the overnight person could not serve, and there were tornado warnings all over the county. Phil told me he really needed me to cover, and I agreed to do so. That night, I covered five community emergency service calls and four service to military families calls.

shortly after that, one of the volunteers quit and moved out of the area. Phil gave me the shift, and I averaged at least one to three military family calls a night. Plus, I worked as the weekend sub and often had two to three calls per weekend.

I was the one family members cursed, because I had to call them to tell them often that there might be a delay in getting their service person home. I was also the one who was blest, because I was there to comfort them when they needed someone to give them an ear. They would yell at me, if they did not have their service person's proper APO or fPO codes, social scecurity number, rank etc.

I was the one doctors hated to have call, because they found it increasingly difficult to have to say whether a person should come home or not. But, I never gave up.

The answering service people whoo had to patch calls into me often, told me that they never could understand why it was I was so calm about the calls when I received them, compared to some of the other volunteers. I told them, it was my duty to my country.

When I moved to South Haven in 1992, I continued serving as a Red Crosser, often having to stay up four to eight hours a night working on one or two cases. I'll never forget the family who called with two brothers to contact. They thanked me for listening for being there and for helping, when I called the next morning to see how they were doing. I'll never forget the distraught family I had to call on Thanksgiving Day, because they needed to get a nephew home. I'll never forget the case of a military person's uncle committing suicide. He made the choice not to go home. But, he asked that someone tell his Dad to call him, when he could think straight enough to do so.

I have not served here in Jackson for the Red Cross. However, it was not for lack of trying. I was just not needed.

What a look back, I thought as the men were still singing. I then thought about how we can still serve our country and our God by our prayers continually for our troops, and how we as soldiers in God's army should do the same for each other.

Men and women of faith, never forget that your prayers are serevice to your contry and to your God.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Use Common Sense

Recently, I received an Email post twice from two different sources, telling me not to go see the movie "The Golden Compass" and to condemn it outright, because the author of the books the movie is based on is an Atheist. One of the times I read that article was on my own list, and as I read it, I found myself muttering, "Oh no. Here we go again. Drama is going to hit the list, and I really don't want that."

The "Drama" didn't happen. Instead, my friend Tom C. who I've known on and off for the past thirty plus years, asked a simple question. "Don't you think you should see the movie before condemning it?"

The other person who sent the article told me that she hoped Tom would research the information at hand before writing such a question again. While I can understand where she is coming from, I have to disagree. Maybe it'sbecause I see the internet, particularly Email lists used as a place where too often articles are sent, that don't have enough information in them about the topics of which they are written. Whatever happened to the days when parents had open discussions with their children about the differences between good and evil, or about creation and science?
I loved it when my Dad and I would sit on the couch when I was a child, and he would read to me. This was a practice we started when I was very little. Dad always had me tag along with him to his studio andcreate art with him. But, the reading times were the best.

When I started my freshman yeear of high school, Dad and I both felt it was time to graduate to reading classics, such as "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, books like "Chesapeake" and "The Covenant", anything that would stimulate my mind. We often had discussions about these books that were quite stimulating.

I wonder what Dad would do now with his grandchildren if he were alive. Would he practice the same tradition with them and discuss the Harry Potter Books, or "The Golden Compass"? Probably, because Dad was from a long line of people who loved to learn. I know he encouraged all of us to do that. I think though, if I had children, I probably would be the one to carry on that tradition, because he did it with me the most.

Wally and Katie Metts have practiced that tradition in their household as well. I always loved it after Shaklee meetings, when Bert and I, along with Wally and Katie would settle around their kitchen table in their basement kitchen in their house that they lived in at the time. They've since moved into a lovely spacious home, where the creative spirit abounds, and I know once Wally is well enough, we'll go back to that practice around their kitchen table again, over a pot of wonderful tea.

I remember one such discussion very clearly about the time the Harry Potter books were beginning to be popular. I think Michael was twelve and Pilgrim was ten. Can't remember offhand. I had heard several Christian commentators say that Christian children should not read those books. Somehow, the topic came up at the table. I asked Katie how she felt about those books as a parent. Her response to me was refreshing. She told me that she allowed her children to read them, because she knew where they stood with regards to imagination, faith in God, following Christ.

Why shouldn't more kids who are Christian have that opportunity? I think the answer is apathy. Parents and schools are putting way too much emphasis on the internet and computers and not enough on books. Books have been there long before people started putting things up in cyber space as gospel, long before films were made of them, films that for the most part don't even really follow the books in question.

I would only ask that those who sent forwards to others Email, please look at the information being sent very carefully. Think about whether enough information is beign given in the forward. If not, please realize that what you're thinking of doing is cluttering up space in a person's in box that really doesn't need to be cluttered up unless you're going to encourage people to look whatever information is out there. Remember, your parents just as mine, would not have done that to you, if Email had existed then. Why should you do that to everyone else?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

How Dirty is your towel?

I love it every time I hear Toby Teague preach at an Emmaus Walk event. His talks are clear, simple and concise. But, the thing I like about him most, is how real he is as a pastor, reaching out to the very soul of those who will listen to him.

Last night, at the candlelight service for the Women's walk, he gave a small devotion using towels as a prop. The way he did it, I knew he was thinking about me in particular, because he described everything. He began by telling the story of how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, while at Passover with them, the night he was betrayed. He then went on to ask what kind of towel it was Jesus used. Would it be like the guest towels in our house, you know the ones you're told not to touch. He even held up one of those holiday towels for everyone to see.

He then held up a beach towel and talked about how they were used for fun. Would it be that type of towel Jesus would use? Finally, he then asked, if maybe Jesus towel would look like one that had gotten a lot of use. He then held up a dirty old towel he uses for oil changes.

As I listened, I found myself wondering about my faith. I'd like to think I'm reaching out enough. But, am I? Am I doing what I can to bless my Lord and my God, or am I just paying lip service to things around me? I have to believe I'm doing the former. Yet, I also know there are days when I'm doing the latter. Do I depend on God enough to help me with healing, or do I just sort of let the work I'm doing on a client be background noise to my life?

How strange to think we all do that, tend to abuse our faith by calling out to Him, only when we want something, because we want the towels of our life to be clean. Yet, if Jesus were to look at me today, I'd want him to see how dirty my towel was for him. Am I doing enough? Are any of you?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

healing the planet

Yesterday, I received a rather disturbing Email from a friend, telling all of us she was going to be leaving all the groups on a particular server. I received this, after getting into a discussion with a friend about the primaries going on in the coming months.

I guess I find it hard to understand why it is, we all have to be so unkind to each other. Why should this particular woman offend me and everyone who is a part of the groups on the server by leaving a bunch of drama in her wake, especially since she'll close down her own groups within a month? I left her group, after reading her letter, because frankly, I cannot stomach her doing this to people repeatedly!

Why is it, we have to sit and listen to those who are running for office all over, as if what they have to say is Gospel? Why should Christians listen to Dr. Dobson as the only authority on political parties, particularly since he is so insistent on saying that Christians should not vote for third party candidates, even if they support the issues we hold dear? Why should we vote for the lesser of two evils, rather than use our God given brains for once to say, 'No! We will not stand for this!"

Shouldn't we instead concentrate on sharing healing energy with each other to help out with physical, emotional and spiritual problems? Instead of complaining about the problems that exist within the leadership of our country, Shouldn't we do something about them? Should we not pray here in Michigan for those in the South who are experiencing an unprecendented drought, and for those in California who are losing their homes to fires, rather than stick our heads in the sand and say that the problems don't exist?

I seem to rememberreading somewhere that God did say we would subdue the Earth. And, I understand we cannot do anything until after we have. But, the fact of the matter is, it feels to me like the end of our planet is coming too near for comfort. I'm not ready to give up yet. I want to as long as I'm breathing do what I can to show kindness, rather than spend my time being angry.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Real Intro

This is my place to share with all of you, who I am, how I got to this place, and general thoughts I experience while working in the healing professions. As a musician, a massage therapist and a Reiki practitioner, I often find myself asking why it is, I can't seem to get my thoughts and feelings out quickly enough. Please join me in sharing these thoughts and express your own as well.

Let me tell you a little about how I got to where I am.

I was born totally blind in 1963, the youngest child in a blended family of eight kids. My parents realized quickly that I was an avid learner of music, and I enjoyed art. My father was a teacher of ceramics at Michigan State University for over forty years. Mom began learning how to work with blind children, just so she could help me. Her career in the field of blind education is noteworthy.

In 1968, I started attending Michigan School for the blind, and I attended there full time, until the winter months of 1978, when I started going to public school part time. I did that until 1979, when my mother took me out of school and we went for seven weeks to Mexico, where I studied Spanish. I then moved with herfor the next two years to Massachusetts , and lived in the bedroom community of Newton. That in itself is a story.

In 1982, I had the distinct pleasure of graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy, after attending there for a year. I studied piano and voice while there. I also rebeled, because as a guitar player, I found folk music to be more to my liking. I'm still that way.

I attended Michigan State from 1982-1988, obtaining a double bachelors in arts and social work. In 1990, I graduated from the Masters program in social work at Western Michigan University.

For two years, I went through a rather dark time of reflection, before I enterd the workforce as a social worker, helping pregnant women on medicaid to get the services they needed. I lost that job three years later, for various reasons.

I spent the next eight months wondering what I was going to do with my life, before finding a social work job with Jackson Community Mental Health.

When I lost that job four months later, I spent the next five years trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, while working in a variety of different volunteer positions.

I've always loved massage, and I've always known I should be doing that for a living. I finally answered to the calling I was supposed to follow, by signing up for massage school in 2001. I graduated in 2002 and have been doing massage ever since.

I've since completed all three levels of Reiki, knowing that there are those among my Christian bretheren, who would look down on me for doing so. Yet, I also knew that there were those among my friends who would love and support me through those changes.

I owe so much to my friends Katie and Wally Metts for encouraging me to finally do this, and to Tom C. for the shove I needed, just by being a part of his blog community for the last couple of months. All of you knew, I needed the shove necessary to release the creative fast pace of my thoughts in a different medium. Katie and Wally, have been encouraging me and my husband Bert in our musical endeavors, ever since they first heard us. When I started a newsletter, they kept saying to me, "You need to do that as a blog", and I kept kicking and screaming.

Joan F. Thanks for sharing your expertise on the computer to help me set this up muchquicker than I ever could. (Grin)

Mom, and the rest of you, thanks for always being there. I love you.