Pray for Oklahoma

(all images from stock photos)

I’m an Oklahoman therefore I’m used to our severe storm season – a.k.a. Tornado Season. But nothing could prepare me for today’s storms that have claimed the lives of dozens and dozens of people, many of them children from the Plaza Towers Elementary School or the devastating amount of destruction that some are labeling as “the worst tornado damage in the history of the world.”

This shot is when the tornado was only about 1/4 mile wide (it would grow to 1 mile wide and slow down to 10 mph creating a very deadly combination).

This shot is when the tornado was only about 1/4 mile wide (it would grow to 1 mile wide and slow down to 10 mph creating a very deadly combination).

But as I sat crying for the children, teachers and parents of Plaza Towers Elementary, I was once again reminded of what makes this state so great – its people. The same people who rose to the call when our way of life was attacked by a madman or the ones who worked tirelessly in the aftermath of the past two tornadoes that took almost the same exact path as today’s horrific storm. The same people who sent aid to New York, New Orleans and survivors of Hurricane Sandy. A people who work, cry and heal together.

We are strong; we are Oklahomans!

We are strong; we are Oklahomans!

A child being rescued from one of the two schools completely destroyed by todays tornado. These two, Plaza Tower and Briarwood Elementary, were just two of five schools to suffer damage)

A child being rescued from one of the two schools completely destroyed by todays tornado. These two, Plaza Tower and Briarwood Elementary, were just two of five schools to suffer damage)

But we are not alone in the category of selfless people. Already teams are pouring in from all over the United States. And from our sister countries of Great Britain and Australia! To these people, I say thank you!

A small sampling of the total destruction.

A small sampling of the total destruction.

An image of Briarwood Elementary School

An image of Briarwood Elementary School

The image from Tower Plaza Elementary was like a war zone.

The image from Tower Plaza Elementary was like a war zone.

During times like this, my faith in people is always restored, renewed, invigorated. When things are at its worst, humankind always steps up. For this I am thankful. In the midst of heartache, there is love. In tragedy – kindness. In despair – hope.

A main highway, I-35, was littered with debris and vehicles when the tornado crossed it in Moore, Oklahoma.

A main highway, I-35, was littered with debris and vehicles when the tornado crossed it in Moore, Oklahoma.

I can not even begin to understand the why; why God allows things like this to happen. Some religious fanatics (not true Christ followers – nuts) would say its God’s punishment for some (fill in your own blank here). But even though we do live in a world full of sin and unspeakable acts, I know God has a plan and He uses these events for good rather than orchestrates them. I won’t get into a big theological debate here, because this is about the awesomeness of people, people God created. A people who have already given over $20,000 for relief in just a few short hours following the storm. A people who will work through the night, days, months and even years to help rebuild and restore communities, homes, lives.

At this point, the more than 1 mile wide tornado was wrapped in a debris cloud making it over 3 miles wide. This fooled people and motorist into thinking it was simply a large rain cloud, which they drove into.

At this point, the more than 1 mile wide tornado was wrapped in a debris cloud making it over 3 miles wide. This fooled people and motorist into thinking it was simply a large rain cloud, which they drove into.

I do ask that each and everyone of my blogging friends please remember to Pray for Oklahoma and her people. This will not be a short fix. The devastation will take much time to clean up. The lives will take even longer to rebuild and heal. Especially remember the City of Moore (and my small community of Newcastle) as this is the third time in 14 years that tornadoes have plagued these cities.

Pray for Oklahoma

Pray for Oklahoma

I thank you in advance for your prayers and your encouragement.

Daily Prompt: Helping Hands

I have always taken my hands for granted. They were always strong, and I prided myself on the fact that I could open just about any jar!

With the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis, even the simplest of tasks is often extremely painful. In the morning, I can no longer hold a pen or pencil, so writing is out (thank goodness for computers and light touch keyboards). Other tasks around my home like sorting laundry, vacuuming, and scrubbing the sink, are also difficult and I often have to ask my husband for help. And small detailed jobs (like trying to plug in my iPhone) are becoming increasingly more difficult if not impossible.

A "self" portrait. Although my hands are not visually deformed, the pain is debilitating enough to keep me from doing everything I once did.

A “self” portrait. Although my hands are not as visually deformed as some, the pain is debilitating enough to keep me from doing everything I once did.

Being a reporter, meeting new people has always been a joy, and I would be the first to extend my hand for a good old fashioned shake. Now, I find myself shying away from this customary introduction and cringe whenever someone extends a hand towards me. I still try to weakly take their hand and inwardly brace for the pain that will ensue. I haven’t figured out how to gracefully bow out from this customary sign of friendship and welcome.

People I am close to get a hug, but even that is beginning to hurt as other parts of my body become inflamed. But I’m pretty sure that a total stranger would think me strange if when they extended their hand in introduction, I instead embraced them in a warm hug!

I actually had an older doctor tell me the other day, that because my hands are not all deformed (yet) that I must not have RA very badly. Granted, his hands were a visual mess, but he does not know my pain. After all, isn’t that why I’m taking these controversial drugs, to keep the deformity and degeneration at bay?

Young hands are so full of wonder and possibilities

Young hands are so full of wonder and possibilities

Never take the hands of your youth for granted (or any other body part for that matter), you may never know exactly when they will decide to turn on you and betray you!

 

A Mother’s Day Letter

A letter to my mother.

Carleta Anne Selzler

Carleta Anne Selzler

What would I say to the woman who raised me and died when I was just getting to know her?

I really don’t know. The thoughts that come to my mind aren’t the happiest. My mother was an alcoholic and she was a mean drunk. My dad was an alcoholic as well and between the two, my childhood is full of horrors that no child should ever have to endure.

When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, God gave me a wonderful gift, the ability to completely forgive and love my mom (and dad). It wasn’t within my power, because there was a lot of pain associated with her (them) – so God had to do it. I was happy to hang on to my anger, bitterness and pain. But it wasn’t doing me any good and HE knew it.

So forgive I did, and love I did also. But just when I was getting to really know and love my mom, she died a very painful death associated with esophagus cancer. It was heartbreaking to watch her go through this pain, but I really gained a knowledge of who she was and what she did for me during it all, so here it goes.

Dear Mom,

I am so very sorry that we never had the chance to do mother/daughter things together. The few we did, while house hunting after we moved back to Oklahoma, were so much fun. You were a vibrant, intelligent and beautiful person. I wish that I had gotten to see more of that side of you instead of the person you became when alcohol entered the picture. I bet you were a lot of fun.

When you were sick and I was taking care of you, you looked into my eyes and whispered, “I’m sorry you have to do this (bathe her). I used to do this for you and now you are having to do it for me.” I remember telling you that it was okay, that it was my turn and at that moment, my heart melted and I loved you dearly!

You may have not been the perfect mom – but then who is – but you were MY mom and I miss you today! You did teach me some very valuable lessons on child rearing. The importance of hugs and kisses goodbye, the necessity for proper discipline, the importance of family dinners, how to keep a clean house – and most of all, that alcohol destroys families. You may not have meant to teach this last bit, but I learned it anyway – and because of that lesson, I never allowed it into my life.

I was so very angry at you for the harm you caused and for not protecting me from other unspeakable harms, but I am so looking forward to the day when we can catch up in heaven and do the things moms and daughters were meant to do. Of all the things I am thankful for, you turning to the Lord in your last days is one that I am most thankful for!

When I was suffering from PTSD, I realized that all my scars made me who I was at that moment, and that was the mother of my three beautiful daughters. Because of what I went through, I strived to NOT repeat a pattern of abuse that had gone on for generations. I may not have been anywhere close to perfect, but I did manage this one. Also, my scars made me more patient (not perfect) and more compassionate and for that, I thank you.

I am intelligent, creative a bit of a neat freak and I know that I inherited all these good qualities from you. So Thank you and I love you. Happy Mother’s day!

Daily Prompt; That Stings – The Shack

I don’t usually grab onto the WP Daily Prompt – I usually can find enough stuff to babble or rant about without a prompt, but this one caught my attention.

It said to talk about the last book you read that bit or stung. Several come to mind, but the absolute last book I reread was The Shack by William P. Young.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 9.51.52 AMThe Shack “is a metaphor for the places you get stuck, you get hurt, you get damaged…the thing where shame or hurt is centered,” Young said in an interview. We all have a shack in our lives, and as I read this, mine was shown to me in all its technicolor horror. Things that I had tried to bury in the far recesses of my mind dug its way up to the surface, reopening wounds that weren’t all that too well healed.

Then why would I encourage you to read this book? Because, while you are dealing with the pain of the protagonist and recalling your own bitter memories, you soon become transformed into the story and the healing that follows.

Yes, there is a lot of sadness, bitterness and grief in the pages of this NYT bestseller, but there is also unsurmountable joy, peace and above all healing.

As I cried with Mac over his own unimaginable tragedy, and shed tears over my own scars that have haunted me for nearly my entire 53 years, I began to hope. Hope for a better place than this horrid world we now live in. I also began to see that sometimes bad things do (more often than not) happen to decent people, and although I can’t (and probably never will) see the big picture, God knows, and I have to trust in His plan. This lesson was made crystal clear to me as was the ‘one piece of clarity’ that I gleaned from this particular reading – “Love without an agenda!” Wow, what a concept.

This nugget of wisdom first stung me greatly, because when I examined myself closely, I realized, that I always have some kind of an agenda. Whether it is something as benign as getting more hugs from my grands, I have an agenda. To love without an agenda is to understand the depth of God’s love, and to understand the depth He went to to ensure that none of us perish in this evil world. Sorry, didn’t mean to get preachy, but this book will change the way you look at God, Jesus , the Holy Spirit – The Trinity. This concept has always eluded me (and I was raised Catholic). If you struggle with the concept of the Trinity, The Shack might just help to solidify its reality in your mind.

Although The Shack was written as fiction, you cannot help but hope to dream that this encounter did truly happen, and that everyday people like you and me can actually physically wrap ourselves in the arms of Papa. I hope you will pick up a copy if you haven’t already read it, and if you have, maybe decide to reread it again. Some people get all wrapped up in the imagery of God as a robust black woman – but not me. For Mac to accept God, He had to appear in a form that Mac wouldn’t shy from. After all, we are ALL created in God’s image – so I imagine Him as a kaleidoscope of character and personality traits. But one thing is always constant: His love never waivers, never changes and He never apologizes for it. HE LOVES ALL OF US WITHOUT AN AGENDA!

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