Today I Feel – RX for Jessica

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Last night my niece, Jessica, posted the above sentiment on her Facebook status. Before I fell asleep, I managed to comment encouraging her to find Bible verses to counter those feelings. I’ll try to do that in this blog. Here’s her Bible verse prescription for the above ailments that trouble her, and all of us too.

I encouraged her to find Bible verses because I had, and still do have, those exact feelings. I’m sure most of us do. I especially relate to the “ugly”, “like I don’t matter”, “invisible”, and “not worthy of love” feelings, but I will tackle each of them. I have learned over the almost four decades of knowing the Lord Jesus, that He can transform my mind which in turn will produce different feelings than those above.

Today I feel abandoned…I think every human has felt abandoned, lonely and alone. No one truly understands. And that’s a true experience. There are many synonyms for “abandoned”, left, uncared for, forgotten. When I think of abandoned, I think of an empty house, abandoned, like the old Granville house in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. What changed that abandoned, empty house into a happy home? Life and love changed it. In Christ, we have a new life, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” John 3:16 says we’re loved, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” and John 10:10 says “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. Life and love, and to top it off, Jesus says in Matthew 28:20, “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Never alone again. Amen.

Today I feel ugly…I don’t think there’s a woman in the world who has never felt ugly. We are bombarded with images of unnaturally beautiful women everyday and then we look in our own mirrors…ughh. That may be one of the reasons I have few mirrors in my home. Antonyms for ugly abound: beautiful, pretty, pleasant, nice, attractive. Most of us can’t change our looks, but we can change our inner lives. From there, we can acquire an inner beauty that never ages. We have to admit we’ve got some ugly going on inside. How do we change that? One verse that helps is Psalm 34:5 “They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. When we look at Jesus, we become radiant, we have a spiritual beauty, and from that we get joy. Nothing gets rid of ugly faster than happy.

Today I feel hurt…Hurt comes to all of us. Physical, emotional, mental pain abound in every country, city, and family. Pain: Our great unifier. The opposite of hurt would be healing. Psalm 34:18 assures us, The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” and Psalm 147:3 promises, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.” As we draw near to Him, our hurts will be healed.

Today I feel like I don’t matter…The opposite of this feeling would be we feel like we do matter, that we’re important, that we’re special. The Bible says you matter to God. In the Old Testament, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” In the New Testament, Paul tells us how God showed us we matter, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends, Jesus loves you that much. Believe me, you do matter to God.

Today I feel useless…This word “useless” reminds me of the debilitating slur some parents would hurl at their children, “good for nothing”. Praise God He’s not that kind of Father. Paul, after he declares we are saved by grace through our faith, says “…we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.You’re not useless, God will use you just where you are.

Today I feel invisible…What’s the opposite of invisible? Visible, of course, noticed, seen, but more importantly, recognized, not just seen, but known. Someone who knows you. David says in Psalm 139,

13For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

He knows all about you because He created you. You are NEVER invisible to Him. Hallelujah!

Today I feel like I don’t belong…Dr. Brené Brown in her book The Gifts of Imperfection writes: “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need in all women, men and children.” We all want to belong to someone or something. Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Jesus adds to this, I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” As Christian believers, we belong to Christ.

Today I feel not worthy of love…I know this one too well. I never felt like I was worthy of anyone’s love, let alone a man’s. Some where deep down I felt flawed, “irregular” like the marked down clothes at Target. I wrote a whole blog about how God transformed my feelings of worthlessness into beloved-ness. All I can say is we need to let God love us, and then we not only feel beloved, but we are capable of truly loving others. Here is a link to that blog: https://fromtheshoe.com/2015/12/05/and-my-soul-felt-its-worth/. Just like the Christmas song says, when Christ was born, “the soul felt its worth”. Thank you, Lord.

So, dear Jessica, here is your prescription to alleviate those “sick” feelings and come back to health. I pray for you that you will come to know the living Christ and be filled up with all the spiritual blessings He is ready to offer you. God bless you, little sister.

Love, Donna

 

 

 

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Females and the Facilities

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We’re having a nice morning. Every one is well rested, all have the day off, and, miracle of miracles, it is sunny in Pacifica. We may even go swimming later.

Two of the five Fentanes females that live under this roof were gone for two of the three days this weekend. And the Fentanes female, who shall remain nameless, and who does a lot of the housework, (no guilt intended…well, maybe a little) cleaned the kitchen, even mopped the floor, and spit and polished the bathroom. The weekend has been very productive, housework wise for this Fentanes female.

In an attempt to extend the cleanliness of the apartment, the bathroom in particular, housecleaning Fentanes female asked very nicely, even sweetly, to her x-chromosomed brood, “Ladies, do you think today it’s possible we could keep the bathroom looking like it does at this moment?”

I did not intend to create a ripple in the cosmos, but the effect of that question on those eight ears, was remarkable.

“Mom, we’re girls, we’re not guys. We can’t keep the bathroom clean.”

“Ahhh, yeah…no.”

One was speechless, and the other one was so engrossed in some life or death battle on Fortnite that there was no response.

What is it with females and the bathroom facilities? It seems like the room is an extension of their very lives. The make-up, the towel mountain, the bras…geez, I’ve got like two, I’ve never seen so many bras. And the hair. I’ve already had maintenance out twice to unclog the sink. He asked, “What’s down there?”

“Uh, lots of hair and maybe the Alexa remote, I have no idea.”

I grew up with Noxema and Oil of Olay. Now there are five varieties of just Vitamin E oil, two large containers of coconut oil, an array of shampoos and conditioners. The White Rain (you know, the 99 Cent Store variety) is mine, of course. Razors, rings, soaps, solutions, brushes, bras, I tell you, I am amazed at the stuff that’s out there. Fake eyelashes that look like spiders. Not what I like to see on the counter first thing in the morning.

We live with one son. One young man who possesses one bottle of shampoo, one toothbrush, one hair cutting kit; that’s all. I think the girls believe the bathroom is an annex to their closets and make-up bags.

One of the characteristics you need as a mother is patience and flexibility. I’ve learned when to throw in the towel, or just pick it up. I’ve lived with personalities that never change. So, when it comes to my females and the bathroom facilities, I accept the things I cannot change and wait for the serenity that God is going to grant me.

To my surprise, after their showers, each of the girls picked up after themselves. Later in the day, one of the females eagerly asked, “Mom, what do we get for keeping the bathroom clean?”

“A clean bathroom,” was my serene reply.

 

 

 

Epilogue: David’s Sunrise is Home

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Three months to the day of David J Ochoa’s untimely and tragic death, his parents trekked to Fresno to pick up the painting that will always be a beautiful memorial to this young man and reminder of his short, but beloved life.

David died on February 19th, 2018. At the time, David was seeing my daughter, Espi. His death has struck us hard, and we are still reeling. Two days later I took the picture this painting is based on.

As had been told before, not only was the picture a beautiful image of a bird heading for the heavens at the dawn of the day, but it was taken at a particular intersection in South San Francisco, California two days after his death. Even more remarkable was the conversation between his mother and I when she revealed that where I took the picture was very close to where David left this earth. Flew quietly away, if you will.

I love what Wendy said in her blog, “David’s Sunrise: The Story of a Photo”,

“…this image becomes one more example of how art can imitate life, and how an unseen God can intervene in the world, making Himself known through an art form, captured at an intersection of time and space, inserting His presence where He is needed most, to help in the process of grief, honoring a young man taken too soon.”

As much as we long to undo that day in February, to somehow bring David back, we sadly and powerlessly cannot. Such is the hardest thing to deal with in this life: Death. And Death is all around us, the Great Inevitable. David’s Sunrise reminds us of a “really sweet” life gone too soon, but it also reminds us that this is David’s Sunrise, not his sunset. I feel that is an important component to this story. David has gone before us. Even King David, after his newborn son died, said, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” Wendy quoted Nabokov, “Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.”

I agree. Jesus, who said, “I am the resurrection and the life” shortly before he raised Lazarus from the dead, assures us that there is life after death. There is physical life after death. Every Easter, we remember this Man, His life and the gift of eternal life He’s given us through His death. Every time we look at this painting, we remember the young man, David J Ochoa, who lived here, but lives elsewhere now.

This painting is hung on a wall that seemed prepared for it. God in His wonderful providence has brought people together in His haphazard and serendipitous way to comfort a family and memorialize a life. All of us who were involved in this have been humbly blessed. Such are the marvelous ways of the Lord.

David will not only live on in our hearts and memories, but he lives now in the presence of God. I feel the painting points all our attention to the heavens, to the Sunrise. I look forward to the day when I can get to know David better.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.    – Revelation 21:4

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The Old Man Walking Down The Road

Here is an excerpt from my self-published book, “The Plight of the Hare & Other Stories From the Shoe”. Illustration by Breena Nuñez.

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I was driving home one Sunday after trying to go to church. I was angry we hadn’t made it to the service because of the little war that erupted in the car. While driving, I noticed an old man walking on the road. The road was a busy four-lane street without sidewalks. He was walking in the direction I was driving, and I was coming up behind him. From the back, I noticed his ill-fitting suit and his brown derby securely on his head. He reminded me of my old, agile Portuguese neighbor whom I’d admire from my window as he repaired his roof.

I passed the old man and glanced at him in the rear view mirror, thinking maybe I would see that old Portuguese face. I knew I wouldn’t because that neighbor had already left this world. And this man was very much alive. He was defiantly smoking a cigarette while walking at a brisk pace. He wanted to cross the four-lane road, and I glanced in my mirror again to see if he was successful. I thought maybe I would stop to help. But, he was determined and sure-footed. He didn’t need my help, he would make it.

This old man, his clothing, his hat and his defiant manner reminded me of my carefree childhood when men like him were all over the place. The most discomfort I felt was the anticipation of doing chores, or the consequences of not doing homework. My most pressing concerns were whether that cute guy was going to be on the bus or if I had a ride to the dance on Friday. What a stark contrast to today! Driving home with a car full of children worrying about a bank account empty of funds, my concerns had dramatically changed. There are creases on my brow from the sheer weight of my responsibilities. Men, like that old man walking down the road, had the same creases. My father had the same creases.

My father told me of a time when the weight of his responsibilities were at their heaviest. Confronted by his boss to quit drinking or to quit, he purchased a six-pack to think it over. After that was gone, he got a ride to the Russian River where my mom and we kids were. In the cabin, he was lying on his bed contemplating the wife, the kids, the mortgage, the houses, all the cares; and these responsibilities pressed hard. He could hear the kids splashing and laughing as they swam, careless, without worry, while he was carrying the load, however imperfectly, on his fragile shoulders.

Fast forward forty years, my children were silent in the car because they knew I was mad. I looked nervously at the little gaslight that comes on when the tank is empty reminding me of the many empties in my life. Now the burden was on my even more fragile shoulders, and I felt like my father did. But that old man reminded me of the kind of folks who were around when I was a kid; they had their creases, their responsibilities, but somehow they made it. That six-pack was the last my father bought, and he made it, too. I looked back one final time and saw that the old man made it across. So I drove home that quiet Sunday afternoon, believing I would make it too, like my father and like the old man walking on the road.

David’s Sunrise – The Power of the Gift of Art – by Wendy DeRaud

From beginning….

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…to the end.

There’s such a satisfaction for an artist in completing a project. Especially a painting such as “David’s Sunrise,” one that has such significance and meaning in the lives of those who will soon own it. Because of the story behind this image, the painting becomes much more interesting and profound.

I told the story a few weeks ago in a previous blog post, how Donna shot a photo of this beautiful South San Francisco sunrise on her way to work, not knowing that this was the exact location where her daughter’s friend David had died of a drug overdose just a few days before.

That’s one of the mysterious ways God works in touching lives and giving His amazing grace in time of great need.

To anyone else, Donna, a single mom of 10 on a limited income, would seem an unlikely patron of the arts. Yet she felt compelled to commission Mark to paint this, and made payments in order to gift it to David’s mom.

Little did she know that her commission would help Mark relaunch and rekindle his painting vocation after a long haitus of discouragement.

Little did she know that this single photograph and subsequent commissioned painting would help a family heal as they honor and remember their precious son and brother, but also help draw attention to a much-neglected opioid epidemic in the Bay Area.

Next week we will say goodbye to this painting as it graces its new home, hopefully bringing peace and the tonic of redemption for a hurting family.


The moral of the story is, never underestimate the power of the gift of art. 

Thank you, Donna, for the privilege of being part of this story.

Shoelady’s Tips to Self-Publishing

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My self-publishing journey started when I read Peter Bowerman’s “Well-Fed Self Publisher” book. After many years of writing to publishers and literary agents, I figured “what the heck!” I wasn’t getting any younger…even though I will never be this young again!

After contracting with the talented and patient, Breena Nuñez, our project got under way. She submitted batches of drawings every month or so, while I worked on typesetting the book.

I followed religiously Nigel French’s Lynda.com’s “Designing a Book” tutorial. Lynda.com is a great resource for the self-motivated learner. They have hundreds of classes that range from Business to the Arts. Look into it. For about $25 a month, you can learn a host of new things.

Nigel’s class introduced me to Blurb.com where I had my finished product printed. For a low price, I was able to produce what you see today. I admit it is far from perfect, but Nigel even said “It looks great—and well written too!” So I consider that a good B.

For you folks who want to publish your novels, memoirs or cookbooks, look into all the resources that are available for the self-publisher. The links to the resources I used are below:

Breena’s Etsy

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TechnicolorMorena

www.wellfedsp.com

www.lynda.com

www.blurb.com

And of course,

www.fromtheshoe.com

Thank you all for attending and listening to my Author Talk.

Adolescent Absurdities

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Teenagers…gotta love ’em! I mean you really have to love them because there are times when you don’t want to love them. You folks with newborns and babies – yeah, you guys who haven’t slept in months – sorry to break it to you, but the baby phase is easy. Exhausting, but easy.

Let me share some of the absurdities one has to live with when living with teenagers. I’ve taken some dramatic license. Mind you, there was a time I had five teenagers under one roof. I don’t remember much during those years…we all survived though. There’s a definite difference between boys and girls. Boys are quiet, destructive and obsessed with rock music and video games. Girls make up for the quietness of the boys by talking incessantly. Ellie, even last night, was talking in her sleep.

Let’s take last night: Ellie got up early yesterday to go to Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay. When Eloisa, the baby and I returned from church around 7:30 pm, Ellie was home and already unconscious. I understand, it was a long day for her. In order for Ellie to sleep, she must have “Monk” on replay. Since I was babysitting, I thought I could bypass the “Monk” marathon and put on a nice movie. Where was Ellie’s firestick? Now, Ellie is very, uhm, very possessive of her firestick. Rarely can anyone watch TV in the front room without her express permission to use the firestick? But Ellie was unconscious…I couldn’t wake her, I didn’t want to wake her. So I looked around for the coveted firestick…there it was, in her hand as she slept. Yikes! Because her sleep was so deep, the grip was not tight. I slowly and deftly removed the firestick from her slack grip. Whew…. I  got myself a big glass of milk and settled into the couch to watch a show with the baby. I settled Peyton with his bottle, and I gently grabbed the firestick, pressed the button, and whispered, “Alexa….”

“NOOOOOOOO!” came from the unresponsive body. “Give me my firestick!” Rather than wake up Smaug entirely, Peyton and I went into my room and watched that groundbreaking, critic-acclaiming, culture-shaping, lofty film, “The Incredibles” and called it a night.

During adolescence, I fear the processes of logic may either be underdeveloped or suspended until the kids are nearly 20. Another example: because yesterday was so busy, I asked my offspring – female offspring – if they had clean clothes for the next day. I didn’t have time to do the $40 worth of laundry at the laundromat, I didn’t want to, I was tired. I know I’m a bad mom. Anyone who has raised girls know that clothing is a very important priority in their lives. I sympathize, but my priorities are usually bond and have paper pages. I was a weird teenage girl. Anyway, one of the female offspring was devastated that I was not doing the laundry. Mind you, this same child just got dressed to the nines for church. I told her why don’t you wear the same pants you wore to church. You think I had taken the kitchen knife and stabbed her. “No! I already wore them 3 times, they’re dirty.” I explained that there must be over 100,000 articles of clothing in this apartment. She could surely find a pair of pants to wear tomorrow. (I live with four of my daughters, and, for the most part, all of them can wear the same size.)  I added that I will do the laundry tomorrow night. Now here it comes…wait for it:

“You say that all the time, you never do it.”

Huh? I responded more to myself than to her…”I never do the laundry?”

“You never do it when you say you will!”

OK, so I’ve never done the laundry, when do you do it? Who does do the laundry…all of it? The towels? Your laundry, mine, your sisters, etc? Who does it? The conversation abruptly ended.

These kinds of situations are common and leave me scratching my head. Also there are things my kids say that now just render me dumbfounded:

“Where are my jeans with the holes in it?”

There are approximately 20 pairs of these kinds of jeans in my apt. I do not answer.

“Why don’t you ever do anything for me?”

I was giving this kid a ride somewhere. But I do not respond. I am mute.

Why aren’t there any clean dishes?”

Not a peep.

“There is no food in the house.”

Nothing. See previous blog, “At Least There was Milk in the Fridge.”

In my advanced middle age, I am learning to conserve what little energy I have. I don’t respond to these or the many other questions or statements of silliness that I’ve heard uttered from my offspring’s mouths. I chock it up to adolescent absurdity and move on. Life is way too short.