Sunday, March 31, 2019

God as my Hiding Place (Psalm 32 Theopoetic Reflection)

I used to think I was the only one that experienced shame, as shame has a way of creating isolation. For years I put on a mask of perfectionism and hoped that people wouldn't see my significant insecurity. Then I suffered a life-changing brain injury on March 6, 2011, and everything changed. I could no longer hide behind my well crafted facade. My life changed in an instant.

Just how much my life changed is a topic for another day. That said, I was gifted with relief of my shame in the wake of the injury. It was a kind of grace beyond comprehension. For the first time in my life I no longer felt the need to hide my truth.

Over time, through years of healing work and now seminary study, I've come to realize that shame is common among us: It's part of the condition of being human. As I allow myself to be vulnerable with others, I break down the lies that shame tells me and I am strengthened in my authentic self.

But as I write this, I feel compelled to note that human beings won't always do a good job of understanding or engaging with my vulnerability. Sometimes they may even perpetuate my shame by saying something hurtful. My courage comes from a deeper source, one that loves me exactly as I am. I've come to realize that my safest space---the hiding place mentioned in the psalm---lies with God. Snuggled up against the down feathers of the Creator, I bring all of me without pretense... and I am loved. It is this love that I yearn for in my life now as an artist, seminary student, and emerging theologian, because I am free when I turn toward God and allow myself to be fully embraced.

St. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, oh God." In Al Anon I learned that "you're only as sick as your secrets." Leaving nothing hidden, nestled into the comfort of love itself, my soul releases perfectionism, and I simply ask God to show me the way.

Heather Thompson

The Gift and Toll of Chronic Illness

I'm feeling astonished by what chronic illness has done to my body....I look so different! But, the truth is that i'm lucky to have discovered what's wrong with me so that I can finally heal. 

I'm still fighting, transforming, becoming.... and I like who I am today ON THE INSIDE. I have a strength and a confidence that I didn't have 5 years ago. This former beauty queen is no longer defined by appearance. I stand in complete surrender to God's will for me.

It's lent. Imagine surrendering everything that has defined you up until this moment... money, job, appearance, marriage.... could you trust God enough to place all of these things into the hands of the Divine?

This is my journey. It was initially forced upon me with the brain injury, but now I walk with awareness of the surrender as much as I am able every day. Over the years, I've discovered that although the path is far from easy, it is filled with grace as i have exactly what i need when i need it.

I wouldn't go back to the woman I was in 2013 below (shortly before the divorce was final).... I've grown so much since then.... and I cherish who I am now.

Speak God, thy humble servant is listening.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


So few people understand chronic illness until it happens to them.  It's one of the reasons I speak so openly about it.  It keeps me honest,  as lord knows I'd like to pretend that all is well and that always gets me into trouble.   But there's more to it... we live at a time when Boomers are aging with multiple chronic illnesses and the system isn't prepared to handle it.  Let's face it,  families are often unaware of the journey involved in extended care of someone with chronic illness.  So we must talk about it.

How am I today? Well,  I'm flattened. Flepped. Stuck on this sofa until my fever goes back down. That's why I am so careful around people who are sick.

Yesterday was a good day.  Tomorrow might be better.  But today sucks.  There are good days and rough days and everything in between when living with chronic illness. Just for today I cancel everything and rest.

Monday, March 18, 2019

From CEO to Artist Overnight

It's Brain Injury Awareness Month.
This is an older UK article,  but it tells my story....a life changing brain injury,  the rare miracle of acquired savant syndrome, and a new life filled with art and poetry. 

I post often about the challenge of my current struggle with several rare diseases,  but I never lose sight of the rare GIFT that I was given in the wake of a life changing injury... To be among the few people in the world that have a sudden new ability after neurological trauma... THANK YOU GOD.

And so I live my life from one surrendered posture...
Speak God, thy humble servant is listening.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It's been 8 years since the Concussion...

Would you say YES to God?

Today is the 8th anniversary of the traumatic brain injury that changed my life completely.   As I step into the significance of this day every year,  I reflect on life before and the path that has emerged since.   My life looks NOTHING like life before,  and yet I'm the happiest I've ever been.  

I was forced into this new life.  Therefore it makes me wonder....Would you (would I) say yes to God if not forced to do so?

Scripture says...
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11

It's a question that I often ponder, especially since my younger self thought that the answer was simple. Of course! Saying YES to God is the only way to live, right?

Well, time has shown me that saying YES to God is among the most vulnerable and brave actions that a human being can take. It is the moment of complete surrender, followed by an infinity of continuous letting go of my will as I further allow God to become the guiding force in my life. It is an act of trust so deep that it is simultaneously freeing and terrifying, as I relinquish control over my life.

Be still and know that I am God.

Allowing the flow to carry me means that I grieve the life that I felt I "should" have had in favor of the life that God has planned for me. It begins by simply lifting up my feet, floating, and noticing that even as I am still, I am also moving. What is the force that is moving me?

The Creator is revealed when I become quiet. I learn to trust the flow of energy moving beneath the wave that I am, as it becomes the force that animates my body and nudges me toward God's path.

But I am not perfect. Continuously, I put my feet down and struggle against the current with thoughts of how I want my life to be dammit!

This is the root of suffering - resistance to what IS. With an abundance of pain reminding me that my efforts are futile, I once again remember that if I gently lift up my feet, I will feel the flow and it will save me from drowning.

The Courage to BE

But MY LIFE is a STRUGGLE! I am not going to lie, I thought it would be easier to live a life in harmony with God's will for me...but that is not the case. No wonder I resisted all of these years. Bringing myself into alignment has been anything but easy, and yet I have had everything I needed at each moment of the process. This is grace. It is not necessarily the promise that life will be simpler; rather, it's being given exactly what I require in order to manifest God's will in my life. This is "the Courage to BE" according to Tillich.


I have come to the recognition that life isn't meant to be easy; quite the contrary, it is a journey filled with struggle every step of the way. The pain arrives when we feel that it should be different somehow.

Thus, life becomes a process of emptying oneself of ideas of how it SHOULD be, and growing through the suffering letting go. 

Rather than filling myself with theological musings and scriptural references in my formation for ministry, I have discovered an alternative path rooted in kenotic love. Every step of my journey with God embodies the art of emptying my vessel so that the Spirit can fill me up and direct my life.

Make no mistake, this emptying process is among the most difficult experiences of my life, yet I have every resource that I need to walk through all of it in peace - grace.

I am brought to my knees almost daily, as God reminds me that I am a humble servant. "Speak God, thy humble servant is listening."

This brings me back to the original question. Would you - would I - completely surrender to God's will without being forced to do so? I have come to realize that I needed to be pushed into this new life, largely because it was so contrary to the way that I thought I SHOULD be living. Every day I surrendered to God, but I didn't mean it. Why? Because I was unwilling to change the really difficult aspects of my life. Then, one night as I was drifting off to sleep, I said the prayer that changed everything - "Speak God, thy humble servant is listening." And like a scene from a movie, my life was different from that moment forward.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Ivig Day 1... Gotta be Flexible

It's day 1.  When I get ivig I feel it's important to write "from the trenches."  Few people know about this treatment.  Chemo.... we seem to have an understanding... but ivig is still not very well known.

I'm trying to remain flexible today.  I'm getting a different brand today because of a shortage in the brand I was using.   Remember... this product requires human plasma donation.  So supply can get low.

Unlike many treatments, Ivig is an all day thing. I'm here from 9 to 530.  Today,  we are running into problems right and left.  I pray that this goes ok. 

At this moment, they are having trouble with my port so they are doing a procedure to declot it. Gosh it feels BAD to have fluid going into my neck when my port isn't flushing properly.

And...I need iv fluids badly. The closer we get to 11 am, the more likely it is that I won't get fluids.  I may have them get a separate iv into my arm so they can run fluids while they do the ivig because we are running out of time.... and dehydration means a bad reaction tonight. 

But through it all, I remain grateful.  I'm alive.  I have access to this treatment.  It's working.  And I have the best nurses helping to make this all happen.  

Awake.  Alive. Blessed.