My mom is still living, but she’s no longer here.
Sometimes I feel like she has already died, and sometimes, honestly, I wish she was already in Heaven … for her sake.
My mom is still living, but she’s no longer here.
Sometimes I feel like she has already died, and sometimes, honestly, I wish she was already in Heaven … for her sake.
I have had encounters with angels. Several times. This is the story of one of those encounters.
Many years ago, I was just coming out of several years of heavy drinking that very nearly killed me. I was so very fragile emotionally, physically and spiritually. I started going to a 12-step program in Seoul, South Korea, where we were living at the time, and there I met a fellow alcoholic with more than 25 years of sobriety, who would have a great impact on my own recovery.
Be honest. How many of you, man or woman, found yourselves running around trying to finish last-minute preparations for Christmas, looking a whole lot more like Martha than Mary?
My daughter has this huge floor mirror that she received for Christmas a few years ago. I love that mirror because for some reason, whenever I check myself out in that mirror, I look really thin. Not going to lie, I like that.
There was a time not so long ago when I might have said the same heartbreaking words that Naomi utters in the Book of Ruth after losing her husband and sons in battle, which forced her to return to her homeland with her tail between her legs and her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth along for the sad trip home.
His name was Francis Ware Wright Jr., but he was better known as “Caesar.”
He was my dad.
There is a day in my life that I will never forget.
I love South Korea very much. In a certain sense, it is my birth country because I left that county a very different person from the one who arrived. That time almost seems like a dream, a nightmare really.
When my family moved to Seoul in 1999, I was suffering from the final stages of alcoholism. My doctor later told me that had I continued drinking, I would have been dead within three months.
For many years, I was self-medicating to alleviate emotional pain, feelings of loneliness, despair and to forget some painful experiences that were no fault of my own.
That day in Korea started like so many before — waking in my my bed, bile rising in my throat, trembling from withdrawal, and trying desperately to get more alcohol into my system so I could me feel normal again.
That morning turned out to be very different, however.
I lay there watching the sparkly dust fairies in the sunlight streaming across my bed, mesmerized by the glow of the dust in the sunlight and the dance of each individual piece of sparkling dust.
Without warning, I heard the voice of God rise within me, telling me to move. It literally felt physical as I experienced a sudden revelation and conviction rise in my soul. I suddenly knew that if I didn’t do something immediately, I would die.
Fear gripped my heart as I got out of bed and dressed. I somehow managed to grab some money, get myself down the hill from our house, into a taxi and ask for a hospital.
It took an hour to get to the hospital and I thought I would die at any moment all the way there.
A few hours later, I found myself locked up in the mental ward of Samsung Hospital in Seoul. They didn’t know what to do with me. At the time, there was no such thing as a cushy rehab center for alcoholics in Korea, and the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions was still in the infancy stage.
I didn’t speak any Korean and none of the doctors seemed to speak much English. I was so scared. And let me tell you, withdrawal is as awful as you might imagine. It feels like you have bugs crawling under your skin, like you might die of fright, you can’t stop trembling. It’s just impossible to describe.
I was so sick and the pleasures of drinking had now turned on me. It wasn’t fun anymore. It never made me feel good, or cute or funny or anything but horrible. It was hell on earth. I think I understand a little bit of what hell is — what it feels like to be completely separated from God.
It is desolation.
They took everything from me and just locked me up. I had nothing but an IV in my arm and a gown on my back. I was terrified and I was completely alone. No friends. No family. My husband took my little boys to his family’s home in France and my three daughters were left home alone with the “adjumonie.”
The guilt and pain and fear was unbearable. I couldn’t stand the thought that my kids would have to tell their friends their mother had died an alcoholic, and I knew that’s exactly what would happen, and soon, if I didn’t do something. I thought I would die right there. And I sort of wanted to die right there.
My soul felt empty and my life worthless. I have never felt so powerless and lost and there were no more excuses. No where else to turn. No one to reach out to.
It was just me and God in that room. He held his hand out to me …
I fell off my bed right there in Samsung hospital, literally onto the cold floor, and gave it all to him. I gave up the fight of trying to control my life and my pain, and I surrendered. I begged him for help. I begged, begged and begged some more. It was the most heart-felt prayer I had ever offered. I was a broken, broken woman. And, although I have never felt more alone in the world, locked up in a Korean mental ward, I know Jesus was in that room holding out his hand to me, begging me to just hold out my own.
And I did. I held out my hand.
In answer to my pleading, God sent an angel in the face of a young, Korean man. Just a few moments after begging God to save my life so I could be the mother I longed to be for my children, the man walked into my room. He didn’t seem much older than a teen.
He walked in, placed a bible in my hands without saying a single word, bowed low, and and then walked out the door. I didn’t know who he was and I never saw him again.
There I was in a Korean mental ward with nothing but an IV in my arm, a hospital gown on my back — and now a Korean-English Bible in my hand. Needless to say, it was a powerful moment — a tender, precious moment.
I eventually came to believe he was the answer to my prayer. I believe the young, Korean man was an angel sent to answer my prayer.
That’s how grace and love resurrected my life and, eventually, that of my family. All I had to do was ask. Over the course of the next few months and years of healing, God comforted me, he held me and I never want to let go of his hand again.
I see my life in two halves — before God stepped into my life in a mental ward and after that memorable day. Life is really no easier now, and it can sometimes knock me upside the head. But, it’s an entirely different way of living.
I know that God is with me, even in the loneliest of times and through the greatest difficulties and moments of grief.
Before that September morning, when I awoke to the vision of dancing dust fairies in the streaming sunlight and the voice of God, I felt entirely left on my own. Since that day, I know I am never alone and I never have to feel that way again. I rely on that truth.
The resurrected life has far-reaching consequences of its own.
Ever since that day in Seoul, I’ve prayed relentlessly to see a change in my family’s legacy of dysfunction and addiction. I prayed for years that my children would learn about a different life than the one I knew before that day in Seoul — a resurrected life, a life for God.
I am seeing those prayers being answered each and every day, and I watch my children — and their children — live out their lives centered in Christ.
A photo recently taken of my 17-month-old grandson, Riley, and his paternal great-grandfather moved me from the moment I first saw it.
There are just some photos that say so much, that convey a thousand words and elicit deep, deep thought.
The moment captured between the two in the photo is even more poignant today because Riley’s “PopPop,” John Loux, died last week, a little more than a month after the photo was taken.
I can stare at the photo for hours, pondering the gaze between the little boy just beginning his journey here on earth and that of the old man, who was about to walk through the door from this life into eternity.
What are they saying to each other in that gaze? What wisdom is PopPop wanting to impart to his grandson? What questions does Riley have for the man who had lived in this world for nearly a century?
Riley seems so intent on his great-grandfather’s face in the photo. Perhaps it’s John’s striking Colonel Sanders beard that attracts the young lad or perhaps it’s just seeing an aging gentleman. After all, Riley doesn’t come across many people of that age as he goes about his day-to-day existence of being a toddler.
I don’t think that’s it, though.
I think Riley sees something powerful and intriguing about the man with the weathered face, hinting at a life that knew joy and heartbreak, fear and pain; a life marked by his love for God, his servant’s heart and his absolute devotion to family.
Perhaps Riley could somehow grasp that this man had something important to share with him through that gaze.
Perhaps he longed to know the secrets of his PopPop’s long life.
John’s own gaze into the eyes of his grandson is just as precious, and I can only imagine what he was thinking in that moment.
Riley’s grandmother and John’s daughter, Bonnie Temple, was the one who snapped the photo and later told me that John was not doing well that morning.
John had been living with the Temples for several months after the death of his wife.
That morning, John had slept in very late and woke to the sounds of Riley playing in the living room. As John emerged from his bedroom, little Riley toddled towards his PopPop, arms raised for him to be picked up. Bonnie said her father reached down to gingerly pick up Riley and sit him down with him on his favorite chair.
Bonnie was concerned that her father, whose health was fast deteriorating, wasn’t strong enough to lift Riley, but was touched to see a sudden burst of energy empower her father enough for that moment with his grandson.
I think God wanted Riley and John to share that moment together, knowing that he would very soon be calling John home.
My musings take me to the words exchanged through that gaze.
“PopPop, tell me,” says Riley through his eyes. “What can I expect of this life? What should I do? What will it be like?”
“My little Riley — first of all, know that you are beloved,” John responds. “Life is a magnificent journey full of adventure, difficulties and uncertainty. Life will be replete with challenges, of that you can be certain. Sometimes you will be unable to make heads or tails of which way to turn, what decision to make and how to navigate the ups and downs of life.
“But, if there’s one thing I can tell you, it is this …
“Cling to God.
“Cling to him through the good, through the hard … no matter what comes your way, cling to him and you will live a wonderful, abundant life. You may not have a dime to your name at times, you may be ill, you may have concerns and experience the unfathomable pain of loss and heartbreak, but through it all, you will have an abundant life and you will know joy.
“Never forget, my boy, what was done on your behalf and take this knowledge into account in every decision you ever make, especially when it comes to people. Love like you have been loved, and take care of the people God brings into your life.
“Be kind. Be generous. Love well.
“And don’t worry. I can tell you — from this vantage point of having lived a long time and through so much change — that all will be well. God will remain faithful to you and yours, and there is nothing that you won’t be able to conquer with God in your heart and mind.
“I’ll be going soon, beloved boy, but Jesus and I will be waiting for you. You didn’t get to hear all of the memories I’ve made and cherished, but when we meet again, I’ll tell you all about this wonderful life I’ve had. I’ll be watching over you, little one. Be good. Listen to your mommy, daddy, nana and papa … they will teach to you what I taught to them. I love you, buddy.”
Bonnie told me that John grew up in a home that did not allow dancing because of their religious beliefs. She said the first time she ever saw him dance was at her wedding.
Perhaps that is why John’s eyes lit up every time Riley danced about with abandon and pure joy.
Today, John is dancing and singing with the angels, surely with his own complete abandon and purest joy.
I believe he was greeted by Jesus and the people he loved who had gone before. I know Jesus said, “I am pleased, John. You did well, my wonderful son … welcome home.”
And I imagine John took a bit of time to share with all of them the memories he had made and cherished. I imagine, too, that he thanked Jesus for his love and protection, and for precious moments he was able to enjoy with his family here on earth.
I’d bet John’s eyes lit up at encountering the sights of heaven in the same way they lit up when he looked at Riley performing his toddler antics.
And I marvel at what John must have felt at that instant when he gazed into true eternal eyes — into the absolute, unimaginable love found in his savior’s eyes.
I’d bet he thought of Riley and about the moment he shared with his great-grandson not long before his death — that captured moment when the old man and the little boy, separated by nearly a century, gazed — for just a brief, everlasting instant — into eternity.
No one goes through a time of trial and heartbreak without being changed…
…and I’m no different.
The past months have been difficult, beyond difficult, and now that I’m on the flip-side of pain, I can take a moment and look back at that time and look towards the future with new insight.
Some of the insights are wonderful.
I’ve learned that I am resilient, that I overcome obstacles and that nothing can destroy me completely. I’ve learned that I am loved, that I have God-given gifts and talents, and that the only voice I really need ever listen to is God’s, because no one knows me like he.
I’ve learned to be content within the moment. I’ve learned to appreciate those I love and who love me, and to stop what I’m doing to spend a moment basking in the love of family and friends.
I’ve learned just how blessed I am and that I don’t need a significant other to be complete… something that has taken me my whole life to figure out. I am happy just being…
I’ve learned that it’s not when or if, but here and now… this moment is all I will ever need to be happy.
Being without a job and home for these months taught me to be humble, to rely on others when I prided myself on being self-sufficient, and to give God control of my life.
I’m grateful that, despite the stress, I always knew that God had me… that I would be alright. My faith and hope got me through, and got me through far better than I ever imagined or anticipated.
Yes, there are some changes that bother me.
I’ve lost trust in people, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or if it’s just temporary. I have given my heart so completely in the past and I’ve been burned. I always used to cherish that part of me… that I could trust and love so quickly without ‘guarding my heart’ as so many warned me against.
I don’t really want to trust so readily anymore and I want to guard my heart above all. Yes, I want to love others, but I don’t want to lay my life into anyone’s hands but God’s. That is where disappointments lay and where hurt resides. I put too much faith in others when they are only doing the best they can.
We are all doing the best we can and we fall so, so short.
I know that I can trust God completely and that’s it. Oftentimes I’m hurt by those who don’t mean to hurt me, but as part of the human experience, we just hurt each other. I hurt people… they hurt me. It’s a sad part of living in this fallen world.
So, yes I am changed.
I am happier just being…
I am excited for the future…
I have learned to guard my heart…
I have learned to relax and let God do his thing… because when I do, he provides wonderful, unexpected surprises!!
I love my new career and community…
I am loved and cherished…
Yep, It’s all good!
In my last post, I wrote that I just really wanted to see the face of God. To feel him hug me.
Well, I realize that I have been hugged by God and I’ve seen his eyes in the eyes of my family, in my beautiful, precious grandson… and through all my loved ones and friends who have been praying and supporting me these past few months.
I want to thank you!
It has definitely been one of the most, if not THE most, difficult times of my life… losing my love, mistakenly relinquishing my job, having to move out of my home… and being adrift for weeks at a time has been more than I could take at times. The stress and uncertainty blinded me, so that all I could see was the pain. Yes, there were definitely moments when I could see the light and I had moments of joy and happiness… that’s a God-thing!
I know that underlying the pain was my faith that it would get better because I trusted God… it kept me going…
… as did your prayers and support.
And it did get better… and far better than I expected a few months ago…. A new life began for me this weekend.
A whole new way of living.
I began writing for WebProNew.com this weekend and I start my new job as a reporter for the Danville Advocate Messenger tomorrow. I am returning to my roots as a journalist and I find that it really excites me. The two publications are very different… for WebProNews, which is a freelance gig, I will cover everything under the sun … it’s more global. And I actually create the post, add the media, etc … it doesn’t go through an editor (that could be bad!! lol!). For the Danville Messenger, I will cover local news… an old-school, traditional newspaper gig. I love that I will have the opportunity to write very differently with these two publications.
This weekend, as I began writing for WebProNews, I realized how lost I can get in writing… time flies. I am engaged! So, I’m thrilled with this new direction in life. And I know each day will be new and exciting covering small-town political news, fires, crimes. I will be able to use my photography and layout skills as well, so that’s just wonderful. I remember my mom, who was a journalist, always had interesting stories to tell when she came home from the job. I look forward to having stories to tell of the people and events for my newspaper, and for my family and friends.
And I’m excited to move down to Danville… a small, beautiful, historic town about 40 minutes south of Lexington. (Voted the 4th best small town to retire to in the US… another bonus!) I’m excited to be a part of a community, once again, returning to my small-town roots.
My favorite Shakespeare quote from Romeo and Juliet (which I taught for years) is ‘But, He that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail’. Being adrift these past months left me no other alternative but to allow God to have the steerage of my course…. I had to relinquish control. I didn’t know where I would land… and honestly, I never would have guessed this outcome. I’m moving to Danville!! And I know God has amazing things in store for me there. He always does … I’m actually truly amazed at all the experiences and life changes that I’ve had… I never know where I’ll be next!
For those who have asked me if you can follow my writing… here are the links to my publications.
Oh, I am blessed.
God has been faithful.
And my friends and loved ones are beautiful.