Thursday, February 13, 2014

May I Call You Grand-ma?

When I was a little young girl growing up in Carlin Nevada I would always hear kids around me say, "Hi Grand-ma" to this sweet elderly lady.  I one day approached her at our little post office and asked her if I could call her "grand-ma" too."  She smiled at me and asked about my grand-parents.  I then related to her that my grand-parents were all dead and I never had a chance to get to know them.  She wrapped her arms around me and matter of factly said, "well then, from now on I will be your grand-ma."
And from that moment on she did in fact become my Grand-ma.
Oh, I loved her.

She moved to Idaho a few years after we had moved to Idaho and we reconnected while I was in my teens.  Weekly my family and I would go and visit her and her family.  She was still my grand-ma.  Sadly a few short years later she passed and I found myself without a grand-ma again.

As I started developing a relationship with my adopted mother I learned that I did indeed have a Grand-ma.  Her mother.  She was from Alabama.  The first time I met this spunky little tiny lady I loved her and she loved me.  Almost monthly my husband and I received "care packages"
from this sweet
sweet grand-ma.
She told me she was making up for the lost years of my youth.
Again death came a calling and I found myself loosing another grand-ma.

Since I have went into nursing I have had the wonderful blessing of meeting and being adopted by so many "adopted grand-ma's and grand-pa's."
We spend a season together then they too are called home and I
 find myself building new relationships with another set of
adopted grand-ma's and grand-pa's.

As a child because of the age of my parent many kids felt that
 "I had missed out."
 As I look back and forward I think they missed out.
I haven't heard of many that are blessed to have numerous
adopted Grand-ma's and Grand'pa's.
Each and every one of them hold a very special place in my heart.

What brought this thought to mind was just this week a sweet couple I am helping out asked me about my family.  As I shared that pretty much all my family had passed on, this sweet sweet lady piped up and said, "No, you adopt us and we adopt you
and we become your adopted grand-ma and grand-pa.
You are now a part of this family."

That is the greatest gift that nursing has brought to me.
My only regret I did not go into the field until after my parent's had passed.
 But I know there near by watching and beaming as they relate to others, "that's my girl!"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"The Light will Come"

Music has always been a source of healing and letting up my frustration.  Ever since I can remember when I sat down at the piano and started playing my anger and frustration would magically leave through the tips of my fingers.

One of my favorite artists is Michael McLean, I listened to him at a Woman’s time out many years ago.  
He spoke of his ongoing battle with depression.  I was floored.  I had met the man on several occasions when I attended his production of the “Forgotten Carols.”  He has such a remarkable God give talent for music.  I never in my wildest dreams believed he suffered from depression.

At this time out event I purchased his book, “Hold On, The Light Will Come” which told the stories behind his songs.  As I was re-reading it I came to this story that I had just skimmed over when I first read the book.  The article is entitled, “Something’s Broken In My Brain” I will now let Mr McLean tell his story:

“People familiar with my songs are scratching their heads and wondering why they’ve never heard of this one.  Answer’s simple:  As of this writing, I haven’t recorded it anywhere but in my own head.  There’s been something about the process of reviewing the lessons my songs have taught me that has given me the courage to share this one.

I started taking medications for my depression after being unable to deal with it any other way.  Diet, exercise, prayer, service to others, reading the scriptures, therapy, getting rest—
all these food things were blessings in my life
 but not cures for my condition.
I can’t count the times I was overwhelmed with guilt for being depressed when I had been given so many wonderful gifts:  a remarkable woman who loved me, great kids, a supportive extended family, an interesting career, 
and enough money to pay the light bill.

What kind of creep gets everything on the Christmas list 
and then pouts in his room?
An ungrateful little snit.  (That’s an n by the way, and if you can’t find the word in a regular dictionary, call my relatives who have been indentifying snits for generations.”
Somewhere in my messed-up brain I knew I didn’t deserve all the gifts I’s been given, but to make matters worse,
 I was unable to find joy in the blessings.

It all came to head when I was in New York City 
at a festival for new musicals. 
The Ark had been selected as one of the ten musicals to be showcased in two off -Broadway theaters for producers and theater owners from all over the country. 
It was a truly thrilling opportunity, but I felt no enthusiasm for it.  Only fear.
Fear because I couldn’t remember things.  
Chords to songs I’d been playing for years escaped me.  
People I’ve known and loved, worked with and admired for as long as I can remember—
I couldn’t remember them when I saw them.
Fear that the fraud police had finally received the warrant for my arrest as an imposter. 
Fear that I’d done nothing in my life, with my family 
or my career or my community 
or my church, that had made any difference at all.  
All those wonderful things people had been telling me for years were lies.  
Those folks were just being nice, 
but I knew what they really thought, and it wasn’t good.  
All passion had faded; all self-confidence, 
fleeting as it had always been, 
was completely gone, and I was exhausted.

A journal entry from September 29, 2000,
 gives a pretty accurate description of how I was feeling. 
The sad thing is, this was written on a ‘good day’ 
when I had enough energy to actually write something down:
“I’m tired.  Really tired.  
Don’t think a power nap is going to cure this weariness I feel.  
It’s a bone-deep kind of tired, and it’s a melancholy kind of tired.  I’m tired of being me.  
Tired of fighting the same battles with myself day after day…
tired of carrying the same old burdens, same old struggles, 
same old hang-ups that have been plaguing me most of my life.
There’s something not right about the way I feel
 and I’m not sure what it is. 
Perhaps it’s a chemical.  Maybe I’m just lacking the serotonin
 (or whatever it’s called) levels in my brain that would enable me to feel joyful, hopeful 
ABOUT ANYTHING, and not so tired.  
On the other hand, it might be behavioral.  
My actions, my lifestyle, my work, my schedule…all of this may be the cause of these feelings. 
I wonder if the chemical rush of my creative work
 and artistic lifestyle
 has given me a false sense of balance in the past.  
Maybe my overactive involvement in music, performance, writing, speaking, 
teaching, producing, selling has been my way to counter the feelings of weariness—
emptiness that often overwhelms me—OR—the way I live my life 
is what has actually created the state I’m in.  I don’t know.
In my heart and mind 
I know that my Savior and Redeemer is the One 
whose ‘burden is easy’ and whose ‘yoke is light’…
but learning how to transfer my burdens over to Him has been a bit of a challenge, 
to say the least.  Truth Is, I don’t think I know how to do it.
I HAVE experienced His loving comfort, and the easing of the pain, 
but I don’t know what it was I did that helped that happen.
If I say my prayers, ‘I’m tired—tired of carrying all this baggage, 
could you carry it for awhile?’  
I’m stuck by the feeling that after ‘a while’ I’m going to have to deal with some of those issues that I’m temporarily avoiding,  That’s part of why I came—
to learn how to overcome these things—so I want help. 
I need help. 
But I also want not just to have my burdens carried by Jesus, 
I want Him to teach me, if that’s possible, 
what He’d like me to do to reduce the burdens 
I may be creating in my life.
It’s good to know that I’m not carrying the burdens of grievous sins 
or unresolved wickedness from my past.  
I love my wife and children.  I do pray, I walk the walk, 
keep the commandments, pay my tithes and offerings and try to do what’s right—
but perhaps there’s something I’m missing.  Sins of ‘omission’ unrecognized.
I’m on a plane to Knoxville, Tennessee, 
where I’m scheduled to speak to a group of single adults.  
This event has been planned for months and months.  
I’m afraid these folks are about to hear from someone with virtually every blessing 
they’ve ever prayed for and yet I feel as depressed as many of them 
AND I HAVE NO EXCUSE.  What’s up with that?
I’m tired of whining about all of this, even if the whining is only to myself. 
I’m sure that if I suck it up and focus on the task at hand 
and the service of others that much of this will ease up somehow.  
But my problem is that all this service and trying to give and share and lift others seems, 
at times, like a foolish attempt to postpone facing that which is truly weighing me down.
This weekend, the word spoken and the songs sung will be for me.  
Those songs have always been a message for my own heart—
perhaps I should listen.”
A week or two after I returned from that conference, 
the feelings of hopelessness and despair got darker and darker.  
My memory got so bad that I thought I might have Alzheimer’s. 
I went to see my therapist and doctor, skilled and capable people 
who cared about me and who suggested I try taking a pill.  
An unimpressive, tiny, pink pill.  I didn’t want to take a pill.  
What if I became hooked on some happy little drug 
and avoided facing the real issues of my life?  
What if it robbed me of my ability to think, and feel, and write?  
What if the price I had to pay for my art was this suffering?  
Would I lose whatever gifts I’d been given if I was medicated?  
What if ‘better living through chemistry’ proved my greatest fear:  
that I was an emotional cripple who couldn’t get through life without a crutch?
The whole pill business scared me, but not quite as much as the thoughts I was thinking
 during my worst bouts of depression.  
So I took the advice of my doctor and therapist and took the medicine
 they prescribed for me daily for four weeks.  Nothing changed.
This didn’t surprise me, really.  It was all to simple.  
Take the pill, the cloud will lift.  Right.
Surely there was more I needed to do. 
What kind of victory over this demon could I claim if all I did was take the pill?  
And then one morning, I woke up and something was different. 
It wasn’t euphoria.  It wasn’t a rush.  It wasn’t like the end of a happily-ever-after movie.  
It was just…normal.  
It took a while to realize that this feeling, this normal thing, was real 
and could be sustained beyond a few fleeting moments. 
I don’t quite know how to describe what it was like to feel normal, 
or at least what I thought normal must feel like. 
I’m not sure anyone feels ‘normal,’ but for me it was sort of like this:  level.
Everything wasn’t always uphill or down.  
That pushing down, pressing, claustrophobic darkness was gone.  
I felt good when the sun was shining and sad when my friends were blue.  
I celebrated weddings and cried at funerals. 
I felt naturally excited about things that were worth being excited about, 
and not like the end of the world when I made a mistake.  
I could remember things, like the names of people I cared for 
and the cords to the songs I loved.  
The regularness of it all was and is simply wonderful.  
I’m amazed that somebody figured out how to do this for me and others like me, 
and believe me, I’m grateful.
But the lesson of all this didn’t begin to really sink in 
until I found myself scratching out some lyrics alone in my truck 
after a five-hour drive to a concert.  
The entire drive I marveled at the way I felt and had been feeling 
since the medications kicked in.  The resulting song is a creation I called:   

“Something’s Broken in My Brain and Only Pills Can Fix It”

"Something’s broken in my brain and only pills can fix it
I fought this thing for years in vain, believing I could lick it
I tried and failed and felt so weak; it made me quite the cynic
And then I heard the heavens speak:
“Mike, get thee to a clinic.”
I thought the meant the clinic for my own immortal soul
So I trudged down to the church to wait for God to make me whole
Then something happened 
then and there that came as quite a shocker
I heard the voice of God say, 
“Mike, I meant get thee to a doctor.”

“But you’re the God of heaven and earth, 
My King, my Lord, my Master
Why not just heal me here and now?
It’s cheaper and it’s faster.”
He paused so long I thought He’d gone and then, 
in all His glory
He shared an insight that will be the moral of my story
He said, 
“I whispered to some scientists who couldn’t see 
the one who guided their research was none other than me.  
You see, I know you wonder if I hear prayers when you say them.
Well, I’ve heard all your cries for help long before you pray them.”

My gratitude for my pill has led me to believe, 
as the song suggests, that there’s somebody in heaven who hears 
and answers many of our prayers long before we pray them.  
I also think that everything any of us has been given is meant 
either to help us personally or to be a means of helping someone else. 
Is it possible that many gifts are given to one person 
on a seemingly insignificant day that are really meant to be opened 
and used by someone else at some distant, gift less tomorrow?
Perhaps the songs I write are my way of making deposits into some melodic bank account, 
all waiting for some future withdrawal.  
Hard as it is to imagine sometimes, 
I believe all of us can be the tools in heaven’s hands to answer someone else’s prayers.  
If you sense my optimism you have probably guessed that, 
yes, I took my pill this morning.”

Michael wrote another song entitled: 
Hold on the light will come.” 

I have found the lyrics to this song quite powerful 
probably because the composer of these beautiful verses has found the truthfulness of these words:

“The message of this moment so clear 
and as certain as the rising of the sun
When your world is filled with darkness, doubt and fear,
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come
Everyone who’s ever tried and failed
Stands much taller when the victory’s won
And those who’ve been in darkness for a while
 kneel much longer when the light has come
It’s a message every one of us must learn
 that the answers never come without a fight
And when it seems you’ve struggled far too long
Just hold on, hold on, there will be light
Hold on, hold on the light will come
Hold on, hold on the light will come
If you feel trapped inside a never-ending night
If you’ve forgotten how it feels to feel the light
If you’re half crazy thinking you’re the only one
Who’s afraid the light will never really come
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come
The message of this moment is so clear 
and as certain as the rising of the sun
When your world is filled with darkness, doubt, and or fear

Just hold on, hold on…the light will come.”

I am so grateful for Michael McLean's inspired lyrics and his willingness to share the lessons he has learned through his lyrics.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Love is a Living Thing"

With Valentine's day fast approaching the day of "sweethearts and love."
Romantic dinners, boxed chocolates, flowers and balloon boutiques and all various types of gifts to express our love to our loved ones.

I came across this story in one of Gerald Lund's new books that I had just finished reading and it really opened my eyes on me and how I look at love and my marriage to my best friend.  So without further words, let me share Brother Lund's story with you:

"As the time drew close for my mission, I was seriously dating a girl.  We had been dating long enough that we had talked about marriage.  She was a beautiful and wonderful young woman, and we were very close.  I loved her a great deal.  Once the mission call came, however, a cruel reality began to settle in on my mind.  I realized that there were going to be a lot of wolves prowling around while I was gone and that I would have no way to fend them off.  So I started  thinking seriously about formally asking her to wait for me.  And by formally asking, I meant putting an engagement ring on her finger.  
But another part of me was reluctant to tie her down.  I knew that two years was a long time for an attractive young woman to stay away from the dating and courting scene.  I was quite troubled about what to do.  So one day, I went out to the barn where Dad was working and asked if I could talk to him.  He put aside his work, and we sat down.  I explained to him my dilemma, then put it straight to him:  "Should I give her an engagement ring and ask her to wait for me or not?"
He thought about it for a long moment; then he said this:  "Well, you'll have to make that choice for yourself, but remember this: 
love is a living thing."
I gave him a puzzled look.  "what's that suppose to mean?"
He sat back.  "It means that love is not a piece of granite that you set up on a shelf for two years, then take back down when you return home and find it just the same.  Love is a living thing.  And living things require constant nourishment, or they wither away.  Living things can be hurt and damaged, even to the point where they die.  Living things are either growing or dying.  And that's true of love too."
I think I just stared at him.  That was so unlike my father.  I don't think he ever talked much about love or dating or courtship.  When I pushed him for a more definitive answer, he said it again.  "As you make your decision, just keep that in mind.  Love is a living thing."
I did keep it in mind, actually.  I thought about it a lot over the next few days.  And I finally decided not to ask her for any commitments.  "I hope you're still here when I get back."  I told her, "but I want you to be free to date if you choose."   
She was there when I returned.  And Dad proved to be right.  She was a wonderful woman.  She had grown and matured tremendously in those two years, as had I.  But things had changed between us, and after dating two or three times we agreed that it wasn't going to work and went our separate ways.  It was a painful moment for both of us--but how grateful I was that there wasn't an engagement ring to further complicate things!
That wasn't the end of Dad's influence.  I don't know how many times his words have come back to me over the years.  When my wife and I were having differences that were pulling us apart, I would hear those words again:  "love is a living thing."  I have shared that concept with many others over the years, in counseling sessions, in classes and workshops, and even to a couple of young missionaries wondering if they should give their girlfriends an engagement ring before they left on their missions.
I thank God for my father's gift of wisdom, for I was edified that day, and that made a huge difference in my life."

Just before my poppers walked me down the aisle he took my hand and looked me in the eye and said, "Lorie, this is going to be the hardest job you will ever undertake.  Don't throw in the towel when waves of trouble start crashing around you.  Hang in there, it will be worth the fight."
Over the years we have had many waves come crashing around and upon us and I clung to my poppers words of wisdom.
Times when I thought I just can't do this anymore his words would run through my mind, "Hang in there, it will be worth it the fight."  So I hung in there and have come to the point that yes, it was worth the fight.
There is something so magical and special that happens to a couple when they "hang in there."  
As I have looked back at our years together I can also see the wisdom in Brother Lund's father's words, "Love is a living thing."  I have learned that yes, love is a living thing in need of constant nourishment

and if not nourished it withers up and dies.
As we rush about trying to find that perfect gift for our special someone may we remember not to just nourish our love one day a year on Valentines day but each and every day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?

Over the last few weeks this question has taken a new profound and deeper meaning for me personally.
When my journey began in 1997 I always thought I "knew" I was in the Lord's hands.  I had some remarkable doors open and I have met some remarkable people and have shared some remarkable experiences.  Daily I would share that I could see the Lord's hand working in my life and how He was blessing me at times minute by minute.

This last week all week I have had some very tender experiences that have made their way front and center in my mind and each time they would play out in my mind I would find my eyes filling with tears as I came to realization that even though I had thought I had an idea that I was in the Lord's hands.  I had absolutely no clue how gently those great hands had been cradling me.

I had reconnected with one of my friends and for a season her and I were allowed to travel together and share some pretty amazing things.  But then I felt that familiar whisper and knew that my journey was going to take me elsewhere.
I was visiting with a another friend about that all to familiar whisper and how I was going to miss all my new found friends.
As our visit started winding down my friend with a thoughtful look on his face simply said, "Sister Bishop, no matter where you go I will never worry about you or your family, because you're in good hands."
Then it hit me, "It does not matter where you go, whether I stayed to worship in Jackpot, Hollister or if we decided to move to a remote island.
I would be okay because I was in The Lord's hands."
The forcefulness of that realization totally overwhelmed me emotionally with peace, joy and love.
And I found myself relating to this great great man, "Your right, no matter where I go.  I will be in good hands."
I'm not sure if he had any inclination of the power that his simple statement had on me but I am indebted to him because of that statement I learned a very powerful lesson about me.

Each morning  this week in my minds eye, I could see the Master Potter's great hands molding and smoothing out each little and unnoticeable imperfection in me his imperfect lump of clay.
Each morning I was assured that the Master Potter would settle for nothing less than a masterpiece because He is truly the Master.

May I encourage you as you ponder on this weeks question, "know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?"
May you find that peace, joy and love that only He can give as you reflect on how those great hands of the Master Potter are molding you.