Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Doubting Dana

Thomas, doubting Thomas..........................................
\..........................................Dana, doubting Dana.

Grape Koolaid and animal crackers at vacation bible school in the 70's, an angel costume fashioned
from a white sheet, tinsel and cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil for wings, kneeling for communion of hard little crisps and a shot of grape juice, my Dads green bible and the Certs in his pocket.  Church was as much a part of my life as breathing, not to be questioned it was a place we went every Sunday.  Those of you who are regular readers know what an example of faith my Mom lived with her prayer life, ladies bible studies in our home, and teaching the high school Sunday school class through the 70's in Weatherford!  I learned all the stories from the bible from Mrs. Smith and they were reinforced with my record player which played the stories as I followed along in a little book.  My Mom had a cassette player and tapes with camp like praise music that were often playing while Dad was at work.

For several years during Holy Week, our preacher would do a service where he would set up a table with 13 goblets for communion-one for each disciple and one for Jesus.  He would tell about each disciples calling to follow, ministry and death.  He would then invite us to take communion from the cup we most identified with; most years I placed myself with Thomas.  If I have such a firm foundation in faith, then why do place myself with Thomas?  Now don't get me wrong I pray, I believe and I long to have no doubts.  But this has even crept into my sleep...last week I woke during the night, fumbled for a pencil and paper feeling like I had to write some words down so I could blog about them later.  It looked like this, can you make out my notes?

There's a fresh clean notebook on my headboard now because deciphering this was not easy but somehow my heart knew.  It's been a frequent doubt, concern, frustration....that nagging feeling that festers and continues to create a discord for me spiritually.  My gibberish notes reflected a conversation from a couple of weeks ago in the car with my parents, we were talking about a lifelong family friend who recently passed from brain cancer.  My Mom said, "we can't understand why God called her home..."  Janet was there with my parents in their bedroom when I was born, she babysat us and even though we weren't really related her family always has been "family" to us.  She was diagnosed with brain cancer a few years ago, we've all been praying-for healing, for a miracle, for her life to be spared.

I read and watched the Shack, I get free will.  I understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people but still I can't help but wonder do I not believe enough, do I lack something?  This is my struggle with my faith-am I the only one? God, the almighty, omnipotent, created the world, sent his son to live as I not pray enough, earnestly enough, is my faith lacking?  God can heal.  I believe this will all my being.  I don't believe in "miracles," I believe in God's ability to be divine.  If eternal life with God is the ultimate then why do we pray for healing?  Is it just a selfish desire to have our loved one here with us longer?  Why are some healed while others fight, suffer and die?  Am I not a good enough christian because I have these doubts and questions????

I sent my draft to my minister...he responded and I feel so much better now!!! He reminded me that even though it often seems that faith comes easier for others that what we see is their "public presentation.   Even those who are confident and certain have doubts and questions but they may feel they can't be honest about what they're feeling or thinking.  From now on I'm going to heed his advice and see my identifying with Thomas as an asset!  Thanks Heath.

"...doubts and questions can be difficult to handle at times, they are not "bad." Without doubts and questions, we would never grow or deepen our understanding. Doubts can actually serve an important role in making us more useful to God and others. They can keep us humble and open to others who have deep doubts about religion. If you had all the answers, you would likely be an annoying person who pushed people away from God! 

So, I would encourage you to welcome your doubts and give them a seat on the bus. You don't have to let them drive the bus, but just let them go along for the ride. If you are constantly trying to kick them off, you will likely never get to where you are headed.  I just hope you'll consider seeing your doubts as an asset, not a liability."  ~Heath

Monday, August 6, 2018


I can't remember when I saw my first words written in Hebrew, perhaps it was around 1982 when my confirmation class from Wesley Methodist visited a Jewish synagogue in Oklahoma City.  I remember how beautiful it was and how much I wanted to learn more about their faith.  Anna even had a kids sing a long cassette tape with a song to learn the Hebrew alphabet!  Shalom became the word that really resonated to me, I've used it to sign letters for years and used it as a personal prayer...shalom...breathe in contentment, breathe out completeness; breathe in wholeness, breath out well being; harmony, complete peace.

There's a scripture, Matthew 11:29 & 30 where Jesus offers us his yoke which is "easy" and his "burden light."  For a while now, my yoke has seemed anything but light.  Daughter going to college, Jim Bob getting sick and dying, learning to live with the changes in my parents health. I wear a necklace daily that is a cross, I find myself using it as a touchstone as I utter "shalom" over and over.  I began to think about the word I was praying and what it must have looked like when Jesus saw the Hebrew, it was beautiful.  I started thinking about what those letters would look like as a tattoo.  Just the  simple Hebrew letters שלום

I thought and thought about it, deep inside before ever uttering a word.  I finally started talking about my crazy thought to Handsome and the girls.  When I got in the habit of checking out Pinterest for shalom tattoos, my incredible husband said, "if you're really going to do this it needs to be art, not just Hebrew letters."  At first I was irked because I really wanted just the letters and then one morning a site I'd never seen appeared in my Google search.  Hebrew Tattoos.  I knew I found the place to design my tattoo.  I immediately sent the link to Anna.  She encouraged me to email them.  I did.

The rest you might say is history.  From my first message introducing myself to them, David (who is working on his PHD in Jewish history and linguistics) seemed to understand exactly what I wanted.
"...indeed the word "Shalom" shares its grammatical root with the word "Shalem" ("whole" or "complete") and with the verb "Sheelem" ("pay").
Would you consider a piece where the word "Shalom" creates the shape of an anchor? Or maybe both "Shalom" and "Tikvah" (=hope)?"
The artist he suggest was Gabriel, I have to admit I was hoping for Neomi (my Mom has always loved the book of Ruth) but since I really felt like someone bigger than me was handling this journey I simply responded with the anticipation of an eager child and continued my prayer of shalom, feeling that deep peace surrounding this art.  After what seemed an eternity, but was actually the next day, Gabriel messaged asking some questions one of them being if I was certain that I didn't want a "green lazy-boy recliner!!!"

We emailed back and forth for a few weeks until Gabriel felt he had a firm grasp of my desire and vision for a tattoo.  I got on his drawing schedule and received my artwork as promised on July 3rd.  Talk about excited, it is perfect!!  During my wait, I looked at the portfolios of several tattoo artists.  Anna strongly recommended Connor Humphrey, owner of Super Nova Tattoo in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Connor generously worked with me on scheduling a time that all three girls could be there and my Handsome husband.

Today was the day I had been waiting for since I first sent that email on April 15th.  Four months of praying, anticipating, wondering if it was the right decision...YES!  I walked in this afternoon and the first thing I saw was a beautiful American Bison mount, a sign sure as anything as it's my favorite animal.  Connor's shop was filled with curious items, things I remembered from my childhood and even an "asswatch" taxidermy!  We had a fun filled afternoon and I know this beautiful anchor will be my touchstone for the rest of my crazy blessed life!

Anchor-the christian symbol for hope
Handsome-my hope, my love, my rock, my true anchor

It hardly hurt at all!

So relaxed I think I could've fallen asleep!

After with the beautiful bison!
PS I got to share my day with Anna,  she got a little sentimental ink with me!