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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

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grief

My Father’s Daughter

I miss being my father’s daughter.  Dad has been gone two years and days over six months.  Most times I love to talk about him.  Some memories still bring tears.  Sweet tears.

I miss calling him.  Though anyone who knows me just laughed.  I’d rather chew off an arm than talk on the phone.  Nonetheless I miss his voice; his corny jokes even his pointed questions.  I miss making him proud.  I didn’t do that enough.

All that to point out how amazing it is to be a daughter.  Even when you could be closer, it’s a privilege.  One we take for granted until we no longer are our fathers daughter.  One we search for when that relationship is failed.  One we long for as a child from a broken home.  Daddy’s girl is no joke.  It’s a thing we girls covet.  It’s a thing many treasure and some miss.

Its so important that we make fun of it, as if that could possibly make it less important.  It does not.  We know.

As I think about missing my own father, I look at my daughter and my husband and my oldest son and his daughters, and I know how amazing being loved like that is.      My husband and son have done a better job.  Perhaps they have better daughters.

But I am still a daughter.  Though my own dad is gone and perhaps let me down in life as perhaps I did him.  I have the ultimate father, Abba Father.

I don’t call Him enough either.  I take Him for granted too.  But he doesn’t disappoint me and He isn’t disappointed in me. Satan may try to tell me different.  Satan may have loved that I got separated from my own dad from time to time in my life.  Separated emotionally as well as by miles.  Satan can only lie and hope I’ll fall for his lies when it comes to my Abba Father.

Christ understood the importance of that relationship.  He uses that name when the woman touches his cloak.  You may not know this story.  It’s in Mark Chapter 5.  They had just crossed the water after sending demons into a herd of pigs.  This was so amazing and scary that the people sent Him away.  They could not handle this person who is Christ.  There were crowds around when a ruler Jairus comes running in and begs Christ to come.  Begs for his daughter who was near death. She’s just 12 years old.  Still a child but in those days, almost not.  She’s still his baby girl.  He ran to beg for Jesus to come and heal her.  He’s a man of faith.  A leader in the synagogue.

And Jesus gets up to go.  The crowd pushing in on all sides just to get a glimpse.  So much so that when the woman reaches out and touches his cloak, the disciples completely dismiss Jesus when he asks who touched me.  Completely dismiss the notion that they could even determine who did.

But Christ knows power has gone out of him, healing.  The woman has been ill for 12 years, every year Jairus’ daughter has been alive.  She’s got a bleeding disease.  Technically that makes her unclean in Jewish culture and anyone who she touches or touches her is defiled by her touch.  Except Christ.  She is healed and made clean by His touch.  It goes the other direction there.  Instead of Him being made unclean she is made whole!  She knows it instantly too.  You can’t be sick, probably horribly anemic for 12 years, and when you are healed entirely, not know.  She knows and drops to His feet, afraid.  She’s been called out, Jesus knows.  No getting out of this now.  She had previously spent all of her money on doctors to no avail.  She’s desperate enough, yet has a tiny amount of faith.  She thought if I could just touch His cloak… but now she’s exposed.  And just like the defilement could not touch Him, and only good flowed out, He does not judge or cause her any shame.  Instead He calls her “Daughter”. The most precious word in the world.  She’s no longer an outsider and an outcast but wholly accepted by Him.

Abba Father means the same to His other daughters.  He’s not ashamed of us.  Though we may deserve that.  He does not label us outcasts, outsiders or unworthy.  He should.  He calls us not only child, but daughter.  Such a precious gift to be His daughter.  We are made whole, He is not made low by us.

Jairus’ daughter passes away it takes so long to get there.  Christ is rebuked by the family for saying otherwise.  He kicks everyone but her parents out.  Her dad is there but Christ knows she’s His daughter too. He heals her as well.  She was that ripe kind of dead too.  Jesus makes her whole.  No one questioned she was dead until Jesus says she’s just sleeping.  Why do they never believe Him?

Not only does He heal her returning her to her family, and to her dad.   Maybe to prove she isn’t a ghost or something, He tells them to feed her!  He cares for her health in multiple ways.  There before her dad.  Christ got how important it is to be the daughter.  How loved and special that title is.

Our Abba Father understands our need for that kind of care and love.  That kind of status of being adored.  He adores us.  Just as we are.  He heals us, makes us clean without shame.  Instead He adores us.  We must NOT listen to Satan.  Good flows out of Christ, evil does not touch Him.  Though we should never take this love for granted either.  Unlike my dad,  Christ will never leave us or forsake us. He will never let me down.  The perfect family umbrella.

Christ calls me daughter.  How sweet the sound of that word.  How amazing to be whole and clean.  Nothing I could do will drive Him away nor make Him love me anymore!  I am cherished.  Daddy’s girl.  No love can surpass this one.

Still I really should call to Him more…

 

Miss you Dad!

By Vicki L Pugliese

I guess it’s time?

She was just four and a half pounds.  There was nothing left of her except her big beautiful personality.  Half her full weight. She had been in continent for a couple of years now.  She couldn’t see and could barely hear.  She struggled to breathe at times and slept a lot.  But she got up and nudged me at exactly the time I was supposed to leave for her final appointment.  Tears streaming down my face, I asked her, instead of telling her.  “I guess it’s time?”

She just wanted to be held.  I was putting things away, dilly dallying.

I’d spent the day trying to make sure everything would be perfect when I brought her home.  Her headstone and burial box all ready.  I should have spent it holding her but I couldn’t.  The vet commented that her box was set up like a princess.  She’d been our only female dog and indeed was a tiny princess.

She didn’t mind wearing a sweater as long as it was fluffy and pretty.  She walked with a girly swagger.  We’d even had her nails painted once and she loved it.

What she got annoyed with were the boys, our other dogs.  A couple of them just barely smarter than rocks but bubbly, they just didn’t get that she was the princess.  And that can be so annoying!  Especially in the end, when she would snap at them like, “I’m sleeping here!”  But I got it.

I made her a silk pillow and blanket.  I decorated the box and headstone.  She’d be laid to rest like the princess she was.  We had picked a nice spot under a tree.  Seemed like a great idea until we started hitting roots.  We would have hit rocks elsewhere on our property, so it didn’t probably matter.

She got up from where she was napping and came over to be held.  I had planned on using a dog carrier in the car.  She doesn’t ride in the car well.  She was no trouble today.  She just laid across my arm.  Struggling to breathe occasionally.

I sat in the car until our appointment time, unable to go in a minute early.

In a quiet darkened room, she fell asleep against my heart.  Her breath slowed.  The vet reappeared.  “I guess it’s time.”  I said barely audible, tears covered my face.  “She looks peaceful.” The tech said.  A few minutes later I gently laid her on her pillow in her box and brought her home.  Where she belongs.  Though this friend I’ve known for fourteen plus years will always be a sweet memory in my heart.  A heart so filled with sorrow right now.  A heart she laid her head against in her final moments.  A heart that loved this tiny little princess to her final breath and beyond.

Rest in Peace my sweet Roxy.  Rest in Peace.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

The “Hat Lady” – my friend

We knew her first as the “hat lady”. She was a breath of high society at our little Presbyterian church.  She wore a different and fabulous hat with amazing coordinating earrings every weekend to earn herself such a title from my family!  She came every week with her granddaughter Stephanie, who was beautiful, well behaved and a quiet child.

Margaret later joined the choir and we became fast friends even though there’s an age gap. It was quite a sacrifice for her to give up her hats but she loved to sing.  I enjoyed immensely her marvelous snarky sense of humor.  Margaret always had a smile on her face.  It was clear as well that she adored her granddaughter Stephanie.  Where ever one went the other went as well.  Although Stephanie never joined the choir, that was her grandmother’s thing.  Nonetheless they did attend services together through-out the years.

Margaret volunteered in many ways over the years. She was even our children’s choir director until an accident nearly “did her in”.  She tripped over a stray child, who wasn’t where they were supposed to be.  I don’t believe she was ever truly sturdy again, although she never complained.  Only she could make a cane a true fashion accessory!

In this last year or so Margaret has not been able to attend our church and yet we have become closer than ever via Facebook. As was her nature, she quickly volunteered to assist me in editing my blog.  My family had had about enough of forced reading of things I had written.  They were tired of missing commas, run on sentences, and inappropriate lead in words.  Margaret was ever diligent at reading and editing my work.  She always had a cheerful demeanor and was gentle in her corrections.  Once I even sent an email late at night, assuming she would find it in the morning.  She was still up. She stayed up to finish editing before calling it quits for the night.  She had been an executive secretary.  Some habits die hard.  She amazed me always.

She would privately message me stories about her beloved husband and some of their adventures. She always spoke kindly of her family and adoringly of her granddaughter.  I stole… **&^%*^^^^  ooops I fell off my brag box from her, with her permission of course.  She took great pleasure in me using her ideas and phrases.  She was an excellent editor.

Mostly Margaret was a dear and sweet friend that I will treasure forever. I know my blogs will be plagued with missing commas, run on sentences and other grammar and punctuation issues.  More importantly I know she is with our Savior right now demanding better hats with more unique accessories!  She was one of a kind.  She was inspiring.  She was my friend.  Rest in Peace Margaret Ascue.  You were loved.  Save me a spot at the good table!

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

You Take You With You

She cast her eyes down and attempted to dissolve into the woodwork, removing herself from the line that had been moving her steadily toward the ticketing window. Only the man behind her, even briefly looked up as she wandered away counting her cash. She had been so sure this was the answer to the downward spiral her life had recently taken. She just wanted to run away, start over. She could picture so vividly her beloved grandfather’s porch and the rocking chairs facing the quiet small town road. Hardwood chairs with small tables beside them for your tea, with barely any room to pass. No frills, just peace and quiet and no judgment. A twinge hit her heart as she realized that her grandfather would no longer occupy the other chair. His passing was actually one of the catalysts to the events in her spiral. It hit her hard. She hadn’t been prepared.

Now her strong desire to run to that quiet place and start over gave her pause. Not that her grandmother would turn her away, but she could hear her grandfather’s voice. “You know, no matter how far you run, you take you with you.”

He had been such a wise man. He knew her so well. He gave her time to think, but nudged her in the right direction when it was time to go. Could she really start over? She had had just a little more than enough. She would indeed still take herself with her. She’d made such a mess of things since his passing. All of her relationships were strained. Now she had lost another dead end job. She just needed a break. Life didn’t like to give us that did it.

She could just sit and watch the neighbors go by with a cup of tea, but it wouldn’t be the same. The fog she had been in, that numbness might be worse near his things. Maybe that was being extravagant with her money. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. Somehow she had wandered upon a bench and she sat down, facing the busy street. The buses pulled out in front of her as she struggled with what to do.

A homeless man that was sitting facing her smiled. She thought how she should just get up and hike to her parents’ home. It would be a long trek and not a pleasant welcome. Sure they would lecture, but they would get her on her feet. She realized the little more than bus fare in her hands and some grace was all the difference between her and the man in rags before her.

Silently she cried out in her heart, “God help me! Please just tell me what to do!”

Almost immediately the homeless man spoke to her through a toothless smile, “God goes with you too.” He said. “Wherever you run. God’s still there.”

Tears streamed now as she looked at him with soft eyes and a quivering lip. She peeled the extra ten off of the exact bus fare to her grandmother’s handing it to him as she left to get back in line.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

 

Story and characters are fiction any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Don’t Judge My Snapshots

“You’re so pulled together! I need to be more like that.”  This young girl said to me at a Weight Watchers meeting after I had just destroyed my week.  I had completely gone rogue to the point of having cookies for dinner.  In that exact moment, I was executing a plan for my upcoming anniversary.  It’s a great plan actually.  It’s thoughtful and seems wise to this young unmarried girl.  She longs for married life even though she is in a long term relationship that is probably headed in that direction.  The uncertainty is ruining it for her, as is her biological clock.

In that exact moment, I seemed like someone to follow.  She planned on stealing my idea.  I encouraged her to do so.  The irony of the previous week was just too much for me.  I told her how my week started off badly, and then plummeted into terrible.  She didn’t care.  She was looking at the snapshot of the moment, the cover and she was impressed.

I had been at a work conference where I had no control over what food I was being served.  I could bring some snacks with me, and did after the first day. I found myself irritable for reasons I could not explain.  I was more irritable than my normal lovable self.  Then the second day, in the first session, I walked into a room I recognized, sadly.  I found myself in the room where two years previously I had received the call that it was “time to come home”.  My father was ill and was going to pass away.  Just a couple of weeks later, in a hospital room, while other family members and I were at his side, he left this world to be with our Savior.

While I know he is no longer in pain and, for the most part, I grieved conventionally.  I still miss him terribly from time to time.  This moment at the conference, as the memories flooded back, I realized why I did not want to be in this building at all and certainly not in this room.  My emotions overwhelmed me.  I handled my emotions fairly well that day, during the day.  I went directly to a Weight Watchers to pick up snacks for the next day on my way home. Then I went to a Starbucks and my week took a wrong turn.  I brought several Weight Watcher choices for snacks for the next day to keep away from all of the bad choices that the conference provided.  Instead of picking from the choices I brought, I ate them all.  The third day I brought less snacks, learning my lesson.  I had an event that evening and had very little time for dinner.  I had cookies for dinner.  Nothing else in the grocery store looked good.  I had given up by now.  I was experiencing a melting down. We went out to dinner on Thursday, I ate somewhat lightly, but had dessert.  By weigh in, if I had not already paid for three months, I might have high tailed it and not showed up to face the music at all.  The wonderful check in lady hugged me.  I had only gained half a pound.  I COULD actually come back from that.  I can pick myself up, dust myself off and shake off that week.

Here comes this sweet young girl watching me in this moment.  She didn’t see the video of my complete mess of a week.  She readily forgives me for my half a pound.  “You’ll do better this week.”  She’s really super sweet.  I love this kid.

I’m thinking to myself, how many times have I seen a friend or coworker or even a stranger in a moment and longed to be them?  How many times have I watched a couple that seem to have it all together and wished our relationship could be like that?  How many woman have I gotten just a glimpse of them all put together in the best moments and wished I was more like them?  How many Facebook posts have I seen and thought… I need to do that or be like that or start doing that?  I fall for all of those things immortalizing a moment.  I fall for all of those things showing the cover of a story but not the whole story.  I’m just falling for the marketing.  I know my whole story.  I know all of my ups, and all of my deep dark downs.  I’m very familiar with them.  Actually I quickly forget my successes.

I once read that being proud of yourself was like being proud of an organ functioning.  That resonated with me.  Let me explain.  I was born in this country to a decent family that valued education, a relationship with the Lord, family ties and a hard work ethic.  All of those things added to who I am.  I can’t take credit for them.  I can’t look at myself compared to you, not knowing your journey, and assume that those things didn’t impact that journey.  I would be looking at the cover, not the whole story.  I can’t even look at my siblings and make that assumption because I don’t know all of the things that have happened in their lives.  I wouldn’t be excited that my pancreas is functioning.  It just does.  Yay pancreas!!!  I assume it will function.  I would not be happy if it didn’t, that’s for sure.  I’m sure that would be a problem.  I can’t take credit that it does.  I can’t take credit that I’m hard working, have a value on my education and family ties and love the Lord.  Those are parts of my story that just were.  I can’t be proud of that.  I am not superior to someone who did not get that leg up in life.  I am not more worthy or less worthy.  I am just who I am.

I am enough, just as I am.  I don’t need to make more money or dress better or have better friends.  I might possibly need to be more responsible with my resources but that’s another blog.  I am enough just as I am.  Stop looking at my moments, my snapshots, and think you know anything about me.  I am going to try to do the same when I see your moments.  I’m going to try to remember at least once that someone thought I was all put together and had my act figured out, when the truth is I still don’t have a solid game plan.  I’m not even sure I know what game we’re playing.

I do know if you sit on the sidelines that they aren’t sidelines and life will come along and knock you on your butt.  I have figured some things out.  I am enough, not on my own but because I know the owner, the big guy, the man upstairs.  He took my broken pieces and made a masterpiece.  Yay pancreas!  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you mom and dad for introducing me to Him!  I am enough because I found Him.  No matter what my snapshots look like, my book ends with my name written in His Book.  He knows my name.  Therefore I am a winner. I am enough.  John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believed in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

And We Laughed

It was a trip where life was celebrated.  My father passed away in March 2014 and on what would have been his 85th birthday just a few weeks later a great grandchild was born!  She shares his blue eyes and wavy blonde hair as well his birthday.  My family, my husband and I, all of my grown children and grandchildren do not live in the town that I grew up in, the town my father lived in.  We had planned a big trip over Fathers Day that same year hoping they would get to see him one last time, knowing we might be celebrating his life without him; and so it was.

All of my family, my youngest sister’s family, my oldest sister and her husband and my stepmom, got together on Fathers Day.  And we laughed!  Cousins who had lived so far apart that they had never known each other, told stories, and jokes, shared YouTube videos, and they laughed.

My baby sister Julie and her husband Keith are probably the two people that are the closest to perfect on earth.  They were the perfect hosts the entire night.  I don’t know how they do it!  Their home was filled with smiles and memories and everyone held that precious new life!  We have pictures to prove it!  We sat around tables and on couches and talked.  Kids told us of their plans for their futures.  Parents bragged on the great accomplishments that their progeny had already completed.  And we bragged about the good people these kids had become, perhaps in spite of us.  And we laughed!

We laughed about everyday things, and things we remembered from days gone by.  We laughed about how great it was to see kids get to know each other.  We laughed about her enormous dog and its baby blanket.  The irony that such a big dog could have such a sensitive heart.  Unless of course, you threaten my pocket sized sister, and then that enormous dog finds every pound of its size in courage.  Later we could worry if what connected us was that great man, or the love he taught us to have for each other.  On this night we loved, and we laughed and we remained connected.

My family spent two weeks back home catching up with best friends, and old friends.  We spent time with family.  And everyone, everyone held that precious little baby!  I have the pictures!  We even took family portraits and our poor photographer could not get my family to behave.  We had a wonderful time!  Our trip was filled to the brim with laughter!

The following year or so would have its grief.  We would feel the loss of this great man.  But this one brief moment, we celebrated, his life, and new life.  And we laughed!

 

by Vicki L Pugliese

Cover media by:  CheriAnn Photography

Just for a Moment

Like a wave washes over an unsuspecting child,

emptiness fills my heart.

Pain and loss rush in like a gust of wind,

taking over my moment without warning.

For just a second, I lose my breath,

I am overwhelmed and surprised by it all.

My life has mostly returned to normal,

moments like these come less often.

People around me no longer suspect,

that these moments even occur.

A single tear spills out over my cheek.

For just a moment I let myself feel.

For just a moment I let myself miss you.

For just a moment I let myself grieve.

For just a moment I am lost.

And then life moves on again

without warning, like the breeze moving on.

I go back to the list of normal things I must do,

do the laundry, get the groceries, go to the bank.

The kids still need baths and naps and watching,

the house still needs my attention.

But you are not here in this normalness,

I miss that you are not here for this.

But life moves me back out of this moment,

the children make me smile and laugh again.

The tear and moment forgotten as quickly as they appeared.

But just for a moment I was a little lost without you.

[In remembrance of the fathers who have gone before us]

Vicki L. Pugliese

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