Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Does it matter? Do I?

That old question came back to me today: Why am I here? Is there a reason for this life of mine? It's not a question rooted in anxiety or depression today, but rather is rooted in a perspective of looking back, reflecting on what has been so far.

Borrowed from InnatCascade.com

This life, my life, has not been easy. I suppose, most of us would say that if we were asked. It's not something special or unique to me. Life, it turns out, is tough for most of us in some way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Do You Want?

In my quiet time this morning, I was reading from Mark 10, the story of Blind Bartimaeus. It is a very short story considering what happens. As Jesus enters and then leaves Jericho, a crowd follows Him. This is a pretty common experience for Jesus and His disciples. (Jericho is the same town that Jesus passed through and happened upon Zacchaeus, the story is found in Luke 19).

Besides the fact that both Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus encountered Jesus in a meaningful way as He passed through Jericho, both men were seeking Jesus. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus but found the crowds were too big, and being short in stature, decided to run ahead of the crowd. When he got ahead of the crowds, he climbed into a sycamore-fig tree.

Have you stopped to think about that?

Imagine for just a second that you are at a political rally in your own neighborhood. There's a candidate who seems to offer true hope for your community, your life, your neighbors' lives. But there's a huge crowd. You really want to shake this man's hand, but between being short and the crush of the crowd, it seems hopeless. What do you do? If you're like me, you give up hope of shaking the man's hand and shrink back. Maybe it was silly to think you could reach out to him and shake his hand. Would he even want to shake your hand?

Wait. It doesn't cross your mind to run ahead and climb up into a tree so that you can see the man as he passes by? It would probably cross my mind, but I would quickly dismiss it. How crazy would I seem if, as an adult, I climbed a tree to see this guy as he passed by? Really?

But Zacchaeus didn't seem to care about how his actions might be perceived by the crowd.

Bartimaeus, the blind man, wanted to see Jesus. Who wouldn't? Jesus had healed many who were sick. He'd healed lepers, the paralytic, and the blind. He and His disciples had cast out demons. Certainly, Bartimaeus recognized his best chance for healing, for regaining his sight came at the touch of Jesus. Like Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus put himself into the mix as Jesus was passing by.

But Bartimaeus had a distinct disadvantage without his eyesight. He needed Jesus to see him, to come to him. Bartimaeus was likely stepped on, kicked by the crowds. His seat at the side of the road and his inability to see where Jesus was right now, let alone the path He would be taking meant that he was not able to run ahead and climb a tree.

But these facts of life were not going to dissuade Bartimaeus. He wanted to SEE Jesus, so Bartimaeus began calling out. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Really? This guy thinks among the crowd that Jesus is going to hear his voice, pause, and actually look for him as he sits beside the road? Ridiculous. People in the crowd yelled at him. Like the homeless beggar in the park panhandling for spare change and facing public ostracism, Bartimaeus is being verbally ostracized by the crowd.

But this doesn't stop Bartimaeus, and quite possibly, it encourages Jesus. Bartimaeus begins to shout out louder. Like Zacchaeus, his concern for what others think about him is not going to stop him from meeting Jesus.

In both stories, Jesus SEES these men. Jesus sees the unpopular Jewish tax collector, and He sees the blind man who begs. And Jesus asks them, He asks us today,

What do you want me to do for you?

Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted Jesus to do. "Make me see!" And with Jesus' blessing, Bartimaeus is healed and follows Jesus.

But what do YOU want Jesus to do for you today? Are you willing to run ahead of the crowd and climb a tree, no matter how ridiculous you look? Are you willing to yell out even amidst the rebuke of society, friends, and family members? Jesus is still asking each of us, "What do you want me to do for you?"

Well, what do YOU want?

Ask Him.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why can't I wish you well?

Borrowed from thewatershed.com
As a child growing up in the emotional and environmental chaos that is a hoarded home, I believed that somehow my desire to change or help my mother find her own change was enough. Psychologists call it magical thinking, and it occurs for all children to differing degrees. Magical thinking is the belief that a child has that somehow their actions initiate or stop other actions that are independent of their actual abilities. 

But many children grow up to become broken, hurt adults (as I am and continue to overcome) that have not been able to identify how their magical thinking is simply that...

M  A  G  I  C  A  L.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Movie Review--CLUTTER

Paul Marcarelli, the writer of Clutter, shared with the audience after the world premiere showing in Seattle that he originally had planned to write a film about a home stager breaking into her career. Instead, Marcarelli birthed the first film to focus fully on hoarding disorder (HD) and the effects of living and growing up in a hoarded home. The Bradford family is really no different than most other American families, searching for the next “thing” to make them feel good enough, safe enough, something enough. Carol Kane (Taxi, Beetlejuice) takes on the role of Linda Bradford, a mother whose collection-ing is intensified by a traumatic life event, leaving her to raise three children in a home that has everything except enough room to breathe.

“You’ll have to take me out of here kicking and screaming!” 

Linda warns her adult children after the home is condemned due to the overaccumulation of stuff and the visitors such living has attracted. Faced with becoming homeless, Charlie (Joshua Leonard), Lisa (Natasha Lyonne), and Penny (Halley Feiffer) work to remedy the home situation while keeping Linda away and distracted as they attempt the futile attempt of clearing the hoard. The effects of hoarding disorder on Linda and her children is poignantly carried through the dysfunction in every area of their lives, not simply their interactions with each other and in the home. The film offers a fresh glimpse into what happens when a family home boasts no safe place for family members to retreat from the harsh realities of life.

Kane captured the eccentricities of the hoarding-disordered mother brilliantly, which is no shock to me given her knack for selling off-the-wall characters as commonplace and normal. Personally, I could not have asked for a different actress to play this role as we have been told my mother, also a hoarder, reminds many people of Kane. Additionally, Leonard walks the fine line of dysfunction, angry brother, and enabling son with the finesse of a child who has lived this lifestyle. Lyonne and Feiffer deliver solid performances of the black sheep and the invisible child, respectively.

Perhaps what this film does best is to present a less extreme view of a family affected by hoarding disorder than what has been brought to the masses previously. Rest assured the home is sufficiently cluttered to merit the destruction of healthy relationships witnessed in this family, but also know that gross filth, extreme personality-disordered parenting, and unlikable characters are absent. The movie is funny at points without losing the realism of the family dynamic to overt comedy. Other moments captured the dirty aspects of life perfectly, revealing broken interactions that brought this adult daughter of a hoarder to tears. Although the film’s purpose is not to educate, Marcarelli and Diane Crespo (director) have created a film that offers a truly realistic look into the home situation in hoarding disorder.