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Yo God, it's me. Patty

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Yo God, it's me. Patty. Can you tell me what the heck just happened? Eight years ago you gave me the push I needed to give notice to my apartment, give notice to my job, pack up my little 2 bedroom apartment, travel 854 miles south, and start my life over - without a man in it. Over that five years you did a deep cleansing work in me. You lead me through one of my darkest nights of the soul that at times I didn't believe I would even survive. Then out of that deep despair and hopelessness, you caused life around me to begin to blossom with healing, laughter, joy and sunshine!

There was a moment in time when I found myself standing in worship at Celebrate Recovery and you impressed on my heart, to the point of burning tears cascading down my face, that my life was about to take a sudden turn. The things that you

spoke to my spirit that night were that I was about to be separated from those things that I held most dearly in my heart. And. I. knew. I have always known your voice when I hear it, and I heard it with absolute clarity that night. It wasn't a booming male voice coming from above me or a burning bush speaking audible words. It was just the slightest, most tender truth that broke through. You were urging me to begin to let loose of those things that I felt I couldn't part with. Things like my grand daughters. My daughter and her husband. Sunshine and sand. My recovery sisters. My church. My job. I have to be honest, my first human instinct was to cling harder and just flat refuse. Seriously, why would you place all of these amazing things in my life only to strip them away? But as I silenced my fear, I just knew. Your work with me here was done. It was time to pull up the tent stakes of my life again, to be transplanted where you had a greater work to do in me. That night was not about losing anything or about the stripping away of those things I treasured most. That night was simply about surrender. Those hot tears streaming down my face- that was me... choosing to surrender.

That night you spoke to my spirit was not the first time you have given me glimpses of what you had coming. Throughout my entire life you have always been faithful to give me glimpses. You have been so faithful that you have even confirmed your truth to me over and over again. Sometimes it has been through something someone speaks directly to me. Sometimes it is through a song on the radio. Sometimes it is something shared during a sermon. Or words typed in a novel. Heck, it has even been through a character's realization of truth in a Hallmark movie. The point is, you don't just tell me something and then let it cool on the back burner. You continue to keep the pot on the front burner, you stir a little when needed, you even turn up the heat when I am filling my days with excuses, logic and over-analyzing of why what you have told me or shown me should not happen. For months, many months, leading up to that night you had been giving me little glimpses. In my measly human mind and limited understanding I truly believed that you were taking me to Minnesota. As a matter of fact, my kids and I made a trip to Minnesota. We even made time to explore the places that I felt you had laid on my heart, possibilities for where I might start my new life. I mean, it made perfect sense to me. My mom's family was born and raised Minnesota and I felt like you were working this whole full-circle effect in my life. So I became resigned that Minnesota was my destiny. And I even allowed myself to get excited about it! Turns out... I was wrong. In March of 2017 you prompted me to take a personal leave of absence from my job, the first professional leave I have ever taken. I was crumbling apart, having panic attacks, and could not figure out for the life of me why I couldn't put the pieces back together. That personal leave was necessary for me to keep my sanity but turned out to not promise much for my job security. I returned to work some six weeks or so later, was trying desperately to get my bearings by trying to catch up on missed management meetings and trainings, staff changes and updates, some 2500+ emails, when I got the call. I had just gotten to work, it was early and I was in a super happy ready-to-conquer-the-world mood, when my sister called to tell me that our older brother had been killed in an automobile accident. When her words finally sank in, I remember hearing myself begin to wail. I felt my legs give out beneath me. And I felt a piece of my sanity crack. I did not even know how to process the news I had just received. How could I? All I knew was that I would not be staying at work that day, that I would be making a trip to Oregon, and that nothing was ever going to be the same again.

A lot of the days and weeks following that call were spent in shock, in tears, in over obsession, in complete disbelief. I could not seem to get my feet under me mentally, professionally, emotionally, not even spiritually. I was so mad at you. Not only had I lost my older brother, my mom's health was declining rapidly, my daughter and her husband announced jobs came through for them in Minnesota, and my job in California was now hanging on by a thread. I had momentary flashes of time when I was trying to sort out the big decisions. Should I stay even though I knew I had no apartment, no house, no room to rent- and possibly would have to find a new job? Should I still go to Minnesota even though my plans to go there had literally dissolved to nothing? Should I pack my sh*t and go back to Oregon- the one place I felt I had finally escaped from? Turns out, Oregon is was what was behind curtain #3. So I piled our belongings in a Budget truck, put my car on a tow dolly, started that moving truck and drove away- tears making it difficult to see clearly as I turned to wave to my sweet grand babies, my daughter and son-in-law, and to the life I had built in sunny southern California. I spent the next 25 hours driving non- stop to Oregon with my heart in my lap. It was a very painful departure.

If you asked me today why Oregon was the magic curtain, I would really have no answer for you. The few months proceeding my brother's death I found that I longed for four seasons, piles of fresh snow, cold creek beds, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, starry nights you could get lost in, having family close by, my old friends and the memories we had made together. I had envisioned that returning to Oregon would feel like I had stepped back in time to a place where I felt fullness of life. Where I could drive old pick up trucks with the windows down, crank up classic country music tunes so loud it would carry me back to my favorite memories. Where I could drive on back country roads, pull off on the gravel shoulder, get out and sink my feet into icy cold creek water. Where I could fish in the sunshine, camp in the mountain air, reconnect with old friends I had lost touch with over the years. And, of course, there would be this wonderful family gathering where we would all get together for celebrations, have coffee and movie dates, play in the park with the nieces and nephews, plan these big outings at the lake and set up family camp in the mountains. I have come to accept that my longing for those things was some from past memory- some from false hope. I wanted that picture to be true so badly that I traveled 854 miles back to Oregon just to feel it. To be honest, I would say that pieces of that have happened since my return to Oregon. But for the most part, a lot of that was just wishful thinking. Life doesn't always look like what we piece together in our own minds and hearts. Yes, I have reconnected with some old friends, but even that has been minimal. Yes, I have spent time with family, but that too has proved to be minimal. The lake trips, the camping, the fishing, the old pick up truck drives on back country roads with the music blaring- happened once, maybe twice. Getting together for celebrations has turned out to be more work than pleasure. We all feel the hole my brother left when he died, and I have come to accept that it will always be there. After we lost him, something in me believed our family would bond tighter, closer, stronger than we had ever been before the accident. All Scott ever shared with me about family over cold beers, loud tunes and tears was his longing for us all to be close, to take care of each other, to help each other to feel loved and important. Something he felt we never got as kids. Turns out, even with losing him, not much has changed.

After you lose someone you love, you spend an infinite amount of time obsessing about going back. Back to fix the broken parts. Back to re-live the best parts. Back to say those last words, if only you had known. Grief can unravel you heart, mind and soul. Before I lost my big brother, you had given me glimpses and had impressed upon my heart that I was going to lose someone. I knew in the depths of my soul it to be true- I just didn't know who or when. Never in my mind or heart had I allowed myself to accept that it could be losing one of my siblings. The sibling who taught me to ride a bike- his green banana seat bike. The brother who walked beside me popping hot tar bubbles with our bare feet in the Scio sun so we could escape the chaos at home. The brother who taught me to toughen up when life sucked as kids- which was often. The brother who taught me how to drive a stick shift.- his blue VW bug. The older brother who tried to teach me how to ride a mini bike, but instead ended up teaching me a lot of new curse words. The brother who protected me without me asking from the boy who would flash a Bowie knife from the glove box to threaten me to stay with him. The brother who sat with me while I cried after my first miscarriage. The brother who came to console me when my heart was broken- yet again. The brother who showed me how to stop the world with the right song. The brother who made 3 hour trips over the mountain just to spend time with me. The brother who broke down and sobbed over the times he let me down and left me- when he should have stayed to fight for me. The older brother who cried tears with his head in my lap when he thought he was losing his mind- and his life.

Coming back to Oregon happened in steps. The day after my brother was killed. The day for his celebration of life. The day I would come to stay with my mom to try to comfort her. Then the day- after day- after day that I spent up at my brother's house cleaning it out, watering the yard, weeding the flower beds, visiting with the contractors, and saying goodbye to this house that I had made memories in- with him. This garage [pictured], his Buick 'the Gator', trying- and I emphasize the word 'trying' to teach him to fold fitted sheets, the smell of his tool bench, the freezer that housed his BBQ goods, all of the boxes and totes of treasures his girls created over the years, his dusty Minnesota Vikings baseball caps. Even writing this, all of the emotion of those days surges right to the surface, and he has been gone now for over 3 years. I do not think the loss will ever get easier with time.

Being back in Oregon has certainly has had good days, bad days, in the middle days, horrific days and great days. I spent the first 3 months in Oregon staying with my mom helping her to get through the shock waves of losing her first born son. Then I moved to Bend to start a new job and move into my new home. At first I was just thankful for the distraction of a broken down trailer and learning a new job. I had grandiose plans for what my life was going to be like. As I am writing this,

I have been back now for over 2 years, 11 months and I would not use the word grandiose today. I think that was more of an illusion just to keep me taking one step in front of the other. I would say being back in Oregon has mostly been a recovery tool you have been using in my life. Although there are days, many days in fact, that I long to be back to my life in Southern California, I know that you were done with me there- at least for that season. I am learning to accept that it is not so much about where I am than it is about what you need to grow in me. Do I plan to stay in Oregon now that I am back? I have no friggin' idea. None. Zippo! All I know is that I am here now, and I will remain here for as long as it takes for you to do in me what you brought me 854 plus an additional 126 miles to do.

'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace'. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 - 8 King James Version (KJV)

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