Rose Madrid-Swetman

— Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey —


March 31, 2012

Lenten Reflection Beginning Holy Week

Category: All Posts,Lent/Easter,Stories of Life – Rose – 9:35 am

Tomorrow we begin Holy Week. We follow Jesus beginning with his entry into Jerusalem. We read about the crowds in reverence throwing down palm branches, shouting hosannas. Then comes the cleansing of the Temple, the Passover, betrayal, arrest a contrived trial, betrayal, death by crucifixion and burial.

Back in Luke 9:51 it says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

I find it interesting that Luke frames Jesus’ death in Jesus’ ascension. The way to redemption, to new life is through the road of suffering and death. My friend David Ruis penned lyrics in a song that captured my heart years ago: “The way of suffering takes me to the least, down the road of suffering to the wedding feast.”

Turning our face toward suffering is counterintuitive, especially in America. We have every drug available and at our disposal to avoid pain and suffering:

Food – my current drug of choice
Alcohol
Over the counter drugs
Prescription drugs
Exercise
Sex
Children
Spouse
Boyfriend
Girlfriend
Friends
Work

We use processes, people and substances to alleviate our pain and suffering

The list above is by no means complete and most of the items on the list are not bad in and of themselves. It’s when we begin to use anything in excess or in order to avoid pain.

I find I am caught in a terrible bind these days. I use food to stop the immense feeling of powerlessness and pain I feel for the people I love. Watching my heroic stepson battle life-threatening cancer with all his strength. His wife, and the rest of our family praying and believing that God can intervene and commute this sentence. Every one of us along with friends here and around the world who are holding onto to hope beyond hope that a miracle will come any moment.

I wish I were strong and courageous enough to not use something to medicate this pain. But the truth is I’m not. So today, I will practice what my practice has been through this entire Lenten journey, surrender, relinquishment, letting go of my ability to stop pain, suffering and the road that leads eventually to the wedding feast. I will practice relinquishing self-contempt because I eased the pain with chocolate or pasta or whatever drug fills that aching place in my soul. Today I will pray for grace as I take the hand of Jesus and turn my face toward Jerusalem.

March 26, 2012

Lenten Reflection Week 4 & 5

Category: All Posts,Lent/Easter,Stories of Life – Rose – 9:40 am

More thoughts on the wilderness journey. In the past two weeks the wilderness has felt more like an emotional white water rapids trip. The risks involved in white water rafting are caused by both environmental dangers and improper behaviors. Environmental dangers such as fallen trees, dams, rocks, and waterfalls. Improper behaviors such as inexperience and not using a guide, rafting while intoxicated and panic in dangerous situations.

There are so many environmental dangers both in the wilderness and in the white water. Finding safety as I continue this journey means training, trusting experienced guides and not panicking when thrown out of the raft. In fact when out of the raft, swimming to a calm spot behind a rock is protocol.

Last week I had a dream. In my dream I was in a large house with small children. I could see a storm, a whirlwind or tornado coming. I knew that I could not out run it. As it approached I realized the only safe place was to step into the eye of the storm, that there I would find calm and not be hurt. It was counterintuitive, I wanted to run with the children from the danger. I knew without a doubt if I stayed outside of the center the outer edges of the storm would destroy everything in its path, including me and the children. I was so afraid but as it approached I grabbed the kids and stepped into the center of the storm. It was instantly calm as the whirlwind carried us and then set us down. We were safe. Dream ends.

I have no control over the elemental dangers that come. The truth is, in this lenten season I have learned how little control I have over much at all.

In a Jan Richardson’s book, “Sacred Journeys” I read a meditation on anger and tenderness. Here is part of the reflection I sit with as the white water of anger rages in my soul:

“Anger is a woman who has learned
that pleasantness
is not the way to peacefulness,
that silence
is not the way to strength.”

Swimming to the Rock, stepping into the Center of the storm, relinquishing control over and over, that what this Lenten journey is teaching me.

February 28, 2012

Lenten Reflection Week 1

Category: All Posts,Lent/Easter,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 3:38 pm

As I continue to reflect on the Lenten journey today I found myself reflecting on Jesus’ forty days in the desert, the wilderness. The Judean wilderness was largely uninhabitable and full of dangers for anyone traveling through let alone staying for forty days. Dangers from the scorching sun by day and the extreme cold at night. Dangers from the wild animals and scorpions, the lack of food and scarcity of water. Today in my reflection on the journey through the wilderness this is what came up for me:
Dangerous animals – right now the most dangerous animal threatening to devour is “cancer.”
Scorpions – the poisonous sting from people’s unkind words, their projections, their unresolved pettiness and lack of relational integrity. One of the most vile scorpion bites – passive agressive behavior
Scorching sun – anxiety surrounding provision for those I care deeply about
Extreme cold – Biting fear, fear of the future, fear of harm to those I love, fear of rivers of sadness as you watch those you love in pain.

The wilderness journey for Israel, Moses, Elijah and Jesus end with renewal, faith, hope and vision. I will hold that posture…justice comes. As my friend David sings, “#LTKC!”

February 11, 2012

Reflection on Naming Demons

Category: All Posts,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 2:00 pm

Our family is once again facing the demonic illness named cancer. This illness has wreaked havoc in the lives of the people I love most on this earth and once again it has come to call. Words from the doctors, “incurable, 6-10 weeks, chemotherapy, maybe 6-8 months” these are surreal words that should not be spoken over a thirty-five year old husband, father, son, brother, uncle. Our hearts are breaking yet finding strength in everyone’s prayers, thoughts, blessings, love and words of comfort and peace. Our grandson, Daniel is three. Whenever he is getting his picture taken he gives you the “peace sign.” I’m told that’s big in Korea (where he is from). Little does he know that’s exactly what is needed for him, for his mom, for his dad and for his extended family both here in the States and back home in Seoul.
This I know. God is not the inventor or author of the insidious disease named cancer. Cancer comes from the pit of hell where one day when its all said and done there will be no more sickness, no more dying and every tear will be wiped away. Until that time we know that when it comes time for our son to pass from this life to the next, death does not have the last word. In the end of all that is now temporal will be made right, cancer does not win.
Daniel you keep giving us the peace sign. As we watch your innocence in flashing us that sign we will breathe in peace and trust that one day, “All matter of things shall be well.”

January 31, 2012

Waiting

Category: All Posts,Prayers,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 12:10 pm

For Christians that follow the liturgical calendar it is the season of Epiphany. However, today I find myself back in a season of waiting…
Waiting to hear decisions
Waiting to make decisions
Waiting, feeling powerless
Waiting, holding onto faith by a thread
Waiting, clinging to hope for dear life
Waiting, wondering what will be…

January 7, 2012

Writing Projects

Category: All Posts,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 2:05 pm

It is time for me to prime the pump of the writing well. I have different writing projects I simply put on hold after completing a four-year doctoral program. I sit in my home office today, reflecting, reading, thinking and trying to get some creativity flowing.
I started my blog years ago and committed to writing in it at least a few times a week to start a creative flow. Now, eighteen months post graduation, I am going to begin writing here on a consistent basis to develop my writing muscle.
Let the random thoughts, stories of life and questions about the journey once again commence!

June 24, 2010

Italy Day 1

Category: Stories of Life – Rose – 2:15 pm

Our flight over was a bit uneventful. Poor Alex (Alassandro) did not sleep at all so having some serious jet lag. When I travel, I always wonder what it’s like behind those huge doors (in Italy and the UK) of the residences. We are staying in an apartment right in Campo Di Fiori, which is cool because we have a key to see what’s behind those magnificent doors. Our apartment is great. Very clean, two bedrooms with air conditioning. The weather if perfect! mid 80’s with a nice breeze so very nice for walking. We had a good sleep, well Nic woke up at 5:00 a.m. We had breakfast and then walked to the Vatican. The Vatican is incredible. So much history and art in one place. We had a guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. So much to take in but I think the highlights have to be the Sistine Chapel, how did Michelangelo paint that ceiling? Amazing! And Michelangelo’s Pieta! So amazingly beautiful, brought me to tears.

We went back to the piazza in Campo Di Fiori and watched as the Italians were eliminated from the World Cup, well we sort of watched. After a bottle of wine and some delicious food we all were falling asleep at the table so went home for a little siesta. We woke up at 9:00 p.m. and forced ourselves to walk, stopped for some more incredibly delicious food and wine. It’s about 11:00 p.m. and we are in the hotel lobby checking email, facebook and uploading pictures.

Tomorrow we are going to shop at the market in the Piazza for fresh eggs, fruit and vegetables for breakfast then we will visit the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Forum and the Palatine. We only have one more day in Rome then we are off to Moneglia by train…Ciao

June 22, 2010

Unbelievable

Category: All Posts,Stories of Life – Rose – 8:59 am

Unbelievable is how I would describe my life these days. I don’t know how long this run is going to last but I am trying to enjoy every minute. I have a friend who wrote a little book called “Simple Spirituality, Maintain your personal peace and lovingly serve others.” One of the practices of SS is “celebrating moments.” The idea is that we have moments in our lives when we really do sense that “all is well” and in our fast-paced, full lives we should stop and savor these moments. I have had more of those moments in the last month than I can count. I don’t remember many times in my life when moment after moment to celebrate just kept coming.

Winning a 12-week pastor’s sabbatical grant…
Finishing my dissertation…
Passing with distinction…
Alex’s baseball team winning their division championship…
Graduation…
Graduation party…
Celebrating with family and friends…
Regional conference….healing and restored friendships…

and today…

LEAVE FOR ITALY FOR ONE MONTH!

I don’t want to wake up from this dream…

August 9, 2009

Vacation Day 1

Category: All Posts,Stories of Life – Rose – 10:20 am

I woke up this morning at 9:15! This is sad but I can’t remember the last time I woke up before 7:00 on a Sunday morning. We are in Southern Cal on vacation.

Rich and I, Alex and Nate, our friend, Jo and her girls are here and Nicole comes on Tuesday. We are staying at the Worldmark resort close to Disneyland. Getting here was a bit of a challenge. There was a 9 year old girl traveling alone sitting in the window seat. Alex was next to her, then Nate on the aisle. I sat in the aisle seat across from them with a teenager next to me and her mom in the window seat.

The 9 year old told us she was flying to California to visit “my mom’s ex-husband, my dad.” She was hyper. She would not leave the boys alone. She kept leaning into them. At one point the boys were playing cards, she took a card and held it up high so Alex couldn’t get it. At first the boys were good sports but an hour into the flight with her constant up and down, in and out and teasing, she was driving them nuts. I had to ask her, nicely several times to leave the boys alone and to stay in her seat.

I was listening to an audio book on my computer and all of a sudden the young woman next to me spilled her Sprite all over me and my keyboard. It took a while to clean it all up….my computer survived, I was covered in soda. We no more got that all settled, I sat down and then I hear Alex, “AH, NO.” I look over and the feisty 9 year old has now spilled her soda all over Alex. I went back to get some towels from the flight attendants and asked them to talk with her and ask her to please settle down.

All of a sudden my two hour flight to begin vacation felt a bit strained and all I wanted to do was get off that plane. Nate traded places with Alex, had better results with her calming down (I think when he put his elbow in her face cause she kept leaning into him she finally got the message).

The flight from H#LL finally ended, we rented a car and got to our condo. We couldn’t check in for a few hours so we had a nice lunch and walked around the outdoor mall. We caught up with Jo and the girls, it took forever to get our room but we finally got our rooms, went to the pool, the kids played in the game room while we cooked dinner. Had dinner, played Scrabble watched “I Carly” and then we all crashed.

Today we are going to the beach. Tomorrow our Disneyland adventure begins. I love Disneyland. The kids are a great age to have tons of fun here at the Happiest Place on Earth!

January 5, 2009

Changes

Category: Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 9:08 pm

Lots of really great stuff happening and lots going on. VCC is growing and healthy. We have some important decisions to make about how we will go forward. Lots of prayer and planning this month.

Alex turns 11 on Friday. I cannot believe he is already 11. Time goes by so fast. He wants to go to Tasters Wok for dinner with his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews (this has become a tradition) and then on his actual birthday which lands on a Friday this year he is having 3 of his friends for a sleep over. What a joy he is to us. He is a good boy, sensitive and kind. I think he is a bit introverted which is so interesting to me because he has two very extroverted parents – well at least one very high extrovert (Rich) and me, I am more right on the mid-line…I get energy from being with people but I definitely need time alone, for silence, reflection and thinking. I see Alex a bit more like that. He loves being with people but definitely needs his down time. I so enjoy him. He makes me laugh and he makes me proud.

I am going to try to keep blogging but I am coming to the end of my course work and will have to really buckle down to write my dissertation so my blogging will be a bit spotty. I am, however, going to begin writing my story. I am going to write some of it as notes on my facebook page as I can control who is reading it there. A public blog seems a bit to vulnerable for that kind of writing so I won’t be posting any of it here for the time being. If you are interested in following that story you can find it on my facebook page.

I think 2009 is going to be a very good year. I am hopeful and expectant for what this year will bring while at the same time trying to live in the every day moments of my life.

I wish a very joyous, blessed 2009 to all of you.