I’m Allergic To Pistachios!

pistachio-1098173_1280I had finally given in and booked an appointment with another Doula-friend to process a particularly difficult labor and birth, where I was the Doula. Mother and baby were okay, it had just been long and parts of it were intensely challenging for me. After realizing that it may be beneficial to talk it over with someone who understood, I drove to Genevieve’s house to tell her my story.

Genevieve in her exquisite and gentle-spirited way, swung wide her front door, and led me upstairs to her studio, where she paints, writes, and has her quiet time. We sat down, me in the vintage green chair, and her in the overstuffed red one.
She smiled and I began to talk. I didn’t get the first sentence out, before she stopped me and said, “Before you go any further, I have something I need you to do….”

I adjusted my position in the green chair, and she continued with her instructions.

“Sheila, I want you to close your eyes for ten minutes. I want you to picture in your mind a pistachio nut shell. Now, I want you to think about your story. When you have that in your mind, I want you to take your experience and condense it all the way down so it will fit into only half of the pistachio nut shell. That is the part of the story, I want you to tell me.”

My eyes popped open and I stared at her, as crazy thoughts tumbled around in my head.

First of all, I’m deathly allergic to pistachios…but she didn’t ask me to EAT a pistachio, just think about one!

Secondly,  this labor story was over the course of two entire days, and was packed with details and factors that mattered to the rest of the story. The story was huge and half of a pistachio shell is tiny and I’m a wordy girl!

What transpired over the course of an hour was both hilarious and humbling. I went along with her; closing my eyes, thinking about my story and a pistachio. With her guidance I trimmed out facts, cut out needless details, and crammed my experience into that tiny shell.
When I presented my half-shell version to Genevieve, she asked me to explain why I chose to share that particular portion?
I explained that it was the part of that experience that bothered me most. I felt vulnerable and out of control. I do not like to feel either of those emotions and will go to great lengths to avoid them.
We discussed a few reasons why. I admitted my control-issues, and my time was up.
I hugged Genevieve and drove away–laughing a bit, and feeling frustrated a bit. Over a couple of days, as I thought more about that birth, I decided to let it be. It had happened, and we were all okay. I would just let it go.

I rarely think about it now, unless I see a pistachio, or tell someone the pistachio story, and we laugh.

Lately, I’ve been talking with God about a particular situation that I’m in. I give Him the dump truck version, complete with all the details, because He’s big and he can handle it. He’s been addressing my control issues, and in all honesty, I haven’t been enjoying it. At all. Have you ever avoided a specific topic with God? It’s not easy.

This morning, as I sipped coffee, I was thumbing through an old Real Simple magazine. I turned the page to a full article on using pistachios in cooking and baking. Being allergic to them, I quickly passed by the article. From the very back recesses of my mind came the memory of that day in Genevieve’s house.
I ignored the feelings that immediately surfaced, and continued to flip magazine pages.
Then…within a couple of hours, I received a notification on my phone that someone had suggested that I like a page on Facebook for baby clothing called, “My Little Pistachio”. I nearly dropped my phone!

So, I find myself here, tapping out all these words, and wanting to say to God, “Don’t you know I’m allergic to pistachios? Remember, I’m also allergic to feeling vulnerable! It freaks me out!”

But He already knows that, and He’s ready to deal with me and my “allergies”.

She Is Clothed in Strength

I’m standing in her farm-house kitchen minding the chicken pot pie in the oven, with her seated across from me in her chair by the window. She’s our Grandma on my husband’s side of the family. She is recovering from recently taking a bad spill in her raspberry patch. Her arm is bandaged, yet her determination is as strong as ever. I remarked at her grit and strength.

“I know everyone thinks I’m tough, but I’m kind of a chicken!”, she giggles.

She continues, “I told our Sunday School class, that I’ve really never gone through anything hard, and so I’m a big chicken when it comes to painful things!”

I stood up straight and tilted my head in utter bewilderment. Was she being serious?
She was.

“Seriously, Grandma? You have been through so many hard things in your lifetime!”, I insist.

Her response, “Well, yes, I’ve gone through things that were hard, but I just never let it get me too far down.” “It takes a lot of hard work to get back up and keep going, but it’s just what I’ve had to do.”

These words coming from her did not surprise me. This is who our family and her friends know her to be.
She identifies the problem, and sets out to find a solution. It may not be easy, but it needs to be done, so you do it.

Two weeks later, I’m still thinking about her, and compiling a list of the things I know she’s been through (I’m certain there’s more):

She lost a little sister to a freak accident, when Ruthie was only four.
She lost a child with Down Syndrome to Leukemia. Roanna was only two.
She had a grown son suffer a farming accident and lose most of one hand.
She’s walked with several family members through serious illness and death.
She’s lost a daughter-in-law, who died suddenly from heart issues.
She’s stood strong by her man, when they nearly lost everything they had ever worked for.
She is currently standing strong by her man, after his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.

She would say, that’s just what she had to do. She would say she didn’t have any other option, but to get back up and keep going.

I’m not raising her up on a pedestal, listing her perfections. She’s human and she’d be the first to list her imperfections.

I’m honoring her for showing me how to live all the way into old age, with a strength that doesn’t flop over in despair at the slightest gust of wind. With a determination that says, “I can get up and keep going even though life is painful right now!”
With a grace that says, “We’ll face this trial and when the dust settles I’ll still be here.”

God knew that I needed her example in my life. Her influence on the following-after generations of our family is significant.

In a world where checking-out is getting easier, I’m needing the reminder that every hard thing I’ve ever faced, has simply equipped me for the next hard thing to come, and that I can get up and keep going.

Being privileged to be her granddaughter in law, married to her first and much-loved grandson, I have watched her place her hand firmly into the hand of God, and with a willingness that was unshakable, walk out a life of sacrifice and surrender.

I’m getting in line behind her and with Jesus, to walk this one life out with determination. Maybe someday my grands will use words like grit and grace to describe me. I can hope.

(Grandpa Leroy & Grandma Helen Seward, 2015)