Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Micki today with Mr. Purple
She had only one complete leg since her other had been chewed up past the knee by a dog. Her hair, no longer soft with attractive waves, was now stiff and stuck tightly to her head since I had tried to wash it nicely and only succeeded in making it short and inflexible. She forgave me because she knew it wasn't intentional and that I really did mean to give her a beauty treatment. But I told her that was nice just the way it was and really meant it when I said I thought she was pretty and I loved her very much! I didn't care about her deformity. I showed her she was already perfect in my eyes and had my first preference by sleeping next to me and my teddy bear, Mr.Purple, my closest friend. 

Jill was her name and I loved her dearly!  She was a hand-me-down doll, but still in reasonably good shape when I adopted her. I wanted someone of my own to love in my own way. It seemed like my mother disapproved of the amount of time I spent with her, thinking about being her mother.  I wanted to be an astronaut, fireman, cowboy, scientist, construction worker, teacher, circus animal trainer, and most of all I wanted to be a mommy. My mom changed the subject when I talked much about taking care of babies, and said I needed to do something else now.

Jill went with me out to play everyday, when I read my favorite story, "You Will Go to the Moon," as we sat in a box pretending we were in a space capsule launching into outer space. She rode beside me. When I played endless hours in the sandbox, digging tunnels and driving her around in pick up trucks showing Jill the way I made new roads. When I climbed trees and got up real high she would sit in a smaller branch beside me.

Later, because Jill was sensitive about the half leg, I begged for a long dress for her. I was proud of being able to get a gift that she desired and would help her esteem. I had kind of secretly wished for a new doll, but was ashamed of my selfishness and wanted to be faithful and prove my love was steadfast, so I never asked for another doll. My gift choice was a sacrifice to make Jill happy! My mother gave me a dress, and it was a long white bridal dress! She looked so nice, and you'd never know about the missing limb. After that she always wore the dress, and began to be called Jill the bride doll. The fabric became worn and pleasantly soft to touch.

Now I was real proud of the way she looked.  I thought about being more careful with her so she would last forever. She had gotten stains that didn't all come out, and her eyes usually got stuck, one open and one closed, because of the sand in them, and the balding patches of  hair were because of my constant stroking and hugging. I never wanted her to feel hungry for hugs, like I often did.

Mr. Purple's nose became smashed to one side by the way I slept against his face and held him tightly against my cheek for so many years, and he was less purple and more brownish from dirt. His plaid body was becoming threadbare and needing patches.  I still needed him to squeeze really tight when I slept and his soft body was just right for that, plus we had been together at night, sharing fears and tears, for as long as I can remember. I thought maybe I should save Jill for special times and not wear her out.

My mom had mentioned more than once about how I was getting too old for dolls.  I tried to take Jill outside with me less.  At first it was strange not having her there to share the things I loved. I'd tell her at night about the birdsong, and the trees, and the games with the kids. Sometimes she slept next to me and Mr. Purple. Other nights I kept her at the foot of my bed so I could show my Mom I didn't always play with dolls anymore. I was growing up! Soon it would be my seventh birthday after Christmas and I would truly be older. So many busy days and changes!

One morning after Christmas, I woke up early and looked for Jill so I could soothe and rock her.  Where was she? I searched my bed and the whole room, then I checked the rest of the house and asked everyone.  No one knew where she was!  I got scared and felt sick. I had one of my feelings that something bad had happened and I would never see her again. I looked frantically even through the trash cans. I cried each day and night.

The third day I realized that the trashman had been to our house the day before I last saw her. I went  to my mom and begged her help, telling her my fearful suspicion that somehow Jill was gone with the trash. My mother told me she thought I was getting too old for dolls and hadn't seen me play with Jill so much, and that she was getting pretty ragged, so last week she had thrown her away!

I was in shock when she told me this. I screamed inside myself because of the horror of Jill's fate and our being lost to each other, and how I couldn't save her and wasn't able to express my desperation and anger to my mother without causing more conflict and hurting my mom.  I imagined Jill in the garbage truck, being crushed to pieces, and was horrified!  I felt guilty for not playing with her so much. I wondered how parents could make decisions that hurt you like this without even asking if it would be okay if they threw your baby away, and how they must think that it wasn't that important and maybe not even "real"!  I was haunted by this knowledge that what we loved could be so misunderstood and threatened!

At night I shared all my miseries with Mr. Purple. In his mind and heart he listened, because there were no words for me to express the anger, fears and desires to close up and stop trusting. It would take a long time for the healing process that would invite me to take chances again, and forgive, and be open to the love I hoped to share again one day. These things could only be understood between my bear and me!

Monday, December 26, 2011


My stepfather, Gordon, played the scariest game with us a couple times when we were little. A target was drawn, and as we fearfully used our finger, tracing the outline of the circles from outside in, we would say, "The bogeyman will get you if you don't watch out," and end up at the center dot and, with all the courage we could muster, make a fateful X sign, trembling and saying, "X marks the spot!" Marking that X on the spot and saying those words, we would take off running as fast as we could and find the best hiding place, since we felt like we had just given permission for the bogeyman's release. "Whose afraid of the Bogeyman ?" we used to chant while teasing that we weren't (while we all were!).

The bogeyman was the powerful sum of all fears, the embodiment of what you could not withstand.  When in hiding we hoped somehow that we had the best secret spot that could not be found . Our imaginations raced with images as we heard Gordon seeking us and thinking he may really be the "bogeyman" out there, somehow changed since no person can survive it's coming. Frightened, we prepared  our response to the possibility of eventual discovery. When we were found, "the bogeyman" was going to try to scare us with a BOO! We had to do the same thing at the same time but be more scary than scared! When that moment came, hairs standing on end, I bravely shrieked "BOO!" Then I usually ran fearfully from his playful BOOing, to my mother for help, trembling and shaken. Everyone laughed at how scared we were and Mom said that it was enough, that it was too upsetting a game. We begged for more till we played a few more rounds.

Why do kids like to play scare games, like peek-a-boo, and dress up as monsters and chase each other, bringing themselves to the edge of fear? It's part of our development, learning where we begin and end and testing our strengths. My mother often restricted me from emotionally excited events, saying that I got too carried away. I remember how upset I was because she let my brothers and little sister see the movie "The Crawling Eye" but not me, in spite of my pleas that I could take it!  It is true that I often got so scared I became hysterical in behavior, having difficulty finding the boundaries of reality.  I struggled often with how to maintain a calm sanity and wondered if I would succeed, but always felt this was how I must develop courage and that I should face fears no matter how difficult and not try to deny or ignore them.

I was afraid of so many things as a child. At night I had some "sweet dreams" but usually nightmares that included snakes, earthquakes, falling off cliffs, drowning, many ways being killed, by monsters or animals. The nightmares usually repeated and had me screaming and running.  I was usually running from a lion that wanted to eat me. Flailing through the dense jungle, my heart pounding, I would get weak and trip on a branch and fall as the lion pounced towards my back. I woke up screaming!  I was not supposed to wake up others. I had experienced Mom comforting me afterwards,  then learned that I was not going to be allowed to disturb others' sleep anymore. My stepfather would charge into the room, turn on the lights, and scream at me and hit me, threatening that he'd give me something to be really afraid of if I didn't shut up and let him get his sleep since he had to work to take care of me!  His violent interruptions actually were less terrifying than my night-terrors, and the shocking light that brought me quickly back to this reality a relief till the pain and humiliation of the beatings set in.

Then it was a new kind of battle---loss of self esteem and self-loathing, and fears of abandonment. When I was afraid and awake at night I had to deal with this too, and it severely weakened my strength for the battle for balance and a return to calm. I cried sorrowfully and long, trying to muffle the sounds under my pillow so I wouldn't summon the return of my stepfather raging with anger and bringing me more beatings.

Sometimes I fell asleep again and wet the bed during another nightmare, and then I was in "real" trouble in the morning, hearing how lousy I was while being smacked and shoved into the wet mattress with orders to clean up the stinking mess I had made. Other times I tried to cope by staying awake so I could be braver.  Then shadows and sounds and sense played tricks with my mind. I believed there were monsters in the closet, in the room, under the bed. Anytime I put a hand outside the covers I was afraid they could pull me under the bed or bite the hand off. I knew a lot of them were not real, only kids' fears as my mother told me and other kids shared with me. Sometimes they were real though; when I was awake or asleep I saw the demons or sensed them and had to fight against their attacks.

When I was very young I had this recurring dream of the leader of all the demons coming to me and trying to tempt me to love him, and of being prepared for my wedding to him. I didn't want to be his and wanted to be rescued. That's how he played with my mind, trying to get me to believe it was hopeless, knowing I feared I wasn't strong enough or good enough, and rejected and abandoned. He whispered to my mind, "Give up. You can't win. No one cares or is coming!" He was hypnotizing and seductive. It seemed better to give in than to fight it, and to let him have his way. But I tried to keep deeply hidden in my psyche so he couldn't detect and chip away at a desire I had for hope, and the belief that somehow there was a way out.

I realized this recurring dream had a level that made it more than a dream, as if it were really happening. Because that devil and I were not just part of the dream but truly present to each other and affected by our actions. We sensed one another. His spirit was stronger and more frightening than all I knew, and he knew how to lure me with pleasure. This surprised me because I believed that I loved beauty and truth, but he spent time torturing me by twisting and distorting images and demonstrating my possible weakness of character (using lust) so that I was confused, believing myself to be a lying hypocrite who was cheating at this ideal of love. And it worried me that he was right about how I'd have to give in because his spirit was very familiar to mine, although I secretly loathed him. It was really happening!

Sometimes I had wonderful dreams where I flew, and explored unafraid with people and animals, and found treasures I shared with otherworldly beings. I was confident and at peace, united with the total and unconditional power of love.  Sometimes I have a dream that repeats and is very profound, and  I wonder when I wake up what it means in my life.

When I was seven, I dreamed that I was at school on the playground and the kids were mocking me and my belief that I was worthwhile. Then these horses came charging up in a cloud of dust, clearing a path between us, and pulling a coach that came to a sudden halt. The door opened and I was summoned in and crowned and rode away leaving them dumbfounded. I was familiar to this fatherly King inside and we were really present to each other. Our love was perfect union and He was all powerful. He was my long lost Father! I never saw Him in deceptive flesh. He was in spirit and I was in my imperfect little girl self. I experienced unconditional love from Him and all my fears were gone.

Although this was not very creative or complex or hard to understand, it was so important, because it had been a "real encounter," like I had not just dreamed about it but had experienced the unseen presence of the King and felt His love and promise that He was returning for me and that I was valued and loved by Him. He was the loving Father I had believed I had even when everyone and all things tried to convince me otherwise. When I woke up I knew it was true!  Somehow I had a Father who was really a king and He was coming back for me one day!  I had been stubbornly trying to have hope against overwhelming disappointments. Everyone laughed at the idea of girls who believed they had a prince coming.  I had a strong feeling that this was somehow real and would become possible. Soon I  learned to muffle screams and wake up earlier so that I wouldn't end up making an audible scream. Then I'd wake still terrified but having to try to quietly cry and  get over it and back to sleep on my own, without wetting the bed.

I continued to have many fears into young adulthood. I acted tough like I could handle it all and wasn't afraid of much. Whenever I was alone anywhere (even in the bathroom I imagined grotesque creatures coming for me out of the toilet bowl) my mind played out destructive scenes where I was the victim. When I walked through town by myself I was followed by phantoms. As I crossed the street I played a game where I  had to run before a car would come and run me down. When my stepfather insisted I take the trash out at night, all kinds of murderous threats came to mind and I usually ran back to the house, banging into obstacles, swinging the plastic garbage pail behind me.

As long as I was with other people I could forget these fears. I was protective of others and reassuring. Encouragement and compassion were always "my business," I believed, and I was often told by other adults to mind my own business! I had such empathy for the feelings of others, and was often scaring people because I could read their thoughts and address their silent struggles. It hurt me to see anyone in pain and trying not to aid them was almost impossible.  At times I did resort to hurting someone either by myself or with a group, and then had such guilt and hatred for myself. I learned in high school about children that were abused becoming abusive, and in fact I had already seen this pattern in myself, when I would lose my temper and call my younger brother an imbecile and retard and nerd and hit him repeatedly because he wouldn't do something I thought he should. In between these times I was getting this kind of assault from family and my brother's friend. So I was afraid ever to have children and wanted to change so I would not hurt my brother or possibly my own child one day. I took early childhood education and learned how to relate to people without losing control. I hoped those who had been hurt by me would heal and forgive me and that I wouldn't act like that again.

As I became an adult I kept busy and involved with people. My emotional life was very bipolar. I was often in great depression, struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of such sadness and pain, and considering if suicide would be the best way to end this misery. Then I would suddenly perceive something that brought me joy somehow, and it would grow with such intensity and happiness that I found it hard to keep my feet on the ground and thought I might just be lifted off in flight. I seemed to be hiding from the "bogeyman" or comforted by this "Holy Ghost." It was the hardest thing to separate the earthly life and the spiritual, and I wondered if it was supposed to be separated. Then what about the complex mind? Maybe it was all fabrication! I overly analyzed everything, and grew so weary of my constant thinking, wishing I could just relax.

When I met my husband, Dale, I found the friend I had always thought I needed---one who knew you and liked you as you were, yet encouraged you to grow.  We soon got married. I was literally shivering because of the unseen presence that helped me stay conscious and proclaim my vows. Each day I felt like I grew younger. I let go of fears and embraced the days. Dale listened to me talk incessantly and often about things he didn't relate to. We listened to each other, and I marveled at how I could love this man who was so different. He had behaved so opposite of how I would have, yet we came to the same conclusions about what was most important and reveled in our companionship.  Dale told me about interesting things he'd done that I'd always wanted to try but I doubted I could get through. I didn't want to let him see me (nor did I want to continue to be) a victim crippled by fears. He seemed to see me accomplishing what I tried.

On our first anniversary  he took me up into the sky with his brother Paul flying a small plane. We did loops and turned upside down and challenged my vestibular system and my feelings of having control over my life. The beauty there was unimaginable and indescribable. I tried to narrate my exalting experience---the clouds that separated sky and earth and made you feel like coming home and gave you the affirmation that you could move among them, that it was part of who you naturally were---the brightness, intensity and divisions of light, and the sensation of being fragile and safe at the same time!

The next anniversary he took me to jump school, where I studied for six hours how to survive a parachute jump from a plane---how I should react if I got tangled in my chute, the parachute didn't open, I hit power lines, etc. But don't worry, they said, parachuting is much safer than driving a car! We practiced jumping correctly from a mock plane and the proper rolling technique, which I had trouble with due to my fears of falling and getting hurt. If we could relax and roll we would sustain less injury, and I was very rigid and tight. I had always had difficulty with my coordination, and making a relaxed roll got a little better but still basically inadequate. When it came time to fly up into the sky they gave me a helmet to use that had been the former jump instructor's, who had died in a jump. I tried not to give in to superstition, but to feel honored by the chance to wear it. We reached the altitude for departure and I was told to sit in the open doorway like we had practiced. Whoosh! My legs were roughly swept to the side,and I was surprised by the force of the wind! Next I was to climb out onto the outside of the plane and hang onto the wing strut with the powerful gusts of wind beating on my body and the fear of being up so high. I heard the jumpmaster command jump! For a moment I thought that's crazy, no way, then threw myself off into the air with the best arch I could manage, trusting in something beyond myself to be there. I was falling with great speed towards the ground with nothing to stop me, and was scared, fearing death by impact or my heart giving way to this enormous stress. There was then a sudden jerk, and I heard and saw my chute open and felt myself mercifully supported and floating. Now it was so quiet and peaceful. I was so contented. I never wanted to leave this moment. Looking at the farms in the Snohomish Valley below was enjoyable, and then I saw Dale and my family and friends who had come to watch. They were yelling something excitedly, then I heard, "Put your legs together" (we were supposed to be in that position and ready to roll or we might break our legs). As soon as my legs complied, I hit the ground hard, and was dragged backwards till I got my footing and was able to stand up elated and pulling in my parachute cords and finally the chute itself. 

After we'd been married and had our first son, Leif, then only 18 months old, Dale decided he wanted to visit his sister Gloria and her family in Michigan for vacation, and hitchhike because he couldn't afford it otherwise. I wanted to go along but I had the baby who used cloth diapers and was nursed and often went into extreme fits with screaming, crying, hysteria and rage. I wanted to prove I could still accompany him on  adventures even if I had extra added responsibilities. Dale didn't want me to slow him down. I promised I wouldn't, but was afraid as we began planning. He talked about how we could just camp in a field or anywhere for the night. This awakened all my fears, of trespassing and angry landholders taking revenge, camping (scary stories about gruesome killings), all kinds of things happening to my family because I had taken chances.
I talked to family and friends about my plans and fears, including our pastor. He asked me, "What is the worst thing that could happen? Don't you believe God loves you and will be there? So what do you have to be afraid of?" I couldn't believe I was getting this kind of advice and encouragement to go and learn to trust. I felt like a kid who is told there's no such thing as a monster and knows it's true but is still afraid.

I got on my knees at home and prayed really hard to God for advice. The telephone rang after awhile and I said, "Thank you, God, for helping me," as I got up to answer the phone. It was my friend, Alice in California, whom I usually talked to at important times. She said, "What's wrong?" I told her my dilemma and asked how she knew to call me. She said, "You called me. I was talking to my mother and the operator broke through the call and said I had to call you, that it was an emergency."  I told her I hadn't called, except to pray for an answer. She said, "Since you have a good connection, put in a word for me." After talking she ended by using the same question, "What's the worst that could happen?" So I took it as a sign that I was to face this challenge to trust.

The trip was an amazing adventure, seeing the country, meeting the people, and being in constant contact with God since I was afraid of so many things but didn't want to be anymore. I learned that people are basically good and usually help and protect you. We met only with kindness and not any of the exceptional bad eggs. Dale was often upset and annoyed when things didn't go as planned. I tried to help, but he'd get frustrated and remind me that I wasn't going to slow him down. So I prayed quietly and saw my needs met in secret. When we got to Michigan I was stronger on the inside. I learned I had always been more comfortable when in trouble because I remembered how much I needed to stay in touch and listen.

On our return trip we were riding with a trucker, Preston, and he told us we could sleep in the cab of his truck. Dale and Leif fell asleep soon but I was very anxious and kept sensing that we would have an accident. I imagined we'd be in a horrible wreck and I saw Leif and Dale and myself being thrown out and torn apart on the pavement. I had to be quiet like when I was little and tried to muffle the fear and crying. I had a talk with myself and the Holy Spirit, and said, If this is a  premonition and I'm supposed to prepare and don't, can you just let me know what to do if and when I need to, and not worry now or fear the images, but sleep restfully?

I awoke hours later to a loud, harsh bang and jolt. I jumped from the sleeper into the passenger seat, with Leif already zipped in my Snuggli baby carrier, and asked Preston, "What happened?" Dale bounced around in back in confusion.

Preston said, "I think I hit a truck, I don't know. There were no lights, it happened so fast and now I can't stop."   

I said, "Let's pray." I began seeing the torturous visions I had previously imagined, along with accusing feelings. I thought to the Spirit, This is it, what I'm most afraid of, seeing my family tortured in front of me, feeling at fault and not being able to do anything.

The next moment I had the most incredible experience. I heard a voice in my head that conveyed an absolute sense of contentment and peace, saying the words, "My grace is sufficient for you." It was not only a statement of truth (I recognized the words from the  Bible), it was like a question to me of whether I was willing to receive this in faith. My soul agreed. I saw up ahead a freeway overpass and felt the Freightliner loaded with steel pipes turning and twisting while sliding towards the cement pillars of the underpass. The calf of my leg was torn by metal and I followed my silent unseen friend somehow, jumping up and moving with Leif from one dangerous spot and another as the truck rolled and slid up the hill and into the dirt just short of the exit for Casper Wyoming.. The truck finally came to a stop, upside-down. Again I said, "Let's pray," and took Preston's hand and Dale's, giving thanks to be alive, and for the lives of those in the other vehicle. 

As Preston climbed out of the broken window there were cheers from fellow truckers who had stopped to help a fallen comrade. Then I handed out Leif and climbed out with Dale to see the impressive sight of the trucks in piggyback sequence with all their lights on. As one trucker came down the highway he went to the back of the line, and the first in line left to continue on his way. We knew they were also in prayer with us.

That offer and acceptance has forever altered my spirit. I stopped being afraid of every little thing, and even really big things. I don't mean I don't experience fear anymore, but on those rare occasions that I meet with real terror, I remember the moment, and am transported to a place of perfect peace.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today is September 8th, the day on which the Catholic Church remembers the birth of Mary.
"Mary's is a birthday to remember because the answer to our sorrow, misery, malice, loneliness, inability, and strife is to be born of Mary. " -Father Peter John Cameron, O.P.           

I was dreaming this morning when I heard the voice of my husband, Dale, "Micki, will you wake up Julia?"  I immediately answered yes and got up, aware that my body was sore and tired and that my mind still had a wish to linger with those dreams. I heard the loud ringing of Julia's alarm clock coming from her room, and went to her bedside.  How could she sleep through that? I wondered.  Then I realized I hadn't heard Dale's alarm go off  this morning.  It was only his quiet voice I recognized as a wake up call.

Since I was in kindergarten my mother's gentle voice was the only sound that could separate me from sleep. "Micki, time to get up." I would quickly wake and get ready for the day. Sometimes as I got older she had to say my name a second time, a little louder, with a slight scolding tone. Then I was a bit ashamed that I gave her trouble, and hurried to obey.  Often when I was hurt I would go running to my mother, sobbing, and she'd open her arms and hold me and repeat  in a soothing voice, "It's alright!"  She rocked me until I was quieted. I wished I could do something in return for her loving comfort.  I tried hard to please her and not be a disappointment.

When I had babies, I was very tired and slept soundly,worrying if I would wake up if they needed me. I found, as most parents do, that they wake up immediately, ready to respond when their child stirs or calls.

When my third son Andy was four years old and visiting the dentist office waiting for an appointment, I told him about Mary, his Heavenly Mother.  He asked if it was really true, and I said, "Yes, she always cares for you."  He sat happily on the floor thinking about that. Five minutes later a man walked into the waiting room and my shy and quiet son, obviously overjoyed, ran up to the stranger, took his hand and welcomed him in, exclaiming, "I've got two moms! My name is Andy!" He introducded the suprised man to me, saying, "This is my second mom. My first mother is in Heaven."  That new assurance stayed with him all his life, and he's alway's loved me second best, saying he's grateful to me since I was his first teacher about love.   

                                      by Henri Godin

     "A greater gift I could not give man. 
     And when I sent my Son on earth, he was not hard to please.
     No, he was not hard to please--either about food, or lodging,
           or state in life, or about anything, except his Mother.  But
           about her he was exacting.
     He wanted his mother to be a masterpiece, surpassing even my
           angels, who are already very great masterpieces.
     Yes, for her he was exacting--for the woman who was to bring
           him into the world and awaken his soul and form his heart.
     And men are like him.  Choosing a woman is always the great
           affair of their life.
     Which doesn't surprise me,"
     Says God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I spent a lot of time wishing I was pretty, and crying because people said I was ugly, and I believed them. I had very white skin (allergy to the sun so I could never tan but burned severly), hundreds of blotchy freckles that often came out green after sun exposure and gradually darkened. I had crooked teeth (no money for orthodontics), and straight hair always cut at home with crooked lines.  I was sensitive and emotional and clingy, trying to hug and show love, was outspoken and loud, usually in your face and pointing out uncomfortable truths.

My older brother Stewart thought it was fun to make me mad and tease me. He had nicknamed me Micki Icky. When I tried to tag along with my brothers and they wanted to get rid of me, they'd make fun of me until I went away crying. One summer day they told all the kids in the neighborhood that I was called Micki Icky because I had real "cooties." They said you could tell because, looking at my arms and face, you would see some green spots which I called freckles but were really the sign of cooties, that could be caught by being close to me. So when I came out to play that day all the kids began to shout, "Here comes Micki Icky! Run or she'll give you the cooties!" I ran away to my secret place under the branches of a weeping willow and threw myself onto the dusty ground. I sobbed and was so sad I wished I could die because no one would love me. Then I heard in my mind the words "I love you," and I felt loved and calmed. I answered back, in my mind, "Thank you, but I wish a person would love me."

When I was little I used to ask my Mom hopefully if I was pretty. She said no and that I was kind of homely looking. She said her family used to tell her that when she was little, and that she did't like it but it was the truth. And I looked a lot like her. I thought a lot about what people like in looks, and tried not to be superficial and to remember that it's what's inside that counts. I loved the story of Beauty and the Beast and decided that its moral was most correct: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

On the first day of second grade we all had to line up by class, and the black girl standing next to me, Sheila, looked scared and wouldn't get close. The teacher kept yelling at her to stand next to me. She bit my shoulder very hard and I screamed. Our teacher looked at the bleeding bruise and demanded to know why she did that. Sheila said, "Look at her. She's white with those ugly green and brown spots. I wanted to see if she was real!" We later became good friends.

It's how we are seen: If we're loved by someone we are beheld as beautiful. My husband, Dale, always said I was beautiful and I thought he was just being kind, but, as he reminds me, he doesn't flatter. He loves me and sees me the way God does!

I sometimes have grace-filled moments where I see all the people around me in perfection. That is such an awesome experience. It's like watching a movie with perfect casting, when I ask myself, "How did they find that person to play that part so well?!" Every person you see is an intriguing, mysterious, and unrepeatable. If you look at them the way they are meant to be seen, and appreciate the creation and Creator, a kind of universal bond allows you to realize that here is someone with an amazing story, who is valuable for themselves and somehow carrying a part of you.

I broke my tooth the other day and have a large gap--very humiliating! I look like the hillbilly stereotype. I wondered if Dale would still love me as much. Dale laughed at me and called me Lilith Snerd (Mortimer Snerd was Edgar Bergen's hillbilly puppet with missing teeth). He helps me laugh at myself. My kids see my beauty and cheer me on, especially when I'm putting myself down. Dear Julia, my fifteen year old, often tells me I'm beautiful, and she loves me so much! Now she says I  look younger, like a seven-year-old with a missing tooth!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


One morning I was awakened very early by my mother's quiet voice, "Micki, come with me.  I have something to show you."  We went outside where it was cool and wet and getting light.  She took me to the side of the garage where the southern California sun came first in the backyard.  She kept her hand closed and handed me a small shovel and said, "I need you to dig a hole." When the hole was big enough she said it was just right, and she opened her hand and placed in my palm a hard, bumpy, ugly, brown thing.  I felt sorry for the unpromising thing.  She said, "This is called a bulb, and you have to put it in the hole, this side up."  I was surprised that it would need any special instruction. She put four more bulbs in the ground. I loved to spend time with my mommy, and she knew so much, and asked me for help many times. I was four years old, and happy when I pleased her.

Once she told me I had to stay with my grandparents in Wyoming for a time, and asked if I would help her by being good. I was scared to stay with them and not see my family. I don't know why they all went without me, and was afraid they might not come back for me.  My grandma didn't like dirt and she had a very clean house. I somehow managed to have dirt on me all the time. She got mad when I smudged dirt accidentally on her walls. She took me into her garage where there was a metal sink and angrily scrubbed my hands roughly until they were red and sore. She told me this is how clean she wanted me to stay.

When I had to take a nap I was afraid I would get her white chenille bedspread dirty or pee on it if I did fall asleep. So when she left the room I got off the bed and stood on the shiny, clean, hardwood floor, afraid to move. I stood there a long time. I got pains in my legs from standing still (my mom said arthritis runs in the family). The pain made me cry. Also the dark room with all the shades down  frightened me, adding more tears, and I thought that I might be in trouble for breaking the rules, or left here because I was such a crybaby and so clingy. I didn't cry out loud or they would be mad at my fussing and say, "See you are a fussbudget!"  When it was time on the clock for my nap to be over, I climbed back on the bed and lay still, wiped my face, and pretended to be asleep until grandma Dorothy came in and said I could get up now.

Some things I loved, like the orderly backyard with soft grass and trimmed edges, the fence with its perfect triangular pattern, and the flowers (called pansies ) with their pretty faces.  When they bought me a cowgirl outfit (blue-gray with lasso design in navy blue trim) I wore it as much as I was allowed.  I liked my grandfather's strong face, and most of all I liked the way my grandparents held me as if they enjoyed me! I was sure I'd never be able to make them happy, and many times I got angry looks and words from them. I was nervous until my mother did really come back for me.

Now my mother was asking for my help again.  She wanted to know if I would  help her care for this bulb and wait to see what happened.  Anxious to make her proud, I agreed.  I asked her what was going to happen, and she said, "Wait!"  Glad to have a secret, and a way to win her trust, I regularly went with her out back to care for the dirt. It was the same.  It was hard for me to wait each day, and I was worried that we would never see the thing happen that we waited for.  She always just said with assurance, "Wait!"  

One morning we did see tiny green stems pushing through the soil.  Green was living, and I loved that color so much more than brown, and my mother and I were rewarded for our long wait. I was so happy!  She said that we still had to wait.  Now we had more jobs to do.  We had to protect the stems from snails, and as they grew stalks we had to tie them up for support.  They were getting big.  One day they were as tall as me! They had bumps called buds that got round and fat.  With each change I asked if it had happened yet, and she just said, "Wait!" 

When I was learning to wait, she told me she was going to have a baby and asked what did I think she should have--a girl or a boy. I spent a long time thinking and then told her I thought we should have a boy, because it would be fair, since we had two boys and then two girls. She asked the other kids, but I was sure she thought the most of what I said. Now there were more jobs, getting ready for the baby. 

One morning Mom took me outside to look at the flower stalks.  I was so amazed to find it had happened! The bumps had burst into big, beautiful, white, pink and yellow flowers and she said they were gladiolas! I had so much joy with our flowers that grew as tall as I did and opened themselves all up. I felt changed. I knew I was growing up like them, and as my mother's belly got bigger and rounder I wondered what changes the baby would bring, and I remembered she just said, "Wait!"

Micki, at left, in her cowgirl dress, with her sister Alicia, brother Carson standing, and brother Stewart sitting and holding the answer to Micki's wish, a baby brother named Dennis.

Friday, September 2, 2011


There are moments in our lives that are like signs.  We keep coming back to those moments and checking their meaning, trying to understand their significance, and seeing whether they help us connect to what we think is important--as if life is a puzzle and these events are possibly those important missing pieces that bring sense to it all. 

When I was eighteen, my friend Mila and I met Craig at college.  And he shared with us his interest in soul travel and Eckankar and transcendental meditation.  One Friday night the three of us met at Mila's before going to a lecture on transcendental meditation.  Later that evening, after the lecture in a nearby coffee shop, Mila went to visit someone at another table, while Craig and I sat across from each other with a cup of tea.  We were discussing the concepts we had heard about and how they related to other events, like the possibility of soul travel.  Craig asked me if I had ever traveled out of my body.  I told him I had experienced that more than once and in different degrees, but it was not something that I controlled.  It just usually happened.  He wanted to hear more.  I told him that I had a few experiences which involved a feeling of being totally outside myself and seeing my self and others, and how I knew I was walking away from my self and having an adventure, and then returning to my body and reconnecting.  These happened usually while I was sleeping. 

I tried to explain something I had often gone through that I believed most people experienced.  I told him that it was like, when you're looking directly at someone, and you began to feel like the space that's between your faces is shortening, and you're spirits are moving out in front of your faces and, as the distance begans to close, you feel like you've become one--like your spirits are united. 

Craig surprised me by saying he wasn't sure what I meant, and suggested we try it.  So we gazed at each other.  In the first moments I felt awkward and rigid, deciding it probably wouldn't happen.  When the familiar feeling did come, and the distance was quickly shortened between us, I felt the wonderful unity and had the bonus of experiencing great love as our eyes locked.  He looked back at me, then one of his eyes gave a wink of approval.  He smiled.  My breathing slowed, my heartbeat tried to adjust to his.  He was wearing a homemade, knitted, blue sweater that made me feel cozy.  The event was timeless.  The next thing I knew, we were back to drinking our tea. 

I was so excited, saying that was the best connection I'd ever had, and asked how he felt.  He said he hadn't really noticed any change.  I was blown away and disappointed, wondering how I could have been alone in that wonderful experience of unity.  Mila came back to our table.  It had been only a few minutes, but had become a permanent sign that left me wondering.

The following Monday, Craig came up to me at college, asking if I could check at Mila's to see if he had left his jacket.  He asked if I knew what it looked like.  I blushed, remembering the love I felt when seeing him in that sweater.  I said, "Yeah, I know what it looks like." 

Monday evening I went by Mila's to check.  Her mother answered the door and I asked if Craig's sweater had been left there.  I described it as a blue, knitted sweater.  She said, "No, there was a jacket left, but no sweater like that."  We were both puzzled.  She showed me the jacket, a red-and-black, hunter's jacket.  I looked at it disdainfully, thinking how opposite it was from anything Craig would wear.  "No," I said, "I guess he didn't leave it here."

I told Craig the next morning that his sweater wasn't there, only someone's hunting jacket.  He said, "Well, that's it."  I argued, saying it wasn't the blue sweater, but a red and black, hunter's jacket.  He insisted that was it.  Now I was confused, but agreed to bring the jacket to him the next day.  I never understood that.  How could I be so mistaken?

Two months later, I told Craig that I was moving to Washington State.  He told me that it was a very mystical place and that there was magic in the mountains, and that I would find it to be good.  After I had been settled in Washington, I had to find a home for my large dog, Rochante.  I placed an ad the the newspaper, very sad to part with him, but the neighbors were insisting.  I was living with my boyfriend, Jerry, and I always hoped that one day we would marry.  Jerry and I had raised Rochante. 

One day we were expecting someone who had answered the ad.  There was a knock on the door, and Rochante began to bark ferociously.  Jerry opened the door and Rochante lunged.  I leaned forward to grab his collar, and saw the man at the door, who, when he saw the attacking dog, smiled broadly and said, "He's perfect."  I was instantly struck, tingling from head to toe. (I had experienced this feeling before.  It happened the day I saw Jerry and knew that we were to be involved.  But this time it was much more intense.)  I was aware of a knowledge that I was being introduced to this person to love, and I wanted to marry Jerry and not get personally involved with this guy, so tried to keep my attention on Rochante. 

Jerry and I took Dale to the park, so he and Rochante could get to know one another.  We played Frisbee, a game Rochante was adept at.  Afterwards Dale took Rochante home.  When they left, Jerry turned to me and said, "You should marry him."  I quickly and defensively reacted, saying, "No, I only want to marry you."  Jerry had often encouraged me to go out with other guys.  We had a kind of open relationship, and he often took advantage of that himself. 

I missed my dog.  And it turned out that Dale lived in an apartment just a few blocks down the street.  So I went to visit Rochante, and got to know Dale.  He was so interesting, creative, confident, and had dreams about doing, and had done, so many things I had secretly dreamed of doing myself.  I was impressed.  And I knew that God was behind this. 

On one of my visits, Dale wasn't home, and when I climbed the stairs to his apartment I saw on his door a beautifully scripted sign he had made that said, "Dale Lund abides within."  I was strongly affected by this demonstration of his confidence and self-esteem, and was inspired.  Since he wasn't there, I turned to go back down the stairs when I saw him coming.  I was embarrassed for him to find that I was coming uninvited.  I suddenly felt insecure and didn't like to admit that to myself or him.  When he saw me, he stopped at the bottom of the stairs while I was on the landing above.  He looked a little surprised and shy, which helped me get my nerve back up.  We started right in talking, and he told me several stories, including one that he wished to someday write about a race of dwarves in the Olympic Mountains.  He also told me how it was so wild in those mountains that people could go there to live and never be discovered.  That made me happy to think about that kind of freedom, having come from southern California where it was hard ever to be alone or find any natural wilderness.  I noticed also his supple and muscular arms, and was embarrassed that I was taking notice of his physical features while I was telling myself I was just coming to visit my dog.

We later went inside and he showed me his phonograph, which was a unique, yellow, square box on a stand.  He placed a headset over my ears and had me lie down on the floor and listen while he played the full twenty minutes of Pink Floyd's "Echoes."  It was a trippy and relaxing sonic journey.  Then while I sat on the couch, petting Rochante, Dale went into the other room and came bursting back and began beating me with a big foam sword!  I was shocked and angry! ...and then delighted, because he had thrown into my lap like weapons, and I realized he was challenging me to play.  So we had a great sword fight! 

That evening, back at home, I was getting ready for work in the bathroom, and Jerry called from the other room, asking where I had been.  I said, "I went to visit Rochante at Dale's place."  At that moment I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw a dimpled smile, and I realized my secret.  I was in love. 

Dale and I knew each other for two months, and our engagement was ten days.  We were married in the backyard of his parents' Camano Island home, by his dad, who was a minister.  To celebrate, we had a big family picnic and later walked down to the beach. 

On our wedding night we went home to our little cabin in the woods that Dale had built near Lake Stevens.  As we were getting ready for bed, since we had no bathroom, it was necessary to take a kerosene lantern and shovel outside.  Dale put on his sweater and followed me into the dark forest.  When I turned, the lantern cast its light on him.  Everything became apparent, and I remembered.  I exclaimed, "Where did you get that sweater?!" 

"My mom made it," he said.

He was wearing a homemade, knitted, blue sweater!  "It was you!" I gasped.  And he looked into my eyes, smiled, and gave a wink of approval.