Deep happiness

Thanks to gubgib for the image.
Thanks to gubgib for the image.

I am happy.

It’s taken me so long to say that, but I am finally happy, in a way that is deeply joyful, happy in a way that feels more like long-lasting joy than happiness in say, finding the perfect pair of shoes which so often the sort of short, temporal lift I get when thinking about life and happiness—it all feels so fleeting.

This all occurred to me several mornings ago when I woke up, randomly, at 2:30am.  And I wasn’t wide awake, but sort of woke up with a jolt, and couldn’t go back to bed right away.

So, I thought about some things, thought about some other things, and then thought about just at that moment, how deeply blessed and grateful I was for this life, this exact life.  Which, if you’re anything like me, is amazing.  If you’re anything like me, some days you wish for someone else’s life, maybe someone who has it more together, is more organized, is less prone to over think and more naturally joyful.

If you’re anything like me,you tend to think your life needs to be a lot more Pinterest and Facebook-worthy, just some how a more beautiful and Photoshopped version of what you have and who you are, and before you know it, the comparison bug is biting you in the leg again.

But this morning was different.  It was a true appreciation for exactly where I am now, for exactly what I have now, and no, we’ve haven’t just all the sudden become millionaires. No, our lives are suddenly perfect.  Yes, there is still confusion and chaos and disappointment and disorganization running rampantly and abundantly in our lives.

But this feeling, this thought was so real and tangible I wanted to hold it, keep it forever: a deep, simple of sense of gratitude and contentment for a wonderful husband, this strange and yet familiar relationship of being a wife, parent, and a person maybe finally becoming comfortable in her own skin.

And knowing that all of this is good, even knowing what I know is to inevitable come: more temper tantrums, dirty diapers, loose teeth, arguments, sibling rivalry, work-life balance negotiations, difficult choices and going through growing pains and all the other things that come with what it means to be a family.

That this is good, come changes in fortune, luck, seasons and those days I blatantly misjudge and  feel like I’m getting the backhand of God instead of the usual open-handed fullness I feel from Him.

That this is good, no matter what changes or what stays annoyingly the same, that this, this mess and beauty that is life, is all good.

And I’ve been taken aback at how this feeling was so refreshingly simple, deep, and yet so full all at the same time.

All my life I’ve been chasing at meaning, happiness, grasping empty-handed at this full-of-life feeling, vivacity, like it was some complicated algorithm that I was never going to be smart enough to understand.

And I’ve realized now, it’s not. Not that complicated. The one who has complicated it has been me. This feeling-it’s just a deep appreciation for where you are, with who you are, and who you are with, regardless of how many piles of laundry that it brings, how many toddler negotiations you have to deal with, regardless of the dust, clutter, dancing and weeping and all that comes with, some days like unfriendly barnacles, the joy of family life.

Simple happiness.  Dare I say contentedness. Who would have guessed?

Children of Noah

Thanks to Jeff Ratcliff for the image.
Thanks to Jeff Ratcliff for the image.

So as the story goes we’re all children of Noah, right?

If you follow the Old Testament and read the Bible and remember all the stuff that went down about that flood, if you have any belief at all in Christ or in God, if you remember the story, the whole earth was wiped clean because humankind was so dirty, bad, almost un-savable.

Everyone, of course Noah and his family.

And if I remember correctly, even God was sad, even God was a bit regretful He made us, His finest creation, and He was deeply sad about having to wipe the slate clean so to speak, but there wasn’t a way around it, with God being who He is.

Argue the theology all you want and try to rectify that into your understanding of God. It’s a hard concept to grasp from the God of love, but if you think of a parent disciplining their child, or letting their child take responsibility for their own actions, I think you’re coming close to maybe grasping the concept, although no one can really grasp the strange backward paradigm that is God.

But I’m not here to argue theology.

I’m here to remind us that we are Noah’s children. God’s children too. We are offspring of holy.  Holy.  Let that sink in.

And I think we need a reminder in this time of too much bad and graphic news, a reminder that we are holy and precious things, people from the holiest man at the time.  Children from a family that God, God alone chose to save.  We are children of Noah.

And because of God’s great and wonderful promise, he promised not to wipe us all out again in a flood.

Lately, after seeing how destructive and cruel and inhumane we as humans can be, and with the recent development of the kidnappings in Ohio and all the gory and inhumane details that will spill out about that house and those men, in a matter of days, some days I wonder if a flood again, to wipe us out, would not do us just a tiny bit of good.

I’ll say it: all un-Christian and everything: there is a large amount of hate, of vileness and repulsive feelings I have for those men, for any people actually, who hurt, abuse, and/or use power in a perverse way over humans and animals.

Those people, I think, well, some days I think a flood would be helpful in their particular cases.  But those are not nice things to think, not Christian things to think at all.

They get me worked up into a mix of rage and sadness, so much so some days that I have to remind myself that I am a Christian, and as one, I don’t get the last say.

I don’t get to go be negative and get revenge.  Some days this is good, as it keep the latch locked on the fence of the wild pony of my emotions that would love to jump over the fence of discipline and shout obscenities (amongst other things) at people who do so much wrong, so much hurting. But I don’t get the last word on that. God does.

And while I’m choosing to trust God and not become the bitter and revengeful person I can so easily be, I still have a call as a Christian I do have to speak up and do something. And writing is where I start.

Here’s the thing about my wishes and the flood–God’s not going to do that again.  This is a mixed blessing, a mixed bag, because a part of me always wonders, always wants a report card—God said he won’t do it again, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t worthy of it happening—are we as vile, cruel, unloving and destructive as those people from the Old Testament?

If our God wasn’t as loving and as faithful as keeping his promises to us, how many times would we have been wiped away, gone, already, in this age? I have to say I’ve pondered this one too many times in the last 6 months or so, every time something horrendous happens, and I’ve pondered it more times that I would care to admit.

But that’s not the point of all this.

The point is to trust God, that all things will be redeemed in His time, in the end.

This makes no logical sense, really.  This is something I grapple with daily, because it feels a lot like giving up, like being passive.  But n actuality, it’s probably the most aggressive and radical thing you could believe.

But the whole ‘everything will be redeemed in His time’ concept? That’s a long time to wait, maybe.  And that’s a lot of trust we have to put into a God that we think is taking too long, or a God we don’t quite fully grasp, a God in reality, that is much bigger and wider than any of our minds can comprehend.

On these days, the down days, I wonder what heaven is like, if it really is perfect. I, of course hope so, but wonder: then does it get boring? What happens with perfection, with things always going so good?

And then I think of the news last week, the horrors we feel and see and hear and think to myself: heaven, redemption, you can’t get here fast enough.

That cool glass of refreshing water that is heaven cannot arrive too quickly.

But in the meantime, we have to live, and love and somehow maneuver through this world, carrying both the pain and the joy of living in these days.

And we get through with each other, and the answer isn’t a cape and a 28-minute episode where all bad things and people are resolved at the end of the show. It’s doing small actions, the small things, inconvenient steps, each day.

Oh yes, inconvenient.  If we are going to change the world and revamp the world into one we actually want to live in, we’re going to have to put down the iPhone occasionally and look up, look within, and notice what is going on within and around us.

And that means we simultaneously guard and open ourselves, our families, our communities.

We help each other with things get bad.

If things or life or our choices completely fall entirely off the rails, we are open enough to admit it, get help and move on.

We are open to community.

We are not afraid.

And we are not afraid to take action, step in, step on our neighbor’s toes in the process of trying to get it right.

It does not mean ignoring, feeling pity for others without praying; it does not mean, for certain, indifference.  Or a lot of “that’s too bad” comments on blogs.  It means we need to do something. It means action.

We care about our neighbors, and those in our community we get to know them, and we say hi and make efforts. These little things are the big efforts.

We don’t just pull our car into the garage and hop from one location to another, keeping to ourselves or to our phones, just barely noticing others.

In short, it’s that we realize that we are all family and we all have a duty to help each other out, even if that comes with defensiveness, feelings being hurt, missteps, mistakes and all of the awkwardness that comes in knowing one another authentically, as people.

And we continue to do it.  Get into relationships with other people.

Even when it gets hard, messy, ugly.

And we ask God for all the help we can get, and all the help He can possibly give us.

And we pray. We pray like the world needs help (it so desperately does), like our society needs more help that just simply a Band-Aid, a patch over problems, and we get on our hands and knees and pray like our lives are depending on it, because they are.

And we trust, still radically trust, that He has it all under control.

About last week…

Hi There-

So glad you are reading.  Just wanted to drop a little note–tonight I have 2 posts that I’ve written that I am fighting off the fear and going ahead and hitting the ‘publish’ button.

Of course, that’s not how the proper, professional bloggers do it, it would be a bit more balanced.  Not two posts in one night about more or less the same subject, but then again, I never fancied myself to be a professional blogger.  Nor do I have the consistency they do either.  I roll with what little time (or energy) I’ve got.

The point of these posts is just to say what I’ve been longing to say, it’s to somehow try and express the feelings that are so mixed and confused and hurt, just heart-heavy hurt over the news from Cleveland last week.

I’d love to say that I’m one of those that is strong in my faith (maybe-almost-there, someday soon, kind of strong) and I’d love to say I don’t struggle or grapple with faith, hope, trusting that everything will be alright in the end, but that would be a lie.  I struggle, I wrestle with this, even though I’ve read the end of the story, and everything turns out ok, better than we could have ever imagined.

So, here in two posts–is real and true grappling with my faith, with God.  Trying to hold water in my hands, trying to struggle to understand and hang onto hope.

Hope my expressing this, helps you in someway too-that’s always the aim of my writing.

Waiting on Heaven

 

thanks to  Evgeni Dinev for the image.
thanks to Evgeni Dinev for the image.

 

Some days I think it would be some much easier to live, to just live day-to-day if I lived elsewhere.

Maybe in Australia, where the president had enough of  people killing people that he banned all guns.

Maybe in Canada where there is better health care, and better maternity benefits.

Maybe in some other foreign country, like France, where the eating disorder rates and the obesity rates aren’t through the roof and sky-high like they are here.

Maybe somewhere even in this country, like Portland, where the big, open green spaces are protected, and every time I turn around I don’t see a huge plot of land being ground up, churned, mutilated for new development, or for a more convenient location to a Wal-Mart or CVS.

I just want to live in a place where my heart doesn’t constantly hurt.  Where it isn’t constantly broken by people or problems or things.

I just want to live in a place where human and animal rights are protected, not abused. Where people can be people and co-exist with their neighbors and not worry about being tormented or used or abused or tortured in new and unusual ways.  And ditto for the animals-that they can co-exist and trust all of us, instead of having to suffer through life abused, used, broken or tortured.  And a world where they get to actually keep their habitat instead of having to constantly find a new home, re-adjust to a world that is constantly changing and trees and habitat that just keep being cut down.

I just want to live in a place where each person knows the value or his or her own life, where they don’t have to play ghost, play dead or play invisible by starving or stuffing themselves to death.

I just want harmony.  I just want us to appreciate (and love) the life we are given and the animals and environment around us.

It’s clear: I just want heaven, redemption.  And it can’t get here soon enough.

Five Minute Friday – Comfort

So! Here we go again, another Five Minute Friday, this time on a Sunday morning.

Hey, whatever works, right?

So, this time I was an overachiever and did it twice–once on Friday night, just to let go, challenge my mind in another way, and once this morning, after inspiration struck as I was opening the blinds. So today, you get two-for-one! And you also get to tell me which one resonated the most with you in the comments, if you feel so lead.

For a reminder-this Five Minute Friday thing is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Comfort

 ID-10065927

Comfort 1:

Words and words and words pour out of me on Fridays, over the weekend.

Ideas and thoughts and some of which just don’t make much sense, don’t stand up to the heat of the weekdays.

But I write.

I write mostly for my children, to leave a legacy, to leave a name for myself, who I was on my short time here, I write to leave lessons, memories for them as to remind them as to the essence of who they really are, before the hard and defensive years of the teens and twenties turn them towards themselves, untrusting as to who they are and if they are good enough.

They are more than good enough, they are worthy.

I leave words in their journals, their somewhat-finished baby books, in emails, in notes, in cards, in the big blank sheets of the opening pages of a book where you can write a dedication, I leave words wherever I think they can find them, hang onto to them in moments of stress or insecurity or whatever thing makes them feel any less than beautiful and worthy.

I leave words to comfort.

I leave words in their ears, in their dreams at night I try to whisper sweet things that will stick with them, as if some sort of dreamy osmosis, that they take deep into their subconscious to hear; I try to say loving words enough times, the world over, so that my words, those words are written on their hearts so much so that the outside world can’t erase them, can’t change their minds on who they are or how so very much loved they are.

I write and I write and I write.  Mostly for them, but for me, for my piece of mind too, my comfort in knowing that I am trying to do the very best mothering I can, that they won’t live their lives rudderless, unaware of how very loved they are.

Comfort

Thanks to pakorn for the image.
Thanks to pakorn for the image.

Comfort 2:

My long, 6 foot table, my beautifully reclaimed wood dining room table, the one piece of furniture in our house that is the most expensive (and the one that, in a fire, after my family and pets were safe, I would hitch up on my back and walk out of the house with) sits this morning in a mess of piles, paper, and other misc projects and things collected on it.

I open the blinds high, wide, and let the sun rays pour in anyways.

Mind you, this piles aren’t organized, the room itself lovely, but not masterfully decorated, and this scene certainly isn’t Pinterest-worthy.

I open the blinds anyway, a bit bold, brave, and perhaps stupid in that I kind of do still care what others, my neighbors think.

It’s an amazing ironic and comforting move all at the same time, because it reminds me of God and me, God and humankind: He illuminates the mess.

Whatever state things are in, whether you are ok with the problem/issue/state of your dining room table or not, He illuminates it.  He makes the sun shine in, so much so that you can’t help but throw back the curtains and breathe in the sunlight, comfort, deep comfort is knowing that you are truly loved just as you are.

Five Minute Friday – Brave

Here we go again–Five Minute Friday challenge, this time, on Friday!  I know! What a concept.

Oh, life. Today’s it’s working in my favor, but that’s no guarantee for tomorrow, is it? If life really came with some sort of insurance and re-assurance, that would be wonderful.  But perhaps we wouldn’t grow so much, and that’s the beauty in things that don’t go as we planned. But that’s another post in itself, I think.

So moving on…

For a reminder-it’s a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

 Brave

 

thanks to imagerymajestic for the image.
thanks to imagerymajestic for the image.

Being brave is something that I am currently doing, sitting here, amongst the dishes still spread all haphazardly and left out from a good dinner, while my daughter cries and throws a fit because she did not get her way as to who she wants to bathe her.

Being brave is being comfortable in knowing that my husband has it under control, and that eventually, she will have it under control one day too because her mother did not always run to rescue her every single time she didn’t get her way during her toddler years.  Being brave is admitting this all to you too, to let you in on the parenting styles we so fiercely judge each other over.

I pray for my children daily, for bravery, courage, that the are the ones holding hands with the others, the ones that feel like they are weak or less for some reason. I pray that my children are the ones that hold onto those people and other children so strongly, like a giant red rover line, that they clasp each other so tightly that nothing, I mean nothing can break that chain of fierce love, protection, and community.

If you must know, I also pray a very human prayer, that, in the end, if not in the beginning (and all the way through, a selfish parent prayer) that my children are thick as thieves, that sibling rivalry is just something of an afterthought.

And in that end, I pray for bravery for me too, my husband, the other parents, as raising children is in itself, some days, is a big, heaping act of bravery.