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.

The Submission

Sorry by bigjom

In the past month or so, lots has changed around here, which is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. Good things, more accurately, more good things are on the horizon for us I think.  Which is real hopeful, since lately life has been a bit more stressful and stretched taut than my husband or I would like to admit.

And one of those good things for me personally has been the hope of having one of my pieces of writing published.

If any of you follow my Facebook posts, you know that I one of my pieces had recently been accepted for publication.  Hooray! I thought.  Finally! I thought.

Turns out that the publication was not able to get enough backers and advertisers to support the magazine, so the December issue (the one in which my piece would appear) and all issues after it will not be published.

Rats! I thought when I heard that news this morning.

But I’ve now come to the conclusion that this is not a bad thing.  Which is crazy to say for someone who loves to write. For someone who longs to be published.  Yes, crazy, I would have said oh, about six months ago.

But now, eh, just an inconvenience and a let down, but really: no biggie.  Not a big deal.  At all.

Sure I’d like to be published and people to read my words and be moved and touched by them, but maybe it isn’t my time yet.  Maybe it’s time to (finally) trust God and time to (finally) let go of my need to control every aspect of my life.  The control thing: it’s all an illusion anyway.  The moment I think I have something or someone figured out, poof! it all changes and everything is entirely turned on its head.  Or my toddler decides overnight literally overnight that a certain pair of shoes are now deemed unacceptable.  How in the world can you control that?

But I digress.  The point (yes, there is one!) is that this is a good thing, this not being published.  This makes me slow down.  This makes me less ego-driven.  This makes me again, trust God instead of doing the work myself and the boldly asking him to bless it.  How far I’ve come, but how far, far, I still need to go in terms of this whole trusting, not-being-in-control thing.  The good news is I have the rest of my whole life to try and figure out how to let the bird of control out of my hand and be free, instead of almost crushing it’s wings before it tries to fly.  And that learning can’t come soon enough.

So, without further adieu, here is the piece! A cleaned up (mostly) edited version any way.  Feel free to share, and I’d love to hear if you like it/don’t like it.  Truly.

Sister

My younger sister has taught me a thing or two about life.  In between the fights over which boy band was better, what celebrity is doing what crazy thing with their hair, and my constant nagging (I call it educating), somewhere along there she grew up.

And got married.

And most recently, had a baby.

And this thing, this my-sister-is-having-a-baby, this my-sister-has-had-a-baby thing has thrown me for a loop.  As in, thrown me for a giant loop so large I’m not even sure I’m on the same racetrack anymore.

She’s more or less figured out the motherhood dance.

In under six months.

Like her, I know how hard it is to carry, worry, and then give birth to something so small and yet feel as if you are carrying the weight of the world, of all of humanity in your hands.  Down to my bones I understand that; we now have that in common.

But she, the younger (some days wiser but you didn’t hear me say that) sister, has managed the new parenting role different, better than me.

Everyone can hold the baby and love the baby unlike my new mother experience.

And also, she’s not holed up inside her house the first six weeks as if she were living with a contagious virus that means she’s housebound, on constant lock-down armed with burp rags and Lysol.

In short, she’s learned from my mistakes, and has also managed to learn what she needs in order to care for herself and her needs.

She needs community.

And I am in awe of this realization.  Of course, is what I thought, after her son was born.  She understood this need already.  Aha, is what I thought, while trying to not mourn the sometimes inept choices I made earlier in my parenting journey.  So you can do it another way, my husband has remarked openly, while I thought I really want to kick him in the shins right now.

Community.  People.  Loved ones.  The piece of the new baby puzzle I hadn’t yet figured out.

The need for (and fear of) community was exactly what I was missing postpartum, and it could of helped a great deal with my early parenting misadventures.

But thankfully, now I see.  Now I see, after awkward invitations sent out and returned, after a few weekends of more than just chores and family time, after a couple of times just hanging out with friends, now I see that.  I see what the big deal is now, and how important community is.  Community saves us.  Some of us, it saves daily.

I won’t say I have it figured out because I don’t.  Just last weekend we tried hanging out with friends more, and it was a success.  But the next day I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself; it was like a bad hangover and in the end I figured out that I felt like a seesaw that veered to far into the people world and didn’t have proper balance with the alone time.  One thing’s for sure though: there will be a lot more mistakes and learning to find the balance but that’s ok.  I have faith that eventually I will find the balance of it all.

And I have my sister, my younger sister to thank for this.

Lest you think too highly of her, she still talks too much and has absolutely zero control over her maniac dog, but the parenting thing, she has figured out.  For now, at least.  I’m just going to end there, smiling smugly at the thought of the toddler years to come, as I hold all of the overly helpful advise in getting through those years.

Five Minute Friday – Welcome

Hi There-

I’m doing this 5 minute writing challenge again…and again. Seems I’m sort of a fan of this weekly writing game, you think?

But somehow, in the midst of a Friday that included eating pizza and directing my husband making tutus (oh yes, you read that correctly) while drinking a beer, I lost track of Five Minute Friday, which is odd, because I love this challenge.  And usually I keep up.  Guess the tutus got me all mixed up, because here it is, a day late.  Oh well, such is life some days.

So, a reminder in case you’ve missed it, here’s what this challenge is all about…or, in case maybe you want to play too, some time-

This 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, free, like you have no fear or shame or no editor inside your head (both are hard for me)…and then you link up to her blog, and encourage the writer who links up before you.  This last piece is crucial, as we need to encourage others.

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

Welcome

My child knows the word “welcome” and lives it every day.  She lives it daily, in all of the hugs she gives at least twice daily, coming and going to anyone (and everyone) including the parents and those who take care of her.  I imagine, given the chance, she would even hug the UPS guy.

She lives the word welcome; it’s in her bones.

As a baby-almost-toddler, she learned how to sit by practicing in her purple chair over and over and over again; there wasn’t a day she didn’t practice learning how to sit.  She’d fall over sometimes, perched on the arm of the chair incorrectly, laugh and then roll, but she would keep getting back up and trying to get into the chair perfectly.  She did this same thing with walking, and also with talking.  Certain phrases, on constant repeat in her crib, over and over again until she got the pronunciation, the inflection, down.

In a way, I wonder if this is how she came to welcome.  Is this how she figured out how to make everyone feel warm and at home? To feel loved?  Constant practice? Is it a skill, or is it innate?

And if so, then where did she learn it from?  Did she learn it from me?

I am the last one to be comfortable with people, with open hearts, with the word welcome, especially.  But, like her, I practice, I try.  And most days, the overwhelmingly intense desire to connect over takes the need for perfection, for getting it right.  And so many days, I fall over, I fall off the chair of the arm, of this connecting business, and hopefully, laugh when I mess it up, and try again.

Recovery Room

Here’s a thought: life is one big recovery room.

I see this as a truth, as aren’t we all recovering from life to some degree?

Some of us are recovering from internal bleeding and bruising of the heart.

Some of us are recovering from the constant and continual paper cuts of life’s little problems.

And some of us have been so hurt by others, so abused by life that we are almost injured beyond recognition.

Yet here we are; all stuck together in this giant recovery room we call life.

We are not separated by degree of injury, type of injury, or health care plans;

We are not separated by how we deal with anger, loneliness or lack of love;

We are all stuck with one another, whether we love it or loathe it.

And yet, knowing this, we still stare at each other down as if we were on a lifeboat together.

We are constantly assessing whether or not that other person is good enough, healed enough or strong enough to be worthy of a seat on the lifeboat.

We scrutinize each other.  We judge.

But, we seldom realize that, along with God, we are all that we’ve got.

And ironically, that we are all we need.

If only we remembered this.