Just listening

ID-100394419
Thank to Stoonn and freedigitalphotos.net for the image

Can we be honest here?

I’m not sure what the hell I’m supposed to be doing.

While I’ve had (what I’ve felt over the course of several years) was a calling from God to write, I’m not so sure anymore. There have been things that have developed (now that I can clearly see with two undistracted eyes) that need some addressing and taking care of, now. More immediate than the lifelong dream of being considered a “writer.”

Nothing bad, no, and thanks for asking.

But I’m seeing things and behaviors in my family unit that I just accepted because well, I was too busy to address, and here’s the frightening thing: even notice.

Too busy to even notice.

From me, the Always Constant Noticer, the One Who Remembers, or so I’ve been called (and have recognized that tendency in myself ), this is terrifying.

Too busy to notice. Which is heartbreaking to me because it begs the question: What else have I missed?

What else has sailed on right past me because I was too busy building my career, focusing on me, wondering, just when in the hell, I could have a writing career of my own?

Please hear me: ambition, work, not bad things in life. Good things, actually.

But when you realize you perhaps, have a problem with ambition, in that it drives you to see only you and how things might work out for you, I think you have a problem. I’m using the word you, of course, meaning me.

What other things will I find under this big heavy rock of selfishness, I wonder lately.

And each time I wonder, more worms. More selfishness. More, sigh, dirt.

My husband reminds me that I’m changing too, a transformation of my own, and to not be so hard on myself.

But still I wonder what more I’ll uncover, hesitant. Though ironically knowing that what I discover about myself (negative or otherwise) is really, truly an opportunity.

An opportunity, yes. Even if it feels a little bit (I won’t lie: a lot) like pain and something I don’t want to have to deal with.

It’s like what they say about sickness and also well, my personal thoughts about clutter/cleaning up: it always gets worse (or seems worse) before it gets better.

So, that’s what I’m reminding myself now. To holding on. To hold on and know deeply that all the things and relationships I had in a certain arrangement in my previous life are transforming, changing, shifting. Just like me.

And through it all, remembering to listen to God. Because if He’s changing me, the dreams I’ve held for several years may also need a bit dusting off too.

All I can do is wait. And listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday – on a Saturday evening

So, here is this, a Five Minute Friday challenge, one I used to do with some regularity a while ago.

We won’t mention how long it’s been since I’ve participated in this, that’s not polite conversation. But, if you must know, it’s been a while. See previous post for the reason why.

And here are the rules, should you want to join me, which I hope you do some day. This is fun stuff here, and challenging, and a great side effect is that your writing gets better, stronger. And you also get to encourage others too, which is icing on the cake.

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 and inappropriate comma use, like I do.  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, yes, oh yes we do.

You ready? Here we go:

Grace

thanks to  papaija2008 for the image use.
thanks to papaija2008 for the image.

 

So, today, because I apparently like to make more issues for myself (as if there aren’t enough there to deal with already) in the middle of a beautiful November day—crisp, crackle-y and full of all kinds of wonderful autumn colors, I decided to go jean shopping.

Because I apparently like to take my life in my own hands.

So, with already faltering semi-ok attitude and a gift card in hand, off I went.

It didn’t end well. In fact, if I’ll be really honest with myself, most of these shopping escapades lately don’t bode very well for me; at the very minimum, I end up feeling very bad about my hips; and at the very worst I end up hating all of life, wondering about all of my choices in life, my husband, my house, and the last dessert I had that only aided in creating the hip situation I’m currently in. It’s not pretty.

Maybe there should be a law about jean shopping less than a year after you have a child.  Perhaps I should follow it.

Like I said, I must really, really like to take my life in my own hands.

But thank God for God, and for grace, because on the days I don’t quiet the little voice inside of me with donuts, I hear Him. I hear Him say it’s all ok, and then there is an overwhelming quiet and flood of peace that I can’t deny. And I have to say that is a whole lot more reassuring and confidence boosting that trying to fit my whole self into a pair of jeans that clearly weren’t meant for me.

His grace is the one I seek, the one I so desperately long to find, especially on days like these, running long on self-deprecation and short on mercy. And jeans.

But that’s ok. Because in this grace and quiet, I’ve decided maybe it’s cords for me this fall.

Five Minute Friday (on a Monday) Red

Five Minute Friday, yep, on a Monday. Monday. I clearly ain’t that proud.

But, wanted to do this, and so here it goes–writing, amongst the laundry piles, the to-do lists and the general clutter and eons-long list of things yet to be done. But writing, still. In the midst of all of that and the new bit of life with a baby, so feel like a champ that I can just sit down for 10 or so odd minutes and pound out some words and thoughts. Truly, this feels like superhero work that as a bonus, makes me feel good about life. And P.S.-it’s a special treat for you if the words and thoughts are actually spelled correctly!

So, here is this, a Five Minute Friday challenge, one I used to do with some regularity a while ago.

And here are the rules, should you want to join me, which I hope you do some day. This is fun stuff here, and challenging, and a great side effect is that your writing gets better, stronger. And you also get to encourage others too, which is icing on the cake.

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 and inappropriate comma use, like I do.  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, yes, oh yes we do.

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

go-

 RED

thanks to nuchylee for the image use.
thanks to nuchylee for the image use.

Can I tell you honestly? When I see the word red, all I think is seeing red, devil with the red dress on, and this little random factoid that I learned: that red is the most important color on a Pinterest pin because it is the color that attracts the most pinners.

Random, right?

But, since I can’t write about all of these, I’ll write about one, and that’s seeing red. Which, unfortunately I see more often these days, as I’m a mother of a new one and have sleep deprivation on a pretty regular basis. And I’m also a mother of a toddler, so therefore in the stage of being entrenched in their daily negotiations that so much so that it feels more like negotiating with a crazed terrorist (but the loveliest, cutest sort) than it feels like rearing children.

And so often, I lose my cool. I don’t yell, I don’t scream, which I’m real thankful for, but I so quickly lose my patience for the 30th “why” question on something I’ve already explained about 20 times before; I so quickly get tired of the “stay away from your brother’s face” phrase I have to repeat over and over again; I so quickly get tired, in spirit and in just maturity, of being the parent and being the bigger person instead of falling into the emotional exchange with a toddler who’s so deeply seated in the smack-dab middle of her toddlerhood that I think she may never come out of this stage, and all the while, me acting like a eye-rolling babysitter instead of her mother.

And I know it has nothing, this toddlerhood, on raising a teenager, so I hear. But I have to say, that all the cards I’ve been getting lately for our new one’s birth have said, more or less, “good luck on going from 3 to 4!” and every time, I jump to the conclusion that they are talking about my toddler, and how going from age 3 to 4, age 4 which happens later this year.  I only recently figured out that these cards were talking about our family going from 3 people to 4 people, not about my toddler’s age at all.

Can you tell I’ve been a little exasperated with my 3 year old?

But truth be told, I love her, dearly. Always have. Always will, despite anything and everything, even my own attitude. And that’s true for the new one too, no matter what sorts of trouble or little annoyances crop up.

And another truth-I am so thankful, especially, for the one who hears my prayers, my desperate, keep-me-calm and help-my-keep-my-tone-and-attitude-respectful, sometimes red-laced prayers.

Five Minute Friday – Worship

Hi there, friend. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

So, life throws you curveballs sometimes and sometimes those curveballs are beautiful, wonderful little cherubs called babies, and that’s what has happened here. And I’m beyond blessed.

However, these little curveballs wrapped in cute dimpled flesh also have agendas of their own, needs that need to be attended to (and getting smiles a great reward for those needs being met) and also: growth spurts, reflux issues, and oh yeah-some allergies we just found out about.

Whew.

But tonight, I steal a little time away from my tinies for me, and the best me-time I can get is writing. If only there were enough time and energy to write my days away, I would. But see paragraph above why I can’t. The loveliest of interruptions are my life now.

So, here is this, a Five Minute Friday challenge, one I used to do with some regularity a while ago.

And here are the rules, should you want to join me, which I hope you do some day. This is fun stuff here, and challenging, and a great side effect is that your writing gets better, stronger. And you also get to encourage others too, which is icing on the cake.

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 and inappropriate comma use, like I do.  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, yes, oh yes we do.

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

go-

WORSHIP

 

thanks to franky242 for the image.
thanks to franky242 for the image.

Worship – a beautiful word (and connotation) to many, but to me, it’s a word I equate with trying too hard, a bit of rigid Christianity, complete with images of The Church Lady from SNL during the Dana Carvey years; a word I associate with some of the seemingly try-too-hard and over-earnest worship music of the early nineties.

Worship, to me, is not this type of corporate movement or sort of idea. Worship may be what we do, but it’s simple; not these grandiose movements or actions or very active nouns. It’s isn’t loud, it’s a very quiet verb, a way of living life.

For me, worship is less formal, more intimate in nature—it’s the mental hand-wringing and pleading with God while doing the dishes; it’s the silent and urgent prayers while waving good-bye to your children at school. It’s the early morning sunshine, the dew on the grass, the uninterrupted and still-quiet world before it’s had the caffeine of traffic, rush hour, loudness. It’s the hushed, desperate thank yous for a positive test, a negative biopsy, a disease narrowly missed.

To me, worship is an internal space with God, an intimate and constant conversation with Him throughout the day, throughout my life.

And boy howdy, how desperate I am for it.

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.

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

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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 Minutes Fridays – Broken

Here we go again–Five Minute Friday challenge, on a Saturday night.  And this time, B, my husband, has even joined in on the fun.  After my post is his!  Yay for doing things together! Always warms my heart.  Even more so when we play Jeopardy together.  Yes, we perhaps are the biggest nerds you know. No, I’m not afraid to admit it.

What we did tonight-the writing-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.  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-

 Broken

thanks to jiggoja for the image.
thanks to jiggoja for the image.

This week has left me broken.  Broken in a way that I’ve been a million times before, that isn’t anything new, or note-worthy for that matter, but broken in a way that’s mean shattered, a little bit beyond just simple disrepair.

And it’s not terrible, really, to be broken.  How else, then, will you know how to be filled? How else can you reach for wholeness with an irresistable longing? Only if you’ve experienced the broken openness do you know how coming apart can very much so mean the joy of putting back together.  And all through life, we do this again and again, the learning, the breaking, the repairing.  It, to some degree, is how we learn to move through this world beyond just surviving.

And sitting with the brokenness—late on a Friday, a Good Friday, we call it, though it is A So Terribly Bad Friday, sitting with that knowledge and truth on a Friday night that is awful, combined with the sting of how my brokenness led him there, and with the added dream-like state of my bad mood with not enough sleep from the night before, only hurt me more.  And I had to sit with it, uncomfortable and quiet, and that really is the least of all I could do, for the one who has the power and the grace, daily, to make me whole.

Broken

ID-10013065

He pushes his way through the burnt ashes and charred wood looking and looking.  Although his hands ached from searching the wails behind him kept his drive going.  Where could it be?  Had someone stolen it when the volunteers came through searching for survivors? … Too many questions.

He finally saw a small glint that was not black, brown and grey.  The glint from the sun danced on the metal and wood.  How could it have survived?  He glanced back again to see if his son was still crying and then kept using what strength was left to remove the trunk from the disaster that was their home.  When he had the area cleared out, the trunk had been roughed up and damaged, probably beyond repair.  Like his home.  Like his marriage.  Like his neighborhood.  Yet, the key still fit in the lock his son had put on their to keep his treasures safe.  He pulled out the black, stuffed panda/grizzly/whatever bear.  His smile as he turned around to his son while extending this piece of their previous safe haven to him was all he had left.  Yet it appeared enough to the four year old in giveaway clothes.  It brought them both home again.