Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lazy and it's OK

This is the kind of day where no one wants to get out of bed (except the youngest - who is whiney and sick and won't go BACK to bed.)

 It is a chilly morning and the kids are struggling to put their brains on (and their clothes on - they are wrapped in toga-like blankets) and I for one, would like to just wear my pajamas all day (which I do occasionally.)




don't often have days like this where I tell myself "It's ok. Everyone has days like this."
But today, I somehow - miraculous beyond all belief - have the presence of mind to give myself and my family permission.
It's ok. Everyone has days like this.



It is an extra cup of tea day.

A pulling away from the "important things-that-must-be-done" day.

A finding time instead to read A Road To Oz and laugh at the clever witticisms of Mr. Baum.

It is a couch visiting day.
One where you tuck the favorite cuddling blanket around your legs and watch a mind numbing show - just because your mind needs to rest. And your body needs to slow.




All of the important learning things, cleaning things, working things will be there tomorrow. But by then, we'll feel like doing them. With joy.
Because we rested.



And it's ok.
Better than ok.
It's GOOD.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tiny steps

I feel like I am getting nothing done;

Half finished projects,





Half finished books,

Lists and lists hastily scratched.



I can't go on because the laundry needs to be done,

The dishes washed,

Food cooked for hungry mouths.



Until one day,
A rare day,
It all comes together.



All of the prep work,

The rest days,

The portions of things done in ten spare minutes -

All ends up MATTERING,

That day that it all comes together.




Kind of like a punch line that isn't funny until you sit through the whole set-up of the joke. All that work that feels arbitrary, isn't.

The food turns into meal.
Little by little.



The projects begin to make sense.
Little by little.





Knowledge gets retained.
Little by little.

The child turns into a man.
Little by little.


Faith is built and grown...
Into something solid.
Little by little.





All the history. All the words. All the lives. Eventually lead to one great moment that makes it worth it.
 Thank YOU, GOD.


Monday, September 29, 2014

finding homes

Things are beginning to find their places.



Perhaps we have now passed the halfway mark of our things that now have a home in our house. It's not perfect.

 The things belong...



But not always prettily. I have no time for fancy organization. I used to desire it. Crave it. NEED it. Magazine structure. Chaos free.
I can still find myself, even now, wanting that for my space and my life.



But there is so much beauty in just belonging. The cutting board just FITS. The tea is haphazard but I know WHERE IT IS.



It is a satisfaction like family.
No family is perfect.
But we BELONG. Somewhere.



Even the lost have homes that they haven't found ... Yet.
But they are there.
Waiting.
It may not be exactly like what you envision.



But it is home.
For now.



Whetting our appetite 
For a more perfect later.
But just enjoying the NOW.
And being THANKFUL.



God settles the solitary in a home
Psalm 68:6

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Persevere

There are days when I seem to just chant this one little word over and over and over in my brain, hoping it will translate to my heart and soul.



You don't have to be going through anything especially traumatic to feel the struggle to persevere. It is just life.
 Everyday life.

Of course, heaven knows I am not discounting those trials when it is hard to even imagine putting one foot in front of the other through sloggy time and piled up earth. We need an extra dose of endurance then, for sure.
But what about just every. single. day? We get out of bed, determined - or not - to put on a positive thought, but our legs are tired.
Our brains are fried.
We have people to feed.
We have to go to the same job.
We are in charge of something and responsible.
We keep peeling wallpaper but there is more under there!


How do we persevere then? EVERY DAY? Our whole lives?
This world is hard. My brain gets messed up about what is important, pretty much several times per rotation of the planet. The labor that it takes to make things happen is ... LABORious. 


Isn't it?

I know this about you. And you know it about me. Let's just look at things real.

I'm not always happy to begin the day cooking and reading to and directing and goading children and ... oh my gosh! I'm in charge of human beings!!!



This is how I keep doing it. Over and over. Trudging and plowing. Little by little.
Knowing that God is God.
I'm not in charge of that - thank God.
And then I can stop.
Get quiet in my soul.
Look around with fresh, unconcerned eyes because God is God.
And from that one thought I can be
 thankful.


 And I can feel freedom to not be God. I can just do what I can do and leave the rest up to Him.
Thankfully.  
Minute by minute. 
Persevering.

How do you persevere?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

After




The kids and I went for a walk the other day after it had rained really hard. My son commented on how he didn't really like the air because it felt thick with water. He noticed the earthy smell that the rain brings with it, the wet ground and the vivid colors of the foliage - some of the plants excited to be alive and some beaten down by the past torrent.
I told him that I enjoyed the rain and also after the rain. It was exciting. Different. It provides for life, but at the same time it could ruin things. What a paradox a storm can bring.



I have been trying to figure out what my life looks like after the storm of cancer. It isn't the same as is was and it is not the same as it has been. My ground is soaked with so much rain. Some of my flowers have bloomed from nourishment. But I have leaves and branches that have broken, fallen away. Been beaten down, down, down.

Who am I now? 

I set aside so many everyday worries and burdens when there was the big WORRY. Now I have seemed to pick them up again thinking I should be able to carry them if I was able to get through almost two years of battling something big.

Why do I do that?

How many burdens are ok to carry? Can I just be free? Is it ok to be free from worries?

And is it ok to be different? To allow cancer to be part of who am but not let it define me completely? 
Maybe it is just too fresh. I will be on medication for the next ten years. It hasn't even been a year since my hysterectomy - and it changed me. It changed the way I feel. It changed my moods. It changed my sleeping habits.



I am happy to be almost past these two years. I am relieved to be living. I am grateful for things I never noticed before. And yet...

I am picking up some yokes of life that I think I SHOULD carry because I FORGET that I wasn't the strong one who got through cancer. I FORGET that I am not the one who should be able to do so much because I think I should have some kind of extra strength now since I am done with chemo and finished with surgeries. I am different now. But I am still the same. I was weak before. I was weak during and I am weak after. And I am kind of glad about that. I don't want to be the one who carries my world alone, even though I sometimes try.

When I am weak, He is strong

"Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you"



I haven't been doing these hard things from the beginning. Why do I think I can do them alone now?

Going to be doing less carrying
and more casting...

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take MY yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." ~Jesus Christ




Friday, June 20, 2014

And I keep having adventures

In my last post I mentioned that I sensed change coming. Well, here it is. After more than 14 years in our East Nashville house, we have moved! 

I just have to get this off my chest - moving is the worst thing ever (ok, chemo is a little worse - but not much!) I have so much more sympathy for people who are moving than ever before! 
Y'all, I am so tired, I don't know how my body is still functioning.
But as grueling as the process is, I am so glad we have done it! We are taking the steps to get out of debt and it feels good to be making some wise financial decisions.

The first morning that I woke up in the new house, the very first thing I read as I opened my Bible was: "Lord, you've been kind to your land; you have changed Jacob's circumstances for the better." Psalms 85:1
That verse sums up this move perfectly.

So now, let me just reminisce about the house we have raised all of our kids in until now:










It was a good place.

The new one will be just as good. Maybe even better.
We get to do a lot of work on it, which is completely daunting and yet exciting. I'm pretty sure I would not be happy if I moved into a space that was already redone. An old untouched house really gets my creative juices flowing.
I'm already getting "before" photos of all the lovely flocked and metallic 60's wallpaper for you to Ooooh and ahhh over. You are going to love it.
NOT.






But, give me 14 years, and it is going to be awesome.
(Insert smily face with extra wide, slightly overwhelmed eyes here.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

What happens when you cry in yoga class and the dumbest prayer I ever prayed


Ok, nothing really happens when you burst out crying in a class of twenty people all doing the pigeon pose. Other than there is a weird muffled, snot sound and you feel like a hot, embarrassed mess.
But that has been me. Feeling feelings.
I am usually a feeling stuffer. I can become disconnected emotionally. I do it to protect myself from getting so happy that  it hurts when hopes are dashed, or so sad I can not move forward. I do it to feel in control of my surroundings. Not feel.
Which is why I was taken by surprise when I began to sob in my propped-up-on-blocks pigeon pose. It is a pose I am used to. I love the hip opening burn of it. But I am so protective of my chest, that I can't fully rest with chest laying on my bended knee anymore. I don't know if that is even the real reason I cried. Maybe it was a simple release reflex, and me acknowledging that I am NOT in control (one more time out of millions of times.)



It seems like the older I get, the less I know. The less I can do. The less I understand. 
And I think this is exactly what God wants me to feel. I am and always have been out of control, and I think He wants me to feel it.
I have been reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller, (a book I highly recommend) and in it, he talks about this very thing. He quotes John of Landsburg, in his sixteenth century book, A Letter From Christ, who imagines Jesus saying to us:
"...I don't want you to rely on your own strength and abilities and plans, but to distrust them and to distrust yourself, and to trust Me and no one and nothing else. As long as you rely entirely on yourself, you are bound to come to grief. You still have a most important lesson to learn: your own strength will no more help you to stand upright than propping yourself on a broken reed. You must not despair of Me. You may hope and trust in me absolutely. My mercy is infinite."

So, my feelings of craziness, out of control, can't think, can't do, don't know, fumbling bumbling tripping speeding kamikaze, can be a GRACE designed to cause me to turn to Jesus - who IS in control. Who loves me and my family. 
Because when I am at the end of my rope, I cling to Him.



This week was my final chemotherapy treatment. How overjoyed we all are! I have felt my soul breathe a sigh of relief.
But I have to say that as hard as it has been, I have been blessed a hundred times more than the sorrow it has brought. It has proven the trustworthiness of God and put into perspective the ingredients of my life here on earth. And I don't want to lose that perspective.
I'm actually scared I will lose that perspective.
So that brings me to the dumbest prayer I ever prayed:
"Lord, don't allow me to fall into a sense of my own control, that I might turn to something other than You."


And then I told Him, "wait, I don't mean that! I need rest!"
A small voice inside me whispered the words I know to be true:

 "I (the Lord) am the one that gives rest in the middle of a storm."
And
 "I fight your battles, you only need to be still."



The day after I prayed my oh, so risky prayer, I begin to feel a change coming to our household. I won't go into detail about it yet, but I can sense that God is answering my desire to cling to Him.

I have to admit, even with all of His proof of faithfulness, I am still afraid!
 I still don't know.
 I still don't fully understand
.
But I am willing to push my quaking boots into one more step after Him. And then one more step after that.
 I think that is all it takes. 
A minute step forward, as our completely-real childlike selves, towards our God.

P.S. Happy Easter.
"He has done it!" Psalm 22:31



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A new year with the same God

I couldn't help but wake up today, January 1st, 2014, with a sense of anxiety. Yes, it is a new year, free from surgery after surgery (I just finished my sixth since this whole cancer thing started,) it's past the most intense part of chemotherapy and I'm looking forward to doing things I wasn't able to last year. And with it brings pressure. Pressure that I imposed on myself somewhere in the night or early morning between these two years of Our Lord. "This year I have to be better. This year I have to do more. This year will be the year I ..." fill in the blank.



I stormed downstairs to provide a "special day" service of making brunch for the family (also my own idea) and I threw my hands up in irritation with a suffocating feeling of overwhelm (is overwhelm a thing? Because this morning it became a noun that choked my being and applied it's crazy, obese weight on my back.) The kitchen was in disarray from our relaxed dinner last night. We were out of eggs and milk. I stepped on a heavily abused toy and generally just woke up too late too feel good about anything anyway.
 If I can't start the day like Mary Poppins on the first day of the year, then how can I do better, be better, do more and be more any other day?




My ever peacemaking husband came down to partner with me in the endeavors of the day, and his first task of order was to reminisce a personal moment of clarity.
We were newly engaged and we went with a few friends to a lonely out of the way camping spot on a very small island in the middle of a lake. It was early spring, and while the weather was pleasant during the day, the water of the lake had not lost its winter chill. As dusk settled on our little two tent temporary homestead, Seth and his friend decided to troll around in the canoe that had expertly delivered us to our island.
Alone on land, my companions and I tended our fire and darkness settled all around the edges of our bubble. 
I don't know how long they had been out in the boat before we heard a distant splash and strangled cry.  I ran as far to the edge of the wet blackness as I thought I could without falling in the frigid water myself or soaking the only pair of sneakers I brought. I screamed a question of well-being into the direction that I last heard my fiancĂ© and friend. There was no immediate reply to me, only "Greg! Greg!.....Greg!" as Seth struggled for purchase on one side of the slippery boat bottom and our friend, unseen by him, struggled to hang on to the other.

I fell to my knees. I had believed in God once. And for that night I sought Him again. 

Meanwhile, God was planting a seed in my future husband, despite the fact that neither he nor I had desired a relationship with Him on a regular basis. Up until then, God was a being of our own making. One that we had created in our minds to resemble ourselves - made to do what we pleased and was "good" as long as he was making choices that we, ourselves, would make. 

But a proximity to death can sometimes change all of that.


I finally heard Seth shout out that they were both alive but that the boat had capsized. They were able to save a flashlight and they turned it on to give us an awareness of where they were located. The light helped my hope, but there was nothing we could possibly do in the night to save them - since they had our only means of transportation and it was currently floating upside down in a hypothermic, 80 foot deep lake with the two of them barely hanging on in their water-weighted clothes.
I couldn't keep track of the time as I sat at the edge of the island pleading with God and wondering how much longer it would take them to reach shore - or even if they would make it to shore - with their cold, cramped, water-logged muscles straining against the wind blown current that was pushing against their every forward thrust. It was hours. It seemed like days.
And my Seth, who didn't pray, was praying.



He wasn't bargaining with God. His strength was ebbing away but he had the presence of mind to acknowledge that making empty promises to live better would be akin to making idle declarations under duress. It wouldn't mean a thing. Instead he came to a God he hardly knew with nothing but the realization that he indeed had not one iota to offer Someone who could save his meager life.

Seth's life was saved that day. After clinging to the overturned vessel nearly three hours, the two friends finally made it to the opposite shore despite the lake's desperate attempt to suck them to its depths. They were weak with exhaustion and hypothermia, but they were alive. And a seed had been planted. A seed of what the grace of God truly means.
A person can't do more, or be more, to earn His love. He is there, loving us before we even see Him. We can't do better or be better to make Him save us from ourselves and our predicaments. We are just not good enough, smart enough, or powerful enough to save ourselves. But when he saves you, despite yourself, you can't help but be changed.

As Seth recounted his story, one that I already knew so well, my heart was guided to bow down to the mighty God of Grace, as tears flowed from my tired eyes.






This notion of doing better the next year will always end in disappointment. I just can't do better. But He can. Last year, every single thing that needed to happen, did. Things that didn't necessarily need to happen, but were welcome blessings and joyous moments, happened too. His Grace was so present in every moment - how can I do better than that?
 So for this year, I am entering it just as I am - with all my baggage, my hurts, my many, many scars and my less than perfect ways and I am not going to strive to be better. I'm not going to try to do more. I'm going to keep plodding along, reminding myself to keep my eyes on Him, who grants every year of my life with more grace than I deserve.
And His grace will once again be sufficient beyond all my expectations.




And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6 NIV)