Saturday, January 25, 2014

Love

Recently, one of my g'babies was feeling pretty sickish and I found myself falling further and further behind with my agenda as this baby requires extra loving when he's ill.  There was a lot of sitting-holding, standing-holding, lying-around-holding as I tried to console his senses and make him well.

It was a sort of novelty for me as I'm not the sort to give up my agenda so readily. My preference might have been to do working-holding but that would have divided my attention too vastly to meet his needs.

Novelty, for real, because I'm generally too selfish to put other folks's needs ahead of my own.  I say this sort of thing out loud sometimes and friends tell me it's a ridiculous notion, but regardless of the words I say or put on paper, I still know me better than the "public" does.

Anyhow, there was this moment when I was brushing the hair across his brow and whispering lullabies to him that a thought occurred to me:  I would take this on for you if I could.  I would be sick on your behalf if it were possible.

I'm sure that in all my years of mothering, wife-ing, friending, I must have said this before and probably more than once but I don't think I've ever felt it so intensely or so intensely understood the implications of such a statement as I did in that moment.

I started to think about my prominent relationships.  I would be sick for the g'babes so that they might be well.  I would ease the burdens that my daughters carry in order that they might have fruitful, happy lives.  I would relieve my husband of the emotional weight he carries so that he might have all the joy and buoyancy that I know he deserves.*

What we're talking about now is sacrifice.
I would take it on (whatever it is) so that they might live more freely, more abundantly.

That's when I start to wonder just how far I'd go, how much I really would give up for the sake of those whom I love.  I like to think I'd give it all but I've not faced that kind of reality.  I begin to reflect on 9/11.  It's hard, I know, but you do that too for just a minute.  Stop and think about the hundreds of men and women who gave their lives on that day in the service of others ~ who gave their own lives so that others could live.

Now.  The astonishing fact is:  One Man gave His life so that every single one of us might live.

What we're talking about now is love.

Look, for real, I know this makes some of you angry - this notion, this concept of unconditional, limitless love.  Angry in ways that can't be squished into words.  I know because I've been in that too.  What I'm telling you now is the truth, though, and I'm telling you from the free side:  Jesus really does love you.  His father really does love you.  Together, they implemented a plan to pursue and rescue you from the illness and anger and slavery of this tainted world.  "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly," said Jesus. (John 10:10)



He requires nothing in return for that except for you to accept the offer.

Dear Jesus, I fall so short of my goals and so often.  Thank You for loving me anyway and for giving it all so that I might live forever with You.


*I must acknowledge that sickness is a fact of life and so are burdens and that a purpose may be served through it all.  There is so much that I actually would not take from those whom I love as I've seen the growth and wellness that is possible to achieve through hardship.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Step One

My husband occasionally asks if we have too many toys and my answer is usually a resounding, "No."  However, on one of these recent days while I was all alone in the house, I saw a slight absurdity at my entrance-way:  it generally takes about five minutes to open my front door, should anyone come to it, because I have to rearrange the "stash."



A thought crossed my mind when I realized this and I decided to make a note: Children Play Here.  Was I going to write about it?  Buy a plaque?  Share somebody else's blog?  I don't know but when I got to my desk, this is what I found:




Cool, right?  One blank sheet where I could make a note.  It's obvious that children play here.

Okay, well now for the real story...

I now have four g'babies:  two pre-school girls and two infant boys.  When these guys first started coming at me those few years back, it was more than just a slight shock to the system.  Honey and I had barely experienced the empty-nester phase. The years previous to that (the time since we'd blended) had been tumultuous to say the least.  There was always good.  We were (almost) always (trying to be) grateful.  But raising our kids to adulthood was a feat and we were ready to rest.

Things don't always turn out the way we'd planned or hoped, huh?

During the past four to five years, my life has been pretty much centered around g'babes.  Honestly, it's not something I would have expected at any point in my life, really.  I've never really understood kids and certainly never thought I'd have a preference for their company.  What was the alternative, however?  This was the path that unfurled before me.

These past four to five years have been as tumultuous as any previous period but there's always good.  We're always grateful.

Even now, as things are once more not how I thought they'd be.  These days, I hardly see my g'babes.  True, that's "hardly" by my standards but it's still an accurate depiction.  True, it's partly due to the natural process of life but there are other factors that I can't tell about.  Those parts belong to other people and I must let them tell their own stories.  Also, there's some hurt and it's just hard to talk about.

When the new babies first started showing up, when our lives first started to shift, what did I lose that I'd anticipated so much before all my kids were gone?  The hours and hours of quiet time, perhaps?  The clear path to the doorway?  A notepad with more than just one clean sheet of paper?

I wouldn't trade those babies for any of it.  For anything.

Thinking back on my mothering years, for all the mommy dearest that I was at times, for all the coulda-shoulda-wouldas, I'm just grateful to have had them.

And the meemee years?  Thank you, God, for each day with a g'baby.

Maybe I haven't gotten the life I would have planned but I'm grateful for the life I've gotten!

Would I control it more if I could?  Would I develop and execute the most appealing plan?  Well, who wouldn't, really?!  The thing is, though, that life happens by a series of events over which I am powerless.  I totally admit it.  I also totally know that God, however, has the power to work it all out.

This post happens not to be about the addictions and compulsions that I seem always to be facing but the twelve steps are still relevant and restorative. One Step and then the next and then the next.  Sometimes we start over.

And my new mantra:
Everything will be okay in the end.
If it's not okay, it's not the end.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Is The Loneliest Number

"We are never more than one generation away from apostasy."

I can't seem to determine the precise source of this statement but I'm in a hurry to put this down.  I like to give credit where it's due, but sometimes, perhaps, it's more important to be timely.

I actually considered calling this one, "One is the Timeliest Number."

Anyhow...know what apostasy is? It is, according to dictionary.com, "a total desertion of or departure from one's religion, principle, party, cause, etc."

Joshua sent the people of Israel on their way, and each man went to take possession of his own share of the land.  As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the Lord, and even after his death they continued to do so as long as the leaders were alive who had seen for themselves all the great things that the Lord had done for Israel.  The Lord's servant Joshua son of Nun died at the age of a hundred and ten. He was buried in his own part of the land at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.  That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the Lord and what he had done for Israel. Judges 2:6-10 (GNT)

Never more than one generation...

My congregation* began a new series this morning called Parental Guidance: Raising Up The Next Generation, and I'm stoked.  While it's true that my own kids now have their own kids, and true that what's past is done, there's still a new generation coming up ~ one that needs guidance and good examples ~ one that stands to be a very lonely generation if they don't know the LORD.  There is a new generation and they need us to raise them up.


There was a Whole Lot that resonated with me this morning, but there's one particular point I'd like to share.  Over these few years that I've been involved with my congregation, I've seen a lot of things change.  Some of it was hard for me to accept (cough, "contemporary service", cough, "casual attire", cough, cough), but I've warmed to most elements of our evolution.  I should think it would be hard not to come around when so many new folks - and especially children - are coming around (to church now.)  My pastor gave me a good, little reminder this morning.

The message does not change but it is okay for the method of delivery to change. What's important is that we get the message through to the next generation.


*Niceville United Methodist Church
Worship service videos can be viewed here after a couple of days.
Worship services can be viewed live via webcast here.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Picture's Worth























This is my family.*
This picture was taken on Christmas morning and promptly posted to Facebook.

This picture possibly received more 'likes' and positive comments than anything else I've posted.

"Beautiful picture."
"Blessed family."


And each such comment causes me to snicker cynically.

Sorry, folks.  Just trying to be honest here.

They say, "a picture's worth a thousand words," and I can go along with that, but what does this particular one really say?

To me, it says that having us all in one room, so close together, all smiling so gleefully is an astonishing feat.  But then, I'm reading it with a bias ... as one who knows the back-story.

I happen to know how much anger and disappointment and hurt and frustration and dysfunction is contained within this frame.  I know how hard a year it's been, how hard it's been to bring us all together, how hard it is for us to smile when we're all in one room.

Sorry, folks.  Like I said...

However, believe it or not, this is not a pity party.  This is not me telling you how bad things are around here.  This is me pointing out that things are not always as they seem.  For all the "perfection" that a picture can portray, there is always something behind the scenes.  Something you don't see.  Something you can't know unless someone tells you.

What I'm telling you is that my family is not perfect.

And - if I believe what I say, that things are not always as they seem - then even I can view this through another lens:

  • Four healthy g'babies have been born and all remain members of our family
  • We've grafted in a couple of sons and another g'babe
  • One of us has survived a heart attack
  • An antidepressant is working for at least one of us
  • Each of us is still here
  • None of us have been to jail
  • Okay, at least not lately
  • Okay, at least not for more than a few minutes

There's good here even if there is some bad behind the scene.
It really is a beautiful picture.  We really are blessed.
I think I'll focus on that!


Some folks might say I've used this for some kind of divine photo op.  Okay.  Maybe.
Some might say that I'm hanging all my laundry in the yard.
Okay.  Maybe some of it.

But what I mean to be is telling you to look very closely and consider very deeply everything you see in life.

"What we see depends mainly on what we look for." John Lubbock


*I have folks and a sister and a niece who reside elsewhere.  And cousins, and in-laws, and, well, more family than is pictured here.
*Also, that blur at the bottom of the picture is my cat.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Where Have All The Good Words Gone?

Once, on a whim a few years back, I decided to draw.
Serious stuff: I bought pads, pencils, and fat, grey, official-artist-looking erasers.
I had a fervor for about a week, and somewhere in this house is a drawing pad with a couple of not entirely crappy sketches.  (By my own standards.)

I’m pretty sure that “artist” was on my list.
You know: the third-grade “What do you want to be when you grow up?” list.
The top of mine, I still remember very well:

-President
-Nurse
-Singer
-Poet
-Teacher

Maybe not in that order, but I dreamed of manifesting myself in every one of those occupations.

It seems reasonable that “writer, author, story-teller, world’s greatest blogger” would be somewhere on that list, even if farther down, right?  It’s not too high a goal, right?

Of all my dreams and goals and fervors, I think I’ve never had such a need to follow through as I do for writing.  Looking back, I see I’ve always done it.

It started with songs:

Ohhhhh, you’ll meet the cute kittens someday
They’ll make your day bright and gay
And if you shout it all around, you’ll dance like a clown
Then we’ll have some fun 
Dancing in the sun
And everybody is happy!

Wrote that one for my club, The Cute Kittens (myself and two other six-year-olds), in about ‘76.  (Quick, what rhymes with six?!)

Then the more melancholy:

Fly, fly, fly far away
Fly little birdy to the land of the great
Fly little birdy and fly little bee
And fly butterfly that is looking at me

Wrote that one in just one afternoon to soundtrack my couple of hours of jumping off the bed into a pile of laundry.  I was the bomb.

Later, it was poetry ~ some of it sweet, most of it dark, nearly all of it private.

I’ve journaled off and on, in one form or another, since I was in my teens.  (How many diaries have I thrown away?  How many times have I thought that it was time to start over and that starting over meant trashing any record of the past?)

As I illustrated at the beginning here, I’m not really a follow-through sort of girl.  I don’t decide to do a thing and then do everything necessary to be good at the thing. I don’t take classes.  Don’t watch tutorial videos.  Don’t read “_____ For Dummies.”

Generally, I’ll take a shot if it interests me and then I’ll generally grow bored and quit.

Not so with writing.

Understand that I’ve no inclination that I’m carrying the great American novel in my heart or that my memoir would touch and change lives forever or that I might write words to change the tide of history.  It’s not that I think my writing is good or important or even read by people!  It’s that I need to do it.

And these last few months have been hard because I haven’t been able.

Great things come to mind.  Drafts develop.  Inspiration and excitement ensue.
And then all of it dissipates rather quickly.

I keep reviewing my year, looking for answers.  There’s a pattern that only I may recognize.  (Or so I’d like to think.)  There’s a lot of stuff betwixt my lines.

There’s so much behind the scenes that, as much as I might like to run screaming it through the streets, too many standards prevent me from sharing.

And then I have to consider the possibility that I am simply done.  It’s not that I’m bored because the urge to write things down is sometimes the only thing that moves me.

But maybe it’s supposed to be private.  Maybe I’m not supposed to write it publicly. Or maybe I’ve said all that I’m supposed to SAY.

I just really hope not.
Or I hope, sincerely and mostly, that God will show me what’s next (any time now!)
And that I will follow through when He does.

Is this piece it?  The follow-through?  Nope.
But it is an attempt to revive my fervor.  I really need to write.

And to close, I hope only for now, here’s a really cute video that I found while perusing just last night.  Obviously, I didn’t write it ... but I sure do wish I had!


Mason Jar Music presents Laura Gibson

Friday, May 24, 2013

Betwixt My Lines


I wish to author some great masterpiece, be it literature or song or dance-craze choreography.  Bone-breaking, I’ve learned, is the latest to the stage.  Perhaps, I’ll bring bone-weapon wielding, permanent scar-inducing, blight your life forever, switch it up, switch it up.

My desperation to manifest begins to cross the lines of human language.
They still won’t get it.  But I get it.
I’ve always got it coming, so it seems.

I see my life in stanza.

Verse, verse, chorus.
Verse, verse, chorus.
Bridge...

The play through, the run, the birth pangs.
The play through, the run, the stalker.
Run and pay, start over.

The play through, the hard run, the good attempt.
The play through, the falling down, the surrender.
Run and pay, it starts over.

What I wish is love.
I was born with it even if I went away from it.
The going away was but for a while.
But there is no reproof from the going away, it seems.
You go, you stay.  Or you pay, in any case.

How many verses?
Where is crescendo’s peak?
What comes after the bridge?
I wish to pen my name, at last.






Saturday, May 18, 2013

This Is What Is The Happening

I don't know exactly what or why it's happening but it seems to be happening all around me.

It's in the updates, the tweets, the pics, the pins.  Sometimes it's an allusion.  Many times, it's "what she said."  A share.  A re-has#.

Me? I like (or have, for most of my life, found it inexplicably necessary) to be cryptic.  I am often speaking in code.

The bulk of my sharing is via facebook which ~ I know ~ is already considered archaic.  There's just too much room to sprawl out on facebook, too many letters allowed.  That's one part of The Big Problem, in my opinion - this drive to boil everything down.  To keep it nice and neatly contained.

Tell me quick in one sentence, please, 
or just show me a picture.  
I have things to do, my own things to worry about.

Does anybody know, yet, what I'm talking about?  Have I already written too many words?

Or maybe I've already made it too personal.  Maybe I shouldn't have made any allusion to "most of my life."  Anybody?  Anybody...

Anyhow.

There exists a myriad of reasons that I am always holding something back.  Some of it is that my proper manners restrict me from splatting all over the screen.  (Some of you think you've seen me do it anyway.  I promise you have not.)  Some of it is dysfunctional pattern.  Much of it is fear.  Much of it is [my attempt to] control. And most of what I've just said either has been written about before or needs to be saved for later.  (What's my word count?)

In a minute, I'm going to share some words that are better than my own but first I'd like to forget all about character counts and fear and the illusion of control and just speak plainly.

First of all, I was a citizen of the original Prozac nation, having it prescribed to me in my late teens, after Lithium and "a good talking to" didn't pick my butt up off the ground.  I don't know how it's possible but, in hindsight, it seems to me that I'd been struggling with depression from far too early an age (I can't even bring myself to say), and taking Prozac was like taking off sunglasses and seeing the world in color. For the first time that I could recall.  I'm grateful for Prozac.

2008, the year that followed my dad's year-long struggle with (terminal) lung cancer:  that was my Effexor year.  Effexor because it was the only drug out there which could treat both depression and anger.  For the record, it was not my dad's cancer that caused my anger.  My dad's cancer was just the pinnacle battle of that season of my life.  Those few years were dark and Effexor, unfortunately, turned out to be part of my battle.  I'm grateful that season is past.

Now, I woke up one morning this week and my first conscious thought was that I wanted it to be sundown already.  The sun was shining gloriously through my curtains in a way that negates the need for purchased art.  My lungs were full of clean air, my body whole, for the most part.  My man, who is the best man on the planet since Jesus, was in another room waiting to greet me for the day.  Healthy, buoyant grandbabies were due to arrive shortly.  But, please.  Please.  I just want to go back to sleep.

Not the cheesy, "oh, it's Saturday morning and I can't believe I'm awake because I just want to roll around in my comfy bed because this makes such a cute picture or tweet or status update,"

but because I am struggling.

Yes, I have blessings beyond measure.

Yet I am struggling.  Again.

I'm not scared to tell you what I've told thus far ~ that I've struggled with depression, that I've taken medication, that I've done therapy, and all of this more times than I'm telling here.  I'm not scared to tell you that I'm struggling now. There are other things, though, things that propagate my struggles, that I cannot or am not willing to tell you and for a myriad of reasons.

And I do have guilt, because I also have friends whose husbands have cancer.  Or whose grandbabies have cancer.  I have friends who have cancer.  Friends who've lost their jobs or their homes.  And this isn't happening just within my circle.  I watch the feed.  I know the stories.   People everywhere are struggling.

And that's really what I want this to be all about.  None of us face exactly the same struggles but none of us are alone, either, in the fact that we struggle.  None of us has a picture-perfect life, no matter how perfect the picture.  None of us should feel so obligated or so afraid of the alternative that we pack our struggles away, living less and less truthfully until we're really not living at all.

There are others out there and they are sharing unhindered and for that, I am grateful.

And now those better words I promised...

Kendi is one of the very first bloggers that I discovered and is my favorite fashion blogger, which I've shared before in An Exact Copy.  In her recent post, life, lately, she took the lid off her pot.  And then she shared about how much she was Overwhelmed by the responses she received.  Do not make any assumptions here.

Rachel is another of the first bloggers whose path I was so fortunate to cross.  She is one of the very best real-life bloggers that I know and Unlearning... is a perfect demonstration.  Plus, there's code here.

And here is A Miniature Clay Pot, saying better than I can say it myself, how it is that I, personally, am moving through this present season.  After The Rain, there will be color.

When I started working on this post, I honestly thought it would be just a simple, practical, "I struggle with it.  It's okay if you struggle with it too," kind of post.  I thought there would not be any of my usual points to God's artfulness or pattern-play.  But I can't not tell you that I'd written most of this before I read After The Rain.  So if you catch any of the specific relevance or similarities, hers did not influence mine.  Hers was an answer to mine.  

And that's just how it happens with Him.
 






















Right Here, let me say stereophonically that one of the reasons I don't share everything is because I have a great fear of causing harm to others.  The Lord knows that the blogging world, all of the social network, has been a vacuous arena of slop-slinging and emotional take-downs, especially of late to my way of seeing.  I will be posting this - as I always do - with a prayer that I do no harm.  Depression, anger, anxiety - these are difficult matters to navigate.  As I always do, I am sharing my own experience and with a deeply sincere desire to help anyone that I may.