{Featured Series}Slices Abroad: beyond my own slice of pie on my own perfect little plate

Lulu-Tree-Prayer-Page

What ever you did to the least  you did it to me.

Whatever you did not do to the least- you did not do to me.

Book of Matthew.Chapter 25.Words of Christ.

I’m part of the prayer team for this Uganda-based lulu tree organization

founded by Emily Wierenga.   {please click to read more}

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

   Because my little world is not the whole world.

This is part of a series I am working on.

Scroll down to read more.

VISIT_five minute friday

DSCN0084The sun is high and bright and completely uninhabited

and yet

it still reads in the negatives on my phone.

And so I stay inside.

There is always something to do after all

and the audible waves of quiet that waft around when there are no children with in these walls is such a welcome sound.

The wood stove glows hot and radiates red and orange comfort, even in a circle of dusty ash.

But there is no denying these long winter months, a welcome respite in some ways, directly after the crazy retail chaos of Christmas:

It isolates.

The lack of exchange of words, eye contact, relating of what is going on, and how we feel about this life, affects me.

I liken it a tangle ball of yarn:

my thoughts

that loop around

hook and weave

my emotions.

A visit,

person to person,

eyeball to eyeball

word to word

has some sort of power to untangle and bust out knots inside of me that I did not know were clogging up the works in my mind.

Even if it is with people I am not well acquainted with, and nothing serious is discussed.

Even those quick exchanges {usually about the weather!} in miserable gray frigidness at bus stops with my daughter as we wait, bundled like Eskimos on rock salt and ice, for the arrival of the bus, melt that hard yet droopy weight in me that comes at the end of every February.

Visit

it is the opposite of

isolation.

And it does not even have to be lengthy, deep, and with someone you know well.

It is just human.

Stop.

Linking up with Kate for another installment of Five Minute Friday.

The online equivalent of The Body Visiting.

Cheers.

Watch and Pray

DSCN0241  Middle school:

the two words deliver hefty punches with immediate images.

Heavy and tedious.

Like a backpack bulging, slung over, with dreaded algebra homework lurking within.

For females, the image evoke scenes of social awkwardness, screaming insecurities that we alone can hear, but are sure the whole wide world can spot when we walk into a room.

With these images resurfacing in my own memory bank as my two oldest rounded out the last years of elementary school, I decided to do a two year stint of homeschooling with my two oldest daughters.

My oldest for grades 6th and 7th.

My second oldest for grades 5th and 6th, together.

Based almost entirely on a prompting that it would be good for them.

Good for us.

Not a sheltering, per so, but a shoring up.

A deliberate reminding of who they are and how God sees them. What is true in this world. How to think and process and use logic. To laugh and tell excessive jokes based on the USA show Psych!

To learn how to bake bread and do the laundry properly, and breed bunnies for profit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the most part, I loved it. We grew closer. We would have days where the discussions would go for hours. They received a top notch education, and I realized how much I still love the academic.

But then once again, life shifted, as life does.

I started working part time just in the evenings. I did not think it would have the slightest impact on my teaching during the day. I never schooled in the evening, after all.

But it did.

Work was good for me, for us as a family. The frenzy of Christmas came in all its retail and madness and I could barely function from the stress of it. Six months left in the school year, and plans to put the girls back in public school come the following fall, as was the plan for the beginning, started to not look like a good idea.

Not for me. Not for them. Not for us as a family. Something had to give.

My second oldest went back to the snug confines of an elementary classroom down the street in the New Year.  Where they still pass out cupcakes on their birthday and jump rope at recess. My oldest went to the big impersonal middle school across town that every 7th grader in the entire district attend.

Dropping her off at middle school that first day and walking away down a shiny floored hallway, while she practiced her locker number for the ninth time was unbelievably hard.

Sad panicky tears.

I can’t even concretely articulate why. Part sadness of how grown up she is now; in middle school. Part panic of how harsh these children, desperately trying to play the part of worldly adult, are.

But weeks prior to me walking away with tears we went in together for a visit. I had never even set foot in the school before that day.  We walked into the front office and were directed back to the guidance counselor’s office. Crossing over the thresh hold of the lobby into the offices I immediately was struck that the atmosphere of the staff was positive and in control. The counselor was frank and upbeat. I exhaled fully for the first time that day.

The school does have issues.

There are multiple fights in the hallway which my daughter has accidentally been jostled near and nearly struck.

Children casually drop the F-bomb in their conversations amongst each other like Barney giving out hugs, and the teachers do not say a word.

From the way she describes it, walking down the hallways and going to the girls bathroom is bit like trying to navigate the island in Lord of the Flies.

I drilled her everyday those first couple weeks with specifics and would give her no rest until I received specific answers.

Most of the teachers had control of the classrooms. This accounts why she was so taken aback at “how mean they are”. Zero tolerance of pulling crap.

“Good” I said.

She is there to be educated, after all.

I still do not like it, but I am not afraid of it.

I keep praying for one good Christian friend so they can “sharpen each other” like the Bible says believers need to have.

She went to the IF:Gathering conference with me a few weekends past, even though it was not a “teen thing” but a “woman thing”.

I don’t buy the whole teen culture needing a “teen friendly” God.

She is in the world and has to make the choice herself not to be in it by treading softly with integrity down rough hallways and graffiti bathrooms, leaving just a slight imprint where ever she goes; an impression of something strangely set apart and whole, often without saying a word.

That is what I pray.

No amount of youth geared church activities or a ten step strategy on how to be a good teen Christian will neatly achieve that. However, as abstract as it is, every time I pray for my oldest, that is what I see.

So that is what I keep praying.

I brought her to the  IF: Gathering as part of her birthday present since that week she and I had our 13th and 35th birthday, respectively.

I booked us a hotel even though it was ten minutes away. With a pool of course because swimming in an 85 degree pool in February is too good to pass up. People were surprised I would bring a 13 year old to the event. I explained it in terms of this:

In the Hebrew faith when a boy turns 13 they have a Bar Mitzvah.

A coming into manhood that includes his faith walk.

I ancient times, it was around this age he would start to learn directly In The Temple.

That idea would not let me go: Female gentile Bar Mitzvah?

So my daughters do church with us.

Yes they go downstairs during the sermon, but only every other week.

I brought her to IF: Gathering, because I felt it was relevant not for just woman in church, but The Church. I want her to live out being The Church; not just a moral teen with a crash test course in Apologetic 101.

Like it or not, middle school aged children are throw in adult situations and problems, see the ugliness of adult sin.

Let’s give them adult faith.

Let them be around adult women simply talking about their faith and their testimony in a fallen world.

It is what The Church has always done.

Why have we made it so complicated, by making it so curtailed?

We have taken away the beauty and power of the Body coming together and being real and simple.

And so every morning I watch from the art room window in our house to see her stand alone, cold winter morning breath billing around her uncovered head, because she refuses to wear a hat, as she waits for the big yellow bus to cart her away.

And I feel torn.

She has to walk her faith herself, but I can’t just throw her to the wolves and hope for the best, can I?

Our children are inundated with sexual images every time they connect to wifi.

They hear adult crude language pretty much as soon as they leave the confines of their home from peers and social outlets.

We worry if they will to be able to stand for their faith in the public school when it comes to the origin of life, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex, why believing in Christ alone is not the same as religious intolerance; something most adults have trouble doing, including myself.

Then we exclude our youth from participating in the beauty of the body blending together in corporate worship, so they can go downstairs for “teen jam” worship.

Prayer group is for old ladies with too many hours to fill.

If they hear a sermon it has to dumbed down and entertaining, with excessive culture euphemisms so they “can relate” and “not  get bored or confused”. Which by the way always comes off as contrived and lame.

I believe my generation stands as grim testament that taking kids out of the world into a secluded G-rated,smiley-face-Jesus-world, does not work.

As more and more parents of my generation are, with ringing hands and jelly knees and acid stomach, feel led to allow our precious fledglings out of the nest to awkwardly test their wings in a world that is not holy but harsh, let us do some other things different too.

Let’s not buy a teen devotional Bible for them. Blow off the dust on the simple one sitting on the bookshelf, and open it up when they have questions.

Let’s not be satisfied with youth group leaders making The Word relevant.

Let’s not be guilted into ordering another family devotion that someone at church recommends, that is so cookie cutter and prepared that all you have to do is read a paragraph and tell them to turn to a Bible passage and ask “what do you think about that verse” {Because it says in parenthesis to ask your kid that} while everyone squirms in awkward silence, hoping this will be over soon.

Homeschooling showed me how much children, teens, want to listen to what their parents’ think or believe about something.

They want to figure it out, and are okay, if not immediately comforted or informed, if you cannot answer a question about your faith.

The Lord has spoke very clearly to me as I wrestle with just what I need to do and exactly how I need to love my children as they grow up. It was very, very simple:

“Let them know you see them and that you believe in them”.

We as a family, do not set aside family devotion times.

We just don’t. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but it never, ever, feels natural. I did with just the girls when we were homeschooling, and that was great. One of the best things to come out of our home schooling. But the whole family in our loud, crashing evenings, with dinner seldom on before 7pm?…not gonna happen.

I’m sure there are many, many families that do, and it’s a precious and meaningful time.

I just can’t bring myself to do it.

However, being available for them, by our family purposely doing less running around stuff, including church activities, does not exactly come natural either. It most definitely is not fun or the least bit warm and fuzzy most days, because being home a lot with noisy, emotional, bickering four daughters, leaves me so tired and cranky I feel like being a mother is the most unsuited job for me possibly.

Seriously.

But I have four daughters aged 13 to 6, and they are my responsibility. I always love them. However,  I need God’s grace, and Him showing me how much He not only loves, but likes me, to like them in turn.

Seriously.

The exact sentiment applies to our marriage.

So every day, after day, after day, I not only do dishes and laundry, and homework, and run to horse riding and piano lessons, and work a few evenings a week too, but I show up fully for them.

To listen and counsel,  and answer question, and listen and listen some more mainly.

It is never planned, or curtailed to a lesson format.

It is full of fights, and yelling and throwing things and crappy apologies followed sometimes by genuine tearful apologies {from both the girls and myself}.

Tim and I, we live out our life and our faith with four moody gangly girls in the midst of it.

And when these girls walk out the door, with stuffed backpacks, skinny jeans, and still not wearing a sensible hat to be carted away where I cannot follow, I watch them shuffle out

and

I pray.

to pray

Cheers.

The Inconvenience Of Snow

inconvience of snowWe refuse to buy or borrow a snow blower.

Call it stubborn pride in doing hard things with your own muscle and sweat

or

stupidity.

Because with four kids in three different schools, two work schedules, two-thousand plus square feet of house to clean and organize in attempt to keep from imploding in stuff, and three meals for six people to plan and prepare; a lot from scratch these days, an hour of more of moving snow from one patch to another is not very practical.

It is inconvenient actually, because I never plan on shoveling our long narrow driving, again!

For the first time in my life, after purchasing my annual daily planner notebook at Barnes and Noble at 50% off in January, I am actually using it! My days are a whirlwind of schedules and “don’t forgets” that grows longer as the children get older, in a brain that gets more forgetful as I Get Older.

So no.

Bundle up in multiple layers, spending about ten minutes looking for our one pair of warm gloves and Tim’s woolen boot socks, then get painfully frigid , to slowly warm up then cook in a sweaty murky soup of gross under my puffy unattractive layers, while I do tedious manual labor, that will not even get the particular desired result I am aiming for (a snow-free driveway)

never makes it on any of my lists.

Lists scratched on paper, or spinning in my brain.

But it keeps snowing, a lot. So I have been doing that a lot.

Yet, in all this inconvenience, I have noticed something:

One, I always feel better after shoveling.

Two, it is the only time this month I have got sunshine, chilly rays that they are, on my face. The only time I have actually exercised.

Which accounts for why I feel better of course.

These past 30 kid-free days, with all four in school now, has given way to several unexpected conversations; time spent one-to-one, face to face with other women.

It was never convenient.

There was always something left to do. And it truly bothers me on how the laundry is still wrinkled in a basket, the floors are still gross, and that funky mystery smell is still coming from underneath the bathroom sink. And I need to take care of it.

Of course.

However.

I decided that with the luxury of all those supposed “free days” that it would be sad waste of my redeemed, blood-purchased life to spend asking myself “what would Martha Stewart do?”

A nice looking organized home is my gift to my family, because it creates a calm atmosphere.

But it is not my chief aim.

Being creative, and purposely carving out times of complete silence and solitude are needs for my intuitive and introverted brain that I have been gifted with.

But having my life meticulously fitted for ME is not, or should not be, my chief aim.

Perfectionism and selfishness go together as natural as fish n chips. I oughta’ know.

So let me be inconvenienced.

With another six inches piled up in the driveway

or

a friend who I know I must spend time and speak with.

Each and every time, much to my surprise, I walk away with the blessed gift of good physical and spiritual health.

Cheers.

inconvience of snow #2

Wait_five minute friday

vanishing point

The vanishing point

artists know how to, with a flick of bristle and acrylic and color, create that illusion of something that is right there and flat as receding further and further away

a talent I do not have

to make the near seem far away

ever notice God does things, so very often, the opposite of man?

the vanishing point in my life

the pinprick distance I can spot

right before the bend in the road, the climb up

is far off

But Not

because today’s now

simple repetitive but beautiful, is the process of being:

shaped and formed

brush stroked and colored

smudged and rubbed

and has everything to do with that vanishing point of tomorrow

my dreams

my heartaches

my restlessness

my optimism in the good

my despair over the evil

some days it appears to be a mess of running together colors and random textures

like looking at a Monet much too close

some days I am taken by absolute surprise  with glimpses of glory and I can’t believe I get to be a part of something so amazing, good, holy

like Isaiah before the throne

But if it is true that God is the creator of this world and of my life and His Spirit is the originator of all those dreams and longing and the tearing of deep satisfaction and empty dissatisfaction in a single heartbeat

then to Him it is a simple piece of stretched canvas of which He is in no hurry to be done with:

this one life I get to live

and my response?

To WAIT

In Trust

sledding picture #4 aka rosy distance

Stop.

Five Minute Friday has rolled around  again.

This is my contribution.

Read more over at the host’s place, Kate, here.

Oh yeah, one more thing:

Daughter #3, aged 9, did this last photo edit herself of a picture I took while we were all  sledding on Martin Luther King Day last week.

I wrote the text.

On line editing is my new photo thing.

Here is the link to my favorite ridiculously easy free online editor

Cheers.

five minute friday_SHARE

Share.

I cannot  think of sharing without thinking about the word: alleviate

One’s excess purposely projected, like a well practiced pitch, to another so sinking down the act of raising boot off the ground is exhausting.

“Be nice and share”.

It is one of those “everything I ever needed to know about life I learned in Kindergarten” kinda thing.

Are we called to only gather sit back and enjoy the bounty

or

share?

Are we called to shake our heads at suffering

get overwhelmed and sigh, what kind of world do we live in?

The image of The Good Samaritan keeps coming to my mind this week.

Jesus called him “good” because he stopped, noticed, not the mess bleeding out, but the one who was bleeding out.

He shared his deliberate time, his hard earned money, and continued with his concern after his initial response to come to aid.

We have so much, yet we women feel so empty.

We fill up on so many good things to be encouraged, I do too, but Jesus called the Samaritan “good” because he stopped walking down the right and proper road he was traveling, to stop and share with someone, a certain “type” in whom his society had nothing in common with, and quite frankly didn’t like.

Could I share with some one like that?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stop.

After many months of being away it feels good and comfortable to connect up in this little holy huddle in bloglandia called:

Five Minute Friday.

one word prompt

five minutes of letting yourself get quiet and nudged and then fingers fly over sticky keypads.

Click over to Kate’s site, our host, to read and write and share yourself.

Cheers.

Rituals

rituals

rituals

Space makes the way for such surprising things.

With all four young ladies now full time in public school my days are open.

Of course space allows for much more freedom during their time away from the nest- so I can hunker down, do those things that require more than a distracted frantic ten minutes of time.

That does not surprise me.

What surprises me is how my mornings, that now start at the black frigidness of 6:30am; softly awakening, then cajoling, then shaking, then threatening {always, always the last resort of threatening to finally get children to move!} has given way to simple rituals each morning. There is much more motivation to start the day well, with plenty of time for good nutrition and nice visual touches-when I know they will be away from me for the next seven hours.

I set the table pretty-

to set our hectic day

that will branch in different directions-

in the right direction.

DSCN0113

Green tea steeping in an old stoneware teapot

Bright oranges set atop of petite china serving bowls

Cut glass and sterling sugar cube server

Knock off silver cream server

DSCN0120

This I set every morning while the kettle heats up, my cup of coffee cools.

I keep my ear cocked to listen for girls who are supposed to be shrugging off PJs to slink into skinny jeans and Hunger Games tees and Percy Jackson hoodies (these being the only thing on their Christmas list this year…thank God for Amazon).

When they do stumble down in mixed matched fuzzy socks and bad hair I remind them like I do every morning to:

“drink up your tea…antioxidants”!

“Eat up your orange…Vitamin C”!

DSCN0117

Of course I always end up gulping down cold somewhat bitter tea, with way too much milk, and more than a whole orange worth of drying out citrus-y segments, afterwards.

But at least they got some of it in their system I tell myself.

Breakfast now takes roughly twice as long to clean up with all those serving dishes, and vintage tableware bling that I hand wash and put away.

I have thought several times over these last ten mornings of back- to -school- breakfast- for- four:

“this is too much time and work”

especially when it is 9:30 and I’m still wiping counters.

But then I think of how much I like it.

And maybe even more important, no scratch that, definitely more important-

the memories and the atmosphere this ritual creates will soften the edges of those bad mornings, those harsh memories.

If it is true that it is the little things

that pull us down and stumble us

, then it has to be true that it is the little things

that will raise us up and keep us going strong.

Because we humans are slow learners and sinful.  All the cramming in of information and inspirational reading and trying, trying harder will never completely reverse this.

And we, the striving going crazy feeling guilty Christian Mamas, have to come to grips with this:

We are not Jesus.

Jesus being a one day intentional, struggling, choice that our children need to make.

I know too well, and lots of days it makes me sick and nervous at the same time, the day is coming when my daughters are going to ask:

“How can it be that Mom was always talking about Jesus, praying, reading her Bible, doing ministry, crying over orphans in Africa, but acted so hideous, got so mad, dropped the F-bomb, would shut the door and tell us to go away, yell at Dad and be mean…how can that be?”

It’s not an excuse for sin or lack of self control.

This:

“that which I ought not to do, I do, and that which I ought to do I do not”

but it is not a death sentence either.

I hope it will give space for the Holy Spirit to show them they are in need of The One who is perfect.

And then I hope they remember those cold mornings in ugly skinny jeans and antique tea pots and oranges and me saying

“Drink your tea, eat your oranges…antioxidants and Vitamin C” because what I am really saying is:

I Love You.

Cheers.

what time does

This post took me a span of five days to finish by the way.  Because life still is spinning at a fast, packed in, pace and taking time for slow nice things means most activities take days, not a few hours to complete. It still bothers me, makes me feel almost panicked, but I’m trying to not let it.

 

Hiding while looking

DSCN0063 So I have been silent.

And not just here at my miniscule carved out spot in bloglandia.

I have not been speaking, really speaking, to anyone really.

At the end of 2014 it became very obvious why I have never encountered a woman who homeschooled and worked at a job. Ever.

And yet that was what I was doing September till the week before Christmas.

That pretty much explains the absence.

Despite the fact I work only a few nights in the evening (though that increased to 4-5 days come black Friday) this back to work entails…being under another set of commitments, another authority who dictated what I do, and how, and when, and for how long, another set of unspoken social rules and mode of communication to observe and learn and hope I did right, another thing to be running late for!

And so I juggled.

I was constantly behind.

I was constantly stressed.

I consistently had a rising level of panic ebbing and bobbing as I went from task to task in a whirlwind, hidden just beneath my breastbone.

For the first time I fully understood what the phrase “troubled waters” was all about.

Something had to give because Mama was falling apart.

And we Mamas:

we carry a lot,

we impact a lot,

we alter those around us a lot,

not even knowing that we do.

And so, one late evening when everyone else was in bed and I was cleaning,soon after Thanksgiving when the extra burden of Christmas performance and cost nestled its way into the tempest within, I found myself sobbing in front of our open basement door. Why? Because the laundry basket that is supposed to go right there is still atop of the washing machine upstairs full of clean thoroughly un-folded laundry, and had been for days, so just a mass of strewn dirty towels, socks, and shirts stood heaped on the landing instead, along with an assortment of old battered tools: A kind of domestic stew of unclean and unorganized and unkept.

And right then at that moment: That Sight Was Me: dirty and out of control and shameful to look upon.

Face to the planked floor the question rose above the waves of despair quiet in my mind:

What am I going to do? Something has to give doesn’t it?

And instantly I saw the three responsibilities in my life that were negotiable bob to the surface:

working

homeschooling

ministry

For a moment it felt like God was asking me to put these in order in some neatly labeled box, as to what mattered the most to me because that would dictate my answer:

money?

your kids?

serving?

And that is a truly terrible, fearful, guilt-inducing, question. So I dismissed it because that is not the voice of the Spirit who gives life, truth, and peace, that is the voice of the Enemy who prowls outside looking to get in, and the voice of my own insecurities that plague me within.

And I was done with all that. After all, I am sobbing over laundry.

Breath starting to steady, and mind clearing, the waves settled and I kept seeking a concrete answer from my unseen God because this is a crisis, and I am not getting off this unswept floor till I have an answer.

It’s so quiet I can hear the tiny ripple of sure answer:

Homeschooling.

I have to stop homeschooling. And I am not choosing money or church activities (the very two things I have for over a decade tried to advise young mothers to not be swayed and seduced by) over my children. And now the cool decompressing of truth and common sense and perspective and remember child what I spoke to you? pushes down and its like someone pulled the plug on the dirty bath water and only a sweet aroma, like incense fills in the space.

It did not instantly get better, or easy. Emotionally I was still a wreck, despite my clean answer. It works that was sometimes. Knowing the path, does not remove all those obstacles.

This Monday one girl went back to 6th grade elementary to a familiar school and one girl went to 7th grade middle to a new, scary, culture-shock school.

Six months earlier back to public school than planned does not equal failure or giving up.

Not having enough volunteers for the ministry I started and so back to the drawing board and wait, does not equal “The Lord really didn’t speak to you”.

Actually liking work and am in a better mood when I drive away from my  house to yes, hang up and fold clothes and answer people’s incessant questions, (like I do at home) but at $8.50/hour does not equal unsatisfied wife and mother.

I have been working this all out up in my head.

Have made drastic changes in my diet because crying on the floor over laundry was not ONLY because of outward stress.

Have been hiding from human interaction except for the most generic of small talk because it’s so complicated and riddled with doubt and shame I can’t even bring it up, and dread someone asking.

But I have been consistently looking and asking. Even when Jesus seems distant and out of touch.

Always the looking for answers, for peace, for joy, and space to breath and just be.

And He who walks along the road with me, and calms the storm and then tells me to walk on water even though every one knows that is ridiculous and crazy, and, not the way it works, gave me just enough of an answer, a present peace, and joy and space in crammed trials to continue in expectant hope.

All that to say:

I am speaking and listening to people now.

Cheers.

oceans

Reset

DSCN0043

And so.

Here it is.

The day after The Day.

The Babe has been faithfully counting down the days till Christmas since December 1.

Yesterday, passing through the living room, no doubt with an arm-full of stuff to attempt to put into some order, I spotted   our Target one dollar chalkboard Christmas countdown sign; it still had a single strike of “1” smeared on it.

“Look…the sign says one” I tell her. “But it’s not one…its here!  What should we write?”.

She pauses and pronounces: “zero”.

I nod but decide, Nope.

“No. Not, zero. Zero means nothing. Today is not nothing.”

and I mark it out in dust: 3 6 5.

It’s RESET time.

I complain, like a lot, about Christmas.  From black Friday till Christmas Eve, eve…I am exasperated, and cynical, and short tempered about all these Holiday expectations and demands…”THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS”!…I sneer righteously and frequently and annoyingly.

However, later in the evening, after my long hot soaking bath that I always take late Christmas afternoon with a new soy candle I buy for myself, chocolate from a stocking, and wine not from a box, I write this out in my journal:

“Christmas day always surprises me…it’s the day of fully exhaling…

After the extra responsibilities, the extra expense, the extra tasks, the extra food, the extra drinking, when I already have too much stuff, am already to the brim with responsibilities, we have hardly any extra money to speak of, already eat and drink too much, and I have long felt like a wind up toy of mechanical tasks, Christmas day always surprises me”.

*the delight of wrapped presents

*the still-child-enough-to-believe-in-Santa wild excitement from the babe

*wearing jammies all day

*napping in snips off and on again with Tim on the couch

*watching “Ralphie” { a Christmas story} in the middle of the day, when we have given up on trying to nap

*putting on our coats and assortment of new boots/winter accessories and crossing the driveway to give candy and cookies to our elderly widow neighbor, making polite chit chat with her adult children who we really don’t get along with, but are nice because it is Christmas and she is alone

*opening a wrapped over-sized box labeled: For Mom&Dad, to find several bottles of “poo- pourrie” inside waiting, that all four girls pooled their money together for, ordered on-line, swiped the credit card, typed out the numbers and security code and expiration date and mailing address, then waited for on the porch, and immediately wrapped when it came, to put under the tree, so we could all have a good hearty laugh…because I did not see that one coming

{view youtube clip at your leisure if you so wish and are confused}

All these things, plus several little other surprises, and a few more yearly traditions, add up to:

the day of Reset

the day of Exhale,

the day of saying “we remember you Jesus and always will” no matter the social trends. or political correctness, or human weariness.

Christmas always surprises me in its beautiful simplicity, in its “why don’t I remember it is always like this…why can’t I just be patient and relax and remember”.

Because that is what Jesus does.

He surprises us in His beautiful simplicity, and He never wearies of us, though I am certain He asks from heaven every day:

“why can not you remember Me,

so you can then take MY patience and rest

…it is after all why I came that day on what you call Christmas”.

And so with the new year just upon us, we peer over the edge into 2015 and know that we can close our eyes and RESET again because He is there too… full of surprises and waiting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cheers.

HOLD_five minute friday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We can’t hold much.

Not really.

All this striving and getting and protecting and longing…

I just keep thinking of that line you hear in movies when there is a solemn funeral scene { I don’t think I have ever heard it myself from a pastor}

“ashes to ashes…dust to dust”

Papery smudges that leave a mess on the floor.

We so,so want the

concrete.

Want the

tangible,

the measurable.

When we ourselves, our children, our God are in actuality:

Spirit.

The un-concrete

intangiable

immeasurable.

“Hold on”

I seem to hear,

“To that which can’t be held”

slowness

peace

steady thoughts

willful contentment

a light hearted disposition.

“and you shall posses treasures in heaven where the moth and rust shall not corrupt, nor thieves break in”

Book of Matthew. Sermon on the mount. Words of Christ.

Stop.

Its Friday.

{happy dance}

Linking up with Kate for another exciting installment of Five Minute Friday…coming to a computer near you.

Cheers.

Slices Abroad{a series about my getting over myself} part 3

free will

Today I read in Sarah Young’s Devotional: Jesus Calling this line:

“the gift of free will is an awesome responsibility”

my paraphrase of the lines that proceeded that line:

” focus on pleasing God, so not be blown and scattered by the winds of busy doing and aimless achievement”

My last post in my {getting over myself} series I wrote of knowing I was not going in a good direction…pitching forward down a horrific path more like it…the snowball effect of a little cold ball growing into a sizable mass, spurred on by the kinetic energy of self.

So, there I was.

Depressed, very angry, pretty disappointed, compounded by the guilt of feeling those things that I knew I should not be experiences; both on a moral basis and a logical basis.  Sometimes our feelings are pressing down on us because of the direction we allowed ourselves to trod:

self pity

comparison

judgement

Sometimes these feeling press down on us simply because it materializes the moment we wake up:

the lethargy

the sadness

the tension

the feeling of out of control

One can have these feelings overwhelmingly present while we ourselves, or our situation have nothing to do with it. The distinction between the two were critical for my healing.

Free will is an awesome responsibility.

I, as a child of God could take control of all those inner dialogue thoughts that spun a frenzy of impassioned feelings. Because I, with the promise of Scripture telling me to “take every thought captive in Christ”, could steer my thoughts, this naturally led to the ability to stop my words.

Words of sarcasm

Words of complaining

The F-bomb

The absolutes in my sentences like:

“every time”

“never”

“no matter what”

because these give a fresh blast of oxygen to the flame of hopelessness that is always licking at me when I start to feel depressed and angry and tense.

Ann Voskamp’s Book,One Thousand Gifts again, was the missing piece to the puzzle in my mind as to why, despite all the praying and Bible memorizing I was still getting sucked down in such despair that led to such awful sin.

The combatant to all these loathsome thought processes and verbal throw up of nasty:

Gratitude.

Moment by moment.

Gratitude shrinks self.

Self has not in mind the will of God.

Period.

But that was only half of what was going on.

My buzzing beehive of a mind  that this lady tried to quiet and beat down everyday at age of thirty-years- old with four children aged nine, seven, four, and two.

What about the waking up, as I tried to describe it in words to others, with “what feels like a dark cloud settling right over me, sucking all positive thoughts, enthusiasm, and energy”?

What about the tension that is pulled so tight inside of me, right below the breastbone, that I have to clench my fist in a permanent clawed ball to get through and stay in control over a simple breakfast with my children?

What about when:

the milk spills,

the kindergarten lets out a high squeal of protest because her little sister put her finger in her milk,

the toddler drops the pink rubber spoon globed with yogurt on the floor for the 5th time in two minutes,

and I react like someone just shot a riffle in the air, I jump so, I want to dive for cover so, I curse out loud in a visceral reaction so…over and over again?

What then?

This foreign, completely un-Me feelings and person has no part of anything I have done.

Just the guilt that follows.

Medication.

That was the answer.

What is often deemed as the:

un-Biblical,

lack of faith,

half-ass believer

way to cope,

was in actuality stirring up those things that counter a life in Christ, as I refused to go on medicine for the reasons listed above.

{Literally…they are just above this last sentence if you want to review again, skip the swear word if it bothers you}.

You see my reasons were only in part theological.  The root was all about:

Me.

I did not want to be one of those “desperate housewives” on anti-depressants.

I had spent far, far too many years judging those who used medication to ascend to such a deplorable low myself.

Also, I wanted to figure it all out. This whole God in control yet sin abounds, injustice is still present, and it doesn’t make sense.

“Figuring it all  out” when it comes to how God interacts with humankind is just another type of pride masquerading around as Biblical integrity.   I had stated, several times this phrase:

“Yeah, but what about all those women who lived liked one hundred years ago before anti-depressants, or all those third-world people.  If God uses modern medicine, and it is the only way to cope, then they just get screwed over”?

Seriously, I used this one, like all the time.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that my focus has completely shifted from a personal God who deals individually with His child, according to where His child is, as He has allowed. Grandiose statements about pioneer women of yesteryear or women in Cambodia are smoke and mirrors:

A delusion to convince ourselves that we are so righteous, when confronted with the plight of other suffering woman, so bothered in our tender compassionate spirit that we cannot, like some kind of self-imposed Gandhi, partake of any modern alleviation.

As an added bonus you sound really spiritual and, and I should mention, never has anyone ever been able to counter such an argument to me.

What would you say, mature blogging believer, should someone present such a question to you?

But it didn’t help my children, my husband, the spirit of our home, the guilt.

So, I had to to get over myself and shut my complaining mouth when my picture perfect ideas did not happen. Ideas conscious or unconscious.  The Holy Spirit, by the way, is the only One {if you are not in counseling or have an extremely close honest mate and/or friend}, who can bring to light those unconscious motivations or defaults.

Presently Minded Gratitude was the spear to self.

I had to swallow my self-drummed up cock-eye theology about how medicine that can recalibrate pulses, chemicals, and reactions in the brain is wrong, even though no one excect for those Christian Science people, would ever consider high blood medicine, insulin, or sleep aids as worldly wisdom.

My “slow to comprehend, slow to react” to my struggle with depression was, despite all the spiritual religious talk and genuine beliefs, still about me.

I never, ever was abandoned for my thick headed-ness though.

Not by my husband, not by God, or the comfort of Christ, or the gentle nudges of the Spirit.

Cheers.

let's do this