Sabotage

With all that is going on in our lives, my 41st birthday was kind of a non-event. I was only in town for one day before my birthday, and then I went back out of town a couple days after. There wasn’t much time to celebrate.

I had a dear friend that wanted to take me out to lunch to celebrate. After a moment’s protest and insistence that I pay for my own lunch, I surrendered to her buying me lunch. In my forty plus years, I’m finally learning to more graciously accept a gift.

We tried planning this little outing several times. Between her work schedule and my commitments, both with the kids and my mother-in-law, we had a difficult time making it happen. Yesterday, twenty days after my birthday, the day had finally arrived!!

I mentioned to NO ONE that this was on my calendar. See, it seems as if the minute I make someone aware that I have plans for the day, something happens. Someone has an epic stomach ache or a nose that runs green or something. Every. Single. Time!

Without a word, without a symptom, I get my kids to school and my husband off to work. I get a joy-filled message from my friend counting down the hours to our time together. All is well.

And then…          two hours before my anxiously awaited luncheon, I get a text message from my child’s teacher indicating that she clearly isn’t feeling well and isn’t her normally peppy self.  Shall I bring her medicine? Does it look like it might pass?  Can she PLEASE hold off until after 1pm? (Yep, I won’t lie- I was looking forward to this time enough that I was trying to get her teacher to assess “how sick” is she?). Nope- she looks like she needs to come home and get in bed. Ahhh!!! 😩 It’s happened again; SABOTAGE!!!

I don’t understand what sixth sense they possess to make sure any plans I have for fun while they are at school are thwarted.   It’s like some kind of black magic voodoo or something.

I contacted my friend and said we’d need to reschedule- again!  She was very understanding.

As for the little sick child? I told her about my plans and how I was going to be celebrated. With a look that teetered somewhere between regret and knowing, she apologized. I laughed and told her not to be sorry because she was going to be making it up to me. And she did, as we lie snuggled in my bed, her sweet little body pressed close to me, enjoying a day of unplanned perfection!!

 

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Blind with No Sense of Smell

Oh no! I just had a tragic revelation! My kids are blind and have no sense of smell. I have suspected for some time now that something might be wrong. It started with outfits that were carefully planned only to be put on a body that smelled…less than fresh. The FA ce popping out of the top of the shirt still had proof of the Sandman’s last visit. Surely they could see and smell these things- right? Then it was teeth that had been “brushed” but still had breakfast in them; blind eyes can’t see such things.

That dirty shirt in the living room they’ve been stepping over- they don’t know it’s there! And the shoes I tripped over, they weren’t able to see how they almost brought me down like a fallen elephant.

The odor from the kitchen? Apparently I’m the only one that has a nose that can detect the smell of aging milk poured from a cereal bowl “down the drain” only to have been trapped in a medicine measuring cup hiding under the baking sheet from last night’s (or was that two nights ago? 🤔) dinner. Homemade sour cream is perhaps their most current science project, as I’m pretty sure that’s what they were going for. My nose burns and my eyes water just recounting the tale. And yet, no one else noticed.

But it was all confirmed for me when I was
collecting dirty laundry today. I put on my brave girl panties (and yes, they are also BIG) and ventured to their side of the house. I opened the bathroom door only to be met with a smell that has no real description. Part mildew, part rotten remains warmed for days in the summer sun, part, could that be an attempt at air freshener? Pulling back the shower curtain, oh mercy, he really has no sight because if he did SURELY he would have done something with the bath towel on the INSIDE of the shower growing something far more impressive than my best gardening attempt. But NO, there it is- furry and smelly and confirming my worst fear- THEY ARE BLIND AND HAVE LOST ALL SENSE OF SMELL.

I lifted the commode lid only to be convinced no second opinion would be necessary. There, brewing for what must have been days, is something so vile and potent I’m pretty sure I should have just placed a biohazard sticker on the door and called in the HAZMAT team. At the very least it would require gloving up and doing the plunger prayer (Please Lord, have mercy on me and do NOT let that toxic waste spill over into the floor or splash up on me).

I have suspected for years that this might happen- that those sweet little eyes that look at me and twinkle might actually have lost all vision. Those noses that once loved the smell of fresh baked cookies- all lost. My poor poor children. Or rather, their poor mama!! Heaven help!

If Not For Faith

Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the people. And you know what?  Maybe he was right.

As I sit here on this beautiful Sunday, breeze blowing, birds singing, flowers dancing in the wind, I am grateful for the drug of Jesus. With all the beauty and wonder of the world, and it is great, there is still so much pain and despair. I hear about a family of young children that have lost their parents; I’m reminded of a friend who is going through a terrible, painful divorce; I think of my mother in law fighting a battle with a disease that plans to take her life. This is what it means to be human. These are the things that make up this earthly life.

And who wouldn’t want some sort of drug to help relieve that kind of pain?  Something that could make it sting a little less. I admit that I could be totally wrong about my faith, but here’s the thing: I find comfort in (the idea of) a loving God that holds all of my tears in the palm of His hand, in a God that loves me so tremendously that He paints a sunrise and sunset for me every day, that already knows my tomorrows and is just standing there waiting for me to arrive, and that left me written words describing His love, offering me hope and a promise of something better.

To find joy in the midst of these kinds of human experiences, I’m not sure I could do it if not for faith. When I have a moment of being totally overwhelmed and I say “I can’t do this,” only to hear a still small voice say “you’re right; you can’t do this- not in your own strength, but you can in mine.”, I know that I can go on. There is power and joy and comfort in responding to that call. To hearing those words, believing them, and then finding yourself doing something you had believed beyond you. Ah, the hit of the drug that is the power of God, to feel your veins fill with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

That, that, Marx, is a feeling that I would not trade. Call me a junkie; tell me I’m weak minded and strung out; I don’t care. The love of Jesus, the peace and comfort of a Father, the promise that this is not my home, these are the things that make my human experience not just tolerable but joyful.

I grieve for the children that lost their parents; I ache for my friend whose marriage was broken; and I hurt for the suffering of my mother-in-law, but I know that it’s only temporary. This world, these bodies, all the pain, they will not last forever. It will be overcome. And then, when MY time has come, the greatest high of all-  eternity with the Risen King.

Eat your heart out Karl Marx.

 

Surrender and move on

Life is not for the faint of heart. For real, this humanity thing is tough and full of cruel irony. We are taught our entire lives that we should work hard, dig deep, fight for what we want. Successful people are doers. So we toil away at this job or that goal. We work; we fight.

And that’s good, right?  Being a person that can “get things done” is looked favorably upon. “Yeah, she’s a real go-getter. I want her on my team. She’s got plenty of fight.”

But here’s the kicker.

You can’t get out of this life fighting.  In the end, when your time is up, there is only one way to move on.  You have to surrender.  You have to stop working, stop fighting and let go.

How counter-intuitive is that?  For years, 50 or 70 or 90, we are taught to work.  To push. One foot in front of the other.  Keep on keeping on.  Until, one day, we aren’t supposed to keep keeping on.  And as humans, most of us struggle to let it go.  Even for those people that are ready, that believe in an afterlife or who are just too tired to want to go on, the transition of putting the work down, giving up the fight, is terribly hard.

I get it, the idea that, especially as Christians, we move on by surrendering.  Putting our lives into the hands of Jesus.  That’s a huge part of the faith really, learning to surrender. I guess it’s good practice and probably makes the transition a little easier. But watching it all play out in real life is something else entirely.

It’s like a giant wheel that we work our entire lives to make spin. We grab it and force it forward, just like the prize wheel on the Price is Right. Faster and faster, we make it move.  Then, one day, we’re supposed to just make it stop.  Not just stop grabbing it and forcing it forward, but somehow make it halt. Stopping a lifetime’s momentum in a moment.

It seems cruel to me somehow.  How do you undo decades of programming in such a short period of time?  Even if the mind can comprehend what is required, surely the body has to be slower to get the message.  So people languish.  They hold on, not really knowing how to let go.  Fighting the largest battle of their lives- the battle of surrender. The reward is sweet, but it’s the hardest work we may ever do- the act of stopping.

It really does seem like one of the most cruel parts of this human life.  And the only way out.  Life, and death as it turns out, truly is not for the faint of heart.

Human Interruptions

I’ve started endless posts already, and I get half-way through and another human interruption happens that causes me to have to move on.  That’s how this blog got its name. I had a friend that kept urging and encouraging me to begin sharing my musings in a blog. I told her many times that I truly had sat down to get started.  Part way through trying to figure out how to do it, or then finally, registering my blog, the world called.  A child needed help with homework.  A dog needed out to pee.  My train of thought left the station without me.  The interruptions of life occurred, and it got pushed off to another time, another day.  Months and months, and maybe even a year or two, went by and still nothing.  Until one day she said it again, and I just decided I wouldn’t get up from my chair, squeaky wheels and human interruptions be damned, until it was done.

Maybe that’s how it will be with my posts too.  I have a million thoughts twirling around in my head, so many words that I could put down.  I get started and then stop.  Sometimes because life calls, but sometimes for another reason too.  I’ve found myself wondering, will it be good enough? Will it be something people would enjoy reading?  Too serious or melancholy perhaps?  Too personal and uncomfortable?  Too ordinary or mundane to be of interest?  Then I remembered, I created this as a space for me.  A place where I could put my thoughts down, get out some of what is on the inside.  A way to make room inside of me for the good stuff of life.   And sure, other people are going to be reading it now, but just those that have chosen to.  I don’t need to do it for an audience- I never did before.  It was just me, processing life through a keyboard.  Sometimes it spoke to people’s hearts. Sometimes it made them giggle.  But always, it was the true telling of what was on my mind.  May it continue to be so.

 

The Wild Amidst the Cultivated

For the two years we’ve lived in this house, we have been fighting wild blackberry bushes in our landscaping.  In nearly every bed we have, there is a growth of wild blackberries that pops up.  Each year my husband tears them out, sprays them, otherwise tries to cause their demise.  And every spring, they return.

And quite honestly, I delight in this.  I am torn by the fact that something so beautiful and quite frankly, so yummy, isn’t desired in our “cultivated” beds. In the landscaping of our neighborhood, they are most definitely considered undesirable. But who says? Who says I can’t let those wild, hardy, determined bushes do their thing?  They provide a practical, sustenance-rich, fantastical treat.  Granted, the birds might beat me to the luscious berries, but shouldn’t someone get to enjoy the fruit, especially if they are willing to take on the thorns? And we’re supposed to tear them out? Why, because we didn’t plant them there? Because they are wild?

Hmph.

Every year I see them, and I see myself a little (and others like me).  That wild, rough around the edges, not quite cultured or polished , doesn’t have it all together, often gets it wrong girl that lies at the heart of who I am. In the cultivated setting that is our world, where everyone seems properly maintained, thoroughly trimmed and neatly kept, here I sit.  All white wild blooms that give way to deep purple, nearly black fruit, protected by thorns, and totally impossible to predict. Those bushes pop up where they want. They aren’t bound by black landscaping plastic or deterred by the bricks neatly outlining the flowerbeds.  They won’t be contained, controlled, or convinced that they don’t belong.  And I love it!!!

The rich sweetness of the fruit; the way they taste when the sun has warmed them – so lovely!  And so are we, those wild things growing in unexpected places.  Like little reminders that there is more to life than order and routine.  There is beauty in the planned, manipulated and manicured, but there is also much to be said for the God-given perfection in those wild, tangled messes. In the midst of the cultivated, be something wild and sweet.  Pop up in people’s lives and offer them goodness. Remind them what an unexpected gift little things can be. Don’t be bound by the markers of a flowerbed someone else designed. We were made for something more!!

 

 

Where to Begin?

With butterflies in my stomach, I sit at this keyboard doing something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.  And a blog was born!  I hope you’ll be patient with me. This is just a place where I can write what’s on my heart, and for those of you that choose to, a place where you can read those ramblings. I’ll share the personal, the mundane, the sometimes questionable, perhaps the funny, but it will always be from my heart. I can guarantee that the cracks in my humanity will show. I’ll often point them out even.  Because I truly believe that’s part of what I’m called to. This human experience is hard enough, but when we walk around thinking that the rest of the world has it together and pretending that we do too, we serve no one. We are human. We come into this world broken and flawed. And it’s in our journey here that we begin to figure out how to manage that brokenness, embracing it and allowing God to take our broken pieces and make something beautiful and new.  I am broken and beautiful and new.  And this is where I begin.