"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ---John 14:6
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Unafraid--And Watching Miracles
Perhaps I'm writing so much about my past lately because of the hours I'm spending digging through it.
All the sorting of drawers and cupboards of my past seasons in preparation for a new one. I don't know.
But there I was at 17 in the mainline church denomination I'd grown up in, the one which taught it's a million to one chance that God will supernaturally heal anyone today. And good luck if you ever see a miracle because they all died out after Acts chapter 2. And yet I believed, all along, that God still healed people, still answered prayer and nothing was too hard for Him.
That He could do anything He wanted.
And there I was in my 20's (in a different church) believing that the biblical gifts of the Spirit are still very much given and in use today. That God can speak through the gift of prophecy and knowledge, wisdom and mercy and well, all the rest. And watched Him do that and participated, also.
And there I was in my 30's believing that God is not like a boring church service. Nor does He resemble dull sermons, songs which never change, routines which never vary, unteachable people or a yawning, sad, defeated Sunday School teacher.
Always, God is more.
More creative, more inspiring, more incredible. More than our imaginations can fathom and always more than we will allow Him to be.
And here I am in my 40's still unafraid of the supernatural parts of God, knowing that if there's nothing supernatural about God, well then, we are all sunk. And I'm grateful that I didn't have to wait until strolling around Heaven's streets to see that supernatural side of a God who will not be stuffed inside a box.
And may I never be seen on some street corner trying to shove Him inside a boring, safe box. May I never grieve Him that way.
Regarding American Idol
Okay, I'll confess. Tom and I are still watching American Idol.
And I know that certain bloggers have chosen to resume watching only when the Hollywood shows begin, especially after seeing that dreadful (I'll agree) Washington state episode. I get that and I respect it, too.
So why do I watch American Idol year after year? Truthfully? It's the human nature of everyone involved which fascinates me. Everyone from the judges to Ryan to the contestants and their parents and friends. And well, I love observing what Candid Camera used to call 'people caught in the act of being themselves.'
And ok, some of what happens is staged--I get that. But what I study, learn from and find utterly interesting is the stuff you couldn't stage in a hundred years. The real drama. The wild actions which come from insecurity, the deep, gut-level cries for appreciation, the wanting to be--not just known--but famous (and believing fame will fill up all the huge gaps inside ones soul). The way peoples' needs can cause such unbelievable delusion and how disappointment can bring out the worst in folks--
--oh, and the way the contestants act, too. (Heh. Just kidding, Simon, Paula and Randy).
I don't know. I watch American Idol weekly, fascinated like I said, and am reminded nearly every moment that even a huge, awesome, world-known singing career is still not big enough to totally fill the gap inside anyone. How only God, Himself can complete what He began--and created--in the first place.
And maybe, after I sort through all the other reasons--maybe that is why I watch American Idol each year. To be reminded that God is still God and only He will ever be enough.
So why do you like American Idol? (Like--not hate.) ツツ
Monday, January 29, 2007
When You Can't Make Your Bed Without God's Help...
...you're in a very good place.
Let me explain.
Years ago I started over. God was doing amazing things in my life, namely, restoring the joy of my salvation. But so that I'd not lose that joy, He asked me to begin all over again, this time doing things His way, not mine.
So I agreed that would be best. Then suddenly! At 36, I felt like a helpless toddler, one whose parent must help her do nearly everything because it all appears too daunting to tackle alone.
Suddenly, it felt as though I couldn't even make my bed without God's help, otherwise known as Grace.
Ok, that probably sounds weird. But not only that, I didn't want to. I no longer wanted to do anything without Grace help and God's presence. And because that became my heart's desire, I felt like a helpless kid and sincerely began relying upon God's for every bit of help for--
painting my walls
and all the rest.
And guess what? Life became incredibly sweet.
Why? Because I relied so heavily upon God and Grace for every tiny thing, I began to feel I always had a friend beside me. Like God was always near.
Because He was.
Because I relied upon Him like a helpless child.
Because I am a helpless child without Him.
And where He is, there is liberty (and creativity and joy and companionship and peace of mind and wisdom).
And I cannot imagine a more incredible way to live.
"A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." ... Proverbs 18:24
"And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." ... Matthew 18:3
Saturday, January 27, 2007
The Second Weird Thing About Me
I told you in an earlier post that if I did that "Six Wierd Things About Me" post which everybody is doing, well, you'd not be able to handle it all at once. So here's the second weird thing, though it's not one of the extreme ones, just one on my mind:
2. For most of my life, my favorite tv shows have been the ones none of my friends watch or like.
Prime example: Earlier this month Naomi mentioned that the old Nickleodeon show, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, had come out on dvd and she'd love to own it someday. So with her birthday coming (it's today, in fact) I bought both seasons for her, and since I had fond memories of the two episodes she once had on video tape, I opened the boxes when they arrived and watched the episodes. Every single one.
I love The Adventures of Pete and Pete!!
Man, what a warm, funny, sentimental treasure. And after Naomi opened the gift bag with the dvd's (and expressed her pleasure) I told her I'll definitely be buying them for myself.
And that's an example of what I meant. This show was probably aimed at 8-year-olds, but I think it's amazing.
And personally, I think there's much in each episode which goes, whoosh! Over the heads of kids and, instead, zooms straight to the heart and memories of their parents.
But still, how many of my friends are gonna want to discuss with me the delight of The Adventures of Pete and Pete?
Here are some other examples of shows which I LOVED, was passionate about, but if I brought them up around a coffee shop table with friends, I'd get only blank stares (then smiles before they'd return to chatter about other shows which, most likely, I hated):
1. Fantasy (give yourself 100 points if you've even heard of this one.)
2. Early Edition
3. This Is Your Life
4. Truth or Consequences
5. The Waltons (tho' I've found lots of people online who loved this, too. But for 20 years I thought I was the only one.)
6. The Dick van Dyke Show (same as above.)
9. Boy Meets World
Oh well, not a big deal. Not anything cataclysmic, just one of those strange but true things I've learned simply to accept.
Now, okay. I know many of you enjoyed The Waltons and The Dick van Dyke Show, but hey!
I'd love to hear if anyone loved any of the other shows I listed. That's the true test. シ
One of Those Days
Sigh. Poor ol' Tom drove home yesterday morning from having worked since midnight and said he'd felt horrible the last three hours.
So I gave him a bowl of cereal, he collapsed into bed, and then two hours later I heard him calling my name from the bedroom.
Not a good sign.
Poor guy had all the classic symptoms of a horrible, awful sinus infection. So I went into high gear, you know, where you do three things at once.
I got him transferred to the Cozy Room, sat him up in the recliner and then grabbed my handy-dandy Sinus Survival book. I flew upstairs for some going-out clothes then back down for some make-up in case we needed to go to the emergency room (he was really in pain), called his boss to say he couldn't come in to work the night shift, and then proceeded to check all the lists in Sinus Survival for which natural remedies one should take when one has a sinus infection.
After handing him vitamins and hot packs for his face and cleaning out the humidifier (after boiling water for the filter) and getting it going (and flinging Tom's decluttering boxes out of the cozy room so that I could actually walk around), well, I ran to the store (a brisk 12 degrees outside) for some flavored seltzer water for his stomach and some papaya enzyme for his head pain and while I was there, insulin for Lennon The Cat.
The things we do for each other. And isn't it wild how these things happen while we are most unprepared?
Anyway, he's feeling much better this morning and it's looking like he won't require antibiotics, either. He even did more decluttering of some piles of papers and notebooks I lugged up to him from the basement. A definite sign of improvement--yesterday you'd have believed he was at death's door.
Being a typical man, he always acts like he's dying when he's sick, but after 28 years I've learned, finally, to take that with a grain of salt instead of panicking and planning his funeral in my head like I did while a young bride.
And we are at an incredible, balmy 30 degrees today(!)
God is good.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Choosing A Or B... But Choosing
The short version: Saturday is Naomi's birthday, and we were going to have her come over tomorrow to celebrate, but something came up with Tom's job, so we asked Naomi to drive over today, like, in an hour, instead.
So I zipped around the house and cleaned, not that it was in bad shape, (aside from the boxes and bags for decluttering), but well, Naomi has been known to comment upon any one tiny thing which I've appeared to let go beyond a normal amount of time. And ok, that's probably sad that I feel a little threatened by that, but it's one of those things I just live with. No big deal.
So anyway, there I was straightening a few rooms, cleaning the bathroom sink, mopping the back entryway and then I placed her gift into a gift bag and wrapped the one Tom had given her. You know, things like that. And then Tom and I sat together in the cozy room and watched tv for five minutes before she arrived.
You won't remember this, but last year on her birthday, things ended on a sour note. This year, they began that way.
Naomi came into the kitchen all stressed-out and as soon as we all sat at the dining room table she said, " It would be nice if SOMEONE," (meaning me), "would leave the back door unlocked even once when you know I'm coming over,"(her hands had been full with the baking pan she was returning and she had to use her keys with cold hands--it was 12 degrees outside, etc.).
To which I replied that yes, I had forgotten this time, but I've often remembered before to unlock the door. Lots of times. To which she replied that I had NEVER left it unlocked for her. Not one time in nearly 2 years.
Good grief. For, like, the last twelve years this has been my test.
This thing of Naomi's memory being so negative that--out of 100 positive, fun things--she will remember the one thing which went wrong. (No easy pill for this Pollyanna mother who worked hard making her daughter's childhood one endless string of happy memories. Well, I tried, anyway.)
Some people are, simply, just negative-minded. At least until they allow God to change and release them from it. And I have seen God make those kinds of changes in people so I know He's certainly able--and these things take time. Look how much time God's taken with me(!)
But until that day arrives for Naomi, my test becomes this:
How will I react to her negative frame of mind when it involves her remembering my part of the situation incorrectly?
A.) Will I become all defensive? Will I sit there for an hour insisting I am right and she is wrong? Will I sputter and pop while trying to convince her that things weren't the way she remembers them? Will I stalk off into my room like a five-year-old? Will I, after she leaves, spend the next few hours illustrating my insecurity by cleaning the house until it shines and making all sorts of plans to, not only be perfect in areas of my weaknesses, but to never, ever be caught again by Naomi at any oversight? (All of which I've, er, been known to do.)
B.) Will I remain calm, rest in what I know to be true, spend extra time with God and then pray He will do for both Naomi and me what I could never do in twenty years? Will I help someone else who's hurting even while I'm in pain, instead of crawling into a corner to nurse my own wounds?
Over and over I must consciously choose B., because, hey, my natural inclination is to go with A. Nearly always, A is my knee-jerk response.
But thank goodness---thank God--He gives me power to override those pesky natural inclinations, though usually only after I give up my right to obey them.
I can't have it both ways.
I cannot act like a sulking, insecure child and be at peace with my heart and with God at the same time. Trust me. I've tried.
Go with God and go with B. ツ
The rest of the visit went fine. I tried very hard to choose B. and I kept listing all the kind things Naomi does for us (which are many!). For it is true--actions speak louder than words.
That Was Then, This Is Now...
While I'm opening every drawer, cupboard, box, nook and the proverbial cranny of my house and flinging to the winds (and Salvation Army) scraps and pieces of my past, this is what I am thinking:
The Kind Of House I Wanted Back Then:
I wanted Naomi to grow-up extremely creative, so at her fingertips, I kept boxes and drawers of paper scraps, fabric, cardboard rolls, white glue, glitter, cereal boxes, felt, popsicle sticks and blank books so that--should an imaginative idea swoop down upon her--she'd be prepared to deal with it. In half of our attic, Naomi (at 13) created an entire town of dollhouses, some purchased, most created by her from boxes, and I loved the expanse,depth and ingenuity of her city all over the attic floor, this project #243 (or so).
And at the base of the stairs was our trunk of dress-up clothes, with old 1950's formals and furry stoles, shiny glass necklaces, high heeled slippers and grey wigs. Up on top of bookcases I placed retro piles of colorful Sunday or going-to-town hats. I wanted our house to be the one people in charge of church plays or ladies' teas came to when they needed props. And it was.
Ours was the house where, when Naomi's teachers required small groups to make video movies, Naomi's friends always came here, dressed up and created clever, messy props and had full-run of the house, all three floors, to film in any room they wanted. And where, ten years later, we still have props in our basement, like jars with color-markered labels reading, "Super Juice! Buy Me Today."
I wanted our house to be the one with any book worth reading so Naomi could grab one anytime she had a book report due and so we had books in every room from up in the attic to down to the basement. I counted 700 one time, not even counting the books belonging solely to Naomi or Tom.
I never wanted a house stuffed with expensive stuff, no, just imaginative, fun, old stuff which someday, Naomi would think back on as being treasures of a different kind. And those memories would bring smiles.
The Kind of House I Want These Days:
Today, I want a house which reflects me as I am now, an older, different woman--a woman who went on a journey, yes, but who did not have to carry back every single souvenir she saw along the way.
I want to furnish my house with only those things I find useful and beautiful and trust that I'll--always--be able to recall the trinkets which fit and made sweeter the bygone years, things which, if held onto too long, only slow down the moving forward which is required at this new turn in the journey.
And may I remember if I wish to move forward (I do), I must, first, release whatever holds me back.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I keep this picture on the window sill in front of my desk.
I spy me at nine-years-old (second row seated, 4th from the right) and remember the rampant creativity, daydreams and hopes I had back then.
I tell myself I need to wander back --a little--to all that creativity, days when I'd peer ahead and glimpse only bright, glad times up the street. And like when I saw starfish and imagined a black sky crowded with glowing ones.
Afternoons I'd stare at a refrigerator box on someones driveway and envision a play house complete with curtains at the cut-out windows. Days when every moment held possibilities for a sort of colorful grandeur.
To now not be childish, but rather, child-like, especially in wonder, faith and trust.
And I keep that picture near me so I'll remember to pray for those other children-now-all-grown-up, wherever they may be. I wonder what kinds of years they've lived and whether they, also, try never to wander too far from what was best that 4th grade year.
There's much good right now while we are in our 40's, yes, but I'm finding this decade an even better one when I stir a little nine-year-old-child creativity into the mix.
Do you know where your class pictures are?
Monday, January 22, 2007
Shyness Part 2
"...and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh..." Philippians 3:3
There was (is) a whole other side to my shyness (see my last post for the first side).
There I was in Junior High, one of the most shy kids in all the halls. And yet when teachers called upon me to read my essays or reports while standing in front of a classroom of my giggling peers? I became only a tad nervous, for part of me loved being up there, reading my words on notepaper.
(I know.You're asking, "For heaven's sake, why?")
Because, though I lacked confidence in my short, cowering, so-blah self, I had great confidence in my ability to write. I loved sharing-- with any soul who'd listen--my written words which seemed to drop from the sky and down through my usually ink-smudged fingers.
Don't laugh, but I remember at 14 feeling that writing was to me what Samantha's powers (from Bewitched) were to her. I even felt like, just give me a subject--any subject--and I could write about it well enough to fool any teacher into thinking I actually knew what the heck I was talking about.
And since I knew darn well I was otherwise talentless, my writing had to be a talent from God. It certainly wasn't from me.
These past 12 years shyness has been falling away from me like the skin from a snake because I'm learning where to place my confidence. Not in myself--heavens, no! But as I learned early to place my confidence in the talent God gave me, I finally got a clue and realized I could place that kind of trust in God for all things I face.
The speaking to neighbors and people at supermarkets, the phone calls I must make to repairmen and business offices. The instances I must make confrontations and teaching crowds of church folks and the boldness I need to share here in my blog in a vulnerable way (hard, that, sometimes).
For you see, I have all confidence in what God can do. I've watched Him do things through me which would have terrified me to even picture myself doing 20 years ago. And now He and I have a history together which no person can snatch away.
Time, experience, scary adventures-- He's never failed me yet. I don't imagine that He ever will.
Another reason I liked reading my essays in front of the classroom? No one was allowed to interrupt me. I hated being interrupted while standing around with friends outside--always that made me feel that what I was saying was unimportant. Still does.
The Torture of Shyness
I was a shy child. It was torture.
Especially each time I had to--because we moved all the time--start over in a new school. All those cliques and all my new possibilities for looking foolish in front of them and dreading the unstructured lunchtimes most because of never knowing where to sit.
And gym class, well, let's not even go there.
I was shy about talking on the phone and about just talking, period, for fear of tripping over my words and being interrupted (therefore feeling as though what I'd been saying was boring). I feared new experiences, not knowing what to do, making mistakes.
And I remember vowing, especially during my uncomfortable high school years, that if I had a daughter, things would be different for her. Well, I did and they were.
When Tom and I sat with our six-year-old Naomi at McDonalds and she'd want extra ketchup, we'd tell her she needed to walk up to the counter workers and ask for some. And she would, no big deal. And I, her scaredy-cat mother who'd rather forego the ketchup than ask for any, sat and stared at Naomi in awe--and realize I was on the right track.
If she wanted friends to come over to play, rather than me calling the girls' parents to ask, I'd hand the phone to Naomi. I did not want my daughter to fear speaking over the phone as her mousy mother did.
If Naomi wished to buy something with her allowance, I had her go through the check-out lane by herself. I'd stand near the doors as she reach up on her tip-toes to hand over her money and I felt more awe, more gratitude, because my daughter could do what had always shaken me.
Now, lest you think we shoved, cajoled and forced her in the midst of tears to do any of this, let me add this: there was none of that. From her toddler days, we'd given her a foundation--we encouraged Naomi that she was as brave and intelligent as anyone. That she was special because she was our daughter and we were grateful that God had chosen to send her to us.
That with God beside her, she could do anything she needed to.
And you know? Naomi grew-up feeling loved, appreciated and capable. She was bold--and needed no pushing from us.
And while I watched her doing, with confidence, the things I still tried like crazy to avoid, I recalled the high school vows I'd made at 15 and smiled smiles of gratitude.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Raising a City While Raising a Teen
I've belonged to wonderful listservs online, full of women of joy and, well, women of misery, too.
Nearly always, the joyful women are the ones who've created a life outside, and apart from, their adult children. The women of misery? Oten they cannot let themselves believe that raising children was only a portion of their life--not the whole thing.
Long ago, I sat on our couch in our yellow California house while watching a 6-year-old Naomi singing softly to ten or more stuffed lions, cats and dogs spread over the living room carpet. I remember hearing a voice whisper, "Look up from your book, see Naomi as she is and memorize her. She'll not always be six. Someday she'll be far away, grown-up,so memorize her just as she is in this moment so you'll have a picture memory to keep."
Always, there was that knowing inside.
A knowing that mothering a child is a transient thing, fleeting. I consciously attempted to slow Naomi's childhood down--tried to savor moments around the house while I sunned myself outside on the porch and we sat across tables in the ice cream parlor in Nevada and--
But as I sit here, the mother of a daughter who will be 27 this month, I'm amazed how quickly it all flew. No matter how I tried to slow it down--I couldn't. The hourglass sand steadily spilled.
But that voice, that knowing also told me while Naomi was in high school, to start building something of my own. A life just for me, something which I could switch over to after Naomi left the nest. A place for my creative energy and dreams.
And all too soon, Naomi flew away--and oh, I needed that place! And wow, was I ever grateful I'd built it, that its creation began early, not late.
The happiest parents I know? The ones who allow their adult children to live their own lives and breathe and act and make decisions as adults.
The most miserable parents I know? The ones who grasp and pull and treat their adult kids like old children in a sort of time-warp.
Monday, January 15, 2007
New Things--They're Out There
"...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am rereading Joyce Maynard's book, Domestic Affairs, probably for the 30th time.
While in my 20's I used to buy the Sunday newspaper for mainly one reason--for Joyce's delightful essays about the ambivalent feelings of being a young mother nowadays. I've mentioned her book here and here before.
You learn much of 'what not to do' while reading Joyce's book (Joyce and her husband later divorced, reading the book is rather like watching the proverbial train wreck). But it's more. For me, it's a trip back to those days of mothering a tiny Naomi and all those lessons a mother learns.
Like this morning. I read where Joyce and other moms sat at the beach chatting and laughing, but always--always--watching and counting tiny heads out in the water. Afterward I thought, "I miss those days. Those days of sitting in the sun at the beach giggling with friends in this 'mothering club,' belonging like that, watching our little ones playing with sunlight upon their hair."
But only for a moment.
I mean, hey. Who wouldn't miss the sun-warmed sandy beach on a dark, sleeting January morning?
And yes, I still belong to groups--just different ones. Groups of moms who are, like me, empty-nesters, women approaching 50 (or beyond it). Almost like a second 'teenagerhood'--a wiser, wealthier, more sensible one.
Every time I wander the aisles of the supermarket I smile at babies in shopping carts, wave at them from behind their mother's back--and remember. Then I rejoice that, where I am now? I can smile at babies and hold them without feeling like I must have one of my own.
What am I saying? I guess I've discovered that usually what I'm missing is not certain times and people of my past, but rather, certain feelings.
Feelings of instant-belonging to the mommy group wherever I went those old days. Or the ones which came from creating something from nothing out of necessity. Or being needed by a child or reading her bedtime stories after she's had a bath and is all comfy in her pink Strawberry Shortcake nightgown.
But the good news? There are myriad feelings out there and many can be recaptured--only tweaked a bit. I can still, at whatever age, find ways to feel needed and if I truly wish to spend time around little children, why not help out some parents by caring for theirs?
Personally, I'm happy-out-of-my-mind right where I am at this moment, but this is my point: if we only sit around and grieve over the fun and feelings and Past Times, we'll miss out on the fun and and lovely times of the Present.
And always there's something good for us in Today.
But in these later years? Often it might prove harder to discover next steps and new lives. But we can do this.
With such a huge creative God we can do anything.
"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it will spring forth; will you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." ... Isaiah 43:19
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Of Valentines and Thinking of Others
Only one month from today is Valentine's Day-- hooray!
Okay, okay. Stop throwing things. ツ
I know how some of you feel about February 14th. Like that it's become commercial and sets single people up to feel more lonely. That it's too unfair a test for men, especially, men with wives or girlfriends with the, "You'd better pass this Valentine's Day test with flying colors--or else!" sort of demands.
But dare I say how I really feel? Well, since it's my blog, I'll dare it--
It's not Valentines' Day which is flawed--it's our thoughts about it. (You may quote me.)
Frankly, I believe we're being selfish when Valentine's Day rolls around on February 14th and all we're thinking is, "I hate this day, for my sake and everyone else's. Why create a day to remind people how lonely and unloved they are? Or why have a holiday meant only to test people who are already over-stressed and pressured?"
Well, so don't look at it that way!
For me, Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to send smiles in the mail. Cute little reminders to my friends of how much they mean to me. And it's the perfect chance to mail hearts,glitter and love to widows and single moms, women who spend the rest of the year mostly remembering days of love gone by.
What an opportunity. A day to fling far and wide loving and appreciative thoughts. A day to send emails with heart pictures to everyone in your address book. A day to wish folks you meet in shops a happy Valentine's Day with a kind word, helping hand or a simple bright smile.
A day when we can, for one whole string of 16 hours, think about others much more than ourselves.
What a day! And it's only one month away. And what's cool? I can begin today addressing all my pink and red cards I have waiting in my 1950's strawberry-painted metal bread box and feel happy and ten-years-old all over again.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
One Weird Thing About Me
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." ... Ecclesiastes 3:11
Yesterday I read Judy's delightful post which listed six weird things about her. What a treat! And afterward I thought, "I should write a post about my own weird ways." But this morning it came to me, "Nah. I'd better just list one weird thing. My readers' shocked heads would pop all over their computers, and well, I wouldn't want that."
So here's just one weird thing about me:
1. For ten years--from the time my daughter was 4 until she was 14--I did not hold one single baby in my arms.
Not one. Not even while attending church all those years more faithfully than even the pastor and being surrounded by women having babies, like, every ten minutes.
Why not? Because by the year Naomi turned 4, I'd pretty much realized I was unable to have another baby, at least, the old-fashioned way. It just wasn't happening. And not being ok with that at only 25 years old, it would shake me for days each time I held someones baby at church.
So I stopped. I simply ceased holding babies for ten whole years.
Though, I shouldn't say 'simply', for it became tricky wheedling out of it. If I was asked if I wanted to hold the latest baby, my instant response became, "Oh! Let Tom hold her please? He absolutely loves to hold tiny babies. He'd considered it a treat." (Fortunately that was truth. Tom could hold babies from breakfast till midnight and not have one, "I wanna carry this baby home!" feeling.)
Fast-forward ten years. There I was at a Christmas party at our pastor's house and late in the evening, a woman stepped up to me with her baby and asked if I'd hold her while she got her coat. Well, the fear and great hesitation must have shown in my eyes because the mom said, "Don't worry! I'll hurry and get it."
Finally, there was no way out. I mean, what was I going to say? "No, I can't hold your baby! I haven't held one for ten years because I'm afraid of the yearning which will come with it."? (I did consider saying that, though. heh.).
No, she handed me little Chrissy. I held her. And I felt fine. Fine!
No yearnings, no anything. Soon I even smiled hugely because all that came to me was, "Man, remember how much work new babies are? The constant laundry, sleepless nights, exhaustion. Whew. Glad those days have passed." I stood there looking into Chrissy's face, rejoicing that now--finally--I could hold any baby in the future--and be la de da hunky dory.
And ever since that day? I, too, could hold babies all day, then gladly release them.
Now you know I must slip a lesson into this silly story, right?
--Never should I try forcing someone to do what they're not ready to, nor form ignorant opinions about their inability to do it, either. God arranged a no-way-out for me to begin holding babies again. He 'repaired me' in His time.
And only God knows when the people in our lives are ready for their breakthroughs, also. Only He can make those kinds of permanent changes.
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter 3:8
Oh! And an important note:
A major reason I could easily hold the baby? I'd long before come to accept that I was meant to have just one child. Seriously. I'd just forgotten to tell my "can't hold babies part of my brain" that fact. heh. It had become a habit and really! How wonderful to break that habit.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Our Post Office, Our Newspaper
I've never before shown you our post office, so here it is. Built in 1913, imo, all post offices should look just like this. シ
Inside, there's honey-colored oak, some of it rounded over glass in front of the doors, marble slabs and stairs, intricate moldings and crown moldings, glass cases with 'Bulletins' etched in the oak above them and old sepia photos of the original construction in its phases. You don't even mind standing in line forever because of what surrounds you.
Well, I don't mind (too much, that is).
Anyway, speaking of my town, here are some of the often-a-hoot items in our newspaper's Sound Off. Sound Off is where you can call in/email (and complain about) about what's happening locally/nationally.
It's my favorite part of our paper and lately? Probably the only part I read anymore. Maybe you'll see why by these few examples-- ツ
I was driving by the high school the other day and I saw these girls running around in skirts and what not. I hope they were 18.
I’m sure everybody knows what the next endangered species is going to be and that’s snowmen. As in, Frosty the Snowman. With this global warming every snowman on the planet is endangered. Can’t get in trouble for that.
The _______ High School recently performed its Christmas Candlelight Concert at the OLC church. The program was excellent, the church was beautiful and the family and friends of the performers enjoyed the program. But why did the one _______ High School student keep his hat on in the house of worship throughout the performance?
I hope the politicians in the next Congress can actually get around to addressing the surveillance mind control chip, which right now is a national, not global, problem. Who is going to expose these monsters who want to control the whole world? I was really hoping they would have the foresight for future generations to come and see the suffering these monsters are allowed to succeed. It’s common knowledge in New York there are 220,000 people, without their consent or knowledge, operating under the auspice of medical study.
I wanted to say, so what if I am on food stamps and have other people pay for things for me? Since when is it such a bad thing to be a freeloader? I just don’t really like working and I don’t see the point when other people can pay for me. I am still a human being and I deserve respect.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Long Ago Lesson
So there I was, age 16, pathetically shy, and still the new kid in my girls' p.e. class at school and what does our teacher say? "When we get back on Monday we'll start folk dancing for the next three weeks."
There, sitting on the gym floor, I told myself, "Oh no. Not folk dancing! I am so uncoordinated when it comes to dancing. I'll have to practice every night at home alone so that I won't look like an idiot here with all these graceful girls. Man. This is unfair."
And that's when I had an epiphany. Well, of sorts. Suddenly, while still there on the floor, I 'heard' these words, "How do you know you won't be any good at folk dancing? Have you ever tried it before? You might even be great at it."
Wow. It was as though someone had shaken me a little and told me to wake-up. To stop telling myself I'd fail at something before even trying it. And it made me smile.
I asked myself, "Why do I, when given a new challenge, automatically tell myself I'll be horrible at it?"
And guess what? Whereas I'd especially dreaded p.e. that year because I'd enrolled late to this school and had had a hard time fitting in, well, I loved folk-dancing. Finally, gym class wasn't Torture Of The Day.
Then came time to be tested and we were each placed into groups of three girls, circled by everyone else around us. And you know? The other two girls in my group lost their places in the dance, just stood beside me, but I danced on. And I remember afterward my friend, Tara, told me she'd been proud of me for having kept dancing, even though it must have felt awkward to dance alone (it did).
Decades later this lesson returns when I automatically say things like, "No, I could never learn to do that on the computer," or, "This digital camera is too difficult to use for a brain like mine," or, "You can't teach this old dog those new tricks," etc.
If I believe I cannot do something, most likely I won't be able to.
Sometimes you have to give yourself a break. You must blast through any wall designed to keep you mired inside your boring, fearful rut.
And mostly, you just have to rely more on God's ability than your own.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." ... Philippians 4:13
"...fear has torment..." 1 John 4:18
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The view outside my dream room windows this morning. Finally we got some January weather--it was beginning to feel like Spring! (Click to enlarge photo.)
This just in! Victorian Trading Co. is having their annual half-off holiday cards sale a bit earlier this year. You can find their beautiful cards here. I just finished my annual shopping foray into the world of Victorian Trading Co. and am still coming out of that dreamy state this day always pulls me into. ツ
Sometimes That's Just Life
I'd gone to my best friend's house after school one afternoon and we decided to make brownies (I think), so she began pulling measuring cups and spoons out of a kitchen drawer.
I saw that the assorted metal and plastic cups, some of them anyway, still had dustings of flour and sugar upon them from previous uses. I asked Tara about that and she smiled and said, "Oh, my mom only sometimes washes the ones we've used with dry ingredients. I mean, you're just going to use them for the same thing, so why wash them every single time?"
That made perfect sense to me, and for reasons which cannot be explained, I told myself on that afternoon, at age 16, that when I grew-up I, too, would have a drawer with floury and sugary measuring cups and spoons inside. I guess it sounded cozy. Romantic. Domestically sensual. (Who understands these things really?) And I believed that my future daughter, like Tara, would think it was a cozy thing to do, too, and she'd smile, as Tara had, because her mother kept her measuring cups in this way.
So I did. But my daughter didn't. Smile about the floury measuring cups, that is. No, instead, she'd wrinkle her nose and lecture me about washing things before putting them away.
Sometimes that's just Life.
And sometimes it's just Life when you collect a ton of your favorite, much-loved books to share with your daughter, but she's not a big fan of reading (saying she burned-out in the 1st grade when, for a class contest, she read 300 books. Out loud. To me.)
Or you're careful to latch your storm door every single time (when others in your family forget frequently), but the ONE time you do forget, a strong wind blows, pulls the screws from the door frame, and your husband lectures you about the necessity of closing the storm door securely Every Time.
Or you get serious, truly, about losing weight--and then it hits you--Thanksgiving is just one week away.
Or your appliances never break down one at a time, but always in rebellious groups.
Or when you think your husband will be mad at you, he isn't. But when you have no clue he'll be mad, he is.
Need I go on? Nah, I didn't think so.
There are many things which are, well, Just Life. And I'm learning not to waste my good energy with bad thoughts, frustrations, prayers and campaigns to try to change those Just Life things.
I'm learning to ask God what needs to be changed because on only those will I receive His help. With all the rest I'm on my own and there's no scarier, more wasteful, futile place to be.
That's just Life.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Sometimes I take adventures alone. Like when I drove to the huge blue-grey river down the street this morning.
Actually, it felt like Jesus sat in the front seat beside me and all of you were crammed in the back seat. Kinda crowded, but I kept writing this post by way of conversation. ツ
When I drove into the park, guess who greeted me from above? At least 80 geese in a V formation floating in the grey, wispy sky. I parked the car and finished listening to Patty Griffin's song about making pies (have you heard that one?) while I watched the geese until the last one vanished. I sipped my Burger King coffee and dreamed a bit before reading my book, nibbling my breakfast.
There are women (I know some) who don't have adventures.
They never sit in a movie theater alone (or with anybody else), eat in a restaurant, drive out in the country or do much of anything else out-and-about (except run errands and chauffeur kids). And these same women seldom go out for coffee with friends or shop with them or do anything more than make an occasional phone call to sustain a friendship. And then, over years, lose friends from neglect, sometimes not realizing those friends walked away until they're lying in a hospital bed and only a husband or child visits.
I try to pay attention to what's happening in my Life, but sometimes I get distracted (who doesn't?) and God has to yank me back to the spot in the road where I careened into a ditch.
Sometimes it feels like it's not my fault I'm mired in that ditch but nearly always, God tells me yes, it is. If I flew or stumbled into a ditch, then I had my eyes on something other than Him, most likely on problems, frustrations, fears or quite possibly, on decorating, movies or books.
But so very long ago He had Apostle Paul write.."For we walk by faith, not by sight." You'd think I could remember that and never forget.
Maybe that's why I take those drives down to the river even on cloudy, cold days. To recall what gets so easily forgotten in busyness. To pull myself up, with His help, from any ditches or even smaller (boring) ruts I've toddled into.
And to sing along with Barlow Girl the words to their Never Alone :
I cried out with no reply
And I can't feel You by my side
So I'll hold tight to what I know
You're here and I'm never alone
And though I cannot see You
And I can't explain why
Such a deep, deep reassurance
You've placed in my life
We cannot separate
'Cause You're part of me
And though You're invisible
I'll trust the unseen
The remembering He's always there, the never having to doubt anymore just because my feelings are sobbing something contrary. That has made all the difference. That keeps my feet on solid ground.
"I will never leave you, nor forsake you." ... Hebrews 13:5
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