Saturday, August 28, 2010
Gotta go cheer!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Earthly Good: Seeing Heaven on Earth by Martha Sterne is a collection of short chapters which I guess could be called devotionals. One of my favorite chapters is Alligators. In this particular chapter, she starts out describing her parents' 50th anniversary bash.
That line about the "alligator experts" emerging makes me laugh every time I read it. (and the advice/"facts" these experts share would make Cliff from Cheers very proud ;-)
"All of our relatives and some of their oldest friends gathered out in the country outside of Natchez, Mississippi at an old place where Mother's family has been living and re-unioning for almost two hundred years now... It's really a peaceful sort of place, a kind of dark and green paradise.
...And mostly that house party was safe harbor time. Except for one thing. This alligator showed up...
Of course, immediately, the alligator experts among us emerged."
She goes onto say,
"All in all he kind of added to the party. The Game and Fish warden said he'd come out in a couple of days to trap him and take him to a new home, but then one afternoon, the alligator just disappeared-just vanished. We looked all around...He was just not anywhere to be seen. And here's something strange: if you think seeing an eight-foot-long alligator is kind of scary, try not seeing one. Terrifying.
We said he was our first alligator but he wasn't, really. I believe that most of our deepest fears are sort of alligator fears. The alligators we see--with terrifying clarity--gliding fast and hungry towards us or towards someone we love. And the alligators we don't see--the ones holding their breath, biding their time, just under the surface, waiting in the dark and the muddy places. Some of us spend our whole lives worrying about the alligators that we don't see. And then there are those of us who just jump right into alligator-infested waters, maybe because we are careless or foolish or proud or greedy or even maybe just innocent.
The alligator--the chaos, the storm, the danger, the divorce, the illness, the crisis--and the human response--what you and I do in the midst of chaos--and the presence of God in the chaos--these are profound issues of faith...God's presence even at the worst of times--that's the heart of the matter. And our trust--not in ourselves but in God--is what we work out or work to avoid working out all of our lives.
The hard news is that the Creator does not place us and our pain in the center of the universe. And we are never, ever going to control the chaos and we're never, ever going to control God, not even by doing it all right, not even by our morality, not even by our faithfulness. Job, for instance, stayed faithful through the worst that can happen...And he hurt bad and the chaos swirled anyway. And that seems like bad news to me.
But listen. Somewhere in the mystery of God--we don't know how, we don't know why--that hard word, that bad news, touches good news, touches gospel, touches grace. And the hard words of suffering and chaos and the gentle words of grace and deliverance are both true in a cross-shaped way that we cannot understand, but only experience. The mystery of God is that the Word of God speaks not only out of the storm but into the storm. The mystery of God is that the Word of God--hard and graceful--became flesh and dwelt among us, because God is Emmanuel. God is with us. And sooner or later the wind will cease. And there will be great calm."
I just love that.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
A few days ago during my quiet time, I found myself thinking about my daddy. Many of you know that he died a little over 7 years ago on Fathers' Day. I still miss him very much. I was reading something from Martha Sterne's Earthly Good: Seeing Heaven on Earth, and I was reminded of him--I could hear his voice in my head saying "coulda, shoulda, woulda" which, of course, was his way of reminding me not to look back and wonder about things in the past…they are in the past and can't be changed. He would want me to learn from these events and decisions but not to dwell on them in a negative manner.
I started remembering…his laugh, his smile, his wisdom, his encouragement. I can remember him telling me on more than one occasion "Don't let this be your problem," when I was upset because I was trying to "own" someone else's problem. I knew my daddy loved me very much. I knew I could count on him to encourage me and let me flex my wings. He was a product of his generation in that he worked long hours and left almost all the daily care of the house and family to my mom--which I am sure, was stressful and draining on her--especially when we kids were arguing and fussing and not helping too much. (That is the thing that stresses me the most as a mom!) My mom attended everything we ever did at school or after school, and my dad attended most of the important events and many of the not-so-important ones too. (I suspect my mom had a lot to do with this ;-)
He often called me "sister," and I can still hear him call me that in my mind. I can still picture him in the stands at a high school football game waving his arms and calling "Hey Sister!" while I was out on the field with my fellow Murrah Misses. Yes, I was embarrassed (and he enjoyed reminding me of that over the years ;-), but mostly I was glad my daddy was there to watch me…and that he was proud of me.
This week my daughter played in her first soccer scrimmage. Neither one of us really wanted to go--she didn't think she'd get to play (since she is junior varsity) and it was sooooo stinkin' hot (even after 6p.m.) So we went mostly to support her team. We were both awed by what happened. My precious girl got out there and rocked!!! She got in there (among girls much older than her) and kicked that ball and stayed with it…trying not to let it get away from her. I could feel Todd there in the midst of it, cheering her on, encouraging her to "stay with the ball…don't just kick it once and leave it for someone else, kick it again…don't take your eyes off the ball" just like he would when he practiced with her in the yard at our house. Our team got whooped, but that did not matter one bit to me because what I witnessed was beautiful and special. All the girls played hard…they have a great coach who encourages the right attitude of giving your best and having fun. My sweet baby girl was beaming and lighthearted when it was over, and I had such a thankful heart as we left the field. She knew her daddy was proud of her too.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Something hard and cold inside me has cracked…and that is a good thing. It makes me think of the winter in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It had been a very cold and bleak winter in Narnia (and never Christmas) for as long as most anyone could remember, but then signs of the thaw began appearing. I think my thaw may be beginning…I think it is real, but I am almost afraid to believe it. If you see me in person, please don't ask me about it--just watch and see. Last night as I laid on the hot concrete with my legs in the warm pool, watching the sunset turn the sky all orangey-pink, I recognized I was content. The circumstances still suck, but I was content in my spirit. Thank You, God.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The latest mailing from Bereavement Services was about Grief continuing to visit and how we all have our "grief room" we escape to when it shows up. The handout talked about how each individual's "grief room" differs from others in how it is "furnished" and who is allowed in with us. I think my "grief room" is very restrictive—I don't particularly want anyone to visit me there (as most of you who are close to me already know), but I don't mind posting notes on the door (my blog or texts). There is something impersonal (yet very personal) about sharing through this blog. I generally don't know who reads it, and I can plan exactly what I want to say. When I retire to my "grief room" I want to be alone….most of the time…every now and then I can let someone visit me there. I wonder, does this make sense to anyone but me?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Some people are just plain mean, and some people are just thoughtless..and lots in between. I hurt a friend recently. I am not quite sure what I did, and this person has not elaborated, but I know the hurt is real and for that I am sad. I am also not sure which is worse: intentionally hurting someone or being so unaware of another person's feelings or needs that you unintentionally hurt them.
I am reminded of how my children cry out "but I didn't mean to!" when they've done something hurtful. Like that makes it all okay and should cancel any consequences for what they have done. How often, do we as adults, cry our own version of "I didn't mean to!" in hopes that we can avoid responsibility for our hurtful words and actions?
Friday, August 6, 2010
This week has been rocky. I have felt pretty bad through most of it, but this afternoon for some reason, I began to be filled with hope. Hope for a good future. Hope that my children will be okay—better than okay—for they carry their daddy's love in them. Todd will always be a part of me—we traveled too long together for it to be any other way. But I also know that he would want me to keep on living…and not to act like I have died too. He was too full of life himself. I am sure there are many more rough days ahead, but I am thankful for this surge of hope.
I wrote the above comments yesterday. Today has been okay...no major ups or downs. I like my new job very much, and I am thankful that I had it to go to everyday this week. The woman that I have assisted this week is wonderful, wise and understanding. We had a lot of paperwork to do--many tasks that were tedious and required time but not too much brain power--which was just what I needed this week. The kids did well their first week back at school...but it has been a draining week for them as well. Mom and Katie have been here helping us all get back into a routine. We would never have made it to school and work on time without them. Next week I will have to get lunches and clothes ready the night before so we can all get where we need to go...I know I can do it. I am ready for this.