Monday, December 22, 2014

Finding Christmas

I have moved houses and somewhere in the changing and the endings and the beginnings, I seem to have forgotten how to relax.
Resting.
It is a constant struggle for me. My mind likes to go, go, go. My body feels it needs to follow - if I am able.
With as much as I know that this performing doesn't fulfill me, still I try to make something out of everything. I work and work - to make sure the kids know everything I have listed out for them to know, to create revenue for the family, to turn Christmas into a THING, making positive that everyone has enough from myself - who many times thinks she may be able to create more than she is.



I am sitting here on the couch alone, pondering why I do this to myself. And I am meditating on the words in my advent book*:
"Christmas can only be found. Christmas cannot be bought. Christmas cannot be created. Christmas cannot be made by hand, lit up, set out, dreamed up. Christmas can only be found...  
 That is the message of Christmas. The message of Christmas is not that we can make peace. Or that we can make love, make light, make gifts, or make this world save itself. 
The message of Christmas is that this world's a mess and we can never save ourselves from ourselves and we need a Messiah.
For unto us a child is born.
...True, you cannot light Christmas, because it is Christmas that lights you."



As I attempt to rest and reflect today, I am hoping to let the "musts" go, and sit still enough that I might find Christmas. Or better yet, that Christmas will find me.

And I wish the same for you all. May you find rest in the certainty that Jesus Christ has provided everything that you ever have needed and ever will need. Merry Christmas!



On those living in a pitch dark land, a light has dawned.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
And authority will be on His shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace.
~Isaiah 9: 2, 6






*book passage from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Monday, November 17, 2014

Provision

I was pining for a snow day today. Not the one we got, with a threadbare sheet's depth of flakes scattered here and there and the city's school buses still functional on the ever gripping roads, but a no-school day. I wanted a "the car won't even start" day. A "there is so much snow that cold crystals floated down the chimney and into the room" day.



You are probably thinking "But, don't you HOMEschool?"

Yes. Yes I do. But I follow the metro school schedule because, 1.) my oldest is still in traditional school, and 2.) because their days off give me permission to take a day off. And that feels nice. My personality needs permission sometimes.

Today, I thought that God should have provided me with a day off. I'm tired. It's cloudy. I worked this weekend and haven't had much downtime lately.
But he didn't. Not in the sense my soul demanded.
Which got me thinking some more about His provision in general. I have been chewing on this for a long time.



The first thing the snake said to Eve in the Garden of Eden was "Did God really say not to eat of ANY tree in the garden?"

He preyed on her fear that God would not provide for her.
It's a fear that I think is common. At least it is a fear that has often haunted me.

There have been so many times when I felt like I didn't have enough.
 Never enough money, never enough energy, never enough time, patience, peace, security, sleep...
I could go on and on. 
But when I step back to see if these feelings really reflect the truth, I can see that the feelings are only fears of the future or regrets of the past - and they are not the reality at all.
The truth is that God has has always provided everything that I have needed. I have been poor, but always had enough food. I have been tired, but have always made it to the end of the day. I have been sick but I have always continued to live. I have been grieved but have always re-found joy. I have been at my wit's end and then discovered that it wasn't the end at all. Sometimes the end of me is just the very very beginning of God. And I go on.



I have begun asking myself "Right NOW, am I ok?"
Almost always, the answer is "yes."
This moment is where God is present. Along with all of His provision. It blows my mind - because it is never what was on my mind. But it is real. Real-er than. Providing what I need most each moment.
THIS moment.

So today, we are doing school. And I am trusting that it will be good timing despite my insufficient funds in vigor. The kids are happy. I am grateful for the blessings around me regardless of my exhaustion. The learning, laughing, eating, discovering, playing and loving (and perhaps a bit of bickering and complaining in the mix.)

In this moment I am abundantly provided for.




"Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?" ~Matthew 6:26 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Women Rock

There is more to healing than just the physical.

I have had so many wonderful empathetic ears that I had no idea how healing sympathetic ears could be also.



Picture walking into a 60 degree lodge full of women who are willing to freeze half the time just to get relief from the either occasional or frequent flashes of blazing fire in their bodies from chemical or surgical menopause. 
This is where I have been for four days this past weekend: a young breast cancer survivor's retreat with Women Rock for the Cure.



The retreat staff wheeled in our belongings for the weekend for us. But we were all carrying unseen luggage as well. Many of us had been carrying it all alone for too long of a time.



Laughing
Crying
Identifying
Celebrating each woman - all shapes, temperaments, personalities, colors, interests - but ALL living, with still beautiful bodies and even more beautiful souls.




It wasn't like a band aid that just makes you feel a little better about the deep and painful gash because you can't see it anymore and you know it is somewhat protected from the elements.

No, it was a vitamin that enters deep into your body and strengthens everything to promote miraculous, true healing.

We NEED each other.

Hearing - "no, I totally get it."
"Yes, me too"
"I'm afraid as well"
"Uh huh"
"Exactly!" -
Makes a person who didn't know they felt alone, really feel NOT ALONE.



If only I could verbalized the weight of the impact of a group of women who are all so unique, but each one with a body that tried to kill them - IS trying to kill them - and celebrating that it hasn't worked yet. 
In this moment - we are alive. 
Joyous.
Celebration. Of living.




Because only when we recognize the importance of living - the amazing-ness of it - can our souls begin to find healing.
If we don't know that we need it, we might not find it.
And sometimes it takes looking outside of ourselves. We look outside ourselves and it finds us.
Identifying.


"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
                       ~King Solomon


"In this world, you WILL have trouble. But take heart - I have overcome the world."
                       ~Jesus of Nazereth 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lazy and it's OK

This is the kind of day where no one wants to get out of bed (except the youngest - who is whiney and sick and won't go BACK to bed.)

 It is a chilly morning and the kids are struggling to put their brains on (and their clothes on - they are wrapped in toga-like blankets) and I for one, would like to just wear my pajamas all day (which I do occasionally.)




don't often have days like this where I tell myself "It's ok. Everyone has days like this."
But today, I somehow - miraculous beyond all belief - have the presence of mind to give myself and my family permission.
It's ok. Everyone has days like this.



It is an extra cup of tea day.

A pulling away from the "important things-that-must-be-done" day.

A finding time instead to read A Road To Oz and laugh at the clever witticisms of Mr. Baum.

It is a couch visiting day.
One where you tuck the favorite cuddling blanket around your legs and watch a mind numbing show - just because your mind needs to rest. And your body needs to slow.




All of the important learning things, cleaning things, working things will be there tomorrow. But by then, we'll feel like doing them. With joy.
Because we rested.



And it's ok.
Better than ok.
It's GOOD.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tiny steps

I feel like I am getting nothing done;

Half finished projects,





Half finished books,

Lists and lists hastily scratched.



I can't go on because the laundry needs to be done,

The dishes washed,

Food cooked for hungry mouths.



Until one day,
A rare day,
It all comes together.



All of the prep work,

The rest days,

The portions of things done in ten spare minutes -

All ends up MATTERING,

That day that it all comes together.




Kind of like a punch line that isn't funny until you sit through the whole set-up of the joke. All that work that feels arbitrary, isn't.

The food turns into meal.
Little by little.



The projects begin to make sense.
Little by little.





Knowledge gets retained.
Little by little.

The child turns into a man.
Little by little.


Faith is built and grown...
Into something solid.
Little by little.





All the history. All the words. All the lives. Eventually lead to one great moment that makes it worth it.
 Thank YOU, GOD.


Monday, September 29, 2014

finding homes

Things are beginning to find their places.



Perhaps we have now passed the halfway mark of our things that now have a home in our house. It's not perfect.

 The things belong...



But not always prettily. I have no time for fancy organization. I used to desire it. Crave it. NEED it. Magazine structure. Chaos free.
I can still find myself, even now, wanting that for my space and my life.



But there is so much beauty in just belonging. The cutting board just FITS. The tea is haphazard but I know WHERE IT IS.



It is a satisfaction like family.
No family is perfect.
But we BELONG. Somewhere.



Even the lost have homes that they haven't found ... Yet.
But they are there.
Waiting.
It may not be exactly like what you envision.



But it is home.
For now.



Whetting our appetite 
For a more perfect later.
But just enjoying the NOW.
And being THANKFUL.



God settles the solitary in a home
Psalm 68:6

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Persevere

There are days when I seem to just chant this one little word over and over and over in my brain, hoping it will translate to my heart and soul.



You don't have to be going through anything especially traumatic to feel the struggle to persevere. It is just life.
 Everyday life.

Of course, heaven knows I am not discounting those trials when it is hard to even imagine putting one foot in front of the other through sloggy time and piled up earth. We need an extra dose of endurance then, for sure.
But what about just every. single. day? We get out of bed, determined - or not - to put on a positive thought, but our legs are tired.
Our brains are fried.
We have people to feed.
We have to go to the same job.
We are in charge of something and responsible.
We keep peeling wallpaper but there is more under there!


How do we persevere then? EVERY DAY? Our whole lives?
This world is hard. My brain gets messed up about what is important, pretty much several times per rotation of the planet. The labor that it takes to make things happen is ... LABORious. 


Isn't it?

I know this about you. And you know it about me. Let's just look at things real.

I'm not always happy to begin the day cooking and reading to and directing and goading children and ... oh my gosh! I'm in charge of human beings!!!



This is how I keep doing it. Over and over. Trudging and plowing. Little by little.
Knowing that God is God.
I'm not in charge of that - thank God.
And then I can stop.
Get quiet in my soul.
Look around with fresh, unconcerned eyes because God is God.
And from that one thought I can be
 thankful.


 And I can feel freedom to not be God. I can just do what I can do and leave the rest up to Him.
Thankfully.  
Minute by minute. 
Persevering.

How do you persevere?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

After




The kids and I went for a walk the other day after it had rained really hard. My son commented on how he didn't really like the air because it felt thick with water. He noticed the earthy smell that the rain brings with it, the wet ground and the vivid colors of the foliage - some of the plants excited to be alive and some beaten down by the past torrent.
I told him that I enjoyed the rain and also after the rain. It was exciting. Different. It provides for life, but at the same time it could ruin things. What a paradox a storm can bring.



I have been trying to figure out what my life looks like after the storm of cancer. It isn't the same as is was and it is not the same as it has been. My ground is soaked with so much rain. Some of my flowers have bloomed from nourishment. But I have leaves and branches that have broken, fallen away. Been beaten down, down, down.

Who am I now? 

I set aside so many everyday worries and burdens when there was the big WORRY. Now I have seemed to pick them up again thinking I should be able to carry them if I was able to get through almost two years of battling something big.

Why do I do that?

How many burdens are ok to carry? Can I just be free? Is it ok to be free from worries?

And is it ok to be different? To allow cancer to be part of who am but not let it define me completely? 
Maybe it is just too fresh. I will be on medication for the next ten years. It hasn't even been a year since my hysterectomy - and it changed me. It changed the way I feel. It changed my moods. It changed my sleeping habits.



I am happy to be almost past these two years. I am relieved to be living. I am grateful for things I never noticed before. And yet...

I am picking up some yokes of life that I think I SHOULD carry because I FORGET that I wasn't the strong one who got through cancer. I FORGET that I am not the one who should be able to do so much because I think I should have some kind of extra strength now since I am done with chemo and finished with surgeries. I am different now. But I am still the same. I was weak before. I was weak during and I am weak after. And I am kind of glad about that. I don't want to be the one who carries my world alone, even though I sometimes try.

When I am weak, He is strong

"Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you"



I haven't been doing these hard things from the beginning. Why do I think I can do them alone now?

Going to be doing less carrying
and more casting...

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take MY yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." ~Jesus Christ