Archive for January, 2009

My soul cannot
keep fighting for breath
It must find flight
or learn a new level of numbness

So much pain
yet not enough
calm and reasonable
so few tears
even fewer possibilities

where will it go
what will it take
how long do I wait?

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Part 2

I’ve only got a few minutes this morning, but I’ll try to jot down a few of the thoughts to continue yesterday’s post.

I did start reading GC this morning. I love the way she writes, she makes it all seem so personal. Hopefully reading through this again will help me feel reconnected and help me remember things that used to be clear.

I just am wondering lately what changes things. More specifically, what changes a person’s heart. Does anything? I mean, I keep trying to believe that the scars on someone’s heart CAN be changed by faith, by the grace of God, by His healing touch. By something unseen. A miracle. I’ve always had that belief in my heart, that those scars could be healed, that a person could change, turn around completely, make a whole new start that comes about by the hand of God. And yet. I don’t know. I just keep asking myself if that really happens. Does it? I can’t think of a single person that I know personally to whom this miraculous change has taken place.

Isn’t that the whole point? Isn’t that the basis of our belief?! That through grace our sins are forgiven and therefore we no longer have to live with the bondage of sin and the baggage it leaves us with? Then where is all this change? All I see are people scarred by others, by circumstances, and by the scars we choose from the choices we make. I’m not aiming this towards any person in particular, and I group myself in with that completely.

I thought the miracles that Christ wrought while on this earth were a sort of a metaphor for the healing of the heart and the soul that we should expect when we pray for it. That “whole” and “complete”, “restored” and “made perfect again” were not only terms to be used when the healing was for the outward body, but also for the inward. Think of it – when the woman with the issue of blood touched the garment of Jesus’s robe He said to her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague,”. Do you think she was healed for the hour? For the day? Maybe a month or a year? Or for the rest of her life? Was her body still weak, was she scarred internally so badly she couldn’t have children? Or was she really and truly whole?

What about Naaman? The Bible says “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Can you imagine having that kind of healing for our hearts? Do you think his flesh started turning white with leprosy again as soon as he got home? Why can’t we expect the same kind of miraculous healing, to have our souls clean? To have our hearts functioning again like they did when we were trusting little children?

I know God cares for our souls more than for our bodies, and so I believe these examples of healing so completely and without scarring were meant for us to see as a metaphor, as a parable for the kind of healing He wants to do in our lives, the healing of our hearts. I want to see it, to touch it, but instead I have to have faith of the unseen power that is available. And keep praying for it, not just for myself, but for those I love.

Those stories of healing in the Bible, they have one thing in common – those individuals had to have faith, and they also had to act on that faith. Maybe we see so little of this because we cannot for the life of us figure out how to have that faith or how to act on it at the practical level.

More thoughts tomorrow, hopefully.

Does it Make a Difference?

I had a dream about this post last night, complete with DH looking at me crazy and R arguing with me over my reasoning. Hmm. Interesting, lol! DH does regularly give me that crazy look, but R and I NEVER argue!

I think we all go through seasons in our lives, and in our relationships. Just like we would get sick of a constant Spring, or an endless Autumn, (I know, hard to believe) our lives would be boring without the ebb and tide of emotions within those stable and constant relationships. And so, my life is in a place of transition. I’m going from the Baby Years to the Childhood Years, moving from one season into the next. And with that transition I am finding myself in a place where I am cold emotionally and spiritually. The soil of my soul has been left to winter for the last 5 years and now I am realizing my need, but strangely I don’t desire it like I want to.  Instead I am just sitting here questioning it all. Not so much questioning my beliefs, but questioning  different things like what part emotion plays in our spirituality, whether or not intercessory prayer makes a difference; where I fit into God’s plan. Really. I know where I fit. I fit exactly into the place He has given me, as a wife and a mother, which encompasses a full spectrum of duties and responsibilities. I get that. But what about the rest of the world? Do I matter in the larger spectrum as a person in and of myself? Or just as the mother of these future adults and as the wife of the one who goes out into the world?

So I have been going over and over to the book of Ecclesiastes where all is “vanity and vexation of spirit.” And I feel like that is where I am at lately. While I feel like I am capable of taking better and better steps with my own life, I also feel more and more that I am powerless to help or change anyone else’s life. Like I am talking to the wind when I try to counsel others, that my words and my efforts are fruitless, that I am destined to mess up my kids’ lives and yet find that they were my only hope to make a difference in the world.

I know there are two factors to what I’m going through here that are in my control.

1. We still (after two years) have not fully made the transition to a new church family or rejoined the old. We are stuck in between with no jobs in the church to keep us accountable and two church families who don’t even realize where we are at.

2. I am not consistent with my devotional life. I can do better. I saw this group on fb that is reading through the gc, and I was going to join, but they are almost halfway through already. Maybe I should start my own reading group. One chapter per week is very do-able. Want to join me in reading DOA or GC, Rain?

Okay, so this is only half or a third of the conversation I was intending to get through in this post, but it would be too long, and I still have to figure out how to make the rest of it understandable and not just full of frustration and confusion. I might finish it later if I can.

Low Maintenance

Okay, I HAVE to write about something lighter today. I went through the weekend on the edge of crazy and really need to not focus on anything too deep – so here’s my fluffy post. You may still think I’m crazy when you’re done reading this, but I will feel better!

We’re going to talk about my hair. My hair… is long. It’s at least down to my waist.

The last time I had it cut was almost a year ago, and she butchered it. Just like she did the last time she cut my hair, two years ago. And yet I keep going back to her. The hair butcher. It’s because I don’t know anyone else who would spend 3 hours on my hair and only charge me $35. I get what I pay for, I guess! What I really want to do is go back to Pavlova, spend $100 and get my hair done by that awesome girl who gave me the best haircut I have ever had. That was 3 1/2 years ago.

Seriously, there is high maintenance (not me), low maintenance (where I thought I was), and then there is neglected (ding*ding*ding) . I HAVE to do better than this. There is no reason I can’t come up with the money at least once a year to have my hair done decently. And do it without loading myself down with guilt the whole time!

But that’s not the only dilemma I face with my hair. I like having it long. It feels young and I like the feel of it on my back. But I know it’s not healthy (which isn’t pretty) and there is still that issue with the chunky layers that looks ridiculous and like I’m trying to be 17.  I’m not 17 anymore. I’m okay with that. I don’t need to look like I’m trying to look 17. Seriously.

On the other hand, I am almost 30. Just under 4 months till the big 3-0. So I keep having these thoughts about how silly it is for a 30 year old woman to have long hair. Maybe just the long hair itself makes me look like I’m trying to look 17? I mean, is 30 too old to have long hair unless it is the kind of long hair always braided and pinned up in a neat bun? I mean, I’m practically an old woman. Maybe I should just skip the in-between and go for the whole total haircut and perm and go straight to the 70 year old look.

Okay, okay, maybe I shouldn’t be so dramatic. If my husband were here he’d tell me I am “overthinking” things. Ha ha! He likes that term. But he’d probably actually be right in this case!

My Girls

First of all, I have to report that I am now quite sure that Satan does not appreciate the purpose-driven life. He prefers apathy. My best laid plans over the past 2 days have been constantly foiled and I’ve had to realize that I need not only to be organized and planned out enough for my every day schedule but I have to have back up plans, too. Otherwise I go back to throwing out my plans and living hour to hour on the spontaneous, seat-of-my-pants plan since the original one keeps getting ruined. Anyway, it’s a challenge, but I feel good about the progress I’m making!

One of the wrenches in my plans has been scheduling naps and quiet time. The girls share a room, and I’ve been extremely reluctant to attempt simultaneous nap times in the same room. Just seems like asking for trouble. So EM goes down in the late morning and then doesn’t get a nap in the afternoon because ELA is occupying the room with her nap. So I have been doing my quiet time chores with her “help”. Which I have to say, is too sweet to be annoyed at. She loves to help me make beds, “fold” laundry, and most especially, wash dishes. When she hears me start to run the water, she RUNS to the kitchen, grabs the stool, and pushes it up to the sink and climbs up. She really does seem to think I am the one in the way and hindering progress, not her! So she helps. I have to wash several things twice or three times, but that’s okay. She is my little Mini-Me and I can’t help but be sympathetic to her. Her personality is very similar to mine and I get her in a way I don’t get the other two. Maybe part of it is the simple fact that she’s the youngest, the same family position as me. She also loves her baby dolls, tucks them into her blankets, give them drinks from her cup, and even sings to them! Cutie.

ELA is the middle child, and while I hate stereotyping her into that place, she is the one I struggle with on a daily basis. She takes a different kind of attention from me than EM. She does not seek my attention. In fact, she seems quite content to go about her little business and play with her brother and ignore me for the most part unless she needs my help. But when I let her go through her day in that frame of mind, we always wind up in a bad place. She gets whiney, upsets easily, and becomes belligerent when asked to do things. With her, I must seek her out, set aside time for one-on-one reading or talking, or doing a chore. Then, and only then, she is a sweet little girl, willing to help and willing to listen. It’s difficult for me because I have two other children wanting to have my CONSTANT attention, and one who wants it and needs it but can’t express that to me. I have to choose to prioritize time with her even when it’s not demanded or asked for. It’s necessary, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that.

ELA is my free spirit. My dreamer. Her newest thing is to make up songs. She is off in her own world these days, making up songs to sing and singing quietly to herself as she plays. She loves ALL animals, cuddly, prickly, squishy, or squeeky. She has no time for dolls, but come summer, she will be back outside digging up worms and washing them off with a hose and attempting to give them a good warm home inside the house. And when she’s not doing that, she is likely to be playing dress up. She loves her shoes (got that from Auntie R!) and foofy dresses. If it has tulle, she wants it. ‘Cause then she’s a princess! Where do they pick up these things?! I can see calling herself Cinderella, she actually OWNS that movie. But they don’t exactly have any “princess” movies. Hmm..

And last, but not least, she is my fearless girl. She was the one jumping off the top of the stairs at 18 months and hoping someone was there to catch her. She’s never once been afraid of the horses, and last summer I caught her more than once out in the middle of the pasture, surrounded with horses and had somehow gotten there by going THROUGH the electric fence. She’s tough as nails, with a need for adventure and danger, and a hard head, stubborn and strong, and loyal beyond reason as well, probably! She reminds me of my best friend in a lot of ways, and not just because she looks more like her daughter than mine!

Death To Apathy

Apathy: noun – lack of feeling or emotion: IMPASSIVENESS  – lack of interest or concern: INDIFFERENCE

Dear Apathy,

I hate you. You creep in to my heart and take the space up in my heart that should be given to joy, anticipation, anger, indignation, and resolve. Your grip causes my heart and soul to atrophy, paralyzing these God-given concerns and emotions. Paralyzing my will to grow and to change and to do better. It causes me to believe that I have no power to change things, that perhaps I deserve what I get. That, like Solomon writes, that “all is vanity”, and that “this too is meaningless”.  Yet he also writes in the very same book, that there is “a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  In other words, it may be meaningless, but there is still a time to dance!

I will no longer let apathy rule over my desire to dream, to do, to believe. I will choose to make my choices based on faith, love, and hope. I will choose to take a step each day toward the person I want to be, toward the wife I want to give my husband the gift of, toward the mother my children can learn from and respect. It’s a big ticket, and I will fail at times. But I won’t give up. And I’m calling you to the challenge too!

Victor Hugo wrote: “It’s nothing to die; it’s frightful not to live”

It is nothing to die. Especially when death comes slowly, a prick here, a slice there, until there is nothing but scar tissue covering your heart and the numbness is the only comfort to find. It is HARD to choose to let God peel off the scar tissue, it’s HARD to choose to let Him be your only protection. I don’t even know what that means on the most basic, practical level. I really don’t. I’m learning. And it will continue to be a difficult process, I think, for a long time.  But I will get there. I’m getting stronger each day. Leaning less on myself and other people, and more on the pillars of truth.

Chuck Gallozi writes in an interesting article, that “…apathy is not caused by events, but by our reaction to events.” Basically, I have chosen to allow apathy in, becoming overwhelmed by all of the things we see and are witness to that we have no control over. To be very honest here, I think in my life I have allowed it in (partly) through the TV. It is a piece of the picture here. How many times have I witnessed violence and dispair through the eyes of the TV which stirred emotions that then had to be quelled because they were simply USELESS. It was depicted violence, depicted despair. It trains us to shut down those feelings of wanting to rescue, to help, to change what we see, and replaces them with our dear friend Apathy.

Right after my first child was born I could not watch TV. No more CSI, no more NCIS, no more news. It was down to Nemo and Cinderella for me. The knowledge that those things on CSI were real, were possibilities, I couldn’t help but see as a threat to my child. I didn’t want to think about how he would grow up and have to face not just the knowledge that these horrible things actually do happen to people, but also the possibility of those things happening to him. That as he grew up I would be able to protect him less and less gripped me with fear.

I don’t want to go back to that attitude of fear, but I do want to go back to that depth of feeling. The feeling that it’s not right to stand by and watch while others are hurt, and feel helpless to do nothing. I will not walk through my life with apathy, but with dignity. For those two are not brothers, and do not coexist.

But words will not do it. I must have actions in my life to speak louder than these words. And so, if you have any words of advice for starting down this path, I’d love to hear them.

Watching. Waiting.

I have to say as I watch this unfold on the TV that I am not filled with hope. I realize I’m one of the minority here. But all I feel is a deep sense of foreboding. A fear that is real and gripping. There are 2 million people in the mall right now chanting the name Obama.

No, I am not prejudiced. I nearly voted for Mr. Obama (the last time to call him that) on election day, though I’m not Democratic. For a moment I held my hand over his name as I filled out my ballot. Then I realized that I wanted to vote for him not because of who he was but for what he was. It felt hypocritical to vote for someone simply for the color of their skin, rather than for their principles, and so I couldn’t do it.

I just can’t see this really happening. Not because we don’t need the kind of hope and change that he advocates, not because I somehow don’t believe he deserves to be the President. But I fear for him and his family. To pretend that race is still not an issue in this country is foolish. There are still places black people fear to go, and rightly so, unfortunately. And conversely, there are places white people fear to go, again, and rightly so. If you’ve ever taken a wrong turn in the middle of the night in downtown St. Louis you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m not saying it’s right or it’s wrong. It’s so obviously wrong it isn’t worth discussion. It just simply is a fact of life here in the US. I’m not saying it’s foolish to hope for change in this issue. To believe that one day it won’t be like this. I won’t say more than this: there is a fear of the ‘what-ifs’ in my soul today. I hope my fears are completely unfounded, and from this day till he leaves office, he will be in my prayers.

Unmotivated

Well, it’s inauguration day and so I feel like I should write SOMETHING about it. I don’t know. I have mixed feelings. And, it is very cold here (-15), I’m trying to figure out why the kids are ALL awake at 6 am, and am wishing it were Wednesday already – story time at the library day. Thursday it’s supposed to get all the way up to 30, but then back to subzero temps by the weekend. Is that supposed to be our January thaw?!

Thank You

To my very bestest friend:

Thank you for calling me and getting me to go to the gym last night even though I didn’t want to. I feel much more guilty for leaving when the kids are winding down than when they’re eating dinner, but you encouraged me to “just do it” so to speak, and so I did!

It was good, even though I had to start out on the machine next to the workout bunny in her cute pink outfit. Whatever. She hasn’t had three kids. And she’s about 20 years old. But I still had to crank up my music (yes, I know I have no excuse whatsoever to still be taking along my cd player 😛 )  and closed my eyes to get into a good rhythm.

I’m such a dork when I work out. Usually the gym is pretty empty and I get to rock out to my dark-ages cd player and lip-sync to the good songs. I had to stop myself last night from making a complete fool of myself. After about 20 minutes I got to that song (you know… #8  ) which really gets me moving. Partly because the beat is fast, but mostly because it makes me so angry. The emotion is so raw, so real, and for a moment I feel those emotions that I usually push aside because I can’t process them, I can’t figure out how to deal with them, and I feel so very helpless to fix what hurts you. So I take it out on that song and that elliptical machine.

3.5 minutes later I realize that I have been going like a madman with my eyes closed, lip-synching to this song while all my wobbly bits have been going like mad, too, and that I have now scarred every other person in the gym for life. Whatever. They’ll live. I make no eye contact so I can’t see if they’re laughing or not. I don’t. Want. To know! Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes.

So after the workout bunny left there was only me on the elliptical and this guy comes and parks on the stationary bike next to me. We are the only ones there at 9 pm on a Wednesday. When my 40 minutes were finally up I weaved my way across to the corner and got my coat and boots back on and noticed the scales. After I’d weighed myself when I got there, I reset the slides, like I always do. The only person to come in after me was the guy on the bike. And yet, the scales were set to exactly what I weigh. I glanced back around the corner at the bike where he still was. Hmmm… I only have one word for the fact that he and I weigh the same. Eww.  Stupid scales. They LIE!

It’s Cold.

Yesterday was an interesting day. The morning went fairly well, with EM going back to bed after breakfast because she had been up way too late and up way too early. The other two were beside themselves with excitement because they got to watch Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog on one of our new channels. I had some peace and quiet!

After lunch they all had another nap, a nice long, quiet one, and I was able to paint more on the bookshelves in the living room. I’m painting them white. All of it – white. It just all needs to be WHITE so we can just start over!! The multi-color palette is not doing it for me. Pink, dark red, dark blue, turquoise. And then you add in the eye-burning couch and it’s insane. It helps that we have a slipcover now, but more must be done!  Now if I can just finish a project that I start for once…

Things began to fall apart after dinner. DH got home late, and instead of settling in for reading and worship, he sat down with his dinner and turned on The Insider. Why he ever turns that on is beyond me. I will never understand the need to just have the TV on no matter what is playing instead of just turning it off and relax in the silence. But then, my daily life is full of constant noise and commotion. His is often noisy, but in a white noise kind of way. Mostly he’s alone with his thoughts for many hours a day with white noise in the back ground.

Anyway, I went upstairs to clean up and put laundry away, and the kids followed me up. They ran around me as I worked, until ELA did something  mean to EM and hurt her foot (she stopped walking for the rest of the evening). I lost my temper. I didn’t yell at her, and I didn’t spank her, I was just rough. But it really upset her. I picked up both girls and sat down on J’s bed and held them both and talked to them. I did yell at J, though, because he was asking questions and trying to get into the middle of it. I sent him downstairs, where he started in on DH and got in trouble down there. After I finished talking and hugging the girls, we went to their room and got tucked into bed. I took a flashlight to the stars and (moon) to get them to glow in the dark, but the moon was missing. I searched all over for it, but no luck. I finally went into J’s room and asked him about it, and then the real fun began. He started spinning stories about where it was hiding, it was under here, no it was over there, it was under the animals under ELA’s bed. No, no, and again, no. Not there, son. To which he replies, “You’re just not looking hard enough.”  Bad enough that I can’t get the truth out of him. Even worse when he uses one of my parenting lines on ME! I finished tucking the girls in and then tucked him in with a long talk. When I came downstairs after all this, DH was still on the phone with a friend he hadn’t talked to in a while. Of course he got off right as I came into the room, but at that point I needed a little time to unwind and really did NOT want to hear about the escapades of his friend’s cat. Aaargh!

It was a night that I felt like a failure as a mom.

My quiet moment of the day was when I went to the barn. It’s cold and quiet and brings my thoughts back to the basics of life. It’s real, so far from abstract that it’s refreshing. The cat wraps itself around my ankles and the horses talk to me. Fancy especially. She’s always got something to say when her face isn’t in the grain bucket. She hates being stuck in the barn, but she’s old and it’s the best place for her. Usually I have to climb up into the hayloft and throw down a couple of bales. I always dread doing that for some reason, but then I get up there and I just melt.

my favorite view

my favorite view

The most challenging is bringing in buckets of water for Fancy and Bear. Bear isn’t stuck in the barn, but his trough isn’t heated, so he gets a bucket every day of water from the other trough. I took my camera yesterday and took a few pictures from the loft. The cat purred at me the whole time and wanted more petting, which made getting pictures in the fading light a bit tricky. She’s a good cat, and very happy, so long as she’s left in the barn. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to try bringing her in the house!

Well, here’s hoping today goes better. I have planned out the meals for this week and have been sticking to it. Now I need to start planning my days to get into a better day to day routine. It is about 6 below right now, and it’s going to be worse tomorrow. DH slept in the chair all night and stoked the fire periodically. I’m so glad we have a bunch of firewood in the back room!

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