Sunday, January 23, 2011

Overflowing















The prostitute, that's me. Fallen woman,
Whatever you want to call it.
I sold my soul for the coin of affection,
Fleeting moments of validation
Consumed and spent in a heart beat.
And then you came,
Speaking forgiveness, tossing love
Into my empty purse and filling it
To overflowing.
The coins spill over, a cascade,
and I take this wealth,
Pour it back on you
In tears of gratitude.
Spending the coin of love on you
Because my heart is full.
Forgiven much.
Loving much.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Love, Like

This post was originally published on April 21, 2009.

Photo by Clairity
Today as I dropped Gates off at school we did our standard goodbye routine.

Me: Have a great day at school!
Him: OK, I will!
Me: I love you!

Sometimes he ignores this last line, sometimes he doesn't (usually he's too busy running towards school). Today he answered. "I love you too, mom." Pause, then he turned around again, "But sometimes I don't like you." And off he ran, leaving me to wonder what prompted THAT this morning.

It's ok, really. I don't expect my children to like me all the time. I'm a parent, I'm going to make decisions they don't like. I'll survive the moments when they don't like me, knowing that as they grow in maturity they will start to understand why some of the decisions were made. But even after the moments of not liking me it always comes back to love. Snuggles, hugs and laughter, we can't escape the fact that our lives are intertwined and we know we would be lost without the safe place of our love to fall back into.

As I was driving home after dropping him off I began to think about that statement and my relationship with God. Sometimes I feel the same way. Sometimes I want to say "I love you, but right now I don't know if I like you."

Photo by Kelsey
When my husband spent a year after we moved here looking for a job, I didn't like God very much.

When I began to realize that my perfect child had developmental delays, I didn't like God very much.

When natural disasters kill hundreds or thousands, I don't like God very much.

When I know in my heart he wants me to do something that I don't want to do, I don't like God very much.

When I struggle to make sense of some of the things in the Bible, I don't like God very much.

Yes, there are moments when I just don't LIKE God. As I grow I begin to understand some of those moments in a different light; I begin to understand the why behind what happened. Some of it I know I'll never understand while I'm alive on earth. But underneath it all is the current of love, a love that will not let me go, a love that I don't want to let go of either. His love is my safe place to fall when the world doesn't make sense...when HE doesn't make sense. Just as Gates knows he can count on my love enough to be honest about not liking me sometimes, I know that I can count on God's love. Even when I don't like him.

I love you, God. Sometimes I don't understand you and I don't like you, but my life is intertwined with you. I would be lost without you, without your love. I'm glad that you love me unconditionally, even when I'm acting like a child. I'm glad that after the times of not liking you I can still turn to you and say "I love you," and know that you are loving me too.

What was I thinking?

Occasionally I will have what seems like a Really Great Idea. I will get excited about this Really Great Idea and start to run with it only to find that it wasn't such a great idea, in fact sometimes it is a really lousy idea.

One such Really Great Idea was trying to start two blogs at once. I thought I'd keep this one for my lighter ramblings and the other one for my deeper thoughts. That's not working out so well. First, because apparently I have more light ramblings than deep thoughts, and second, because I barely have time to write for one blog, let alone two.

And let's face it, if this blog is about being simply who I am, then who I am is someone that can't just be reduced to one or two facets of my life. I'm made of flesh and spirit, God's beloved with dirt under her fingernails and I really can't separate the two. Every day is touched by the breath of God, every day offers the opportunity to hear his voice in the most mundane of tasks.

So I will slowly be migrating the posts from my other blog (and from my older original blog) over to this one. I'm excited about having everything in one place and I hope you enjoy both my lighter ramblings and the times when I (try) to get deep and philosophical!

Friday, January 7, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday - 1/7/11


-1-
I never thought I'd say this, but on Monday it was a beautiful sunny 27 degrees outside. In my former life, the one where I lived in Virginia and 27 was the average winter temp and we had about one week a year that made it down near zero and there was never any wind I probably would have been whining and freezing. Now that I live in the frozen wastelands of the north, a sunny 27 is cause for bliss! Especially when there is a light flurry of snow falling, glinting in the sunshine. Apparently I am really becoming a South Dakotan.

-2-
Yay for Gap Curvy jeans! They are one of the most awesome pairs of jeans that I've owned. Even more awesome was finding them in great condition at one of my local thrift stores. Yes, I shop thrift and I'm proud of it! I may never pay retail for jeans again.

-3-
On the subject of thrift stores, I have to share once again this super cute purse I picked up while I was shopping for jeans.


I have decided that winter calls for color, lots of it!

-4-
One thing that I look forward to at this time of year is calendar shopping! I almost always wait until the end of December because then they are all 50% off at Barnes and Noble, and in case you haven't guessed yet, I'm all about saving money! Buying a calendar isn't a quick in and out experience. No, I have to mull over all of the choices, decide what I want hanging in my kitchen for the rest of the year, what will bring me joy every time I look at it. Inevitably I end up with either a nature or a travel calendar. This year it's Tuscany...last year was Ireland.

And after the wall calendar comes the purse calendar because I am hopelessly out of date and have a basic no frills cell phone, not a Blackberry or a Droid or a whatever you use that does ten million things including keep your calendar. But they are not as pretty as my purse calendar either. See? Purple and shiny! It looks fantastic with the green purse. I've been getting this particular brand of calendar for several years because they are the most beautiful calendar I've ever seen.


-5-
If they came out with phone app that could get my boys up and dressed and ready for school I might just purchase one of those phones. It was without a doubt one of my least favorite mothering tasks at this stage in our lives. Fortunately I have one who is not only a morning person like me, but who also loves school. In a 'why can't we go to school all year long?' way. So getting him up and going isn't a problem. Getting him into all the winter gear right now is a bit of a challenge; he'll have his snow pants half-way on and get distracted by something. "Gates! Get your gear on!" Five seconds later one arm will be in the coat sleeve and he's distracted by something else. "Gates!" Everything on...distracted again. "Gates! Boots!" Sigh.

Now Indy is another story. He is his father's child. As in, NOT a morning person. Sometimes I refer to him as the small grumpy one. Morning starts with a five minute warning to give him time to adjust to the fact that he's going to have to pull his body out of his warm little bed. If we're smart, he's picked out his clothes the night before. If not...well, the morning is lost.
"What shirt do you want?"
"I don't knoooooooow!" (Hides head under pillow)
"OK, how about one of these three? Can you please look at them?"
"Noooooo! I don't LIKE those!"
"OK, then what do you want?"
"I don't knooooooow! I don't know what shirt I like!"

And so it goes until I give up and my husband goes down and stuffs Indy into some clothes. Then we get to repeat the saga with breakfast. This is often puncuated by outbursts of "I don't want to go to school. School is boring. I hate school. I hate you. Go away from me. I have a headache. I have a stomach ache."

Yes, I'd pay premium for a phone that would take over those tasks for me (including the packing of the lunches and all the other stuff that must be done).

-6-
I must say, I adore both of the boys' teachers this year. I love Gates' teacher for loving his quirkiness and for finding ways to use his endless storehouse of facts in the classroom. I love her for being able to handle the moments when he becomes stubborn because he doesn't like what they are working on. He had ONE discipline slip last semester. One. That's a record.

I love Indy's teacher for taking a grumpy morning boy and getting him to smile, for her playful attitude to teaching. For being able to keep her smile in a room full of 5 and 6 year olds. I've been volunteering in the class once a week, and it appears to be vaguely similar to attempting to get a roomful of cats to all do the same thing, at the same time. I applaud her for managing it.

-7-
I'll just end with one final picture.

Yes, we've joined the cult of Snuggie.

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The purse-uit of happiness

On Monday I was shopping in Target, just a quick trip to pick up a few odds and ends, and I found myself drawn to the purse display. I really, really wanted a new purse, something snappy and bold, different from my typical drab brown purses. Now granted, my current drab brown purse really did need replacing before the handles fell completely off, but if I was entirely honest with myself, I had another drab brown purse sitting in my closet that would work perfectly fine. I didn't want brown though. I wanted green. Or maybe purple. Specifically, I wanted this purse:



Isn't it cute? And green? Nothing drab and brown about that purse.

But I didn't get it. I HAD another purse. And with car repair and emergency room bills coming due I just couldn't justify the expense. Not even as an early birthday gift to myself.

Today I made a quick trip to the thrift store to look for some new jeans. (Maybe someday I'll write about how much more I love thrifting now that I'm not forced to buy orange polyester pants.) New jeans were a necessity because I was one split seam away from having nothing other than athletic pants to wear. And that split seam was looking like a very real possibility. Plus, I just like being able to breathe when I'm wearing clothes. Just for kicks I detoured past the purse rack.

And there it was. Shining amidst the sea of brown and black in all of its beautiful green glory. I had absolutely no problem justifying the purchase at thrift store prices!



Isn't she beautiful? It makes me happy just to look at it.

There was a time in my life when I would have thought "Wow, God really wanted to bless me today! Look at how he gave me the very thing I wanted!" Or maybe I would have thought it was some sort of divine response to my faithfulness in tithing, or in completing our building fund pledge even in the face of the aforementioned car repairs and emergency room bills.

But I'm not so sure anymore. Because if I go down that road, then I have to ask myself why God would bother to give me a new purse but let a child in Africa starve to death. I have to ask if my faithfulness in my finances is really all that special in the face of the faithfulness of the persecuted church, most of whom are probably not receiving any purses as signs of divine favor. Does God really care so much about my happiness that he bothers with the little stuff like a purse?

In all honesty, I'm just not sure that he does. His sole desire is that I pursue HIM and find my joy in him. God is not some cosmic Oprah sitting in heaving saying "YOU get a new purse, and YOU get a new purse and YOU get a new purse! You all get new purses!!! Except for those of you too poor to come to the studio. You're out of luck." The theology of blessing doesn't seem to have much to do with material goods, but everything to do with the spirit.

Had I not found this purse I would have probably gone on being content with my drab brown purse and sometime in the future when our finances were more secure I would have purchased the purse I wanted. It would never have occurred to me to think that God loved me less because he didn't provide one. I think perhaps that is one of the keys to happiness; not holding out our hands to God like little children begging for a toy, but sincerely delighting when one happens to drop into our path.

What say you? Agree? Disagree? Think green purses are too blindingly bright? I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

photo by Barry Yanowitz
This morning as I lay in bed pondering the end of the world (don't laugh, it's coming in 2012...or at least some people think it is, which means we are another year closer to it) it occurred to me that this year my birthday will be on 1-11-11. For some reason the complete order of all those ones makes me happy.

My husband found that whole train of thought remarkably funny when I explained it to him. I don't know why, they were perfectly legitimate random thoughts and I'm sure that if I think long enough I'll figure out how I managed to get from one thought to the next in the space of one breath.

But the point of this post is neither the end of the world, whenever it may occur, or my birthday, which is virtually certain to occur at least once every year. No, I'm focusing on the little word 'happy'.

What makes up a happy year? Is it a year in which nothing goes wrong? Good luck with that! We had our share of woes this past year, mostly involving car repairs and hospital bills. Sometimes my children can bring their fair share of unhappiness along, whether they are shouting "You are the meanest mom ever!!!!" or simply struggling with things that I wish they didn't have to deal with.

For years I spent my New Year's Day wishing for a year in which everything went right. The sun would shine all the time, I'd become instantly popular, a novel would magically make its way from my brain to the keyboard, I'd be HAPPY. Resolutions were focused around things designed to make me happy. Lose weight. Be organized. Be the perfect Christian which by default is supposed to make me happy, right?

And every year by January 2nd, ok...by the evening of January 1st, I'd realize that I wasn't going to succeed in my goal of obtaining some whacked-out sense of unending bliss for the coming year.

So this year is different. This year instead of trying to grab happiness I'm going to look for the moments that make me happy. I'm looking for the small things, the things that are always there that bring that little internal sigh of delight. Like a birthday made up of all ones. A smile from my child. A crisp, buttery short-bread cookie. Cooking with friends and watching people delight in what we've prepared. I'm going to savor each moment like the juice of the sweetest fruit, letting it linger instead of gulping it and moving on. And I'm going to make a list, a 365 day long list of things that made me happy. Anyone want to join me in my happiness project?