Speeding By

After sitting cross legged several nights in a row, trying to be present, I woke up in the silence and heard my lack of gratitude panting like it had won the race.

The I-Can-Do-It-Myself attitude can run fast. As fast as the life that you let speed by so that you don’t have to notice what you aren’t doing. The hours blink in front of you like the tv screen you are planted in front of.

I wonder sometimes how Christians balk at meditation as too new age, self-centered. When I sit in a yoga class, and the meditation part of the practice comes around, I am asked to notice my breath. Didn’t God do that? Didn’t He breathe my breath into me? Didn’t the writers of scripture through the Holy Spirit remind us that we are but a breath?

I’m not here to convince you that yoga is good or that everyone practices a good form of meditation.

I just know this.

I am breath.

And lately, I’ve had to pay someone to remind me as much as I sit on blue rectangle and attempt to relax into the knowledge of the Breath that fills me.

Another way that I am reminded of my being is to turn moments and thoughts and sights into gratitude. I can forget this. I can live each day as if it doesn’t matter. When I remember, when I know better, I do better.

So I list the day….

*stillness in the house

*twinkle lights shining through the night

*food in the freezer

*the anticipation of a friend’s visit

*fashion advice over skype

*another stone in the path from here to there

*lavender sugar

*seeing the end of two long years come into view

______________________

Linking my list to all the others … the sweetest way I know to sing in harmony.

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More than 1 in a 1000

1000 Moms Project

Join in the chorus of gratitude? This post touched me the first time I read it, and I can’t stop thinking of all that was surrounding me that day as I read. Click and read?

Looking ahead this week, waiting for Sunday, I thought over and over about my mother. I realized that I don’t remember spilling anything growing up, or being scolded for doing so. There are treasures of memories to keep close. However, this year, memory lane didn’t feel like the trip I needed to take. Here is some of what I have been considering this week as I wait my turn to call my mom.

I don’t particularly care for this holiday. The disliking is more about a sense of inadequacy than anything else. Why do we thank our mothers on one day, buy them flowers on one day? Tell them not to do the dishes on just .one.day? And how is that we run through the first part of the year, get to spring and suddenly realize, ah yes, thank you, mom. I’m as guilty as anyone.

Once you get old enough to notice that Mother’s Day isn’t just a another art class project or greeting card gimmick, you may see that you are eons behind in thanking the woman who raised you.

For my mother.

You survived us. 3 girls. Dad’s wish granted for no boys…or at least that is the story he tells after the 3rd girl came and no more.

Forget the platitudes and greeting card sniffle inducing words. You. Survived. Us. Us in all of our antics–pinching, hair pulling and biting–none of us will forget the biting story. Our shrill girl screaming and hormonal tidal waves. You made it through.

From the child’s point of view, we think we live through all the rules and restrictions you foist upon us. When you get to the other side, you know. You know it is the parent that survives the raising of a child.

There isn’t a greeting card large enough to say thank you like it should be said. Going back and giving a retro active thank you for putting up with my teenage sullen, stubborn, moody self doesn’t really cut it either. I know you needed the thank you then. Probably a few hundred apologies too.

I suppose I could pay you back for the orthodontist, and the neurologist. The money won’t buy back the hours you worked so my teeth would be straight and my head would, well, we had hopes those docs could put it on straight, but well one out of two ain’t bad right? I know what is like to convert hours of your breathing life into medicine to make someone feel better. Hours of sleep to watch a thermometer with hopes of the mercury sliding back towards to the bulb at the bottom.

Mom, I don’t know how you don’t have a hole in your head where your ear is. How many hours of your life have you held a phone to one ear or another to listen to one of your three daughters? Us chewing away at your ear, your time, surely your sanity. But listen you did. Still do. From the back hallway at the store, to the cordless that sometimes beeped and cut out, to the phone with the long cord in your bedroom, you have listened.

You are the best sticky popcorn, cinnamon roll, cozy jammie making mama, or drahma or banana I know.

And if I got it all wrong, you can just say I learned it from the lady in the coral top in this photo (that’s a post for another day). Yes, I know. Photos like this make you so proud to be my mama.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Love always,

the middle one

Resurrecting Goodbye

Last week was a rough one.

The days following the Resurrection should be joyful. Triumphant. The Light pierced the darkness. Saturday rose victoriously on Sunday.

That’s the thing about light though. It’s not the place for hiding.

I have pushed hard for a year. Pushed some feelings down knowing that they had to wait to grow into what God would have for them. Some emotions I pulled up by the roots, laid bare on the dissecting table and went at them with the knife of my pen. A few. Several were birthed through tears that fell in sheets of paper and were covered gently with glue to seal in the moment.

So after a year of laboring, and another round of Light slaying the darkness, I had to take inventory. What seeds were growing and what that should have been pulled out had actually gone to seed–creeping slowly into all the clean little patches of new life.

I laughed when I saw the word for Five Minute Friday. I realized it was completely appropriate and then promptly avoided it because of how real and tangible it was. The 3 gifts for April 16th? You guessed it, 3 hard eucharisteos.

The weeding and goodbye-ing is still sitting with me. The lists of gratitude are held close to the chest–like a royal flush waiting for its turn.

Perfect

It was Palm Sunday and all I could think about was perfect. The pastor wasn’t preaching on perfect. Not even on the perfect sacrifice that Christ was.

Just me. In my mind. Telling God I didn’t think it was so funny. Or perfect for that matter. This mess that I have struggled with and against, I am working on seeing it as good.

So, since I am finally stepping onto the right road, I see the big sign that says, “Now that you have entered GOOD, please adjust your glasses to see PERFECT.”

Not me.

God is not calling me perfect. He sees His Son in me as perfect. The groaning is perfectly guiding me along to where I need to be.

Now, of course, that I was willing to start to say I can see this detour as a good thing, a good change, now I am asked to accept it for the perfect gift from the Perfect Provider of all gifts.

The actions, the sins both against me and by me, were not good, not right or perfect, but perfectly used by a Perfect Love to draw me toward Truth.

Since hearing “perfect” chanted throughout the service last week, I have been struggling towards acceptance of so many last little bits in this chapter. No one wants to trudge through repetitious blabbering. No one wants to write it either. Which only leaves one answer for what seemed like a multiple choice question. Place the period. Turn the page.

Perfect Triptychs of Grace:

3 attempts at one meeting

a gift hiding, held, heard:

heart truth waiting for someone else to see it, my frustrations vented to one who would hold them in confidence, the heart truth   spoken back to me quietly with encouragement

3 gifts in His word:

Psalm 136–His love endures forever

scrap paper with Papa’s note

this declaration

Nearly Missed Monday

Mondays come in a rush these days. A five car pile up to begin the week. Run out the door of the office on Friday night head leaning forward through the hours straight into Saturday. Spring mornings on Saturday are delicious but not savored.

Sunday opens wide the opportunity to practice Sabbath, and there is an attempt. The alarm is set for a later hour and there in lies the deception. More sleep on a Sunday morning will mean a rested Sabbath. When really, a late rising allows for a few extra places at the breakfast table. Grumpy and Slow. They love to come to breakfast still in their pajamas whining that they don’t want to wear the dress you picked out or they can’t find their church shoes.

Escaping the rat race at the end of the week sends me screeching through the weekend. Living life in 2 days instead of 7 makes me resentful, weary, jealous. 

I often find myself on a Monday morning walking my way through the door to work, a little Saturday clinging to my skirt. I brush it off so I can focus on Monday tasks. I think it must be obvious that all of the weekend has stuck and stained my attire, especially when I stutter out an “I don’t know” answer to the “How was your weekend?” question.

There is this bright white moment of delete–or at least that is the way it feels while my mind tries to process where I am, what I should be doing, what I did 24 or 48 hours ago and why does it matter or what of it should I convey to the question poser? The file that I meant to save, the one labeled Your Beautiful Blessed Life, I deleted in a flash–not even comprehending the warning box wanting to double check my rash decisions.


On these Mondays I find myself daydreaming of Sunday things. Spend Sunday nights trying to pull a little Saturday over my shoulder as I tuck into bed. Tuesday tromps her sassy way right on top of Monday, with Thursday skootched in close to Wednesday like teenagers at their first school dance, the first breath of the week comes around lunch time on Friday when the countdown to closing time seems real.

All I need is a personal crossing guard for my days. The one that would hold up the stop sign and give me the scowl if I didn’t heed her warning. Someone to ever so slowly escort me across the threshold of night to morning, of morning to day. 

Today, on my Tuesday that I wish could still be Monday (and truly, who has ever heard that wish wished out loud), I did stop to think of what I miss, what must I add back in to be mindful of my days.

The rest I crave is a Sunday afternoon nap. The sweet luxury of belief that the world will spin and tilt all without me. The understanding that there is enough time. Time to nap and time to decide I don’t need to make dinner, just a snack will do. Time to feel the warmth of the afternoon and the just right cushion of my favorite napping couch. To be in a room with only eastward facing windows so the scorch of afternoon sun doesn’t fall across my eyes or heat the room. Sleep knowing I am loved. I am safe. I can rest and I can continue when the resting is done.

3 gifts almost gone:

a bag of flour when I make 3 loaves of bread

daylight on my hike

the wait for a call

3 gifts redeemed:

the space on my bedroom floor

the white of the bathtub

a friendship that had been on pause

Returning

I’m tempted to get lost.

Lay back.

Give up.

Roll with the punches.

Except that, I don’t want to get punched. Or do what happens to get, not just one, but a second or a third.

I know that this can come with the territory–that is why there is the turn the other cheek lesson, in print, in thousands of languages. So that we know. We know not to repay sin with sin.

I have a choice. To be swallowed by the storm or to stand under the sheltering wing. I’m not much of a wing fan, but I can be a chicken.

Pathetic puns out of the way….

It is not Monday but there is a hard eucharisteo getting stuck in my throat. The only way out is a spiritual heimlich maneuver.

*time for a bath before work

*berries and books

Image

*freshly baked bread

*coffee with the girls

*knowing again that God loves more than I ever can

*seeing my lesson light up the face of someone hurting

*a successful event with the promise of another

*a broken fast

*laws that can’t be kept by a sinner–chief of all them, me

It all comes down to this. While I am looking up, and looking around to see and know that God is.right.here!, I notice that my deepest gratitude is not that God is bigger than the storm. (As blasphemous as it sounds.)

I am grateful that He HEARS me in the storm. He chooses to listen. For my voice is small and weak. Not everyone likes to hear my voice as I choke out the words that say I am hurt and afraid. God does. He hears.

Then there is the icing (the ganache actually, if you were to see the photo in my mind). He hears and ultimately He is the only one with the power to change the storm.

 

Gifts in Water

I feel it this morning before I even get out of bed, before I will my eyes to open. The peace in my belly. It is not a dream—for my dreams rarely leave a residue of calm.

Yet it is there and I am awake and not dreaming.

Calm.

I know the first W of the list of questions…the Who brought this gift in the night. It is the why and the for how long that I get caught up in. The how is not easy for me either. I didn’t stray far from nightly routines, there was no revelation in prayer the night before. No change of circumstance that might have eased tense nerves and allowed me the opportunity to feel that which (or actually the who) never leaves.

So how did I get to a place of peace?

I have no answer.

Although later I had more questions.

Why peace before a flood?

Why calm on a Monday morning?

Why ease when the day turned out as it did?

(And as for the “turned out”, well it turned out that I walked into a sloppy flood in my office, followed later by rainfall…inside my 3rd floor office in a 4 story building planted smack dab in the middle of the desert!)

How about why, on this Monday morning full of peace, is there a prompting from a Canadian farm girl to write 3 graces I see:

1 in white

1 in wind

1 in water.

These 3 on a day that I wished building maintenance had brough a fan (wind) to dry the carpet outside my office before mold sets in. Wish that my regularly dry office was dry and that water would stay where we intend for it stay and go where we intend for it to go. Want for all the little white pills in my office to not be ruined by the water, and that can’t be dried by the wind. Want to stay in my little white dress instead of donning black gym clothes bought with money I don’t have at the cheap and plastic made in China shop on the corner.

Oh. Now I remember. Remember more than a decade ago when the campus pastor stood on stage and said that he admired the woman with MS who praised God for every wall she ran into, for every table she bumped into, for each bruise on her body.

Grace isn’t grace because I see it that way. Grace is grace because it is Grace bestowed as a gift whether I choose it as my own, want to see it or try my best to will it away.

Maybe all I get out of today is tucking that reminder back into my heart like my hair gets repeatedly tucked behind my ear when I walk in the Kansas winds. Forever taming myself as I walk out into the world.

I think today gets be a double grace day.  The 3 gifts of white, wind and water also get to be the gifts from March 4–3 gifts that are hard to say thanks for.

*waterfalls inside

*rain inside in the desert

*white dresses put back on hangers

*white pills to be counted and counted as a loss

*winds of change that blow hard

*winds of uncertainty that remind me I have nothing under control

 

Rush of Fools

The squares of days are filling with colors. Colors made by digital highlighters and not brush in hand. There is need even for organization of such colorizing. This alone, the push to tell a color what it means, what it stands for, has me feeling inside out.

I used to like it when the colors talked to me. Days or minutes I would sneak from this chore or that to feed to the pulse of creativity. The grid of time was more white than stripes of color. Or was it? When the color whispered and sang, I didn’t hear so many shoulds or need to lists. I paid attention to paper and brush.

Using color to try to make a busy life more palatable has not seemed to help. Digitized pixels of color shouldn’t bleed, yet it happens. It happened again today, a trail of tasks stuck to my shoe like toilet paper following me all the way home. The what I do to make a life discoloring my hours of living.

I have longed for a one piece life, an unpacked living.

I gave myself a gift last year when there was not much left to give from or with. In the box of color choices I explored, I found what I thought was my enough. My had enough and am enough working to define me–to color in that quilt of remaining days. Looking again at March on the calendar I find my feet falling in familiar footprints, circling again around enough. Opportunties in spring time for growth make me notice what should have been pruned in the fall.

Overgrowth, which can seem an oxymoron in such a situation, causes this anxious stuttering–a double checking of lists. A waffling between two tasks, two choices, two moves to be made. I long for the growth of shade to make work  more comfortable. to provide a place to rest in the future. Yet to get there, money and time have to be sown. Money made and saved from one fertile bed transplanted into another. Ungrateful, tired me grumbles today over tending the bed that will create shoots for transplanting.

I find my way in the dark to the stars that beg my eyes heavenward.  Stumble stepping with a knowing hope (also known as faith) that in turning my face, and setting my feet forward with words scrawled on the day of today, I will be able to sleep with only the colors of hand painted wishes.

*a gift before 11 a.m.*   the rumble of jet engines shaking loose the desire to travel

*a gift nearly worn out*   the floor in her kitchen where we stand and cook and talk, lament and laugh–making laps around the center island as we journey through our lives together

*a gift that changed today*   Passport!!!

*a gift white*   coconut milk froth in my last latte before lent

 

Grace by 3s

My roots grow strong into the sky. First grade science lessons linger beside the pondering of tastes and flavors, the lessons I am teaching myself. The greatest of the lessons to just let go. To let my life be led by grace and not be a life of feet bound to force smallness and to suit the momentary fashion.

Tender and wise the words came to my timid mind just two days ago…today live on the edge in one way. I stuffed the challenge in with my bags to take to the market. I laughed when she spoke them to me, me peeking toes along the edge…the edge of what?

Hours later, on the other side of the valley, deep breath of bold words, two short sentences later and I had found my edge for the day.

Reporting my graces from the edge in triptychs:

graces found in friends

acceptance with her

sweet encouragement from her

laughter with her

faithfulness with her

new opportunities found with her

longing to reconnect with her (and the whole group of Five Minute Friday)

Marking Time with Jars of Clay

Sharing my 3 daily baby steps towards 1000 gifts in 2012

January 21st:

one in the sky—hot air balloon count today: 4

from memory—What I wanted to contribute to Gypsy Mama’s link up on Vivid but time and technology would not align…(photo coming soon…I hope!)

ugly-beautiful—This song. It played in my walkman (yes, on a cassette tape) while I ran junkyard road hoping to outrun the longing and the missing and the hard work of making me. I heard it live beside the one I thought I could outrun. The night a gift given for Valentine’s Day. Hearing it again, live, on the half-way mark through my 35th year was sweet. The song was the same but I was standing on the other side of my weak bridge. No longer running. Standing in the sounds of grace.

Jars of Clay Shelter Tour

Jonny Diaz

Mikeschair

Looking ahead, I have an invitation to share with you after we flip the calendar page. I knew I wanted to share it with you all even before I heard Dan Haseltine speak and invite us into the story.  Here’s a hint…the initials are BWM. (And no, I didn’t mean the car BMW.)