25. May 2012 · 2 comments · Categories: Faith

“The most precious gift you can bring to your lover is your suffering.”
Shantaram : A novel

Confession to God is this – it is bringing to Him your suffering, your sorrow, your shame and your heartbreak. It is handing things over, voluntarily, that you want to keep close to you. It matters not that God already knows these secrets. It matters not that He knew they would happen when time began. What matters is the telling. It is the acknowledgement that He knows – and now He knows because you told Him. It creates intimacy, this telling. It is saying – I not only acknowledge that you know, but I am now standing before you, asking you to know. Asking you to know, and yet, still love me.
And He rewards this breaking each time with a breathless, “Yes. Yes I know and Yes I still love you. Thank you for this beautiful gift you have given me. I treasure this truth between us.”
In return we are provided with healing. Sometimes that one time is enough and we move forward. Sometimes though, we cling to our suffering and bring it to his feet again and again. Broken anew each time. And each time it is the same, “Yes. Yes I know and Yes I still love you. Thank you. I treasure this truth. I treasure you.” A patient Abba comforting and reaasuring us of the same truth moment by moment, day by day, as long as we need.
Suffering is not meant to be carried, it is not meant to be shared. Suffering is meant to be sacrificed. Sacrificed to Love – once, twice, ten thousand times – it will burn every time at the altar of Love. And suffering, properly disposed, feeds Love. Feeds Love until all that is left is Love.
And then one day you will find yourself at the feet of God with only Love to share. You will come with your head held up, your eyes radiant with aniticipation and joy. And God will meet you there with the exact same Love, “Hello. Of course, yes, I know you. I’ve known you all along.”

Greg and I had the privilege and the pleasure of accompanying Grace on her first ‘known’ flight last week. It was a really awesome experience and I learned a lot on this trip.

1. Tenacity brings results.
Grace has wanted to fly for a long time. It does not matter that we tell her she has flown – twice! She has no memory of those trips and therefore, quite rightly, they did not really happen. Not to her. So we told her that when she turned four she could go with Mommy on a business trip. And from then on we had regularly scheduled inquiries, “Am I four yet?” When she turned four she got a suitcase for her birthday and when someone asked her what it was for she happily replied, “To take to the airport!” And then, knowing how tenacious our girl would now be – we booked the trip. When you know what you want – you need to go for it!

2. Life is an adventure that can easily be missed.
I get to ride, not one, but TWO, escalators on the way out of the Atlanta airport. Not only that, but I also get to ride two trains – one of which is underground and one of which is on rails, really high above ground. A hotel is a lot like a house – for a whole lot of people – and the two we stayed in were “Atlanta’s house” and ” Columbus’ house”. Walking down the street in a new place should take TIME people. How else could you explore every statue and window and new sight? I saw every single place we went with brand new eyes. A trip I’ve taken monthly for six years was brand new to me. I couldn’t believe how zoned out I had become during my journey – with Grace it was ALL about the journey. And really, it is all about the journey, right? There is really only one destination and we should all pay attention during the trip.

3. Everyone is a new friend until proven otherwise
We went down to the pond at Atlanta’s house to swim (read: swimming pool at the hotel) and the next day Grace wanted to know if she could go swim at the pond with her friends again at Atlanta’s house. You know, the kids that were at the pool that we didn’t really even talk to? Her friends? Another night we were able to go out to eat with some of the people I work with. Everyone was so sweet and kind to Grace and so gracious to Greg and I – they were friends, not just co-workers.

4. Discretion is lost on a toddler.
Grace also got to go to my office – it was a lot of fun to show her off in real life to all the people who only know her through the 10,000 iphone pictures I am always ready to share. And there I learned that, with a toddler, you really need to point out what’s private and what’s public. I had discreetly stepped away to the ladies room and learned that in my absence Grace had informed one of my coworkers (male, of course) that, “Mommy is going potty.”

5. Attachment parenting is really sweet
I struggle, as we all do, with what the right way to parent is and I’ve finally decided it is whatever is ‘right’ for you. That being said, I have, in my heart, always loved the attachment parenting movement. Were I a stay at home, mother of leisure – I may have been a full on attached momma. But I am not and we have had an independent daughter from day one, who really preferred to sleep alone. Even as an infant, when she wanted to sleep, she would insist on being put down and left alone. I know this sounds like a blessing to anyone dealing with a child who fights sleep, but I missed out on the snuggles with Grace. Well, on this trip we shared a hotel room and a king sized bed and Miss Grace had no choice but to snuggle down in the middle and sleep and it was really lovely. There was the one morning that we woke with a little foot in each of our faces, but for the most part it was just that breath on your cheek, that warm, sleep heavy little body, that vision of silence and peace. Did I say lovely? Lovely.

6. Express yourself.
We went to the GA Aquarium (highly recommend it) over the weekend and several times throughout our visit Grace would spontaneously turn and exclaim, “I am so happy!” or “I am having so much fun!” What a treat that was to hear her voice her joy and satisfaction with the world. We should all share, with such enthusiasm and abandon, our positive feelings about the world and one another.

7. You can never be too careful.
Each morning Grace would wake up and say, “Where’s Elijah?” We thought this was just heartbreakingly sweet until one day she woke up and before she was able to truly wake up, she was up gathering all her toys and putting them in her suitcase as fast as she could. Greg asked her why and she said, “So Elijah doesn’t get them.”

8. Fun is what’s fun to you.
Greg and Grace went to the pool every day. Every day they went to the pool. Grace never got off the first or second step of the pool and she had a blast. We knew there was a whole lot of fun to be had if she were willing to take the chance, but she wasn’t and she had a whole lot of fun right where she sat. True, there will come a time when we will either gently force the issue, or she will finally decide to take the plunge – but you do things in the right time and vacation wasn’t the right time. Sometimes, you just need to let things be when they don’t need to be pushed. Enjoy the safety of the first step while appreciating the awesome opportunity of the entire pool for awhile.

9. Let them jump in the puddles.
The same day we went to the Aquarium it rained, a lot. By the time we left though, it had stopped. We had a long drive ahead of us but nothing really planned. As we were walking around outside, Grace noticed some puddles. She didn’t get in them, just kind of walked near them and shuffled around. She was screaming what she wanted to do, even in her silence. So I said, “Grace – you need to go jump as high as you can in that puddle!” And she did, in that puddle and every other one she could find. She was literally soaked by the time we got to the car, and it was awesome, truly. My only regret? I didn’t join her.

10. There’s no place like home.
By the end of our trip we were all missing Elijah, a lot. Even Grace was asking about him more and wanting details – who was he with, where were they staying, what were they doing? When we saw Elijah at the airport it was almost as if he thought he was having a halluncination, and then, on the double take, we got the biggest grin and running hugs. We all slept good that night, knowing that we were all close and in our familiar beds.

Doing the unfamiliar is wonderful and our trip is something we will remember for a long time. Not because it was such an awesome vacation though. We will remember it because it was a normal week for us, made extraordinary by the company we kept and the privilege of seeing the ordinary through the eyes of our daughter.

20120524-200356.jpg

Thrown in reverse.
5/20/12

My heart reels,
My mind beats fast.
Is this pain advancing from my future –
Or retreating from my past?

Thrown in reverse,
I go forward full force.
Making all my decisions,
Only when I lack choice.

Now down is up,
and up is down
What can I grasp hold –
to insure I don’t drown.

Drowning on land,
unable to breathe.
How do I find this damned spot
each time that I leave.

Crying out, without a sound –
It’s a rightening deep within.
I finally see, this hole is Need.
Truth revealed, planting of seed.

Then the painful sprouting
begins to take place.
Bursting out with the pain and
struggle of our collective human race.

One last epic fight
a struggle of the mind.
An interminable length –
a forever fight of all time.

Victory is found and with it comes
Peace.
The struggle is over…
I fight now for me.

This new era we live in – of mass communication and social media – is fun and exciting. It can also be frightening and overwhelming. I both miss our collective privacy, and appreciate the benefits of it’s loss.

We live in different times. Social media is a new concept for most of us – a new paradigm. Facebook got it’s start in 2004 but truly wasn’t considered mainstream until 2008 – that means that my four year old daughter is as old and mature as Facebook.

As with anything revolutionary and new, it takes some time to figure out the norms of usage. The etiquette of a new communication channel takes some time. We have gone from writing letters, to the telephone, then cellular, and now digital in a relatively short time and with each step forward we have had to re-define the rules and adjust. The way you communicate in a written letter would cause your thumb to be amputated in a text format. The norms for a private telephone conversation do not easily port to a mass facebook status update – but these things do take time to understand.

Even more frightening is the reverse trend of record keeping in conversations – back when a letter was your means of conveying information you were cognizant that it could be shared, kept, treasured, or used against you in a court of law. It took time and deliberate effort to find a pen, paper, envelope, stamp, time to write – a letter wasn’t ever conceived, written, and sent while at a stop light (note – you should not be texting at a stoplight, that is just a bad example is what that is.) Now, not only are your comments recorded – forever – but they are easily sent out to a multitude of others and retrieved at a moments notice.

Nowadays – you can update your status with every shift of your mental status and a bad moment is suddenly preserved for eternity. I can pull up a private message to a friend and read through the last years worth of communication.

And we all do this updating a little different, right? We have the ‘vaguebook’ folks who post these delightfully intriguing but cryptic status updates leaving us all to wonder if their milk was bad this morning or their entire life is now bad. Then there are ‘debbie-downerbook’ updaters who don’t seem to ever have a good day. Contrast the downers with the ‘how-freakin’-great-can-your-life-really-bebook’ where everything they post seems to imply their life is as carefree and easy as it could possibly be. The occasional negative post is met almost with glee by many – thank goodness they have encountered a problem! We have ‘minute-by-minutebook’ posters who are surely being tracked by the FBI and are under Facebook arrest in lieu of home arrest. And the ‘lurkerbook’ folks who never post on their own wall, occasionally post on others wall and make you feel a bit juvenile for participating at all.

I am 100% in the ‘how-freakin’-great’ club of users. I don’t have a perfect life, but my mind-audience when I post is maybe 10 people. My mom is always there at the forefront reading my posts. If I’m on the road it is my husband, Greg. I know there are some faithful followers who will be reading and I heard a great quote just a few weeks ago by an author, “No one owes me their time when they are reading something I wrote.” You gotta respect that, even in a status update. You are changing people with everything you post. You might not be changing them for long – but for a moment you are nudging them down the path of their day and it is either going to lift them up and help them or it is going to bring them down. If I do have an overwhelming urge to post something negative (American Airlines, you know who you are) then I try to do it with some humor. I’m not always successful – but I try.

This leads to the flip-side – I really really struggle with the idea that people either: a) find my online optimism fake and incredibly annoying OR b) believe that my life is without it’s struggles. As for a) – can’t do much about that but as for b) I hate to think that someone may feel worse about themselves because they are under some false belief that everyone’s lives are perfect based on what they read on Facebook. Problems exist for everyone, all the time. Facebook isn’t privy to a lot of them – and if they are it is normally in the vein of our ‘vaguebook’ friends – so please don’t use a public social forum as a yardstick for your ‘normalcy’. While we are at it – just embrace being abnormal – it’s a wonderful thing to be.

I look forward to seeing what we can do with all these new means of exchanging information. I have a couple of really close friendships that are very dependent on Facebook – we aren’t geographically close, but I ‘see’ them everyday. I think that we will continue to see amazing advancements in how we can use the internet and this digital closeness to improve our relationships and stay connected.

But – I’ll end with this. I am really, really, really glad Facebook did not exist when I was in high school.

19. May 2012 · 2 comments · Categories: Poetry

Time stopped for a moment
Not really, but really, it stopped
just for a moment.

All the world was without oxygen
just for a moment
And no one felt it but me.

Bad news, I have some
“bad news”.
So benign,
Except when it’s not, not at all.

Bad news can restart a life
before…and after.
Not benign.

Thoughts become staccato.
Time loses it’s fluidness.
Easy things stop being easy.

Until one day the bubble
fades away.
And the newness is now
normal.

This new life.
With it’s moving time and all it’s oxygen.
Except somewhere, for someone…
time stops for a moment.

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