where I’ve been and what I’ve learned

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Most of my creative energy this past month has gone to the Lent series that I was helping to facilitate at church. We talked about Making Space for God, and how letting go of stuff (you know, the typical deny yourself for 40 days during Lent thing) is just to make space for God to work in our lives. Turns out that one of the things I had to give up was writing. I wrote here a couple times, but largely this was an aspect of life I had to let go during that season. I can’t say it was something I “gave up” for Lent, but the longer the season went on, the more I realized what was happening in my life because I wasn’t writing as much. I needed to lay it down for a bit to truly make some space for God. Today, as I’m slowly picking this piece of me back up, I thought I’d share some of the deeper things I learned over the past six weeks or so.

1) Writing feeds my soul in a way no other thing does. I need it. I’m quite the verbal processor, so writing is one way that I work things out without alienating every other person in my life. When I write, I feel alive. I know the rest of you have things like this too. It might not be writing. It might be painting or crafting or hiking or….whatever it is, find that thing that makes you come alive and feeds your soul and DO IT.

2) It is hard to step out in boldness when you hear God speak. I had an idea for this series at church, and I was trying to work through it and flesh it out on my own power. Then came my couple weeks of emotional craziness, and I couldn’t even concentrate on my daily functioning much less detailing an entire series. When it came down to the wire, I had just a few days to put it all together so I completely had to rely on God to get the final details written down. I consulted others, I did my research, but in the end, I couldn’t just do it on my own. I had to slow way down and listen to what He was telling me.

I don’t know if you share uncertainties like this, but sometimes I just am so afraid that I misheard God. That I’m deciding things just because I want to or I like it or…who knows what. This particular thing was no exception, and honestly, there was a price. Not everything went as smoothly as I hoped, not everyone who attended every Sunday was completely on board, and there was some personal pain involved. But God gave me this vision, and every single week confirmed that He was using this series to do some transforming work. It wasn’t the most dramatic thing ever, there weren’t miraculous physical healings or fire from the sky or any such thing. It was just God’s people worshiping together Sunday after Sunday, choosing to make space for Him in their lives, doing the hard thing because it’s what He’s called us to do. Everyday people doing everyday stuff, and it’s all part of God’s great big story of rescue and redemption. I just fall to my knees in wonder. He uses even the unlikeliest of people for His glory, and I’m pretty sure I can speak for everyone who spoke and shared and had a piece of this series that we ALL feel like we’re the unlikeliest of people.

3) I should not be allowed on the internet. These past few months, the internet has confirmed that our baby might have congestive heart failure, that I may have eighteen different autoimmune diseases, and the worst thing is the rabbit holes I tend to fall down when I’m researching something. I end up on obscure university publishing websites, reading excerpts of academic books on Eden and Old Testament studies, and then I neglect my laundry. This is a brutal truth that I have to make peace with.

on marriage and work

Friday, April 11, 2014

Today is my 16th anniversary, and tomorrow I get to watch my baby sister marry her best friend. Marriage is the best kind of hard, and I can honestly say every moment has been worth it. We hear too much about divorce and ugly parts and not enough good. The good is that after 16 years, marriage can be very, very good.

You don’t get there by chance. It’s not enough to be in love with each other. (Can we just for a moment talk about that quote about how a successful marriage is about falling in love many times, always with the same person? No. Just no.) It’s not enough to live together. It’s not enough to just have romance. It’s not even enough to have children together. You intentionally put one another first. You intentionally sacrifice. You intentionally become vulnerable and build trust.

There is work, and it is hard some days. Some things come into our lives, into our marriages, and they are the messiest kind of ugly. They are traumatic and difficult, and dark times sometimes threaten to overwhelm. That’s how I know it’s by God’s grace that we’re here. It’s by His grace that our hardest, most despairing moments didn’t tear us apart. It’s by His grace that we’ve been able to build something so strong and true that I don’t doubt it. Ever. And it’s by His grace that we learn to never, never rest in that, never take it for granted, never forget that our marriage deserves all of us every single day.

And…off my marriage soapbox. Since I still have packing and ironing and playlist-making and all of the other wedding preparations to do, I’ll just leave you with my favorite love poem. Visit John Blasé’s site. You won’t be sorry.

Love Poem No. 7

Of all the things we’ve meant to do
I’m most happy we’re still together.
That’s what we promised on that late
June afternoon, to grow so intertwined
only death could hope to unravel us,
and even then, seeing what a pain in the
ass that would be, death might relent
and decide to let us pass on, together.

springtime cometh

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My unofficial hiatus from writing lasted a bit longer than I had hoped it would. I’ve been reading a ton, writing a little, and hoping for the day when I have uninterrupted time while my children are gone or sleeping to write for real. It turns out I’m not that great at writing while my children are awake. I simply cannot muster the multitasking skill it takes to write seriously with my children present, even if they’re quietly engaged elsewhere. We have a lot of children which means that one of them is nearly always awake. Nearly always, no matter the hour. I wish I were exaggerating.

I hope spring is bringing a change. We’ve had two or three successful long naps for Sweet M in her crib - a huge accomplishment considering she has only been willing to sleep in her crib at nighttime until now. My oldest has a new job delivering papers, baseball season is starting, and long afternoons of fishing are nearly upon us. The middle three will spend every waking moment outdoors, most of them on the trampoline, as long the as the weather accommodates. It’s almost time to stock up on popsicles, and in spite of my deep and intense love of all things winter, I could not be happier about it.

My health still isn’t cooperating quite the way I’d like, but I have an appointment with my endocrinologist in two weeks. That visit will give me a next action step no matter the outcome. In the meantime, having the emotional symptoms partially under control allows me to deal with the physical things with a little more sanity. Plus: springtime. If you’ve never lived in the North, you have no idea what it is like when those first few warm March days arrive. People say the South is friendly, but I’ve lived in the southern regions too, and they got nothin’ on Northerners who are collectively seeing the sun for the first time in months. We all emerge from a mutual depression, and there is nothing in life – not pain, not health problems, not sorrow, not stress – there is nothing that holds a candle to our joyful demeanors.

We’ve been on several walks around our little neighborhood when the weather has allowed. Our lakes haven’t been this full in awhile thanks, I’m sure, to the excessive snowfall this year. The joy that springs up in my soul when I inhale the spring lake air and listen to the ripples against the shore, when I send my son off, fishing pole in hand, and talk with the neighborhood kids while I swing side by side with them at the park – it fills my entire being with air. I get really frustrated in our tiny little house, particularly in winter, constantly murmuring about the ridiculousness of seven people sharing less than 1300 square feet. Then I remember that this beauty is my backyard. There is nothing else in this world that speaks peace to me quite like the water. IMG_2606

April is National Poetry Month, so I leave you with this favorite from e.e. cummings.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

For everything which is yes. Life and love and wings. I am at rest.

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