June 29, 2011

always blue

It has always been blue for me. 
Unwavering. Unrelenting. 
Dark blue carpet and blue gingham curtains that matched the blue gingham canopy I used to dream under.
Sky blue walls and blue & white striped cushions, and even a valance that hung over our first very-own kitchen sink. 
His deep blue eyes, and hers. 

Pink once tried to woo me, but I couldn't fully commit.
And while I might brake for magenta, it is always blue that captures my full soul.  Especially when it is dotted with wispy white or pelicans...

Or slashed with a navy stripe and blended with shades of aqua. 

It is here that blue takes my breath away and stops the world from spinning. 
It is here, that against the blue, the sandpipers scurry along the shoreline and chase the worries away. 
It is here... in the blue.

June 28, 2011

dark & ugly and what covers it

I knew my guests would begin to arrive any moment, and I was ready, except maybe I had time to make just one or two more flowers.  So there I sat, on the floor with legs stretched way far out, fluffing bright tissue paper flowers.  Just the day before, even an hour before, the colors had me smiling... but somehow, just sitting there, my heart began sinking.  I felt ugly from the inside out.  Not just not happy, but honest to goodness dark and ugly... and all I could do was dwell in it, be consumed by it.  And then... the doorbell rang.  Camden rushed in and answered it, greeting Gramma with a hug and a shout.  I shoved the striped paper back into the bag and stashed the ribbons and rose to greet my Mom.  I'd like to say that I'm a good disguiser, but I'm not.  And even if I were, she would have known... but I tried to play it off anyway.  I ended up in her arms, a few tears spilled and it seemed just enough to let the sunshine back in. 

Just a week or so later, I snapped at Eric and we kind of had it out in our friend's driveway.  When I said it's not you it is me I really meant it... but admittedly it sounded like an awful excuse.  He urges me to talk to him and I just can't... knowing that I am still processing and praying and there is no fix.  I wanted to smile when he told me he wanted to fix it, but the smile couldn't work its way out of my heart all the way up to my face.  But I know he does want to fix it... and I wish he could.    But there in the driveway, I realized that I am not the same girl I was three years ago... before blog.  This blog has changed me... the writing has changed me.  But somehow, she (the me of before) was working her way back in. 

But through all of this deep dark ugly and the snapping, I have learned that there is a process for this new me... I feel, I think, I write, I let it go. 
The old me?  Feel, dwell, dwell, dwell, dwell, fight it off, dwell some more, and finally have a release of tears before I could let it go.

Since April, the old me has begun to intrude once again. 
The words would not come, and I wondered if they were gone. 
But the new me thinks in words, and even in the ugly, beautiful phrases would slip in and whisper to my heart.  But the ugly has no mercy and blocks the way from heart to paper. 

The ugly? 
I think it is the cancer that Ann and Carol, and million others, battle. 
But God broke through when I couldn't, and He held back the raging sea so that I could pass back to where I am the better me.  He gave me these words... and I can feel the others just floating on the tide...

June 27, 2011

more than just walls

It has been many weeks since our little groups of teens sat and discussed the Creation story, but the dicussion is still fresh in my mind.  Each of us in turn shared something that struck them about the verses.  Most mentioned the fact that God created it all... but Cam took it a step further and what spoke to his heart the most was that once God created it all, He thought it was good.  It was one of those moments when a parent's heart feels full and deep down think they get it
: :
This Sunday we blessed our new church building. 
Giant key, ribbon cutting, special guests... the whole big deal.  And it was good
Though it was the second Sunday of worship in the new building, this was the Sunday that filled me.  Last Sunday seemed full of logistics and we-could-do-this-betters and oh-we-still-really-need-to-haves... and it left me cold.  But I chalked it up to it being trial run, a dress rehearsal.  
This Sunday was all that last Sunday was not.  Beautiful, Spirit-filled, joyful... warm.  A celebration.  A celebration of hard work, prayer, family and most of all,  Jesus.  As we sang Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere; Your spirit is water to my soul, I felt the words and the life of the song all the way through my soul.  And that water, the living water?  It leaked right out my eyes and rolled down my face. 
: :
Cam is already at Boy Scout camp, and so he missed out on the church blessing... but it was him I thought of when two representatives from our church synod stood by the altar, looked out at our church body and said It is good.  Very good. 

June 21, 2011

a bit of peace revealed

She looked me straight in the eye and said all I know is that this is not about me, it is all about Him.  I could only stare back, amazed at a faith so big, and amazed again at the woman who possessed it.  Our conversation continued, and I was thankful for it… but it wasn’t until much later when I fully began to process it.

I’ve been fortunate in this life, that until now, I have not had to think too hard or too much about a cancer journey.  Of course now, as I rally for my dear friend, it is never far from my heart.   But never have I really ever considered it to be about anything other that survival… or not.  Certainly it never once crossed my mind that it could be about God.   That leap is almost too much for this mind to comprehend.

But lately?
He is revealing to me… the ways the journey through cancer can be, in fact, about Him.

I see Him in a daughter’s peace over her mother’s battle.   In the way she gathers strength from her mother’s peace, perhaps not quite realizing that the peace comes directly though the Father, Himself.

I see Him in her grace-filled life… the way she shows me how to really live.  The way she show me how to live with cancer,  instead of just hanging on, or giving up.

I see Him in the reaching out of community.  Love in action and in the offerings.

And I begin to see Him making the changes in my very own heart.  He is making a way for my own peace… though I kick and scream and drag my heart away from it, time after time.   He is teaching me that when the bad rolls in He can find a way to shine through it... and if I find myself succumbing to the whys, He points me to this verse {"It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.  John 9:3} again and again.  He is promising me He will say yes to my endless prayers for healing… but reminds me that the healing may not be here on earth as I desire it to be.   He holds my hand as I take the baby steps to understanding, and He holds my heart every time I stop in the path and cry a river of tears.

Yes, maybe a journey though cancer can be about Him. And just maybe… it needs to be.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Romans 8:28

June 16, 2011

turning page after page

I'm bouncing back and forth between two stories... and I've never been good at reading two books at the same time.   Technically... I'm not reading two.  One is on CD keeping me company on the way to and from work and the other has good old-fashioned pages.  Eric keeps asking are you done yet?  Both were due back at the library yesterday.... and it seems that when he is "off duty" from real police work, he takes on the role of the library police

I tease him about it, relentlessly... but truly, I love that we are a reading family.  All four of us
: :
I feel like I have always loved books... always.  The stories, the pages... the adventure.  Oh how I longed to ride over the prairie in a covered wagon, or solve mysteries with Nancy Drew, and I will never stop laughing over the messes that Amelia Bedilia gets herself into.  Never!  I can still picture the elementary school library, and racing (without running) to the corner where the Amelia Bedilia books would be... and if, of course, there were any left on the shelf, my smile would be a mile wide. 

When I first met Eric, he was not a reader.  But somewhere along the way to falling in love with me, he also fell in love with books.  Maybe it was the time he spent in the tiny book shop on the main street of my little town, or maybe it was the late nights keeping watch over the harbor, trying desperately to stay awake for his shift... whatever the motivation, his love for reading has been an example for our kids.

Laura was a couple of months into kindergarten, I bought her a couple of little first reader books.  The cat sat on a mat kind of books, hoping that we would read them together, and that she would eventually learn.  But she took the two books, sat right down and amazed me by reading them from cover to cover. Every word.  And I'm not sure she has ever stopped...

And Cam?  Oh Cam...
I would swear that he loved books from the first time he ever held one.  Love, loved, loved.  He would turn page after page, and his eyes would pour over the pictures... and sometimes we wondered if he was following the words.  I remember one day I had to bring him along to a class I was holding... and he sat in the corner with baskets and baskets of books and entertained himself for over two hours.  I will always be thankful for that love that was planted in his heart.  It had to be that love that kept him going when the words seemed all jumbled up to him and his classmates were moving onto chapter books.  I will never forget the day it all clicked for him.  Never.  I was driving through Washington DC, and he was in the backety-back seat of the van with a lap full of Garfield comic books... and all of a sudden, there was a burst of  heartfelt laughter!  I asked him what he was laughing at and he replied I'm reading!  So there he was, reading at last, and there I was, crying in the traffic.  Garfield?  I will always love you. 

: :
I press on with my two stories... hoping that I can get through them before he asks again are you done yet? 
I'm thinking that I might have to come up with the money to cover the fines.  

June 15, 2011

the why

I pause as I fasten bright silver  about my neck.  Why? 
Why do I choose this charm to suspend from the chain today? 

I think about sitting across the table from a friend at lunch and my mind wonders what she thinks when she sees it.  What if she should ask why?  The devil himself seems to slip into my thought process and brings to mind words typed out in a rampant email from long ago Why would Jesus want that reminder of how he died hanging on your neck?   I push him away.  Far away, where he belongs.  

Why indeed?
Oh, I don't wonder.  I know. 
So I continue with the clasping and then peer into the mirror and admire God's work.

The gleaming silver that stretches up to heaven and out to me, hangs empty.  Jesus is no longer there, suffering the sin of the world, the sin of me.  He is alive.  God's most perfect gift, for you and for me.  And when my fingers reach for it and slide it back and forth on the chain, I remember.  I remember  what He has done for me, and that the doing is complete.  I remember that I am wonderfully made.  I remember that in Him, I am enough. 

I whisper a soft thank you... and move on with my day.

June 14, 2011

{virtual coffee} 17

Today it doesn't matter what is in my cup.
I am gulping it down, urging the sweet and the heat to wake me, to pull the weight from my eyelids. 
Where did this weary come from?

I'm sure that I could carve out time to meet for coffee today... summer is here {hooray!} and the schedule is more flexible.  There is not so much rushrushrush in the morning.  And the afternoons are whatever we make them.  The sun stretches out into evening and the longer it dances in the trees, the wider my smile becomes.  Oh, I love that speckled light! 

So if we were really meeting for coffee, I might spill my driving woes on you... well, not my driving- my daughter's.  She is perhaps the only teenager who despises driving!  But she took driver's ed two summers ago, and she passed the driving test- but still no desire to actually go and get her license!  But we have decided, it is time.  We have three weeks to review in crash-course (eek!) style, so it has been the goal for her to drive everyday.  She is actually doing well, and I think she has no reason to actually despise it.  So why now?  I keep thinking how wonderful it will be if, come fall, she can be the one to drive she & her brother the mile and a half to and from school and band practice.  

And why the three weeks?
This is feeling like the one stress of my summer- that the time with my kiddos will be too short!
Camden (and Eric) leave for Boy Scout camp on June 25th.  Laura will leave the following Friday, with Eric's parents, to pick up Camden and head out for their summer adventure with Gran & Grandad.  I'm pretty certain they will be gone at least a full month, and when they return, there will be one week of summer before band camp begins.   I have to keep reminding myself that Eric & I are flying out {for one week} to join the adventure in mid-July...

So in the mean time, we will squeeze out as much summer fun as we can stand, working it in around my work, Eric's work and Laura's work/volunteering at the equestrian challenge center. 
Photobucket

June 10, 2011

backwards

As excited as I am to move towards this next school year, the milestone of the last day of school has me pedalling backwards.  Back to the first day of school, back to when they were little and school was a place I was looking forward to sending them to.  Oh a million years have passed since then... and each has been a learning experience.  In the moment, and in hindsight.  The lessons learned are not just for the students... this Mama has learned her own fair share.  Most importantly... how to let them make their own mistakes, so that their successes really belong to them, and... sigh... how to let go.  Looking back and recalling the struggles and the overcoming and the successes helps me to step out again in faith.  Thankfulness abounds... because here we go again. This next level of letting go is going to be a doozy.

June 09, 2011

stuck for good

I was just getting out of the car when the UPS man was walking up the driveway.  He pointed to the back of my car and said That's far.  I couldn't help but smile and nod... and ask Have you been?  He shook his head and told me that he only knew it was far and went on to say that he's never seen one other bumper sticker like it.


I'm not really a bumper-sticker kind of girl, but when I saw this one, I had to have it.  Everytime I see it on my car I smile, and feel a rush of love through my soul.  It has been almost a year since Africa... but time cannot steal away the memories of the journey or the ever-present desire to return. 

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. 
-Mary Anne Radmacher

June 08, 2011

A home without books is like a body without a soul.
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

June 07, 2011

he keeps on shining

For hours afterwards my insides were revved up and my heart flip-flopped back and forth between disbelief and utter joy.  After a length of silence between us I would burst out again with other tidbit of excitement or share a random wonderful thought that had suddenly made its way into my stream of consciousness... and for the first twelve times, he smiled brightly.  I could tell then... that enough was enough.  At least for him.  But I could have gone on another thirty times.  Oh how thankful I was that when we picked up Eric and Laura from the airport I could start the gushing all over again...

:  :

I had hoped it would be a special night for Cam... I knew he would get an award for his grade point average, and because he was honored with a science award last year, I hoped for at least one more award.  But deep down, like only a mother can... I wanted more for him.  I kept thinking that he deserves one of those really cool awards that encompasses his grades and the nice, hard-working young man he is.  Yes, I know I am biased, as every mom is... but Cam has just blown me away this year with his straight A's and his work ethic.  And more than anything, I have been so pleased that he has been able to see the successes.  For so many years he worked and worked and worked... and I wondered when the frustration would set in, wondered if one day he would just say the heck with all this school work and give up.  We fought for him, we prayed for him... and victory finally came in the form of test results and an IEP.  No one wants their child to need the extra help at school... but when you know your child needs the help and your concerns are brushed aside for years, validation is victory and the extra help is a blessing.

When his name was called for a Science Pride award, I cheered.  And then when he made his way to the stage for a Five Star Math award I mentally checked off the list in my mind- special night?  Check.  With the award for his grades that will make three... and three awards?  Amazing.  I was whispering to my friend when they described the next award and so when they called his name again, I had no idea what he was receiving... but there he was striding across the stage, shaking hands with the teachers.  By the time he had received two awards for his grade point average I was beaming and my heart was fully content.  Five awards rested under his seat and I was thrilled for him.  It has been a banner year, a truly wonderful middle school experience, and to cap it off with a night like this was truly more than I had hoped for. 

But God wasn't quite finished showing off. 

It was the very last award of the night... the Principal's Award.  One girl and one boy are chosen from among teacher nominations for this highest honor.  I was really only half listening, so excited about an award my friend's daughter has just received... but then I heard his name, and I saw him pop out of his seat and return to the stage again.  And all at once I was laughing and crying and cheering... fumbling with my camera, which was all but put away in my purse, and just beaming. 

Making our way out of the auditorium, in a crush of congratulations, my heart and mind were spinning.  We caught two teachers for quick photos and big thank yous... and many friends and parents we have known along the way stopped to shake Cam's hand.  It might as well be the Pulitzer Prize there under his arm.  Oh yes, my heart feels that big...

Never doubt the power of God, who can do all things.  All things.  He places loving teachers in the path, and issues challenges that seem impossible... but then He instills the tools to overcome.  He creates a desire for learning and an excitement that is contagious, so that the stumbling blocks only trip you up instead of making you want to give up.   And in the love that grows in a mother's heart, God adds a fierceness that He knows will be used to fight the good fight...

and He tosses in a sense of humor so that  when she realizes that he wore white socks with his black dress pants and shoes there will be only gales of laughter. 

June 06, 2011

the slivers

these are magic years...
and therefore magic days...
and therefore magic moments.
-anonymous

I had been really looking forward to sharing this past weekend with my family.  Graduation parties and birthday parties, time with friends... and it was Eric's weekend off.  It doesn't usually happen that way.  And of course, even though we were counting on celebrating so much together this weekend, it didn't happen.  But it was okay.  Eric and Laura were where they needed to be... and Camden & I went on with the plans, tossing in our own little twists here and there. 

There is something just so special about time spent together, with just one... whether it be him, or her.  And when these slivers of time come 'round, I recognize them for what they are... precious gifts, molten love, sweet memories in the making.  So I let the rest of the world wait in line, and I slow the race of  life that seems to chase endlessly after ever bit of energy I can spare... and I marvel at the smallest things.   The way he sits up straighter to avoid the glaring sunshine, our matching cravings for Italian ice and tacos.  The way his hands are no longer small and his legs no longer those of a little boy.  He comes around the corner and asks if there is anything I want help with and we work together in the kitchen side by side, completing the job in half the time.  He picks up my dropped keys and jokes that he'll just drive.  Oh, not much longer and he will. 

The days of little are far behind us.  They held their own magic, and their own sorrows.  But the growing doesn't stop and neither does the marvelous.  When he was six months old, that was my favorite age.  And when he was eight, that was my favorite age.  And now, at fourteen and a half... I feel it again, as I seem to every year. 
Oh, this is my favorite age. 

June 03, 2011

everyday

Hello, morning sunshine.
It is not often the first thing my eyes see... I am more accustomed to shadows and starlight. 
But oh, how I love the soft morning light.  The way it dances on the wall.  The way it sends one glittering ray through the blue glass candy dish atop the pie safe, trying to trick me into believing the dish contains the light itself. 

Today I am out of routine... with half my family across the county. 
Laura & Eric flew to Dallas last night to lend their hearts to our grieveing cousin (friend!) and her girls who lost their Papa Wednesday night.  Life is fragile... and we forget.  We go on with our everyday stuff... schedule, laundry, food and love... and wonder why.  How.  Yesterday these things seemed ordinary but today... they seem to have such purpose. 

In the night of death, hope sees a star.
And listening... love can hear the rustle of a wing. 
-Robert Ingersoll

June 02, 2011

in the balance...

I try not to lean too far to one side... or spin too quickly to the other.  Even one degree of movement seems precarious.  The air feels electric and fragile... and to venture too far from this one little spot might be its very undoing. 
Or mine.
 
As I stand, I know... that life hangs in the balance.
Heartbeats and breath and the unknown... balanced on the edge of living. 
Hanging on, fighting. Waiting. 
The air around me seems to close in just little more as I seek the beautiful words of prayer. 
 
Lashes flutter down, and in my own created darkness, I can push the air away without it shattering and I seek their faces in my heart. My soul begins...

Father God, precious Jesus...
Oh... Lord....

Oh Lord...

The beautiful words... they will not come.
Only a moment of desperation passes before He provides me with the familiar rhythm of the prayer I know best, and I am thankful.


Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

I know that if I repeat them over and over, and then over again...
He will know my heart and the peace it longs for...