Posts Tagged The Labyrinth of my Mind

He Isn’t Gluten Free

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
– Leonard Cohen

As I’ve spent the last four months recovering from my daughter’s wedding and also living inside of the hardest, darkest Lent I’ve known so far (do I say that every year?), my cracks have grown wider. A little like the cracks in my house due to our ever-shifting foundation. One crack has gotten so bad, that we now have an army of roof rats in our attic. One of those guys climbed up the outside of our house until he found a crack wide enough to get into the attic, then he went back and told all his friends and they all go up there and party every night now.

So yeah, maybe light gets in. But rats get in too.

One of those rats came down one of the walls and ate through our dishwasher drain hose, which caused our third major flood in three years. Now we have no kitchen while it’s all being repaired.

I wonder if that hose was hard to digest?

I’ve been thinking a lot about digestion lately. Every week I eat the bread of life and I am told that I will find refreshment for my burdened and heavy-ladened soul. Every week I have a hard time digesting it. Sometimes I choke and my faith is barely hanging on like I imagine those rats hanging on to the crack in my wall, up there by the roof, and I’m desperate to get the drink that follows the bread. It’s not easy…digesting this Jesus that feeds us with himself; with his body and blood, full of gluten and alcohol. Full of grace and mercy, in spite of my weakness. In spite of my unbelief. In spite of my being unable to do anything about any of it. He feeds me and I cling to him in spite of myself.

My youngest girl is wearing a red and white striped tank top today just like one that I used to wear in high school. It makes me think of a picture I have of me in that tank top, sitting outside on an Oregon summer day, with a boy that I thought was my forever everything. Back when digestion was easier. Back when I could decide what I wanted most and then I could make that happen. But I lost that boy and that tank top and the easy digestion process and now I watch my daughter wheel her new birthday bike through the kitchen to the garage and I wonder what it is she wants the most. And I wonder if her heart breaks over some boy that she doesn’t talk about. And I wonder if Jesus is hard for her to digest. And I’m thankful that He feeds her anyway.

And I’m thankful for chocolate during this Eastertide. And I’m thankful for days that are warm enough for young girls to wear tank tops while they ride their bikes and dream about things that they want. And I’m thankful for bread and wine and grace upon grace upon grace.

Some days take less, but most days take more
Some slip through your fingers and on to the floor
– Bono

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Somebody That I Used to Know

I know I’ve written about my Facebook dilemma before. I’ve gone back and forth a number of times on how I feel and what to do about it. So have others. And yet, at the risk of overkill on an already Facebook-saturated media week, here is the promised article that I just can’t stop thinking about:

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? – The Atlantic.

It really is a fascinating and well-written article. Very much worth the read even though it’s long. It’s helped sum up for me a number of things I’ve been feeling but for which I just couldn’t quite find the words. Particularly this quote right here:

“When I scroll through page after page of my friends’ descriptions of how accidentally eloquent their kids are, and how their husbands are endearingly bumbling, and how they’re all about to eat a home-cooked meal prepared with fresh local organic produce bought at the farmers’ market and then go for a jog and maybe check in at the office because they’re so busy getting ready to hop on a plane for a week of luxury dog-sledding in Lapland, I do grow slightly more miserable.”

Why? Why does that make me miserable? It just doesn’t make sense and yet it’s true. These are not depressing things. In fact, they’re all presented as happy things. So maybe that’s the issue. Could it be jealousy? I have never thought of myself as a jealous person. I am really pretty happy with my life and with who I am. And even when I’m not happy, I never find that I am depressed because I am comparing my life with the lives of others. I think it’s more of a sick feeling that I might be guilty of predatory behavior than jealousy. It just feels weird to be reading the intimate (albeit lovely and clever and innocent) details of the lives of people that I don’t really know. Who of us is the same person we were twenty years ago? Just because I was friends with someone twenty years ago doesn’t mean we’re friends forever. I don’t know them and they don’t know me and yet, because we used to know each other, we’re now linked forever in some weird, alter-world where only little tidbits are spewed forth and they never add up to a whole picture of anything.

“It’s a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear.”

But it’s not only the people that I don’t really know anymore that I find depressing. There are many people that I know through church, work and my kids’ schools that I really like when I spend time with in person. But the things they put on Facebook sometimes make me hate them. The casually voiced opinions or obsessions on things political, relational, and health-related can really put a bad taste in my mouth about a person that I thought was utterly delightful before. Not only do most people try harder to NOT be offensive to others in person (which shows that they think other people are important AND that they care what others think of them), but we also can have a lot more grace with other people in face-to-face conversations. An ill-timed comment can often be overlooked and quickly forgotten when placed in context and when body language can be read (and when we are well aware of our own tendency to do the same). But once it’s on Facebook, it’s out there forever, and it’s not usually easily forgiven or forgotten.

And then the final thing that made me feel great shame was this statistic:

“Among 18-to-34-year-olds, nearly half check Facebook minutes after waking up, and 28 percent do so before getting out of bed.”

How did I become part of this? I’m not even in that age group anymore! And it was actually one of the main reasons I was opposed to getting an iPhone for so long. I didn’t want to become one of those people addicted to checking things on my phone all the time.

But…..

I have teenagers. They’re on Facebook. Their friends are on Facebook. Their teachers give their assignments on Facebook. I want to be where they are. And let’s face it, there is no better way of reaching anyone and trying to arrange a party, a visit, a phone call, or whatever. It’s an always-current address book. Who doesn’t love that? And so, while I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to do with these new-found words-put-to-feelings, I am happy to report that I no longer check Facebook before getting out of bed in the morning.

And somehow, that makes me a little happier.

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Let That Pony Run

I’ve been fighting my own personal Mommy Wars in these recent years. I war with myself. I war with the mommy I used to be, the mommy I always wanted to be and the mommy that I am. I don’t need anybody else to enter this war because it is ferocious enough with just the three of us. And I know full well that there can never be a winner so I’d like to call a truce. I really, really would. I don’t even want to talk about it. I just want it to be over. I work outside the home even though it wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing. Lots of mommies work outside the home, some of them wanting to and some not. I am blessed beyond measure with a husband who loves me, children that I adore, a pleasant work environment, a church where we can worship and food on our table. It’s hard work raising a family and I am working hard. Kaboom.

I’m reading one of those books right now that I can only digest in little bits because of its awesomeness. It’s one of those life-changing, infuriating kinds of books. It’s called “Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating” by Norman Wirzba. It is everything I know to be true. The only problem I am having now is that I don’t know what to DO with the life-changing information I am inhaling. So I would like some of my friends to read it please, and discuss it with me. Please and thank you.

The other day, I drove by a cute little family of five, walking home from the grocery store. The dad was leading the way, laden down with multiple, heavy bags of groceries. It was obvious that he was rushing because he wanted to be rid of his burden as fast as he possibly could. The mom followed behind him, pushing the baby in the little umbrella stroller as fast as she could manage while trying to keep it from tipping backwards due to all the grocery bags hanging from the handles and causing an uneven distribution of weight. The ten year old (or so) girl followed behind her, sucking on a sucker, not nearly as concerned with hurrying with her two bags, but also not wanting to be left behind. The six year old (or so) girl brought up the rear, always running but never getting anywhere while she carried her one bag and sucked on her sucker. She never got anywhere because she didn’t run in a straight line. More concerned with activity than direction, she skipped in circles or ran up to her sister to laugh about something with her, then ran back to pick a flower, then ran up on a ledge so that she could jump off of it. The last thing I saw as I turned the corner after my light turned green was her running straight up the steep incline underneath the underpass, then running down and tumbling hard on the sidewalk while her one bag that she was carrying tumbled hard with her. No one in her family saw her fall and she didn’t cry out or bring attention to herself in any way. She just picked herself up, and picked up the bag and kept walking. The bag was slightly see-through and I could see two cartons of eggs in there.

My car breeds fruit flies. I have had my children clean out every crevice that can possibly be cleaned out and we still have fruit flies. Yes, it’s true that multiple banana peels, orange peels and apple chunks were found in the cleaning, some of them in motion due to the maggots crawling around in them. Yes. I do mean that blackened, hardened banana peels were MOVING. That was fun. But as far as I know, we found all fruit and the car has been fruit-free for days now. And yet, I still swat gnats away from my face on my drive to work each day. How do all those other mommies out there (the ones that I’m NOT at war with) get their children to take all of their stuff out of the car every time they get out? How do other mommies’ cars not have fruit flies in them? Come on, mommies. I’m on your side. I war with myself and no other so spill it.

I have a dear friend who has always appreciated the simple (and profound) wisdom in country music. She appreciated it way before I was mature enough to get it. One of her favorites has been running through my head lately. In the words of the wise Pam Tillis:

You do what you gotta do

And you know what you know

You hang on until you can’t hang on

And then you learn to let go

It sure is a beautiful Eastertide. The honeysuckle in my back yard smells amazing tonight.

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Joy!

The sun has now set on this Holy Saturday. The last darkness of Lent is upon us and when the sun rises tomorrow, the celebration will already be well underway. I can feel the anticipation building as I prepare for the Easter Vigil, which begins in just a few hours at church. The joy in my heart is building.

Twelve years ago today, I held my newest baby girl in my arms. She was born in the middle of the night at my home, in my bed, surrounded by more love than I can comprehend. Her daddy and her big sisters were there, both of her grandmas were there, one grandpa, and two dear friends of mine who remain my dear friends still (one of them even became her aunt!). The night that she was born, I truly carried the cross and bore the weight of sin and followed my Lord into the desert. And joy came in the morning. Oh, the joy when I was finally delivered from that pain. I knew pain with that third birth much more than the first two. But oh, the joy when I beheld her face. Oh, how we exclaimed over her precious dimples. Oh, how I remember waking up to that beautiful little blessing of love, nestled in between her father and me, just a few hours after falling asleep with her between us in the exact same place where she took her first breath.

Today, twelve years later, I feel like I am awakening to new life once again. This Lenten season has not been easy. I have followed my Lord into one of the most barren deserts I have ever known. And I have not carried this cross well. I have heard Lent described as a bright sadness. Tonight, I know it. For while I stumbled under my load and found that I could not go on, He continued on. While I entered into one of the most debilitating depressions I have ever known over these last couple months, the beauty and the blessings of a world that is being redeemed has continued upward and onward toward the Easter Feast. And I am thankful beyond words that I was able to seek help for my depression. And in my seeking, I found more than I even asked for.

Tonight, as I sit in my house surrounded by love, I listen to my middle daughter play a hauntingly beautiful piano concert. The notes fly around this house that has been blessed over and over and over. The music only continues to lift it heavenward and we wait. All of us, waiting. My oldest daughter cleans her room and hangs up colorful lights and sings as she rummages through drawers looking for extension cords. The birthday daughter puts her newest picture frame together, after a day of swimming in her new backyard blow-up pool. Even though the freckles aren’t as noticeable as they used to be, she definitely got a few new ones today. And those dimples are still just as precious as they were in those first few moments after she was born, twelve years ago today.

Tonight, we all feel satisfied after a birthday dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant. And tonight, in just a few hours we feast again.

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This Ember Day

IMG_4162Chris is being ordained as a deacon at our church tonight. This makes all my senses on heightened alert. It may also be the sleep deprivation that has plagued us both for the last couple months. But I don’t think so. These last couple months have been hard. And when I say hard, I can only leave it at that. There are no words to describe the hardness. But it’s the hardest hardness I’ve ever known. Between his job, my job, three girls with very busy lives and multi-faceted needs, school, homework, church, driving all over kingdom come and beyond, not to mention all my mumble-jumbled emotions… 

It’s been hard.

 But I am so proud of him and how he’s persevered through the hardness and how he loves God and people truly and deeply and how he’s gently led our family through these hard times.

It’s kind of weird to be excited about something that in reality will only make things harder, but I think I am actually a little excited today! I don’t have any delusions about things getting any easier now. But it feels like we’re getting somewhere. And it feels like I’m slowly getting used to the hardness. I don’t know if I’ll ever have skin as thick as leather. But it might be a little more like paper that can go in a printer now as opposed to the tissue paper that it was, crumbling easily and breaking at the slightest puncture. Maybe it’s good that my heart is soft and mushy anyway. May the hardness never reach it.

I love you, Honey. I am so thankful that God has given you to be my husband for these past almost-twenty years. And I am thankful that you are now being given to the ministry of his Church. This life is good and I am thankful.

ALMIGHTY God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders in thy Church; Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all those who are to be called to any office and administration in the same; and so replenish them with the truth of thy doctrine, and endue them with innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name, and the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Hair, Part Three

Yes, I do realize there was never a Hair, Part Two, even though I promised one (a long, long time ago). So I have to leave room for that in case I ever get around to doing it someday. But I probably won’t. There is something I really love about unfulfilled promises. Not broken, just unfulfilled. I kind of enjoy people getting mad at me for them. It’s the constant bringing up of the promises I made that you and I both know I will never follow through on (but there’s always the possibility) that keeps the attention on me. I like that kind of attention. 

But back to Hair, Part Three. 

What is it that makes people think that the following statements are okay on days that I straighten my hair? 

  1. Gasp! “What happened to your beautiful curls?” (while running their fingers through my hair, uninvited)
  2. “Boy, if I had curly hair, I just don’t think I would ever straighten it.”
  3. “Why is it that people always want what they don’t have? I have straight hair and I wish it was curly and you have curls and you wish it was straight.” 

Translation (in my mind) to all three of those statements: “You are ugly, your mom is ugly, your mom’s hair is ugly, the music that you listen to is stupid and you’re an idiot.” 

There is no good way to respond to these people. None. They are not giving a compliment, so I can’t just say “thank you.” They are making accusations (most of which are untrue) that instantly put me on the defensive. And I hate when I get defensive. I feel like a big ole lamebrain sitting there explaining to people that I like to be able to switch back and forth, all I did was blow it dry today and the curls will be back next time I wash it, straightening is fun sometimes because it will last three days (which means I don’t have to fix my hair for two days), blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. 

And that’s my rant for this Monday. 

Give me some attention, please.

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Updates and Downbeats

One week and two days after I burst a blood vessel in my eye (or maybe EVERY blood vessel in my eye?), I am looking a little less like a vampire and a little more like a hepatitis patient. Originally the entire white area of my eye was blood red. And when I say entire, I mean ENTIRE. And when I say blood red, I mean no areas of sorta, kinda red were mixed in. It was shocking. BLOOD RED. My youngest daughter couldn’t even look at me without getting visibly nauseous. Today, there are still two little blood red dots close to the center and the rest of the white area is now a milky yellow-y, orange-y color.

I guess the doctor at the CareNow clinic was right when she said it could take up to two weeks to go away.

One day last week when I was driving home, I saw a sight that I have never before seen in my entire life. Right in the middle of rush hour traffic, headed due east on the freeway, about 5 miles away from my home, the moon began to rise. It rose directly in front of me, where the freeway disappeared over the ridge, into the horizon. I kid you not when I say that moon was the width of the entire five lanes of freeway traffic. It was like another planet was about to come crashing into us. Every crater was as big as my car and clearer than I have ever seen. I was literally driving with my jaw dropped open, staring at all the other people in all the other cars beside me, screaming at them and pointing, “Do you SEE that?!!!!?” Nobody looked at me or answered me. Nobody even had their mouth open. We just got invaded by another planet and nobody except me seemed to notice.

Five minutes later, I ran into my house and grabbed my camera off the countertop, screaming “Callie, Sadie, Grace!!!! You have to come with me NOWWWWWWW,” as I raced back out the door to the car that I had left running on the curb. Two of the girls made it out the door in time to join me as I drove like mad to a nearby field where I thought we might still be able to see it rising.

But we were too late. Only ten minutes at the most had passed and it was already high in the twilight sky. Looking beautiful, yes, but just looking like your average full moon. Neither Sadie nor Grace would let me take their picture in front of it, hiding their faces and running away and whining about how they didn’t have time to get “ready.”

So Grace took a picture of me. This is the best we could get. Me and the blurry moon that ten minutes earlier had been as big as the gas station on the corner.

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I tried taking my camera to work the next day, hoping against hope that the rising would be in roughly the same place and time during the drive home and I could capture it. (No, I don’t text while driving but yes, I do photography while driving.) But alas, the day was cloudy and I saw no moon at all. None at all. Only clouds. But I did get some pictures at work that day, and I have to admit that it feels kind of good to finally have a record of the place where I spend most of my days.

Here I am at my desk.

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And yes, I photoshopped my eye. No way I’m putting a picture of that ugly thing on here. No way, Jose.

And this is the view over the top of my desk.

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And here I am with my cute friends I work with (or worked with). One is finishing up her temporary assignment this week, most likely, and one is having a baby this week, most likely. Can you tell which is which? Sniff. I’m going to miss them.

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And my husband finished his exam he’s been working on for six months.

And I cut my hair all short this weekend.

And my daughters have all worked hard in school, and helped out around the house, and played music, and made laughter, and entered into family prayer with clear, loud voices, and kissed me goodnight before going to bed this week. And well, I really love them.

But I can’t stop biting the inside of my cheek, no matter how many deals I make with myself.

And I can’t get my iTunes store to open and I have an iTunes gift card burning a hole in my heart. And I really, really, really want to spend it. I sure wish I had a technical advisor like the olden days.

And that’s enough for today.

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