Saturday, January 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday - um, Saturday - Again

Topic: Again

The second I read the topic I think, "Yup, again." (sigh.)

I say that word out loud every day.  Generally as a sort of defeated question.  Like the whole roll-the-boulder-up-the-hill-over-and-over-for-all-of-eternity feeling.

-Needing to poop ended a nap WAY too early.  "Again?" (with tears)

-No one wants to eat what I fixed for them.  Even though they asked for it.  "Again?" (with serious irritation)

-Gales of hysterical laughter just turned into a massive street brawl.  "Again?" (with my everyone's-about-to-get-it voice)

-It took the kitchen counter 48 seconds to become a disaster after I just spent what seems like hours cleaning it.  "Again?" (with disbelief and maybe tears)

-I walked up stairs and forgot what I was doing so burned the butter in my frying pan so badly that the entire house stinks.  "Again?!?!  CRAP!  AGAIN!!!" (with a little fear)  Alright sometimes it's not butter.  Sometimes it's chicken.  Or cabbage.  Never burned cabbage?  Let me tell you, that kind of stench is just a whole different animal.

But my inner voice, Ivy, speaks up here and tells me to cowboy up.  She tells me that those agains are there, but they're hardly the whole story.

-Because every time Liam wanders past me he stops to hug my legs fiercely. Again

-Because three or four times a day Belle lays her head on my shoulder and says with the passion only she can muster, "Mom, you're the BEST!"  Again.

-Because no matter how exciting whatever Dalton's doing is, he stops every couple minutes to dash in and tell me all about it.  Because his enjoyment is heightened if he shares it with me.  Again.

-Because later tonight I get to sit on the couch with my best friend and eat hot wings and cheesy corn while we watch tv and chat about whatever we want.  Again.

-Because later today (or tomorrow if I can make the milk last that long), I will go to the grocery store.  Again.  And once again I will be blessed with a husband whose job provides so generously for us that I could buy all the groceries my family could possibly need.  Again.

I don't want to forget these things.  When I think of my life, which is admittedly fairly repetitive, I want to remember all the good agains that I have coming at me every single day.  

I want to give things their proper weight.  I don't want an irritation to weigh heavily on me while one of those everyday-glorious moment is easily brushed off.  

I will fail at this probably three or four times before dinner tonight.  

But that's ok.  

Because the beauty is that if I can only remember, I can try again.


Linking up to The Gypsy Mama for her weekly Five Minute Friday prompt.   Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.  Then go read other peoples.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

God With Us

Tonight we celebrate the immortal vastness of God slipping into the flesh of a baby.  

That baby was born 
               in a mundane corner 
                        of a dark night 
                                  in a small town. 

Which really isn't the most spectacular way for God to have come.

Tonight we echo the angels and sing:

“Glory streams from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah,
Christ the savior is born!”

Now that is spectacular. But setting aside one sheep-covered hill, the spectacular announcement didn't really happen.  Most of creation wasn't bowled over by glory streaming down.

Somehow God himself entered his creation on a dark night without disturbing much of the darkness.

I was thinking of all those people in Bethlehem that night. How many of them had no idea of God’s grand entrance?  How much pain was in the city that night?  Among the people of Bethlehem there was sure to have been suffering that made them ask, “Where is God in this?”  Because sometimes in mundane corners on a dark nights it can be hard to find him. 

God was literally right around the corner, and people passing along the street outside had no idea. To most of them it was just a dark night like every other.  And even though he was there, he didn't fix everything.  He didn't thwart every evil scheme and bring peace and joy into every heart.

I was surprised that this didn't feel depressing.  It felt reassuring.

Because that’s the way I find him still today. 

He doesn't burst in on us wiping out any evil he finds. 

For reasons I don’t quite understand, he trickles in. 

I was reminded of this when I read some reactions to the school shooting asking where God was. 

We tend to think that if God is somewhere he will overrun it.  He will not only stop the man from killing the children, but he will also bless the children and redeem the man.  And if that’s what we are expecting then it looks like God wasn't there.  But if I remember how he acted in Bethlehem, then it’s safe to say that he was in that school but he trickled into the darkness and mostly we just see the darkness.

That’s only depressing if we think that the fact that he doesn’t stop all evil means that our lives aren’t infinitely precious to him.   

But that night long ago when God was born among us was night of crucial importance to his plan of redemption.  His presence there was a manifestation of his love for each of us including every soul that slept that night in Bethlehem. Yet on that night he slipped in quietly barely causing a ripple in the darkness.  His birth didn't send out a shock wave of holiness that purified every evil it encountered. The whole point of his birth was that he loved each of us so fiercely that he had come to destroy the darkness.  But in that moment he left most of the evil around him undisturbed. 

So today, when I read a friend’s post about depression, the fact that amidst that darkness God has trickled in and brought hope but he hasn't dispelled her darkness altogether doesn't mean he is not in the midst of redeeming her. 

In my own life, when God doesn't force me to see the truth about things when I’m feeling selfish or heal everyone I pray for it doesn't mean he is not very nearby and deeply involved in redeeming me.  

And, much to my chagrin, when he doesn't overrun Christians in general and keep them from saying and doing things that he doesn't want (or at least things I’m sure he doesn't want) it doesn't mean he isn't here redeeming his church.

For reasons that escape me, God’s redemption of his world is working as an undercurrent which is leaving the surface mostly undisturbed for now.  He leaves much of the work of fighting evil on the surface in our very flawed hands.  But thankfully (since as a species we are not particularly good at rooting out evil) his undercurrent is slowly and inevitably carrying us toward our final salvation.

And while we are here on Christmas Eve, living on the surface, fighting against the evil that is thriving around us and in us, we can still celebrate that undercurrent and not feel abandoned.   Because we can see the trickles of God here.  We can see the glory the angels drenched that one hill with.  We can see the gleams of hope lighting paths through the darkness and we can know that the place we are being carried is brighter than we can imagine.  

I feel more assured of God's presence because if during the birth of his son, a moment of infinite importance to him, God chose to work quietly and not destroy all the evil he could see, then just because he is not destroying all the evil I can see doesn't mean he is not deep in the midst of my redemption right now. 

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
 For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Isaiah 43:2-3

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, 
and they will call him Immanuel" which means, "God with us."
Matthew 1:23

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Wonder

Here's my weekly link up to The Gypsy Mama for her Five Minute Friday prompt.  (Weekly?  Who am I kidding? The Gypsy Mama does it weekly.  I do it bimonthly...)  Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.  (Since I'm editorializing, this won't be five minutes.  I was up early - thank you, Liam - while everyone else slept and I hand wrote a very long ramble about Wonder.  So here it is, not five minutes and somewhat edited, over-thought and backtracked.)


Topic: Wonder

There's an idea that's been nesting in the corner of my mind for a long while now.  It usually sits quietly, minding its own business while I mother/clean the house/avoid cleaning the house/clean the children/avoid cleaning the children/etc.  But lately it's been clearing it's throat in overly dramatic ways calling me to draw it out from the tangle of thoughts it's been wrapped around.

The idea is that there are words, like wonder, that may not actually mean what I think they should. Or maybe it's that they don't look the way I think they should.  And because of that I miss them when they do show up.

Take wonder, for example.  I think wonder should stop you in your tracks.  Everything else freezes as you are overwhelmed by beauty or truth or strength or newness.  But that never happens to me anymore.  Because no matter how beautiful the sunset I still have to keep my eyes on the road while remaining semi-engaged with a chattering 3 year old who's confusing bath tubs and pools, explain to my 6 year old why radios don't work in the parking garage and tossing platitudes and/or Cheerios at the 1 year old.

So I have this fear that I've forgotten how to wonder, forgotten how to soak in something beautiful and beyond me.

But maybe I'm missing the wonder in the way that it really exists.  The kids can gaze in wonder at the sunset, but I'd better keep one and a half eyes on the road.  I'm not saying I shouldn't slow down a bit and admire and wonder, but I think I shouldn't discount little bits of wonder that leak into my day just because I'm also busy doing boring adult things.  That I should grant value to the quick glances I give the sunset and not discount it because I didn't get to sit in silence and soak it all in.

We took a long drive yesterday.  This is winter in Oregon so it drizzled some but it was still amazingly beautiful.  And for a short while the sun burst out and after the grey sky, the colors of sunlight and green grass and blue sky was dazzling.

But I'm tempted to discount all that because while we admired the beauty there were little voices in the back seat which kept asking to go home.  And I remember that by the end of the trip there were some grumpiness issues, both in the back and front seats.

I remember summer camp long ago and wandering through the woods in silence drinking in whatever beauty I found and I'm tempted to say that I've forgotten how to do that. But the idea that's been lurking is that life is tangled.  It's a massive jumble of good and bad and wonder and mundane and pain and joy.   And just because these things are all tangled up doesn't mean they are not also themselves.  Wonder, at least the way it shows up in my life, isn't all consuming and heart-stopping.  It's little snippets and glimpse caught out of the corner of my eye stuck in the middle of everyday life. So yes, yesterday my thoughts were repeatedly pulled from the beautiful forest to solve tiny problems and shush whining and call timeouts because flashlights were being swung around the car like nunchucks, but they also plunged down steep valleys of ferns and flew far off over layers and layers of green hills.

That idea that's been lurking is that a little bit of something good is still good, even if it is tangled up with some bad and some ugly.  The fact that we find something good in a small way stuck right in the middle of our usual grind doesn't belittle its goodness at all.

So even though yesterday was interrupted by some of the more tedious tasks of motherhood, I want to give the parts of it that were full of wonder all the weight they deserve.  To remember that maybe the way we run across wonder most often is as it trickles gently into the common parts of our life.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Roots

Here's my weekly link up to The Gypsy Mama for her Five Minute Friday prompt.  Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking


Topic: Roots

I have nothing profound to say about roots.  I want to do my 5 Minute Friday today, but really,  I've just spent 10 minutes staring at the wall and thinking that it should be easy to think profoundly about roots.  

I've got nuthin'.

Instead of profundity I keep thinking, "Roots are sort of ugly.  They're dirty and lumpy and a little hairy.  And they're dirty.  I know, they are nourishing and stabilizing and oh-so-symbolic. But they're just not pretty.  I prefer them covered up."

Tree trunks I like.  Oh, Oregon has the most amazing trees with the most unbelievable trunks.  Blog worthy trunks.  You may see pictures in the future.

And I like when the roots of really old trees aren't even in the ground any more but are all covered in normal looking bark and are winding their way across the ground like wiggly little benches to sit on.

Maybe my root-ambiguity is because we just uprooted ourselves and moved to a new place.  But somehow it doesn't feel like uprooting.  We left  friends, but there's email and telephones.  We left a home but it was a rental, so was never truely ours.  And we still have each other in the house.  There is still morning rush on frozen waffles, school time peppered with distractions and adventures, naps, shopping, life.

So my roots don't really feel uprooted.  Maybe my roots are just intertwined with the people that I live with here instead of a place.  People often talk about "putting down your roots" where you live, but mine don't seem to go into any particular place.  They just wind around people.  (Which means they're always exposed and ugly, so maybe I need more dirt around me.  Nevermind, just glanced at my floor.  We're good on dirt  here.)

See?  Nothing profound about roots, but I do have dirt.  So there's that.

Happy Friday, everybody.  If you want profound root posts, head over to Five Minute Friday and read some of the lovely links there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guest posting at Dreamer today

My good friend, Karen, invited me to guest post on her amazing blog, Dreamer

She's doing a little series of guest posts about how the art we make impacts our lives.  Her blog is fascinating, so feel free to stop by and read my post, then stay over there a while and read some of her other writing.  Her color series, which she just finished reposting, is especially good.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Perpetual Lessons: Too many toys

There are lessons that I teach my kids repeatedly.  Lessons that sometimes I think, "How can I have to tell you this again.  We have proved that it is true so many times over."

And usually, while I'm in the middle of an exasperated sigh about the repetitiveness of it all, Ivy shows up.

Ivy is my inner voice.  (Inner Voice --> I.V. --> Ivy.  Yes, creative genius here, I know.)  Ivy is sarcastic.  I'm not sure inner voices are supposed to be, I thought they were supposed to be sweet and reassuring.  Mine is not.

Anyway, Ivy shows up to snicker at me.  She doesn't even have to say anything.  Just raises her overly plucked eyebrow at me, peers over her trendy glasses (which I'm sure are just for show.  We have good vision...) and snorts disdainfully because she knows I'm being hypocritical in what I'm trying to teach.  Because based on who their mother is, it is not a huge mystery why my children need the same lessons repeated ad nauseum.

For instance, this morning the family was having a sweet, peaceful breakfast together where everyone was singing cheery songs in three part harmony, eating their healthy breakfast with nary a whine or a hesitation and allowing me to sit in serene maternal happiness as I drank my coffee with no requests for juice or a different color cup or squealing for"a tissue for my gigantic booger!"   Typical morning.

Liam, who had already inhaled his breakfast, was off playing on the floor.  He spidermanned himself along furniture to his overflowing basket of toys.  He then proceeded to pull out every toy and toss it aside.

He did not play with a single one.  Just scrunched his chubby face into a determined sort of scowl and pulled them all out.  Then he crawled away.

I said, "Liam, why did I leave your basket so full of toys again?", knowing full well that it was due to Cleaning Laziness Syndrome, a common ailment around here, where it is easier for me to toss the baby toys into the basket than take most of them back downstairs to the playroom.

"Liam," I continued, "Your problem again, like so often, is that you have too many toys.  It is a proven fact that true happiness in playing comes from having fewer things to play with.  You will enjoy your toys more if I only give you one or two of them."

It's true.  Given one tupperware lid, the child will inspect it, bite it, bang it, toss it, chase it, hold it on top of his head (?), bite it again, wave it around, etc. for 10 full minutes before moving on to something else.  And he's done it happily the whole time.  That chubby scowl not appearing once.

"Liam, let's put away some of those toys.  You'll be so much happier.  You think you want lots of toys to play with, but I promise you'll be happier with fewer things.  Your problem is there's too many distractions for your little mind to decide what to play with. "

Just then Ivy poked her head around the corner, raised that annoyingly skinny eyebrow, glanced at my computer, my phone, my kindle and my pile of assorted junk taking up the counter.  That pile of my "important stuff that I have" that has been alternately calling to me, tempting me, frustrating me, cluttering my counter and generally putting me in a bad mood for, well, ever. Because there are too many "important things" there for my little mind to decide what to work with.

Then Ivy snorted at me, rolled her eyes and left the room.

I muttered a few choice comments about pretentious inner voices and went to thin out Liam's toys again.

And my own. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Five Minute(ish) Friday(ish) - Path

"So, here’s the skinny: every Friday for over a year  hundreds of people join a kind of writing flash mob over at the The Gypsy Mama.  For five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday." - The Gypsy Mama

I’ve been reading a book this week about writing.  Since I was a tad overwhelmed by the 258 metaphors for “path” that instantly jumped to my mind about my life, every person I know, and every relationship I have, I thought I would do a little writing exercise. 

How about plopping down a character who I’ve never met before on a path?  Because where better to meet someone than on a path?  Here goes... 


The sunlight scattered through the green world ahead of her and the trail wandered over a mossy bridge as though on a whim.   She peered down into the water at the grey reflection of the sky.  

She rocked her head back and forth slightly, but nothing broke the reflection. 

“Nothing today?” she asked the water. 

It answered with a ripple. 

Of course there is no reflection of her.  Not today.  Perhaps next time.   

A rustle along the path behind her caused her to tense.  Her fists clenched and she kept her eyes fixed on the water, no longer looking at the surface but now staring at something long ago.

She took a deep breath and straightened, pushing her hair back behind her shoulders. Then she turned her eyes down the path from where she had come.

It was still now.  How could it not be?  Everything back there was already done.

“I wouldn’t go back that way,” she told the expectant path, “even if I could.” 



So there you have it.  It's not the beginning to the next great American novel, but it's good for my character to post things that I don't think are perfect.  

Any ideas why she couldn't see her reflection?  Because I'm not sure myself....