Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

Surrender

Sitting child’s pose on my floor last night and thinking- this is where my forehead belongs, resting, not pressed on this ground. I am tired and there is so much- and this curling, this stilling of my hands and feet, I need it.  And this, giving over, not up, this laying down, it is good.

Child’s pose because I am a child. I am His and He fathers well. Never has he forsaken me. Never have I placed myself at His feet and been abandoned.

And let me just say- everything is good. My life is good right now. But I am worn just the same. There are things to be done, even in the good times, that make escaping exhaustion impossible. But this tired, it is not only from working hard during good times. This tired? It is weariness of trying. My forever and ever, going and going figure-it-out-problem-solving mind is fatigued for sure.  My feet, they need a break from running; I am no sprinter and my lungs burn. And my hands most always holding something, they need unfolding.

And so here I am, or there I was- child on the floor. Not so much an involuntary collapse, (though I’ve had plenty of those), as a willful surrendering.

I am tired. He is able. The end. (Beginning?)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” Eph. 3:20

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June 21, 2011

Them

(Went to bed and woke up with this in my head, just a little piece of the story God’s given me. Maybe not the most insightful, profound thing I’ve ever written, but indulge me please.)

Every morning I woke early, with the sun, and sat at that big round kitchen table in front of that grand window. And I pulled out the books. I opened them all with such intention, Bible, dictionary, thesaurus, my then new but already well loved and much highlighted copy of Abbas Child, her well loved, faded and worn copy of Practicing the Presence. And I studied and I prayed and I wrote and I cried and I sat and I watched and I listened. All in an effort to fix… everything.

Through my separation and divorce I stayed with them. Oh them, how I treasure them. My Debby, so wise and so… full of more grace than she knows. And my Paul, the man I will forever and always credit with showing me more clearly than anyone else I have ever known- the strength, kindness and devotion that is fathering. They had some extra room and I didn’t want my children’s lives to be completely disrupted and so, instead of having the kids go elsewhere to spend time with their dad, I went to the Tedesco’s and they stayed home.

And my mission while I was there was to fix… me and my marriage, my husband and then eventually it became to save the whole entire world. But we’ll save that story for another time.  I sat every morning waiting for the self-timed coffee maker to brew enough for me to pour my cup. And I worked on understanding why my life was such a disaster. And sometimes I had very good epiphanies. And many times He spoke to me. And sometimes I rediscovered things I already knew, like John 3:16. And sometimes I just crawled deeper into the darkness that was trying to overtake me.

And this poor, wonderful couple did humor me through it all. Waking every morning to find me exuberant, placid, ready to talk, ready to cry, it was anybody’s guess really. But one morning, one very hard morning after very little sleep, (as happens when your marriage is falling apart and you are forced to leave your four children, including your six month old baby with a man you harbor much hatred for), I woke with what I thought was a very good idea. I thought it was a brilliant plan as a matter of fact. I thought it was perfect, maybe even from God. Debby woke up, came into the kitchen, poured herself a cup of coffee and sat across the table. As she took her first sip, before I said “Good morning” even, I said “I just won’t love people anymore.” And I was dead serious and stoic.

Do you know what I almost never am, never have been? Dead serious and stoic. I was twenty seven at the time and life had honestly just beaten me down. Not a little, a lot. Not over the past year, over the past twenty seven years. And not loving people anymore seemed like a wonderful remedy for all the pain I had. Not that I had worked out an elaborate plan or anything. It was just a conclusion I had come to. One that many people come to.

Debby is Debby though. Debby is the one who helped me perfect my debating skills. Boy did I get sharpened over the year or so that I stayed with them.  And she’s not even really a debater per se. She’s just always so right.  So I let her know what was going on. No more love. That’s it. I’m done. And she sat back, unflinching, crossed her arms and looked out the window, and then back at me and said “I don’t think you can do it.”

But I had studied all morning. I had read and written and thought and worked and calculated and it was the only logical conclusion I could come up with. “I’m not going to get hurt like this again. I can’t” She sipped her coffee and leaned forward, elbows on the table and steadied her gaze “There might be people who could do that; you’re not one of them. I know you.” I sat back, looked out at the enormous Bradford Pear across the fence in the neighbor’s yard, “Well then I’m just not going to love as much.” Like a ten year old, I tried to argue my way out of it. “You can’t not love big. It’s what you do. It’s who you are.” And without giving pause to the fact that I might have another argument, she got up and went to her room to get ready for her day.

And I went outside because on the other side of that window that I spent so many mornings looking out, there was fresh, cool green grass in the shade of that tree I adored. And I spent the rest of the morning, arguing with Him and railing against Him and begging Him and not speaking to Him. And then I spent the afternoon, quiet, listening to birds and breeze and airplanes and the children playing on the other side of the fence. And finally I sat with Him and I listened to Him. And I would not tell you now if I could the sweet, intimate things He spoke to my heart. And when Debby came home at the end of her day she opened the patio door and asked if I was ok. And I was- sprawled out in the grass, a little bit sunburned and totally high on Love.

I stayed that way for months it seems, like a school girl in love. I wrote poems and daydreamed and talked all high and giddy about Him. I’m guessing it was kind of sickening for everyone around me, but oh well. It was good for me. And I have at least a hundred other wonderful stories from my time with them and there were many days very similar to this one. So many times I wanted to give up or in and quit. And so many times they, my Debby and Paul wouldn’t let me.  And so many times He met me there and pursued me and loved me and showed me. And I don’t know where I’d be now if it weren’t for all of them.

So, thanks I guess is what I’m trying to say. And Love and love.

June 18, 2011

Fathers

Father’s Day falls pretty low on my favorite holiday list. And I almost didn’t write anything at all because there are so many beautiful things being written about fathers and dads and papas, and nothing in me wants to take away the joy that people feel when they think about the men who raised them.

My dad skipped out around age two and flitted in and out of my life, mostly drunk until I was seven. Big happy celebratory fireworks do not go off in my heart when this holiday rolls around.  It has been a mostly empty holiday for me most of my life, save one year when I was about ten. I bought my mom a Father’s Day card and wrote a note of appreciation for the ways she had tried to fill in the dad gap in our lives. I saved it until late in the day, almost bed time, because I knew she’d cry. And she did and I brushed off her thank you’s and hugs and went to bed.

There were men in my life while I was growing up to be certain, plenty of them. There was Papaw, he was around, steady and quiet, gardening and playing checkers. He was most certainly a Papaw though, and not a dad.  There were uncles, two of them, big and strong and funny.  Caring- yes. Fathers- no, at least not mine.  And then there were the guys, so many guys, in and out of my life, all around my mom and her friends. I still shiver at the thought; they were not good guys.

And then about ten years ago I had this baby boy. And then there was a dad to celebrate. And he was a pretty good dad. And I loved him dearly, and he loved his boy and the rest that followed as best he could. And then he dropped out for the most part. “I really like not having all that responsibility” is what he said when he’d been gone a week. And so if I am quite honest, the last couple of years I’ve filled it with bitterness.

All of this to say- as an adult there are plenty of absolutely wonderful men who have come into my life. There are outstanding fathers and amazing dads all around me. And some of them have even reached out a time or two to father me.  And when fathering is missing from your childhood it looks and feels strange and awkward and warm and fantastic.

When you are twenty-seven the first time you really feel fathered by a man, it is quite gripping, and foreign, and moving. I still remember clearly, this great man that I love more than words was protective of me, and it silenced me and brought me to tears (no small feat since I am terrible at being quiet and even worse at crying). It made me realize that my past is my past though.  I am not living in it anymore. And though there is much to grieve about my childhood, I can choose not to let it determine how I spend my present.

When you are twenty nine the first time you realize there is plenty to celebrate on Father’s Day and you are free to do with it what you will, it’s pretty sweet. I have pseudo-families galore. I am loved well by Amazing Friends. And my job, photographing life, allows so many great peeks into the beauty of fatherhood.  Also, I’ve been adopted by one Great Dad, the realest Father I know. And the sweet thing is, He allows me to choose how I spend my time. If I took the day to grieve He would love me no less. If I spent the time doing nothing at all, He would smile upon me still. I get to choose what I focus on. 

My life is full of Love and spending a day dwelling on what I don’t have or didn’t have seems like a waste of time. I have grieved those losses time and again.  An opportunity to celebrate is honestly, quite welcomed. So- Happy Father’s Day to all of the truly outstanding men that I know. To the ones who have directly impacted me with compassion and love and to the ones that I learn from as I watch them live such great lives- The world is no doubt a better place because of you.

June 13, 2011

This Amazing Girl

This girl was born a miracle, a story I wont go into today, but lets just say she was saved at birth 😉  She was deemed the princess immediately and took on the title like a pro. A quiet little daydreamer who loveloveloves attention and affection.  She is not the wordiest, that would be Gracie. Emmy dances and laughs and reads and just is.

When she was about three years old, she walked in my room while I was having quiet time, crawled up in my bed and held out her soft, dimpled three year old hand. Her hand was empty but she looked me straight in the eye and said “See my keys?” We both looked down at her hand and she smiled. “I have keys but they don’t open doors, they open eyes”.  And then she bounced off to play again, laughing at my inability to see her imaginary keys. And I sat in amazement, closed my eyes and prayed and then wrote it all down.

So she’s kind of special.

Last night she brought her Bible to church.  She got this little green, pocket KJV Bible about two years ago from I don’t know where, but she adores it. (Who has a tattered and worn, highlighted and fraying Bible at the age of six? This girl.) So last night, every time a verse was called out, she handed it over so it could be quickly found and then she read it over and over until she heard the next verse. It was kind of amazing. She stood during worship and raised her hands as high as they would go, told me her shoulders hurt between songs, and then put them right back up as soon as she heard the first riff of the next song. And it was kind of amazing.

And then at one point she asked for my journal and a pen, and she wrote this.

I love you God because you take care of us and you made us and you are the Best Father in the whole entire world because you are the King and you died for us.

And it is kind of Amazing. She is kind of amazing. One of four very amazing children I’ve been blessed with- And I am kind of amazed.

June 9, 2011

Lesson Learned

This I know- and this I am trying to teach my children: People fail. I fail. And also- I am a lot. And I am too much. For any living, breathing human.

I want my Loves to know- I am doing my best.  I am striving to be a good reflection of Him, oh but I am imperfect, and as obvious as that might seem- I was once a child, and I remember my childish tendency to see perfection, want perfection, need perfection from the adults around me. I have looked too often at my Perfect Father through the blurry lens that some well-meaning grownup made for me.

Nothing in me wants to be the specs of dirt, the warped glass that changes their view of the Greatest Love there is. And so I tell them, in case they don’t catch the hint in moments when my flaws are all too obvious- “I lovelovelove you, as best I can, most all of the time. But He is better, a thousand times. Where I fail you, He won’t, I promise.” And I hope and pray, that they will know, now and forever, my love for them, reflection though it may be, is merely a shadow of the Amazing Love He is.

This lesson was hard learned for me. If I have regret it is in this: Expecting perfection. It has ruined too many, (and only one would be too many), a friendship. My heart has been broken more than once because my hope was that a person would be my All in All. My expectation for so long, and my request, unspoken only sometimes, (oh hindsight you are so twenty-twenty), was that some flesh and bone person would take all of my wrongs and make them right, with words and hugs and kisses and tears and laughter. My hope was cast on people time and again- to redeem me.  I threw out a lifeline to wrong place and wrong arms, begging for something no human could ever give me. And I almost drowned. Almost.

But God. Oh yes. And patient friends, unwilling to be my savior, did show me the truth– If some willing soul were able to rescue me, be my savior- where would that leave me? With an unnecessary God. With an unwanted Savior. With a Jesus who died for no reason at all. With an even more confusing desire to be saved again. With a heart full of the wrong thing, fleshly desires fulfilled and a crushing yearning for an unexplainable more. With a friend weighted down with all my stuff. And heartbreak certain time and again.  Lesson learned the hard way maybe, but I am grateful to have learned it nonetheless.

This I know- He will not fail. Ever. He can’t. And I am not too much for Him. And He is all I need. And Love. And Love.

June 3, 2011

Where I’m At (Headed)

“Hmm, nobody’s beating me up. That’s weird. Guess I’ll have to do it myself.” Welcome to my brain ladies and gentlemen. I struggle with normal like nobody’s business. But also- I am getting better. And so sometimes the struggle is to let myself be where I’m at and not- A) drag myself back to where I was with “You haven’t changed a bit, you fool” or B) beat myself up with “What is wrong with you dummy, you should be better than this.”

I’m a pretty positive kid most of the time. Hopelessly optimistic some would say. A good trait maybe, but sometimes as I’m skipping along my merry path all head in the clouds and humming- issues, hard stuff, challenges, old stuff- totally blindside me.  And if I’m not careful I will tear myself apart.

If I’m not careful, normal will bore me, good will confuse me and I will abuse me.  Sound silly? It is. And the silliness of it drives me mad.  Know what else drives me mad? Getting congratulated for being normal. ‘Cause- know what I’m terrible at? Having grace for myself and getting over myself.  But! Lucky for me I have Amazing Friends who help me realize there is nothing helpful about beating myself up and not having grace for me.  They are fantastic and wise enough to both push and call me towards where I want to be, and love me where I’m at. Lucky for me they are okay with reminding me that getting over myself is a brilliant idea.

And lucky for me, they are pretty stinkin’ awesome at pointing me towards the One who holds all the Love and grace in the world.  Jesus is at work in my life, fa sheezy. Redemption has been poured on me by the bucketful. And so today and many days before it and for many to come, I am climbing out of my own head. I am refusing to beat myself up or listen to any unkind words, mine or the enemies. I am choosing to be here, listen to His voice, breathe Him in, and take one step at a time towards where I want to be. Love, love.

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