October 2011


Breath by breath. Mixed with the very air that gives me life. Grace.

It is the understanding smile when I am late. It is the concern of a friend when I am absent. It is the offering of a song by a heart-friend who understands. It is the I’m praying for you, and the encouraging facebook message, and the comments left by beautiful souls who here read these words. It is the text message, and the blogger with whom I can relate, and the words of the book that resonate deep in my spirit.

I breathe it in. Life-giving grace.

And I breathe it out. Offering …

a smile to the frustrated mother in the store

a thank-you for a service offered

a continue please nod to the boy explaining endlessly his point of view on the subject of marvel comic superheroes

an accepting spirit in the waiting for an oil change

a curbing of the shushing in the boy-noisy vehicle

and thankfulness for all of the above and for the one whose name is Grace, for it is only in Him that I can live. His grace is enough.

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. 

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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I’ve never understood the expression “running with the bulls”. I mean, when I see this event depicted in a movie, it looks to me like they are running away from the bulls. Like, running for their lives!

Today I am running. I am packing up my boys and heading to Regina, to see the Titanic exhibit at the Science Centre. We’ll do a few other things there, and then travel to Moose Jaw where we will meet up with Lyndon for the night. I love when it works out that we are in the same city as him during the week and can spend a night at one of the many hotels that have become second homes to us.

So … spend the night in Moose Jaw and then, tomorrow morning, get the oil changed at the Honda dealership there. (Have I said lately how much I love my Pilot? I do. It is the hands down best vehicle I’ve ever owned. Love, love, love it!)

We’ll make our way home, then, so that the kids can go to youth group tomorrow night, and I can babysit for the youth group leader. And Lyndon will be home sometime tomorrow night, and then into the weekend we go, ready or not. More not, I’m afraid.

Yes, I feel lately, in my overwhelmedness, like I am running like mad in order to keep from being trampled. I don’t always feel like this, and I definitely don’t want this to be my normal state. I don’t want to race through my life, only one step ahead of the bulls nipping at my heels. I don’t want to always feel the hot breath of urgency on my back as I strain to outrun the challenges of my life, fearful always of the prick of angry horns.

And the crazy thing is, most of those bulls at my back were hand-picked by me. Chosen, either deliberately or through neglect of some sort. I invented them, and now I am running from them!

This morning, instead, I’m calling a halt. I’m sitting those bulls down and we are having a little talk.

Bulls, you have to work with me instead of against me. We don’t have to be enemies. Together we can get this thing done. Bulls, can you smell the roses with my boys and me for the next couple of days? We don’t want to miss out on these experiences that are coming up. We don’t want them spoiled by urgency. So, sweet bulls, if you can just give me a break, I promise to spend some quality time with each of you over the next little while.

I don’t know. Do you  think it will work?

If you are running from the bulls today, know that I am right there with you in prayer and understanding!

I have a noisy life. As I peck away at this post, one child is listening to a Narnia story on cd, one is practicing drumming, and one is playing guitar. And in five minutes, new and different sounds will join in. The dishwasher, the wind at the window, the children’s steps on the stairs. Noise is ever-present in my home, it seems. Chatter is the background music I listen to most of the day. I’ve learned to live with it, for it is the music of our family’s life. And when I venture out, there are more sounds: people and busyness and traffic and distraction and insecurity …

I find myself, often, tuning it out. Or trying to. I a quiet-ish person, and I can easily feel overwhelmed by the noise in my life.

The other day, my middle son and I went out for lunch. We went to the local cafe and I let him order whatever he wanted (a clubhouse sandwich, no tomatoes, and a caramel milkshake). We went a little late in order to miss the lunch crowd, and we had the place almost to ourselves. We sat at a small table and nibbled and sipped. And talked. Actually, he talked and I listened.

If you ask a fourteen-year-old boy out for lunch and he says sure, well, that is a blessing in and of itself. But when he also wants to talk to his mother, well, that is a treasure. He has always been an easy conversationalist, but I had found myself feeling a little lost with him of late. Teenage boy and all that. I was so thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with him. To listen.

I’m thinking Kenya and Japan are places I’d like to see, he said. I find the Japanese culture so interesting. I’m really interested these days in different cultures. 

I’d really like to get a drum set. I like all the different kinds of drums (and then he went on to talk about traditional drums from various countries), but I think I’d like a basic acoustic drum set for practice. But I don’t care about pop culture stuff, like the music today. I prefer the older, tried and true stuff. Like Styx. And even some stuff like jazz and reggae. Some of that stuff is really cool. And traditional african music. I love that.

Mom, did you notice I’ve been trying harder to get along with Carter better. It’s not easy, but I am trying.

Mom, you know how kids are usually so unhappy with themselves. They want to look different or be different in some way. Well, I don’t feel that way at all. I’m totally happy with myself. I’m glad I have all these different things I’m interested in and I wouldn’t want to look or be any different from who I am. I think I’m awesome, in fact.

Oh how my children teach me. Over and over I am humbled by their growing wisdom and maturity. And I am in love with the funny, unique, interesting people that they are.

My conversation with Colton encouraged me to listen more carefully than I sometimes do. To hear the heart behind the words. To listen with my heart, wholly, to what is being said to me. To hear the words I read on the page.

Listening, really, is about the letting in. It is the opportunity to let something touch me, deeply, where my heart can hear it.

It is hearing, Mom, the power went out, at 4:00 in the morning and understanding, Mom, I’m scared of the dark.

It is hearing, What do you have planned this week?, and understanding, I’d really like to talk to you if you have the time.

It is hearing, I know you’re busy, and understanding, I need you.

It is hearing the inner voice saying, You are not enough, and listening instead to Him say, You are precious, just you.

It is hearing Him.

Today I’m listening.

Life has been a little overwhelming lately. Yesterday, I wrote about paying down my procrastination debt. Still working on that. But today, while continuing to check things off that To Do list, I am considering sisterhood. Sometimes, to be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed by them. The sisterhood, I mean.

What do I mean?

What is sisterhood? And is it something to strive for or not?

Sisterhood, I think, is that magical community that forms when women share their lives with each other. Really share their lives, I mean. When, in a graceful atmosphere of love and caring, women step out from behind the walls and allow themselves to be vulnerable.

You know the walls I mean. I started building mine a long time ago, back when I realized that friends sometimes talked about me behind my back. Back when I discovered that I was often judged based on how I looked, or what I wore, or where I lived. Back when my heart was broken, not by a man but a woman – a friend who betrayed the friendship. Hurt piled on hurt until I had a lovely wall to hide myself behind. And I painted it with humour and education and lots of trying hard.

Jesus, though, knew better. And he brought sisters into my life to help me redecorate. So now I hope to own and wear the things that I used to hide behind. These things that I used to hold out as a shield to protect me from the scary closeness of true friendship are becoming the things that draw me into relationships. He loves to do that. To use what was weakness for his glory!

I am blessed beyond words to be part of a wee ministry called Washed in the Word. Last night, my WW friends and I spent a few hours with a wonderful group of women in a neighbouring town. They were strangers to me when we began the evening, but as we talked and shared, a wonderful thing happened.

That magical, unexplainable thing called sisterhood happened. And some walls came down. And some redecorating was begun.

Joy!

Sometimes I get overwhelmed. Lately, it seems, overwhelmed is my natural state. I have been behind for so long it feels normal. Almost. Well, no it doesn’t. It feels … behind.

This is the week of addressing my overwhelmedness. (My spell check tagged overwhelmedness, but I think it’s a good word, so I’m ignoring the red squiggly line.)

Today, specifically, I’m overwhelmed by Monday. The day after the weekend. I’m usually a Monday kind of girl. I like the new beginning, the fresh start. But, when the weekend has been busy, and the week before the weekend was busy, and the weekend before the week before the weekend that was busy was also busy, well, you get the picture.

But if I’m completely honest here, which I try to be, the real problem is that I know there was also a lot of wasted time in there. I had things I could have done that I just didn’t want to do. So I didn’t. I procrastinated, and delayed, and ignored … until I reached this morning. This Monday morning arrived, not fresh and new but with all these things staring me in the face saying, why didn’t you do me earlier when you had the time? Silly girl, if you’d only taken a few minutes here and there, you wouldn’t be facing this new week with all of these leftover things to finish!

Procrastination, I’ve decided, is like accumulating debt. And having to finally finish the things that were left undone is like paying off that debt. Stealing from the present to pay for the past. It’s not fun whether the debt is credit card debt or time debt.

So today is officially declared Dealing With Procrastination Debt Day. The list is made, beginning with The Laundry and progressing through the many other chores that have been begging me for my time and my attention.

Actually, I think I’ll add to the top of my list a few minutes in the Word, a little prayer, and some self forgiveness.

Then, I’ll do the laundry.

A lovely walk this morning with my husband and some friends …

 

It was a gentle rain, like tears, that fell most of the day yesterday. Funeral weather. And I thrilled to the memories shared of this wonderful woman, not yet sixty, not yet a grandmother. Tributes from friends, from her church, from her boys. Oh my, from her boys.

She was, above all, mom to six young men. Her men. All wanted, all treasured, all special. Twice as many as mine, but how I can relate to this mom of men. She collected boys, said one of them. She loved me, I always knew that, said another. I know I was lucky to have her for a mother.

It was not a punishing rain, but a sweet, cleansing rain that fell yesterday. Grace weather. And as I drove home, I watched the clouds clear and sharpen as the sunset  outlined them orange and red and pink. And under the darkening, clearing, cleansed sky I drove into my yard, and walked into my home, and into the arms of my men.

And in this morning, with sweet Vicki in my heart, I live grace.

 

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