Thursday, December 31, 2015

contemplative, with gratitude. the end of the year.

I have sat here for the better part of an afternoon, wanting to document the end of this year, the path we've walked, to tie it up like that is something I could do.

2015 was a contemplative year, to say the least.

We started the year with the shocking loss of my cousin. Then the loss of our livelihood, how to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. And in my heart and head I felt and wrote I was willing, ready and able to let it all go because our lives had been spared, and we still had each other.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
--Isaiah 43:19 

And time marches on. God is always good, even in the dark times, the trying times. And through His grace and His provision, we made it here, to today. I have a houseful of beautiful children, an adoring, gifted and driven husband whom I take for granted on a daily basis--of this I am certain and most guilty. And yet he still chooses me.

We walk hand in hand, side by side, and marvel and delight in this family of ours, these little people God has entrusted to us. My belly grows full of life, our new baby boy bursting forth. I find myself counting down days already, feeling stretched beyond, my joints lax and my very breath escaping me with the movement. Still, it is magical, and miraculous. A new baby--what a gift.
And these precious children?
Oh, the joy.

We had a dusting of snow--a rarity here on the west coast, and amidst much delight, amazement, squealing and that cozy feeling inside of let's sit a little closer, put our feet up, and watch in wonder--together.

And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?"
-- Mary Oliver

Christmas. New life. Peace. Faith. Contemplation. Gratitude. Tears. Unspeakable joy. Right now.

Illness overtook our house for more than 10 days--but somehow, even in the middle of the fevered hallucinations, the chests wracked with coughing, the endless couch naps and movies around the clock, little ones (and bigger ones) up sick in the night, bodies snuggled up close for comfort and blankets wrapped around and we are all quiet...

There was gratitude. Peace. Contemplation. And it was somehow all as it was supposed to be

And the day came where I could get up and make coffee again, and the gratitude was just there, overwhelming and wonderful, simple and yet so vast.

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
--Deuteronomy 28:2-6

So we reach the end of another year; humble, contemplative--with breath in my lungs, and so full of thanks--and so hopeful for the fresh new year, another clean slate, another new beginning.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come? 
 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
--Psalm 121:1-3

so this is my comment. is there anything you would like to say?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

train of thought.

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us - we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

a certain cherub-faced little boy in our house loves this song. it's what he and Daddy listen to while he is on the potty in the evenings. when it comes on the radio in the car? well...
you'd think the boy had just won the lottery.
to witness his exploding joy is to be so blessed.

I started writing this post well over a year ago, before and while so much transpired--so bear with me as I try to weave my words together in this train of thought.

for whatever reason, the proverbial plate that is my own to carry - is always full. it is really what I've known most of my life.

I don't mind, in theory. I fully get that my day, my exhaustion, my loss of self (but also daily bearing witness to that all encompassing joy of little children dancing to favorite songs) and the teenage angst and little hearts and house in chaos will not always be the way it is.

I get that balance and juggling and deep breaths and spillage are inevitable. and stretching. and most of all, it is what I know.

and so in theory, I can carry it all.

but in reality, it does get heavy--sometimes.

when I was a child, I don't remember feeling like God just gave me a bigger plate with which to carry more than anyone else--but I know that as my years stretched on and into adulthood, not too many pass by without looking back and saying whoa. we had a lot going on.

God of mercy - sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied

and through our family having a full plate, it is easy for us to learn grace, firsthand.
we have so much opportunity to practice grace and forgiveness.

at least that's my faith and hope, anyway.
unfortunately, since we are all imperfect and only human, and the plate wobbles and sometimes is heavier on one side, or can even be completely knocked out of my hand and smashed on the floor...

or each child feels their plate isn't fair, or they are envious of what's on other people's plates at other people's homes...

or we all fall victim to the evil thief of joy in comparing ourselves to our interpretation of others (an unwinnable battle).

or all of our plates just get to be too much some days...
and they really are far too full of heavy, heavy stuff and we just can't see what the next step is.

and so we flop down in a huff, defeated and overwhelmed and we cry and wail and are impatient with one another...

or we get too mad too quickly. we hurt, so we lash out. we feel raw and vulnerable and incapable, so we jockey for position. we feel broken, and so we break.

in our way of straining under the load and how some of us feel then we need to divide and conquer or handle this alone or close ourselves off from others and then the degrees of pain turn up a couple notches...and in truth, in doing so or even in judging someone else's doing so, we do not offer up the mercy and grace that has already long been extended to us all by Him.

essentially, when we are broken and forced onto our knees in prayer and submission, we are shown we are not supposed to carry that damn huge and heavy plate alone.

those days, as real and raw and painful as they are, they happen.
much like our infinite laundry piles, they are also part of our real life. 

but part of the mercy of family and love and faith and grace in our Lord Jesus is that we stoop and bow our heads and on bended knee, we clasp hands and join hearts and gently pick up the broken pieces and with tears and tenderness, we fix broken plates. together. He and us. Us and them. We.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

this month last year and again now, with the impending arrival of Christmas, I am reminded how this time of year never fails to draw my very breath closer to the weighty anticipation of the arrival of the Savior. our SAVIOR.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 
Romans 8:19 

truthfully, each step towards the celebration of that day isn't really just a day in our house--or our hearts, ever--but it is the worship of His coming, His promises fulfilled.

when voices join in chorus and hands are raised in those beautiful, familiar songs that sing of His glory, His love, His holy name--well then, the tears just flow and can you imagine how it sounds to Him?

as a parent, hearing your children just singing and praising the fact that they are yours? with arms outstretched and voices aloud and hearts lit ablaze with joy for simply being yours?

even when we don't necessarily know what to sing or what to say or what to pray for or who is right...

For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 
Romans 8:26

and the thought of those groanings too deep for words brings the tears again, and the thought of that precious babe, fresh and wet and wrapped in swaddling clothes, come here to save us...

we worship. we give thanks. and we are so crushingly thankful.

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

we find ourselves here now, in our little home in the country, a fresh new baby boy growing in my belly, and while I have to heave hard to lift our heavy toddler whose heart is so big and his joy overflows - but his stubborn streak is often bigger - and the reality of learning how to continue to nurture him well or to remain patient when his behaviors are...just what they are. he is nonverbal and the heft of the dual diagnosis and all that the broad spectrum of in and out of neurotypicals or not entails for this family in this lifetime...

my mind drifts to while this is my every day right now -- this will not always be.

-- and what's happening today will not be something that happens every day, foreverandeveramen.

it feels like not many days ago, but it was nearly an entire year (gosh, how can that be?) that our family changed.

my cousin Scott. a son and a brother, a father and a husband, an uncle and a cousin and a friend to us all--and his pain was so great and his mind was a plate far too heavy to bear, and his healing was not to take place this side of glory--
his life ended suddenly on the last day of 2014.

the tears burned hot as we gathered with our brood and the encircling of the arms of our sweet friends here and we watched the fireworks explode outside our driveway at just past midnight. my heart was exploding in time with their lights as the tears poured down my cheeks and the pain burned hot and seared in my memory.

his children. his wife. his mama and siblings and the whole lot of us. aching.
fireworks the night he died. oh God, the weight of it all.

I pray the fireworks will signal something more beautiful over his children's lifetimes--like Jesus welcoming him home, rather than act as reminders of the pain of his sudden and tragic departure from this life.

two of my precious littles and I plunged into a journey across a thousand kilometers, through mountain passes and icy winds and snow blocking our vision because one of our own was gone.

his mama, my dear aunt told me the wails that rose up out of her guts were like an animal call like no pain she's ever known. oh, dear ones. the pain is still so heavy. even going on 11 months later, the tears still come.

and as my girl and my littlest traveled mile upon mile the first day of this year to be with family and weep together and wrap arms around one another, those knotty pine trees precariously rooted up at the peaks of mountains where nothing else grows grabbed my attention.

they survive where nothing else does.

tears at the pain of the loss of one of our own, his curly eyelashes and the way his eyes curve with his deep and full laughter, his love for his wife, his nerdiness with his incredible son, his tenderness with his beautiful daughter. his abundant joy in his children, his family. so loved and yet not surviving this life for as long as we wanted--there is all of that pain there.

but there are also tears of joy that the torment he was experiencing on this earth is over. that his own anguish over the voices in his head has ceased.

and as I drove, I found myself gasping out loud over the realization of the simple symbolism of a tree, rising up out of the rock,


a piece of God's creation representing His son on earth who survives where nothing else does -

this is not our home.

we don't survive here--we are not meant to survive here--because this is not our home. 

and then the trauma we trudged through when we were all back in our island home, knocked onto our knees with a falling out of livelihood and suddenly finding ourselves having to rely solely on the Lord's provision--
and for us as believers, somehow when I am knocked on my back, and forced closer to the ground--when it was not my choice, was outside of our control, was not right, was so many bad and heavy things...but down there on the ground, on our knees
this is where I can best see His face.
...perhaps because the only way to look is up. 
and He is there. hallelujah, He is there. 
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

when we didn't know how we could put food on the table or keep a roof over our children's heads, we had no choice to but cry out for help.

and when we had no way to provide, there He was. in the form of friends, strangers, the body of Christ tucking notes and meals and provision into our hands, saying

"this is your Father God, taking care of you".

we were fed. we were housed.

and I knew that if it came down to it, we would willingly trade every single last bit of our stuff and our home and all that we own if it could spare a life, if it could help us simply have one another; wishing somehow there were some way I could trade or barter to pray my cousin's soul back into his body, to give him back to his children, his family.

it certainly gave me perspective. this. is. not. our. home.

and all we have is His.

I can only begin to speak about the events currently unfolding in our world as I type--bombings and killings and scads of people, refugees seeking refuge, and our country FINALLY opening its doors to a few in need-our hearts breaking at the atrocities being committed against people, just like you or me, mamas and daddies and children and all--and the fear spewing forth in an fumbled and blinded attempt to protect our own. but my heart also knows how we as a nation and as a world turned a blind eye to familiar atrocities in the past. genocides and so many people so cruelly and viciously wiped out as 'we' huddled down and stayed safe and decades later asked "why didn't someone do something?"

so I pray. I am thankful for safety--but I also recognize that we are not called to be safe.
and we are not called to stay here forever.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 
- matthew 25:34-40

I refuse to stand by huddled and safe, thinking of my children's children looking back and asking "why didn't someone do something?"

I don't know God's plan for our lives, and I don't know God's plan for yours. I didn't know God's plan for Scott's life, but I know that I trust. and that we can do what we can do, through Him who gives us strength.

and the flux continues. it is a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment insistence for me to let go of control, to relinquish the grip I wish to keep so firmly on MYself and the way I want things to be...

and so God, in His infinite wisdom that surpasses my understanding, urges me to not carry it all myself, and reminds me that it was He who carried us all this way.

now we prepare our minds and hearts for another season of remembering His son coming to earth as a precious, wee babe--and a wee babe kicks in my belly, again, and it's time for me to go snuggle a gaggle of little boys to bed now, and pray for those who continuing to seek refuge, and those fearful and hateful of them, and all and their children who don't have so safe a bed to rest in.

He reminds me while my plate is full to tipping, I am not walking down a cold road or clambering into a rickety boat to escape the evil behind me with all of my brood around my feet, searching simply for safety and survival--and if He is watching over the tree, alone in the rock, whispering "grow, grow"...

and the tree still grows tall, pointing to Him...

so too can I see this as His sweet reprieve and whispers for me, every day and every night.

"grow... grow."

 photo found in the depths of facebook. not sure who originally posted it, 
but what a wonderful thought, indeed.

God of mercy - sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied

and if not?
He is still good.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

a constant state of flux.

         an entire year of changes, of flowing, of instability and rise and fall.
                                              this is me. this is us. and we are in a constant state of flux.
more coming soon, with a few changes. (and today is my birthday - the big four-oh.) 
dare I say it's good to be back?
it's good.
noun: flux; plural noun: fluxes
  1. the action or process of flowing or flowing out.
    "the flux of men and women moving back and forth"
  2. continuous change.
    "the whole political system is in a state of flux"

    continuous change, changeability, variability, inconstancy, fluidity, instability, unsteadiness, fluctuation, variation, shift, movement, oscillation, alternation, rise and fall, seesawing, yo-yoing. 
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