Wild Weather and whiney dogs

As the trees bent nearly to the ground last night, with the wind whipping and the skies threatening,  I was one with the sofa, my pillow and an especially cozy comforter.

One would think that one’s lap dogs would climb up and want to be cozy as well.  Not at my house.

“Doggy Do” and “Doggy Don’t” made their feelings known instead by racing in circles on the main floor of my house, chasing after each other for what seemed like forever. I thought that was the end of it, but no…then they howled.  At the wind.  At the lights flashing.  At the constant alerts on the television.  In harmony with the sirens.  They are such good singers :-)  Not.

When I saw the devastation from tornadoes all around us this morning on the news, I realized  how fortunate I was and my heart aches for those who are suffering. Precious lives were lost, families torn apart, businesses destroyed, communities gone.  I am sure that somewhere out there, little pets were lost, too.

I looked at the two I have as I left for work, patted their little heads, and was grateful.  Grateful for their little wagging tails, so reliable, whether I’ve been gone a week, or have just returned from the mailbox.  Grateful for doggy “kisses” that remind me that these little lives depend on me.  Grateful that most of the time, their presence in my life makes me laugh.  Grateful that today I am not out looking for them through tornado-created rubble, and reminded to pray for those who are doing just that.

I might need B12

My mood has been mirroring the weather the last few days.  Cloudy, grey, and yes, even slightly thunderstormy.  I burned my ear this morning with the curling iron and we are out of  orange juice.  Gloomy, drab, and not very perky.

Two things go hand in hand, or hand in glove, or hand in pocket.  These two things are:  being 51 and not sleeping.  Being 51 is a sure thing.  Sleeping is a variable.  Sometimes I sleep.  sometimes I don’t.

May I just say that I love my bed.  The bed is NOT to blame, nor are my lovely sheets nor really wonderful comforters.

I have researched how much light is too much light for optimal sleeping, and have adjusted accordingly.  I no longer engage in brain-stimulating activities before sleep.  The room is cool. I have de-stressed. I follow the rules.  And yet, sleep hides from me.

I’m not a getter-upper in the middle of the night.  I’m a lay-there frustrateder. There is a point where you feel like you just might scream.  Seriously.  Or…call all your girlfriends.  Who are probably awake.

My mom says, comfortingly, in a really soothing voice, that this will pass.  I believe her, because desperate women believe mothers who speak soothingly.  She’s a really smart woman, and I think she knows about this stuff.

I think my mom should talk with my girlfriends.

Unsolicited Zodiac advice

Someone told me last week that the reason something that had gone awry at work had gone awry was directly related to Mercury being pre-eminent.  I think.  Well, I’m pretty sure.

I think that the reason that the “something” had gone badly is because the someone (me) hadn’t done my best that day.  I’m going to fall on my sword and take responsibility.  Not going to blame Mercury.

Re-learning is hard at mid-life.  It’s hard because my ways are so established.  My responses are instinctual, my habits are ingrained, my beliefs established and validated by my life experiences. In order to do something, anything differently, it takes intention.  An intentional act of my will and behavior.

Take giving advice, for example.  It’s one of my greatest skill sets, frankly. I lived for a very long time, believing that I had great wisdom to share with you.  “Want some?  Don’t want any?  Well, I’m going to give you some anyway.  What you want doesn’t matter.”

I’m now trying the road less traveled. It’s not as familiar, but I’m getting used to it.  I respect this way of living, and I’m learning how to focus on managing  my own life, and letting you manage yours.

NOT giving advice, unless asked for, is at first a lip-biting, jaw-clamping experience. NOT telling someone that if they do such and such, they’ll drive off that cliff, and then they do, seems like intentionally pushing them off.  Somehow, then, it’s all my fault and my responsibility how they live.   Not going to do that anymore.  And that’s the point exactly.

I’ve come to believe in the integrity of adults taking responsibility for themselves…the good and the bad, including the consequences of choices made.  This isn’t easy, because it’s counter-intuitive to our natural inclinations.  We are inclined to think best, know more, and take personal responsibility for others.  Yet lovingly holding my tongue when someone is capable of deciding for themselves, even and especially if the consequences may be painful, seems like wisdom indeed.

You

You Alone Are God and I surrender to Your ways.

For no one else in history is like You.

For history itself belongs to You.

It’s all about You,  Jesus. It’s not about me, as if You should do things my way.

So what has blogging through the ABCs done for me?  That’s a very good question…one that I didn’t know the answer to as I began.  But here I am, and tomorrow is Z.

After a bit of blogging, one begins to worry less, and say more.  I’ve noticed that I’m more willing to “surrender to God’s ways”.  They definitely don’t feel like my ways.  That’s because my ways AREN’T His ways.  God’s position?  Taken.

I’ve also become aware of the blogging community – vast, insightful, challenging, varied.  Really cool people with lots of thoughts floating around:-)  Love that.

My love of writing has been increasingly solidified.  I really do love it.  Thought I did, and I do!  How can just one  woman in Georgia have so much to say?  Really.  That amuses me.

Blogging, and writing, is a discipline.  Even just writing one little ditty at a time requires commitment. I wanted to do this for a really long time.  And here we are.

Lastly, at least to post here, this has been about diving off a cliff, at least a little.  No one crashed, no one died, but still…pretty threatening.  Like being a turtle on your back. At the very least, uncomfortable.

Getting used to You getting me in places where I’m not comfortable.

So THAT was it!!!

An eXercise in seeing myself clearly

I am increasingly aware of my place in the universe.

My whole life, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been accumulating experiences  that have made me feel tiny.  If you hang on here, I’ll explain.  It’s a good thing.

It’s that feeling of walking in the woods in the Colorado mountains, hearing the breeze make it’s way through the silvery treetops, and you realize that it’s just you experiencing the moment, the cool on your face, the crunch beneath your feet, and your breath just catches in your throat.

The absolute second after my son was born, as I watched him breathe,and tried to breathe myself,  I had this feeling of oneness with mothers through the centuries.  A sense of understanding.  We all had done this amazing thing…so unique, yet so shared.

The edge where the sand meets the ocean? There, too.  Especially there. Especially when the day is done or new, and the moment is quiet. Nowhere else do I feel it more. My heart has actually welled up and overwhelmed me at this edge, like I can’t possibly contain what I feel.  It’s so big.

I am small. God is vast.

“Who am I that Thou art mindful of me?”

You bend low.  You give.  I take. I worship.

That Whisper

I think that deception is more than just outright, deliberate lying. It can be omitting the entire truth, and it can be intentionally or unintentionally  misleading someone.

There is a familiar Whisper that I know quite well.  It’s a gut thing, a heart thing, an inner thing that serves me well if I listen.  After years of living life as an adult woman, you would think I would have learned to always listen.

The thing is, when we want things the way we want them,  we sometimes just aren’t willing to see what’s right in front of us. I guess it’s still possible for me to be duped, and because I hate that so much, I am slow to see deception.

Is it a character weakness or a strength to generally believe the best in people? But that’s not the real question.  I can believe the best in people, and still have  my instincts tell me that something isn’t right.  The real question is whether I’ll listen when that happens.

The good news is that I’ve made real progress here.  Even if I’m not as quick to listen as I want to be, I’m faster than I was, and less likely to stick with a situation where deception has free reign.

That Whisper?  Learning, little by little by little, to listen.

Voices

Are there voices when you hear them that just soothe you?  Get on your last nerve? Motivate you?  Inspire you?

For me, it’s all of the above.

In the Soothe Me category….my sisters, always (but they fall into the other categories, too :-)). My dad’s voice has a quality that is tender, and predictable somehow.  I have always liked the way he says my name. And I have a friend from home, whose son and my son are nearly exactly the same age.  We have experienced nearly an identical life experience.  When I hear her voice, something in me just calms down.

Motivating voices?  Colleagues that I admire, who are also the dearest of friends. My pastor at church, whom I depend on for wisdom and leadership.  He motivates me to live deeply and free.  My mom, whose devotion to her family is fierce and loving, and who has always been a friend on this road of mothering.

Inspirational voices I hear in people I know and in people I’ve never met.  Authors I love, who spur my heart on to greater still.   Ann Voskamp, Max Lucado, Charles Spurgeon, CS Lewis. John Piper, my pastor from home, whose voice I hear on a CD or over the internet, and I am profoundly stirred.  Voices in song, who inspire me to sing.

Get on my Last Nerve voices are probably best left to myself, although I will say dogs barking at a thunderstorm at 3AM qualifies.  Love those babies.  The angry middle of the night barking?  Not so much.

I wonder what my voice sounds like to those I love. I wonder about which categories my voice falls in.

Gritty

Do you think it’s possible to be grateful for things that don’t seem very pleasant, or at ALL pleasant, at the time you are experiencing them?  Maybe possible, but not very probable?

Do you think God is honored by our lips uttering Thank You, when are hearts are heavy and broken with the pain of sadness or loss?

Is there any personal gain in a posture of thankfulness, no matter the circumstance?

This is where I can’t answer for anyone but myself, and have nothing but my own experience to draw from.  My losses have been big.  Relationship and  Health, to name two big categories. There are others that best go unnamed…we all have those.

What you may or may not know about me is that I am FAR from perfect.  Really, really, really in process, people. I’ll list a few of my in-process character flaws for you here:  impatient, insistent, know-it-all, impulsive, and incredibly disorganized. I can  look good, but I’m really just as broken as you are.  This admission is critical lest you mistakenly think I’m somehow not as…flawed as the rest of us are.  I promise you, I am.

The realization of my state of brokenness put me in a position of thankfulness, by the way.  That was the starting line for me.

I also had a theology that included the expectation that life here includes some measure of sadness and sorrow.  That there is value to be had in suffering, if you will.  I realize that this is unpopular, but that life view helped me when I came face to face with loss.  I don’t recall a crisis of faith.  I didn’t question the ultimate  goodness of my God, and I do know that I have been able to keep going, despite real and deep hurt.

You can’t, wait…I couldn’t… see clearly when I was in the middle of a mess. But I knew deep down that if I kept walking, at some point those clouds would break, and my thankfulness uttered in confusion would give way to gratefulness for what pain yields.

Thankfulness cried out in hurt is a gritty gratefulness, a heart determined to cling to what you know to be true. God is good, no matter how dark the day. God is for my good, no matter how deep the pain. And I want my life to bring God glory.  Gratefulness is but a road.

Trusting

This is the post that I am not looking forward to.  But…I am going to write it. This is but one example of living fearlessly.  Blogging is a daily exercise in making yourself vulnerable.

Whenever I think that it is so hard to trust, I sometimes think I am the only one who feels that way. In reality, we all share that reluctance to be vulnerable to others…to let others in…to really share who we are and let the chips fall.

I lived most of my life believing that self-protection was the better way. If I could carefully reveal only the winsome, lovely things about me, then you would like me, and all would be well.  Unfortunately, I am not made up of only winsome, lovely things. Darn. I have failure, disappointment, and intentional mean-spiritedness as part of my resume, too, so to really know me, heart and soul, you will have to be familiar with those things as well.  I am complicated, a grand batter of wild and weird ingredients.  We all are.

Getting to know myself was step 1.  Maybe all of life is really a 12-step program :-)  Trusting God to make me new?  Huge, Huge, Huge Step 2 (Think Easter.)

Living in acceptance of myself in process is the challenge, right?  Because that’s where I decide whether I will honestly reveal myself to the yous in the world. Will I take the risk that you won’t like me?  Will I model self-revelation and accept the you in process?

Sometimes I have taken that risk and it has turned out in disappointment, not gonna lie. But far more often, and therefore worth changing my life for, has been the decision to just be completely forthright about who I truly am, icky and beautiful, and relationships are the better for that decision. God is in the revealing, in the changes, and in the acceptance, and I am living proof of His grace in my life.  He accepts me, but I’m in a knot about your opinion?  I don’t think so.

Let’s agree not to pretend with each other.

S

Struggling with S, maybe because it’s Easter week, and there is so much to think about.  So many S’s apply to Easter.

And all of Easter applies…I wish you great joy.  I wish me great joy. God is so amazing.

Soul

Sin

Sacrifice

Savior

Sufficient