Monday, May 28, 2018

Remembering



By definition, Memorial Day is a day set aside to express thanks to those who have served and to offer condolences for those who have been lost or have died.  It is a day for remembering, celebrating, and commemorating.   Celebrating freedoms that have been won, remembering times of trouble where freedom was lost, and commemorating the people who have sacrificed so that we can have those freedoms.  As Americans, we have so many privileges and rights and pleasures that have resulted from those who have gone before us, paving the road to those very ends.  I confess that I often take for granted the comfortable American life that I live, not paying enough attention or giving enough credit to the people who have made this comfort a possibility.






 Hanging in my dining room there are 2 pictures; one is a picture of my grandpa in his army uniform, the other is  a picture of my grandpa in the same uniform accompanied by my grandma in a stylishly matching hat and jacket.  My grandpa handed down values of working hard, family loyalty, saving for the future, telling stories so the past was not forgotten.  What strikes me about the picture of my grandparents together is that my grandmother was not as praised for her contribution to "war time" because she wasn't directly signed up.  But I bet you she worked just as hard and long and well as my grandpa.  I remember her being so sweet and kind; always offering a hug and cooking something yummy to eat.  She loved to read, garden, and set up knick-knacks around her house... Wait... that sounds like me!  I love to read, I love to garden... and well... knick-knacks moset certainly do line the shelves around my house.  While my Grandpa influenced the broader scope of freedom that is in my life because of his military service, I feel like I have my Grandmother to thank for the individual influence that was handed down.  She was always one to have beauty around her.  She decorated her home with pillows on the couch and pretty dishes in the cupboard.  My grandma loved to write letters and always had a steno-pad on her desk with a letter that she was just about to start or an envelope  just sealed with a flag stamp in the right hand corner, ready to be mailed off to whomever she was corresponding with.  Grandma was soft spoken until her favorite football team was on the tv, or if you made the grave mistake of touching her propped up feet while she watched Wheel of Fortune.  I also remember how Grandma paid attention to the people that were in her house.  She would look you in the eye and just sit on the couch and enjoy sitting with you.  I never knew if my grandma had money but I remember that she made others feel rich just from being with her.  She always had perfectly folded sheets that she would get out to put on the sofa-beds when we got there; the pretty pile of linens always made me feel so at home.  Two of my favorite memories are sitting on the porch with my grandparents on a hot summer night, enjoying silly stories told by my grandpa and wanting to stay and feel the loving presence of my grandma for just 5 more minutes.   My love of an outdoor space to put up my feet  and spend time with those I love was most assuredly been handed down from my grandma.  Cute vintage outdoor chairs, Creamy Italian salad dressing, peonies, the smell of a delicious roast, and mismatched floral plates are all parts of my memory that connect me to my grandma.
 
Being like my grandma is a life-long pursuit of mine.  Her gentle nature while at home, her hospitable ways, and her peaceful presence will be what I choose to remember, celebrate and commemorate today.  While the holiday Memorial Day typically focuses on heroes of war, I will be in touch with my memorial to my grandma, one of my personal heroes,  today.   She raised a family of 4 kids plus my grandpa, she kept a tidy and beautiful home, she went to church, she made people feel loved, she took personal pride in things around her that she loved... such a beautiful life! Thank you, Grandma.  I honor and remember the life that you lived, and desire to continue your legacy as the years continue to pass.  My grandparents were my absolute favorite people on earth while they were here ( and I like to think that I was one of theirs as well!!) I miss them all the time, and if  I could have an evening sitting on the porch with them, in their gliding chairs,  it would be the most delightful thing.  Because they have passed on, I will just remember, and be thankful for all that is in me that was handed down by them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

quiet

When a writer doesn't post a blog post for 9 months, you might suspect that they have quit writing altogether. In my case, that is partially true.  I quit publishing any written material but I haven't stopped writing.  The first few months of no blog activity was purely from being too busy.  However,   about 4 months ago, a quiet covering came over me;  A stillness and a message from the Lord - "Be quiet".  I  put words back into the Lord's mouth and thought... "oh yeah... Be still and know.. yada yada yada... And then I heard Him more clearly... "Nope that's not what I meant.  I meant BE QUIET".

This is not in my nature.  I'm a talker, I'm a verbal processor.  Being quiet, keeping quiet , STAYING QUIET is not what I'm good at.  But, I really felt like for the time it was what I was supposed to do.  Thus,  I have been practicing quiet.  The truth is, as hard as it was for me, there have been times when it has been a relief not to feel like I had to offer my opinion or my judgement or my thoughts.  I've still had them and I've written them down in my journal for my own personal processing, but its been for the Lord's and my eyes only.  It's been good for me, and now I sense I'm being released to write publicly again. 

When I named my blog "The Mama's Thoughts", my plan was to pour out my thoughts about every activity and exciting thing that was going on in our home and with the kids.  Looking back, I realize that this plan was naive and slightly silly.  It was the plan of someone who's rose colored glasses hadn't been fogged up by her own tears or cracked and smudged by blows to the face.  Who cares about a fun activity when your Mama heart is breaking?  Who even wants to read or write about the trivial events, when you can't sleep, can't hope, can't breathe?

What I do know for sure about the blog is this... I want to write.  I love to write.  I need a space to jot down my thoughts about the trivial events as well as the heartbreaks.  While honoring the privacy of my kids and family, I still want to express my thoughts through words.  It is where I find clarity.  It is where I find focus.

 "The Mama's Thoughts" might change every so slightly.  Maybe it won't even be noticeable?  But hopefully my writing will reflect more of what the Lord is teaching me through both the challenging  times and the fun times. 

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

And

"I have a lot of faith and a lot of fear a lot of the time"
 - Anne Lamott









School has started back up,  and the kids' schedule is cresting the peak of the semester roller coaster.  Soon we will be careening fast and furious,  around and around, in and out, upside down and right side up.  Fortunately, what looks like mayhem is actually quite organized!  I am spoiled by carpool and bikes and little legs that carry my kids to and from school, practice, lessons.  On normal days, everyone leaves the house by 8 am freeing my own schedule up to start whatever tasks present themselves to me.  This is most often work, with a load or 2 of laundry, plus a dishwasher full of dishes.  The days come and go, hours ticking by to the metronome of the second hand. 

The summer brought activity as well, and we were thrilled to get to go camping, backpacking, fishing, and driving to some beautiful places.  The Grand Canyon greeted us with scenery so beautiful it shocked me.  The lakes that I paddle boarded on provided contentment and peace as I explored this new hobby.  From walks in our own neighborhood, to hikes up mountains far away, our family experienced a great summer of togetherness. It was a final summer having all 6 of us live at home as our oldest has now moved into the dorms at her college.  As we checked off the days of summer, we moved closer to the new changes and experiences that were ahead.   

Whenever there is "new" in the family, it seems like it brings significant change to my mama heart. It has to learn to beat a new rhythm,  feel new feelings, dance a new dance.   I'm not a super big fan of Change, yet I know that it is a part of our family,  acting as another member demanding time and attention just like everyone else.  Now I don't have a Christmas stocking for "change" or have a place at the table for "change"  - I don't even know how old he/she is... but I know that Change lives here with us.   Change affects us, and challenges us, and requires that we listen and pay attention to it.  
One morning, I sat in my favorite chair on the front porch praying. One of the kids had made some choices earlier in the summer that had me all tied up in knots.  Through tears, I told the Lord... "I cannot breathe over this." My admission came from a place of desperation because when you aren't breathing, you aren't living. And I felt dead.  Even though we were having a summer full of outdoor activities and fun family outings, I was basically walking dead all the way through them; pasting on a smile and doing my "job" as the mom, all the while holding my breath, drowning because of how my world had changed.  As I sat there crying out to Jesus, I felt Him say to my spirit "Let's start with the basics.  Inhale. Exhale".  Ironically,  I will tell the kids when they are hurt or crying that we are going to do yoga breathing... "Inhale. Exhale".  Just the basics.  I felt like God was tapping into something I already knew... that the basics was what I was being instructed to do.  Nothing fancy, just in and out.

That very day, I decided to move with the changes rather than against them, and slowly work on breathing again.  Inhale - Receive God's help.  Exhale - Believe He is with me.  Inhale trust - Nothing is too hard for my Sovereign Lord.  Exhale Fear - My God is holding my hand telling me He will help me.  Day after day, this practice became my very way to live.  I had to speak God's word over these changes that had been threaded through our summer months or else I was going to die inside. When I was speaking, I was breathing.  When I was breathing the trauma felt manageable, the fear less monstrous.  
Now, I spend moments every day with a set of note cards that have written reminders of God's love, His faithfulness and my dependence on Him.  The oxygen of my soul is the scriptures I have copied from my Bible onto the cards.  I am fearful, AND I am faithful.  I am terrified AND I am trusting.  What I have learned this summer is that the expectation isn't that I must be one or the other.  Some days, most days,  I am both.  There are minutes I feel stronger and some weaker.  But just because I have fear, doesn't mean I don't have faith.  And just because I trust in my Heavenly Father, doesn't mean that there aren't  moments where I'm terrified.  My therapist said that when a body/mind/spirit/heart/soul goes through a trauma (the changes that I went through), it's a little bit like being struck by lightning.  All circuits are shorted out, all connections need reattached, portions of whatever has been struck are broken or paralyzed. Her words identified exactly where I was at.  Paralyzed, broken, unattached.   As Catherine Wolf so eloquently taught me this year through her book "Hope Heals", there is a phenomenon called Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome.  The thought that even when you encounter suffering, or hardship in traumatic ways, there is the possibility of growing through it, rather than just stressing through it.  But growth requires breath.  Without oxygen, there is no life.   So I must continue to breathe, and choose to move with the changes that come, and relax in the rhythm  of "Inhale. Exhale" to the praise and Glory of my Emmanuel.

Quote by Ann Voskamp