Tag Archives: Parenting

A Pastor’s Wife’s Response to Loss

Let me invite you into a discussions my husband and I have had over the years in response to the loss of our baby boy. First I encourage you to read the post he made on his blog http://looktothenorth.wordpress.com/ about Emotion Focused Therapy here and then you can see the response I added to his comments, or return here as it follows. It is a little glimpse into how we can see things a bit differently and still have a solid relationship, solid faith, and ultimately survive such a horrible loss.

My response:

As said marriage and family therapist wife, I must say that I love this piece! I love that my pastor husband would attend this Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) conference with me – something he’s been hearing me preach about for over a decade since I was first exposed to the theory at Fuller Theological Seminary. That made me feel loved!

One thing I see a bit differently though, the part that says “… that gave us the courage and strength to not have to question God either.” We’d both say our faith was strengthened in that time in different ways. He because he didn’t need to question, me because I had to.

I was in a bible study in the year that followed our loss where the question was asked “Do you think you have grown in your faith and understanding of God over time?” My answer was yes and no. After facing significant loss, my faith in God was more solid than ever. He cared for us in minute and miraculous ways that could never have been humanly construed. Jesus was more real to me than ever. At the same time, I felt I understood Him much less. With most of an M.Div degree earned, I had spent a majority of my adult years in ministry as Young Life staff person and Chaplain at Fuller and SPU and thought I had a lot of pretty solid answers. I suddenly felt like I had no answers. The nuances of my belief system were turned upside down in that time, though my faith was solidified beyond measure.

I did, and still do question God. I feel safe bringing those questions to Him and even disagreeing with my understanding of Him at times, knowing our love is secure. Just as in a solid attachment relationship, as EFT supports and prescribes, I have so much faith in my relationship with God and His love for me, that I know He can “see” and “know” all of me and still call me his beloved. One things that stood out clearly was that I did not have to “be” anything in particular for God when I had nothing to give, or “do” anything to earn His love when it was all I could to to wake up and breath each day. I could be an imperfect shattered human being of infinite worth. That was the most profound lesson of loss that came for me. I was left with so many more questions, but far more faith.

I am thankful God allowed Emotion Focused Therapy to light up my heart to help others years ago, knowing I would need it so clearly in my own marriage. Thanks be to God.


These Days

Fall fell upon us
The bigs are back in school
You and me
have big things to do
in our pj’s and disheveled hair
pull things out of drawers
off shelves
test the theory of gravity
over and over again
with big grins and thrills of delight
over sound and unexpected consequence
big things
like climb all those stairs
and come back down
five pudgy fingers
clasped tight around one
dance to lullabies
and mama’s favorite rock tunes
cry with you in my arms
as we spin around the room
to love songs
written just for you and me
I get to look into your eyes more
these days
with just us two
see you think
nuances of emotions
wonderment and frustration abound
I get to see you, know you, calm you, help you,
love you
(what a gift
how do I deserve this?)
words forming
in emphatic syllables of garbled sound
increasing in decibels with big body gestures
as I guess
ball? bear? hair? there?
we are figuring out our language
you and me
dancing to rhythms
of this precious life
thankful beyond measure
for the everyday normal
of nothing too special
that exceeds anything
special,
so special.
The world, my God,
is here now.


Streams of Sunlight

The rains did come. I woke in the middle of the night with the most horrible migraine and needed to take the medication that I hate to have to take if I had any hope of caring for my children the next day. (sidenote: I don’t like to take medication, I’d rather remedy the source. I could give you the laundry list of natural and western medicine assessments and remedies I have pursued over the last 15 years, but why bore you? They go 3 generations back and magically go away with menopause, something to look forward to I guess)

So it was a slow morning while I waited for my pain to dissipate. But we played inside and had a special guest to tea until us Seatteites couldn’t stand it any longer and headed outside to play in the drizzle. We played my 5 year old son’s favorite games, which is anything with a ball or a frisbee, but a round of baseball and soccer kept us smiling until the drizzle turned downpour. We were so soaked and cold that a warm bath and cozy nap fixed us up well. By afternoon the clouds were clearing and the sun was making it’s way out. I ended the day talking and laughing, and reading Anne of Green Gables with my 7 year old daughter until way past her bedtime.

By morning the brightness and warmth had returned. I smiled at seeing my daughter cozied up in the windowseat reading Pippi Longstocking for most of the morning.
I laughed as I patiently taught my determined 20 month old to blow her own bubbles until she no longer put the wand to her lips to eat soap. I reveled in childhood wonder as my son caught small eels and crabs on the beach in his ocean water filled bucket just as I had done with little frogs at my childhood lake cabin.

By midday we said goodbye to the last of our summertime guests at our Salmon Fishing Lodge and the work of ending began. At dinner we talked about our favorite memories from the summer. I cut potatoes and one slice looked like a heart. It resembled the luck I feel when I find a rare heart-shaped rock on the beach for my kitchen window collection. Through small everyday moments of life, the problems and frustrations that were clouding me faded. They are not gone, and at the risk of appearing fickle as the weather, I must admit that the sun shone brighter than the issues of the day. I’d say they were “God-sightings” if I were encouraging my children to see blessings in their day. But I believe God can be seen and is in all things, even in our trials. It is I that rise and fall with the tides of circumstance, much as I seek to be steadfast and strong for Him. The real strength is always in Him. But I do appreciate the sun, the light moments in life, and I will soak it in and say “thanks be to God” for each bit of it.


Keeping Vigil

I am awake much too late, and not haphazardly. After a long weekend of late night wedding celebrations and a long play-filled visit with dear friends from childhood, I was more than ready for an early night’s rest. But alas, my husband is on a journey north, a long journey, after a long weekend for him too, and I am prone to keep vigil until he arrives safely at his destination. I will not sleep soundly until he does. God bless me when I have teenagers!

My husband Scott gave an inspiring homily at the wedding of JIm and Mary Anne Frank about the work of a relationship. Citing wisdom from the New Testament and referencing the tides he bases life around when fishing, he gave a charge to all in relationships to serve one another wholeheartedly and be ready for the changes, and there will be goodness. He danced into the night with a grateful wife and 3 giddy children. It is a rare treat to get to be at a wedding together as the salmon season in Canada usually takes precedence to everything summer. But now he is a pastor, and his work divides his time, forcing a bit of normal summer life upon him when he is home overseeing ministry rather than the 18 hour days a seasonal resort requires of him. But, he must to return north.

His long journey began at 4:00 a.m this morning in Spokane so that he would be able to take guests fishing at 4:00 a.m. the following morning in northern British Columbia. He caught a flight to Seattle in time to pastor and preach at our satellite campus church, Bethany North. After the final chair had been stacked and the last storage trailer had been parked, he headed north toward the Canadian border for the beginning of a 10 hour trip. Meeting an overbooked ferry early in the day added a 2 1/2 hour wait to his journey and negated his chances of catching the last possible ferry to Malcolm Island, his final destination. McGyver-style, he figured it all out and had a boat delivered to the main Island, so he could arrive at his final destination in time.

As I nestle my children to bed, gather up my own good book to read and snuggle myself in at a very reasonable hour, I find I am wide awake waiting and can’t focus on my reading. His cell phone coverage is spotty in the more desolate parts as he drives the length of Vancouver Island so when he last could call I asked him to text when he arrived at the boat and then again when he had made it across. I have seen what can be in the water during the day. I know every last person at his destination will be sound asleep. The night crossing has me anxious, as does his late night drive after long full, albeit fun, days. I will keep vigil for him.

11:26 p.m. the first text comes in: “Port McNeill. Beautiful night for a boat ride”

I have been waiting and praying, for his safe arrival. He must be exhausted. I wish I could give him the gift of sleep he so often offers me when he’s up at fisherman’s hours in the off-season months to care for our early risers. I would drive the car or the boat late into the night while he slept, if only I could be journeying with him. But I am now hundreds of miles away and my only point of common reference is the dark starry sky out my window. I pray it will be bright for him.

My favorite lullaby to my children is my favorite for the words,

“Sleep my child
and peace attend thee,
all through the night.
Guardian angels God will send thee
all through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber steeping,
I my loving vigil keeping,
all through the night.”

That is what I do, keep vigil at night. I hear every sound, every cry, every pitter pat of tiny feet, every questionable bump in the night inside or outside. I am alert, even when I am sound asleep, I will awake and take on the night. I will do everything I can to nurture and protect my family, every hour of the day. I would have done well as a Shepherd and honored to be in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But the reality, is I can only do so much. Really, I can’t do much at all when I consider what truly might take my child’s breath or put us in danger. The real comfort of this lullaby comes not in resonating with my loving vigil, but the prayer of the beginning: Peace attend thee, my child, God will send Guardian Angels (Thanks be to God). I only keep watch, it is He who will protect thee. (Please and Amen).

I swoop into my children’s rooms each night just before I go to bed to hold my vigil one last time before I seek my own sleep. When my husband is away, I am all the more vigilant. Tonight though, it is his journey away from us that keeps me waiting and watching for his safe arrival. I realize how powerless I am from afar to protect him, just how powerless I will be as my children grow older, gain more freedoms and eventually depart from my home. But still I will keep my vigil, still I will pray. My only strength is His, that He provides guardian angels, that He keeps watch.

12:02 “Home. Bed. Goodnight.”

12:03 “Oh good, I love you!”

“Sleep my child and peace attend thee,” He whispers to me.


Great With Child a book review

Resolution is in sight! As I transfer all my files from one computer to another and onto an external hard drive for safekeeping until I get my pc wiped and re programmed (today is my appointment!) I am coming across things I have written in the past and thought this was a fun piece to share. Great With Child is easily my favorite book of all time. And, THIS was actually my first publication, it was for our MOPS newsletter a few years back. I hope you enjoy…

I have a bit of an obsession with books, not that I find much time to read them these days, but even so, I yearn to consume the written word with an insatiable hunger for information and inspiration. Books on parenting, devotionals, a good novel or two, professional resources and plenty of abc’s and 123’s are strewn across my headboard, jammed into shelves in every room, packed into my office and sometimes placed strategically near the toilet (where it seems I get my most consistent reading in these days). Of all these books that serve one purpose or another in my life, there is one I go to like a latte after another night of broken sleep and savor like good chocolate after a season of lent. Great with Child: Reflections on Faith, Fullness and Becoming a Mother is a favorite manuscript in my library. My mind and soul yearn for the words on these pages as a most genuine reflection of the range of emotion I feel at this great juncture.
Debra Rienstra, an English professor from Calvin College, writes with eloquence, humor, candor and faith about all topics feminine. We get to ride the river of life with her from the deep yearning for motherhood, to the grumpy perfectionism that rises in us as we seek to “nest” just-so; laughter over various bodily fluids excreted by mother and child soon after birth, to reverence over our ability to join the Creator in creation, shedding blood to have children as Jesus shed His blood for us. Rienstra shares the story, that feels like pieces of every woman’s story, of her own struggle toward conception, the sacred walk of pregnancy, questions of identity in work and relationships, and the ultimate bliss, chaos and meaning that comes with a child.
Drawing on a myriad of writings both secular and sacred, she is single-handedly the best book-club resource for mothers who would like to stay connected to something intellectual without sacrificing these fleeting days of splashy bath times, wide-eyed-wonder and high pitched “I wove yous.” And the best part is the book can, and should be read a little at a time. One paragraph, one sentence even, begs to be tasted and savored. Akin to a dear friend speaking words of truth so piercing that tears well-up at being thus well known, Great with Child illuminates the sacredness of womanhood mixed with motherhood as a beautiful tapestry, breathtaking overall and precious in detail.
Daunting to find one quote that might exemplify the book, Rienstra’s own response to how she did it sums well. One asks “You wrote this book during your third pregnancy and then during the baby’s first year? Are you crazy? I haven’t been able to write up a decent grocery list since my first baby was born!” Amen sister. Riesntra’s responds “I am not exactly sure…I had to do it…Giving life to a child seemed to irradiate my thoughts about everything else – the body, womanhood, culture, God-everything. I wanted to read something that treated motherhood in the fullness of its dimensions, social, and personal, body, mind, and soul.” And to her newborn son, and thus vicariously to us all “For you is the mystery waiting, for you it was hidden for ages in God who created all things. Be rooted and grounded in love. Comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth. Know those things that surpass all knowledge. Be filled to the measure, my little one, with the fullness of God.” And again, I say, amen.


Choices

There is so much I want to write, so many stories half written, or logged in my brain, that I want to bring life to, that must be told. But alas I have children who wake early and am a mama who needs her sleep to be a good mama, especially when I am flying solo as a mama.

My husband left early for a business trip this morning. He’s a fisherman, so his standards for early are EARLY, because all potential breaks at first light.

I am not someone who particularly likes to get up early, but I can rally when I need to and can appreciate the possibility of a brand new day in a quiet house. This morning though I snuck out of bed as my husband showered to make him breakfast before he left. Not that he needs me to make him breakfast, he is perfectly capable, and in fact, we have things fairly well divided that I take the night shifts and he hits the morning time with the little ones. It was so early, and everyone had gotten to bed so late after an energy packed vacation that I figured I would creep back into bed afterwards and get a few more hours in before the kids would wake up.

You know what happens next.

At 5:15 the shower goes off and in the background I hear my baby squawking, ready for someone to come get her and give her some breakfast too. Plan B, feed her a quick meal, I have already cooked most of it off, and then slide her back into bed while I got my last delectable minutes of rest. We kissed papa goodbye, said our I love you’s and I cooled some of the hot meal for her to eat.

You know what happens next.

Pitter pat, drawers shut, and two puffy eyed, sunkissed faces make their way down the stairs and climb up onto chairs saying “I’m hungry.” With a hearty breakfast warm and waiting I dish everyone up. Then drinks, and lunch preparations, cleaning baby droppings off the floor, then the baby’s face, a hairdo for a big kid and a spelling test, morning prayers and memorizing verses and checking over home work and wiping noses and bottoms and overseeing teeth brushing and squeezing in a moment to make my cup of tea and everything that is so routine and mundane about our everyday lives.

And I am on the brink of tears I am so grateful to be doing it all. As the morning scurry hit full tide, my heart was swelling with gratitude to have these amazing children to love and care for and wake up early for and get up tirelessly for through the nights and not have time to write or create or finish nearly anything personal or professional in any way that I would hope to for this season of time, oh another 20 years or so.

I am so driven and so full of creative energy that it would be all too Pollyanna of me to say I can find all that to be fulfilled in parenting. It absolutely cannot, for me. But, and I’ll add on a great big although

THAT

IS

OKAY!

There were much more profound moments in my day – in my professional life, in some playtime with my son, coaching my daughter’s soccer practice and the conversation about friendship that followed, in the mistakes I made, where weaknesses are and the epiphanies and graces – things that make for a better story than this, but, as is my life, I have run out of time. My eyes are straining to stay open, my head is groggy and I can’t remember if I shut my daughter’s window so I must pull myself out of bed to check, gives me a reason to give one more round of kisses and tuck stray limbs into soft blankets and say soft prayers.

The choice I have here is to work at something creative and life-giving on another level, or go to sleep and be ready to love on and care for my babies all over again with the energy I need. I will choose sleep, praying for late sleepers tomorrow:)


Goodness abounds

I will soon tell the more detailed story of what I have been through the past couple of days in having this miscarriage. I have also been writing the story in my mind that will need to be shared of this little one’s happy story, of 8 short weeks of believing in this miracle of life and all the wonder and love of those days, before the story fades into facts and figures and a passing acknowledgment that I am a 3 time member of a club I wish I did not belong to.

But before I get to that, I have to share of just one beautiful moment that makes all this hard stuff fade into the background, like the bits of dark cloud that give the slightest contrast to a glorious spray of color and light of a summer evening’s sunset. Without those clouds, the colors would not seem so bright, so brilliant, so warm. They just wouldn’t.

It was a good day. They are getting better one by one as real life creeps back in, and I begin to forget, for brief periods, that just a week ago I was living a completely different reality, basing every move and life plan on the new life that was to join us; the home we chose to live in, the places she would go and fill and fit in our lives. I had already begun making room for her as she was making room in my body. (My belly had grown so large, so fast, and so quickly it is gone, just gone).

Tonight I began to worry again about normal stuff of life (I remember the shock of “real life” creeping back in after huge loss, and how counterintuitive it felt to how we should really live Philippians 4:5, Matthew 6:21- 34)- And as the worry seeped back in as fog slowly moves in seemingly unnoticed until I realize I’ve lost some vision and the world appears more gray. Loss is sad and hard and starkly painful, but the hovering gray of to-do’s and unimportant tasks is a far worse on a life.

Too tired to do any of it, I snuck into my kids’ rooms to do that thing we mother’s do, check that they are still breathing and give one last kiss and prayer before going off to bed. With my littlest, my baby girl who walks and knows words and puts shoes and a coat on when she decides she is ready for an outing, is still so very little. (Even though the spacing of my second set of children would have been the exact same as my first – I loved the symmetry of that – I would look at my 16 month old girl and think I was crazy to have another baby, as she is still just a little baby herself). Next to her crib I stepped up onto the foot rest that allows me to heave myself up and over the railing enough to get my face close up to hers and give her a big, warm, silent kiss on the cheek. Her sweet baby smell, her fluffy wisps of hair, the velvety softness of her skin was more than intoxicating. My senses were overwhelmed and consumed by her and there was no doubt in my mind, in that moment that is always there to be had, that there is so much goodness in this life. So much, so good.


Waiting to Begin

My kids love Camellia trees. The way they burst forth with a million blooms and drop them generously to the ground for little hands to gather in abundance entices my children every time they come across one. Seeing their joy and their beautiful bowls of blossoms throughout the house, I have told them “in our next house we will have a Camellia tree.”

When our real life begins.

Knowing we want to sell soon has kept us on hold. I don’t hang many pictures, keep things somewhat staged and worry about wall holes and the inevitable wear and tear that a young family brings to a home. I am ready to settle in, for a long time, hang the vacation pictures that only we care to see everyday, plant perennials and trees and look forward to how they will look next Spring, not care about those knicks and flaws of an energetic family life. I know how to paint and spackle, and will worry about that again when they are grown, as it will come too fast and the perfect looking house is not my goal.

The hope is to sell our house soon, to move further north, near the new church where ministry would feel more whole, closer to my elementary aged children’s school and with all the hopes that go along with change and possibility. We of course would like more; more space for our growing family, friends and guests to gather and play and be. We live on 40 acres for 3 months of the year and find it a nice balance to our postage stamp city yard. It is in our souls to crave space inside and out. We love to see our kids roam and run and explore and all of us absolutely love to host a house full of people.

So that is our hope, be it “grass is greener” and possibly covetous, we pray, and aim to be pure in out desires, are generous in our giving and seek to follow the unpredictable formula of our faith, knowing we don’t deserve and can’t plan such a thing. Still we believe God loves us and has good for us, not that we can begin to claim to know what that might be. At this stage of life I do know some of the ways in which God has given me to be in this world. Planning, organizing, hosting and giving to large gatherings is one of my things, dare I say gifts. God has always given us the ability and desire to do that, even in our 750 square foot first home where we would shove every piece of our living room furniture into the kitchen in order to host a whole group of high school kids and mayhem for Young Life. We know it can be done anywhere and by many means, but space is on our hearts.

The perfect house hit the market this week. An amazing huge house for our growing family, on a huge piece of property complete with rock patio, play structure, sport court and creek running through the back of the big grass expanse. Exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask for, but all that we could hope for. There were faults to be sure, much work to do to make it the envisioned dream home, a few broken windows, no insulation, old crumbling bathrooms. We’d done this work before and despite one member of the couple dyad claiming he’d never do it again, he wasn’t deterred and spoke excitedly of all the potential.

We imagined preschoolers on bikes, and high schoolers shooting baskets, muddy boots stomping in the stream and our very own slide to whiz down over and over and over again. So many daydreams of craft projects in the unfinished attic, family dinners around the table that overlooked the patio and “very own rooms” for my oldest girl and boy who have always shared. From the kitchen window I saw a blue heron poised out by the stream and it felt like an omen. We see them so rarely, the presence of this peaceful beast of a bird was telling of the safe expanse of space tucked into a city we’d grown to love. As my daughter launched her umbrella upside down in the creek like a bobbing boat to my son waiting near a small foot bridge to rescue it, we oohed and awed over the landscaped yard, lovely trees and quaint old shed complete with fireplace, I saw it in the corner of the yard near the back of the living room window. A long-lived abundantly bloomed camellia tree. I took it as a sign this was meant to be.

It was seemingly so of God how I found the house, only a few days on the market and I happened to take a look at what was out there on a bit of whim. It had been many months since our house was last on the market and I had felt it worthwhile to search. We can’t buy until we sell, so it is not a good practice and really is a time waster to look. But I did, felt led to, and the timing was phenomenal since it would only be on the market for a few days before it would go into foreclosure. Being a short sale we could safely make an offer pull out at any time, and have many months to sell our house. The circumstances were just perfect, signs all along the way it seemed. We were told there would be one other offer but it wouldn’t be strong so we wrote ours full priced and with gusto. The house was worth so much more, but full price was right in our budget and had good stewardship in mind. “When we move into our new house…” was how we’d all started to talk. The signs were everywhere and the circumstances too perfect to not believe God was in this.

Just before we got the news, after a parenting seminar on how to raise boys, where advice about space and activity and adventure were the themes, we talked of how God might be at work. The realist of us said “I am not so sure God wants this for us, maybe His best for us is smaller, missionary work, less stuff, more about the eye of the needle than the life of abundance.”

The optimist theologian said “I was just thinking about how much God loves us, how much He has always blessed us with more than we could imagine, so why not now. again, even after we know how tragedy works?”

The call came at 9:30 that evening. The other offer was stronger and they’d accepted it. That was it. No counter offers. No second chances. The house was not going to be ours.

We were disappointed to be sure, and each had a few hours of funk over the course of the next day. We thought of all the possibility was gone, but, and not too soon to have been disappointed for a genuine bit of time, we realized that possibility also meant alot of work. We remembered the hours and hours we put into other houses when we’d rather have been enjoying fun and down time of from the already full work-week. We saw our kids getting older and all of us playing together outside but realized we’d be inside tediously replacing old plumbing and broken windows, or we wait years and years to afford help with it and live with the run down energy efficientlessness of the place. That can be wearisome too. Much as we were excited, much as we were disappointed and much as we saw God in all of it and therefore felt it was meant to be, we still could see God’s hand at work. This is really all I can ask for. For God to be in control is of course the given, but for God to let us have some awareness of that is a blessing. I can get on board with that.

Today I was at a gardening store where new plants were being brought in and a few winter plants were on clearance. The ever thrifty shopper that I am perused the winter plants rather aimlessly, knowing there was no good purpose in plant shopping in our impermanent state. Until I saw a just one Camellia tree, small enough for a good sized pot and still with a few large blooms waiting to burst. That felt like a sign too. I bought it.

Life in between can be lived well regardless of our circumstances. I will praise Him in all things and trust the days to come.


Unrest

On this Sabbath Sunday, so soon after my restful Saturday, I fall into bed exhausted, no rather weary. It was a long day, marked by goodness to be sure: I celebrated the life of my oldest, watched with pure joy as she was celebrated by dear friends, laughed and skated with her, talked long after her early bedtime about the day’s events and some deeper things between a mother and a daughter. I looked endearingly upon my son as he talked up a storm with a younger sister of my daughter’s friend, barely an acquaintance to him, and yet he chats easily and laughs and makes silly faces as if they go way back. He’s just the best thing ever, a charmer who is charming because he genuinely loves. And lest we forget the littlest, drug around all day to church and errands and party, no place to nap or have peace for a little one who relies on it, but for a few precious minutes fell deeply to sleep in my arms like she used to when brand new and I pulled her heavily breathing face near to mine to breath her in. I felt goodness and peace in the velvet smooth of her sweet cheek. I needed her slumber to force stillness upon me for just those few moments today.

I began reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp weeks ago and can’t get past the first few chapters as each time I pick it back up and get caught back up I get stuck re-reading the beginning chapters.

“The end will come.
Doctor’s warning or not the end will come, and this life of the bare toes across grass, the sky raining spring down on eyelashes, the skin spread close under sheets, blink of the fireflies on dusky June nights – all this will all end…

“Which road through this brief land? What is all most important? How to live the fullest life here that delivers into the full life after?…

How does one live ready, and always?…But, someone, please give me – who is born again but still so much in need of being born anew – give me the details of how to live in the waiting cocoon before the forever begins?…

How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?”

Does anyone else live tormented by these questions?

She details unrest and longing and deep awareness of beauty and goodness that so resonates with my soul. The book begins with a vivid scene of her great loss, she gets it, and she goes on to write of the longing for meaning in the everyday-ness of life. I get that.

I will never be carefree to the reality of death and great loss ever again in this lifetime. Fearfulness which took residence years before great loss even hit me personally (but surely to those I dearly love, a trauma of it’s own), when I only held the awareness of the possibility, now takes a permanent place in my lense on life. I see the range of color, the bright, the beautiful, the rare, the true, but always there is the possibility of black, always there is awareness of what might never be ever more.

“Perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18) I know, I have that one memorized, along with all the other verses on fear. Made myself a bookmark once. Diligently wrote scripture on my heart. But I am not perfect and still I get scared. I know the verse refers to God’s perfectness but what does that really mean to me when I know that bad things can still happen under his perfect watch? I can trust, (I know, I know) his perfect plan, (yes, yes) but sometimes that perfect plan hurts so damn bad that it is impossible to view life without the knowledge of what might be, both the glorious and horrendous. In full awareness of all that is awesome and beautiful, searing, gut wrenching, and life altering, pain can happen, is happening now, everywhere. My awareness of this, does not weaken my faith but brings me closer to my God who knows this pain even greater than I. Everywhere He is aware of it, and still He is good. I choose to believe. I hope to let go.

I don’t live dark or leary in the day to day and my faith can hold the mindset that I am safe if I just think I am because it is He who is keeping me safe. I know there is a plan. On some level that is comforting, sometimes. Call me Peter, ye is me.

In the wake of loss, the pressure is on to live purposefully even more so, as the stark reality of an un-promised tomorrow always lingers, for me, my children (God no!), my soul-mate. So as I pursue things of purpose, parenting as if it was essential as oxygen, always, always aiming to please God, acting as if His pursuit of me is my uphill climb, much that feels purposeful can also ring hollow, feel “busy”, nothing like the mountain top high seemingly promised. And lucky for me, one who blames so easily, most profusely myself, I then take the burden upon myself – not spiritual enough, discerning enough, self-aware enough, hard-working enough, enough, enough.

I could end with verses that are hopeful, stay true to my title and the undercurrents that carry me along and buoy me to full breath, but the raging surface of the deep waters tonight is tumultuous, and that is where I am. This too true pieces of my humanity. Not at all what I would assign hope to, and yet there is my most favored book of Ecclesiastes that speaks of those times, those times for everything. I feel them all, everything.


Instant Gratification

I took a nap this morning, as my baby napped. After a late night and a few wakings, I was exhausted. I have a whole day ahead of me, and a hand full of to-do’s, household, ministry and professional and I laid there waking slowly from one of those deep long dream filled naps, wondering if I would even have the energy to rise again for the day ahead. My big kids are off to ski with their dad and it is just me and the babe. I have loved these slow Saturdays with her. The house more quiet than any other day, she is the sole focus of my attention, we get to play on her level, and her nap times become sweet indulgent down time for me. But today there are a few things to get done before church tomorrow and my big 7 year old girl’s birthday party.

I believe God has put things on my heart to do, I recognize His voice, His call, and I feel moved to act. I am motivated, excited, moved, willing, believing this purposeful thing will honor God, whether it be in how I live out my day to day life as a mom, wife or friend, or if it is tackling the Mount Everest of accomplishments. If it is God’s voice, and/or I am clear that what is placed on my heart will honor God, I am in and I will obey. And not to overspiritualize everything, I know too there are simply things I just want to do that sound fun or interesting or exciting to me. I have learned over and over again that here too God smiles at the freedom He has given me to choose these ways of spending my time, much as I fret over discerning His call and His will. These become His will (read The Will of God as a Way of Life by Gerald Sittser, my mentor and friend who taught and counseled me through this years ago and yet I still need to learn these lessons).

In addition to my day to day willingness to honor and obey him with my spirit and character in love of Him and others, the honoring of Him with my mind and body in willingess to act and do can sometimes leave me feeling perplexed, shall I say stressed? After the initial excited, purposeful “yes” I begin to think of the how and wonder about the when. The problem lies in the timeline. I don’t doubt God’s voice or purpose, I begin to doubt my abilities and wonder why I say yes to anything at all. I feel like I need to hurry, get it done now, to the best of my ability and be efficient and work hard to be faithful. There is an essence of truth to these concepts in being faithful, but mostly they are false. If I look at the bible many of the purposes God places on people’s lives take years, lifetimes. How unexciting eh? How wonderful though. God is honored. The people are ok.

Our world is increasingly instant. It used to be that I had some time before people knew if I got an e-mail or not. My lengthy average rate of return was understandable then. I had little ones, no time to sit in front of a computer. This made sense. That nagging feeling of having e-mails to get back to somewhat reminded me of the constant pressure felt in getting a college education. Always something ahead to do, no time to sit and read anything for fun, there were books to read and papers to write. I always loved my breaks and indulged heavily in “light” reading, as in I would read my favorite magazine, like Real Simple or Martha Stewart or Country Living, cover to cover, every word, from the editors letter to the last meaningless ads in the end. I love doing that! It is the ultimate down time indulgence. Such a relished time-waster, so much more fun than TV to me.

Now people know there is a good chance I see my e-mails near to when they come to me on my phone, that goofy gadget that I swear my children must think is my 3rd robotic eyeball. I kind of hate that (I can hear my mockingbird children’s voices in my head saying “we don’t say hate in our house mama”). It is almost always near, though I do manage to forget it upstairs or in my purse sometimes (I need to to that more often actually) but with the loud sounds of children in my midst or quiet ones whom I do not want to disturb, I rarely answer it at a moment’s notice. I do check it often though, for efficiency sake right? Get that e-mail read and out of the way and on to processing what I can DO about it. I still don’t get back very efficiently, takes too long to type on my phone anyway, but it is in my head all the time, and I kind of hate that too. I digress.

The point is the instantaneousness of the world, and how counterintuitive that is for how God would work in our lives, how he has historically worked in others lives. In fact, in stories like Abraham and Sarah (Genesis Chapters 15 to 21), the length of time He takes to respond after making His promises very clear that Abraham would father many is aggravatingly laughable to them. I often feel like that, complain to God that I want things to happen now and pine away wondering why they are not. He does not place instant gratification on His call.

Thank you God, now please help me to do the same; to slow down, take things step by step, rest when I need to, even when I don’t need to but after a good 6 days or so of hard work have passed.

Now off to read my fun book about slowing down and relishing mom-life before my baby wakes up and we get to play.