A Pause

A typo almost dictated the title to be “A Oa..”, which made me think of “an oasis.” What is a true pause but an oasis in our day? At least, this pause is for me. This pause is at the end of a comfortably full day, when I got home before dinner was already late, while the sun is still out, and the house still quiet since the fam isn’t yet back from after-school activities. Moms and dads of all sorts know this kind of pause, a sort of calm before the storm.

And in this pause I choose to write because it’s been a while since I’ve journaled or blogged or written anything other than sermons. While sermons are a treasured part of my ministry, there’s so much unsaid in a sermon, even as I hope to have said enough, trusting Spirit to fill in the gaps.

Pausing for a moment to write grants me the opportunity to see, to open my eyes and gaze with wonder what’s going on around me, let alone what’s going on within me. Pausing for a moment to write helps me realize where my prayers manifest, especially the prayers left unsaid.

This Lent has been a time of prayer: long and intentional, short and rushed, whispered, sung, listened to, promised, and hoped for. My breath prayer this Lent has been

Let me abide in you, O God.

One night driving home it took on the tune to the Taize hymn “Bless the Lord my soul,” and it has stayed with me since then–not that I’m ready to let it go.

If Lent is about realizing our dependency upon God and increasing our awareness of God’s presence, I believe this Lent I learned more about the opposite. I find myself returning to my breath prayer as an escape from all the constraints I put on myself, mostly, and all the anxieties I hold onto when I know full well it’s out of my control. I have seen how much more I depend upon my timing and my management (even though I know how horribly that works out most times!) and see just how messed up things are in the world through our microcosm of a community, rather than trusting in God’s perfect timing and dream for us all.

Preparing for Holy Week, this insight is rather perfect, for once we know something, it’s hard to ignore or pretend it doesn’t exist. (I’ll try to be sincere in my gratitude for this knowledge as I keep thinking, “Those to whom much is given, much is required.”) What has God revealed to me in the desert that I can take into the Easter season? What have I learn that, gilded with Resurrection, illuminates not only my ministry but even more importantly, God’s presence in the world?

I think I need more pauses to decipher the answers to those questions, but I know that Easter has much to say about God’s timing and God’s dream for us. In this pause, I can almost feel it in the anticipatory silence surrounding me.

Continue Reading

In a few moments

Outside my window this morning, I noticed a little bird pecking on the ground where I had raked some leaves, revealing some green grass and–more importantly–soft soil. A small effort on my part made it a bit easier for another creature to find sustenance in a season where most animals have to work harder to find food, especially if they haven’t been able to put away any stores. A few moments later, a squirrel found a prized acorn and used a bench as a table, leaving its crumbs before scurrying away. Closer to the golf course, two squirrels raced up and around tree trunks and through the leaves in a game of chase, it seemed to me. To them I suppose it could have been a fight for territory, if squirrels even do such a thing. The crows caw near and far, louder than the softer, higher chirps of smaller birds. I hear something scurry on the roof. Suddenly I get a sense of how still I am in comparison to the busy-ness and activity of the world around me. In my quiet observation, I can hear the other creatures going about their business as they should. Distraction pulls me away to my own activity, and I lose sight of the creatures and no longer hear their calls.

Continue Reading

Ice & Sun

Thanksgiving Eve I found myself at the wholesale club post-dinner wondering why I waited, yet again, until the last minute to do this.  Kids to bed, cooking underway, I spent the night on the couch, falling asleep but for the grace that woke me as the boiling potato sputter burned on the stovetop and the lid rattled in low undertone.  The iPad had gone to sleep, too, but the sweet potatoes still needed time in the oven.  Potatoes drained, oven off, I figured all would be well a few more hours when I would be awake enough to conjure up the salad and casserole.

Thanksgiving morning NPR told me the Macy’s Day Parade was underway.  I grinned to myself, remembering in my childhood the warmth of the kitchen creeping into the living room where the t.v. blared the parade and I watched the floats make their way through the seemingly small streets.  It was a day of rest for me then.  Now, looking through my steamed-up kitchen window at the sink, I realize how much work we do.  But in yet another moment of grace, I realize how much I love my family.  For a moment, it feels again like this is my job.  I’m not a working mother, I am a mother, wholly and completely.  (Still, I have to consciously resist saying “just a mom.”)

I was only joking when a co-worker and I marveled at the warm weather earlier this week.  Our office felt like a sauna, and I was grateful for my layered clothing and the ability for others to open their windows in the old building to give me fresh air.  “Don’t worry,” I told her.  “It’ll probably snow next week.”  I was just joking.  But the weather forecast mentioned freezing weather.  My husband researched about chickens in cold weather, what we needed to watch out for and check into.  We got the wintry mix and a few minutes of all-out snow on our way to the relatives Thanksgiving day.  Snow is forecasted next week, too.  You just never know around here.

There’s something about the ice that coated everything around our relatives’ homes.  There was something different this year that I haven’t been able to put my finger on yet, adhere coherent thoughts to.  I do know that there wasn’t ice on our limbs at home, only 30 minutes away.  Maybe it’s just the memory, frozen in time.

Post-Thanksgiving, I slept until 8:30 or so.  It is cold.  The chickens are still alive, though their water did freeze, even in their coop.  (Husband is winterizing their coop more today, even as I write, and they are all out chasing the same bug apparently, in a frenzy.)  I skip the Black Friday madness.  Not everyone participates in that frenzy, but I mentioned to my daughter that we might stop at the bookstore and a couple of thrift stores.  It is a weekday I have off, and I actually have some energy to something other than laundry.  (Of course, tonight there are a few home projects that might be started to last all weekend.  Watch out bathroom and garage!)

I signed up on Ravelry.  I sent a sincere e-mail to a friend.  I have other calls to make.  My gratitude continues this day.

I’ll hem some pants, make a Christmas list, and fill the Advent calendar with a new list of somethings to build onto the anticipation of Christmas in a meaningful way.

Most importantly, my gratitude continues.  On this bright sunny day, no matter how cold it is outside, my heart is warm.  I am a mother, a wife, a worker, a daughter and granddaughter.  My own daughter plays, softly talking for and with her toys, sweetly singing every now and then.  Life is simple and sweet, some moments more than others.

All we ever have is this moment at any given time.  For this I am grateful.  It is a beautiful life.

Continue Reading

Crazy Woman

Aren’t we supposed to eat whatever we want, sleep as long as we like, dress however we want to?  Maybe I need to refresh my memory as to what the feminist movement was all about.

Last night I found myself vacuuming at 9:30pm.  I couldn’t help it.  Thankfully the kids were in bed, and I just hoped that they might still have enough of their babyhood left that somehow the vacuum would be a soothing lullaby at best, at least a deep background noise.  It didn’t phase them.

But what kind of woman was I to be running around the house, completely on empty, making sure the dishes got done (or at least finished by husband), pants ironed for the morrow, and floors swept and vacuumed?  Then, when it seemed like I couldn’t possibly do more, a commitment raised its hand, and I had to answer.  It’s writing after all.  I can do it.

So, I’ve decided I may be a crazy woman.  Yes, I have a weird obsession with wanting to have a clean house (at least on some standards).  Lord knows my house wouldn’t pass a sanitation or white glove test.  Fly Lady was onto something when she suggests making sure you keep a clean sink.  Not to worry, though; I don’t care what other people’s houses look like.

I’m on Day 2 of this 5:30 am writing adventure.  Along with this post, I’ve also written a brief article, thanks to aforementioned commitment.  Again, Lord knows I’m tired.  Somehow I’m given the energy to do what I find needs to be done.  I even managed an hour body sculpting workout yesterday . . . and making a casserole for dinner.

Even working full-time I’m managing to talk to my friends (a little bit), let my children, husband and home know I love them, and take care of myself.  It’s exhausting and tremendously rewarding.  It sounds crazy, juggling so much, and I just know it wouldn’t be possible if I weren’t also running with grace and blessing.

If we truly think about all we do, we might find that we’re not crazy.  We are fueled by passion.  If our intentions are good, we are tapped into a greater energy than we ever thought possible.  Of course days come when we will or want to sleep until 10am, if we are so lucky, but we can accept it as a gift of renewal and carry on, continuing to move forward with love.

I may seem like a crazy woman at times, to others and to myself.  More importantly, I am a blessed woman.  If you’re reading this, I’m certain you are blessed, too.

Continue Reading

My Lint Bowl

Yes.  I have a lint bowl.  It’s quite small and irregularly shaped.  Actually, it’s from the first and only pottery class I’ve taken.  It wasn’t the first piece I made (that “gem” went to my mother), but it’s one of the first few for sure.

This little bowl sits atop our dryer, and after each load, I put the lint in it.  Or maybe I just set it there . . . or squish it on the top.  It started out in laziness, really.  The small trash can has a lid and is low to the ground and squeezed in between the dryer and the wall that has the broom and dustpan hanging there.  Why twist and stretch every time I switch the clothes?

Then I realized that I liked watching the lint bowl fill up.  The clean clothes these days have been dispersed rather quickly to where they need to go, but the lint . . . it fills up and becomes a little abundance of accomplishment, a monument of achievement.  When I think it’s time to dump it and start over, I do, knowing I can watch it grow again.

It’s the little things, right?  We are all working so hard every day to keep the wheels running smoothly.  Whether we’re working outside the home helping some company/business/organization to thrive or working in the home to make sure those nearest and dearest to us are thriving (and chances are, all of us are doing both, whether we’re paid for it or not), we are all working hard.  Sometimes we just need little signs to remind us that our work adds up.  What we’re doing makes a difference.

I have a lint bowl.  You might have a diaper pail, laundry pile, crossed-off checklists, clean dishes . . . who knows.  Keep tally marks on a post-it if you have to.  I’m telling you that you make a difference.  The work you do is appreciated.

And you will always be loved more for who you are than what you do, anyway.  So, as the card I received from a friend says: “be a beacon of fierce and potent love.”  May my family always remember how much I love them.  I know they won’t know how many times I empty the lint bowl.

Continue Reading

Being Home

Some days, some seasons, I find myself pulling toward something, someplace.  It may be outward or inward, but the pull is almost gravitational.  Now must be the season of my introverted self, and the home is my sun.

My to-do list is manageable, filled with much, of course, but the first half of the list are things to do around the house.  Okay, really the list was just home tasks.  My other obligations were brought to mind, too, though, so I added those.  Most of what I am accomplishing are the home tasks.  This feels right and good.

I figure I have to honor my body, heart and soul.  As the house becomes filled with the fragrance of a wood-burning fireplace, I feel at home, at peace.  I knit one of many rows in a Christmas gift and feel grounded.  It’s not so much what I am doing as what I am being.

At least for now, I am being home.

Continue Reading

Domestic Goddess or CEO?

A little more matriarchy is what the world needs, and I know it.
                                              — Dorothy Thompson

My dearest husband, upon feeling better (from pneumonia this winter) and getting back in his groove, stated that he wanted a “flow” to the house.  He wanted aCompass_north_wooden_266943_tn.jpg system.  My bursts of energy come and go with the moon, understandably, and I, too, get the feeling that we’re going to have to take an active role in channeling the energy in and around our home and affairs.  Great.  We have a heading.  We know what we want, but how to get there?

I’m sure we’re not the only ones who want to save money but not sacrifice quality.  We want to eat well but not blow the budget.  We want to practice right livelihood, but we want to get out of debt.  We want to trust the Universe to provide, and we want to know what’s going to happen when, where and now.  Like nearly everyone else I know, we want it all.  Pass the cake.

As the maternal head of household, largely in charge of maintaining course, what I want to know is:  do I follow the stars, trust my instincts and ride the waves, or do I chart the course, follow advice and charge ahead?  Am I a goddess or a chief officer?  Is my home my dominion or my business?

I believe the delightfully frustrating answer is yes.  Both.  I am living the new age now, and I have made my life my business.  The truth that pains us is that we want to draw these definitive lines, build these boxes around what we claim to understand.  Do we really want to set ourselves up for disappointment?  I admit, I want to get it right.  I want to do what’s best for me, for my family.  I want the “rules” so as to make it easy, clear-cut and simple to follow.  I want to succeed.  However, I’ve got to put my over-achiever ego in the backseat and let the goddess take the helm.  Everything these days points to going with the flow.  I’ll know when it’s time to chart a plan of action.

Maybe I should call myself a CDEG (chief domestic executive goddess).  If my kids start singing their ABC’s, at least I’ll know they’re learning something, and maybe it will point out for me the absurdity of titles anyway.  In the end, I’ll still be a MOM, no matter which course we take or what the ledger says. 

We’re still sailing now.  Let the wind blow.

Continue Reading

Obsessive or Organized?

Obsess: to haunt or excessively preoccupy the mind of <was obsessed with the idea>

Organize: 1: to cause to develop an organic structure 2: to form into a coherent unity or functioning whole : integrate <trying to organize her thoughts> 3 a: to set up an administrative structure for b: to persuade to associate in an organization; especially : unionize 4: to arrange by systematic planning and united effort
 
*Definitions from Merriam-Webster online.

The definitions speak for themselves.  As I move forward to bring a sense of order to my home (however slowly that may be), it’s important to remember that I’m bringing wholeness and unity to our home, not becoming attached to the idea or concept of having an organized, clutter-free home.

It goes beyond the idea of having a tidy home, however.  Any idea, thought, way of being, drama . . . anything . . . can become an obsession, a serious attachment that prevents us from being fully present now.  It can be money, lifestyle, drugs, another person.  Our ego can quickly attach to something that may make us feel good for a moment or maybe longer, but if we are conscious enough, we can see into the reality of the situation.

A little mindful organization can go a long way, don’t you think?
 




Continue Reading