Friday, February 22, 2013

"A Bundle of Paradoxes"

I am...

A writer who is too tired and lazy to write.

A lover of Christ but a slack Christian {if you define my by my disciplines.}

A mother who wants desperately to be a mother yet is utterly overwhelmed, dismayed, and bewildered by the everyday moments and eternal responsibilities of motherhood. I'm also delighted, daily, with the gifts, laughter, and sacred sweetness this same motherhood bestows upon me. 

A wife who wants desperately to be a wife and desperately loves her husband. But when my daughter tells me she's never going to marry, I think to myself, Good move. 

A woman so blessed with faithful family and friends but not so great at faithfully maintaining the relationships I cherish most.

A humanitarian who weeps for the downtrodden but does precious little about the injustices within her own community. I dream of a larger home instead of reaching out to help those who don't even have one.   

A foodie who loves her sushi and Cosmopolitans...and McDonald's fries. 

Most days, I feel downright duplicitous. I wonder which one is the "Real Me." The truth is, they both are. 

When I get honest, writes Brennan Manning, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and I get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer. 

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, 'A Saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.'

When we're honest, we see the duplicity of our hearts. Real introspection can lead to despair but it can also lead to freedom. Unbelievable freedom. We are created in the image of God yet we are so very human, capable of both the divine and the disgraceful. 

I'm learning that repentance of my foibles and foolishness isn't a bootstrapped about-face; it's humble confession and confident rest. Rest in the One who forgives and loves and changes us from the inside-out.  

Maybe you're repulsed by your inability to get it right. Or perhaps you're puffed up because of your ability to get it right, more often than not. Maybe you're both of these, depending on the day. Soiled or squeaky clean, pitiful or prideful, know that you are fully known and fully loved, paradoxes and all.


*Excerpt from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Links and Other Stuff I Love {Because I Ran Out of Time to Write About Love}

{Valentines Day 2 years ago...when the littles were littler. Sweet times.} 

I've been thinking a lot of love lately. The truest kind of love. The only love that can really make me love others in ways that matter. The only love that can break me open to receive love and how that changes everything. Everything.

But. You'll just have to wait for that post because I've run out of time to write it. I've been busy loving and living and that has looked like time at the kitchen table helping my littlest guy make Valentines for everyone on God's green earth {he's a fan of holidays} and helping my girl write descriptive essays and doing math stuff {Math!?!} in my bigger guy's class and helping my sweet friend who's battling cancer {Please pray for Susan?} and talking with my Wednesday friends about grace.

I realize that list of loving may sound a little braggy, a little "look at what servant I am." No. Believe me, I'm not very sacrificial by nature, not the type of person who needs {or even wants} to be needed. I shy away from volunteerism. I fear commitment. I actually kind of suck at being a friend. But those I love have needed me and it has felt good and right to help. Because I can. And I actually, sincerely want to. And all because of love. 

Look at this! I'm writing about love after all. My point in that much-too-long disclaimer is this: living and loving have precluded writing and that's just fine and just as it should be for me right now. I'm craving some rest but I'm going to have to crank out something lovey and yummy for dinner first. 

So in lieu of a deeper post on love, I bring you some links and other stuff...that I love.


First, the links:
This video by Brene Brown {who I triple love} has gotten over 7 million views. 

Girlfriend has obviously struck a chord. It's about 20 minutes long and well worth every minute. I bought one of her books two years ago, never having heard of her. I was buying another book on amazon and this book was in the sidebar and I had to have it. Turns out she's kind of a big deal. And for good reason.

So this next link isn't very Valentines-y, but I read it several months ago and I can't stop thinking about it. It's an article called Going to Hell With Ted Haggard. And though it's not all flowers and chocolate hearts and sentimental, it is about love. How we love "sinners." Or rather, how we don't. This is such a good article. I really can't recommend it enough.

And now for the stuff:

I had some CVS extra care bucks so I treated myself to this sheery, pinky lip balm. It's perfect for dry wintry lips that are longing for spring. 

Lily told me about this free, awesome app. She's one of those girls who always has the low-down on everything. {And you totally need to click over to her link. She created the baby gift ever.} 

Anyway, this is an app for any Apple device {and a few others} that provides free unlimited texting and it even turns an iPod Touch or iPad into a phone. Crazy! Our older two kids each have an iPod Touch {which are actually old iPhone 3G's that we converted.} Now they can text or call us from home or anyplace with WiFi for FREE. Our 6th grade daughter, the only 6th grader on the planet without a cell phone, now gets to text us and like...two other people. This means we're now slightly less horrible parents than we were before this app.

Nail polish. 

Wet N Wild Megalast Salon Nail Color Heatwave 212C

Once again, Wet N' Wild has given me another polish to love. Heatwave. It's corally-reddish-hot pink. Perfect for Valentine's Day. Or when your feet are tan. Or when you are bored in pick-up line. And it's less than $2.

So there you go. A little post on love that will make you more loving, vulnerable, texty, and pretty. 

Happy Valentine's Day friends! What are you loving?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Because Sometimes Showing Up Isn't Just Half the Battle, It's All of It.

At the moment, weariness has overtaken my ability to write through the deep and true of my own life. 

It's times like this when my blog can feel like a pet, yet another thing that looks to me to be fed and nurtured. But because I care deeply about this space and its value in my life, I resolve to come back, time and again, even when the well seems too deep to prime. 

A funny thing happens most every time I click on "new post" and see the blank digital canvas staring back at me. I feel like I'm home. The white space welcomes me to come on in and get comfortable, even if I was reluctant to show up in the first place. Sometimes you just have to show up.

This is a place where I am myself, a place where I connect in true and life-giving ways with others, a place where I spill my stories and my crazy. In the most serendipitous ways, by each post's completion, I end up in a better place than I began and I somehow come alive in the process of it all. 

So in the spirit of coming home and remembering I have a pulse, I show up here today. 

Because sometimes showing up is all we can do. And it's enough.

A new week began yesterday and I didn't want it to. I didn't have it in me to wife or parent or tidy or launder or just go on at all. I cried and prayed and took a nap and got dressed {at 2:15 pm} and picked up kids. I asked about their days and monitored screen time and somehow found the where-with-all to hang up an art caddy and memo board in my girl's room. I felt like the champion of the world, just doing that. The Man taught late and the kids were asleep when he got home. It felt like a not-so-small miracle, just doing the day. I simply showed up. And somehow made it. 

This morning the alarm went off too early and I stumbled into the closet like a drunkard. Waking was painful. I swallowed my pills, brewed the coffee, and met my running partner in the damp, dark cold. I could barely get out of bed, how was I supposed to run? Why do I do this? But one step propelled me to take another and even though it was a blur of a 30 minutes, I did it. I simply showed up and made it through the run, one mysterious step at a time. {And now I have a few extra endorphins in my arsenal for the day. Score.} 

Tomorrow morning I will show up among a small group of real and honest women. We'll forge our way through the first chapter of The Ragamuffin Gospel. Somehow they picked me to facilitate our discussion and somehow I said yes without batting an eye and for the first time ever, I'm okay with the fact that I'm "guiding" {if even in a small way} others through heavy talk about God and grace...even though I am in a particularly messy, very un-together state right now. I'm barely qualified to tie my shoes. So I guess I can only show up. Yes, hopefully I can do that. And perhaps that's just as it should be.

In this world of Pinterest-perfect projects, five-year plans and productivity formulas, good books on countless angles of marriage and childrearing and everything else, we can become just a tad overachieving in our expectations. As a wife and a mom and a manager of home, I have some sort of unwritten list in my head of what "good moms" or "good wives" or "good homemakers" are supposed to do and it's rather ridiculous. It makes no room for the days {or weeks or months} when real life interrupts and forces a drastic realignment of priorities.

While I resent the seasons in which fatigue is my constant companion and tears are ever beneath the surface and much about the future is uncertain, weakness forces me into a much-needed, lowest-common-denominator sort of mentality. I give up and I receive grace. Or else I die trying to live beyond my ability.

Do those I care about know that I love them? Check.

Are they fed? Just, fed. Check.

Did they leave for school with clothes on their back and shoes on their feet? Check.

Is there food for dinner? Check.

Is a bed available should I need to lie down and rest? Check. 

Does my van have enough gas to get to school and back? Check.

Do we have a home? Not a beautifully-decorated, spacious, scuff-free home. Just, a home. A physical shelter from actual storms and cold and critters. Check.

Are my kids getting an education? Not a perfect education. Just, an education. Check.

Am I loved? Check. 

Lord willing, there may one day be hearty doses of where-with-all to paint the walls that color you're dreaming of and do those special, extra, intentional things with your kids. There may one day be more money, more time, more energy, more normalcy. Or there may not. 

We make things too complicated. There are good things to accomplish and pursue, endeavors and desires that go above and beyond the lowest tier of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. But when life has us down due to health, drama, a new baby, crisis, 'bout we table the extras and be fine with just showing up? 

Receive the Grace that says loudly and clearly and with so much love, Hey! If all you ever do each and every day for the rest of your life is just show up, it's enough. And then take that Grace you've received and pass it around to the rest of the stragglers who are saddled with guilt because they're in a season when all they can do is show up too. And they think it's not enough.

If you've checked your own incredibly basic, seemingly pathetic list and you're feeling like you're just not enough, stop right now and congratulate yourself. You're here. You showed up. And today, that's enough.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin