Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two princesses

A couple of weekends ago Jeff, Caroline, Charlotte, and I went to the fundraiser for our bar association.  It was a lot of fun for the adults and the kids.  The girls spent most of their time on the dance floor and at one point we heard a woman announcing Caroline and Charlotte's names from stage as her "helpers" in the raffle announcements.  We were tickled that they found a way to get onto that stage without any help from their parents.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Notes from Debbie Downer

I might not have actually verbalized it in this way, but before December 3, 2007, in my type-A- tight- grip-on-it-all world, "trust" meant it was going to happen the way I thought it was going to happen, the way I planned it all to happen.  The sub-text to, "I trust that God will work through all of this" was "I trust that God's best interest for me will fall in line with 'my best interest' for me."  That couldn't be further from the truth though, right?

Trust, whether in your husband, best friend, child, or God Himself is an assured reliance of that person's skill, ability, strength, character.  Now of course the standards are different from person to person.  I can trust Jeff with things I can't trust to Caroline.  That doesn't make Caroline less trust-worthy.  In the areas of her greatest ability or character, she is immensely trust-worthy.  (Disclaimer:  I'm sure all of my girls will grow into greater and greater trust-worthiness, Caroline is the oldest, so I - for better or worse - lean on her more at this point).

Isn't it difficult to trust God when you feel like he's abandoned you?  And that's an understatement of a question if there was one.  The question life throws at us is:  Will we interpret God through our circumstances or will we believe that He is who He says he is - even in the midst of Plan B. Even when I don't feel it, don't understand it, when I'm not in control?  When someone who you trust lets you down, the result is - for me at least - pain married to anger.  Side note:  They do not make a good couple, IMO.

Several years ago, I read this blog post about the stages of grief and it resonated deeply with me.  The whole "anger" part of the grief process had never resonated with me.  I mean, I'm a girl from the South, a people-pleaser, a yes ma'am, I'm fine kind of person.  Anger was foreign.  [Inset snide smirk here].  Anne's words on finding anger in her grief:

"Right after my mother died, condolence cards came by the armful. Then fewer came each day. And then, about the time it was sinking in that my mom is really gone forever, they stopped completely.

That’s when I got mad. It was as if everyone else expected things to be back to normal just as I was figuring out that we have to create a new normal, and it may never feel right."

In truth, the voice she gave to anger wasn't foreign to me, just buried.  So, when I read Anne's words, a light switch went off and I recalled how I silently seethed when people wanted me to act normal.  Now, no one ever said it in those words.  They only implied it with their words and invitations and . . .well, their silence.

A Christmas party?  Are you serious?

How are you?  Do you really want to know?  

Did you watch that show last night?  On TV?  Does that matter in the scheme of the world? Um. No.  

That inner dialog of sarcasm and cynicism and nihilism (and probably some other -isms I can't come up with right now) was mis-placed anger at people doing their best to navigate my grief.  People I trusted - and perhaps most acutely - the God I trusted, had not lived up to the expectations I dreamed up in my head.  That false definition of trust was shattered over the course of minutes, hours, days, and weeks.  Pain slowly and quietly married anger in my heart and mind and I didn't even know it.

After I read Anne's words, I went back to the stack of cards in that box in the closet and was reminded of the love people showered on us after our loss.  People I had secretly harbored ill-feelings toward for not acknowledging it had actually sent flowers or notes . . . . in that fog and blur of the first few weeks, I just didn't remember it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

For your Friday: What I'm reading

On my Kindle:

Don't Call it a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day - a collection of essays on evangelical faith.  I may not agree with all that each contributor has to say, but it has been a great eye-opening

and Les Miserables (gotta get ready for the movie)

In an actual, paper book:  

Mended - a great devotional-style book to work through at whatever pace is right for you

On the web:

I love the Bible by Rachel Held Evans.  Refreshingly honest.

Sandpaper People by Robin Dance.  This:  "A rock will remain a regular ol’ rock unless and until it’s rubbed the right way.  Different grinds of grit produce different results and all are necessary to produce a polished stone.  Change doesn’t happen overnight; it comes in due time.  Like rocks tumbled or rough wood sanded, a person changes over time when external forces rub them the right way."  Hard.  Truth.

Crazy People in the South - Designing Women.  I love this show.  I got caught up in the Designing Women channel cycle on You Tube when someone pointed me to this one.

Excursion - Bik Bik and Ro Ro.  A precious stop motion video.

First World Problems are Real Problems - Shaun Groves.  If we are connected on Twitter or Facebook, you probably saw me link to this, but I had to mention it again.  I really love it.  It gives a great perspective on perspective.

Chained to the Father Metaphor - Amber Haines.  This line got me, "I see now that idolatry even of a good father can twist the truth so that all chances of pleasing him are squashed. Idols lie."

Cute British Kid Sits Under His Sister's Sage Teaching - via 22 Words.  Cute and funny.

Lately by Amelia.  Beautiful pictures and more beautiful words (as always).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"I just want to be on stage!"

When she was about four, Caroline came to my office one time and lamented that her dream was "just to be on stage!"  My co-workers still laugh about the gusto with which she expressed that four year old desire.  Thanks to her school, Caroline has realized that dream a few times now over her school years since kindergarten.

And today she continued reaching that dream when she had a mini-performance at school today.  The kids were fabulous.  I can't say enough how much I admire the teachers at Caroline's school for all they do.  The kids love to perform and they direct that love and focus it into some really incredible talent.  They sing, they dance, they act and they all look like they truly enjoy it.

The second grade performance today was "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and Caroline was in a group of sheep performing circus-like tricks with the boy (yes, it was a spin on the old story).  As always, Caroline ate it up.  She loves being on stage, singing, dancing, performing in just about any way.  Seeing her face light up is so satisfying for Jeff and for me as her parents.  There is truly nothing like seeing your child immersed in something they love.  I pray each of my girls finds something that brings them joy the way that performing brings 7 year old Caroline joy.

Here are a few pics of my little circus sheep:

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

in the mending (part 2)

I hope it's not a bad thing that I'm continually linking to, quoting, or making reference to a host of writers and bloggers.  If nothing else, it makes me feel slightly less odd to know that someone else's words are giving voice to something I'm feeling.

In this case, several months ago Emily Freeman wrote:  "Several years and several moves later, I had learned the fine art of becoming who everyone wanted me to be in order to be accepted. Not in the I’ll-jump-off-a-bridge-too kind of way, more in a I-don’t-rock-the-boat kind of a way. I watched people, learned what got on their nerves, learned what people liked and didn’t like. I wasn’t doing this on purpose. I just really wanted to have a lot of friends. I wanted to be seen as fun. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Shy didn't seem okay."

Now, I don't think I'm shy - introverted, yes, but shy, no.  But the part of her story that speaks of molding yourself into what you think others want you to be . . . . Yes, that.   That resonates with me. And maybe with most of us?

Forgive my amateur psychologist analogy here, but it's almost Pavlovian.  When we get a good response, a reward, a pat on the back because we fall in line or make only little waves and don't rock the boat, we habituate to that behavior.  Is it innate to the human condition or is it my constitution that is more prone to that?

From taking the first appointment offered at a doctor's office even if it's not convenient for me - and how ridiculous is that when I type it out - to "just doing it myself", those are my grown up versions of getting a reward, no matter how small.  Don't disappoint.  Make it work.  Do the right thing.

When we ruffle feathers or cause disturbance or somehow, someway stand out from the crowd, we don't get the same affirming response.  I admire those who even at a young age do not let others' expectations of who they "should be" and what they "should do" snuff out the light that was born in them.  And there is an extreme on the opposite end of the spectrum from where I normally stand - there are those that intentionally create chaos, or draw the spotlight to themselves.  The ones I admire most are those are simply honest about who they are, their likes and dislikes, their passions, hopes, dreams, understandings, capabilities, and desires.  Again, some people are born with it - and if I might wax prophetic, I believe my Charlotte is one of those.  And I love her light.

That's the place I long to rest:  knowing my Source, my Light, my Strength, my Hope.  Not striving, not arranging; resting in the Way, the Truth, the Light in the way it was placed in me.

This is my much-belated follow up to a writing prompt from Angie Smith celebrating the release of her book, Mended.