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Celebrating the hell out of Easter

I sit here on Easter morning, letting the cool breeze in through the sliding door. I savor the freshness of this morning and feel more than a bit sad at the same time. Or guilty. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been inside “Church.” A year ago I decided to lay down my scramble that started to make me question my reasons for going. Not questioning my faith, but the reasons behind why I would wake up with anxiety and a pressure to get my kids out the door and hopefully into church before worship started. I stopped and set it down because we were all so tired. It felt meaningless.

I pondered this morning about everyone celebrating Christ’s resurrection today. I wondered how many truly feel the joy and hope of what that means in their own lives, or how many just put on a good face and show up trying to celebrate. Personally, I see and celebrate much resurrection in my own life, leading me to where I am today. But part of me feels stuck in Good Friday still, in the darkness and sadness of not seeing what’s coming on Sunday. Life out of death with no evidence in sight yet.

A MILLION RESURRECTIONS

However, as I write I realize that’s what this is all about. Celebrating and hoping for what we know can and will come. Because we need to translate the full story and recognize the one resurrected life of Christ we celebrate today gives us a life resurrected once and a million times over. The moments in days of a lifetime that have gone sideways.

So today, I celebrate. I will literally celebrate the hell out of Easter Sunday. I celebrate all the ways I feel like my heart and my life were dead and have been brought new life. I celebrate the dark place of uncertainty in my kids’ hearts today because I know it will be ok. I know there is a love so much greater than this friday-not-seeing. I can celebrate because there is a knowing of resurrection that comes out of it. There is victory, hope, joy and total beauty in that knowing.

 

 

the little things of moving

it’s a curious thing, this grief of moving. there is suprising sadness i didn’t know i’d be facing, but i know it’s what i always dread when change is coming. when it’s happening. there are so many memories we’ve made during our time in this little place, and so much of it speaks of my fierce determination to build a home that offers security, adventure and love.

after choosing a few favorites, i’m a bit undone by the tears that come when i put our beloved river rocks out in the dirt. i’m not a collector of things, though i understand why it would be easy to want to hold on to everything that has memory attached to it. to pick up a rock and study it…it brings the memory a bit more alive; the feeling of our skin baking in the summer sun as we scavenge for river rocks in a cold colorado river. setting them out feels like i’m leaving a piece of me behind somehow; i have no idea how many thousands of times i’ve looked at the display on our trunk coffee table- marveling and rearranging.


i messaged a book-loving neighbor with an offer of our little house on the prairie books and had a lump in my throat as i thought about the many hours of read-aloud through that series when the kids were smaller. it’s the fondness of the memory; of a time i can only recount in my memory bank. our treasured shared history. i smiled, wiped away a tear and snapped a picture  of the sweet stack of well-loved books now offered to her little family.


these little deaths of parting with things somehow feel like a betrayal- like i’m casting aside pieces of my life; our lives together. until i remember i still have the experience. the memory and most of all the loves i shared these things with. i’ll hold on to them instead, lighten the load for our journey and make space for more rocks from different rivers, new adventures and an ever-expanding heart as we head in to a wild new space.

 

deeper still

when your longing is holy and good, the sigh comes deep and tears spring

there is knowing and unknowing- an ache so deep for what seems indescribable

the call for more and deeper and to be bound and unbound at the same time, intimacy we’re created for and can’t put words to

it’s the mingling of the divine and with the divine; to be touched with a heavenly hand here on earth, giving us a taste of all we don’t yet get to have

a holy longing, to merge with all that is divine already in us

it’s a yes murmured in the dark, a vulnerable openness to be seen and held

the healing comes and the longing grows, deeper still

 

Clandestine grace

It seems lately women need to put it out there (on Facebook or a blog or simply in conversation) with some sense of defiance how we aren’t keeping up, with the attempt to communicate that we are ok with that. Like we need to be affirmed for giving up the unrealistic expectations when we really feel forced to. We are behind with the house, dammit, because by gawd, we are spending time with our family. Late with the  Christmas cards again this year…(what the eff are Christmas cards, says this particular woman). I didn’t pull half my decorations out this year and don’t really even care. It’s as if we are somehow we are flipping our finger at the world by not checking Pinterest before we decorate our tree. Shit. What is this mess about?

There is a whisper of silent pressure to keep up some standard. It’s self imposed, mostly.  I say mostly, because women so often (at least in my world) are each other’s best champions and advocates, yet we can slice each other down with a mere judging glance.

The reality is we are tired. Simply tired of trying to keep up in an ever hurried world. Achieving a perfect body, balanced life, an immaculately decorated and kept home, best dressed and highly achieving children and on and on. It seems the demand to accomplish more, be more, and do it faster and better swirls all around us at an astonishing rate. Absolutely everything is in front of us for our viewing pleasure, and there is a tutorial for every damned thing from fitness to sex to bow tying. So when we actually have the courage to or just get so tired we give something the heave-ho, it feels like a clandestine feat instead of a sweet grace of self-care and boundary setting.

My friend and I were talking about what fuels my guilt for all I don’t do that I think I should be getting done. I responded that it was driven by my stupid dance of performance and inadequacy issues. Always too much and never enough… the dance doesn’t stop. I lose sight of what I’m good at, successful at and winning in life at. I focus instead on all that is not, and certainly haven’t mastered holding the two in tandem. I suspect this is a common thread of all women, if not all of humanity.

Often we think of grace as an unmerited favor from God. However, in this case, I think one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of grace a more appropriate definition of what we need to do for ourselves and others- “a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.” Right now I’m in the middle of a grace I offered myself tonight, sitting at a new coffee shop downtown. This felt like clandestine grace; this clemency I was secretly offering myself; but now it just feels perfect.

What would it look like to just be kind? Offering the gift of kindness to ourselves and each other, and find the beautiful in the moment before us… a simple act of love in the letting go of unrealistic expectations and being open to the withness of wherever we are. There is gift in my simple tree this year, in the conversation I just got to have with an unexpected guest at my table, acknowledging hurt and offering my presence to right now. Even the smile I offer is a gift- to pull me out of myself and see and acknowledge someone else for a moment.

How can you offer this gift to yourself today? Right now. In this season of mounting stress, what can you do to offer this unexpected kindness to yourself? It is a beautiful, holy gift.

 

 

 

 

 

when the oxygen mask isn’t enough

This morning, I am faced with myself. My singleness. The momentarily crushing hard of solo parenting. It’s been a wearying and trying week, for sure. My tank feels pretty empty and it’s hard to not try to fill it up with all the temporary fixes I can find.

To say I’m reliant on God to fill me first is an understatement. Perhaps, that I need for Him to fill me first is a better statement. Some days, (most it seems), I do this all so inadequately. Most days I’m fumbling to meet their needs and mine, and don’t even know how to let God be enough for me.

I really do hate the oxygen mask instruction that people always give me, (you know- the prompt to make sure my own needs are met so I can adequately tend to the needs of my children for their survival), and here is why…It’s never enough. The decision to get up extra early for some quiet alone comes with a price- less sleep. The gym, coffee time, time with friends, a hike alone.. all things that entail “self-care.” These and other attempts to take care of myself feel like grabbing the oxygen mask as it’s passed down a line of people and needing to stockpile the life-givingness of it, when that’s impossible. The breath is beautiful in the moment, and I’m certainly grateful when those moments come. But it never feels to be enough.

So here’s the rub- we aren’t designed to meet our all of our  own needs. There are three growing bodies and souls in my charge; hearts being expanded and experienced by love and hurts, bodies that crave touch and affection, homework to oversee and stories to hear. The list goes on, yet the joy is often still here. But I can’t depend on my kids to caretake me. They can learn to see me as a human with needs… they are learning to offer help at times- cook a meal, give a tender bit of affection, carry my things out to the car. But obviously, their place is not to meet my needs for deeper intimacy with a grown-up, which we are wired for.

Not for a moment am I pretending that others don’t meet my needs..I have so many beautiful friends and family that hear me, give hugs, offer support and are a bright spots interspersed through my days and weeks. And for that I’m so profoundly grateful.

As I write, several things are occurring to me. One-there is power in words; speaking or writing. To get the frustration on the outside instead of in is such a freeing act. I already feel much lighter. Two- the little things of God really do make a significant impact…the sweet birds at the feeder right now, the candles flickering around me, the offering of affection from each of the boys as I sit here and write. But I realize that I have to make space for these things to land and take root in me by getting my frustrations out- through writing, praying or talking with a friend. And third, I need to remember and remind myself that everything is temporary. I will never get this day to do again, these people to love on this day again, this set of circumstances to walk through again. I can be ok with my frustration, loneliness, and weariness and let God meet me somehow in all the messy. To learn to look for and pay attention to all that’s wholly wonderful with a Holy Wonder- to see it all as ways God is filling me and let it be enough today.

 

 

Sacred

The whispers of wind and my children’s voices, beckoning me to come closer and inhale. My heart and soul fill with beauty and laughter; with the sacred chance to be there. Right there. With all of creation whispering and screaming life in that very moment. I breathe in God and color and light, and the shouts of joy right then. What a sacred gift.

Sacred is climbing 2000 vertical feet of stairs with a friend, pausing to notice. The sacred gift of seeing what’s behind us, what lies ahead, paying attention to what our bodies are telling us and laughing. Sacred is the simple being of companionship. The text messages between friends and family, checking in on each other’s lives, the love and support that cover a thousand miles. These are sacred treasures. 

Sacred is the mending of damaged hearts after my fit of throwing corn against the stove. I saw the fear and uncertainty in their eyes and hearts;  yet the honoring of the raw and messy emotion we all felt throws the need to wonder if we are safe to be who we need to be in our home right down in to the dirt. We are dirty and messy and real here, and to me it’s a sacred space I wouldn’t trade… for anything.

The coffee in a cup, warming my hands as I sit in silence on the deck or sharing time with a friend. Kisses and hugs from my not so littles anymore, treasured gifts, howling laughter, deep and difficult conversations, the secret longings in my heart for romance and love, the taste of wine on my tongue, raging moments, butterflies in my stomach, the hummingbird’s zip and tears slipping down a cheek. These are all sacred in the moments that hold them, and are worth my full attention and recognition. They remind me I’m living fully alive in this beautiful and sacred life.

 

Presence and Play

It’s a drawing in and letting go. When your story is sometimes just handed to you, it’s both the  foot-stamping and graceful receiving of what is and using it to write your own script in life. Fancy verbiage for “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Some times in life our choices and actions determine our outcomes,  and other times we simply get to deal with the things that we would rather hand back and say “no thank you….” Or maybe even “screw that; no flipping way in hell I’m taking that.” That’s where I am today; in the drawing in of what I don’t want and didn’t choose, yet  recognizing I can choose to still be present in my circumstances and the letting go of what I can’t control.

After a heart-hurting couple of weeks, I’m weary with all that’s on my plate. I seem to keep finding what seems to be the end of my strength and capacity, and yet, I somehow continue to get stretched to accommodate more to care for the needs of my family. I’ve stamped my foot too many times to count, shook my head and just wondered. The “why me ” question frequently crosses my mind. And yet, I’m learning to pay attention to the story in front of me and use it to write a beautiful testimony of life.

I found a break in my work week, so we hastily stuffed the car with camping gear and we headed for the mountains. Two nights with campfire on our clothes, black dirt staining our feet, and the river a few feet away whispering peace to our souls. I sat in the mornings, watching and pondering the flow of the river. As I dipped my feet in to the icy cold water, I was offered an exhilarating reminder that the simplest things can make us feel so wildly alive. I watch the water pass over the rocks, causing bubbles and waves;  I see the rocks are a disruption to the flow of the water, yet it continually happens. Turmoil for a moment and then the water calms and passes. The rock is slowly shaped and smoothed by the flow of the water; a metaphor for me and my story. We all will perpetually have disruptions of life that come along and we can let it shape us and make some lemonade or lemon tarts and let the flavor of life dance on our tongue and heart, or we can resist the flow and let the lemons rot.

Presence and play are two big ways I keep from drowning when the water sweeping over me seems to be too much.

In the past week, presence was hanging up our hammocks and just observing how each of my crew spent their time in theirs. Barrett mostly read, I slept and read, Brody chilled and swung, and Gantry bounced in and out and flipped himself out from swinging too high… Presence was laughing so hard when Brody ran his flaming marshmallow to the river to put it out and dirt on hands planting flowers. Play was plowing in to water two feet deep on our bikes after flying down the hill out of a parking garage. Presence is hearing my daughter talk about her new boyfriend and being excited for love and hearing hearts that hurt, and the sharing our campfire with strangers turned friends. Play is learning to ride the walls on my bike with my boys. Presence is loving in a moment of frustration… Identifying the child’s joy that led to exploring something resulting in what felt like a mistake to me. And presence is recognizing that it wasn’t a mistake. The presence is just being with someone and soaking in the moment. It’s the conversation by the river of life and God and love. Presence and play make fabulous lemonade.

The choice to remain in presence and play… It’s love and life right here and now; the writing of the story of our life intertwined with God, choices and the unchosen.

May you choose to be fully present in the good or bad of your circumstances today and still know that love and life exist right there in the middle of it all. Make something fabulous out of your lemons.