Thursday, August 04, 2016

Looking at me

I would say, "look at me now" but I don't really want you to look at me.

I am not yet strong enough to stand there steadfast declaring my worth.

Because when you look at me, I wither.

I try to shrink and diminish before you bring me down.

But if I stand here and say, "look at me, world!", I have confidence.

Because what the world sees is really me.

I don't know what you see.  But it's not really me.

The world says, "well done!"  and "we wish you well".

You don't say anything at all and that hurts.

The world says:  "you will be great at that"  and again you say nothing.

I thank God for the people who care, and who love me.

I thank God that I'm learning to accept their love and declare myself worthy.

It is hard to look back and see a black hole.

It is hard to look in the face of my daughter and see myself and wonder how anyone could not have loved me.  She is so beautiful.  I was too, but nobody ever told me so.

And it's not just about the way she looks.  It's how she concentrates, it's how she cares, it's how she shows her emotions and loves with such purity and strength.  I know I was like that too.

She has her own ways to shine too, that are different from mine, but I don't resent that - I love that - her mix of gifts, given from God.  To be celebrated, not negated.

So here I stand.  On the brink of something new.  And I try to believe.

Believe that I can do it.  Believe that it's OK to start something new. To be a beginner.

Believe that asking for help is a sign of strength.  That feedback is not to be feared.  And life is for living out loud and not hiding in case somebody doesn't like me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Don't go

You are hoisting me along the hall.
I am clinging to your leg, I can't let go.
Please don't go....

There is darkness, blackness, bleakness.
Weeks of life pass without memory.
Until airport day.

Until you are back, until you are home.
And you are happy and I am too.
There are presents.

Things you thought I would like.
Things from a foreign land that maybe you can't even get here.
Things that speak to my heart and make me feel known.
And noticed.
And even a little bit special.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Summer visit

So, the princess drove back to the old town.  200 miles each way, and on the way back ALL the bugs decided to fly in front of the car so the windshield/screen was covered in insect innards (nice).  She didn't want to stop to clean them off though because taking small people for pizza before they left had made them later leaving than desired and the princess doesn't do driving in the dark very well.  She's not sure if that's a female thing, a something-wrong-with-her-night-vision thing, a person who gets migraines thing, a roads-in-the-new-realm are poorly marked and on the wrong side thing....or what?  She decided such trials should be avoided after journey in dark with accompanying snow and middle of nowhere driving last winter left her traumatised!

So, she was taking the kids back to the old town to visit.  And although the small people didn't see many friends the princess saw hers and that was good.  Very good.  Especially when it involved lunching at the bakery.  The kids decided that swimming and cinnamon roll eating requires public napping as a consequence and so she found herself losing circulation due to the bodies of a seven and eight year old leaning on her with all their sleepy weight.  She suffered the numbness and pins and needles for quite some time because they were quiet children leaving her conversation blissfully uninterrupted!  

So, the princess enjoyed the talking and hanging out in familiar places with familiar people who know how to say her name and hopefully don't anxiously worry about getting it wrong anymore!  People who know her children and she can update on progress and share the regular parenting pressures with, as well as the particular peculiarities of her progeny.  In all these reflections the princess found herself smiling.  And then again today, she was happily at home (watching Wimbledon!) and noticed the contentment she had in her soul.

It was good to visit.  It was good to come home.  It was good to make memories with her children and let them be 'spoiled' by their honorary Mimi.  Summer used to feel heavy and hard, but this year it is shaping up to be a good one.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Camping Trip

Pine trees and friends.
Cheeky ground squirrels in the sun's spotlight.
A small body squeezed in beside mine in my sleeping bag, keeping warm.

Sandwiches accompanied by mosquitoes.
Long legs and little legs walking along the trail.
Snow capped mountains despite the heat.

Waiting long for the water to boil.
Getting frustrated at the tent zip splitting.
Noisy kids when I'm trying to nap.

Happy people catching fish.
Chatter around the campfire.
Jumbo marshmallows roasted on a stick.

All of this was our camping trip.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What we learned in May

What Princess Morag learned in May:
  1. Having an adventurous spirit was easier when there wasn't a husband and children to consider.
  2. She can't say 'no' to people on the phone.  It is difficult, but possible, in an email.
  3. Going to the cardiologist office still makes her feel very young.
  4. Her kids are growing up ridiculously fast so she is learning to make the most of what these days hold.
  5. Listening to the radio makes her happy.
  6. Baseball games are likely more fun when the weather isn't rain with a biting wind.
  7. First grade is a good level for substitute teaching - the students know the routines and still have some awe for the teacher.
  8. The movie 'Inside Out' provides some good catharsis one year after moving. 
  9. Mosquitoes are still her nemesis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lie? - #OneWordCoffee

"She doesn't have time for you.  She doesn't need you, she has daughters of her own."

I wanted to call, I desperately needed to hear truth and love.  And this was the whisper in my head.  I listened and then I thought about it and I concluded - that is a lie.  Is there any evidence of that in the way we have interacted in the last three years?  No.  No evidence whatsoever.  She has consistently shown me love and patience and kindness and has been unfailingly glad to hear from me every time I've called.  And so I called, and her greeting made me smile, shining a light through the darkness that had been gathering in me and leaving me glad that I didn't listen to the lie.

And then the Spirit worked some healing.  She asked what else she could do?  After offering me all the truth and love she had, she actually asked what more she could do.  So I asked her to pray, right there and then on the phone.  And the tears of grief and healing streamed down my face.  She cared, she cares.  She loves me and says so.  And I can say those three words right back to her without hesitation but still a little check in my heart that wonders how it is possible?  Except she is an answer to my prayer and God is faithful.

  OneWordCoffee Linkup

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Peace #OneWordCoffee

"Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ." 

I hear these words every week.  Peace. I have a hunger for this in my life.  It has been elusive for so many years.  God wants to save me from distress?  Really?  I get incredulous because people I have loved so often caused me distress and seemed to enjoy doing so.  I thought they loved me, but on reflection that is seriously called into question.  It makes a lot more sense that if you love someone you would wish them good things, like peace.

So this Easter we made a peaceful choice and lo!  I found not only peace but JOY - that other elusive friend.

I didn't have a very focused sacrifice in Lent, but a vague idea that I needed to let go of getting worked up about other people's issues and try to catch hold of that elusive peace.  It is a continuing work in progress but switching focus from others towards myself is something that is novel for me.  I had a moment of distress while on vacation when I wanted to simultaneously do the thing I wanted to do, but I didn't want to cause anyone else inconvenience.  But I can't fairly judge what is convenient or not for other people, in that moment I had to let it go and allow them to make their own choices.  It all worked out for my happiness in the end :)

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27

OneWordCoffee Linkup

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Mine #OneWordCoffee

“But now, says the Lord, he who created you…who formed you: 
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by name; you are mine.” 
Isaiah 43:1

Do you remember the seagulls in 'Finding Nemo'?  They squawk "mine, mine, mine" as they fight over the fish.  It is often among the first words of little children who don't like sharing.  They clutch their teddy or toy close to them and declare "mine".  Even grown ups are protective of their things, or maybe their memories or experiences that they want only to belong to them and are not for sharing.

What would you claim for yours alone?  What makes you want to say "mine"?

For me, it is my husband and children that invoke this feeling so strongly.  At first with my children, it was with wonderment....'these beautiful little beings are really mine?'  I get to keep them??  How awesome!  Later, it's knowing that so many outside forces and people want to influence my children for gain or have untrustworthy motives, I want to say no to all of that and keep them close, for they are mine.  It is for me and my husband to make decisions about what they see/hear/do and the outside world is callous to their souls.

When my husband and I were in our long distance dating period, I would hear about how he'd be spending time with some girl from work and I'd get jealous and say to myself, "that's not fair, she shouldn't be with you, you're mine".  And even more fiercely after we were married and separated for four months thanks to international immigration bureaucracy; I show up in our new town and miss out on some friendship with lovely ladies because they had been feeling sorry for this helpless wifeless man and all I could think was "Hands off - HE'S MINE!!"

The idea that my husband would cheat on me, actually makes me chuckle if I think of it in terms of him trying to hit on some other woman! But the idea that some woman might entice him, is a little more plausible and makes me get my claws out.

Thinking that God might feel fiercely protective of his relationship with me in this way is amazing and comforting and beautiful.

I struggle with the feeling of 'belonging'.  It has always eluded me and an emigre's life hardly helps! To know that God claims me as HIS and he doesn't stumble over my name but calls it clearly is the kind of homecoming I need.  I want to be HIS.  When I meditate on this word it pushes back the pain of neglect and rejection and gathers me close to love Himself.

I am my beloveds and He is mine.  (Songs of Solomon 6:3)

OneWordCoffee Linkup

Monday, February 29, 2016

What I learned in February...

  1. Despite my optimism, long delays make me doubt but sweet relief comes when everything works out in the end.
  2. After a forgotten lunch, and forgotten homework, kids get with the program when mum is working. 
  3. When regret turns to self-loathing, it is time to look for the deeper hurt.
  4. Saying things out loud in the presence of an empathy-filled listener makes for great strides towards healing.
  5. Christian radio makes commuting easy!
  6. Sometimes the school district doesn't call for delayed start during random snowstorms!  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Book Review: The Prophetess

The Prophetess: Deborah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith

When I re-read the whole of the Old Testament a couple of years ago, there was a general observation and a couple of particular characters that struck and then stuck with me.  The general observation was that human beings haven't really changed; they did a lot of bad stuff back at the beginning and people do a lot of bad stuff today.  Families are messy, people are sometimes faithful and sometimes drive the other people they live with crazy!  The two characters of the Old Testament  that struck and stuck with me were Deborah and Jael (see the book of Judges).  Their stories seemed to be in stark contrast with the rest of the stories about women.  Deborah held a position of responsibility and honor and Jael's story was about violence perpetrated by her, not against her.  In a time and world where women were remembered for their relationships to the men in their lives, these two stood out as women remembered for what they had done.

I suspect Jill Eileen Smith was also struck by the recorded stories of these women, despite the brevity.  She reported it was a challenge to write a fictionalized account due to the dearth of information provided for us in the Old Testament.  I was intrigued to read what she imagined their lives to be like.  I was immediately drawn into the story.  Timeless themes of coming of age, and suitability of spouse kept me engaged with the characters.  Family themes of parent/child dynamics were also explored to good effect.  Do I know if the thoughts and speech are anywhere close to authentic for the time and culture?  No.  But I could relate to situations and they made me care about what happened to them. Smith even succeeded in keeping me in suspense despite knowing what happened in the end!

I would recommend this book as an interesting read, I have thought back to it many times since finishing and I always like a book that makes me think.

[I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.]

Waiting #OneWordCoffee

Waiting for the mail to come or the phone to ring.
Always expectant, rarely receiving.
When there is a note, a message or call,
It is not from you.

Food on the table, I should always be grateful.
My stomach was full, but my soul was empty.

I had important questions, you liked to give answers.
But they were answers for you, not answers for me.
You thought you knew me so well,
But I know now that was not true.

You thought me manipulative just for displaying emotions.
Then you dismissed them as 'silly' and I learned they were wrong.
There was the strange dissonance between my tears and your laughter.
It was never funny for me.

I wait.  And wait and feel disappointment.
I am not surprised at the lack, there was always neglect.
I start to hate myself for wanting and waiting and feeling.
Shouldn't I be over this by now?

Getting worked up about something I did 'wrong'.
Inconsolable, I start to feel curious.
My reaction is out of sync with my 'sin'.
I look underneath and find the old pain.
I don't want to, but I let myself feel it.
It grips my stomach and I silently scream.

It doesn't last as long this time.
Maybe this process is moving along.
Healing the little girl, who is hiding within.

Sitting in the dark closet, I learn to reveal.
The truth that is there, if I let myself feel.

OneWordCoffee Linkup

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Near #OneWordCoffee

Thank you Jesus for the gift of joy today, on my birthday.
I'm sure you offer me this gift every day but so often I have my hands full.
On other birthdays my hands have been full of hurt and my heart full of disappointment.

I am so glad that I have put those down so my hands can receive your joy and in my heart, your love.
Thank you for being near to me when many I love are so far away.

OneWordCoffee Linkup

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Remember #onewordcoffee

OneWordCoffee Linkup

This is familiar pain but from a different source.  I remember the last war that was like this.  Attacks that confused me, that felt so undeserved.  What had I done, other than exist?  I was so confused, because I kept looking and looking for what I had done wrong.  What they said I had done wrong, didn't seem so wrong to me, so round and round I went, trying to figure it out, with no understanding of how to get off the merry-go-round of madness.

This time I see the merry-go-round and it is clearly madness.  I look to check, to see if I have done wrong.  But all I see are traps.  What I say or do not say - it won't matter in the end.  So I don't say sorry, like I did in the last war.  Because sorrys are fuel for the fire.  They confirm that I am always in the wrong no matter what I've done.  I won't stand for that anymore.  I crawled through years of pain and heartbreak thinking I had the key to repairing what wasn't just a broken relationship but a toxic one.  There is no key for toxins.  There is no way around it, except to escape.  I escaped and the crazy weather rolled in again.

Oh Jesus, why am I facing this again?  I know I'm older, I'm stronger, I know I've learned some lessons.  But I don't know how I'm supposed to walk this through to honour you.  They don't even need to say the needling words.  I say them to myself because I remember them being said before:  You are so ungrateful
We have done so much
All we're asking is that you give us a little in return

But they don't want a little in return, they want all of me.  They want me at their beck and call.  They want me to exist for them.

I don't exist for them - I exist for YOU.  I come to you TODAY with my sore throat and sniffles and know that I am not good enough.  I know that I am tired and broken.  I know that I mess up all the time.  I have different priorities from other people.  But I LOVE you, and I LOVE my family and I LOVE the kids I work with and I pray that I would rest, knowing that you LOVED us ALL to the end.

I will remember that you won the war.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Pregnant with grace

Do you ever see a pregnant woman and wish that you too were swollen with life?  She is so obviously fruitful.  Every part of her body is working hard to nurture her little one within her and it seems like you drag your redundant body around in the world and are about as salubrious as candy.

But surely babies are not the only fruit that women bear?  Not the only fruit, but some might argue the most important.  When we think of Mary, mother of Jesus we might think first of her physical fruit-bearing i.e. she bore Jesus as the 'fruit of her womb'.  So that makes her womb the most important and fruitful part of her, right? So that means the most important and fruitful part of every woman is her womb?  I don't think so!  Because when we meet Mary, she is not yet pregnant.  The fruit of her lips is obedience.  And the fruit of her heart is love for God.  The pregnancy that follows makes her 'full of grace', because she is full of Jesus.  We too can be full of Jesus.  He promised that He would make His home in us.  We can produce life-giving fruit with thoughts and obedient lips that proclaim all things true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:8).   We can offer the fruit of forgiving others because our heart is full of gratitude that God has forgiven us through Jesus.

The very real sacrifices of pregnancy and motherhood can teach us many things but they are not the only means God uses to teach us and bear fruit.  He could only be contained in Mary's womb because He chose to be, for a time.  Now, He chooses to bear fruit in His church and in each member of His body whether they have a womb or not.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Today #OneWordCoffee

Today I was fully present where I was.
Being afraid of being hit at any moment makes that easier.
But the faces of those around me changed.
Before lunch we were strangers to one another
And stranger equaled danger.
After lunch, I felt a shift.
I remembered names.
I knew who was a flight risk.
I tried to stay conscious of the sleeping enemy.
And I could see personalities starting to shine through.
He loves to color and to complete.
He has extra energy and high fives are a highlight.
He loves stimming but also a squeeze of affection.
Being outside is good all round.

They left on their buses.
I'll see them tomorrow.

OneWordCoffee Linkup

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rest #OneWordCoffee

OneWordCoffee Linkup

My chance to choose was circumvented.
Looking forward to quiet and restful.
A surprise instead left chaos in its wake.

Afterwards, it came back to bite.
The anxiousness fed by the desire to be liked.
To be loved.
To be noticed.

Skipping meals again.
No appetite for the invisible girl.
I am merely a listening ear.
No need to fill a stomach.

But in the evenings I long for taste,
so I satisfy my tongue with the tang of salt and vinegar.

I notice the pattern.
So I make soup.
But now that I've noticed myself,
My stomach is full.
Not with food, but anger.

The rest is not found while sitting and reading.
It is found in walking and praying and breathing.
The sun shines on me, reminding me of God's power.
The clouds have lifted.  Gone is the grey.

Except in my soul.
It still feels grey.
It has shadows.
The pain runs round and round inside.
When I think on those things, there is no place to rest.

In other memories, there is pause.
She stroked my hair.
He looked out for me.
She walked alongside me.

I was held.
I was noticed.
I was known.
I was cared for.

Those who showed me what love is.
They taught me how to rest.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

One Word 2016: Pasture

OneWordCoffee Linkup
It's snowing again.  Did you know it can snow in the desert?  The princess moved from the lush old realm that was covered in green grass with practically permanent grey skies to the yellow land that is always bathed in blue skies and sunshine with only an occasional cloud.  But the desert she moved to was high desert, and she was led into the valley, hemmed in on both sides by the highest mountains she has ever seen.  And almost four years later, she was led north.  Still hemmed in by the mountains but they are not quite so overwhelmingly high.  And still desert, but it seems that the drought is coming to an end.

Is that a sign?  The end of the drought?  The princess sees it that way.  You do know that rain means blessings right?  Something she always took for granted in the old realm.  You don't think about how precious a raindrop is when they are given with such generosity.  Your daily bread, your daily rain - so easy to take for granted.  Try living in drought!  It took such getting used to, the princess used to get this restless feeling in the first year, when it wouldn't rain.  She would long for it, and then when it came it felt like such a relief.  All that waiting for something that used to be such a frequent occurrence.

In drought you become dependent.  You depend on the sprinklers to keep the grass and plants alive.  You depend on the stored water, and as you watch the reservoirs and lakes dry up, there is a realisation that as humans we are not self-sufficient.  We prayed for rain and snow and then watched other regions receive and still we were in drought.  But this year, it seems that our prayers are answered.  And this year, the princess is praying one word: pasture.

She has attempted to live self-sufficiently for too long.  She has learned in her desert life, that she does not have the resources on her own to live fruitfully.  She is learning to pray her way into her future and depend on God for the answer, for His blessings to fall on her like the rain.  More than anything, she wants to follow her shepherd to the pasture where she can graze in safety.  This year, there are new things to learn, new experiences that could threaten to overwhelm.  Yet, if she stays near the shepherd, she knows he will not let her go wrong.  She wants to know his voice, she wants to be in the right place at the right time.  She wants to remain in the pasture and not go astray.

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be kept safe.  They will come in and go out, and find PASTURE."  John 10:9 (NIV)