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.