Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Choosing the Hard.

Three years come and gone and this is what I want to share.
Share the journey, share the path, share a shred of the story.
And it’s not for the feedback and it’s not for the wallowing...it’s for the hope, and the glimpse of the ‘other side’, and giving glory where glory is due.

We run from the hard and we cling to the easy. We avoid mess and we strive for perfection.
We have an unrealistic idea that if things are ‘right’ then they’re easy.
When things get hard..we want an escape route.
A sideways whisper in my direction, more than once...a wondering from a disillusioned voice…
”How hard is it to be on your own?”...
“Tell me the truth...how hard is going through a divorce?”

Well...on my own?... The hard could never be wrapped up neatly in a packaged paragraph.
The truth?...About separating two lives? About walking the path of divorce?
How hard is it to take an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, one whole... and split and divide those bonded fibres into two separate entities, functional and unmarred?
It’s hard.

And hard can mean many different things…and it doesn't have to mean the end of the story.
I guess the question for any, and all of us is...how hard is it, and what am I going to do with it?

How hard is staying and pounding out the flaws in a marriage, because you chose love a long time ago?
How hard is traversing infertility or the long road of adoption?
How hard is being single when you desperately want a companion to walk with?
How hard is losing a loved one?
How hard is watching a family member fight addiction?
How hard is putting your parent into long term care?
How hard is ….hard?

Here’s what I know:
If you’re really living, if you’re really ‘in’ life - it’s hard. 
Doing life and sticking it out with other flawed people, and situations, is hard. And not always the trudging, clawing, can’t see the light, hard, although there are those seasons…
Sometimes it’s the worthy, exhilarating, and purposeful hard. Like running a marathon.
That’s hard and people choose it!
It’s punishing and takes discipline and determination. It takes work and commitment. 
But it’s WORTH it, and it’s REWARDING.

We fight and laugh and cry through the hard in life everyday... and when we triumph through the worthy-hard and we reach the mountain peak moments or the smooth sailing moments we can breathe deep, and know true satisfaction, and we understand better the GUTS OF LIFE.

I know the strong squeeze of a 7 year-old bear hug, and the lilting whisper of ‘I love you momma’ from a 5 year-old while saying good nights…
I also remember the grasp of a hand that used to hold mine when we shared a life together...and it’s not a flashing picture, it’s a knowing... like you know something that’s a part of you - the strength of the grip and the warmth of the skin...and now it’s in the past, yet present with me, and perhaps that is mine to carry.

There is no insurance plan that can be bought that will guarantee easy street. If you haven’t come upon the grit of hard yet...you will.

I stared at shoots and sprouts in egg carton cups this afternoon, reaching like a BIG STRETCH towards the sun...and it was very clear to me that each green life just fought a battle, each one had to break out of a shell that was too small to contain its potential, and then push through darkness and dirt and weight...towards the surface...the light...to find the breath, the purpose, the glory of becoming.

This I know - we are all meant to break out of a safe and comfortable shell. We are all required to push through dark, bleak and heavy times. We all have the potential to grow towards our big purpose in life, unabashedly running towards our light, our life source, our Creator, who has plans to see us flourish, and spread our branches wide and full.
It’s all part of the plan to get us to who we are supposed to be.
Hard is in the plan.
And the hard we live out is our choice

So I choose my hard.
I choose radical faith in a God that created me and knows my every breath, even though I may not even know the next step.
I choose to show up everyday in the life, and the mess, and the beauty that surrounds - and to SEE it and FEEL it and BREATHE it, as if it was put there just for me..because it was.
I choose not to edit my authentic and vulnerable responses to those present in my life because of past hurts.
I choose to run away from bitterness that’s like cancer...surrender anger that can consume an entire life ...and wish the past farewell with love in my heart..
And sometimes it’s hard.
But it’s the worthy-hard.

And because I know my purpose and the One who authored it -  I can do hard things.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Confessions from a Heart Learning About Generosity...

In the middle of the never-ending winter I suited up beds with fresh, clean sheets. The sun poured in the windows, even though the blinds were drawn and I thought about the simple beauty in a day and in a life...and on second glance...wait - what was that?
A fly?
A big fat fly wandering from behind that closed blind out onto my window sill?
I stared at it, confused.
This is winter!
How long have you been there in the shadows...without me noticing? How have you stayed alive?
My thoughts quickly went from confusion, to questions and then to...anger.
I was annoyed at this stupid bug. I'm not a fan of winged creatures crawling on the inside walls of my safe, reserved-for-humans-only house. I was irritated by its presence and moreover I was indignant that in the midst of winter - which, to me, is just a long, lovely break from all things buzzy and wingy - there it was. Right there. Where it didn't belong and where I didn't want to think about it.

Does my reaction seem over the top?
Would you feel the same way?

When I broke it down and thought about it...my reaction did seem pretty intense for a housefly. But, unedited, and in the moment - those were my gut reactions. And, my mind couldn't help but start to draw a parallel from the most unexpected circumstances...and even if you can't relate to the fly invasion reaction, consider how you feel about what the next level is. I think it will be recognizable to many of us...

He calls out for spare change in the middle of the theatre district, and in your dressy clothes and sweet smelling perfume, you avert your eyes and grab the arm of your companion, stepping around him and whispering under your breath - "Seriously, you can't even go out anymore without them being there. Why is he here? Go get a job."

You flop on the couch and flick on the TV to relax after a long day and the first image across the screen is a newscaster reporting about the human trafficking epidemic that is 'closer to home than you think'. You shake your head and think - way to ruin my downtime..why do I want to think about that right now...or ever?!? It's too sad and horrible. What can I possibly do about that?

The malls are packed with holiday shoppers, Christmas tunes lilt through the halls and stores. You're feeling elated as you have just one last thing to shop for and then your list will be done...you can officially enjoy Christmas. Then - dead ahead - there it is - right in the middle of the mall - the sponsor child display. The workers are actually going INTO the crowd and approaching people with packets affixed with pictures of children! Why do they DO THAT?!? Why do they use the holidays to try to guilt me into caring about people I don't even know? And where does that money go anyway?

Sound or feel familiar?
It came to me clearly, because it's familiar to me.
In a season of raising my own kids and dealing with my own life-stuff, there have been times where the poor, the maginalized and the desperate feel like an interruption.
You?

The images we're bomabarded with can leave us feeling not empowered to help, but rather, helpless to affect any real change.
Sometimes it truly is a heart attitude about who matters - and we have decided that the people that matter are our families and ourselves. And if that's the case then we really do need to consider change.
And sometimes, it's the magnitude of the problems that leave us feeling as if - what does my time, my money, or my compassion even do?

Here's what I'm learning.

There is always more room to give. Always.
Generosity is rarely - if ever - repaid with lack.
The opening of a heart almost always results in a heart that strangely - now - has even more room to grow.
Overwhelmed? Choosing those little moments that present themselves on a weekly or daily basis. Try one of those out.
The $40/month sponsor child may be a 'no' for you, but taking a senior citizen's grocery cart back to the store for them, or a weekly purchase of Kraft Dinner tacked on to your groceries for the food bank may be a 'yes'.

It seems we defer to our brains when we feel we may lose something and we defer to our hearts when we want something. Next time an opportunity to 'see' someone in need presents itself and you feel your protective brain kicking in - defer to your heart
Try it out. See what it feels like.

I'm learning when it comes to true generosity, and compassion, and benevolence...the heart usually can be trusted.

The truth is - at the end of my days, I don't want to look back and say, "I was really good at protecting what was mine."
I want to say, "I was blessed with much and I gave all that I could, whenever I could, and I have no regrets."


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A Thought on Mothering...

In the midst of little people learning to use the toaster and trails of crumbs that could surely lead to the moon and back...I am learning to hear the laughter.
In the noise of turning the TV off and siblings learning and practicing how to take turns and play fair...I am trying to see the joy.

Someone, not too far back, said - "this is their childhood...right here and right now....all of it..."

So when I want to shush the silliness, because I love and crave quiet, I opt instead to remind them about being considerate. And when the volume in the car reaches epic levels of childhood noise...sometimes I bite my tongue and just put the window down.
I don't know if I ever realized how effectively different personalities in a house can push you to grow. When those different personalities are my own children...it makes me very mindful and careful-careful not to push them to change in the moment - for my own comfort, to serve my own personality.
I thought I would be the sole teacher in this mothering game, but that is almost hilariously contrary to the truth.
You see, they take chances I had stopped taking...and they jump in like I never did. They love hard and vulnerably and it reveals the contrast in my reserved ways and self-preserving methods. And the laughter...oh the laughter.
I had no idea how much of this journey would be my own, and how much these two little souls would be sent to be my transformation and my personal overhaul.
Showing up every day...and being 'in it' with them...is challenging on every level. And I don't know if there is truly any other relationship that stretches you on so many levels...but you're not looking for the exit sign. I am so in love and so invested that when the work presents itself - the work on me - I wrestle and I dig and I do it - because their purity cannot lie and I know the revelations are true.
If you really want a self help kit that will rearrange you forever and irreversibly...invest in a child.
Seriously, God's wisdom and planning and foresight can be spooky.
He knows. He knows. He knows.
I don't feel fit to the task ~ almost ever.
Jumping in with total love and abandonment is the only option.
Admittedly I am tired a lot and completely upended much of the time in the feeling of ...'what exactly do I know?'
I am thankful that I was chosen
I am thankful for His hand that guides me...
And for the two that He sent to change me.
Life with them is my pure joy.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Sunbeams and Raindrops...

In a children's discovery book I read of rainbows and sunbeams and it wasn't fairy stories and magic. It was science and facts. 

It told of how sunbeams are always multi-coloured... everyday...always.
When they shine they are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
The trick is this...
Our eyes can only see the rainbow when the sunbeam collides with rain. 
We see the beauty, the colour is revealed to our eyes, through the drops of rain that fall when the sun shines. 

It's the combination of the two, the sun and the rain, that allows our human eyes to see the out-of-the ordinary...the extraordinary...to see things differently.

And isn't that like life?

I love the sunshine moments in life. 
My leaning is to want them always. 
My daydreams swirl around the idea of perfection...you? 
A life without interruption of the good things. A life where every experience is happy, peaceful, fun, great, lovely...

The sun is a glorious force. It beats down on our faces and warms not only our skin but our hearts. It helps us to feel energized and motivated and it keeps us healthy. But our human nature will undoubtedly lead to this - too many days of sun and we stop noticing how great it is. We absorb the same benefits but it's just there...whatever.

Nature is representative of life on so many levels.

Have you ever met someone who has a pretty great set up - but they never seem content? The beauty of a moment is lost on them. Simple joys don't register. There is a shallowness that can't be forced to go any deeper. They only see one level of life, and they're less than impressed with it. 
They only see the sunbeam.

We run from rain - figuratively and literally. 
We check the weather forecast. We run to avoid getting wet. 
And most of us dodge rain in our lives to avoid pain, undoing and heartbreak. 
The frantic dance of someone trying to dodge rainfall in their life is one I've known well.
Not so graceful....and P.S...impossible.
We're meant to experience both...the sun and the rain.
Avoidance is futile.

It's easy and common to have the mindset that rain ruins things. 
It messes with plans. It makes puddles where we wanted a clear step. It floods out things that meant something...
Valuable things...
Things we didn't want to let go of...
Things we didn't want to lose. 
It washes away.

The hard truth is this - there is a depth to life when you've experienced some rain in your days. Seasons come and go, and through the storms you weather - and survive - you realize that there is meaning in the rain. Things that seemed average and one dimensional at one time - after a few storms  - now have depth and layers and meaning that you couldn't have seen before...even if you'd wanted to...even if you'd tried.
You also learn that storms do eventually end and that there are lessons to be found in the midst of them...and new beauty on the other side of them.

Sunbeams and rain do a dance in our lives. They work together to grow us...and undo us...and renew us...and sustain us. 
They allow us to see differently. 

I'm learning not to dodge the rain anymore. And when it does come, I'm looking down less...not focusing on the puddles and the mess. I'm glancing upward. I'm letting the drops hit me on the face because I know the sun WILL come, and if I catch it right - the rain may still be falling, and my eyes will see the streaming, dazzling colours...the gift that only comes from the rain in our lives. The promise, that although the rains may come, they will not destroy me.
The rainbow.


Monday, 18 November 2013

The Ways We Hide

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” ― Oscar Wilde

How do you hide?

Here's the truth.

I have always been an extreme introvert. 
I've shied away from social functions. I've avoided groups of people. I've sat at the back during events. I didn't feel that I had anything to offer. I was petrified that if I said something it would be stupid. 
My biggest goal in most circumstances was to blend in. 
Disappear? Even better.

Marriage didn't magically cure me of my lack of confidence and my aspirations to be invisible. It became my crutch. I didn't need to make friends because I could stay home with my family. I didn't have to take risks with people that I didn't want to take, because I was married and that was going to be forever...so I was set. 
I thought I'd eliminated the risk of getting hurt or embarrassed or singled out. 
I didn't care that I didn't have a very good chance of engaging with people, sharing my gifts and talents, or making any kind of a difference in my world.
I was hiding.

Then one day I woke up...
And I didn't have that title or that relationship or that life to hide behind anymore.
My hiding place was gone.
I was exposed.
I was a grown woman, a mother - with children of my own - and all of my not-enough was staring me in the face... and for every venture I made out into the world on my own I might as well have been a new kid standing alone on the first day of school.
It was like starting from the very beginning.

I've thought many times about how I could possibly share about the good that has come from devastation.
How can an event that rips you wide open and cracks you straight through the middle... have a story of redemption laced through it?

The thing is...God uses everything. 
The beautiful. 
The lovely. 
The noteworthy. 
The sad. 
The untimely. 
The confusing. 
The tragic. 
All of it. 

In fighting to find breath, and strength, and healing, I ended up finding the truth about who God is and what He does. In a season where hiding would've made a LOT of sense...
I learned that hiding isn't actually living. And I really, really wanted to feel what it felt like to...live.

I believe right down to my core that our paths and our twists and our turns, our wanderings and wondering, our hard fought and our sadly lost... and our discoveries and revelations through all of that... are to be shared.
It's what the human experience is about. It's what connects us and draws us closer to each other. The sharing is what spreads hope.

Sometimes that won't be pretty and polished. Sometimes it may reveal unsavoury things, and sometimes it won't land, and sometimes the result may be gritty and uncomfortable. 
But that's okay.
The truth is only scary when it is hidden. Monsters hide in the dark. And for all of the silence that wafts through the air after the real is offered up...there is usually one quiet whisper that says...thank you...or...me too.

There is nothing more comforting and hopeful than finding out that you're not the only one.

All of us have ways that we hide...and we have reasons for our hiding. 
I had my reasons, and I thought they were good reasons.
But here's what I know today...

I am thankful for the ways that my life was laid bare.
I am thankful for the undoing that lead to rebuilding.
I am thankful that the stripping away revealed things I would've never uncovered.
I am thankful for a God who showed up in the darkest of dark shadows and saw my pieces and shards and tatters and immediately said, "I won't leave you here and I don't want you to hide any longer."
In stepping out of the dark, the light can be shone on your worth...the Light is for me and it's for you too...

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

Martin Luther King, Jr.









Sunday, 7 April 2013

Cling


What about when what You ask of me is far greater than what I had expected?
Far more demanding than my strength can withstand....

And not in the...
'This-is-so-huge-and-amazing-I-don't-think-I'm-awesome-enough-for-it'....
It's the...
'I couldn't have known that this many questions and this much undoing and all of this pain could possibly be representative of a girl who is still on the right path.'
Yet, here I am.


Life undone is hard to put in a pretty box.
Life transparent shows a lot of holes ~ a lot of the fraying fabric of my humanity.
There is no timer that rings and signifies that clean up has begun and perfection is slated next on the agenda.
There is no room for pretending or faking it.
In the deep end - you can't 'pretend' you know how to swim.

So the water is deep.
So the waves continue to swirl.
So the peaceful, quiet, shore is a long way off.
And I'm only one. Undone.

I'm kinda done with striving, kinda done with buying into the idea that my own effort is the only thing I can rely on...I've kinda been done with it for a long time.
I'm out of options that begin with the words -
I. 
Me.
My.

I'm choosing one word to start.
It's my only hope.

Cling

There is a choice out here in the deep.
All is not lost - all is not pointless.

Cling - to the One who turns the tides.
Cling - to the One who sees me in my storm. It seems big to me, but He sees everything from beginning to end.
Cling - to the One who promised, I will never leave you or forsake you.

Regardless of who or what stirred up this storm...
Regardless of who or what left me in the dark and never looked back...
There is One who is greater than the winds that blow in and out of my life.
There is One who brings peace to a restless heart.

There is One who will never leave.

Hope is built on this truth.
This lifeline is secure in any length of dark storm.
This promise lies not in the assurance of a life free of hard questions, pain and loss, but that there is an arm that holds on and never, ever lets go.

And I smiled to think God's greatness
Flowed around our incompleteness ~
Round our restlessness, His rest.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Friday, 15 March 2013

This is the Story

This is what I'm realizing:
Sometimes the back story in life is actually the main story in God's plans...

and....
The BIG, menacing, dramatic, attention-grabbing, life altering UP FRONT story is really just a catalyst. 

A way to get me to stop. 
To get silent. 
To ponder. 
To seek and to yield.

When I uncomfortably agree to let the life-hole stay vacant until HE fills it.....instead of seeking a temporary band aid so I can move past the pain.... He reveals deep truths to me. 

I am at unrest with the confusion. 
I want OUT of the uncomfortable place. 
I don't want to dwell here. 

In my human heart I want to know Him because of the liberation FROM the pain and I want to FORGO  the experience of His sustaining presence IN the dark places.

When I try to solve things on my own, in my own timing, I interfere with His work ON ME. 
I see every situation with limited vision.
If I push my own agenda, I risk  forfeiting the space for His perfectly timed revelation that grows me, and calms me, and reminds me that He is perfect and He is ALWAYS working. 
He is my teacher and I have much to learn. 

The only way to learn - straight from His heart - is to trust Him when I cannot see, and to seek worldly silence and Spirit whispers, instead of giving into the pressing urge to defend myself.
When I decrease. He increases....

He increases in my life.
In my circumstance.
And in my world. 

Choosing God's way can be humanly painful. 
Waiting upon Him can appear to the masses as foolishness.
Careful examination of the areas He highlights, the behaviours that He puts His finger on, causes me to see that the calamity, the undoing, the confrontations and the riffs - these monumental happenings that bring my days to a halt...
THESE ARE the backstory. 

The BIG UP FRONT story is how he is winding and weaving His higher ways all throughout my life.
He is ever-presenting chances for me to see Him and choose Him and be changed by Him.