CREATED TO MOVE

Not too long ago, my eldest son asked me while I was standing near him, “You can never just stand still, can you?”  It was then I realized that, though my feet were firmly planted, the rest of me had been moving.  I had been kind of swaying back and forth while talking with him.  I answered him, “Nope! I guess not.”  We laughed about it, but it got me to thinking.  Can I stand still?  I really can’t.  I try.  I have to focus all of my energy on standing still.  During group prayer, while we are standing, holding hands at Bible study, I have to tell myself, “Be still.  Don’t move.”  And then I come to the realization that I’m not thinking about God, but about me.  And then I feel guilty.  It’s a conundrum.  

I came to the Lord over twenty years ago.  I was twenty-three at the time. I knew I was broken and desperately needed Him.  And so, bit by bit over the last twenty-plus years, He has been refining me, making me resemble more of Him and less of me as I grow closer with Him.  And yet there is still so much work to do!!  

One of my greatest struggles, ever since walking down the aisle at that church service,  tears freely flowing as I felt for the first time that God not only knew me, but He actually LOVED me (wow!!), has been “quiet time.”  I love–no–I ADORE the idea of “quiet time” with the Lord.  I envision me sitting at a table in a sun-filled room, with no sound at all but the sound of the pages of my Bible turning, and maybe some birds singing a melody that I can faintly hear.  I can see my peaceful, calm self just basking in what the Lord has to tell me.  I know I SHOULD have a quiet time every single day–and that my walk with the Lord will be better, stronger, if I do.  And yet, for all of these years…for all of my good intentions…I have never been consistent with a quiet time.  I have tried, I have created a “prayer room” that eventually gets filled up with junk but no actual prayer happens in that space.  I look at my friends and think, “They probably have this quiet time thing all figured out.  I wish I could do it.”  And then, inevitably, I feel like a failure.   I feel “less than”.

And so it went until a few weeks ago.  A friend needed prayer about something.  And I told her I would pray.  I learned somewhere along this journey with the Lord that if I don’t pray right when I think about it, I’ll forget.  I happened on that day to be in the kitchen, doing dishes when I received her text.  So I stood by the sink, dish towel in hand, and closed my eyes and prayed.  The radio was on, the kids were in the next room watching tv, playing rather loudly.  And I prayed.  

Before I even realized what I was doing, I opened my eyes and began walking around, praying aloud to my God who created not only this entire world, but strange, weird ME.  I cried out to Him as I sidestepped the video game someone forgot to put away and shushed the yipping dog.  I felt Him there as I made the circle around the dining room table and headed back by the stove to put something away I noticed on the counter.  I kept talking with Him and then a weird, wonderful thing happened.  He spoke to me.  I was quiet for the briefest of moments and I could feel in the deepest part of me Him speak.  What did He tell me?  What did the God of all creation tell this woman who has been struggling against herself for oh so long?  What were the words He gave me in that moment that brought me to utter devotion and worhip of Him–and made the tears fall as freely as they did on that fateful day so very long ago when I first came to the end of myself and the beginning of Him?

“I created you.  I formed you.  All of you.  I made you to be this way.  And you were never created to be still.  It’s not who you are.  I created you to move.”   

Psalm 139 came to mind, “For You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, And my soul knows it very well.”  He Himself knitted me together.  Whoa.  He Himself decided what I would be–both my physical appearance as well as what makes me…well, ME.  And He has said that what I am was fearfully and wonderfully made.  WOW.  


For the first time ever, I didn’t feel “less than” in my lack of stillness. I could no more be still than I could get rid of my freckles, or change my blue eyes to brown.  If I struggle not fidgeting for more than sixty seconds at at time, what makes me think I could be still and quiet in the way that others are still and quiet?  He knows me.  He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows the struggles that take place inside this weird, strange brain of mine.  And He can speak to me in a way that I will hear, because He knows what will break through–even in the loudest of rooms, even with seeming chaos all around.  He knows I don’t need quiet to talk to Him, or to hear Him.  

He knows.  

Then He lovingly reminded me of all of the times I had cried out to Him over the years and really felt His presence in the midst of trials, of day to day drudgery, of circumstances both good and bad.  I realized every single time, I was not still and not very quiet.  And yet He was there.  He was there because He is my loving Father. Just as I am there for my boys in very different ways, He is there for us.  He created each and every one of us, and only He truly knows how to speak to us, and how we can best approach Him.   Who am I to question His creation, His design? 

And so on that day I continued my time with Him, talking with Him (moving around my kitchen the entire time) and realizing as I was praying for my friend, just what I was being led to pray.  I was not at all surprised when she shared with me later that she was led to pray for a resolution in the exact same way I was led to pray for it.  I was humbled, overwhelmed that He spoke to me; but not at all surprised.  

God created us to know Him.  He created us to desire Him, to want to talk with Him.  He created all of us uniquely.  And he created all of us to be in unique relationship with Him.  He’s awesome like that.  I was reminded of the many ways that Jesus interacted with people while He walked this earth.  No two were alike. 

Set apart times are wonderful.  But they are not the only time, or the only way to talk with our Lord.

I will praise Him all the more for that blessing.  

Does this mean I don’t strive to set apart time for fellowship with Him?  No.  But it means that I don’t have to be perfectly still when I do.  It means my “quiet time” with God isn’t your “quiet time” with Him.  It means I can extend myself a little grace in this process of refinement.  And it means that I can throw out that picture in my head of what quiet time looks like, and let Him show me what our quiet time is supposed to be.  

So, no Son.  I cannot stand still.  I never could and I never will.  

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Creamed Corn

The other night, as I was gazing at my sleeping husband, I got to thinking about our journey together thus far.  I started to remember what I thought marriage would be, and then compared that to what marriage actually is.  It struck me at that moment that marriage is like creamed corn.  Or, at least it is like our experience with the sickening product known as creamed corn. (I’ve probably angered some creamed corn aficionados. Is “sorry, not sorry” still in vogue?)

When Mel and I started dating, we did what most couples do.  We would go to the movies, or out to dinner.  A few times we played tennis or threw a softball around for fun.  We also went to a couple of baseball games and the beach a time or two.  And then one evening Mel decided to make me dinner.  It was a first.  I wish I could tell you the exact menu but it’s been almost 30 years since that dinner and it eludes me.  What I can tell you is that he served creamed corn.  I had never (to my recollection) had creamed corn before.  I ate all of the creamed corn he served me and complimented him on the delicious meal.  It was delicious….that much I remember. Well, it was…Except…for the creamed corn.  I discovered I was not a fan of this particular take on one of my favorite vegetables.  But I kept that to myself since I didn’t want him to feel bad about his efforts to cook me dinner.

And so, for the next 3 years any time we shopped for dinner and wanted corn, we grabbed creamed corn.  I happily ate up the creamed corn and of course so did Mel.  Life went on.  And still I never told him that I didn’t like the stuff.

And so it went until the day we were shopping together down the canned vegetable aisle.  I went to grab yet another can of the slop also known as creamed corn.  And I just couldn’t.  I was tired of the gruel so, as casually as possible I asked my beloved, “Hey, how about we try regular corn for a change?”  He responded, “Sounds good, but don’t you like creamed corn better?”  This was the moment of truth.  Would I continue the charade or tell him what I really thought.  Before I could ponder too long, I said, “Actually, I prefer regular corn.”  He literally sighed, and then exclaimed, “Me too!”  I had to ask…..”Do you even like creamed corn?”  “Not really.”  Wow.  Once we both confessed our true feelings towards this disgusting rendition of corn, we laughed until we cried over the amount of it we’d eaten over the past three years…and the thought that we could have avoided it all if we’d just told the truth. 

The truth is though, that a marriage…a good marriage…is a lot like our history with creamed corn.  Both my husband and myself do what we can to make each other happy.  He sacrifices for me, and I for him.  Some days it’s eating creamed corn.  Other days it’s me watching the 49ers with him, or Mel watching Downton Abbey with me.  The majority of the time we are on the same page.   The rest of the time, it’s him giving a little, me giving a little.  And some days, it’s one of us giving a whole lot because the other person just can’t eat creamed corn one more dang time.  

The truly funny thing is he only had the creamed corn because he grabbed it by mistake at the store.  We have not eaten the stuff in well over 20 years.  And that is fine with the both of us….still going strong 28 years, three kids, and zero cans of creamed corn later.  

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you may also love one another.  By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”   —John 13:34-35

 

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Writer’s Workshop: Meeting Jade

I vaguely remember meeting Jade for the first time.  It was in church (that much I know), it was during a lunch ( I think) that was served after church to all who attended.  Our husbands played basketball together while we waited.  I remember thinking….hmmmm…she’s awfully quiet.  And she looks like she’s 12 years old!  Her husband looks like he’s 30!  I am awfully curious about her…him…the whole arrangement.  But she doesn’t talk much.  So how can I possibly get to know her better?  Oh well.

Then we had lunch together…with our husbands. I remember this silly joke she said about a cockroach….that her husband had to encourage her to tell.  Turned out she has a very dry sense of humor…and she makes me laugh literally out loud.  She’s not so quiet after all.

And then a most interesting thing happened.   She and her husband were looking for a new apartment…turns out he wasn’t 30 and she wasn’t 12:)  And they were expecting their first child.  They happened to see us as they were looking at our apartment complex.   Soon, they moved in.  We exchanged numbers.

Then Nick got sick.  He was just a little guy then, and one horrific night he spiked a fever…and then started to seize.  I freaked.  Mel was not home.  I was alone with him and his older brother who was just a very little boy at the time.  I called 911.  And when the ambulance arrived the paramedics called from the security gate outside, saying they needed the code to get in.  I knew the code.  I knew it because I gave it out to all of our friends who visited.  But I could not remember the freakin’ code when I needed it the most.  So I did the only thing I could think of…I called Jade. She lived right by the gate.  I asked if she would please let the paramedics in.  She, of course, did.

She was 9 months pregnant, and she came to my rescue.  She took me to the hospital and sat with me while the doctors and nurses tended to Nick.  She was, in short, an answer to prayer.

And, truthfully, she has been coming to my rescue ever since.

She has held my hand, prayed with me, held me while I cried…

She has been with me through all of life’s ups and downs over the last 13 years.

Illness…

Injuries…

Pregnancy…

Miscarriage….

Adoption (yay!)

Our children’s successes….

As well as their struggles…

Life…

and even death.

There is no one, besides my husband, whom I rely on more to help me through this life.  There is no one I can laugh more with…and no one I am more comfortable sharing all of my innermost thoughts with…the darkest ones don’t even scare her away.

I am thankful that we met all those years ago…and that she has forgiven me my many failures as a friend.

And I will be forever grateful that I can call Jade my best friend.

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Another Shining Moment as a Parent….NOT!

You know that cute as a bug kid you see at the top of the page?  That’s my Nick.  And the outfit you see him in?  A police uniform I pulled together on Ebay.  What in the world did we do before Ebay?? That was a Christmas present at least four Christmases ago.

Nick, for as long as I can remember, has been fascinated with police.  “Cops” is his favorite show.  We DVR it…and use it as leverage.   He will watch anything having to do with police and their job.  He says he wants to be a “cop” when he grows up.  *sigh*

Along with that cute outfit, we have a friend who gave him a “real” police belt, along with handcuff pocket, etc.  And we had already gone through about 3 pairs of toy handcuffs.  So we decided to buy him the real things.  They would last, right?  And they came with two keys which my husband and I held onto.  What could be the harm?

Well, he LOVED the handcuffs, and he used them to “arrest” his dad, along with anybody else who would cooperate.  Well, our lives being what they are–hectic–he lost the handcuffs…and we lost the keys.  No biggie.

Until…

He found the handcuffs again.  Great.  Just what I needed to worry about.  So I tell Nick very clearly he can’t play with them until we can find the handcuff keys.  And he gives me that look.  And he begs me, “Mommy, please.  Please. Mommy, PLEASE!” And I, having absolutely no will against that face..relent.

And I give him the rules…NO handcuffing your brother…NO handcuffing the dog…No handcuffing the cat…NO handcuffing anybody until we find the keys.  Got it?  “Yes….I PROMISE!!”

And things were fine, for a few days.  And then, one Friday night, after an exhausting day, I am winding down watching a little TV.  I hear the metallic clinging of the handcuffs, and then I hear…silence.  I am so tired it didn’t register right away.  It was eerily quiet for about ten minutes, and then it dawned on me…that is NOT good.  Silence in a house of boys means only two things..either they are all asleep at the same time(rarely the case) or they are up to something.

I investigate, and I see Nick frantically trying to get his own ankle out of the handcuffs.  And I freak.  I said, “Are you kidding me, Nick?” Well…more accurately…I yelled that.

And he sits there in the chair..looking so pitiful..any sane person would have melted and figured out a solution.

But I was not sane in that moment.

So I ranted a bit…kept asking stupid questions like, “What were you thinking?” He is a boy.  They don’t think…they ACT.

Finally, after searching for about 45 minutes in every place I could think of for the elusive handcuff key, I hopped online and researched it.  How many times have I witnessed people escaping from handcuffs on TV…often within seconds?  Despite what I learned on the ‘net…it was not happening.

I was in a quandary.  If I called 911 what would they think?  How could a sane person allow her son to play with a set of very real handcuffs?  Would they wonder if I was lying and the handcuffs were really mine?  Ewwwww….

And then it hit me.  How could I not have thought about it before?  We are friends with not one, but two police officers…police officers who know about Nick and his love of all things cop-related.  So I called.  Thankfully one was going to be home shortly.  So, about an hour later we arrive at their house…and Nick’s ankle is freed.

The bonus?

He gave us a spare key we could keep in a safe place in case this ever happens again.  Now if I could just remember where that safe place is….hmmmm…..

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“Could be cataracts…or a tumor.”

Those were the doctor’s words to me.  I stood there, holding my beautiful little boy, trying not to fall completely apart.  I didn’t do all that well, truth be told.

It had been a rough month.

After years of struggles, we had been blessed with our youngest son, Isaac Lee, through adoption.  He wasn’t legally ours yet…but he was our boy, just as surely as if he had grown in my own womb.  And we were thrilled with him.   He brought new life to our household, and we were all still loving every minute of it.

Then, just a short while after he came into our lives, I found out I was pregnant.  We were surprised…and heartbroken when we lost that baby almost four months into the pregnancy.

So there I stood, just about a month later, in my pediatrician’s office, hearing those words…” Could be cataracts…or a tumor.”

My husband had noticed Isaac’s pupil looking a “little blue” that morning.  We had never noticed it before.  His eyes are so big and beautifully dark that I am sure we would have noticed it if it had been there before.  He had been seen by countless doctors, social workers, etc. since his birth, and no one else had ever seen anything amiss with his beautiful eyes.

I asked the doctor, “So, you are referring us to a specialist?”  He didn’t say anything for a minute.  It felt like an eternity.  He looked at me and said, “No….you need to go to the ER immediately and have him examined.  We will call ahead for you.”

That’s when I lost it.  I immediately started bawling, holding him tightly against me.  I felt like if I held him tightly enough, and until we knew what was going on, he was still this perfect little angel…not disabled or diseased in any way.

The next few hours went agonizingly slow.  Because he was still a foster child, and not on our insurance, we had to take him to the county hospital.  Oh, what a special joy that was.  Lucky us, we got to share the ER that day with drug addicts, convicts (not exaggerating…across the hall from our space was a woman dressed in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed to her gurney, escorted by a policeman.) and an assortment of other characters odd, sad, and all a little depressing.

Finally, THE doctor came to see us.  After a brief exam, and waiting for the correct equipment to check his eyes with…the result:  severe cataracts in both eyes.  His one eye was already blind.  No sight at all.  That was the “blue” eye my husband noticed.  The other eye, though severe, still had sight.  The prognosis?  Debatable.

But, I was happy as a lark.  He may be partially blind, but no tumor.  His sight may get better.  There was hope…something I felt I had run plumb out of by that point.  Besides, this was something they might be able to fix.

And then it hit me…I forgot to call the social worker.  My first time as a “foster” mother, and I completely forgot one of the major rules.  Any time there is a medical emergency I was supposed to call them as soon as possible.  For some reason, it just never occurred to me during all of those hours in the ER.

So, I finally made the call.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was taken aback by the response.  “You know that there is nothing saying you have to adopt him still, right?”

“What?!?”

“You haven’t signed the final papers yet.  You can still change your mind.”

“Are you kidding me?!?!  He is my boy.  This changes nothing!”

“I knew you would say that.  Just wanted to make sure you knew.”

I was almost speechless.  To think that was what was first on her mind..to let me know the contract hadn’t been finalized yet…unbelievable.

Within two months, Isaac endured two separate surgeries.  He grew to hate going to the doctor.  They operated on the “bad eye” first.  It wasn’t instantaneously, but two weeks after surgery, he regained 100 percent of his sight for the bad eye.  He had to wear glasses for a while, and due to another injury later, his right eye is super sensitive to light so he looks a little like a pirate when he first wakes up or goes outside in bright sunlight.

But…he is perfect to US….we have much to be thankful for.

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The Princess and the Pee….

This is Belle…

 

Ain’t she cute??

Well, at least we think so.  She is almost perfect.  She is the proverbial lap dog.  And we love love love her.  She has helped soothe our aching hearts after having to say goodbye to our dog, Jasmine.  She has given our home life in a way only a puppy can.  She plays with our almost-ten-year-old border collie Sheba…she has brought the pep back into Sheba’s step…which is a minor miracle because I was already starting to think about the time in the not too distant future when we will have to make the same awful decision for her that we had to make for Jasmine.  In short, she fits into our family like she was created just for us.

Now if we could just get her to be the master of her urine life would be fabulous.

Apparently, Chihuahuas are notoriously hard to train…must have missed that memo.

I am trying really hard not to compare her to Jasmine and Sheba…both who were amazing when it came to house training.

We have tried the crate.  “They won’t go where they have to lay down.”  Really??  Poop..pee…you name it, our little princess dog has done it, in the crate, outside the crate.  Whenever the mood strikes her–she goes.  I am forever picking up after her…thought dogs were supposed to be easier than kids! I feel like I am her servant.  She owns me..not the other way around!

So, we have given up with the crate training, and are focusing on puppy pads.  Better luck so far.  But still…

If you are a guest in our house, watch where you step.  She weighs only about 4 pounds, so thankfully she doesn’t pee a river…but those little droplets of urine on the hardwood floor where you least suspect it could cause trouble!

Is it wrong to threaten to get rid of her when I am exhausted and picking up pee??

But….all I have to do is look at her sleeping not next to, but on, my little one…

…and I know she is here to stay…she has already wormed her way into our hearts, pee and all.

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Where Have You Gone?

I once had a really special friend.   Two, actually.  And the one friend asked me if I thought the other one would like her( the other friend was a man).  Thus, began our troubles.

I had been friends with both for almost the same amount of time.  It was about four years at that point.  But we were REALLY close.  I am talking taking each other to the airport, holding my hand while I was in labor close.

So, when the one friend (who, for her privacy I will call Jen) asked me to ask Dan (another alias) if he “liked” her….I hemmed and hawed for a good bit.  She badgered me and finally I told her flat-out–“You break his heart, and don’t bother calling me again.”   He was one of those rare finds…a truly nice man.  A gentleman.  And as my Dad used to say…you line up 20 women against the wall, and he will pick the 1 bad one every last time.  His heart had been broken too many times already, and I couldn’t bear the thought of a friend of mine breaking his heart.

So…they dated…and HE fell in love…and SHE fell in love…the only problem was she didn’t fall in love with him, but his BROTHER.  Yep…you read that right…not only did Jen break Dan’s heart–she did it by shacking up with and eventually marrying his brother.

And I guess she believed what I told her, because I haven’t heard from her in twenty years.

I think about her from time to time…what she’s doing..does she have kids…etc.  And I wonder if our paths ever crossed again…what would happen?

Honestly, I have forgiven her.  Dan forgave both her and his brother–I told you…truly a nice guy.  Dan went on to marry somebody else and have children of his own.

But still…

I could never look at her the same way again.  I know we were all really just kids when all the drama unfolded.  But I loved Dan like a brother…and it was as if someone shoved a dagger in his back…and I could forgive her, but I really couldn’t forget.  I couldn’t forget the look on his face when he told me what had happened…or the way I think he just “settled” for, and then married, the very next woman who came into his life.  Dan and I also haven’t spoken in years now.

I don’t know if any of that is Jen’s fault…probably not…but my friendship with Dan was fractured when they broke up…and I don’t think it ever healed properly because slowly but surely, Dan extricated himself from my life.

I miss him.

I don’t miss her nearly as much as I miss him.

But, yes, I still wonder what we would say to each other if we saw each other.  Would we be able to make a friendship work?  Or would it be just ugliness?  Maybe I will look her up on Facebook and see what happens…

Then again, maybe I should just pray that she is fine, happy, and leave the old wounds alone.

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