Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Four Months I know - it really has been four months since I've blogged - maybe none of you are left and I completely understand. Maybe you will come around again or maybe I will pop up in your reader and maybe, just maybe, you will trust that I will write again - frequently...or at least periodically. Explaining my silence may seem odd, so instead of trying to explain, I will just give you the update. And since we are old friends, you will forgive me for the silence and be happy to catch up and we will all happily move on. I'm expecting Baby Powell v3.0 on November 28th. She is a girl and quite an active little one. Kayla is excited to share her room (she doesn't know what she signed up for!) and as my belly grows Zachary just seems to have a knowing way about him. I point at my belly and say, "Baby." He hugs and takes care of one of Kayla's dolls which is encouraging (except for the day he threw her across the room). I am still in awe of God's plan for this baby. After I had Zachary I remember saying to God, "you are really going to have to talk me into having another baby." When the pregnancy test registered that little plus sign (a week after a false negative result), my jaw dropped and I covered my mouth and the tears started. Jerry's knowing smile made me realize that this was for real and this is exactly what we were meant to do. Our baby's name (will publish here after she is born) means "the grace and joy of my Father." I believe that God in his joy has given us this little girl. I'm excited to see what she will be like. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The Calm After the Storm I have to confess - I love big events - weddings, graduations, baby showers, and any kind of big party you can imagine. I love the planning, the coordination, the gifts, the outfits, the mental planning, the build up, and the event itself. I love doing something different and "once in a lifetime" every once in awhile. What is hard to deal with is the calm after the storm. I can't help but be a little sad once it is all over - even if the event was not centered around me - even if I was just someone in attendance. It seems that all of that planning should yield a bigger return. It is as if the event should live on just a little bit longer - a little piece each day until it fades away. I have recently discovered that Kayla is the same way. Of course at 3 1/2 she can just cry those sad feelings away. I on the other hand can't get away with that. Furthermore, I need to help her stay up, help her cheer up, help her look to the next, fun thing. There are always memories and pictures and new, fun clothes to wear again, but somehow things aren't the same in this eerie calm. Over the years I've learned how to live in the moment a little bit more, but the only way to get through this deafening calm is to look forward. Or maybe it is simpler than that - I can lose myself in the daily joys around me - Zachary's toothy grin, Kayla's infectious laugh, Jerry's icy blue eyes. Yes, that is where I can live - in the calm before the next storm.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Divine Peace Peace - everyone talks about it - few know how to practice it - including whole nations. So many of us are seeking this peace - peace and quiet, peaceful sleep, peace at home, peace at work. How do we get that peace? Where do we search, what method do we use to achieve peace in this mile-a-minute life? I feel most peaceful when I'm listening to music - mostly Christian music, but not always. A song moves me as waves of music wash over my soul. This is the only way to describe it. It is typically not singing that affects me, but a guitar rhythm usually - a sound that speaks to my spirit directly - almost transcending thought. I can't help but close my eyes and move to the music embracing that divine peace. As a whole we don't take time to be still, to meditate on what God has done for us - to listen to his voice. Find your space, your time, your music to allow God to speak to you in a supernatural way.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Still Awake I'm still awake tonight...as I am many nights about this time. It seems that the normal times that others subscribe to do not fit my lifestyle - or maybe there is something else going on. I have small children as many of you know and when they are finally at peace and asleep I feel as though I can have that bit of fun in the evening that is impossible to do when they are awake. The dilemma is that I lose track of time or just frankly ignore it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm an obnoxious night owl - to the irrational degree. Only because I think I can get away with it - until morning when the first kid wakes up. I guess I could rationalize that I don't want to be one of those people who has literally "slept half of their life away." But maybe I'm just doing too good of a job here. If I figured out on average how many hours of sleep I get a night since the kids were born it would probably be about 5 hours a night. I'm amazed at times that I can still function, but apparently I've adapted. Bottom line, I'm still awake tonight and I don't know how much longer it will be. Anyone out there identify?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
More Than Enough I think it is human nature to go through periods of perceived inadequacy. Maybe there is always a sense of that in your life at all times. Maybe the situations or events change, but there is that element of disconcerting instability - the question that lingers in the background, "do they know that I have no idea what I'm doing?" I seem to get on the merry-go-round of inadequacy that rotates every few days. It usually starts with a bad encounter with one of the kids making me doubt if I am a good mother. Next, something happens at work to make me question why I am in the position I'm in. Lastly it just becomes almost dumb luck - I can't seem to do the dishes without breaking things. The dinner I'm attempting just doesn't quite turn out right. (Side note - I'll never forget the dinner I made that Kayla took one look at and started crying. It is funny to think of that now!) A line in a song reminds me that this doubt, fear, anxiety about the roles we play in life are all lies. "We are who we are and it's more than enough." Let me say it again, "more than enough." We've been equipped by God for these relationships and roles that we play and he has provided us with more than enough to be successful as long as we rely on him for all things. It reminds me that I daily have to take the burdens off my back and virtually hand them to God or I can't make it. Before you sleep tonight, make a list of the burdens that plague your mind in one column. In the other column dare to spell out what God says about those burdens. Spend time in prayer handing those things to God. God's peace is waiting - don't put it off.
Monday, March 09, 2009
A Simple Revelation I fancy myself a baker. I love to bake just about anything, but I love and adore baking (and eating) cookies of all kinds. My favorite is classic chocolate chip cookies. My ccc's are slightly crispy and chewy but never crunchy or hard. I have a few secret techniques I use (passed down from my Mom) and have been making said cookies since I can remember. My basic recipe is from the Toll House morsel package (plus the secret techniques I just mentioned). I was reviewing the usual list of ingredients and steps when it dawned on me that I have never - I mean not even once - cooked these cookies at the right temperature. I have always cooked them at 350 degrees and the recipe calls for 375 degrees. I was pretty floored by this simple revelation. How could I have done it wrong the whole time? Have I ever used the right temperature? I don't really know, but I do know that I have never seen the numbers 375 jump off the page as they did today. I couldn't help but take this revelation further - how many other things do I think I know and believe, but don't really have it right? Have I really done the homework I should to ensure that I have all the facts and am making decisions based on those facts? I've been smacked with the constant search and review of the facts the last few weeks. Just when I think I know what is going on with a given situation and maybe have even reacted badly (in my mind, thankfully not towards other people involved) I realized that I needed to review the situation further, check all my bases, make sure the temperature was correct and set it accordingly. Thank God I've done this - life could be much harder than it is right now if I had not. The next time you think you know and have evaluated a situation, ask yourself - do I really know the facts? Have I analyzed this from every angle? Take the time to check into things further - you may be surprised by the simple or even the complex revelation you encounter.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Streams of Consciousness Today was one of those days when the thought processes were so random, they were worth capturing to reflect on the past, present, and future and those burning questions of life. Random Thought #1 - Have you ever had a memory repeat over and over in your head - but one so random and common and meaningless? I keep pondering that there must be a reason - a purpose for revisiting that time, but part of me is afraid to go there. What great mysteries of life am I supposed to learn? Random Thought #2 - Surely there must be a way to stop the time, space continuum so I really can get the laundry, dishes, and prep for the next day complete all while reading a book, crosstiching, Facebooking, and scrap booking. If anyone has found this wrinkle in time, please let me know. Until then, I will continue to hope and believe and go to bed at 1:30am. Random Thought #3 - If I'm not supposed to value material things in this life, why is it so darn hard to pack it all up, contact the charity and get it out the door? Yet, when that process is started (not even completed!) life feels so new and fresh. I hope to live up to this ideal of simplifying and cutting back the clutter that distracts me. Random Thought #4 - If these baby and toddler years are times that I should cherish, why am I too tired to record the happenings of these times? It would be nice to remember coming home to a house of dancing and singing kids and readily joining in to shake the stress of the day. But will I remember that in 5 years? Or will it only be an impression, a tiny, positive murmur in my mind? That seems so sad - to not fully capture a memory like that. Yet, what is the best way? Random Thought #5 - If this is a place for me to capture my ponderings...why do I spend so little time here? Do I fail to ponder or are my ponderings buried under the daily grind? I suppose it is a choice to embrace and reflect or let it slip away. So maybe I had a theme here - sort of. My random thoughts all point to getting back to basics, to simplifying life, embracing memories past and present, living for today, and reflecting on the gifts of life. From here on, I will embrace and reflect more and hopefully make it worth your while to visit my little corner of cyberspace.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Unconditional This post has been rolling around in my head for at least a week and I fear is one of the more difficult things for me to write about. I'm sure we all aspire to love those around us with no strings attached, but rarely succeed. What does it mean to truly love another person unconditionally? I think of Kayla and Zachary when I think about how I learned about love. I think of them so tiny and helpless - relying on me for everything and especially in those early months - relying on me as the food source. Breastfeeding both kids was a challenge, but one I'm glad that I accepted and carried through. I remember rocking Kayla to sleep one night when it just hit me like a ton of bricks how much I loved her and how I would do anything for her - radical, scary, illegal things to protect her and hold her close to me. I also remember the day I realized that all of this nurturing and caring for her was ever slowly preparing her to leave me. That thought was almost too much to bear. I'm thankful that she is still a little girl and I don't have to consider that possibility in the short term. My love for Kayla was so strong I could not figure out how I could love another child and yet when Zachary was born I was overwhelmed with devotion to this little boy. He was a calm little guy who cooed in his sleep. He smiled for the first time when he was only 10 days old - on Valentine's Day of all days. There were always challenges along the way and as you know - that euphoria of love is not always present. As they both have grown, the everyday gets in the way of this pure devotion. I find myself irritated, annoyed, I roll my eyes, I get angry, I yell, avoid, and otherwise behave badly. Guilt sets in...I ponder if I have permanently damaged my relationship with them. The next day dawns and Zachary's smile lights up my world. Kayla tells me she loves me. I realize that the core element to this love - this incomprehensible gift of unconditional love - is forgiveness. Always starting over, always giving the benefit of the doubt, always doing the right thing without keeping record of wrongs. I'm humbled that God chose me to be a mother to such wonderful children. And I realize that this overwhelming, heart-stopping, breathtaking love is only a tiny glimpse of how God feels about me, his child.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Add to the Beauty Yes...this is the title of another song by Sara Groves (I'm definitely stuck on her these days). I would say this is the last in my series of posts on songs, but I'm sure I'll sneak some others in at a later time. When it seems life is dull, dark and otherwise dim, I am often surprised at the beauty that suddenly surrounds me when I look outside. This week has been a complete disaster rife with late nights at work, cranky kids, and more work until the wee hours. Now that it is Friday I just felt like a kid about to to go on summer vacation leaving work today (earlier than I have in probably the last month). (Side note: I'm not sure how I could consider summer vacation today considering the fact that the average temperature today was about 20 degrees and there is about 2 feet of snow on the ground and has been for the past 3 weeks or so, but I digress.) As I entered the rat race (aka I-275 South) I looked to the west and 1. was surprised that it was still light at 5:30pm in January and 2. squinted from the hazy colors in my view. Could it be - the sun??? Yes, indeed - one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've experienced in a long time. Orange, yellow, and red watercolors swirling around that fiery ball. "Whew hew!" is all I could think. In the midst of all of the chaos this week I've been pondering what I'm adding to eternity...to the legacy of this physical experience of living. In the words of the song that inspired this post - "I want to add to the beauty, to tell a better story... I want to shine with the light, that's burning up inside." That light that brightened my afternoon - a gift from God - reminds me that the light we hold inside is what lasts through these dark days. "It comes in small inspirations It brings redemption to life and work To our lives and our work It comes in loving community It comes in helping a soul find it's worth. Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out the best of who we are." That idea of redemption of our lives and work - thank God for that! I need redemption everywhere these days and here is where I ask you...what is the best of who you are? The best of who you are is the way you love, care, nurture, hold, honor, respect, serve, and pray for people. But most of all - it is the beauty of your true self that seeks to love others at all costs and in all circumstances. "We come with beautiful secrets We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls We come to every new morning With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold" Hold onto the beauty my friends - He is holding onto you.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Unbalanced That is the best word to describe my life right now and it is darn painful. The stress of learning this new position at work - attempting to find the rhythm and balance between work and home, the different schedule, understanding the authority and commitment to my two lives - it is excruciating. When I'm at work, it's like I don't have any other life. I guess that is how my mind chooses to compartmentalize it. I focus on the needs of my team - I'm always thinking to myself - am I serving them the best way possible? Am I ensuring that someday they will be independent and I'm there to run interference only? That is definitely the goal. The everyday annoyances get in my way - email that doesn't quit, meetings for hours and hours, nitpicking and infighting - or maybe just misunderstandings. I feel joy at their successes, I feel pain when they fail. It is as if they are my children away from home (although they are not child-like in anyway). I care for them and want them to be independent and confident. Home is always a mix of schedules that don't seem to fall where they should, overtired children, overflowing baskets of laundry and counter tops full of dishes. (Did I mention perpetual crumbs on the floor?) The changes are taking a toll - Jerry is tired and at his wits end at the end of the day (I felt that way almost everyday I spent at home with the kids also). He has taken on more than his share of the work and he does not complain - almost to the point that I can feel his pain without him even telling me. I break down, we clear the air. I recommit to my side of the work at whatever cost to keep the balance that we need. It reminds me of another favorite song (and you thought I had veered away from my song theme, eh?) Sara Groves again - "When it Was Over" from the "Add to the Beauty" CD. In this song it is a hidden line buried in a verse that touches me to the core - "There is a hope that whispers a vow, a promise to stay while we're working it out." I'm so grateful that Jerry whispered that vow - that he has promised to stay while I'm working this out. I would never have expected anything less, but I needed that confirmation in the middle of my breakdown. But isn't that how life is anyway? We are always trying to work things out - our lives are always a piece of artwork in progress. We don't really understand what the medium is we are using or what the colors are, but maybe we get a glimpse of that pure love or purpose that God has given us in the hug of a friend, the sincerity of a compliment, the discussion of the spiritual realm. The song's main chorus - "Love wash over a multitude of things, make us whole" reminds us that only love can make us whole. We get a glimpse of that in the love of family, friends, and our spouses. Someday that wholeness - that perfect love of God will be truly known to us. In the meantime, we remain unbalanced and live our days working it out with the promise of that vow - that he is always with us.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Look for the Holy In the Common Place Well, it appears a theme is emerging for my posts as of late. Something like-I-have-been-severely-music-deprived-and-have-been-listening-to-my-favorite-Cd's-like-crazy-on-the-commute-and-have-somehow-reconnected-with-the-deeper-side-of-my-soul. Or in short, quotes from songs I love. The title of this post is from a Sara Groves song called "Just Showed Up for My Own Life" from "Add to the Beauty". Now the title of the song alone could be a post, but I'll just stick to this line stuck in the middle of the song. Sara talks about not just showing up and going through the motions but truly finding God in everything you do. To me that is best summed up by this simple line: by looking for the holy in the common place. (Yes, I am separating commonplace into two words, only because the lyrics posted on Sara's web site have it spelled out that way and it is a great twist on a familiar term.) It is not commonplace as in a saying, cliche, or reference to boring and undistiguishable, but truly a place that appears common, but has tiny hints of the creator's mark on them. Take some everyday scenes on the commute - snowbanks on every corner, darkness in the morning, the white glow of the moon. Pretty standard stuff - but look a little closer. The snowbanks sparkle more brilliantly than manufactured glitter. The darkness is hiding the deep blue of the daylight intensifying into the red, orange, and yellow of the sunrise. (Winter sunrises are the most crisp and colorful of all times of the year.) The moon ever changing - and as Kayla said every morning this week - "the moon is missing a piece, Mama. Where did it go?" (You tell me how to explain that to a 3 and 1/2 year old.) A wonder to behold - this changing of the moon - at any age. What is your common place? Maybe it is the glow of the computer screen, the sound of screaming children, the crawl of the rat race commute? Take a moment to pause and look around you...marvel at what the creator has given you...he wants you to look for these gifts...his holiness...his perfection. He loves you and is waiting for you to discover him in your common place. Start searching today.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Am I Singing? I can't help but ask myself this question. I get so sucked into the everyday...the drudgery, the repetition, the predictability of it all. Have I left room for the song...for the song of my soul? Those of you who are parents of young children know that time spent with your spouse or even alone to meditate is nearly impossible to realize. But as your children grow you find that little space for reflection. Maybe it is in the shower...in the car...the few minutes before you fall asleep. For me today, it was in the car. I was listening to one of my favorite bands of all time, U2 - "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." I highly recommend anything that U2 has ever done, but especially this CD. Critics of this CD would likely mention the use of Christian themes and images throughout to sell a cheap, emotional experience (or worse, alienate the listener). But I think those critics missed the point. U2 is not borrowing Christian themes and images for fun or because they may promote some pseudo spiritual experience. They truly believe this stuff. There is no way a song like "Yahweh" was written without a knowledge of several portions of scripture and then a personal revelation of what that means to the writer. I am blown away by the depth of each track on this album and how I'm personally changed by the message of this song and several others on the CD. (Sidenote - who doesn't love the Edge's brilliant, unique guitar riffs?) Back to my point - to tell you about one of my favorite parts of the song - "take this soul, stranded in some skin and bones, take this soul and make it sing." I played the song again wondering, pondering, reflecting on this question - is my soul singing? I think that for a better part of the past year my soul was crying and laughing and agonizing and intensely analyzing everything and pondering every part of the emotional spectrum. But singing? Definitely not. But today I realized that this indescribable gift of joy is welling up in me. Joy at my big girl Kayla dancing around our living room...joy at Zachary vibrating because he is standing without help...joy at the knowing, mischievous twinkle in Jerry's eyes. This joy, a gift that only God can give...joy of knowing that his purposes continue to work and flow through me and that he continues to give me hope in all circumstances. Nothing else matters.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
I Don't Do Resolutions... ...but I decided to resolve with my good friend / brother-in-law Kal (check out his Moblog and Kal in Space) to starting writing in the blog more often (detailed goals - a closely guarded secret). So for those of you who are still lurking around (thanks!) look forward to seeing new posts here soon.
Posted by Jennifer Powell at 11:50 AM