Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How Can I Make a Difference? I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately – how can I make a difference in this world? It seems as though I have this charmed life – at least by cultural standards. The house, the car, the 3 cute kids, the awesome husband, the good job. And all of those things are good and I’m very grateful for what I have. But I’ve been asking myself lately – is this it? Is there more to this life? I feel most alive when I’m at home with my children – seeing the world through their eyes. Then I look beyond that and see a world in so much pain – atrocities happening every minute – tragedies in faraway lands, so many without so much and I keep asking myself – how can I make a difference? I believe that God has put me here in this place and during this time for a purpose, but I’ve only begun to see glimpses of it. I haven’t put all of the pieces together and that must mean that I am not ready to. But there is one thing that is for sure – I’m starting to squirm a little bit, to stir, to realize that things can’t just stay the same. I’m not sure that means that I get on a plane and go to Africa, although I admire those who do it. It could be as simple as creating the community here that God wants me to create – to serve and love others so that they can begin to know who he is. But where do I begin? What do I need to do? One of my favorite bands of all time, Jars of Clay say it best with a song from their new CD – the song – “Small Rebellions”, the album “The Shelter.” Here is the story behind the song: I don’t claim to know the answers to my questions, yet. But I’ll keep praying and starting to make the small changes that I believe God wants me to make while looking for the big ones that I’m sure are around the bend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Looking for Green Things When I was a little girl, one of the things I loved most was exploring our yard during the spring and summer. Our house was about 20-25 years old at that point and there was so much vegetation on the perimeter of the yard that there was always something new to discover. Spring was always exciting – buds popping out here, flowers pushing through the earth there. Now that I’m older I’m teaching my kids to look for green things in our yard. Already there are tiny daffodils, hyacinths, tiger lilies, and lily of the valley barely pushing through the dirt. If you look closely at the trees, tiny buds are appearing. Birds are chirping, worms are wiggling, bugs are scurrying. If you look hard enough the earth is coming alive right in front of you. These seasons – I’ve never realized until this year how attached I am to the changes they bring. Winter is my least favorite season, but the beginning of it this past year was cleansing, exciting to me. I can’t say enough about this spring. Being outside tonight with the kids sharing their excitement in finding these green things – Abby’s laugh as she was swinging, Zach going head first down the slide, Kayla searching for worms under rocks – this is what life is all about. So many other parts of my life have turned to drudgery and the last few days I haven’t let this joy, this discovery of what is most important penetrate through the sludge. But today the light finally broke through. This is the year of joy, right? Enter in – JOY – my heart and hands are open.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Still There I saw something 3 months ago – something I will never forget. All of you know about it as I have written about it before. But here we are – there is something about that incident that is still there in my mind, my consciousness. You see, there was a hearing and soon there will be a trial and I know that I will be involved. I was called to the hearing to testify, but I waited and I did not talk, but I could see in the courtroom. I could see the person that did this. And I know I’m a strong person and I would like to think that this does not affect me – this does not rule my life – this does not cast a shadow over me. But the truth is painful to realize… The truth is that this thing affects me more than I care to admit – more than I allow myself to process, to face. The last couple of days have seemed greyer – the rain doesn’t help. Everywhere I see signs of spring – tiny flowers poking up from the ground, geese and ducks making nests, frail buds on trees. I’ve been looking forward to this time for so long. Each season brings a refreshing change to me that invigorates my soul. This is a change that I need so much – that I refuse to let go of – that I refuse to let the darkness of this experience touch. But it is doing that – just a little bit. The first step to healing is admitting the problem, right? So I’m admitting to you, friends. I’m not strong enough alone to get through these things and I ask for your prayers. Deep down I am at peace – I know God is watching over me – his faithfulness I never question. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Lightening Fast This journey of motherhood has changed me in more ways than one. I’m a person that loves structure, routine and predictability. All three of those went out the window when sweet Kayla Beba came along almost 6 years ago. Two more kids later and it continues to be a whirlwind of chaos. These three babes have made me a better person and I’m so grateful. While we’ve established routines and structure along the way as they have grown there is still so much unpredictability on a daily basis – sometimes good – beautiful pictures created or new found skills, sometimes bad – never ending poo. What continually takes my breath away however is the speed at which this life is flying past me. It is a much more dramatic pace now as I watch these wee ones grow, change, and experience this life. I was really good recording their milestones when they were babies and even kept a 1 year guided journal for all three of them. But now that they are older, I’m having a hard time keeping up with everything new and exciting that happens on a daily basis. I’m trying so hard to stop and take mental snapshots of these new things – Abby’s mischievous smile, Zach’s funny comments, Kayla’s dramatic stories. Try as I might, I can’t slow down these experiences – they flash before me lightening fast. I grasp at them in vain and leave with only a tiny glimmer of what they were. And even though it feels like it will never be enough – at least I have that tiny flash of a memory tucked deep into my heart. We laugh and sing and dance together and I feel as though my heart will burst with love for these three. I push away the thoughts of the future and days when they will leave me and focus so hard on living in the now – capturing this joy. There will never be another day like today. I’m so humbled to be in this place…this holy ground where God allows me to feel this overwhelming love for my children. I’m so thankful that I opened my heart to this possibility – to throw caution to the wind and allow them to live and grow in me and close to me.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sibling Surprises Each child we have had has brought many surprises – things that make us laugh, cry, and just look at each other in wonder. But the most surprising aspect of having more than one child is how they interact as siblings. I am surprised when they hug each other, comfort each other, and find ever new ways to play together. I am in awe of the relationships these little people have with each other and the joy they bring to our home. But I shouldn’t really be surprised – I’m from a large family – there are 5 of us – 2 boys and 3 girls. Our house was always loud and exciting and there was always someone to play with and something to do. I don’t recall watching much TV growing up and I count that as a huge blessing. These other 4 people – we laughed and cried together, built a whole basement full of tents, dug a swimming pool together (if only for a day), rode bikes, went camping and for better or for worse, always had each other. And now here we are – years later – spread across the country and some of us – on the other side of the world. This sibling love goes on – but it is different now – richer, more understanding, easily picking up where we left off and always funny. Twin brother – so far away, but close to my heart – doing the work he was always meant to do…we are both writing, but in such different ways. I knew the day in high school when you left on a trip with a friend that was the beginning of our times apart and I cried. Little brother – my “partner” when we played – always zany and unique and unexpected. So awesome to see the loving dad you are. Little sister – the one I waited for, prayed for as a child – holding your little hands in the car squeezed into the seat belt, playing Barbie’s – everything – “just like Jenny”. What kindred spirits we are – having children the same day. I never knew you wanted to be just like me THAT much! Little bunny – pictures of me holding you – your nose always running - I remember changing your diapers and taking you out of your play pen, silverware families, and lots and lots of beauty pageants watched. You are beautiful inside and out. The four of you – I admit, I take you for granted (and I don’t mean to), but I can’t imagine this life without you. You are truly my best friends. These sibling surprises – these gifts of who you are that God has given me – I’m so grateful for you. I have a dream of a day when we all spend a vacation together by a lake just like when we were younger – sunshine and campfires and time spent together. I believe that day is coming soon. Dream with me. I love you all.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Harsh Light Winter is still holding on around these parts and it isn’t too surprising. In Michigan you can expect to see snow fly anytime between now and in some rare instances the beginning of May. But I’m surprised by the “big snows” we had last week. It seems about this time last year, the thaw started. I may even recall seeing the first robin around the first week in March…but I digress. There are so few sunny days this time of year that when they do come, I stand up and take notice. I’ve found that the sun shines harshly this time of year. It’s a different kind of light then what you see in the summer. Summer’s sunlight is more orange – warmer – not as in how it feels (although the temperature is a factor) but in how it looks. Winter’s sunlight is harsh and pale yellow – almost white. I think it makes me squint harder trying to take it all in – my eyes almost rejecting it. I’ve found that this harsh light shines on days I don’t want it too…sad days when we bury family members, friends, loved ones. Its harsh light – something we would welcome any other time of the year – makes it colder and stark. Instead of shining on us – it shines through us. It’s a different kind of sunlight. But I do not control the weather and the sun and somehow in the middle of those tough times, God must know that we need this light – even as harsh as it is. So I still take notice on these sunny days and try to understand what they mean and take it all in. For my all knowing God who sees the whole picture gave it to me this day and I can be thankful for it – capture that joy – transcend the harshness.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tearing it Apart I’m often inspired by songs and I can’t get the song Fireflies and Songs by Sara Groves out of my head. What strikes me about the song is the idea of tearing apart a music box to find a song. Of course, in the process of doing so, the music box no longer plays. I feel like lately I’m tearing apart this life…layer by layer getting to what is supposed to be my focus, my center, the most important thing. So much is happening around me – I feel like I’m being swept away – pulled in so many directions. I’m to the point where I feel like if I keep pulling on these layers I will be at a breaking point. Yet somehow my center stays calm – as if I’m watching the chaos from a safe place. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me…I become angry, tired, irritated, I cry too easily, I’m pessimistic. It’s so hard to see past the pieces of this broken life around me. I keep tearing apart the pieces of this life looking for my purpose when God has really only called me to be still and know Him. To take these experiences good, bad, ugly, beautiful, thoughtful, awe-inspiring and to just know Him – experience Him, love Him. Love Him through the eyes of my children – seeing the joy on their faces, becoming part of their creative, no boundaries world. Love Him through the wonder He has given us in this world - I look up at the stars in a crisp cold night and know that He is there. This swirling, whirling world keeps moving so fast and all my efforts to tame it, control it, bluster through it in my anger and pain will never work. Instead I’m staying still – I’m done tearing it apart. I decide today to let the music play.