1000 Thoughts Before Breakfast

When I can’t do work in a focused way to create something visible, everything goes wibbly-wobbly. Which is just another way of saying, “Children make me crazy.”
 
Before kids I was definitely a “Self-A-Holic.” When my uneasy bits reared up (which is always) and told me that life is mostly empty, short, strangely essential, and weirdly meaningless… When I woke up realized we only get one of these, but it’s really really hard to know what to do with it… I didn’t pick up a bottle to drown the confusion. I tamped it all down with work. If I was efficient, focused, intelligent, and strategic, I could make something out of my one effervescent life. Then it would be worth something. Then waking up in the morning for 80-some-odd years would make sense. I needed the pillar of my own creative power to rise up and serve as a touchstone for my vacuous sense of unease with the world.
 
And then I had children.
Which, they say, is the most significant thing you can do…
Which is probably true, actually, but that makes me feel twitchy.
 
The constancy and impermanence of all the things we do to raise children is destabilizing. Every morning the same endless needs rise up to be met and then pass away invisibly into time. 
A whole life can be poured out in half-eaten breakfasts. A whole life can be measured out in beds made and unmade and made and unmade. Little sock seams and spilled milk and time fillers and bickering and microscopic booboo kissing. This becomes the texture of time itself, and I start to say things like, “Everything is meaningless” and “What’s the point.” 
A whole existence can be unspooled into the tapestry of humanity. One little life in a long line of DNA. Maybe that was always the thing that mattered. Somehow the stuff we do on top of it wasn’t the point. Even though it felt like it. I feel like i’m pouring myself out into the gene pool. And right now I’m in the deep end.
To survive, I have had to “put down the bottle” of Self and understand the texture of time differently. My life isn’t a fragile thread slipping through scrambly fingers at warp speed, barely holdable. My challenge isn’t to grab it and make it into something that dignifies my own worth. Nope. It is not so lonely. It is not so desperate. We are being woven together.
One thread of time on top of another, our lives are being united into a story much bigger and beyonder than a Self-a-Holic like me. When I lay my small thread into a great united tapestry of threads stretching forward and backward through time and lashed to the heart of God (wherever he may be) I surrender small me for bigger we. I think this is a more accurate view of the world. I think this is a more reasonable way to live.
So I lay it mindfully. I lay it with as much love as I can muster. I know that it is tiny and dull by itself. I know it is only a gasp, a lurch, a fumble, a spark. But I believe that it is essential in the tapestry. Because we hold each other together. And everything is beautiful by and by. Breakfast upon breakfast upon breakfast, world without end, amen.

Loneliness Has A Lesson For You

In the loneliness of life there is a strange invitation: To stand naked and alone, and know that you are enough.

In the safety of friends, in the cradle of community, we can draw comfort from our lovely qualities. I’m so friendly. I’m so helpful. I’m so entertaining. I’m so creative. I’m so self sacrificing. I’m so wise. Therefore I am a good and lovely person. But when we are lonely, we stand stark and uncomfortable in the dreadful sense of our own Being, distinct and separate from all the other beings; then, there, in the spotlight of our own strangeness, if we have the radical courage, we can know that we are complete.

That’s something different.

Somehow we can’t get to that strange place of individual essential worth until we sense that we are alone.

This isn’t the selfish, stiff-necked, individualistic way of being “Complete” that is so common in Western society. This isn’t the, “F- that. I don’t need nobody!” seething self-containment. This is the way of being whole which knows that it is really part of a bigger story. “Here I am. Created by God. One wee thread in the tapestry. United to you. Pieced together in a story. Luminous and meaningful just as I am, because he loves me. Enough.”

Loneliness corrupted makes us want to curl into a ball of shriveling self-worth. “Nobody loves me; I am unloveable.” and “I don’t know my place in the world, so I don’t have a place anywhere.”

Loneliness redeemed invites us to stand up, lift our eyes “to the hills from whence our help comes”, and know the strength of being essential as we are. Beautiful because we we are created in love.

Loneliness corrupted makes us say, “No one loves me. I will withdraw.”

Loneliness redeemed says, “I am loved alone. Unvarnished. Endlessly. So I can love unlimited.”

Loneliness corrupted drives us deeper into ourselves and away from others.

Loneliness redeemed drives us deeper into ourselves, and we find something universal there. A shared value. A shared bewilderment. A shared hope. And low and behold we find ourselves able to connect to the great big family of humanity after all… giving from a more firmly rooted place of being loved incorruptibly.

I think loneliness finds us all at some point in time. Introverts, extroverts, ambiverts. City mice and country mice. But when loneliness finds you, I hope you find love. Your truest identity.

Sundays Make Me Cray

Big groups make me feel lonely. There are faces and voices and hugs and hand squeezes and tiny brownies and coffee cups and communion. Lots of it. It’s lovely. It’s just enough to make you long to really know and to be known. Suddenly, you know you’re not alone, and you want to feel certain about your place in the beautiful human tribe around you. Where do I fit in here?

A big group around you suggests, “You might have a place here…” But then doesn’t tell you what it is. There are too many. There is not enough time. There is a schedule. Everything is a skim over the surface. A bevy of moving bodies, swirling in and out like tide eddies. And I feel my “Other-ness” keenly. We are not one. We are all so many individuals. We are all a bit isolated in our own skin. What a muddle!

I know this most personal of experiences in my own head is common to many people. The Lonely Hearts Club has full membership. And yet somehow we still struggle to find our places.

Longing to be known and understood is probably what makes us the strangest of the animals. We could have just been a herd, or a flock, or a school. But no! We had to complicate things. We had to be wistful. We had to be lonely. We had to fumble for meaning. We had to be wonderers and wanderers and weirdos.

So we stand in crowded rooms and feel desperately alone.

What gives?!

I feel most at home behind a book, while writing, or wrapped deeply in a one-on-one conversation. Or when you give me a specific task. Like painting your kitchen! (Thanks Sarah.)

Perhaps there are clues hidden in our natural inclinations about how to be rooted and grounded in a sense of place and purpose? Perhaps what feels like home to us really is home? Can we discern our truest place in the world by looking at the satisfactions and safety zones of our own hearts? Should we be focusing on faithfulness to our natural strengths and inner patterns? Or should we be stretching ourselves to new lengths and breadths? Either way, somehow this only seems to orient us to ourselves. There is something else needed to orient us in our communities. And I haven’t found it yet.

I feel utterly disoriented at the moment. Homeless in my own skin and uncertain of where to turn. Things seem too big and too small. People seem too many and too few. If someone would love me and need me and want to be my friend, I could respond well. They could press me into a shape. I could conform. I could know my place.

This is the definition of co-dependency isn’t it?

Yeah probably.

Everything is confusing. I don’t know where to put my hands.

Sincerely,

Sunday Mornings are A Lot

 

 

 

Friday.

I had a panic attack while buckling my kids into their car seats. Critical mass was reached. No one can survive this without a crack, can they? Let’s not drive while we’re hyperventilating, said my better judgement.

I sat still with my hands on the wheel. Calming myself. They screamed at me. “Go! Go MOM!!! Come ON!!! GO!!!!”

I forgot the appointment to get the prescription I need to function without having panic attacks. I forgot because my mind is already strained. Strained at the seams. I’m holding too many things in the flimsy, filmy, fraying silk pocket of my ability. But there’s nothing I can put down. Is there?

I wish I was a good solid canvas satchel. Wouldn’t that be better for everyone? Why does the Maker who Makes Things make silken people? People who feel everything and break open and fail so loudly? I want to be solid. But I forget things. I get overwhelmed.

Shame and guilt and anger and hopelessness all descend as once. The four horsemen of the apocalypse. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t weep. I couldn’t possibly go on living like this… so messy and broken and mucked up. The realization hit me randomly. That I had missed it. Son dumped all his clothes on the floor and we were talking about responsibility and cleaning up after ourselves. And it hit me in the gut like a sock full of sand. And then I slowly, slowly lost control.

And now I’m ok.

We ran our errands. I cried most of the way there, but then I numbed up. I got baby-sized ice cream cones for the boys. We went to the post office.

How is it that we can be mostly alright and totally shattered all at once? Like some kind of broken snow globe within an unbroken snow globe in the puddle of a bigger broken snow globe.

Nice blobs of that fake snow fall gently around the statue of my life, as they should. They are lovely. It is good. And then there are also chunks of glass clanking up and down. Chipping off an elbow or a nose, here and there. I guess they’re ok too. I can’t get rid of them anyway.

I can’t make sense of this. I have no destinations to wiggle toward out of the morass. I am just sitting in the middle of what seems to be the inescapable mess of my own being, marveling at the strangeness of it. Wondering, Why me? And, How did it happen?

I have to feel my way forward with the written word, or it would be necessary to cut myself open to let all the giant feelings out. There are too many to fit in one medium sized body.

I’m not as crazy as I sound. But I’m worse than I appear.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

 

 

The Terrible Gift of Fatigue

Tired and Desperate seem to go hand in hand a lot. You’re desperate because everything is fraying around the edges, and everything is fraying because you’re tired and can’t keep up. If you could bring order out of the chaos, you wouldn’t be desperate. But it would require MORE energy. Which you don’t have. And to keep giving out of a scorched dry place will only make you more desperate.

And round and round and round she goes. Where she stops nobody knows.

But she stops. She always stops.

There’s always a big, fat, unwanted, inconvenient STOP somewhere right in the middle of everything.

You can sort of feel it coming… your body warns you…

Tired tells you to slow down. Desperate tells you to work harder.

I don’t know what the answer is. Except to do less. Do fewer things with greater completion. Little things with great love, or some such inspiring bumper sticker phrase.

Unfortunately it usually feels like the only things you could possibly cut out are the things that are giving you life (creativity, friends, exploration, baking). And the things that make you insane are the things you can’t abandon (Eames and Oliver).

This is the cycle that always spits me out on the shores of depression.

When I’m finally so tired that every emotion begins to feel like sadness… that’s when I know I’ve pushed my luck too long.

This is when I start to crave some WINS to lighten the load. So I hustle even more. But it’s inevitably when I start dropping balls and failing. Which helps absolutely ZERO. Which makes me emotionally exhausted.

I know there’s a Narrow Way that leads to life. Few find it, I’m told.

I think the Narrow Way is humility. Surrender. Sovereign rest. Humbly bowing to who we are. Because he made us. Knowing who we are and what we are capable of, and saying, “Ok” with as much grace as we can manage. Open handed.

Ok, I’m not everything I want to be.
Ok, I can’t do everything I want to do.
Ok, I can’t fulfill every need I would love to fulfill.
Ok, I can’t reach every goal I set.
Ok, I can’t control all the outcomes I want to control. Because limits are real. No matter what our culture tells us. And this irritating thing is true: “We plan our way, but the Lord directs our steps.” Dagnabbit.

The Narrowest Way there could ever be is to be exactly who we are made to be. With all the interwoven pieces of our strengths and weaknesses. No matter how much we want to reject the wibbly-wobbly bits and the incongruous.

Sometimes I have to physically act out this prayer with a very real bow of my head (or my whole self if it’s a particularly grabby day): “Lord, I accept. I bow in humble submission to the amount of energy you have given me. To the emotional capacity you have given me. To the physical ability you have given me. I trust that it is enough for the work you have given me to do. And when it isn’t enough… you haven’t given it.”

Maybe my deep emotional and physical limitations are the gate posts of the narrow way? My mightiness is lovely, but it is my limits that bring me into focus. Somehow, in some weird way, submitting to them leads to rest.

But I don’t wanna.

 

 

Death is Unforgivable.

She did the same things until the end. The daily things. The stuff we think we’d just skip if we knew we were dying. But she never abandoned the rhythms. Meetings. A walk to the store. Church on Sunday. Changing a tire on her bike. She lived a life in which the little things mattered. Even when she was dying. Maybe especially when she was dying.

I cannot even begin to explain to you how this way of moving through the world impacted me. I, who am so often scrambling and fumbling for meaning so desperately… well, of course meaning is found in the faithful doing of little things with great love. From beginning to end. There has maybe never been a more meaningful person to me than Wray. In her simple way.

When she prayed for me, she would put one gnarled and crooked hands over my hands, and turn the other one up on her knee. She would pour her heart out over the little things that troubled me. As if the little things mattered so much. When cancer was eating her, she would pray for my children, my marriage, my sadness, my joy.

She had eyes like a 4 year old girl at a tea party. They never stopped twinkling. She would clap her hands together under her chin. Always this precious meeting of hand and hand above heart. A gesture I’ve only ever seen small children do. Hope unwavering.

She was light in the world. And she was weighty. Something about her quiet. Something about her piercing gaze and the way she would cock her head, and nod, and press her lips together and shrug. Smile the smallest of smiles like a secret. Her hands were open. Her heart was steady. She had bones like a little bird and legs like a baby deer, long and lanky. She would walk through the park with a stride like dancing, arms tucked into jacket, slouchy sack on shoulder. Somehow she never conceded to the weights of the world. Not to loss, not to illness, not to loneliness, not to the big “why bother?” questions that want to eat out the substance of our lives. She was light. She was always bending those knobby knees to kneel. And rise. And kneel.

She would come by after church and grab my arm and say, “Still no lively worship service. What a drag. Well, we won’t stop praying.” Wray prayed for years that we could sing praises with abandon. “Now she can. Now she is,” a friend said. And I just wept and wanted to punch the music minister in the mouth. She could have had it here!

No one told me it would be this awful. Death. Letting people go. Especially people who have loved you back to life.

When I was in the depths of my first major depressive episode, Wray would call. She didn’t have to have anything to say, particularly. Just her little lilting voice across the line. Quiet and clear, so you leaned in to listen. “Well… I just wanted to check. We won’t stop praying.” She never did. That was enough. That little thing.

She leaves an absolutely unfillable hole.

How can we possibly hold the pieces of ourselves together when such a beautiful piece has been snipped out? I think we can’t. Death is unforgivable.

The last time I saw her was on Ash Wednesday. She held my hand in the back pew on the way out the door. Patted my arm. She’d always pat my arm and then look sheepish. My kids were scrambling. Disrupting the stillness of a solemn service. I hugged her neck. Her papery cheek on mine. We parted ways with ashen crosses thumbed across our heads.

“Remember that you are but dust, and to dust you shall return.” And I never saw her again.

I didn’t know she was dying. Not in that moment. She lived so fully, you often forgot. I only knew she was priceless. I only knew I wanted to keep her forever. I never got to say goodbye. So I might bleed a little bit forever.

A love you, Wray.

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The Imperfection Trap

Imperfection is the new polished. Praise be! We celebrate freckles, big hair, and body types. We try anyway. We’re so incredibly free compared to our mothers and grandmothers. We talk about our problems in public. We admit to taking medication for our moods. We share the gritty details of our labor and delivery: The first big push of baby into world, and then all the little daily pushes that come after for the rest of forever.

We are more open than we have ever been. Our grandmothers had rules like, “No white pants after labor day” and “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.” We live in the age of messy buns, baggy jeans, ballyage, and honesty. Hallelujah! Because I am badly equipped for anything more glossy.

But we’re still InstaScam filtering the crap out of it, aren’t we?

We are so uptight about how our looseness is perceived, it is making me constipated.

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We carefully monitor the propaganda machine of our own experience.

If you’re going to be a mess, thou shalt be hilarious. Or at least vaguely likeable.

Depression is allowed, but preferably with a deep quote.

When all else fails, there are memes.

We have learned to squeeze even our deepest miseries and rawest openness through the fine sieve of performance. We have learned to clip the most chaotic, depressing moments of our lives into sculpted hedges. Crop out the oatmeal slime under the kitchen table and everyone looks like Martha Stewart! But include the oatmeal slime, and suddenly you’re that “funny easy going sort” that’s making space for others. Until you can’t. And then you have a choice…. brand or honesty?

Turns out we can hide behind the manicured shrubbery of our own imperfection. We have even learned to press the play-dough of our deepest despair into nice shapes that somehow reflect well on us. At least, I do.

I want to be a permission granter! Perfection is nothing compared with connection. Today I told I friend, “I think I have the spiritual gift of a muffin top, because no one looks at me on the outside and thinks I have all my business together.” But somehow even the desire to empower others toward wholeness and honesty can be contorted into something that’s lying. Something that hides behind what works, so that it doesn’t have to be what it is.

It’s not a matter of constantly pushing ourselves to be more and more raw. That’s silly. That’s some kind of strange emotional gluttony. Let’s leave the stirring up of more and more junk where calm waters will do to the middle school girls. This is about STAYING FREE. And staying free again. And continuing to stay free from the trap of hiding behind image.

“It is for freedom that Christ as set us free! So don’t conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

How poignant and contemporary is this calling for our unique moment in history?

We live in a time more free than any other time. Yet we allow our freedom to become a kind of cage when we let people’s expectations of us shape us more than our authentic experience. More than the experience God has called us to inhabit fully for his purposes.

It’s a trap! Darling, you are no brand.

You are not a one-note, one-trick, one-hit-wonder. You were never meant to be. You are a soul on a journey, and the journey is complicated.

You are a whole, integrated, woven together, wonderful You.

You are made of brightness and darkness.

You are both hilarious and incredibly annoying.

You are victorious and one extremely hot mess.

You are all these things and more. Unfiltered. Uncropped. Unvarished. You are a story originating in the heart of God, unspooling into your own experience through his ancient hands of love.

Personal branding is a soul sucking sickness. It’s the cage where funny people shrivel up and suffer in silence because they are only permitted to be bright. It’s a prison where wise folks begin to betray the whimsical wandering of their own hearts and perform like trick ponies, because they always need to be sage. It’s where health bloggers lie about loving Moon Pies. Those jerks.

The point is…. being honest isn’t enough. We must be whole. We must be all the things we are. We must be those things together. It’s how we were meant to live. The minute you surrender your Self to your Image, you have lost the freedom for which you have been set free. You have lost the Light and the Salt that only you have.

Let’s set each other free. You are not a brand to me. You’re also not a mermaid, a unicorn, or a vampire. I’m sorry. You’re You. And it is enough, and it is everything.

The Spiritual Discipline of Coloring Books

The best news I have for you today is that there are oreos and open windows. That when things have gotten really sideways, there are crayons and usually something to scribble on. Jesus practically invented adult coloring books. He said, “Unless you come like a child, you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven.” So if things are looking truly bleak, I find my way toward heaven’s door with markers and the outlined picture of a cupcake. The narrow way.

I love how children come. If they aren’t running away and ignoring me completely, they’re barreling into me with every ounce of their despair on display. My lap is their last resort, so when they finally come it is not in their Sunday best. Little hot messes. Sticky fingers. Grabby hands. Strange obsessive plans percolating in their brains about how to control the world, and wailing in misery when they fail. The strange spawn of Violence and a Sweet Tooth. You know, pretty much exactly like me. When they’re finally at their wit’s end, they launch themselves onto me like a trust fall. Limp and sweaty. Streaked with muddy tears and smelling like a truck stop. This is how he invites us. This is where he invites us. He says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden… I bought Crayola.” He knew that his lap would be my last resort too.

This is holy work on the worst days. Stopping. Throwing ourselves, un-showered and angsty, into something immoveable and good. Putting the Rubix Cube of the universe down and backing away slowly from the frantic fumbling for meaning, success, love, security, purpose. And the really hard stuff like good hair, nice housekeeping and smaller pants. Pulling the hungry suckers of our sticky octopus brains off whatever meaningless detail we’ve gotten wrapped around, and just doodling. Or better yet being silent in the quiet of our own hearts. But silence is hard, so doodling is a good step in the right direction.

Father Thomas Keating, the Trappist monk, says with a twinkle in his eye, “The first guideline for entering into Centering Prayer is just to sit down. Which isn’t too difficult for most people.” Clearly he hasn’t been hanging out with many moms. Sitting down is not our strong suit. Unless we want to stand up and find poop on the walls. But there it is… Stop. In the whirl and swirl of everything. When you’ve reached your wit’s end (or maybe even before, if you’re having a very wise day) come and throw yourself into something ancient and infinite and safe. Some big magic that’s barely beyond the surface. Something that grants permission in the deepest places. The eternal arms that hold. The eternal voice that murmurs, “You are enough because I love you. That was always the truest thing. Now, let’s color a unicorn!”

God raises beauty out of ashes. Always. It’s in his nature. On really bad days, sometimes resurrection can only be found in sitting down. Accepting his sufficiency. Delighting in the freedom to stop and be held. When hearts of truly broken and things are worse than ever, God created Oreos for such a time as this. Broken open for us and for many. One small black and white way out of death and into the loving heart of God.

When snot runneth over everyone’s bottom lip and they lick it off, which is utterly gross, there are yoga pants and a dash of online shopping. Hallelujah! When it’s been four days since you showered and the kids are rampaging, there is a swipe of mascara. With a wave of the wand, you can transform into Adele. Sometimes that’s all it takes to bring you back to life. Two layers of mascara. Grace upon grace.

We thought it was the big things, the deeper questions, the theological gymnastics of the professionals that would un-muddle our experience at it’s most tangly, but it was always the little ones. It was always the still small voice. The narrow way. The little lost lamb. The smallest lurch of faith in the right direction. It’s not rocket science, apparently.

Jesus said it again and again; that it was simple. That it was easy. That is was light. That it was startlingly obvious and utterly available. If we are feeling the opposite, I hazard a guess we have somehow strayed from grace. It’s a simple little thing to shift back into the green pasture when the wheels are flying off the crazy train. Just sit down. God’s presence is always nearer than we thought. He is a “very present help,” all evidence to the contrary. We need only learn how to lurch into his lap. His lap, where labor ceases and the work of healing our confused and fragmented hearts begins. Sit Down. Pick up a coloring book. He’ll meet you there. When the mind settles… when the crazy calms… This is the doorway to contemplative prayer. Sometimes it starts with Lisa Frank.

More to Lighten Your Load

I remember the exact moment I realized that my Kindergarten teacher had lied to me: Lungs were not like balloons within chests made of cardboard.

I saw one. A lung. The lung of a smoker in that vaguely dehumanizing, but delightfully beautiful, Bodies exhibit. It was nothing like a diaphanous, fairy-wing-esque, wind bag laced with sparkling ruby veins. Nope. It was a giant filthy kitchen sponge. Squishy. Something middle-schoolers would stick a fork in in a dissection class and squeal. I marveled that you could fill a solid-ish mass, like a white slab of meat, with air that felt so light.

I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety, chronic pain, & chronic illness recently.
Mostly while laying on my back in the middle of the bed, in the middle of the day, in the middle of a very real struggle that I struggle to explain. Watching the fan in the middle of the ceiling go around and around and around and around. My squishy lungs going in and out, in and out, stubbornly persistent in this troublesome body.

Revelation always seeps into our stuff like a whisper. Except when it explodes in like a trumpet, of course. But mostly that thing that oozes through us, a totally new substance, suffusing the really sticky stuff of us and making the tight spaces go less clinchy… that thing comes softly.

I supposed that’s why they call it at “Ah ha” moment. Because revelation comes softly like breathe. Inhale “Ahhh….” exhale “Haaaaa….” and then there’s the smallest amount of new order in the messy swirling thoughts, in the middle of the mess going around and around and around and around. Stubbornly, persistently saving us… breathing us back to life in the middle of these troublesome bodies.

So here’s what it was:
You chronically limping… You precious ones who exist just a couple standard deviations off the mean of functional, cool, calm, and effective… Your disorder always makes you very aware of how you are less. And people are so quick to join the chorus.

You’re a less fabulous mother than you dreamed of being.
Less of a friend.
Less of an activist.
Less of a lover.
Less of the sort of woman they elect to the PTA…
Less of a homemaker.
Less of a poster-child of success for al ma maters.
Less the person that is quickly picked for dodgeball teams.
Less of a producer, an earner, a dazzler, a razzler.
Less of a shower taker sometimes. If I’m honest.

I am legitimately LESS because of my condition. There’s so sense denying it. Those who insist on always saying it’s only in my head and not somehow part of the real fiber of my experience are my worst enemies. I have mentally throat punched so many of them.

But here comes the breathe… the Ahhh… Haaa… Revelation to fill up the squishy solid reality of my limitations…

“Have I ever told you how your condition also makes you More?”

Revelation is always so kind. I think she is really actually God, but she sounds like the soothing voice of an elevator recording. “Level 1.”

You are More compassionate.
You are More tender with yourself and others.
You are More intentional with your energy.
You are More focused with your time… when you have any ability to focus at all.
You are More conscious of the spirit… and of seasons… and the sound of leaves in trees…
You are More empathetic with your children.
You are More engaged and reliant on your husband.
You are More merciful with mess. Yours, theirs, ours.
You are More aware of your body…
Maybe a bit more soft and fluffy because of it too, but More greatful just for life…
…Therefore MORE accepting of the good gifts of fat layer and plump cheeks and digestive tracts and toast.
You are MORE artistic…
You are MORE reflective…
You are MORE. You are MORE. You are MORE.

Oh darling, don’t for a moment refuse to accept that you are LIMITED. Oh yes you are. Don’t for a moment scorn it. You are limited. By so many things. And those things will legitimately make you Less of some stuff. But they will never make you LESS.

There is life here. Less diaphanous and light and airy. Less like fairy wings. More like a dirty kitchen sponge. Right here in the middle of a SOLID acceptance of the SQUISHY stuff we are, there is freedom! Sticking a fork deep into the mass of tissue and saying, “This is me and my stuff. Yes it is,” is right where God meets us clapping his hands, running and kicking up his godly heels in glee saying, “Oh my precious own! My precious, precious own! I have always loved you, you little kitchen sponge you! I really have. And I do have such super fabulous plans for your story.”

Unless we can look at our lives and say, “Oh my precious own!” we will never really know the heart that God has for us.

If we insist on fairy wings… we miss the true beauty. Right in the mess. My own.

Ahhhhhaaaa. More.

 

Love, If You’re Listening

There are these little yellow flowers that always seem to grow near pavement. They are very exceptionally yellow too. Not a polite buttercup hue to be nice. Not a dandelion gentility. No. Yellow with startling conviction. Yellow with abandon. Yellow like post-it notes and Beyonce had a baby. Lemonade, without a fleck of orange or cream identity crisis.

And they grow next to side walks. Of all places.

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I would grow under a tree, if I was going to grow somewhere wild. Or maybe in an open field if the grass wasn’t too tall. But these odd ducks with their rangey ground-crawling stems, thistle-bristled leaves, and impossibly balletic blossoms meander toward the cracks in pavement.

This is the sort of thing that makes you wonder “Why” if you’re paying attention.

If you feel like your life is a bit hot and dry and cracked, pushed up in strange places by unfortunate roots that wormed their way into your story… if you feel that maybe you are bleached white, stuck in place, crumbling around the edges… like a bit of a bad sidewalk… then you walk a little slower and look and mutter, “Hmm?”

I paid attention to those wee flowers. I thought about them as I paced toward home.

There must be a practical explanation. Yellow flowers need a reason to love sidewalks. Sidewalks aren’t particularly lovable on their own.

They must grow here because we cut down all the trees to pave this road?
They must grow here because the landscape is weirdly obliterated of all it’s natural beauty… but it let’s the sun get in.
They must grow here because in a parched and weary land, they remembered to look up. To spot the light and draw life.
They must grow here because God just can’t help himself! He’s always sneaking resurrection stories into everything. Love, if you’re listening.

I’m not sure God ever exactly meant for people to slice giant asphalt highways through the earth. Maybe he likes them? I could imagine a God who likes fast cars. Or maybe he would prefer we walked a bit more gently? As if in a garden. That was the original blue print, right? I don’t have any sense of conviction on this. It’s probably both… but here is something I really believe: Whatever happens, there will spring up yellow flowers. And they are a sign of infinite mercy. A good sense of humor. A lot of patience.