One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

God's House

Sometimes I remember to talk to God out loud so Geddy will know that I ask for guidance and express thankfulness. Modeling my relationship with God helps me to work on actually having a relationship.

The other day we were out driving and I told God how grateful I was that we were safe. We had been having car trouble before being rescued by my sister. Rather than breaking down on the freeway the car had died in my friend's driveway. It was the perfect place to hang out, happy and warm, and wait for my sister, whose house was right around the corner.

While I was thanking God for being with us, I heard Geddy ask from the back seat: "Is God in the clouds?"

"God is down here and up in the clouds and everywhere at once. Isn't that great about God?"

"But where's her house?"

(Geddy always refers to God with female pronouns. I pretty much adore this.)

"That is a good question. I don't know if God has a house. Maybe more like a bird, just flying around everywhere. But I guess birds do have houses."

"Yeah, birds have nests."

"Well maybe God has a nest too."

That night I tucked Geddy into bed and said prayers with him. Luke usually leads this, but he wasn't home yet, so I was going on like "Please be with this person and that person" when Geddy interrupted me.

"Tell God to be here with me because I don't want her going to somebody else."

"Well remember, God is here and everywhere, for everyone, but yes, please God watch over Geddy tonight. Amen."






Thursday, January 12, 2017

When Winter Goes too Far

Winter falls in beautiful snowflakes that dance to the rhythm of excited children. Snowmen and snow angels, sledding and skiing, holidays at Grandma's house, hot chocolate, fuzzy hats and new boots, snowshoes and snowballs—winter is enchanting and cozy by the fire and the best friend whose visit you never want to end.

Until this year. Now, winter for many on my slice of the planet has become an unwelcome guest. And it's only mid January. I smell the work of the White Witch, because, like that time in Narnia, it feels like "always winter but never Christmas."

Honestly, the cold hasn't gotten to me yet. Neither has the dark sky or the snow—or what's left of the snow here. What makes it a bit too much winter is the rain uglifying the snow and flooding our sidewalk and the ice building up in between the meltdowns. And my car trapped in the driveway. These are minor problems considering those of people dealing with leaking or caving in roofs and other ice and water damage.

For many days, Geddy and I relished the snow fun right in our neighborhood. We did all the snow cool events, from sledding and snowshoeing to just flopping in the powder and taking a bite of nature's ice cream. But now we mostly stay inside. It's not so bad, not like it is for the children and teachers whose snow day wishes came true, just in excess. But just as they want to go back to school, we are kind of ready to get outside again.

So yesterday we went out to shovel some water around. We tried to clear the path for the water to have a steady flow down the street. Geddy had fun, as he doesn't seem to notice that the weather is less than ideal. I slogged through the water cringing at the thought of it all freezing, which it did. I guess today I can get out my ice skates.

Perhaps that is bringing this winter full circle, because the thought of ice skating conjures up all the warm fuzzies of this season again. Concern has settled into a steady resignation that winter isn't going anywhere yet so we might as well make the best of it.

Geddy certainly has no complaints. He keeps asking to go camping. As we filled up jugs with water and got out the oil lamps—just in case—he reminded us to not forget the marshmallows. This morning he and I made a makeshift tent, packed it with stuffed animals and a flashlight, and told camping stories. We looked at colorful stars and talked about chipmunks following us for crumbs. Then Geddy said the chipmunk was running through the snow. I said What? No snow here; we're camping. He said Yes, there's snow! I said OK, some people do camp in the snow but Daddy and I are not those people. Somehow, I think Geddy will be one day.

     


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Perfect Timing

We rolled into Portland at the perfect time. Perfect for stand-still traffic anyway. Christmas traveling is hectic at any time of day, but rush hour in the big city makes it even worse. Our Garmin map told us Grandma's house was fifteen minutes away, but the road signs warned it would take forty-seven minutes just to get to our next turn. Geddy was grumpy; I wanted to stand up and stretch. The rock station on the radio kept turning out disappointments for Luke and he sighed, "What we need right now is a Rush song." Three seconds later his wish came true. As he cranked it up and Geddy Lee started singing, our Geddy started bobbing his head. "Perfect timing!" Luke exclaimed, happier than he had been in miles. Thinking over our long day, he realized that we might have had perfect timing more than once.

Luke's Christmas shopping procrastination had caused us to be sitting in the car that morning, waiting for a store to open, when we should have already been out of Boise. When ten o'clock rolled around and the store still wasn't open, we were feeling out of luck. One last check at the door and Luke came back with a story. The employee had gotten locked out of the building and it would be half an hour before someone got there with a key. We went on to a different store, bought the present, and got on the road. A few hours later, while stopped in traffic on the freeway waiting for an accident up ahead to be cleared, we felt thankful we hadn't been involved. Leaving late might have been the perfect time after all.

Days later in our vacation adventure we probably did come close to being a traffic accident, or at least getting stuck in the snow. As the wind blew the powder in vicious waves across the road I thought we were definitely in the right place at the wrong time. We made it to the country road, ready to go visit Luke's father at his ranch. It didn't take long before we found ourselves backing up to get out of the drifts that quickly engulfed the previously plowed path. We paused, weighing our options. Should we continue? Maybe we would just make it in time before the road disappeared. But maybe we would get stuck, too far from the ranch to walk in that weather and too far from town and without cell service to get help. The deciding factor was when a much larger vehicle had to back down the road as well. With sighs we headed back to town. The drifts and whiteouts continued but we made it safely. It all worked out except we didn't get to visit family. (The good news is we heard today that roads got plowed and he got his groceries!)
______

The new year bursts to life in a matter of hours, ready to flip the calendar and give us no excuses for the perfect time to do everything better. Regardless of the year change, every moment we get choices. We can choose what we eat, what we buy, what we do with our time. But sometimes no matter what we choose life is just plain out of our control. Talk of God's timing often frustrates me because, what the heck, why can't he operate on my timeline? I don't see his perfect timing when I'm in the storm. I don't always give him credit for his perfect timing when all goes well.

I suppose what I want to say for this coming year is that it's the perfect time to be grateful and to focus on patience and faith. I don't have a magic wand to make things work out or a secret knowledge of what God might do each step of the way, but I have hope that loves shines bright on the horizon.

We had perfect timing to view a gorgeous sunset around Mount Hood.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Just Breathe, and Color Outside the Lines

Impatience and frustration rear their proverbial ugly heads in my psyche a little too often these days. Motherhood seems to have breathed life into these nasty twins. With other people's children I can handle a lot of trying situations without bother. When I taught little ones, I found them amusing, gifted, and pleasantly rebellious when they would, say, tell silly jokes instead of work math problems or color outside the lines. I didn't mind if they giggled loudly in the hallways. Even more serious offenses, like not getting their homework done, or lying to save face, didn't ruffle me. I was there to love them, teach them what I could, and model kindness and patience. (Notice I said little ones. My teenage students pushed my buttons!).

So I figured I could keep it up when I had a child of my own.

Well, now, you shake your head and smile.

What is the truth? I tell my son to "Hurry" so often that he has made a game out of making sure I don't quit saying it! "Mommy, say, 'Hurry' " he demands, as he moves like a snail when we should be out the door and in the car already. I get frustrated when he won't stop running around the kitchen long enough for me to wipe the food off of his hands and face. I growl when he splashes around in the sink instead of opening his mouth for me to brush his teeth. I even get a bit mad when he lies and says, "NO POOP!" and there is really quite a lot of it.

Sigh.

It certainly puts me to the test, shows my true colors, brings out the worst in me—any more hackneyed phrases?

But—and probably my husband should get all the credit—somehow, this tiny human I love like crazy who brings out my crazy, oozes a whole lot of empathy and love for his mommy.

Every other day he tells me, "Don't worry, Mommy." Every other day, and sometimes a couple of times a day, he leaps forward and hugs me tight after a particularly bad bout of mommy frustration. Every day he says, "It's OK, I don't mind about it," when I say phrases such as, "Don't get your shoes wet!" and "You'll be cold without your jacket!" and "You'll be hungry later if you don't eat something now."

I mean, this boy, he's up on reading my body language too. He knows when Mommy is stewing.

Recently we were supposed to all leave the house early for a trip. I wasn't quite ready on time, but when I finally was, Luke was upstairs singing and playing guitar. I knew we had to get on the road, especially because he had told me what time we should leave. Luke didn't get frustrated with me, when I missed the time, but boy was I at peak impatient-boiling-into-frustration when he wasn't ready. I didn't say a word, however, trying to be calm and kind, but Geddy sensed it. He looked up at me and said, "Don't worry, Mommy, I'll go get Daddy." He ran upstairs and told Luke we were all ready to go and then—get your Kleenex box—he came back downstairs and hugged me and said it would be OK.

Well. May I remember this daily and keep my priorities straight. It really is all going to be OK. Just breathe. And love. And let go of the little things, because really, wet shoes, skipped dinners, slowpoke little boys, are so not things to lose my cool over. It's all "coloring outside the lines," and we need more of that.

Creative Commons: flickr Sami Ben Gharbia




Monday, October 10, 2016

Dirt's Best Friend

Sometimes, in spite of living in a sprawling old neighborhood with a big park in our backyard, we feel the itching need to escape our little big city and go touch the land. We especially want our son to experience the wide open wild that we knew as children. And we want him to laugh and play and get into mischief with cousins. Fortunately, this time of year dirt and cousins are not too hard to find.

This weekend in the wilds of Eastern Oregon, we watched in amusement as the kids tromped through the corn maze, chased each other around straw bales, and got to pile on for rides on the four-wheeler with their Nana/Great Aunt. But even with so many activities to choose from, the kids also loved just playing in the dirt.

They crawled in the dirt.

They rolled in the dirt.

They made piles of dirt.

They kicked and scuffed their shoes to make trails in the dirt.

They picked up handfuls of dirt and let it sift through their fingers and blow in the wind.

They threw dirt on each other and on their own heads.

They buried their legs in the dirt.

I even saw one tiny cousin cheerfully eating the dirt!

We parents, meanwhile, tried not to think of the mess that would be in the car, the dirt ring that would circle the tub, and the snotty dirt that would be coming out of noses for days. We remembered when dirt was our friend too.

The dirt-clod wars we had.

The dried mud pies we sampled.

The dirt and brush forts we built.

The dirt roads we made with our toy cars.

Every dirt memory surfaced with each cloud of dust the kids displaced. Dirt used to constantly live under our fingernails.

Our country-escape-turned-dirt-reunion ended long after bedtime. As we said Good bye to all the cousins and family and drove off into the dark and the sage brush, our son said: "We're going to get lost! There are no lights!" My husband explained: "This is what's called the country. This is where I lived when I was little like you. I know my way around."

And then I think I heard the dirt whisper, "Take care, old friend, and come again soon."







Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rabbit Hole

Sometimes I find myself thinking so much that it leads me on a journey to the bookshelf, and I want to suddenly reread all my favorite books or read others again that I hadn't put much thought into before. One idea reminds me of that one part of that one story, and then I wonder if I still have that other book that I held onto for years but probably finally donated to the library. With excitement I relish the idea of revisiting the poignancy of the pages.

This was my Monday, pulling out Franny and Zooey, digging through the boxes in the garage looking for a college text about the New Testament letters, and thinking that my husband had a good idea in rereading Tuesdays with Morrie. Then I found a children's book in French that I forgot I owned, which got me to thinking about pulling out all my French texts to study through, and then I wondered if I read my French Bible would I gain any insight I couldn't get in English.

The pile of books on my desk was growing. I immediately saw the danger of getting overwhelmed by the stack and leaving it there to go and do something far less intellectual than start reading. But where to start? I wanted all the information and brilliant revelations in my head RIGHT AWAY. It took some nudging from my husband, but that evening I chose to begin with Salinger instead of Netflix. Then on Tuesday I spent an hour in the sand pit of the park reading Zooey (having gotten through Franny just barely, the night before, as I tried to stay awake), and found myself transported on my journey back in time to who I was when I first read it. (I didn't stay back there too long because my son kept throwing sand my direction!)

What a strange feeling, though, to read a text and be transported in time to my past self. I can't exactly explain it except to say that I felt at one time all important and intellectual and completely confused and not at all wise. The "wisdom" of my younger self fell dead at the feet of the present me who realizes she knows nothing at all. I was at the same time deliciously nostalgic and sad that I hadn't gotten anywhere.

I suppose these conflicting feelings have a lot to do with what I was reading and why I picked it up to read again. I wanted an answer, that I thought I had found a long time ago, and I wanted to remember it and be all the better for it. Maybe I will still get there—have to finish the book first—but perhaps what I am to learn from this experience, if anything, is that what I needed to know back then is not necessarily what I need to know today. And perhaps feeling less wise is actually being more wise.

In the long run, then, this journey should lead to more self-discovery. Then in ten years I can go back and read these books again and maybe remember where I was at the second (or third or fourth) reading and find that I have learned after all. It makes me wonder what it is like for the authors. They have—presumably—read their books so many times in the rewriting and editing processes that they may be too sick of the stories to read them ever again. But what if they do? Ten or twenty years down the road do they sneakily pick up a copy of one of their books in the library and start reading it? Do they find themselves taken back to that first time the idea popped into their heads for the story? Do they smile with nostalgia and cringe? Do they learn something new and wonder how they could have missed it the first time? Do they wonder how they ever thought they knew anything?

I don't know. But for now I think I'll keep going down this rabbit hole; it's too much fun to stop. I want to know how I will feel when I pick up the next book. What will I think or reconsider? I'm not disenchanted any more.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Ocean Cure

Standing on the beach, staring at the vastness of ocean, I felt calm seep into every pore. Every inch of me breathed peace. The madness, murder, and mayhem of the world did not exist. Neither did laundry, bills, politics, and other grown-up burdens. I couldn't even focus on anxiety. My husband felt it too. He couldn't believe how the tension and stress of life just disappeared.

But how strange. The ocean could swell and pound the sand and make us disappear, if it wanted to. We looked out at the tips of the hidden forest of Neskowin, visible only when the tide was out. Long ago the trees had stood proudly on land before the water rose and consumed them. The ocean is not safe. But, oh, it is good for the soul.

I hardly need to explain; for, anyone who has ever been to the coast must feel the same. Yes, one can surf or fish or go on a cruise, but how many people want ocean-front property just so they can gaze upon the water? Why are we so drawn to it? What power does it have over us?

Why am I not equally drawn to God? Is it because I cannot see him? He's vast; he's everywhere. He's powerful, mighty, and not exactly safe. But he is good. And he is love. He could wipe me out, like erasing a mistake, but he doesn't. When I do take the time to sit with him, I start to feel the calm and the joy and the peace that he desires for me.

The news and the traffic and the Internet get me so muddied up that I stop seeing that God is everywhere. I just want to run back to the ocean where I can forget all that other stuff exists. My sense of sight really does take control. Maybe that's why God said to meet him in private, in a closet, in the quiet. When I've gone to a crowded beach by a big city with lots of shops and noise it is true that I sometimes get distracted. I forget that the ocean is trying to offer me peace, and I busy myself with other pursuits. Then I go home from vacation feeling exhausted and not refreshed.

Maybe I should put a bottle of sand on my desk as a reminder to close my eyes and see the ocean. To meet God on the waves. He will calm the storm.