Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We are looking at Mike doing quite a bit more traveling in the upcoming future and I have to figure out what that looks like for me. I'm a little surprised at how this has upset my apple cart, because alone time is usually something I crave.
When the kids were little and Mike traveled, it was just plain old hard. No one to come in and give relief. All bedtimes, meals, practices, games, baths, and discipline was mine. All mine. Then the kids got older and could get themselves in the car with their shoes, liked frozen pizza better than real food, and could take out the trash. The couple days a month Mike would be gone, weren't a problem. Lizzy left last year, but Mike rarely traveled and it was a novelty having an entire house to myself when he did.
But this new possibility is taking some getting used to. I'm already alone all day with this writing gig. (Wow, does the internet help with that.) So, I'm discombobulated (it's baaack) a bit.
Has anything come out of left field lately to throw you off? How are you handling it?
Really, I want to know.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I'm usually pretty good at living in the moment and accepting the waiting as part of the present. And it really is just that when I think I about it. To live in the moment means living in waiting. Expectation. Anticipation. Uncertainity. Hope. Doubt.
I trust God and I believe he has a plan. I just don't trust my handling of his plan.You see, I have a plan also. A plan that keeps jumping up when I think I've got it safely stored out of sight and out of mind. My plan likes to be cared for, examined, stroked and focused on. My plan wants my undivided attention and it's jealous. Jealous of me allowing God to have a plan. Jealous of me working on anything not in the plan's best interest. My plan says, "Sit and think about me today. Don't spend time on other possibilities or abilities. Don't worry about other people and their plans. Their plans are stupid and not nearly as important as me." You’d think the longer I go seeing my plan morph in front of my eyes and going in directions I never imagined – my grip on it would loosen.
Yeah, you’d think that. But you’d be wrong.
I think I’ll go get my nails done.
Monday, June 28, 2010
What would that feel like, to just dive into the air? To swoop and soar? Birds have always caught my eye and thoughts. I can totally see why God would've thought of making them. Like adding sprinkles on an ice cream cone, or jewelry on a woman.
But what got me this morning is he not only made things like that, he made them work. I think if I was God, I'd just have made birds. Centuries later as science developed people would've cut open birds to see how they fly and my birds would've just been full of stuff. My birds would've flown due to magic, due to I'm God and that's what I want. Seriously.
But God didn't do it that way. The more I find out, the more I have to believe in a creator. This stuff can't have just happened. Water, simple, good ole water, has a chemical breakdown. Photosynthesis is why leaves are green. Nerve endings are why I know my coffee is hot. How, cool - A Creator who not only creates but stirs our creativity by letting us figure it out.
If I had been God, when you wanted to figure something out, you'd end up saying, "Well, nothing makes sense, it's all just a bunch of mumbo jumbo" - and you would've been right.
Guess it's a good thing I'm not God, huh?
Friday, June 25, 2010
Now all of this is not mine and my husband's fault. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of OUR parents. You see, our parents raised adults and contrary to what the world told us, Mike and I followed their example.
Now that all three are over 18, our darlings are all adults and while they'll make mistakes and wrong choices, I believe they've been given every tool to work out their lives and be happy and productive.
Removing obstacles from our kids lives is not a good thing.
Funny how I know this about my children, but I forget it when God won't fix MY problems. Could it be he's knows more than I do? Naw.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The truly purposeful have an ironic secret: they manage time less and pay attention more." Mark Buchanan
This quote caught my attention last week - and kept it. I printed it out to put on my desk and I memorized it, but I wasn't sure what it meant to me - but I kept thinking. And then looking at some old blogs I found this one from last June and it fit perfect. Isn't that amazing when pieces fall in place like that?
After our first, very short, summer in Illinois, I realized I needed a plan. Summer always flies by for me, but up north? It was over before I'd eaten my fill of watermelon, watched lightening bugs, or gone to the lake.
So when it started getting warm I sat down with a pen and paper (necessary to any plan). Summer in northern Illinois is ten weeks long. And not because of the kids school schedule - summer really is only about ten weeks long. I know, sends a shudder down your spine, doesn't it?
Back to my plan. On my piece of paper I wrote out all the things I'd regret not having done if I got to the end of the summer and they were undone.
Eating outside a lot
Read a couple warm days away, with a sweating glass of ice tea
Sit out in the yard late into the night several times
Go to the lake (this one got scratched later when I realized Illinois lakes don't get warm-ever. I don't do cold water.
This exercise led to me making this kind of list a lot. Holidays, parties, vacations - What would I really regret later if I didn't do them? Then make sure to do them. I started asking the kids that question and it helped us plan our lives, day by day.
Living intentionally. Living on purpose. Realizing that time moves and this is the one shot we get.
June 29, 2009 happens once and it's today. (Likewise, June 24, 2010 happens only once and it's today.)
Time for a list.
The truly purposeful have an ironic secret: they manage time less and pay attention more."
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
For ten years we lived in Northern Illinios. For ten years we took jackets to watch Fourth of July fireworks. Sacrilege of the holiday if I ever heard one. My Illinois friends couldn't understand my disgust.
"At home jackets are put away on June 1st and do not appear again until at least the third college football game." My declaration would be met with -
"But what if it gets chilly?"
"But what if it does?"
"It doesn't." (add sound of teeth grinding.)
See, in the courteous South you're provided a blanket when you step out the door. Like a perpetual door man offering a warm, damp towel to wrap up in. What's not to love?
Summer nights are not supposed to be crisp. Crisp means the Tennessee-Alabama football game, an Ellijay apple or the verbal slap-down of a mouthy teen-ager.
Summer nights are languid, liquid and long.
Monday, June 21, 2010
For me, yesterday, this meant writing/editing on my book. Maybe for you it meant what you do all day, whether it's a job or a ministry. But what I got to thinking about is all those things that are personally assigned to us that we don't always think of as a calling.
Like being Mike's wife. No one else has been given that assignment. It's all mine - but do I act like it's a calling? What about being mother to my kids? Friend to my friends? Caretaker of my garden? Creator of meals? Buyer of groceries? Welcomer of new employees? Aid to those around me? Peacemaker in the midst of turmoil? Bringer of joy? Bringer of common sense?
What tasks has God "personally assigned" which I slough off as unimportant? Too little? Too much like busy work? And how many of those tasks will go undone if I don't do them?
Look back at the list I made above of potential tasks. Will it matter if they are left undone or done half-heartedly? Will anyone notice? Will God even notice?
But then, what blessing might be mixed up in those unimportant tasks? What point of growth will I miss, or have to get somewhere else? What all will slip through the cracks? Who all will slip through the cracks? Is it such a little thing to ignore the little, or mundane, tasks God asks us to do?
Lots of question marks this morning.
Knowing when what is in your head makes it to the paper, is difficult. Does it flow? Does it keep my interest? Is everything needed for the story to make sense actually down in black and white - or still rattling around in my head? Are the changes the characters make reasonable? Are the scenes set clearly enough?
I'm really excited to go back and look at it. I began this story at the end of last Summer and it's a good bit of a mystery to me. There will be things I read which make me say, "Oh, yeah, I forgot about that." And there will be places where suddenly I'll realize why a character did something at the end of the book that seemed odd when I wrote it, but had been all set up earlier. See why I'm excited to read it?
Today is like a new beginning after a long break and I'm so ready for it. Here's a line from Beth Moore that I have hanging by my desk.
"One day at the task God has personally assigned only you is better than a thousand days at someone else's."
Let's get going!
Friday, June 18, 2010
However, those lakes up north which are crystal clear are also crystal cold.
To me lake water is supposed to be muddy and fishy and warm. (Of course a lot of the lake water in Florida is clear, but it's also orange.) When we lived in northern Illinois I tried to swim in Lake Michigan - but it was freezing (the locals there call it "brisk").
The smell of warm lake water will never be a scent sold at Yankee Candle, but it's a favorite of mine. The smell of dirt, wetness, fish, boat exhaust and warmth. And yes, warmth has a smell. It's the smell of little boy sweat.
I love the warm, muddy waters of the South.
Anybody else feeling an uncontrollable desire to go on a picnic? I'll bring the pimento cheese.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Last night a good friend reached a massive milestone, Rob was ordained as a Elder in the United Methodist Church. We went to Athens to celebrate the event and on top of the fellowship and celebratory service, we got to hear an amazing sermon by Bishop Watson. It was a joyous sermon about being "set free" to be ministers, pointed at those being honored on the stage, but also meant for all of us in attendance. He pointed out the men and women who are paid by their churches are paid so they are "set free" to do the ministry of the church. How cool is that? But what the bishop's words wakened in me is that I'm called to not be burdened by ministry but to throw off the burdens the world entices me to take on, so I'm "set free" to be God's hands and feet. Too many times I turn that around - the duties of the world become my "life" and my ministry becomes a duty.
Life (in the form of a wedding, graduations, children moving, etc...) has swelled to a crescendo recently and it's been a blast. But, as I said - we're about to get everyone squared away and I will be "set free" to get back on the path God's laid out for me.
How about you? What are you "set free" to do? And do you realize it?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
To me it was like receiving a gift and I just kept thinking about them last night. I know someone who taught Art History at the university level. I know someone raised in Venezuela. And they both loooooovvvvveeee books. Just like me! We clicked and probably could've talked all night - but then finding someone who I'd love to talk to all night isn't that unusual.
A week or so ago I wrote a blog on how Time is a commodity I trade in. Well, I just realized I also trade in people. And maybe that has to do with having the time to find out about the people around me. But I find the lives all around me are treasure-filled. And it costs so little to mine that treasure - and then it's mine - forever.
Do the people you meet fill you up? Do they serve as spring boards for your imagination? your curiosity? Sometimes I get so focused on the junk already in my head that I let the most interesting things, and people, pass right by.
But not today.
Hey, did I tell you I know a professor of Art History and native of Venezuela?
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
One year ago today, June 15, 2009, I made a commitment to write an original blog every day, Monday thru Friday for one year.
I had no idea what a challenge that would be. No idea at all. Don't tell Ryan, but I was almost more excited about getting to today than his wedding on Saturday. Well, almost.
The blog was written at college orientation in Carrollton, Ga, at the beach where I had to take my laptop to the club house or coffee shop each day, in Tennessee before stuffing the turkey on Thanksgiving, in Chicago where I chronicled the engagements of both our sons, in Athens for Robert's wedding, on Christmas morning before the day got going, in Philadelphia the week my father-in-law died, and this week of Ryan's wedding with a houseful of people.
Low point happened when Lizzy was so unhappy at school. High point was being signed by an agent.
I learned much about writing concise and about myself. Learned how I think better with my hands on the keys, how the writing I think will strike the most chords doesn't and those throwaway blogs are often the ones folks comment most on. So, I learned nothing is throwaway.
Learned to trust that if God has led me into a commitment, he will back me up on it.
For right now I will still post a blog everyday, M-F, but they might not all be original. There are some from the past I'd like to repost.
So, thanks for all your encouragement during this year. So many of you have kept me going - and you probably don't even realize it! Thank you for your comments and your face to face encouragement. Thanks for your emails or when you've stopped me to tell me what a particular blog meant to you.
Like I said earlier - I had no idea how difficult this would be - or how rewarding. So, here's the thought for today. Tell God you want to do big things. Hard things. And then listen & follow - he's got bunches of ideas!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Rehearsal dinner Friday night - How happy having Mike's sister and brother in law dropping in on their way from Boston made me. Driving back to Marietta that night and how nice it was to hear Lizzy and Michael chatting in the backseat. Loved the shirt I wore and so glad I chose it - and my hair did great, too. Getting a sideways hug instigated by my new daughter-in-law's brother - what a joy.
Wedding Day - The swell of emotion as guests and family arrived at the church. Prayer with the girls in the wedding party before walking down the aisle. Being served communion by our newly married son and his wife. Getting to serve communion to the wedding guests. Wonderful, wonderful experience. Ryan being incapable of not smiling! Slow dancing with Mike. Sitting out on the deck until 2 am with out of town guests.
Sunday - lying in the pool with two old friends who knew me when I was a new wife and then a new mom. And still really liking them. Having the guys join us after they went rail fanning around the train tracks in the area.
Today - relaxing in a jumble of a house as our guests go their separate ways. Appreciating a quickly emptying refrigerator. Hearing that the honeymooners are out and about enjoying Gatlinburg.
Thank you for endulging me and letting my memories find a sounding board here. They are still unformed and swimming around in wild abandon. What a blessing to have this blog which allows - or forces - me to put things down in black and white. As our final guests prepare to leave this afternoon, the wedding happenings are coming to an end and the last flap is being closed on the box holding it all.
What a beautiful armful of memories and joy and grace this weekend creates. To grasp a bit of life, hold it and really see is a special delight God allows us. I plan on enjoying that ability thoroughly this week.
Friday, June 11, 2010
We ended up in Wilton Center because we moved from south Florida without checking into housing prices in Chicagoland. Yep, we were young and stupid. But God knew that would leave us without options and we'd end up - right where he wanted us.
The words to our Mother-Son song are below and the youtube link to Mr. Presley singing it is below them. Elvis might be sitting with pretty young girls in the video - but somehow I know he's thinking of his Mama.
Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine
Quiet thoughts come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet
Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilight trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you
Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine,
Memories, memories, sweet memories
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I'm way more compulsive about reading than writing. But maybe that's because it's easier - well, for me.
Often I've thought that maybe I'm not a REAL writer because I don't HAVE to write. But maybe that's why I've studied it so much and sought to learn about it. So maybe it's a good thing.
I know I'm ready to get back to the writing world when the wedding is behind me. I do love the activity of writing - love the characters and finding just the right word and seeing a scene fall into place. I love diving into that world and leaving this one behind. (The re-entry is a blast.) I love creating imaginary places and events and being in control of the weather. But I still don't feel I HAVE to write.
Reminds me of seeing a gifted athlete who doesn't love the game and then an average athlete that loves playing. We all know who's the easier to coach and work with - and who lasts the longest. So, guess I've made my admission and that's that.
I don't HAVE to write - but I sure do love to.
This week is full of that type of thing and I'm so enjoying it. And the best part is having the time to do all this. Time - that's the commodity I trade in.
I've been a stay at home mom for 24 years now. Sure, I've had jobs, some part-time, some not so part-time. I've had volunteer jobs that took up huge amounts of time and brain power. But my main job has been here at home.
Understood in that decision was that certain commodities folks trade in would be scarce. Such as money - which includes - big vacations, new cars, fancy clothes. At parties I was short on impressive titles, work chit chat, and celebration of achievements understood in big people world. But being the "glass half-full" kind of person I am - I realized I swam in a commodity the world hungered for - TIME.
And so I flaunted it - reading, gardening, painting my fingernails, being in book clubs, inviting folks over for coffee, letting the kids have friends over all the time, writing. See - out and out flaunting of my richness.
So - what commodity do you have that doesn't fit into traditional thinking?
And do you swim in it, or dismiss it?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Rev. Zimmerman said that years ago in a sermon and it's stuck with me. How interesting - that we are so attached to these people that come into our lives about whom we get to choose nothing. We don't know their personality, sense of humor, intelligence, medical issues - we do know their parents - but that might not be a good thing.
Is that why the state of parenthood strikes deep in us, even in those without children? Is it because it is an opportunity to be our best self? To relinquish control of all those things we so love to control and love anyway? To sacrifice anyway? What a wonderful mystery. What a wonderful example for how God calls us to live our lives.
Today I've been a mom for half my life. Our oldest turns 24 and I had him when I was 24. It's impossible to go back to the moments before he was born when we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, the color of his hair, number of fingers and toes. Impossible to think of all that not knowing.
Once again - I'm just amazed at God coming up with something like parenthood and turning it into a constant opportunity for redemption. That God is one smart cookie.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Ryan's groomsmen are mostly staying here Friday night and hanging out at the pool Friday afternoon while the girls are getting their nails done. My folks will also be staying here that night. Then some family and friends from out of state are coming back here Saturday night after the afternoon wedding. Two couples from Indiana and Nebraska are staying through the weekend. These couples are friends from our newlywed days in Jacksonville, FL. What fun to all be together again!
But since I'm busy I thought I'd share one of my favorite poems this morning. After a few days on the Georgia coast and driving through the state, I came home to look it up and read it again. Hope you enjoy it as well.
O Magnet-South by Walt Whitman
O magnet-south! O glistening perfumed South! my South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! good and evil! O all
dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—all moving things and the trees where
I was born—the grains, plants, rivers,
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow, distant,
over flats of slivery sands or through swamps,
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the Pedee, the
Tombigbee, the Santee, the Coosa and the Sabine,
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my soul to haunt their
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes, I float on the
Okeechobee, I cross the hummock-land or through pleasant openings
or dense forests,
I see the parrots in the woods, I see the papaw-tree and the
Again, sailing in my coaster on deck, I coast off Georgia, I coast
up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing, I see where the yellow-pine,
the scented bay-tree, the lemon and orange, the cypress, the
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico sound through an inlet,
and dart my vision inland;
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp!
The cactus guarded with thorns, the laurel-tree with large white flowers,
The range afar, the richness and barrenness, the old woods charged
with mistletoe and trailing moss,
The piney odor and the gloom, the awful natural stillness, (here in
these dense swamps the freebooter carries his gun, and the
fugitive has his conceal'd hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known half-impassable
swamps, infested by reptiles, resounding with the bellow of the
alligator, the sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat, and
the whirr of the rattlesnake,
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all the forenoon,
singing through the moon-lit night,
The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum;
A Kentucky corn-field, the tall, graceful, long-leav'd corn,
slender, flapping, bright green, with tassels, with beautiful
ears each well-sheath'd in its husk;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs, I can stand them not, I will depart;
O to be a Virginian where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Tennessee and
never wander more.
Friday, June 4, 2010
This morning I was reading my annual summer book - "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Yes, that book again. Love it not only as a reminder for living life in a more intentional way, but also for the lessons on the stages of life. This morning I reread the part about what happens after the kids and craziness of that stage of life is over. (last week I wrote about that stage in this blog http://kayshostak.blogspot.com/2010/05/life-in-oyster-shell.html ) She has so many wise and thoughtful things to say about how to be the best person, and consequently, the best couple during this stage of life. She compares it to a dance.
"We have moved through our day like dancers, not needing to touch more than lightly because we were instinctively moving to the same rhythm. A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern."
She points out that through life we should learn to appreciate all the stages -just as we appreciate the ebbing of the tide AND the returning of the pounding waves.
I'm so grateful for this stage of life and all those good people sharing this part of the journey with us. So very grateful, indeed.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Palm fronds reach in the window to my left. Men and women dressed in all white play croquet on a manicured lawn right below another window. The crack of the wooden balls hitting each other echo past the spreading live oak trees and blooming oleanders. Past the croquet lawn the intra-coastal waterway twinkles in the morning sun. I'm surrounded by old, six foot tall windows which swing open to let the palm fronds and breeze into the brick and wood porch off our room at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Seated in my wicker rocking chair - I'm enjoying Starbucks coffee and playing on the internet. Mike has already left for his conference meeting.
This place was built in the late 1800's by folks like the Vanderbilts and Pulitzers and Rockefellers and in so many ways it hasn't changed. The old wood and brick and glass smell and feel like an old house. And yet, I love that air conditioning!
I have many friends who write in the fantasy or supernatural genres. Sitting here this morning and watching the spanish moss sway I know this is all the fantasy I can handle. Or as one of my favorite quotes from Emily Dickinson says:
"Life is so startling it leaves little room for anything else."
Look around you today and notice where life is trying it's best to startle you. To maintain the ability to be startled is key in living with joy.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Talking about being disillusioned with a friend yesterday (Hi, Renee) she told me of a spin a pastor once put on disillusionment for her. He told her disillusionment is a good thing and not to be avoided because it means we're being delivered from illusion. How cool is that? Delivered from illusion.
When I seek to live a truthful life, then the places where things are not as they appear, not truthful, those places are going to glow as if on fire. They should stand out in a landscape of honesty. And often they do, but looking at it full on doesn't always appeal to me. So, I only take glances at it and try to keep it out of my line of sight. And thus I choose to live in illusion.
Now, as you read that didn't you think of someone you know who is doing that very thing? Yeah, me too. Because seeing where others are disillusioned is soooo much easier than looking at myself. But I'm going to try and embrace being dis-illusioned (maybe writing it like that will help.)
I love when a spin on something resonates in me and speaks truth in my life. Thanks, Renee.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
And do I hate what the oil spill is doing to the coasts? Absolutely. Just like I hate what cars do to those in car accidents or what happens when a child is lost because of just a moments inattention from a caring parent. Accidents happen and people are hurt all the time. Now, if the accident can be avoided - like a surgical mistake, or a car part failing, or a driver drinking - then the hurt is so much deeper. But nevertheless, we live in a world where accidents happen and our world is damaged.
But we go on.
I believe we hurt ourselves, and especially our children, when we act as if we can control everything. If we are diligent enough there will be no pain. That is a lie that was first told in a garden. The lie is that it is possible for us to be God. It is possible for us to be in control and there will be no accidents. There will be no unintended consequences. Everything will make sense.
Baloney. Pure and simple baloney.
But baloney sells to a people desiring to be God. So where in my life do I want to be God? What, or who, in my life do I want to control? When do I fool myself into believing I can prevent accidents or nature? Where am I selling myself a big ol' serving of baloney?
How about you? Lovin' you a baloney sandwich for lunch?