Friday, July 30, 2010

Magic for Ryan

In honor of Ryan's graduation tomorrow from University of West Georgia here's his favorite of my blogs. It's from last July. - Enjoy!

Fridays are magic to me. Being one that tends to look for magic, I imbued Fridays with specialness early on. I wore special, more better things in elementary school on the last day of the week. The air walking home always seemed sweeter and bubbling with possibilities. In high school, I lamented not having the Friday nights the teenage heroines I read about enjoyed, but still it was Friday and high school football with friends and racing home to watch "Dallas" wasn't bad. College met all my dreams for Friday nights, especially the night before a home game in Neyland Stadim in Knoxville.
Small kids and no money found me sad and grieving the end of Friday's magic. However, I tend to not let magic go easily. So, my housework week in those years revolved around having everything done by 1 pm, Friday when the kids took their nap. Those couple hours became my time - lit candles, a glass of wine and a book.
Today I had an appointment earlier so I left the house and turned on my classic rock station - I ONLY listen to classic rock on Fridays - no country, or Christian, or talk radio. (Magic doesn't just happen, you know.)
Leaving my appointment, the first song was perfection - "Sweet Home Alabama". Blue sky, summer time and Sweet Home Alabama. Told you God is crazy about me!
I rolled down the window, turned up the radio and sang out loud. A friend of my mom's told me one time that she saw me singing out loud in my car. She seemed to imply I should be embarrassed.
I'd like to say I don't care what people think, but it's really just the opposite. I think if the people on the highway see me singing - a 47 year old, overweight woman driving a 2001 mini-van maybe they'll think, "If she can be that happy - why shouldn't I?"
It's Friday! Can you feel the magic?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Not Fair!!!

When I was a child all I wanted was for my parents to be fair. To treat me the same way they treated my little brothers.
But my mean parents said, "No". They said to treat us fairly, or equally, was never their intention or goal. See how archaic and old-fashioned they were? They just didn't understand that everyone is supposed be treated fairly and equally.
So, what did I do when I had three kids?
Yeah, you guessed it. I threw fairness and equality out the window. You see - they are three different people, not only in their ages but in their needs and talents and drives. While one needed more help with school work, another one needed more help on their personal life. When one needed a kick in the pants to get started, why would I kick in the pants the one already well on their way?
And yet they every one, at some point or another told us, "It's not fair." Children beg, manipulate and threaten in the name of "Fairness". It's up to parents to not give in.
And yet, even in the adult soul, we yearn to be treated fairly. When our life isn't going well, we point to others so much less deserving and tell God, "It's not fair."
Wow, am I ever thankful that God doesn't cave to my whining and threatening. Because he knows me better than I know myself, he knows what I need--even if it's doesn't seem "Fair".
As I told a friend on facebook yesterday - I'll take God's justice over fairness, any day of the week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

O World, I Cannot Hold Thee Close Enough""

Good books
Humidity thicker than a wet towel
Crepe Myrtles
Freezer waffles
John 15
Southern Living magazine
Air conditioning
Grocery shopping
Big puffy clouds
There's a line from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Milay, which since jr. high has met my need for words on days like today. "O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!" When my very soul so expands that to hold all this beauty in proves more than I can do, that one line is my mantra. My prayer of all-consuming praise for being alive and being me. And I know God is grinning like crazy when we take a minute or two and actually see, really see our world. Wow - he must really like us!
"O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!"
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Watching Hawks

Dead limbs high in a giant Oak near our house serve as an observation tower for some hawks in the area. This morning I noticed the hawk stationed there was smaller than the one I usually see. A young hawk enjoying the morning sunshine. After a while I noticed something else about him which confirmed my thoughts of his youth: his head pivoted with every little bird that flew in his vicinity.
You see I've often watched the big, adult hawk as tiny birds would try and get his attention. They'd dive at him or sit on adjacent limbs and chirp but all to no avail. The hawk never turned his head, never acknowledged them. And a bird just flying by? Didn't even enter his thoughts.
But this smaller, younger hawk? He noticed them all. They all got his attention.
Makes me kinda glad to be more like the mature hawk. To be able to pick and choose what gets my attention, my time, my effort. Youth is delightful as the world spreads out a plethora of attention seeking opportunities. The feeling that everything- EVERYTHING - must be looked at, tried. Fortunately, youth comes with energy to have a go at it all. (this is why they are always tired)
But in our world I don't know that we appreciate growing older. I'm not sure we learn the art of not being distracted, of focusing. We envy the ability to see everything, do everything - so we try to stay young.
Hmmm, I'm trying to picture the mature hawk acting like the younger one and you know what? It's just sad.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Did You See that Moon Last Night?

Did you see that moon last night? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a full moon so intense, so bright. It was brighter than the street lights on the next street. As it rose in the dark, cloudless sky, our yard was silently washed with moonlight.
Except, moonlight is really just reflected sunlight, right?
That is so hard to believe when everything is covered in the blue-white glow. Sunshine pulsating across the universe so strongly that the moon, a dusty, dull planet shines bright enough to illuminate the earth.
What amazes me is this: If the moon is only reflecting the sunlight that hits it, then the night sky is filled with sunlight. However, without something to reflect it, it just pours into outer space. So all that darkness is full of sunshine - brilliant, powerful sunshine. Light never seen because there's nothing for it to reflect on.
Can that be how God is? He's everywhere and yet we don't always see him because there's nothing around us for him to reflect upon?
Or, like heavy clouds can hide the moon, do we put barriers between God and our world? And do our barriers, reducing his reflection dim the light for not only ourselves, but those around us?
Just wondering.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's a Boy!

He arrived last night – when I went to bed I hoped he would be part of our world when I awoke. And he is – a grandson for some good friends.

We waited on him yesterday but he decided the 23rd was a better day for a birthday. Both my sons are summer babies and summer is the best time for little boy birthday parties. Water guns, baseball cupcakes, sleepouts under the stars. I can’t help smiling as I think of all the fun they are going to have every July.

An almost full moon shown in the clear, warm sky last night and under that moon this little one was fed, changed, poked, prodded, and loved beyond all measure.
Fingers and toes were counted, tiny fingernails oohed over, and infant cries brought laughter.
Again, one of my favorite hymns, Morning Has Broken comes to mind as I drink in this new day, especially the last line: "God's recreation of the first day."
While it's sung both ways, I like it when the word is expressed as re-creation (instead of the word for play and relaxation). Re-Creation - A repeat of creation.
And what happened last night, with family gathered, nurses hovering, doctors on call, friends praying, was God Re-Creating. Sure, things aren't perfect and won't be on this earth. But in the morning sunshine through the trees, the joyous singing of the birds, and the cries of a newborn - God reminds us - he's still on the job ---And All Things Are Made New!

Morning Has Broken Lyrics
(A Traditional Song, Lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon*)

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Get Out Of My Way!

Do you ever have to get out of your own way? That's what I've been working on this week.
Mike's opportunity at work meant he'd be out of town most of the time in the upcoming months. Many times over the years that possibility has raised it's head, to only settle back down and not happen. So, this time I really hadn't thought about it. And then when it did happen, it happened fast. As in, "We've signed the contract. Can you drive me to the airport?" (ignore the fact Mike had been preparing for this for months - I just didn't think it would happen.)
I'm a creature of planning. I've often written here that sometimes I like the planning as much as the event. Ala Buddy the Elf - Anticipation is my favorite. Anticipation of something allows me to squeeze every moment of joy out, both before, during and after.
Anyway, without any planning of what his absence meant for me, I was left to wallow. Wallow in my unsureness, aloneness, unworthiness - you know - all that stuff we wallow in when wallowing is called for. And my wallowing was ratcheted up a notch because Mike was happier in his job than I'd ever seen him. Oh, woe is me . . .
So, this week I've been reading my favorite authors, praying, writing and getting past that big ol pile of mess called, Kay. No one else can mess things up for me as well as I can. Of course, I've put a lot of time in with Kay and know the right buttons to push.
How do you get past you when you are your main obstacle? Or is this something only I do? And if that is the case, ignore this blog. I'm fine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What? I Can't Hear You -

Back in Illinois, I somehow got the gig of doing the children's sermon each week in the church service. You know, when the kids come up and the pastor does a little talk. Well, I did that for several years. I'd open myself up to God each week and through out the week my message would come and by Sunday morning I'd have it polished and ready to go. Sometimes the message took longer to get, requiring more concentration and prayer, more listening.
However, one week nothing came. Nothing. As we walked to church I threatened God with what he'd done. "You've given me nothing so I guess you're going to just let me get up there and sit down and tell those kids you didn't give me anything to say. You're just going to let that happen, aren't you?" God apparently didn't have a problem with that and shockingly he didn't get scared and send down a quickie message. I still had nothing as I entered the sanctuary.
Pastor Zimmerman rushed up to me. "Kay, we have some special things today so we need to cancel the children's sermon. Sorry I didn't call you earlier."
Wow, what a leap in my faith journey. The knowledge that God will supply what he wants me to say or write or do. Even in my darkest times of confusion I know the confusion comes from me - not him. He's probably speaking very loudly through the people around me, the books lying on my desk, the shows I watch on TV or his silence is the message. Whichever it is - the message is there if I'll wait - and listen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To Be, or Not To Be . . .

In my reading this morning of the first of Madeline L'engel's Crosswick's journals she shares her word of that summer - "Ontological" It's a word about being. Who we are. Who I am.
This existence which does not depend on my recognition that I actually exist. We can move through life without appreciating or even recognizing what we are made of. Who we are.
How very hard it seems to actually be aware of our existence. To see myself as a part in this whole. To appreciate not only my 'being', but every other person's 'being' as well. Full of thoughts, interior conversations, feelings, doubts, joy - and everything.
Is it possible to really see ourselves?
Who of us has not seen more in our children, our friends, our spouse, than they see in themselves?
What if we could get a glimpse, just a glimpse of what God saw in us when he first thought of us? Would the shame eat us alive? Would our disappointment cause us to cease all trying?
I don't think so. I think God is too much in this moment. He's too aware of our being at this moment. He's not hemmed in by the past and the future.
So in my limited way - I turn myself to being.
You think God's laughing yet?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flowers & Questions

The garden is at it again. All the plans of color arrangement, height placement, watering groupings - all out the window. We're at that point in the summer when the flowers just take over and do whatever ol' thing they want to do. Which is also the point in the summer when I as a gardener decides to let them. Let them be who they want to be.
Moss roses mound and cascade, completely swamping the geraniums. (Any guess which of those I actually paid for?) Zinnias come up right willy nilly - spouting off in shades like Starburst candies. It becomes a jungle out there and, well, I love it.
Love the randomness and crowdedness, profusion and confusion, the total lack of permission they asked to move about at will. To grow faster, taller, shorter, slower - whatever their little hearts desired.
So how does that fit into my life? This Monday? What can I take from the display of life in my backyard?
To go with the flow? That life will find a way? To not take my planning so seriously?
Honestly, I'm not sure. I just know the garden, the flowers, moved me this morning. Spoke to me. Maybe I'm not being quiet enough to hear what was being said? Maybe I try to find meaning when there is none?
Well, I'm just going to take it as a good sign that I have lots of questions.
Because, when I run out of questions - things get a little scary.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Endurance - and this is not a Viagra ad

Came across this phrase yesterday and it stuck with me. "Endurance Inspired by Hope."
Endurance - yep, that's me. I've been enduring in this writing thing so long, I can remember sending off actual sheets of paper to a publishing company. Everything now is electronically submitted and sooooo much easier. No buying "bright white paper". No printing up a couple hundred pages and then wrapping it in nice brown paper and then making a trip to the UPS store.
Endurance - I've written six full novels, a couple dozen query letters, synopsis', chapter summaries, characterizations and one pages.
Endurance is something I study and think about --- and need. So, that phrase caught my attention - "Endurance Inspired by Hope." Hope in my abilities? Hope in my agent's abilities? Hope in catching the eye of some editor out there? Hope in the book market? Yeah, I've put hope in all of those. A good call from my agent inspires me to hope more. Or reading something in one of my books and liking it inspires hope. A turn in the market that favors my style of writing builds my hope.
But then . . . no call from my agent deflates my hope. Or reading an awful, amateurish passage in my writing crushes my hope. The market - well, the market is stupid.
So the first part of that phrase is pretty, "Endurance Inspired by Hope." But it's the part I left out that contains the meat. "Endurance Inspired by Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ."
So this morning I've got to do the work of wrestling my hope back from the places I've put it where it just ends up driving me crazy. Because I will continually be let down by myself, other people and the world. Continually. Always.
Where is your hope placed?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Growing Closer. Growing Apart. Your Choice.

I was talking to my mom today and she said, "In a marriage you're either growing closer or growing apart." Mama is wise, filled with common sense and been happily married for fifty-two years. At first, her statement seemed rather simplistic, but really, it's simply true. Two people can't remain the same, day in and day out. So the movement has to be one way or the other. If you're not growing closer then you must be growing apart.
And, so, is this true also for other relationships, like with our children, our siblings, our friends? I know at times I've watched a friendship slip away. We no longer had things in common, we moved away, or one of us changed. At those times I noticed the separating drift and acknowledged it was what needed to be. Other times I've lifted my head, looked around and realized the gulf had widened considerably while I was busy.
There have been times when I stretched and stretched to grow closer to someone and we didn't grow closer. Only one of us was stretching. I've also increased the distance before when someone stretched out to me. Sometimes these were just ill-fated acquaintances and sometimes all that stretching and retreating happened in my closest relationships.
Mama's statement serves to remind me to be vigilant, aware of what's happening in the relationships I want to last.
Growing closer. Growing apart. Sounds like a choice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stimulated Yet?

The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. Albert Einstein

This quote by Einstein was tweeted by a friend (okay, so she's an agent in England whom I've never met) this morning and, boy, do I hope it's true. Lizzy goes back to school in a few weeks and with Mike's work travel ratcheted up several notches - there's some monotony and quiet life in my immediate future. But if it stimulates my creativity then that's a good thing. Right?
Thinking back I kind of find that to be true. Taking care of little kids is a roller coaster ride of wildly erratic and boring. Seems those boring times might've been what led me to writing. And sewing. And doing crafts. And gardening.
Or was it just that I had the time to do those things? And having the time - couldn't that be because of all that "monotony" and "solitude". Hmmm . . .
What do you think? Do you find your creativity spurred on by lots of activity and stimulation? Or do you need quiet and solitude?
Have you heard the definitions of an extrovert is someone who gets more energy from being with people and an introvert is someone who derives their energy from being alone? Interesting, isn't it? Before I heard those definitions I figured I was the poster child for extroverts. But, honestly, I like people and their stories so much that being with people requires all of my attention and concentration and so it drains me. I have to have, and crave, alone time.
So, now that I find myself with some of that craved for alone time - let's see if it stimulates my creative mind. And seriously, let me know what stimulates YOUR creative mind.