Monday, November 14, 2011

Ever Jumped Off a Roller Coaster?

Life ever feel like a roller coaster? Up and down, just to go up and down again? And again?
Yesterday when I heard someone say that some folks lives are like roller coasters and they never seem to get off, it struck a chord with me. Over the summer we not only moved, but my literary agent quit. Citing some family problems and other vague things she quit and left her clients with nothing more. No explanations, no assurance of what she'd done for us, nothing but silence.
Start the roller coaster!
My emotions jumped on and went straight for the bottom only to then jerk upward and push upward and upward and just when I saw the light of day - Boom, down to the bottom again. It's a ride I swore I wanted to get off of, but when I looked around it always seemed the station was slowly passing behind me and the track ahead curved out of sight.
Can the roller coaster become our normal? Can it become so familiar that to relax and feel peaceful seems scary? When a week without tears makes one wary?
Pastor Hollie yesterday was speaking about just that - when we get so used to turmoil, we no longer can see the peace being offered.
Next time that station comes around - I'm going to be ready for it.
How about you? Got a roller coaster to jump off of?

Friday, September 9, 2011

New gets Old or Back to the Hobbit Hole

I tried reading the Lord of the Rings books, starting with "The Hobbit". The beginning set in the adorable hobbits home in the beautiful Shire was lovely. Just lovely. Then they started off on this trip, or quest, or whatever and all I found myself thinking was, "When are they going back to the hobbit hole?" But, if you know anything about the books, they don't get back for a long, long, loooong time.
So I quit reading them.
From this I learned that home is my favorite, adventure is over-rated and familiar is better than unfamiliar. So what am I doing in a completely new setting where nothing is familiar and there is no way to go back home?
I'm tired of telling people where we moved from and why we moved. Sure, I'll buy the same scented Yankee Candle for fall (Spiced Pumpkin) but where do I put it? Everything goes somewhere I haven't figured out yet. Nothing is easy or routine, and that's getting old.
But I guess that's the deal, things can't become familiar or routine unless you do them, and keep doing them, then do them some more. Maybe this is a chance to set some new things in motion. To choose what will be familiar, routine, and yes, even mundane one day.
What about you? Anything you'd NOT put into today if you were just starting it?
Good, 'cause you get a new one tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cashiers Beware, We Talk to Everybody.

Yeah, we talk to everybody. I realized this was a cultural thing when I moved up North. On one of my first shopping trips the poor cashier looked lost when I started chatting with her about our move and my kids. It took a bit for me to realize it wasn't just her that didn't have much to say, none of the cashiers seemed to want to share what was going on in their lives in that 10 minutes we crossed paths.
All that was for those of you who might not understand when I tell you Mike and I had a life-changing talk with one of the bellhops at our hotel this weekend.
He was a nice young man. He said he was a student. I asked where. He said Savannah State. I asked what his major was. He said Chemistry. Then, he added, "But I don't really know what to do with that degree." Well, I jumped all over that. Told him about a friend of ours who works in the Chemical industry and how they couldn't find any young Chemical engineers. Well, by now we were up in the room and Mike told our young bellhop how to find more information on the field. Charles, yes, we were on first name basis at this point, told us how appreciative he was and then he said, "When I graduated and told my uncle I was going into Chemistry he told me no one in our family was that smart and I shouldn't do it."
Stunned, we proceeded to tell him we were both first generation college grads in our families and he was a smart, personable young man who most definitely could prove his uncle wrong. We watched the relief in Charles' eyes and the straightening of his shoulders as we continued to talk. I don't think life-changing is too strong of a description.
See, that's why we talk to everybody.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'd Jerk a Knot . . .

"I'd jerk a knot in his tail." Mama would say that when one of our friends was willfully misbehaving. She'd also say it a quite a bit while watching her soaps. She meant there would be an immediate reckoning and things would be a-changin'.
This line came to my mind as I looked at our pool this morning. Folks with pools are familiar with the word "shock", both as a noun and a verb. Shock is a little bag of chemicals that shocks the bacteria in the pool back to normal.
Shock is my friend.
Last week we let things get out of hand and woke up to green stuff in the pool. Algae. Yep, I shocked it and immediately things began getting better. You may say I jerked a knot in that pool. (Okay, you may not.)
Over the summer I let things get out of hand and doubt started creeping around my edges, much like that algae started in the darker corners. I fought it some, but really, it wasn't so bad. However, pretty soon there wasn't much clearness left at all. Even in situations that called for pure Joy, things were a tad murky.
So I gave God permission to jerk a knot in my tail. You see, he doesn't just barge in and tell me what to do. He waits for me to want it. Do you remember all the times when Jesus asked the sick or lame what they wanted him to do?
Putting ourselves in the Presence of God sounds all nice and sweet, but a lot of times he's holding a bag of shock.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesdays with Kay: Happened in the Shower

Tuesdays with Kay: Happened in the Shower: It happened while I was cleaning the shower yesterday. This kinda feels like Home.
Raise your hand if you noticed I haven't blogged in seve...

Happened in the Shower

It happened while I was cleaning the shower yesterday. This kinda feels like Home.
Raise your hand if you noticed I haven't blogged in several months.
Back in March we found out we might get the opportunity to move to Florida with a job promotion for Mike. However it took until May for that to be settled and then once the ball started rolling, it went fasterer and fasterer. We sold the house in eight days (I know, amazing) and found a new one. We lived in a hotel for a couple weeks and then moved-in here on August 2nd. During that time putting my thoughts down on paper (or computer screen) just wasn't happening. Too many things that couldn't be said or that I didn't want to say. One of the things I couldn't say for a while was that we're going to be grandparents, which is wonderful news. And then there's stuff happening with my writing, I didn't want to say. But more about both of those on another day.
Today is about that click in our heads as certain information tumbles into place. Like when you know autumn is coming. Or when, with just one look, you realize a couple is falling in love. Or the way we just know our kid is lying to us. So why does this house feel like home today? Was it cleaning the shower? Was it coming home late at night after a trip to Georgia on Sunday? Is it just the weight of facts that keep building, one after the other?
I've questioned my ability to KNOW things this summer. Questioned it deeply and with many tears. But once again I believe I have to trust that I do KNOW sometimes. I really do.
Do you?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let Go? Not sure about that. . .

Gardenia perfume greeted me on our back deck this morning from the two bushes we planted by the pool our first summer here. Those tiny camilla bushes which promised blooms in January when we'd be in the hot tub, are now twelve feet high. Forsynthia bushes fill the yard with yellow sprays in early spring and they are all from cuttings out of my parents yard. On a path in the backyard bright orange and yellow Oriental lilies will bloom soon and remind me of how Mike's dad sent them as little bits of green a decade ago. How can we leave all this beauty? All the memories?
But we will, because it's time to let go. Time for this home which has sheltered and held us to be home for another family. I think of them often. Pray for them often. Not sure it's possible, but I hope they laugh here as much as we did. I hope they find peace and joy and love here. I hope they gather the gardenias to bring that heady smell indoors. I hope they enjoy the shade from the maples which sprung up where no evidence of the trees that fell in the tornado still exists.
Letting go is hard, but letting go when it's time is the only way to keep an open heart and open hands.
Wonder if the people in our future home are praying for us? Not that's a cool thought.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fully Aware?

Lights on in all the rooms. Doors opening and closing. And opening and closing. Driveway as busy as Hartfield runways. Requests for help on the computer, to sew on a button, food. Clutter magically appearing like trails left by slugs.
Yep, some of the kids were home this weekend.
There were reasons to be here including a wedding, interviews, packing for camp, trying on a dress for sorority rush, taking home stuff they don't want moved to Jacksonville, and to wave at us as they passed through on their way to and fro.
Wow - hard to believe that was how we used to live. It seems so hectic and loud and chaotic but at the time it was just busy - and fun. We truly enjoyed it. I think that's why we don't miss it. We lived it and appreciated it and now have moved on to another part of our life.
Mama told me a long time ago that was the way to avoid regrets. Live the moment so fully aware, that regrets never get any room to even begin.
Being Fully Aware. Takes time. Takes feeling. Takes intention.Yes, being Fully Aware takes alot.
But it gives so much more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moving is Scary!

Yep, we're hitting the road and moving to Jacksonville, Florida. We're so excited. . .
And sad.
We've loved our twelve years here and have some amazing friends. Our kids are fairly close by and we love our house (and the pool, of course). But. . . the adventure calls to us. It feels right.
And you want to know how blessed I am? Our friends and family are excited for us. In the midst of Daddy's health problems, I didn't like telling Mama we were moving six more hours down the road. Yet, first words out of her mouth were, "What a great adventure!" She'll never know what that did to let us relax and enjoy this move.
And that's the kind of parent I want to be. A parent who meets every opportunity my kids face with enthusiasm and joy. That's the kind of friend I want to be, the kind of wife I want to be.
Making it easier for those close to me to seize the adventures opening up to them sounds like a worthy goal to have.
But it also sounds pretty scary.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's Your Message?

Ever see a celebrity advertising a product and wonder why they were chosen for that product? Usually it's not too hard, right? That's because that person fits the message the advertiser wants to send. Then we all know of the cases where a celebrity looses their endorsments because they fail to uphold the message. Funny thing about that is they may loose their wholesome, family product endorsement, but they then they show up somewhere else - suddenly fitting a whole new message.
I met with my agent last week and while the food and drinks she provided were great (and very appreciated) she provided something more important. She gave me back my vision. My vision for what I do in my writing. My vision for the future of the agency. My vision of myself.
She helped me remember the message I want to fit and she encouraged me that it was the right message for me to fit.
What are you endorsing today? What message do you fit? Is it the one you want to fit? Are you trying to fit too many messages? Do you confuse the folks around you-even the ones who know you best?
Finding, and then fitting, our own special message is important. We get to give life to a message - make sure it's worth your time and trouble.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This is Crazy, This is Crazy, This is Crazy

"This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy." Now, those of you belonging to the culturally elite are picturing Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) in "Vacation" standing on a hotel pool diving board swinging his arms back and forth. What is he calling crazy? That he's getting ready to jump into the pool where a dreamy model (Christie Brinkley) waits. She's naked, and not his wife.
Haven't we all stood on the edge of something, thinking jumping would be crazy and yet . . . Applying to that beyond dream college, asking out that girl you just met, signing enlistment papers, moving to the other side of the world - state - city, deciding to be a parent-then deciding to do it again, and again, changing careers instead of checking out retirement options.
And yet we jump.
Recently, talking to my agent I asked, "Am I delusional?" She laughed and said, "No, you have a vision."
But seriously, when that chant of "This is crazy" gets to going, don't you feel delusional? I sure do. And if I'm not careful I can let the fear of being delusional keep me from jumping. Making sure I'm connected with my vision helps me spot when I might actually be deluded. Good to remember.
What do you want to jump in to but fear of delusion is clouding your vision? Even harder for me to ask myself is this - Who in my life is ready to jump but I'm feeding their delusion monster?
Clark was right, for him jumping was crazy. But if it fits the vision we've been given, isn't it crazier not to jump?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Running Ahead - Come On!

Mike and I went walking in a local park on recent beautiful Saturday. The park was full of young families. As Mike and I stopped beside the stream for a moment or two, one of those young families headed off on the wooded path which begins by crossing a bridge. Mom and Dad walked at a steady pace, but anyone that's ever started out on a walk with a child can guess where their little daughter was. Yep, six paces ahead skipping, hopping, jumping all to her own sing-song refrain of "Come on. Come on. Come on." Occasionally she'd personalize it with a "Mom" or "Daddy".
They passed on by and we headed for our car. We then came upon another small family, also at the end of their time at the park. Can you guess where their child was? Yep, on Dad's shoulders. No running ahead, no urges to go faster, no pushing for side trips and races. The little boy's head drooped a bit, his back bowed, and his little arms had all they could contend with just holding onto his daddy's head. The legs streaked with dirt hung limp and tired. The walk which had refreshed and strengthened mom and dad, had worn him out.
Such a simple thing to learn, but I don't think I have.
God and I start out on a journey and I can't enjoy it for wanting to go faster, see more, climb the hill quicker, have a little race with others on the journey, jump, skip, hop anything but just walk.
And how do I end up? Worn out.
Lucky for me God doesn't just shake his head in pity as he passes me by. Nope, he picks me up. Time and Time again 'cause I don't seem to learn this lesson very well.
How about you? Anybody else have a tendency to run ahead of God? For some reason I don't think I'm the only one he has to carry sometimes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dreams can get HEAVY

Dreams can get kinda heavy, but you know, that's just not on their labeling.
Dreams are associated with things like rainbows and clouds and unicorns. Lately, my dream of being a published author has gained weight and gotten a bit hard to carry around. (Of course, it is fifteen years old and who hasn't gained weight in the past fifteen years?) So I drag it around with me and wish it would get up and walk on it's own two feet, earn it's own way, do some good for a change.
Want to hear something really bad? Maybe that's why I like American Idol.
Each week I get to see bunches of folks whose dreams let them down, too. (Whoah, I probably shouldn't leave that in today's blog, should I?)
Then this morning I got a new thought - I'm not the only one carrying this dream.
God let me know that he was carrying me and then added a new thought - he's carrying me AND my dream. Pretty clearly let me know that neither one of us are that heavy to him.
How cool is that? So now I'm feeling way lighter, much happier, and free to take a rest.
Bring on the rainbows and unicorns!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Trusting Easy for You?

The ability to trust is an amazing luxury.
I shared in a small group recently that my ability to trust is great because I've not been betrayed. Their shock surprised me. I hadn't really meant for the focus to be on me not being betrayed, but rather on my ability to trust not being such a great accomplishment on my part. Those who have been hurt by people they love - them being able to trust is huge to me. But, when you've not been hurt by those close to you?
The more I looked at it the more I was able to see the self-fulfilling prophecy of trust. I am able to trust easily because my trust hasn't been betrayed. However, my trust probably hasn't been betrayed because I've been trained to look for trustworthy people. I also don't have a high tolerance for just hanging around waiting to be hurt. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice - you can try, but it ain't happenin' cause I got my eyes open.
There are just so many good, trust-worthy people out there wanting friends and wanting relationships - I never spent much time trying to turn the untrustworthy into people worthy of trust. Maybe that's bad, but that is why I can say I've not been betrayed.
Once when a youth had been betrayed and then he dumped the girl, another adult-leader said to me that the young man would need to lessen his standards and not be so hard. "Hard?" I said. "No, he's someone worth winning. Worth putting your heart and trust into. I know because I'm married to a man like that."
And I have parents like that. People who are who they say they are. No different at home than at church or work. And, yes, I know. I am blessed.
I hope my kids can say I'm the same at home as I am out in the world.
Now, that's a goal worth having.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who Needs Friends?

Maybe it's because we moved many hours away from family upon Mike's graduation. Maybe it's because I like to be prepared. Maybe it's because I watch people and have seen needs met in hard times. Maybe it's because Mama seemed to operate on the same principle. Whatever the reasons, surrounding ourselves with friends has always been high priority in our lives.
I actually think about who I'd call if we got one of those awful calls. When we left Jacksonville for Tampa in 1986, I talked to a good friend in Jacksonville and said, "If you were to hear anything bad happened to me or the baby, you must get to Tampa for Mike as soon as possible." Our friend promised he would.
We've kept many kids in emergency situations. Four one night and we had met the parents only once. But they had an emergency and I was there when it happened. Another time I was with a friend when the doctor said their baby needed to be admitted to the hospital. So her three older kids came to our house for several days. When their dad came to bring them some clothes it was our first time to meet him. Others would end up staying when their mom or dad would call and ask if they could walk home from school with my kids just for an hour or two - and then that would become a day or two.
And every time I thought, "One day I'll need this done for me." Yet we didn't. Our youngest is 20 and we never had to make special arrangements for the kids due to a crisis. But even now, I know who I'd call if I got awful news.
I have no illusions about getting through on my own. None.
Because I'm just not made that way - I want someone to lean on, count on, someone to be there when I need them. And it's not a morbid thing, or a worrisome thing. It's a comfort knowing who I'd call and knowing they'd drop whatever was going on in their lives at that moment.
Struggling on my own is not my way. Is it yours?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Do It Anyway

Nike says, "Just do it." My motto is more like, "Do it anyway."
When I was asked a few weeks ago to help with confirmation at our new church, the answer "Yes" jumped out quickly because it had been sitting on the tip of my tongue for a while. It's been a couple years since I've done anything with youth and jr. high kids are who I like working with best and I love confirmation classes. Something had been telling me to get involved with confirmation and so when the question came, the answer was quick.
And then I started regretting it. Immediately.
The reasons were many and varied, as they usually are. But my motto stood firm - Do It Anyway. You see I know myself. And myself doesn't like to be uncomfortable, not in control, and/or not in a position of strength. This new situation contained all three and so my regrets grew, but I repeated over and over, "Do It Anyway."
Today we leave for the confirmation retreat and my regrets have not just been growing, they are being magnified. A whole weekend? A 6 hour bus ride? People I don't know? I'm not in charge? But, say it with me, "Do It Anyway."
And about thirty minutes ago it happened. My emotions got in line with my will. Joy came in as I looked again at the weekend's schedule. Regrets melted to a laughable pile of mush. Excitement took over and now I can't wait to get on that bus.
It's good to know how I feel is often a stupid thing to listen to. It would be nice if what God is telling me and how I feel always matched up, but that would mean I'm not human. And, Lord knows, I'm human. That's why he gave me such a simple motto.
Do It Anyway. Most days that's about all I can handle.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Given the Chance I'd___________

Three years ago, this month, a tornado tore through our yard. Two huge pine trees were laid flat along our back fence line and for a long time the yard was a mess. Lots of exposed red Georgia clay, smashed bushes and broken limbs.
Now, however, the giant pines aren't even missed. New landscaping, repaired bushes, and even a bird bath thrive now in that part of the yard. And all is shaded by two maple trees.
Those maple trees are easily 30 feet tall, but at the time of the tornado they were barely there- thin, weak saplings hardly noticed in the shadow of the giant pine.
But the tornado changed all that and the two maples were given a chance. Given a chance to grow - and they took it.
Given a chance I'd ______ - what?
What would you do if you were "given a chance"?
And what does being given a chance look like? Hard to imagine those two scrawny maples thought that horrific wind and rain on that February morning was their chance. Yet it was.
Sometimes I think my chance comes along and I'm too distracted, or lazy, or worried to even realize it. I'm given the chance to _________, but I don't take it.
So, for today I'm going to fill in my blank and be ready so when my chance comes along - I'll see it and take it.
How about you? Feel like filling in a blank or two yourself?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Take Your Place in the Backdrop

A childhood friend's father passed away last week. For several years I saw this dad often, but it's been at least 20 years since we were last together. Still he's there - part of the backdrop for my teenage years. Because, like it or not, that's the role parents play for teenagers. Even for our own teenagers we parents form the backdrop against which their lives are lived out. Then they move to college and their "real" lives, where they begin forming their own backdrops. Backdrops to which parents don't have admittance except in a re-occuring role that serves to pull things to one side or the other while we're there.
We each stand at center on our own stage - and those stages are only so big. Each of us has a backdrop full of folks we haven't dismissed from the stage and standing there behind us they help form our world. Our perceptions. Our images. Our backdrop.
When I look back to those teenage years, my friend's father stands there, slightly off stage, laughing. He was always laughing. He took joy in his son and his son's friends. Life was fun, and funny, to him. He loved his wife passionately and showed it.
A position in the backdrop may sound weak or useless but it provides the boundaries for the stage. Looking back, smiles and laughter outshine the sadness and anger of my teenage backdrops. Makes me think about the backdrops I stand in, and in front of, now.
How about you? What kind of backdrop people surround your stage?
What kind of backdrop person are you?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Old Dog - New Tricks

So, this "self-contained" thing I mentioned in my last blog - I've been thinking about it. Before I mentioned it in my blog it was just a thing. You know, like a cloud hanging around in my head. There is something about me writing a thing down that makes it real and necessary to deal with. Being "self-contained" is all about being in the present, I think.
-About not living in the past with what someone said or did or what I said or did. Hashing and rehashing conversations, events, problems - something parents of teenagers do a lot of, whether vocally or in your head.
-About not living in the future with what could happen, should happen, might happen and then when it does happen how will we handle it? Again - consuming pastime for parents of teens.
My teens are now gone - so does that mean it's time to lay down some of those coping mechanisms that served me well? I believe so.
Besides, this place called "the present" appears an interesting place to live. Cause and effect seemed wrapped up in one package. My thoughts are much clearer without all those other conversations going on. There's less space occupied with coulda, shoulda, woulda and more with actual action. This is all good and that's wonderful to discover.
So, friends, what coping mechanisms are you holding onto that do not belong in your present? Aren't they getting a little cumbersome?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nothing to Say

Nothing to say. Can't quite figure that out. I seem to have nothing to say and I always have something to say.
On the blog page I see all those lists of blogs I've written. Looking more closely I remember writing each of them, remember the thoughts that swirled and needed, needed to be put down in black and white. Reading them I remember the delight as a clever line scrolled from my fingers or the "a-ha" when a thought came together finally on my computer screen. Looking at the comments, things others got from certain blogs sheds more light on my wonderings. So much to think. So much to say.
And then I find that I currently have nothing to say. The word that's been circling my mind for the past couple months has been "self-contained". And I'm not even sure what that means. But it seems to describe how I'm feeling. Self-contained. Very much inside myself. It's calm and restful and complete.
See? Nothing to say. If you figure it out - give me a holler~

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tryanny of All that's Possible

This moment - right now at this moment I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I don't know where it's leading or what's next but I'm listening and following - right now. And that really is all I CAN do. Sometimes I think we try and convince ourselves that if we do this, then that will happen. So we do things anticipating a certain outcome and completely miss the moment. Because this moment's not what's important - it's the outcome that is important, right?
But what if this moment IS the outcome? I’ll say that again – What if this moment IS the outcome?
What if everything I've done in the past was all to get me to THIS moment -where I am right now - who I will impact today?
How cool is that? The potential in every decision, every thought is electric to me.
I will not let the tyranny of a possible future, a possible outcome negate or water down this moment. This day.

I will not.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bare Limbs.

Something about home in the winter stirs me. Or rather - stills me.
There is no hiding under leafy branches or behind bounteous gardens. Flowers do not vie for attention and bright leaves are brown, fallen, gone. Like the trees, houses are stripped to the essentials. Windows reflect light back and look cold, unseeing. The only pots hold mounds of frozen pansies, huddled together in defeat waiting for a warmer day.
Inside the air is still until a rush of heat moves through, but the heater routinely kicks off and the stillness falls again. Sunlight caresses the dining room table, the kitchen floor, and my steaming coffee cup yet the caresses are chill.
The emotion, the hopes, the thrills of the holidays are gone, not even a left-over cookie remains. And yet I carry all of it forward with me. And now there is time to examine it. To sit beside a cold window and see more than the winter landscape. To see the past year. To see the coming year. To see.
Bare limbs. Bare houses. Bare soul.
Winter stills me--and I'm grateful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ever Feel Sorry for God?

Don't you just love that first moment at night when you lay down in bed? Especially if it's been a long or hard day? You stretch and your muscles relax into the mattress and everything rests. That is one of my favorite feelings and often as I lay there, beginning to doze, I feel sorry for God.
Well, I don't feel exactly sorry for him, but I wonder how could he have created something so good, which he never experienced. I mean, God doesn't get tired, right?
God understanding the human body would need sleep--that makes sense. Like a person designing a car understands it will need constant fillings of gas to keep it running. But for God to create this cool thing called sleep and make it so appealing--well, that's just impressive to me.
And then I start thinking about maybe Jesus was debriefed when he returned to heaven. Did God say, "Alright, so how does it feel to be tired? or hungry?" Did he press for details on going to sleep and waking up? Wonder what flavors Jesus preferred? You know, salty or sweet? And did he explain how good fresh bread tastes and how it feels in an empty stomach? Or what being clean feels like when you've been sweaty and dirty? God doesn't get dirty, does he?
I know God knows all these things - but was Jesus being in a human body a way for our God to know us even better? I like to think so.
God is just cool, isn't he?