The Floodgates

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It’s funny how fast life can change sometimes. Sometimes the change is hard or scary or sad. As a family we have certainly experienced our share. During the last four years we have lived through long term unemployment (Harold for 14 months). There was life threatening illness (Evan’s 6 hip surgeries & subsequent staph infection that very nearly cost his life). My contribution to the stress pile was being diagnosed with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia which is at this time not curable. Whew! Time for some relief don’t ya think?

Let me be the first to say that sometimes we must live years with difficult circumstances. As a Christian mom of a child with special needs, I have become a bit of an expert at calling for more grace and Father God has never disappointed me. That doesn’t mean everything was instantly better. Patience is a learned virtue. And learn I did.

Then last week happened. And we saw the floodgates opened wide. We were given a blessing that enabled us to pay off all of our debt, save our mortgage. We had enough left to finish the repairs on our home and cover moving expenses. Oh, did I mention that Harold was given a wonderful car?

So for the first time in our 29 year marriage, absolutely all our needs are met and beyond! It is such a weird feeling. We look at each other in wonder, in awe of how God has everything wrapped up for us before we move. This has been truly more than we ever dreamed of and to say we are thankful does not begin to express what is in our hearts at this moment.

I encourage you to not lose hope, no matter your circumstances. As a preacher once said, the “now” of God will arrive in time.

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Tiny Funny Stories

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Tiny Funny Stories

You probably know the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the amazing movie Inception as well as his role in 3rd Rock from the Sun among other things. Not only can he act but he appears to be a sort of Renaissance man. He founded an open collaborative production company named  hitRECord. Members contribute music, videos, texts and drawing to ongoing projects.

Out of this interesting work comes the Tiny Book of Tiny Stories. Sixty collaborations were picked from the 8,569 submissions to the project. HitRECord sent me a (tiny) copy to review. I must say this book took me by surprise. I didn’t exactly know what to expect. A quick flip through revealed short sentences paired with pictures.

Since I get a lot of (free!) books for review I have to kind of pick and choose what I want to read. I am glad that itBooks sent this to me. I put this one at the top of my reading list. I love its quirkiness and sometime wise writings. One of my favorites is : “A man touched me, his hand…my thigh. I touched him too. My fist…his jaw.” Now that’s something I can totally enjoy!

Tiny Book actually made me laugh out loud at times, which is always a plus. Because of the books size you could devour it all at once but it is better savored in small bites. It sits on my reading table next to my side of the couch for easy access.

If you would like more info on Mr. Gordon-Levitt’s collaborative projects and see what other artists are doing visit http://www.hitrecord.org. You can also follow Gordon-Levitt on Twitter at hitRECordjoe.

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I find I am (sub)consciously keeping myself from thinking deeply about what moving away from here really means. I think about the practical details of it: training my replacement, winnowing down our personal stuff, wrapping up Evan’s details, etc.

Keeping my thoughts focused on the more inanimate details is a form of protections. It’s a type of blindness that prevents me from seeing all the amazing friends I have here.

Which is better? Should I save the inevitable pain and sadness for the very end or should I start feeling that pain now, six months before we leave?

I’ve written here in earlier posts about how there are small sadnesses in daily events. That still happens but it seems my emotions only really get me when I am having my semi-weekly lunch with my best friend Patty. I found myself crying on the way to lunch a couple of weeks ago, thinking about how much I am going to miss our lunches.

As I was writing this my friend Roger came by my office to tell me how the reality of our move is really hitting him. (He and my husband are very close.) We talked about the sad-now-or-later thing. He said he was sad now.

So, dear reader, what is you preference in the now-or-later debate going on in my head? Any and all advice is welcome.

Come Again

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Come Again

I remember gatherings. The sound of worship rising from so many lips. The swell of the music urging us higher. We went willingly because we knew without a doubt that God really is an awesome God. The communion we shared I would never trade for all the jewels in the earth. Though some later said it was just all emotionalism, or that we were forced to worship, I know this is not true because I was there. Our Heavenly Father does not go where he is not wanted. He does not force himself on us. We invite him to come, and he is faithful to do so.

Did you know that our God is emotional? He is jealous, merciful, angry, patient, kind, loving, all those adjectives and more. We are emotional because He made us that way. He longs for us to commune with him, and oh, how we did! Oh, how I still long to, and do! A song can take me back there in an instant. Memories of standing next to friends, being so grateful for the presence of God in our midst. Come again, oh King! We bid you come.

Whirling Dervish

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Do you know what a whirling dervish is? A dervish is someone who is an adherent of the Sufi sect of Islam. Some of the members of Sufism use twirling in circles as a physical act of meditation. The thought is that as you listen to the music and abandon your inhibitions, concentrating on Allah, you will find perfection. (Of course, this is a very simple description.) Here is an example:

This month I most certainly resemble a whirling dervish, without the whole perfection thing. It is the month of tying up 2011 into a neat accounting package with a bow on top. Lots to do and lots of deadlines! Yuk!

However, Serenity, or perhaps Felicity, turned me on to Ann Voskamp’s blog. Ms. Voskamp has written a book, “1000 Gifts” which, as she describes it “… celebrates grace and recognizes the power of gratitude.” She challenges the reader to find 3 things every day to be thankful for. At the end of a year you will have the “1000 Gifts”.

It seems this is the perfect time for me to start practicing thanksgiving. I have been on a “mindfulness” kick for several months as my family & I countdown to our move back to California. I don’t want to take one moment of our dwindling days here for granted. Sometimes things to be thankful for overwhelm me to the point of tears. On other days I can’t seem to find anything, as my mind trips over itself with lists of things to be done and friends to visit “one last time”. A daily centering is what I need so I am looking forward to this process.

What new things are you considering? Do you avoid new year’s resolutions? Or do you jump in with verve?

The Birth of the Christ Child

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Christmas is my favorite holiday, as I’m sure it is with most people. It is rich with symbolism so what writer wouldn’t like that? There is wonderful music, lots of sneaking around (love doing that!) and presents. And then there is the chance to celebrate the birth of the King of kings, Jesus, who was and is the most precious gift of all.

Eleven years ago on Dec. 22nd, Harold’s dad passed away. We buried him on Christmas Eve. The fun part of Christmas was gone for our family, not only that year, but for a few years after. He was such an amazing man of God. The knowledge that he was in heaven was a comfort but we missed him.

This year on Dec. 21st, Harold’s wonderful Aunt Erma passed away unexpectedly after falling and hitting her head on a concrete step. Her funeral will be on the 27th. She was my mother-in-love’s sister and best friend. Erma never married so her family was her sister’s family. She will be buried in the plot next to my father-in-love. Once again Christmas joy is dampened for us.

Yesterday I was thinking about Aunt Erma and how grateful I am that she is in Heaven now, celebrating the real Christmas with the best choir possible. It came to me that with the promised birth of Jesus came the promise of His death. He took on the earthly form of a baby for one purpose: to become our substitution and die to free us from an eternal sentence of existence without God.

Birth guarantees death. We are all dying in slow or fast increments. It hovers in the background usually, waiting its appointed time. As Christians we are straining at the bonds of our flesh, wanting to be in eternity with our King, Jesus. Meanwhile we live, celebrating births and looking for comfort in the deaths of those we love.

Mary knew that Jesus would one day die. We all know our children will die, hopefully after we do. I wonder when exactly did Mary know how her son would die? When did she realize what a wonderful gift to humankind his death would bring? But before all of that Jesus was a baby, born in difficult circumstances to a mother who had trusted her womb to God.

So I trust Aunt Erma’s soul to God, knowing that the pain of her death is eased by the joy of knowing where she is for eternity, and where Harold’s dad is for eternity, and all those whom have believed in the birth and death of Christ Jesus which makes it all possible.

“Death where is thy sting, grave where is thy victory?”* indeed.

*I Corinthians 15:55 KJV

What Pro-Life Really Means

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I follow a blog written by the amazing writer, & former lawyer, Heather King. The name of the blog is Shirt of Flame. Her passion for Christ and trying to walk in His footsteps takes my breath away on a regular basis. She is blunt, compassionate, impatient, totally flawed and totally human. I admire her decision to try to live a holy life via simplicity, sacrifice and repentance.

Her post yesterday, “Why I Am For Life, Not Pro-Life” contains the best summation of what being for life from a Christian perspective really means. It also makes a great point on the politics of Facebook. Here is an excerpt. I encourage you to click over to her blog to read the rest of her essay and look around a while.

“To be for life means to be for reality, and reality is paradoxical, contradictory, awkward, unendingly messy, and unresolvable. To be for life means to realize that someone who is born to a junkie mother, is beaten every day of his life, sexually molested as a child, and farmed out to a series of foster families as a teenager may be in prison for another reason than that he has a “criminal mind.” To be for life means to believe that human beings are capable of transformation. To be for life implies a capacity and willingness, no matter how difficult or how much of a stretch, to put ourselves in the shoes of another. To be for life is to refrain, insofar as possible, from every kind of violence: physical, emotional, psychological, and I say this because I am (obviously) so prone to violence myself. Because to destroy your own child is a special, and perhaps the most horrific form, of violence imaginable.

To be for life means to stand your ground while also exercising delicacy, courtesy, and restraint of tongue and pen. It means to be passionately for our work and passionately against imposing our work on others. It means to refrain from trumpeting our own courage in favor of admiring the courage of the next person.  It means to be for the unborn baby and for the baby who grows up to be an alcoholic, love-starved, frightened, extremely misguided adult and has an abortion, or two, or three before at last crawling toward the light (or not)—because you never know the wounds from which another suffers. You never know the sins and sorrows for which another is doing life-long penance. You never know the odds against which another is working.”

I am so thankful that she has put into words things I have thought but not been able to put into anything coherent. So like I said, grab a cuppa and head over to Shirt of Flame. Let me know what you think. I’m betting that no matter your political or religious bent, you will learn something.