Wednesday, February 29, 2012

melting is easy

Boy, winter is having a heck of a time around here. We can't seem to stay cold enough to keep the snow around. This is my back yard today. We have a gutter that needs repair and it just pours water in a particular place just outside our back door whenever it rains or the snow starts melting. We got a sloppy slush/ice/snow storm yesterday, but it's melting like crazy already.

It kind of got me thinking about how it doesn't take much to make me melt. The mere sight of my grandkids or my kids, the sound of Dave's voice, anything that suddenly strikes me as funny, a thoughtful email…it really doesn't take much at all and my heart softens inside my chest. It doesn't matter how cold and frozen I've been. Melting is easy. Then I started to think about how many opportunities I have to be a warm presence for others. I wonder how easy it might be to melt all of the people around me if I just bring a little tenderness and sincerity? It's worth a try. Maybe Minnesota would become a sweet little island if everyone melted at once.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I'm watching Lincoln and Wyatt today, and Linc showed up with a big cut and bruise above his left eye. It made him look like a little toughie but he was actually quite concerned about it when he thought about it. At first he was proud to show it to me and then he wanted a bandaid and to lay on the couch and watch a movie.

That's all any of us really need when we're hurting. A little loving attention and distraction. Kids are brilliant at asking for what they need. I wish I was as smart as this little boy when it comes to my hurts. I wish I was better at letting people know when I need some loving attention and some company and distraction. Linc gets over his wounds really quickly because he knows how to ask for a bandaid and a cuddle.

Friday, February 24, 2012

danny's moving in!

sarah's pumped to have her big brother here

Today is the day. Danny's going to move in with us to save up for some big life changes coming his way. We're pretty excited over here. The first thing he said when he carried his guitar in is, "It's about to get a lot more musical up in here." I love that. It's just what we need.

Welcome home my little love!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

the beauty of what comes

I think I'm getting a little more skillful at appreciating whatever is here at the moment. Just outside my back door I found this thrilling little world and I had to get a shot of it. There's an awful lot of beauty waiting to surprise us when we care to notice it. Sometimes it's almost too much for me. It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

It's good to be alive.

Monday, February 20, 2012

oh yeah, i remember her

Periodically I forget who I am. Does that ever happen to you? It's dreadful.

But lately I'm remembering who I really am deep down in buried places. It's like a light went on inside of me. Most of the time I'm fairly bad company for myself because I'm so self-critical, but these days I'm admiring things about myself that I had forgotten about.

For instance, I'm funny. I hate it when that part of me gets obscured because it's so fun to laugh and play. When I recover my laughter and lightness even the parts of me that I'd like to change seem kind of funny to me. When you're laughing everything seems kind of easy.

The other night I was laughing about something with David so hard that I got into a coughing spasm that almost killed me but it felt really good. That kind of laughter feels like a good massage afterwards. You get all relaxed and warm and satisfied. I want to do that more.

I wonder if Jesus ever told jokes? I suspect he had a pretty good sense of humor. When you look around with your eyes wide open your only choices are to laugh or cry. Or both.

Friday, February 17, 2012

letting in the light

I spent some time on the phone with a friend from far away today. I'm taking a course called Encountering Christ from my friend Christianne, and the course includes two sessions of spiritual direction. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive about this aspect of the course because talks like this force me to come clean about my life. I know that sounds weird coming from a counselor but I have very special rules that only apply to me out of all the people in the entire universe. (That seems smart, don't you think?) Christianne is one of those people who is just born to listen to people in a way that breaks them open and I knew that if I talked to her for any length of time I would have to be honest about where I was at, which is not really my idea of a party. Bah. I'd rather curl up under a blanket and eat popcorn while I watch three hours of things I will not remember after I turn the TV off. 

Anyway, it took about three minutes before I was discovering things about myself that were pretty interesting. This was surprising because I like to think that I'm terribly self-aware and brilliant and have everything all figured out and all. (I hope you're hearing the sarcasm.) I discovered that there has been growth and change in my internal life that had totally slipped under my radar. I discovered that I have resources that I was not taking advantage of. I learned about connections that I had never noticed before. And I learned, or rather remembered, that God is such a good Daddy. 

Is my voice different than it has been lately? Hmmmm. I don't think that's a coincidence. I've suddenly remembered that I have a pretty good sense of humor and kind of a rebellious streak that can get me into some trouble but can also be one of my most creative and fun strengths. I've got a renewed feeling of energy and hope. And all because I took the risk to let a little light into my odd internal world. You should try it sometime, even when it's scary or sounds like the worst idea ever in the history of bad ideas. Light can make all the dust and clutter more obvious, but it's also the only way to discover what is real. I'm glad I opened the blinds and dared to stare into the sun for a while. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

my voice

I'm not really sure what's going on with me lately, but I'm having a terrible time finding my voice. In fact, it takes a lot of effort to even notice that my voice is missing. Part of this, I'm sure, is that I've had a cold for the last couple of weeks that just won't completely go away. So I'm out of sorts, physically. But mostly, I think I'm out of sorts spiritually and emotionally. I'm not in a crisis or anything, but God has been turning my attention to places that badly need it, and my response has been to mostly shut down and try to ignore it. That hasn't been the most helpful response.

Every February I seem to find myself in this place. Although this winter has been mild, it's still mostly wearing out it's welcome. And, weirdly, I miss the snow. We've only had about fifteen inches or so this winter and that has largely melted with the warm weather. So the landscape is brown and drab. It matches my internal world quite well. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about the weather. I'm just noticing that it affects me in specific ways.

Bah. Even as I'm writing this, I'm getting sick of myself. And that attitude is probably closest to the root of my problem. I'm not very responsive to a particular kind of criticism, and when that criticism is internal it's hard to escape from it. That's what's very peculiar to me. I said earlier that God is turning my attention to places in my life that are in a bit of a shambles, but he's not nagging me and he's not being critical. His voice is kind and inviting. If I spoke to myself the way God speaks to me I might respond very differently. I might be less sick of myself and my internal voice. I might soften.

So, my voice isn't really missing. It's just that the voice I'm hearing is not my true voice. It's not the voice I use with anyone else in any other circumstances. It's reserved for myself alone when I'm not living up to my own hopes or expectations. This voice is shrill and brittle and mean and no one would want to spend much time listening to it. It's no wonder that I avoid myself. If I had a friend who spoke to me this way that friend wouldn't get much of my time, and I doubt I would really consider her a friend at all.

I'm trying to use a different voice with myself today. I'm trying to mimic the voice that God uses with me. He's not sick of me. His voice is soft and loving and encouraging. He wants good things for me and he sees the gifts that are languishing. His voice is an invitation born of love. That's what I want to he listening to each moment as I move through my days and nights. Maybe if I'm quiet enough I won't have to mimic anything. Maybe the voice of God will be the only thing I hear.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

all is grace

You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.  ~G.K. Chesterton


Super Bowl party: that's grandpa wrestling with the grandkids :)

so glad the sun hasn't been a stranger this winter

Today I am finally feeling more normal and I'm deeply grateful for that. The last week or so has been a blur of sleep and hacking coughs that rattled my whole body. It's good to wake up to the sun and a little bit of energy.

All is grace. Today I'm grateful for my grandchildren and the way they stir up all the love I have inside of me. I'm grateful for a home that is welcoming to everyone we know. And I'm grateful for the sun in a cloudless, cold sky.

All is grace.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I woke this morning to a world that was frosted over, as though snowflakes had grown spiky white spines out of every tree branch. It's too bad it was so grey because when this happens in bright sunshine it's almost too beautiful to imagine. It makes you want to cry.

I've been sick since Wednesday. I only want to sleep and sleep. And sleep. When I saw the branches so beautiful and singing their high notes as I woke I couldn't help but sing along. I'm thankful for this gratuitous display of beauty today.

A friend of mine posts a daily five each day to record things that she's grateful for. She's been doing it for over three years. I wonder how that would change your perspective over time? She must always be searching for things to include. In fact, most days she posts more than five things. Today I'm thankful for the frost and for my husband who cares for me when I'm not well. I'm thankful for friends who send me encouraging words. I'm thankful for phone calls from my grandchildren. I'm thankful for music. It's not so hard to think of things I'm grateful for when I'm paying any attention at all.

Today I'm thankful even in my sleepy half life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

out of the fog

I spent some time this afternoon with a woman that I used to counsel. She has a history full of loss and betrayal and drug abuse and mental illness. She tends to be hyper-focused on the parts of her life that are sad or difficult, and to tell you the truth there's an awful lot of sad and difficult things to focus on around her. I realized that it was hard to stay engaged because no matter how much effort I put into listening with compassion and gently redirecting her, she wasn't listening to me. She's extremely well defended. And then I realized how very close I came to being this way myself.

It's so easy to walk into the fog and never emerge again. There's a comfort in the hazy light and the permission it gives you to hide. After a while, the fog becomes a friend, maybe your closest friend. It's terrifying to become vulnerable and step into the full light of day.

Frankly, I don't know how I escaped that fog. I was lucky or blessed or however you'd like to frame that. I had friends and family who loved me through some ugly years. I made a few decisions along the way that helped. I learned something about the grace of God and the way he loves me. But honestly, I can't really account for the difference between this woman and myself.

I don't want to squirm out of this too easily. Sometimes it's good to be uncomfortable. Every answer I try to tell myself about how I am here and she's there feels flimsy. They all feel self-serving or blaming. The search for a comfortable explanation is just another form of fog. It's meant to keep me safe, imagining that I'm so very different from this woman who is stuck and miserable.

The truth is, I'm not that different. And it's important for me to remember that so that I can stay compassionate. The truth is, it's hard to walk out of the fog. I get it.