Archives for May 2012

When you want to answer yes

We returned last night from a long weekend in Portugal. Colorful, sunny, delicious Portugal. I picked up the dog from the kennel and he doesn’t appear any worse off for being the unfortunate victim of my craziness prior to leaving. I sincerely hope I am not the only person who forgets they have a dog, or an appointment, or–hypothetically speaking–a child waiting to be picked up at the bus stop. I feel like I’m rushing to catch up, only I never do.

I’ve thought a lot about rest lately, spiritual rest, the kind where your soul lies down in green pastures and is restored. Every time I sit down to write about it, I can’t. I circle round and round the idea in my head, but I can’t seem to get the words to trickle down into my fingers. The best way I know how to express it, is to say it’s a longing. I long for a deep rest of the spirit, the kind that has nothing to do with my schedule, my responsibilities, or my feeble attempts at keeping all planets revolving around me.

I woke up early on Saturday, to the sun breaking across the sky and the sea. Clouds sat above water, hugged by earth, lit in a golden glow. Each element knew exactly where it belonged, hung and held and revolving around the Son. I watched the day break and I knew I had seen the thing I long for. Rest is knowing I am not the sun or the Son. All things do not live and move through me. Responsibilities exist, lists must be made, but instead of allowing the light of the Son to shine on those places and bring me into a place of restoration, I try to become all things. I try to be the sun and the earth, the sky and the sea, when all He desires is for me to simply be.

I feel the light of the Son wooing me, calling me to come, to be, to rest. And I feel the longing again, to answer the call with a quiet yes.

The one in which I remember we have a dog

Last night I arrived home from my kids’ Spring Piano Recital around nine pm. It occurred to me that I have a ticket to board a plane today and I hadn’t done a thing to prepare for the trip. Out came the suitcase, and the grabbing of clothes from drawers, and the yelling at children to just bring me the flip-flops already. Once I made a chaotic mess of the bed and floor, the dog pads into the room and stares up at me.

I look at him and I remember.

I remember I have a fourth, furry, four-legged child. I email and then call the kennel. I pray I remembered to book him in for this weekend. I look for evidence in my email. There is none. I pray harder and I think of ways I can explain this to my husband, because clearly my marriage will be over when he finds out I forgot about the dog. Again.

I ask God to grant me this one itty-bitty marriage saving favor, and I email two friends who might take pity on me and don’t want to see me divorced and destitute. Both say yes, they will take the dog if the kennel doesn’t work out. One promises to make her husband sleep on the sofa because last time the dog came to stay he jumped into their bed and growled at the strange man trying to join him there. The other says she’ll try to work him in around their newly adopted cat. God loves me. He gives me good friends who recognize I might be borderline insane, and who still like me. They might like me a little bit less after last night, but they like me.

I decide to use the friend with the sofa sleeping husband as my back up. I plan to use my lack of linguistic skills to my advantage, and show up at the kennel in the morning anyway. The worst they can do is send me away in a flurry of words and stupid American insults I can’t understand anyway. I decide not to tell my husband until much later. Last time things didn’t work out with the dog, it involved the police, a locksmith, some swearing, a pair of scissors, and a mangled cardboard box.

I drive to the kennel first thing this morning. I take my eight year old boy with me for moral support and translation services. We arrive at the gate, I take a deep breath and I shove the dog into the arms of the girl who greets us. She looks at me, hugs the dog, and asks when I will be back to pick him up.

Panic recedes. My son translates dates and times. My marriage is safe. I realize calling myself borderline insane is probably an understatement. I leave and call my friend to tell her she can sleep in the same bed as her husband this weekend. Fortunately, so can I.

Picking up the pen

After reading Don Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years last year, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to live a good story. Yesterday, Emily and others at Prodigal Magazine shared their thoughts about life and story and how one informs the other. I read a few of the posts and they reminded me once again, when we write our stories across the big, blank canvas of our lives, not one of them reads exactly like the other.

Other people’s stories fascinate me. I want to know what makes them laugh or cry or fall to their knees. I ask myself how they love, and what moments take their breath away. I love watching people live their story all wild and tangled and free, because it helps me live mine the same way. For a long time, I feared I would live a small life. I don’t mean small in significance, but small in experience. We don’t measure significance by the things we do, but by the person we become. Our experiences shape us, and break us, and build us into that person.

I don’t fear the smallness anymore. I live as full and deep and wide as the canvas will allow. And when I think the edge of it will rise up to meet me, I find there is room to go further still. Sometimes I catch myself looking too hard for the boundaries and forgetting that boundaries don’t tell a good story–essential elements do. So, I add in people who act silly, and places that make me cry for the beauty. I throw in a page or two of international intrigue, a smidge of trouble, and momentary lapses of sanity, until the edges recede and the story begins right where I left it.

What are the essential elements of your story? And how well are you living it?

Five Minute Friday: Perspective

I’m joining up (a bit later than usual) with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday. This week is filled with visiting family and a traveling man, Swiss holidays and kids who can’t seem to be happy in or out of the house. Perspective is the prompt, and after this week, I think I need some. Thanks for the reminder, Lisa-Jo.

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

Today’s Prompt: Perspective

On the twenty-four hour car rides down south, I used to sit squashed between two siblings in the back seat of the car. No min-van and iPad comforts for us. It was three to the long back seat and if you dared cross the invisible line drawn between you and your seat mate, well, you knew the consequences.

I passed the time by staring up into the summer sky in the daylight hours. I watched the clouds move slow or swift depending on the wind, and I imagined. Sometimes clouds hid a mermaid, or an elephant, or an old lady dancing. Other times, I saw a fish, a flower, or a pup on it’s back with four legs in the air.

My brother and sister would occasionally play along, and I don’t think we ever saw the same thing. The sky held a circus, a story, an entire world wrapped up in white fluff. And we never saw it in exactly the same way.

Sometimes we could point it out to one another, but most of the time, it remained a mystery.

Perspective always is.

Square pegs, round hole

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to put down roots. For someone who dislikes change as much as I do, I think it strange I should have such a gypsy heart. I wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied with settling down, planting my feet in the dirt, and growing deep into the soil of a place. I have fantasies that one day we will settle in a small New England town where we will call the postman Junior, I will own an inn and frequent the town diner, and everyone will know our names and our favorite flavor of ice cream. And then I realize I’m dreaming of a Gilmore Girls episode, and I’ll never own an inn or be witty in real life.

I also fantasize about moving to London again and living the big city life, where we are surrounded by interesting people who do big city things. There, I will follow in the footsteps of my literary heroes, and we will live near the river and drink copious amounts of tea from a place called Orange Pekoe. And then I realize I’m dreaming of the life I used to live, before my husband developed an aversion to rainy weather and I birthed three kids. Still, I feel the soil of the city clinging to my feet.

We have one year left before we have to pull up the tender roots growing down around Switzerland. They’ll never grow deep here, and I hold the loveliness of this place lightly in my hands. But, I wonder about the future and, truth be told, I worry.We are told we can always go home again, but when we do, we realize we are not the same. Each street and town and country leaves a mark on our DNA. We change, we grow different, molded into a new shape influenced by the people and places we discover. We find the things which delight us in one place, may not delight us in another. The land that inspires and feeds a dream in the early years, may not nourish us in the years to come. And some places don’t nourish us at all.

I don’t know where we will be in a year. I don’t know if we’ll have to bend ourselves into the shape of a place, or if the place will shape itself around us. But I do know it will always leave it’s mark.

Tell me where your putting down roots. How is it changing you?