Monday, July 11, 2016

just show up.

I see you enter, frazzled and under slept, primped & tucked & ironed just-so. I see you with tired eyes and Kylie’d-lips and horrible-beautiful scarred, flawless skin. I see you in moments of weakness when the little shoes won’t come off fast enough or the shirts wont fit over growing heads well enough or the words of reprimand make you feel like you are not enough. I see you.

I see you sit in that seat, on that bench, on that exam table. Nervous. Confident. Excited. Exhausted. Afflicted. I see you flinch. And fiddle. And worry. And wonder. I see your hands wring, your hair curl, your eyes squint in anxious anticipation of what that little person will become; what you will become. I see you cherish those words in one moment and want to hide away with the dust bunnies in the next. That little human you have and hold. That little human you long for. That little human you delivered, adopted, embraced; that little human you LOVE. The one who has grown and is gone from the short reach of your fingertips. I see you.

I see you grow, too. From the young woman with mismatched shoe-laces to the independent young professional with wrinkled pants; mom doesn’t iron those anymore. The path you walk in life takes you for a visit to Anxiety Lake and brushes along the Shores of Love. And soon enough, I get to see you grow up. And those mismatched shoe laces become mis-matched socks on your own little human. Or mis-matched expectations between what your heart is wanting & what life is delivering. I see you.

The truth is that you and I, we get to walk together. And when we split ways—you driving to your home & me driving to mine—your story doesn’t leave me. As I tuck my kids in bed and kiss their soft foreheads and melt into their sweaty palms and heavy breath, I know you are trying your best to do the same. I’ll think about you when I climb the stairs to find crackers spilled out and laundry unfolded and crayons on the wall; my life looks like this too, you know. So when you tell me that you are tired or exhausted or overwhelmed or hurting or longing or breaking, I get it. I hear you.

I’m not sure we’d be friends in real life. You seem to like comics & Harry Potter & furry four-legged creatures. I shy away from all those things & prefer a pet-less life full of all things non-science-fiction (except The Martian, I’ll read that one again). But I still hear you. And my internal non-professional dialogue is nodding yes and hi-fiving and side-hugging and coffee-drinking  and five-o’clock-cheering with you on the days that are hard and good and trying and devastating.

Last week you told me your husband was unfaithful. And you cried because you miscarried your fourth baby. And your favorite childhood dog was put down. Last week you weighed more than you ever had. And ate too many cupcakes. And last week you lost 15 pounds. You got a sunburn…again. Last week you drank enough water every day and took your medications like you were supposed to and stopped taking your medications altogether. You gave your baby formula because you couldn’t keep up; you breastfed your two-year-old for the very last time.

I want you to know, mama, that when you come in my office to sit on the chair and the bench and the exam table, that I see you. And that when you bare it all and spill your heart and let the emotion bleed out, that I hear you. And on the days that you are frazzled or discouraged or celebrating or sinking, I want you to remember that you showed up.

And that is really worth something.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Goals 2016: Entertainment

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A dear friend of mine moved to Manhattan with her sweet family over a year ago. It was a surprise move for onlookers. A few months ago she wrote a blog post about new places & embracing the challenge of change that comes with a move.

In case you were wondering, we didn’t move to Manhattan. Just a small, dusty town where three rivers meet in Washington. We are surrounded by farm land. The thai restaurant boasts the same aged d├ęcor that it did in 1992. The thrift stores are second-rate. The school buses are first class. But whether Manhattan or our small corner of the world, people are people.

I’m slowly realizing that although we don’t have tour books written about our new hometown & that most Saturday’s I’m scratching my head (or pulling my hair out) trying to entertain my kids, this is home. This is life for us, dust bunnies & tumbleweeds & painted sunsets. I will have to put on my big-girl pants and accept invitations to coffee dates even when I’d rather stay home in my pajamas. We will have to walk the fine line of establishing family boundaries to stay within & purposely swerve outside our paint lines to meet new people. We will have to let our kids stay up past their bedtime, feed them Mac & Cheese for the third time in one month (it’s a real treat around here), & let them wear grass-stained pants to bed because time with community is more important than a ridged bedtime schedule. I will have to say YES more often than it feels comfortable. Not only in this next year or two while we settle, but forever. Yes to new friends. Yes to scary life changes. Yes to new experiences. Yes to my husband when I’d rather spend my time locked in a closet with only myself as company. Yes to my kids when I don’t feel like the energy is there. Yes to LIFE.

Guard your spare moments. They are live uncut diamonds. Discard them & their value will never be known. Improve them & they will become the brightest gems in a useful life. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

New home. New town. New jobs. We are surrounded by uncut diamonds. And it doesn’t seem to be the how I spend the moments that matters, but how I treat the moments that I remember.

Entertainment is a funny word. I’m not even sure why slapped that title on this category. The truth is that we, in this illustrious modernized iphone-ized world have “entertainment” in the common sense of the word, at our fingertips all the time. We don’t line up at the theater dressed in Sunday-best to see new hits. We (in our family) don’t often turn over large portions of our budget to local concerts or venues. Maybe it is because we feel entertained enough by what we surround ourselves with.

But am I treating those moments with reverence? Am I making memories from them? What am I telling myself when I spend an hour pre-REM scrolling my Instagram feed?  Am I feeding my eyes or feeding my soul? And maybe most important of all, am I spending my soul well?

For as much as my brain needs a shut-off switch at night, my soul needs an equally desperate fire.

The average human gets around twenty five thousand days on this Earth, and most of us in the USA will get a few more. That’s it. This life is a breath. Heaven is coming fast, and we live in the thin space where fairht and obedience have relevance. We have this one life to offer; there is no second chance, no Plan B for the good news. We get one shot at living to expand the Kingdom, fighting for fustice. We’ll stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us. We’ll have one moment to say, “This is how I lived”. (Jen Hatmaker, “7”)

(Real life update: I've totally failed in this department. Alone is my comfort zone & safety net. And although I've made satisfying progress at home in spending my moments well (most days--I'm still a real person), I am still idling in the service & love & outreach & friendship categories. The good news is that we are only halfway through the year. I know myself too well.)

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