Friday, September 25, 2009

A Day in the Life

I'm getting ready for a conference about hope. I've been doing some of the most challenging thinking I've ever done about that subject. At risk of giving away the goods, I'll save the rest for post-conference. However, just for fun, anyone who'd like to respond and tell me what hope means to you, I'd be pleased as punch. Just comment, and if you don't wish me to publish your words, say so.

That done, I've been thinking that I haven't said a whole lot on my blog about my work. I've meant to a thousand times because I really love my work, and find daily something challenging and enriching about it. I often think, "I gotta blog about this." and then life takes over and the moment of profundity gets swept away. I hate that.

I work in a business that can "take a lot out of you" if you do your job well. Assisted Living is a beautiful concept. Every day I come to work and bring joy to someone's life. Every day, I help someone, encourage someone, bring someone something they need. Practically, my job as activities coordinator means that I also provide entertainment, challenge (mental and physical) and general times of enjoyment. "Chancellor of Fun" I like to think. I suppose I could go to work each day and mechanically do the steps of my job. I may even accomplish nearly the same results. However, I just can't keep from involving my heart. There are 63 residents at the assisted living home where I work. Sixty three people to love, care for, entertain, serve, be concerned about, and generally allow into my business. Part of my job means sharing my life with them, and getting involved in theirs.

Right now for me, this means at least ten conversations a day about the size and general shape of my belly, how my children are doing in school, how much salt I ate today, and whether or not I'm getting enough rest. Not to mention at least ten more conversations about my marriage, since my husband also works here as the chef. When am I going to fatten him up? Is he working tomorrow and if so will he make me scones for breakfast?

Doing my job well means being available to hug somebody when I'd rather not be touched. It means listening to a story I've heard no less than fifty times before, but listening like it's the first time. It means showing respect to an elder who may sometimes act like a child. It means lending dignity to undignified aging processes. It means letting myself really love a lot of other people, whether or not they love me in return. All heavy and emotionally complicated situations.

Not that the job is without reward. The rewards are also rich and abundant. For one thing, our baby will be born to a houseful of ma maws and pa pas who have been eagerly expecting him. My children already get covered with hugs and giggles when they are here. Plus, smiles look so beautiful on wrinkled faces...especially knowing I helped put them there. Laughter is abundant and wisdom oozes from every nook and cranny. Reminders of what is truly important in life are everywhere, every day.

What strikes me over and over again is that I only took a job in assisted living because I had been left alone with my children and was about to starve. I never expected to get something absolutely perfect for me. SOmething I would enjoy every moment of.

Not every moment is easy, but every one is worth it. So hopefully for a while I'll be blogging on the every day stuff, the every day gorgeousness that is my life. The beautiful, challenging, and noteworthy moments that I've too often let pass me by.

Monday, September 14, 2009


In the middle of life's whirlwind of late, and all the stress, hormones, tears, worries, and emotions that are part of this pregnancy, I have a consolation.

Psalm 139 says "You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

Know what I was thinkin? That means God Himself, the same One who made the mountains is actually, physically, with His own hands, piecing someone together inside my physical body right now.

There are no words to tell you how much I needed that knowledge. Sometimes in life's complications... you know, the ones that don't fit inside the guidelines of what I dreamed for myself and my life, it's hard to know that God is there. It's hard not to be seriously in doubt. It's interesting in the midst of some of my most spiritually barren times, God has chosen to actually physically touch me. Perhaps I have no feelings that prove His work in my life, but I see the physical evidence of it literally swelling inside me.

Now that I consider it, all three of my pregnancies have come at spiritually difficult times. How well He knows me... If my heart refuses to or simply hasn't the strength to hear, He just takes over my body.

This knowledge is precious to me. Too wonderful to express.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Nothin' Pretty

Hold onto your hat. This ain't nothin pretty.

Life's been... well, a little on the overwhelming side lately. Frankly, I'm fighting cynicism and outright irritability like you wouldn't believe.

I got into a confrontation with my ex husband and his new wife. Ewww... It was miserable for a thousand reasons. I wasn't nice. Didn't feel like being nice and didn't care that I didn't feel like being nice. Still don't. I was surprised at the fury that is in me. Mama Bear had her claws out if you know what I mean. Divorce of any kind is disgusting, and mine is/was among the most gross of situations. I still experience nausea when considering what happened to my kids and me. Most people who know about it do.

It's strange because I have a beautiful life, a gorgeous new husband, and my kids have a new big brother and are about to get a new baby brother or sister. They're doing great in school, happy in our church, growing every day. We're happy. I hate how past wounds sometimes show themselves and seem to be as infected as if they just happened. Sometimes I feel like I'll be injured forever over this. Some people say that a broken bone still aches years and years later in bad weather or something. Seems like emotional wounds are much the same way, still flaring up so to speak at one time or another.

Had a great visit with my family this weekend, and got some much needed TLC from them. My sister's church showed the movie "Fireproof" and the pastor preached his beginning sermon of a study they are doing based on the Love Dare. (For those of you not in the mainstream church, it's a marriage enrichment thing.) The pastor used the passage I Corinthians 13, of course, since he was talking about love. Now, I was doing no small amount of teeth gritting having already sat through the scripted "Isn't it GREAT to be in the house of the Lord today?" and "Lord, bless us and be with us." and the misuse of Malachi 3:10, and the pastor's cheesy pasted-on grin. Bleah. I missed my church and the realness that is there. Thank God my pastors have the guts to frown if they're sad or tell me if they're mad. Or at least not to take glamour shots of themselves. I love you, Jim and Greg... Crocs and ALL!!!

Anyway, I was gritting my teeth, and fighting the nasty, cynical thoughts that raced through my mind as he read the familiar "Love is patient, love is kind, love believes the best, love endures all things..." I thought to myself: "How can that be? I tried so hard to "believe the best" to give another person the benefit of every doubt. I trusted again and again and still I was lied to, humiliated, decieved, and ultimately abandoned. What's the point? And how will my new marriage have any hope if this kind of crap is going on in my mind? Why did God let this happen to me?" But then... to my shock, pasty-grin man had something smart to say. He said everywhere you see the word love, you can insert the name Jesus. Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind, Jesus believes the best, Jesus never fails. This immediately passed my theological who-ha filter, since I know the scripture says God IS love. And so we can safely substitue His name there.

I began to think. Perhaps this passage, while it certainly is the standard we should strive for, has been under the wrong focus for me. The failure of other people to love me, or me to love them isn't what I Cor. 13 is all about. It's about Jesus and how He behaves toward humans, including me. Perhaps it isn't saying: "This is how you love. Now TRY HARDER!" Perhaps it's more like: "This is how God loves you. So, having been loved like this, you can deal with the failure of other people to love you and your failure to love them." Hmmm... So maybe it's more like God saying "So what if he lied to you and utterly failed you. I love you and will never fail you and never lie to you."

I don't know why God let me marry a man who would hurt me in such a way. I was trying with all my might at the time to do what I thought God wanted me to do. I don't know why He let me get ripped apart like that. I do know that the stark contrast between the way I was loved in my first marriage and the way God loves me practically screams to me. I have to wonder if I would have ever glimpsed the magnitude of the strength of God's love if I hadn't experienced the failure of human love.

Mere guesses at a question that will probably never be answered and really doesn't make sense anyway...

In all my frustrated cynicism, my irritability, meanness, and sorrow.... in all my happy moments, my blissful passion with my new husband and my joy at the smiles of my children... In ALL those moments I'm loved. Hmmm....

Maybe this was somethin pretty after all.