Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What now?

We've made it through the Lenten period.  That means I've officially reached my blog-writing goal.

I thought when I came to this point I would have a clear sense of what comes next for writing and/or for this blog.  But I find that the future still looks fuzzy.  I think I need to free myself, at least for now, from the obligation of writing every week.  That may mean that I continue to post on here more frequently than I think I will (playing the piano happened that way - when I stopped lessons and practicing for recitals, I actually played more).  But it could also mean that I'll post infrequently.  I'm just not sure.  If you subscribe to the blog (see button at top right) you can receive an email with my most recent post, regardless of how frequently or infrequently I write.

If you are reading this, I do want to thank you for following along.  The whole point of this goal was to start writing again AND to start sharing my writing with other people.  I would love to have any feedback.  Was there a post that "stuck" with you?  Was there a post that frustrated you?  Would you be glad to see the blog continue?  It's not too late to contact me via email or by commenting here.  I'm always encouraged when someone takes the time to respond.


Since I'm already posting, I'll tack on something personal.  The last week or so, I've been feeling pretty discouraged about my daughter's progress toward walking.  She's so close, and yet it could be weeks or months until she finally decides to take a step.  I'm feeling really impatient.  Really tired of feeling like I need to keep pushing her toward the goal.  And afraid to share how discouraged I am because:  1) when I start comparing (always dangerous to do) this "problem" to what others are facing, it seems pretty insignificant; 2) I think I should have a better grip on my emotions, more patience, more steadfastness, etc. 

I'm afraid of judgment, pretty much.  And I question myself - should I be doing more, or perhaps less (just let go)?  Or is it really not about me, at all?  I wish I knew.  In the meantime, I wait.  Because, at the end of the day, that's the only option I have.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I had a dream last night.  It wasn't a nightmare, but I woke up feeling uneasy.  I stayed in bed a few extra minutes and thought about my dream . . . that's what I do when I need insight.

In the first part of the dream, my husband and I worked for a large, unknown corporation.  What I remember from the dream was the maddening difficulty of accomplishing anything in that company.  People would quit, I presumed because the tasks were difficult and also meaningless, and yet no one was willing to change the order of things.  There were outdated procedures and lots of obstacles to freedom and productive work.  But it continued.  Over and over again, day after mind-numbing day.

I'm not sure what to do with this dream except to think about how it relates to tomorrow (or today, if you are reading this via email subscription).  Resurrection Sunday.  If ever there was a day that upended the supposed order of things - getting rid of obstacles and the dull comfort of meaningless routines - well, this is the day.


The second part of my dream involved the sport of field hockey.  I was playing it, enjoying it, and determined to try out for a team.  And then, in my dream, I remembered that field hockey practice involves lots of running.  And just like that, still in my dream, I lost my resolve.

Then I woke up. 

While I was puzzling over this part of the dream, I had a sudden flashback to my 8th grade year of junior high.  I played field hockey in 8th grade and I loved it.  I would even say I was good at it.  But something kept me from trying out for my high school team, and that something was running.  I figured I couldn't do the running that a high school coach would require and I was too scared to even try.  How funny, and quite amazing, that this snippet of my history should come fleeing out of the shadows of memory this morning.  It sort of washed over me that I'm standing at the exact same crossroads of that memory, except now I need to run for a 5K (one of my goals for the year) and not a field hockey team.  Back in eighth grade, I made a judgment call - a judgment of myself - based on fear.  This time, I need to make a different decision about who I am. 

I need a resurrection.

resurrection  [rez-uh-rek-shuhn]

the revival of something: a resurrection of an old story  


Friday, April 11, 2014

The Still, Small Voice

I have a confession.  I'm still afraid of God.  And it's not "holy fear." It's the plain, no-frills version of being scared.  I've had a growing awareness of this fear lurking in the shadows, and it has surprised me.  Surprised me because I remember places of fear and not trusting and I look back on those times - they are not part of who I am now, I believe.  But, still, there are little pin-pricks telling me that all is not as it could be.  

As I've listened to those pin-pricks - honed in and tried to REALLY listen - I've realized what I'm really afraid of.  I'm afraid of God's voice.  I'm afraid of what that voice might say to me.  What it might ask me to do or say or not do or not say.  I have told myself that listening to it might come at the expense of self - I might not be able to do what I want to do or be who I truly am.  And, perhaps because I'm afraid, it's easy to let other voices drown out the small, quiet voice of the Spirit of God.  Because there are lots of other voices and they clamor for my attention.  I want to listen to them because they are louder, familiar, comfortable, and deceive me into thinking they won't require anything of me.

But here's the thing.  I'm not new to the whole Christian experience.  I've got some powerful stories and experiences notched on my belt.  So the fact that I still want to listen to the crowd of other voices grieves me.  It means that I still don't hear the voice of God as the voice of love.  This despite years of knowing God's voice as exactly what scripture professes it to be:  patient, kind, never forcing its way upon me, always hoping, never ending.

As I pondered all of this today, a "what if" question started to take shape in my thoughts.  What if listening to the smallest, quietest voice meant not the death of self but rather the way to a life that was free and authentic and flourishing?  What if?

I need to sit with that question.  I've wondered sometimes what it would mean to take a couple weeks or months or even a year and go to a place where my main occupation is listening to the still, small voice of God. Listening for that voice is a discipline, I remind myself.  Like any discipline, it takes practice.  But maybe, with practice and care, it becomes more familiar.  Comfortable.  Home.

All fear is but the notion that God's love ends.  ~ Ann Voskamp

For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.   ~ Matthew 16:25

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Walking Is a Process

My 17-month-old daughter Eve is not walking yet.  As an infant, she would not put weight on her legs, as infants normally do with ease, and until her first birthday she spent most of her hours in a sitting position because she didn't know how to do anything else.  Once we figured out what was hindering her from movement (low muscle tone in her legs and feet) and got help from a physical therapist to strengthen her leg muscles, we saw an amazing transformation.  She began to crawl almost immediately and in the past three months has progressed to the very tip of the final frontier - walking without assistance.  She's almost there, but not yet.

My husband and I have discussed at various times what an accomplishment walking is.  Such an amazing coordination of brain activity and muscle movement.  Our first child started to walk without any assistance from us, and so we took that milestone for granted.  However, working with our daughter has revealed some of the complexities of developmental milestones,  and we now understand that walking is really the culmination of a long process.  Before they walk, a child must (in many cases) crawl, kneel, learn to pull one leg up and bring themselves to a standing position, learn to pick up their feet and side-step along objects, maintain their balance, and finally, WALK!

I've been inspired by Eve's accomplishments in recent weeks. And I've drawn all kinds of helpful parallels between my daughter's journey and my own.  Here are three of them.

Fear hinders movement. 
At times, Eve was physically capable of performing a movement before she was mentally or even emotionally ready to do it.  So we had to do some coaxing and motivating to get her to attempt it, and then we had to help her do each step repeatedly until the action became part of her brain and muscle memories.  I've thought about points in my life where I have needed to do or say something new - repeatedly - to gain confidence and create a fresh memory that overrides the fearful one.  (Public speaking is just one example.)

If the big goal seems insurmountable, start with baby steps.
I've already written about all the little steps a child needs to take before they can walk.  So it is with me, an adult.  Big changes intimidate me.  But I don't want to avoid them, or avoid the adventure and growth and perspective that come with change.  Breaking down the big goal breaks down the fear too.

Movement, however small, is progress.
When I'm afraid or overwhelmed, something funny happens.  I don't move.  I get lost in thought.  Procrastinate.  I've been amazed to discover in recent months that sometimes the best way to get unstuck is to move, be it a walk around the block or tackling an item on my to-do list, even if the movement has nothing to do with the issue at hand.  It's forward motion, and it helps the mental fog to dissipate.  And Eve...well...if you could see how much we rejoiced over the smallest movement, you would know that her little movements represented progress!

The day my daughter walks will be glorious.  I'm sure I'll shed some tears.  But today I'm celebrating all the little accomplishments that will help her to get there.