Love Poured Out…

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Sunset tonight from St. Mary’s by the Sea

Today was my hubby’s 43rd birthday. It also happened to be Valentine’s Day as well as Ash Wednesday (which really doesn’t happen very often), and we ended up taking a nice, quiet day amidst the chaos of unpacking that’s been our life this week. (Happy Birthday my Love!)  Our home is beginning to take shape, though I’m looking forward to getting all our books on their shelves again — once that happens it will really start to feel like we belong here. I’m not sure how long it will take for me to get used to the sound of the sea every time I step outside (or if I stop to listen inside) — it seems so surreal. Dreaming about living at the coast “someday” is something from my childhood — one of those things you want to do when you grow up but know can never happen. There was never a time in my life where I considered it a real possibility, it was just a wish… One that wasn’t to be taken seriously — not even by me…

The fact that I’m here now — it just seems like I somehow stepped into another dimension — one where impossible dreams are simply reality. I can’t even call this an answer to prayer (other than a desperate plea for help to find permanent housing out of the cold), since I never even considered asking to live at the coast. This was purely a Gift — something unsought, unasked for, and deeply, deeply appreciated…

I am in awe of such Love poured out.

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Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season — a time to prepare for the coming glory of Easter — a time to refocus. Fasting, giving alms, praying — these are things that are meant to remind us anew of our souls… no matter how busy life has been, or how distracted we may be, seasons like this draw us back to solid ground. This is a time for soul-growth, rededication to our true purpose, and “beginning again” in the coming light of the Resurrection. This is the joy that is before us… A joy that cannot be forgotten amid the present darknesses we face…

This Lenten season I will once again be “giving up” my time… Offering up more than I think I have for prayer, for serving others in whatever is before me, and I will be stopping to remember this awe of Love I’ve known so intimately in these first days in our new home. I hope to hold on to this gratitude and let it shape me — to let this Love be free to mold me into who I am becoming. I hope to reach the Glory-Light at the end of Lent different in some small way… more trusting, more patient, more myself as I am to be and less who I’ve been. Perhaps the changes of this holy season before the Resurrection-Dawn will be barely noticeable, perhaps they will seem to be a natural progression in the course of my life — but every change requires a catalyst — even a small one. In order to grow souls need sustenance, and now is a time for solid soul food — strengthening, stretching and preparing us for service. This is another Gift — one for everyone…

 It is Love poured out.

We have been given so much. Amid the chaos and stress of this journey of Life, with all the darkness that surrounds, threatening to freeze our souls from the inside out, and the way that hope just seems to die as we see all that happens in this world, we must take the time to look up. Love is being poured out — even when we can’t see it. We have not been forgotten…

“…I will not forget you! See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Psalm 49:15b-16a)

Love keeps no record of your wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5), but He will not forget you. We are not alone…

God does not play dice with our lives.

We are loved.

…and I am grateful…

  1. Glorious sunsets…
  2. Ash Wednesday reminders…
  3. Hubby’s birthday!!!
  4. FaceTime (so thankful to be able to visit with family every day still)!
  5. A Valentine from Little Boy…
  6. Rice Dream for my coffee…
  7. Face to the sun, listening to the sea with The Philosopher…
  8. The Professor having a less confused day…
  9. So much laundry done!
  10. Empty bookshelves just waiting to be filled…

It’s all Grace…

 

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Be Still…

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I am looking out my new living room window and still not able to grasp the reality of all that has happened during the past few days. It feels like I’m just on an Oregon Coast vacation — another one of many I’ve had throughout my lifetime — and I think it’s going to take awhile before I realize that this is home now.

We bought a house.

Not just any house… we bought a house in an Oregon coastal town where the breeze carries the scent of the ocean and its soothing sound is the constant background song.  The air is clear here — I stepped out on our front porch last night and was reminded at how amazing the stars always are on the coast. The vastness of the sea, combined with the never-ending sky… there are no words. I can’t believe we’re here…

We have spent many years trying to create a home in one rental or another — it was an almost constant moving game. Our most recent ones over the last handful of years all ended up having heating problems — a serious drawback with so many health issues in the family.  Of course, you can only bring up the problem with landlords so much — they can always find someone else to replace your family — there are many, many people looking for places to live. It’s crazy to spend almost 2000 dollars a month on a rental that doesn’t even have reliable heat, and yet we were just thankful to have a place to live.  I was particularly thankful that we had found a place just down the street from my sister…

That is the biggest drawback of this move — I can’t just run over to see my sister (who just turned 30 by the way — Happy Birthday Sister!) whenever I want now. Every evening I would run over for at least a few minutes after her boys were in their pajamas, and being so far away is a serious loss for me. While there’s no way we could have afforded to buy a house any closer, and we really needed to move… being so far from all of my family isn’t easy — I know it’s necessary, but it isn’t easy. I’m very glad they all have each other so if they need something someone will be there to help. And, thankfully, our move makes it easier for everyone in the family to take trips to the beach — so at least they get something positive out of it.

I know that this is all actually a huge blessing. As hard as it is, I know that we’re where we are supposed to be… I just need to catch my breath and get settled in… I’m not going to just stop missing everyone, but I’ll get used to being a couple hours away – I know I will. I won’t feel so much like I’m on the verge of tears forever. The rest of this week will be spent unpacking (I can’t wait to have all my books back on their shelves!) and meeting people in our new town. The people who live here are very friendly and we have plenty of opportunities to get involved in the community as we get settled. I have the number of the local hospice so I can get ahold of the volunteer coordinator and find out how to sign up, and our little parish has plenty of opportunities for us to serve. Thursdays the ladies have a Circle of Caring where they get together and work on knitting/quilting etc. for those in need, so that will be a good place to meet everyone. There’s a writers group nearby that The Philosopher and I will probably get involved with in time, and there’s a support group for people dealing with the after effects of brain injury for The Professor if he wants to go. I know that all will be well…

It’s just hard… change is hard…

No matter how logical and positive a new situation is, there’s no way around the difficulties of dealing with the stress of change. It’s a big part of being human, and it’s not comfortable — tears, anger, emotional distress, physical pain — these are all normal responses to the changes that happen in our lives. Learning to live there in that discomfort — to be comfortable in the tension of change and be still within it — that’s where we learn to Trust in the goodness of the God who loves us.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

So that’s where I am… sitting still in the pain and chaos of change… knowing that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (St. Julian of Norwich) We are all just living one day at a time — putting one foot in front of the other — we’re all looking up at these same stars in awe and trusting that our unique smallness is loved within all the vastness of the galaxies…

Change is inevitable — and it is the potential for change that is really Time’s gift to us… we are ever changing from glory to glory in this journey of Faith. Whatever is – is passing… that includes the hard things we think we won’t live through. Knowing this is my comfort now.

I am grateful…

  1. Pictures of The Professor on the beach…
  2. Family hugs…
  3. Singing in the car with The Philosopher…
  4. Little Boy and Little One splashing in the hotel pool…
  5. Sister and Little Boy finding sea glass on her birthday trip…
  6. Beach walks…
  7. Walking out of service to the sun setting into the ocean…
  8. a real home of our own…
  9. Taking Papa and Grandma to lunch in our new town…
  10. Internet hooked up today!!!!!!! (now we can be in touch with everyone)… :)

It’s all Grace.

Soft Eyes…

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I was forced to take a “down day” today.

I never made it out of my pajamas and found myself just adding layers as the day progressed: robe, favorite purple blanket – soft and snuggly – and most recently a knitted cap — one of those known as tuques in other parts of the world. I don’t think that I’m terribly ill (though the constant chill in the house seems to have seeped into my lungs the past couple of days), but I’m definitely not “well”. It’s a little nerve-wracking to have cold, heavy lungs, when there’s such a bad flu outbreak going on right now… but I don’t really have much of a cough, and there’s no fever of any kind… I’m sure this is just the result of being chilled for too long, plus the fact that I only had a few hours of broken sleep last night, and a dash of being a bit overwhelmed with life and emotions right now — I suppose I should be surprised that illness hasn’t hit me harder. After a good night’s sleep hopefully I’ll be more myself and ready to tackle all the things that need to be done. We have movers coming in about a week…

The nice part of being forced into a “down day” is it means I can’t do much more than read – no matter how much I feel like I have to be doing something else. “Oh darn,” she said with a sarcastic twinkle in her eye. :) I’m reading a book called Books For Living right now by Will Schwalbe which has already added a variety of books to my “To Be Read” list.  I discovered that CloudLibrary had it and jumped at the chance to check it out since I’ve been wanting to read it for quite awhile. Will’s book The End Of Your Life Book Club was a really wonderful read about his relationship with his mother and the books they read together during her treatment for cancer — a book about love, caregiving, mourning, and the joy that comes from sharing the reality of a good book with someone else. As soon as I learned about Books For Living I knew I had to read it — it just took me awhile to get my hands on it (if you can consider an “ebook” having it in my hands).  So far I want to own a copy of this one as much as I wish I had a copy of The End Of Your Life Book Club. 

Days like today are nice for awhile, but by the time the sun goes down the fun is pretty much over and I’m just tired of feeling sick and tired. My health history has created a mental situation that leaves me with little patience for my body’s need to recover. I know that I should be more compassionate — patience with myself is important too — but instead of responding to my own illness like I do to everyone else’s, my knee-jerk response is one of frustration and disgust… not conducive to healing that’s for sure. It isn’t exactly a good example for my boys either — with their health struggles, they need to be given an example of compassion and patience with physical bodies as they try to heal — it takes time… sometimes longer than others (as they are learning, unfortunately). You can’t force yourself into wellness — it takes time and gentle care to heal…

Gentleness, kindness, compassion… these are major building blocks in the wellbeing of our bodies and souls — even if we rarely realize their importance. We’re all moving so quickly past each other on our life paths its easy to miss the sustenance that our souls need which we can only get from each other. You cannot experience them alone — and we do not instinctively know how to share them well either — you have to learn to be gentle… learn kindness and compassion — these skills do not appear out of the aether, magically bestowed on us like some kind of human genetic trait. I can be born with blue eyes — I am not born knowing how to look at you with “soft eyes” as my hospice teammates would say.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Seeing other people — or ourselves for that matter — with soft eyes is a skill that takes time to develop. It begins when our mamas remind us over and over to have “soft hands” or “gentle hands” when we first pet an animal or touch a sibling — often taking our hands and showing us how to touch softly. We continue to learn how to be compassionate as our empathy skills increase — this seems to come easier for some than for others (empathy has always been an intense part of my life — this is something I didn’t need to learn as much as I needed to learn how to handle it). If we don’t learn these lessons well then we find something seriously lacking in the experience of our humanity. We might not be born knowing how to give gentleness, kindness, or compassion, but we do not thrive without them, and we cannot become completely human/humane without them either. We might not be able to describe these gifts well, but we instantly feel inhumanity present when they are missing.

In the 21st century there seems to be a sad epidemic of a lack of compassion – for ourselves and everyone around us – especially those we consider “different” from us in any way. The empath in me could come to tears thinking about this… It is so sad — for those who need our compassion, and for us — because we have a real need to be compassionate. Our souls cannot be healthy without being kind — we become twisted inside, blind to the good we can do in this world, fearful of “others” and what they “might do” to us, and we become hard — insensitive to feeling moved by poetry and song, unable to hear the whisper of God’s voice.

If someone asks you, “What happened to the world that brought us to this point?” just tell them — we’ve forgotten to teach compassion… We were so busy progressing our technology and competing with each other (in everything from whose child walked and talked first, to who has the biggest investment portfolio), we forgot to remember what makes us human. It doesn’t take much to figure out how a lack of compassion has impacted everything from homelessness to drug addiction to civic policies. Unfortunately, we don’t even have the vocabulary to speak to each other about the problems anymore… we no longer have conversations – whether in the public square or on Facebook walls – we have confrontations and debates. No one listens… there are no soft eyes surfing the internet… 

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I still have a long way to go in learning how to look in the mirror with soft eyes — being patient and compassionate with myself is probably going to be a lifelong lesson… So tonight when I’m curled under the covers with my hot tea, robe, and tuque, I’m going to focus on being patient with this body of mine as it’s trying to handle everything life has thrown at it lately. It’s been through so much already and as I begin the last couple months of my 38th year, I’m thankful this body has carried me this far…

God-willing, I’ll have many more years to learn how to give it the kindness I try to give everyone else.

I am grateful…

  1. my hubby bringing me hot tea at 4 in the morning…
  2. old robes…
  3. pajamas…
  4. homemade chicken noodle soup…
  5. books that make you think…
  6. CloudLibrary…
  7. talking about books with my sister…
  8. The Professor practicing piano…
  9. hubby hugs…
  10. learning to see with soft eyes…

It’s all Grace…