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The Good Kind of Stretch Marks

I stood in the middle of the woods with a handful of moms and  a dozen pre-teen girls. We mirrored each other in matching helmets and harnesses that circled our waists, swaddled our many-sized bottoms and finished their path around our thighs.

Always preferring to learn with my hands instead of ears, I was hoping for a short instruction time.

Fuzzy, the name of our bearded and barrel-stomached instructor, stepped forward. Instead of asking for volunteers to demonstrate as I had hoped, he began with a different kind of lesson.

“Everyone link arms and form a tight circle.”

We crossed elbows and pressed against each other’s shoulders, moving several inches into each other’s personal space, Fuzzy completed the chain.

Nervous giggles of discomfort.

“Now take a step back and drop hands.”

Ahh, a little better.

“This is what we’ll call our comfort zone. In our comfort zone we do the things that we’re most comfortable doing. Let’s go around. I’m Fuzzy, and I’m comfortable playing the piano.”

As the answers leapt around the circle, I formulated a list of my own.

My name is Aimee and I’m comfortable taking a hot bath with a wet book. I’m comfortable with four kids leaning into me, shifting their bodies into every free crevice. I’m comfortable in the library with stacks of books almost tipping out of my hands.

“Now everyone take another step back,” commanded Fuzzy.

We did and I wondered again when he was going to tell us how to climb those ropes.

“What happened when we stepped back? What happened to that chain we’d created? That’s right, we stretched it. I like to call this the stretch zone. This is the place where we do things that might seem difficult, you might be a little scared or uncertain you can do it. Why is it good to be in our stretch zone and not just stay in our comfort zone?”

One of the young girls raises her hand, “Because we might find things we really like to do and then our comfort zone will get bigger and bigger.”

“Exactly. Now everyone turn around and wave to the trees behind you.”

We waved.

“Back there is the panic zone. We don’t want to go there today. If you panic you’re going to be tempted to jump right back into your comfort zone and stay there.”

Even though I was anxious to get to the hands-on portion of this course, I wondered if I’d have the strength for the ropes. I worried that the system would be too complicated and I’d feel dumb and fail. In front of my daughter. And a pestering thought about a dislike of heights rumbled around my hard hat.

But circle time was finally over, Fuzzy was at the ropes.

Another instructor hooked my harness to the tall ropes streaming down from the top of the tree. I pushed the large knot in front of me up as high as it could go. Pushing up the knot for the foot loops, I placed my feet inside. Lifting the first knot, I stood up in the foot loops. Lifting the lower knot again, my feet were off the ground, my weight entirely resting in the harness.

Repeating the steps, I moved further into the air, a stop motion picture of a baby bird leaving the ground.

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With each foot that I moved up the ropes, my smile grew. Sally cheered and took pictures. One of girls called from below, “Go Mookie’s Mom!”

And I continued to pull myself into my stretch zone.

Finally, floating freely at twenty feet, I looked around, my smile at full capacity.

I did it!

Did I say that out loud?

“Take a picture!”

I definitely said that out loud.

Meanwhile, my daughter was 10 feet below me performing a butterfly. She had removed her feet from the loops and thrown her arms and torso backward from the harness, until her body formed the sloping wings of a butterfly in flight.

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WE did it.

My name is Aimee and I am comfortable hanging from ropes twenty feet off the ground.

Soon after that I started to think about what would happen if I fell. What equipment would have to break to cause my fall, and what on my body might break if the fall occurred? I heard the rope fibers rubbing against each other with the tension. I felt my weight against the harness.

I waved to my panic zone.

And I said I was ready to come down.

But the stretch zone had already served it’s purpose and it became a repeated metaphor for the rest of camp. As another mom and I walked across the pitch black field to get to the bathrooms, we both agreed we were in our stretch zone then. As I pulled a tick from one of our girls, I knew beyond a doubt that the whole weekend had been one big stretch zone.

Back home I read an email from my best friend about her tough mothering week, one that ended in tears. As I typed I noticed the cuts and burns the ropes had left on my hands. I thought of my friend struggling and of myself at the highest point on those ropes. I realized from the moment my first child became flesh in my arms parenting had also been one huge stretch zone.

Ten years later mamahood spreads itself across all three zones.

I’m comfortable with dirty diapers, occasional stomach viruses, feeding and clothing and laundry, going to the bathroom with a toddler always present, teaching a child to read and add numbers, hugging and comforting. But in the beginning, any of those could take me to my panic zone.

On the ropes course I made the choice to leave my comfort zone, but in parenting the choice was made at the very beginning. Since then I’ve just tried to hold onto the knots. I’m stretched when my children are fighting and hurting each other for the fifth time that day, and when a child needs me and I can’t meet her needs in the moment.  The fibers of my heart rub against one another when my child has made a mistake and I can’t see which path will grow her character, should it be mercy or a consequence? In those moments I can’t call Fuzzy over to grab the rope, it’s either stretch or panic.

Sometimes, mercifully, I get to whisper, “I did it” and I’d really like someone to take my picture.

I also regularly land in the panic zone, usually when I’ve looked from the ground and can only see the path of my own failings. I panic when my daughter is distressed and my mind only calls up foolish, trite answers. I panic when I realize they’ll have to hurt sometimes to grow. I panic when I realize I can’t protect them. Mostly I panic when I look around at the other moms who look like they never question if they’ll reach the top of the ropes.

Usually the dividing line between stretch and panic happens when I look up. Do I see a mistake that I could make that would break me and my child, or do I fling my arms and legs out into a butterfly because my whole family is tethered to One who is going to keep holding us with each of my mistakes and successes. Do I look up and see how much bigger He is than me?

My comfort zone has expanded as a mama. And for it to grow further, I’m going to have to dangle in my harness and so are my kids.

Because even if I did have the choice, I’d definitely choose the stretch zone instead of keeping my feet on the ground.

 

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In the Making Of

I haven’t checked to see when I last posted something, my guess is that it’s been about a month.  It wasn’t a carefully considered decision, I just stopped writing.  And I haven’t once thought about sitting down to write a new post. Until this one.

Up until now this blog has been a place to work out my heart-thoughts into words and I usually find myself coming to peace with the inner turbulence inside as the words also find a pattern, a winding journey.  It’s also been a place to share joyful family moments and harrowing parenting perplexities. Often it’s just been a conversation between me and my friend. Calling me out a night or two a week to sit at starbucks to face the challenge of the blank screen, it’s been writing practice as well.

So why am I suddenly without a drop of compulsion to grab a tea latte and hen and peck out the making of my abundant life?

I find that blogging, for all of the many things I said above, also splits me in the moment of living my life. My brain registers, “This would be a good topic for my blog” and therein blog lines take shape in my head, even as I’m still in the making of. Right now I need to stay in it.  Instead of moving so quickly to the process and production stage that blogging moves me toward.  And finally, I need to stay in my house, instead of outside of it, writing about it. There’s too much happening in that 7-9 hour that I don’t want to miss right now.

I can call it a season.  It might be two weeks.  It might be 6 months.  This might be my last blog post.

Whether you write about your life on a blog, or follow other people’s lives in your reader, take the time to feel your life-the joy, the pain, the reasons to praise, the blessings filling up your arms and bouncing on you when you try to rest, and all that’s in between.  It’s all happening now.  Words, even very well-written ones, are still second hand knowledge to the real thing. Both are gifts that I treasure.

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All in the Timing

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“The right word at the right time is like golden apples in silver jewelry.”

My eight year old read this verse aloud from her study of proverbs.

The right word.  At the right time.

I remember hearing a similiar sentiment at a marriage conference many years bag and it occurred to me then that to begin a serious talk about a potentially flammable subject with my husband at 11:30 at night, when he was dead tired, lacked wisdom.  To be sure, he would enter dreamland peacefully while I stewed into the wee hours of the morning.  It was not a time of the day that his heart was open or my heart was listening.

Having scaled back considerably on the witching hour debates, I still foolishly, anxiously, impatiently dribble words out of my mouth at the absolute wrong time.

Often it’s not only the timing, it’s the actual words themselves that sail loosely without an anchor.

I’d like to be so much more careful, stingy, with my words.  I pour them out like expired milk, stinking up the place with advice that’s not asked for, complaints or criticism instead of praise, venting that borders on gossip, nagging that makes even me tired of myself.

I’d like to say less and make each word a small sapphire of truth or one sentence a string of pearls bound with encouragement and praise.

And I’d like to know how to hold those pearls patiently until the table is set and the candles lit, rather the burst in when everyone’s bustling around and stressed out over cleaning the house.

Tonight our 10 year old read her chosen proverb of the day,

“…When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.”

Now that’s a word worth speaking.

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The Surprising Gift

I stood at the sink rinsing dishes from lunch.  Behind me the kids were working on school, a simple project that I had not thought of specifically as an art project.  But an hour later they were still drawing, detailing and eventually I had to stop them so we could move on to the next assignment.

Jokingly I said, “You guys have to stop liking art so much.”

Mookie, our ten year old, shot back, “Mommy, that would be like telling us we have to stop eating!”

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She’s mostly serious.  And my delight at this shared passion in our family re-forms itself into thankfulness.

I’ve been noticing the gift of enjoying each other’s company this week. On sunday we were piled in the church service, not like individual dominoes, but more like 5 that had already been tipped with a finger(the baby was in her class, hence, the five). Mr. Darcy and I squished together with a Jellybean leaning on one side of me, a drummer boy piled onto Mr. Darcy lap, and Mookie reaching around her dad to hold my hand.

I’m not trying to create this ingratiatingly sweet picture of perfect family love. The moment came at the end of the week that included yelling(me), crying(some of them), sickness, a baby’s new skill at screaming, and the general challenges that come with six sinful people under one roof. Even as I write this I can hear Mr. Darcy working out a problem amongst the older three, with serious protest from the 8 year old. Which confirms my suspicion that the love that binds our family together has little to do with a problem free life or perfect parenting(as if either even existed).

Regardless of the daily challenges, it seems we really like each other. The kids get me all day and still they complain when I leave the house for an errand or coffee in the evening. On the days that doesn’t drive me crazy, I’m floored that they actually want to spend more time with me.

I think the biggest attributes to this gift have nothing to do with anything we’ve done to earn it. I see God’s hand of design in this thing called family and in the individuals who compose it. And I see His Holy Spirit constantly at work to bring forgiveness and acceptance.

From our end I hope they also feel their own value in our larger group of six. Seriously loved and secure even on the days that go wrong, wrong, wrong.

And this week, like the comment from my daughter at the top, I’ve noticed shared experiences and passions drawing us together.

Usually within a day or two you’ll find us:

Working on an art project(while Mr. Darcy is at work doing his own graphic design art).

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Reading, Reading, Reading. Mama reading to kids for school. Kids reading on their own during rest time. Drummer boy reading to us so that he can read on his own. And the baby walking around demanding books to be read that very moment.

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Inventing stories. Mama writing them, kids writing and telling them.

Delving into history(which has not always been a shared joy by yours truly, so I suppose we’ve also influenced each other). That’s right, the kids always call for another round of whatever chapter book we’re reading in history, but we’re now that family that watches Documentaries for fun.

Sharing God’s word in the evening. The girls sharing their proverbs study. The boy sharing his devotional. Dad sharing a good missionary read aloud.

I didn’t imagine what my family might be like when I had one of my own. But I don’t think I would have dared to imagine this gift.

This is love made up of holding hands, kisses from the boy, “Oh please stay!” from his sister, “Mommy!” our littlest one names me and rubs my face, and the pans of hot water added to my bath each night from Mr. Darcy.

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The S Word

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(The following story was told by my pastor from first person point of view, his daughter’s name has been changed)

I can still picture my grown daughters when they were just knee high.  Looking upon their sweet, sweet faces, I delighted in them 99 percent of the time.  This one night, something different was going on in our house.  Our then two foot, 35 pound little girl had a steak run through her.

My wife called, “Ellie, go put your pink nightgown on.”

Sweet angelic girl, “No.”

Again my wife said, “Go put your pink nightgown on.”

Sweet, angelic girl, “No!”

From the other room, I could her the no’s building to crescendo.

“I don’t want to where my pink nightgown!”

If she had asked, “Can I please where my purple one?” Or Cinderalla, or any other nightgown, we might have relented.

But with the “No!”, all other possibilities evaporated.  This was a battle, she was wearing that pink nightgown.

The “No’s” had now turned into one long wail and I knew it was time.  Daddy needed to step in.

I walked up to my very small and determined daughter and I began to hum a hymn.  As a hummed, I firmly took my little girl in my arms and proceeded to put the nightgown over her head. I pushed and hummed, she pulled and yanked and reached new notes.

As her red, sweating, tear-streaked face emerged through the pink satin nightgown it was like she was being born all over again.

I was still humming, louder now.  Finally, nightgown on, she pulled away from me, backed against the wall, began stomping her feet and yelled, “I don’t want to where my pink nightgown!”

After that, the Daddy fell down onto his knees and starting praying in front of his daughter, for his daughter, and she was so shocked by the pecular behavior of her father, that she stopped crying and eventually, she did sleep in that pink nightgown.

But it’s the image of her face emerging through the nightgown, fighting, resisting the whole time, that’s remained with me all morning.

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I can easily picture it, since our little two year old has taken to screaming so loudly that her whole body shakes. And I can picture seeing her face just after being born, a similiar look on her face.  Until she pressed against my skin, safe, submissive, contented.

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What the pastor was really getting to was our own hearts that hold a pocket of resistance to submitting to the Lord.  The S word. My resistance doesn’t look quite like my daughter’s fit, but it might to the Lord.  There is less screaming, and more silence.  As I occupy my heart with other things, as I fill it up with lesser things.  Right now there is one specific area that I’m standing with my feet planted, determined, shaking my head “no”.   Thinking, in time, God will finally see it my way.

I’ve also known those sweet moments when, tired and yielding, the resistance is finally over.  When I move into His love, safe, submissive, contented.

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100 Days of Practical Wisdom

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I’ve particularly avoiding reading any posts that start or end with the word Resolutions.  The whole idea leaves me slightly nauseous as I think back to an excerpt from my 5th grade diary.

“Exercise.  Diet.  Lose Weight.”

I was not overweight and I was only 9.

Since finding that excerpt, the whole ritual seems to me it could be equally titled, “Things That I feel Guilty About.  Huge Goals That Will Make Me Feel Like a Failure in a Few Weeks.”  Or, “Things I Think I Should Change Because That’s What My Best Friend is Doing or What the Magazine Article Said.”

Does that mean I should rebel against any changes at all, out of my annoyance at resolutions?

In my pastor’s exhortation for the New Year, he suggested(strongly) that some of the struggles each of us were dealing with might not have a giant, spiritual answer that begins with “Thou art burdened unto death” or some similiar sentiment.  He went on to say that a person might need to sleep 8 hours, eat better food, create and apply a budget.  Not the most popular advice that he gives out in counseling, he admitted.

“But, Pastor, that’s not very spiritual.  I want God to do something great.”

“He will, when you carry out some of the very practical wisdom He placed in his Word.”

Around that same time we chose Proverbs as the next book of study for our children’s daily quiet time.  Five chapters in, we’ve all gotten the theme wonderfully.  “Don’t turn away from God’s wisdom.  Don’t walk in the way of the wicked.  Apply his wisdom everyday.”

When daily issues come up with disrespect, or for a completely hypothetical example, when one sticks staples into one’s mouth, we’ve turned them right back to their verses from the day.  “Did you apply your parent’s wisdom? The Lord and your parents don’t give you wisdom so that you can have a big list of rules to follow.  We want to keep you safe.  We want to give you what’s best. The Lord disciplines those He loves.”

I’ve begun working on a few daily habits, and thinking about a few others.  If I’m trying to make new habits, is that the same thing as those old, guilt rendering new year’s resolutions?  I’m sure they could be, but habits brings out something different in the undertaking.  It doesn’t feel like a giant lunge that will end in a crash.  It’s smaller, it’s daily, it’s forgiving, it’s getting back to the habit again the next day.  It’s an act that will carry out the practical wisdom in my own, personal walk with the Lord.  It’s individual.  It’s based not on guilt, but hope for what life the new habits will bring.

I found myself attracted to the idea of recording these habits when I saw Ann Voskamp’s 100 day Calender.  The same 3 habits recorded and checked off for 100 days.  A habit started, a habit kept.  I’m expecting to leave some boxes unchecked, but just keep going the next day, looking back encouraged by the days before.

Here’s my list.

1)Creative Writing

My blog is most certainly an outlet, but if I were honest with myself, I really want to write a novel, some plays, some stories for my kids.  My friend doesn’t know yet (but this seems like a good way to tell her now) that we’re going to start spending 10 minutes a day writing creatively.  Sending each other prompts, sharing our writing for accountability and inspirations, but not for the sake of criticism or reaching a product.  Practically speaking, if I hope to write any of the projects above, I have to, well, start.

2)Quiet devotion

We pray together as  family, we listen to the girls share their proverbs at night, I read my son’s daily devotion.  My own prayers are caught on the wind as I go about consuming daily tasks.  I’m sure their heard by the Lord amidst the yelling, the school books, the cries for lunch.  But nothing about my spirit is quiet in those times.  I’m hoping for a habit of being still(without a novel with my hands).  Practically speaking, if I want to quiet with the Lord, I have to, well, stop.  Everything.

3)Exer-I mean, 20 Minutes to Get Fit

It was incredibly hard to admit this was on my list after all my complaining up above.  Forever, exercise has been a means to eating.  Like going out the next day after a food hangover to fix my mistake.  I tell the kids it’s about being healthy, but secretly it’s meant being thin.  Last month the Lord gave me the gift of a new habit of sleep.  And now He’s working powerfully in the nighttime eating habits that accompanied my lack of sleep.  I wake up rested.  I wake up, on most days, without the shame of my nocturmal eating actvities.  Now I’ve been grabbing twenty minutes in my room with an exercise routine.  I feel stronger. Literally, measurably, stronger. I’ve gone from one pitful push up to almost 5. Practically speaking, if I want my kids to value moving their bodies, I have to do it myself, daily.

While resolutions always felt connected to the expectations of the world, these habits, in their best form, feel more like an extension of prayer. Practically, speaking.

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Measuring the Distance

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Here in the land of blogs, most writers have taken a keen look at the past year, reconciled gains and losses, and even named the new year.

Turning to my own retired year of abundant life(always in the making) has been a slower process for this mama.

I’ve had a serious case of memory loss, the last year appearing as an over-exposed photo, areas in the image too dark or white to make out the details.

I flipped back through these blog pages, surprised to find that I had provided myself with a record, the developer fluid doing it’s job, the truer image revealed.

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It began with the the dark winter, endless in it’s persistance.  Dark in the skies, and dark in the helplessness I felt toward my friends and family who were hurting.  Shadows merging to a deep twilight as my heart hardened against acceptance.

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Emerging into spring, finally thin patches of  light broke through to my heart as the Lord opened it to obedience. Now the path was dim but passable.

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Summer arrived and even though it excluded frequent trips to the pool, the light unfurled itself as responsibilities lifted.

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Autumn brought new reasons to cry out for help, but also the sorrowfully, sweet echo carried over from our lessons of obedience.  An echo that ripples outward, a headlight.

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He called us through the holiday months to find joy in the simple-in food, in the faces that sit at our table, in mercy.

Winter arrives today as a cloak between me and that great, glowing ball in the sky that I love and fear hovers as I remember back to last winter.

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Looking back, I can see the distance from last winter to the end of this day. Measured in months on a calender it seems ordinary. Measured by the miles traversed in my  heart, it’s countless.

And that’s something.

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One Moment In Between the Have-To’s and the Gotta’s

Many of our preparations for Christmas this year were waylaid until the final moments. Some things got put off for unavoidable reasons, some because of my own inner struggle about how Christmas should look for our family this year, and some purely because my husband and I are procrastinators(that’s with a capitol P).

Christmas Eve arrived and this mental list presented itself when I awoke:

  • Finish painting ornaments(they had to be dry and sealed and wrapped by 2pm).
  • Make Christmas Dinner ahead of time(ahem, that’s make crepes, the insides, the sauce, etc).
  • Finish(begin) handmade presents for the children.
  • Wrap all of the presents.
  • Help the boy make presents for his sisters.
  • Spend time writing letters to Jesus as a family.
  • Get to Grandma’s on time.
  • Open a Christmas Eve present.
  • I should add in -feed all of the children and take care of their needs, and clean the house!

It was a day filled with have-to’s and gotta’s, when my heart longed for peace and chance to quietly think about the gift I was receiving from the Lord the next day.

By 9:30pm, we still had kids up, still checking off the mental list.  Letters to Jesus had already been pushed to the next day and opening our Christmas Eve gift, a family tradition, had slid right over to the “gotta” list so that we could get the kids to bed and get on with the projects.

This tradition came right out of my own childhood and the kids have looked forward to opening new slippers and pajamas each year.  This time they didn’t need either of those and we had warned them earlier in the week that the gifts were going to be a bit different.  “You’re going to get a gift that you can give away.”  Puzzlement, a little grumpiness.

Finally we gathered around the tree that night and their little brother handed out thin tissue wrapped packages I’d hidden in the tree.  They opened them and this is what they saw.

eve“What is it?”

“Ten dollars for what?”

“Ten dollars for you to choose something from this catalog to help people struggling in Asia, ” Mr. Darcy replied.

We opened the Gospel for Asia catalog and looked at the choices.

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“We can send Bibles.”

“Is anyone getting a mosquito net?”

“What’s malaria Daddy?”

“We could get a camel!” That comment was from Mr. Darcy, who is a little camel happy.

“I told him he can’t keep for himself,” I warned the kids.

Everyone took about 15 minutes to decide and they smiled the entire time.

And for the forty dollars we didn’t spend getting a second set of pajamas, we purchased:

3 Bibles
16 New Testaments
1 Blanket
1 Mosquito Net
1 child sent to VBS
800 Gospel Tracks

The children were floored that we could do all of that with the money usually spent of Christmas Eve gifts.  Over and over again, “I can’t believe it, ”  and then they would read the list out loud again.

“That’s 822 people who are going to get something because we did this.”

“That’s right and we can pray for each of the people who are going to receive something.”

It was a “have to” task on my list that turned into my favorite moment of our Christmas.

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Special Feature: Behind The Abundant Life

Around the time I named this blog, a slow motion epiphany was unraveling my heart.  The Abundant Life I dwelt in and spent each day In the Making Of was getting a good cut and paste job with the help of two things- joy and pain.  An unrelenting collage.  In my better moments, I’m thankful for that time when I was made aware of their co-existence.  It wasn’t that I had overlooked pain before, it was the joy I had trouble recognizing.

I had enough circumstances of my own falling toward this revelation but I also watched The Making Of in those around me. When you’re pregnant, flat-bellied women recede into a hazy background while fellow Women Growing Life stand out like chocolate truffles amongst gingersnaps.  In a similar way, when you’re hurting, intuition opens a new eye and ear, picking up on the echoed pain of others.

My hurting heart turned toward:

Christmas Eve Service at church, the lights dim, candles the only relief in the darkness when my eyes caught the nearby movement of a friend.  Hey body swayed with the worship or else a music I couldn’t hear between her and the amazing new sweetness of a boy in her arms.  In the weeks prior to his birth I knew she wasn’t putting her feet up and lapsing into daydreams of the nearby future.  She’d been too steeped in every moment of her  husband’s treatments, treatments that had extended into a year, now two.   She was moving through death’s shadow while carrying life.  That night she was close to me in the candlelight and I could see the awe that softened and heated every inch of her as babe and mama held each other. There was no question her heart was filled-simultaneously with joy and pain.  Her heart was tangible because my heart mirrored it.

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In other moments, when the joy isn’t so clearly, dramatically defined, the pain obscures my heart beyond recognition.  Have you been on the other side of the nurse holding the chart with numbers 1-10 and happy-turned-sad faces? “What’s your pain level, honey?” I’ve been asked in a polite, tired voice after birthing a tiny human from my nether parts.

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If we’re evaluating recent life pain, I guess my answer depends on who’s holding the chart.  Does the friend or acquaintance at church really want to know or is it a pat-

#2 with a smile, “I’m fine, we’re moving along.”

or  a #3 with a smaller smile and a sigh, “We’re hanging in there.”

Who really wants to see the shoulders collapse, the silent attempts to find the #3 smile before giving in completely to the truth,

“Number 10! Full Code Red Pain here!”

Those number ten moments (day, weeks, months?) can knock out my view of joy like candles snuffed out in the already dim room.

I know the Lord isn’t leaving me, His hand is deep in, and even, I tell myself, working goodness. But I still can’t help asking myself and finally Him, “What in the world am I going to do with this pain?”.

Here’s how I answered myself (I’m still listening for His answer):

I ‘ll remember that while there is pain, there is also beauty here. I’ll get out my canvas and paint, brushes deep and reaching and when that one canvas isn’t enough, I’ll get the economy size.  And when the cracks between the canvas leave too much darkness seeping through, I’ll dip my hands in further and move to the ceiling, the floors, faces.  And when the beauty keeps breaking, could I ever stop painting over the hurt?

Forget the paint that only smears, my brush will coat the frame with words.  Endless stories and I will bathe in the books and the words louder than my thoughts and I will line my life with the pages until. The words will no longer sound like words and my excellerated heart beat will cancel the lulling, concealing rhythm. And when the power of the story to distract and make believe loses it’s strength,

What will I do with the  pain then?

When  it passes any threshhold I have known
and yet still I’m at it’s bedside
and I am the comoforter, not the comforted?

I’ll remember that I’m just staying here a while.

There is a home ahead of me that has more beauty than my brush can ever clumsily create, filled with words breathed that will never lose their power, and I will know joy not attained through grief. But given. Freely.

For now my threshhold is adjusting , a little deeper for pain, a little wider for joy.

Today I noticed:

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My little one, feet on her sisters feet, dancing by the tree.

An 8 year old, roaming through worlds, eyelashes 18 miles long, smile gi-normous and warm, like holding a new cup of  hot chocolate in both hands.

The gift of sleep when I hadn’t asked for it or had it deeply in a long time.

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If You Give a Girl a Problem…

house-beautiful-bedroom

If you give a girl a life-altering problem, she might decide it’s the perfect time to redecorate her bedroom.

If she redecorates her bedroom, she might find a copy of Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, Book 7 under the bed.

If she finds Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, Book 7, she might decide she absolutely must reread the entire series.

After she rereads the entire series in 4 days, she might wander back into her partially re-organized bedroom.

When that project overwhelms her, she’ll probably search for hours through Netflix Instant Play instead.

As she scrolls through the choices, she might find an entire tv series about Extreme Bass Fishing to watch for the next week.

If she watches five episodes a night, she’ll probably need to purchase an enduring stash of chocolate.

When the chocolate and Netflix run out, she might remember she has a problem to face.

When she remembers the problem, she might also remember the kitchen could use a new paint color.

Halfway through painting the kitchen eggplant purple, she might realize the problem isn’t going away.

(Why do I always think that organizing everything outside of my heart will bring peace and order to the chaos and hurt that dwells on the inside?)

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