Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Joy

This has been a weekend of reconnecting with my joy.

As one who is overcoming depression and anxiety, joy is a scary, wonderful, elusive gift. When I find it, I hold it, pat it and call it George (sorry, references to classic cartoons often don't fit...when they gotta go for it!)

This weekend, as I said, I reconnected with not one, but two joys.

12 years ago we were privileged to serve a small faith community as their youth ministers. We were young, my husband and I, full of zeal and only a little wisdom. We didn't understand how not to give our full hearts, our full spirits and our full selves to those entrusted to our care. And so it was to this little, quirky, beautiful, creative bunch of young people that we became the 'youth group leaders'.
They were all unique. Each was a strong individual, finding their way. They were all principled young people, in no small part due to the strong, prayer soaked parenting they received. They were beautiful. No, really, they were all beautiful in their own ways. (Names are indicated by letters as I didn't ask their permission to blog about them.)
D, who was not only my youth group kid, but one of my students (and in reality my first 'daughter'), had eyes and a soul as deep as a river.
L, was a quiet, intense young man who had so much to share, but not yet the bravery to share it.
L and her sister A were two sides of the same coin, each unique in their own ways, yet inextricably linked.
S, D's sister, was bright and bubbly, learning how to be her bigger than life self.
M, the pastor's daughter, was finding her way under her parents wings, ready to fly on her own.
There were more. They were ours.

We saw them again this weekend. As I walked into the room, I was speechless. They were the same. They looked exactly as we had left them. Oh, some were a little rounder, as they were mommies and married now. Yet, they were still themselves underneath it all.
D's daughter, with the stunningly beautiful name Felicity, shared her mother's eyes, deep and dark with a sparkle and wisdom at only 4 months.
Sadie, spirited and always moving, was as scrumptious little elf with the perfect blend of her mom M and dad B.
I met the husbands. The long suffering ones, the quiet ones. The ones learning how to hold a baby and hold onto their wives and hold onto themselves.
I lost my breath at them.
I reconnected with the joy of knowing these young people. I reconnected with the joy of watching them take their own memorable journies. I reconnected with the joy of the sheer privilege God gave us to have a moment of these wonderful young people.
Some are local. We'll see them again. What a joy it will be to meet them as wives, husbands and parents. However, I will never cease to see them as the wonderful, awkward and uniquely funny teens I knew so long ago.
Glenn Beck is a conservative radio talk show host. He is also one of the most profound example of faith in the public square I have ever been privileged to hear, see and meet.
This weekend we went to see his show, "The Christmas Sweater". The story is too much to write, and besides, you should get the book, it will change your life.
One of the many themes was joy. In the midst of tragedy, and he experienced much, was understanding it wasn't stuff that brings joy. His mother said to him, "Son, you are my joy."
So much of my own parenting has been clouded. (You can read about it in the older posts...too much to write here.) Last night, as my five year old snored his way through the finale, I reconnected with him, who is my joy.
My sons have been both a blessing and a challenge. They have made me who I am today. They will play a role in who I will be tomorrow.
When they are challenging, screaming in a tantrum, kicking and banging, they are my joy.
When they are arguing and refusing to wear corduroy pants because they feel funny, they are my joy.
When I don't know how we will afford school, food and clothes, they are my joy.
When they are sick, on me, they are my joy.
When they eat dog food with a grin and a crunch, they are my joy.
When they crawl into my lap, exhausted by play and needing to reconnect, they are my joy.
They are my joy. It is that simple. They are my joy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

As it is the day to give thanks, here goes.

I am thankful for...

...laundry in piles all over the bedrooms, it means we have something to wear.
...dirty dishes and various plastic containers of leftovers in the kitchen, it means we have something to eat.
...unmade beds, it means we have somewhere to sleep.
...messages on phones, it means we have friends who remember us.
...children alternately annoying and filling my heart, it means they are well and healthy.
...messy crafts, it means I have made another memory with my son.
...paper turkeys adorning the table, it means I had time to cut google eyes out of construction paper.
...web cams, it means my brother can see I still haven't returned to bangs and my 80's hairstyle and how big his nephews have grown.
...fathers, it means I am not an orphan.
...boxer shorts in a pile behind the bathroom door, it means my husband is still here, still messy and still mine.
...this blog, it means I have somewhere to dump my thoughts, just for me and maybe for you.

I have never been at this place before. Unemployed. On the verge of financial crisis. Living with my dad. I should be bereft. I should be riddled with anxiety and incapacitated with worry. I should...I should...I shouldn't feel this grateful. I shouldn't be this thankful. I shouldn't want to spend this day again, so I could live every moment, every hug, every smell, every smile. I shouldn't, but I am.

I am thankful for what is and I am thankful for what will be. For with God nothing is impossible. Right now I am in the land of impossibility. Go God. And....thanks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What A Feeling

First, when there's nothing.

But a slow mooooo-vin' dreaaaam.

Cue the smoke. The sparks fly as the welder accurately welds two ginormous pipes together.

In a world made of steel...

Made of stone.

Cue drum beat. What's this? The welder is a gorgeous woman. Not only a hottie, but a driven, ambitious, young dancer.

Unfortunately my welding experience wasn't nearly as cool as Alex's in the movie Flashdance. It's not that easy. It's hard. Really, really hard.

I got dumped from my job. On the last day I decided to do all the things I have never done that my company does...or did. Get it? So that's how I ended up clad in thermo-wear, head squared by a hood, shaking with a gazillion degree torch in my hand. It turns out I am the worst welder in the history of welding. Thank goodness I am a writer instead.

I also drove a multi-million dollar vehicle. Details I have to keep out of the public, suffice it to say, it's fast, it's quiet and it's AWESOME.

These two experiences almost, almost, make up for losing the gig. Almost.

To lose financial security and health insurance all a week before the holidays. What a feeling.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bits O' Blog

"You shouldn't flick me! That's inappropriate!" incredulous, my five year old yelled this at me across the dinner table. (Lest you think his diction is as good as his vocabulary, it really sounded like this, "You s-ouldent fick me! Thass ina-poh-peeat.")

It was inappropriate. And no, I shouldn't have flicked him in the head (it was a good one with some resonance off his melon). However, I had to do something to express my frustration. Frustration I felt at the dining room carpet being painted pink with strawberry applesauce. Painted pink because he, for the millionth time, wasn't sitting straight at the table and knocked it down.

I know. In the grand scheme of things spilled sauce ain't so big a deal.

I fell in love. I fell in love with a bunch of messy, loud and very energetic ankle biters. Surprisingly, I fell in love with my Sunday School class.

It's a surprise because little kids give me the hives. I taught high school because the thought of being locked in a room with 20 smelly, talkative, busy, whiny little humans gave me anxiety attacks. Give me an attitudinal adolescent anytime.

So when church had opportunities to serve my husband and I signed up. I thought I could teach my eldest son's class every coupla weeks. Ron would help once a month for special Jubilee Sunday.

My first class was exhausting. I have 4 years old through to kindergarten. There is one child in each developmental and age level. They are intimidating. They are honest. "Is this story over yet?" They are messy. "Wook, I got glue in my hair!" They are bossy. "Give me the purple scissors!". And now they are mine.

I actually am a little bummed I don't have to teach until December. How did that happen?

The election is mercifully over. The battle for the soul of America is only beginning. Why am I already tired?

Why did the networks get rid of the blue swish to follow the hockey puck during NHL games? It made it almost bearable for me to watch. Now I have even less of an idea what's going on and I didn't have much to begin with.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Dawn of A New Day

I stole the title for this blog from my brother's blog. Is it blog-pilfer? Sorry, Mischka.

It is the dawn of a new day. There has been a 'historic', 'one for ages', 'ground breaking' election. For the first time in history, a black man holds the highest office in the land. The next leader of the free world will be very brown.

Since the end of slavery, since the passing of the voting rights act, there has been a struggle for identity for black americans. How can they truly be american if their ancestors were forced to come here in chains? Is this really their country?

For the first time, they can say it is. I wonder what those who have made it their business to trumpet the cause of the oppressed (and make loads of money and gain fame while doing it) will do now that the White House will become the Their House. We'll see. A very smart lady, who was a successful technology salesperson, once called them, "poverty pimps". They worked to end poverty while never really affecting any change and then blaming their ineffectiveness on 'the man'. Well, 'the man' is now going to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I am proud that we as a country have buried hatred and bigotry to vote for someone of a different race. I am proud we are able to move ahead.

However, will we really move ahead? It sounds like the 1960s all over again. The country is in an unpopular war (wars really). The economy is in shambles. Corporate greed has gone unfettered and indeed financed by our tax dollars. Personal responsibility has given way to "Choice" as in choice to have a baby, choice not to work or pay the mortgage on a house we really couldn't afford in the first place because the government will just give us the money.

I actually heard a woman gush as she left the polls that she never thought this day was possible. It wasn't a black man as president to which she was effusive. It was that she no longer had to worry about how to pay the mortgage or put gas in her tank because President Obama was going to take care of everything.

It is the dawn of a new day. I'm not convinced it isn't going to be raining. And raining very soon on this "Yes, we can!" parade.

As the bible says, it rains on the just and the unjust. Get your umbrellas kids and brace yourselves.