Friday, April 30, 2010

An Early Mother's Day Message

Sometimes I just want my mom. Which is totally ironic, because the thing I want my mom for most, is comfort. And I wouldn't necessarily categorize my mom in the "gentle, nurturing, and comforting" category. Matter of fact, if someone was to play my mom in a movie of her (or mine, for that matter) life, it would be a cross between Roseanne Barr and Susan Sarandon. Susan Sarandon pulls off the vodka swilling, pill popping, devil may care, worldly sophistication like no one else can, and Roseanne, well, let's just say it's a given, DUR. Sidenote: My mom will probably read this, and be royally pissed off at me for two months, but whatever mom, I'm a big girl, I do what I want, and I'm not saying anything that's not true so get over yourself and move on. BTW - I love you just way you are.

My point is this: Sometimes I just want to be comforted, in that head in the lap, hair stroked, don't worry baby, it's gonna be okay kinda way that we associate only with our mom's. But because my mom is neither that kinda gal, and because she lives thousands of miles away, it just never happens and I am left feeling sadly hollow. This is never something that really occured for me growing up either, so where I got this picture of motherly comfort from is beyond me. But as an adult, I have not outgrown the need to just be comforted in a kind and gentle, reassuring way sometimes.

I say that I have no idea where this need for comfort has come from, and in all honesty, I know that's not true. I think we all have this need deep down inside somewhere. Even the strongest, toughest, most independant, motorcycle riding burly guys love their moms and have the tats to prove it. As human beings, we are fragile, emotionally and physically, and the need for comfort is a way of hearing that our inherent fragility is well, ok. Whether that's from our mom's, or just in general, comfort and reassurance is something that at one time or another we all have needed, whether we can identify it or not.

In a way, it's awe inspiring to think of our own fragility. We are not tough creatures, invincible, all powerful and godlike. And though we are made in the image of God and do, to some limited extent, have strength, we are still just fragile, vulnerable creation. As Shakespeare's character Shylock asked in the Merchant of Venice "If you prick us, do we not bleed?If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,do we not die?" Yeah, we're kinda weak like that. And that's something I'm okay with. Just as I enjoy being a woman, for all the reasons that I'm not a man (softer skin, softer hair, the ability to bear children, emotional acuity, breasts), I enjoy being weak for all the reasons that I'm not strong. I like to know that I need a Savior, someone who died for me, because I could never do this life on my own. Someone that will take care of me, protect me, love me, nurture me, be my Guardian, my Hero. I am okay with being weak, because in it, I can receive comfort, both earthly, and from the only One who can truly offer it perfectly and wholly - my wonderful Father God - and that feels really, really good.

Anyways, lately, as I'm going through this life in such raw state of emotional fragility and open, apparent vulnerability, the thing I'm craving most is just to lay my head in my mom's lap, have her rub my hair and coo that she loves me and it's going to be ok. It may be only partially true, but I just want to hear it. I'm without a home, without a job, without a plan, and right now, without my mom. It kinda hurts sometimes. So what I want to say is this - Wherever you are out there mom, know that for all your faults, your occasional lack of sensitivity, the way you never listen to me on the phone and your general quirkiness, I really do love you, and am glad that you're my mom. I wouldn't trade you for any other model. You've helped shape me into the resilient, sarcastic, tough as nails fighter that I am, and for that I'm grateful. You've also shown me the importance of being a comforter, being someone who offers reassurance and sensitivity to others. You've watched football with me, taught me how to cook, made me laugh, definitely made me cry, and most of all, made me really proud to be your daughter.

Happy Mother's Day Cathie. I love you. Now get back to your nap.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Birthday To You.... Whoever You Are.

Have you ever been out at a store, and seen something, and just known it was PERFECT for someone, and you had to get it, because eventually it was gonna be their birthday, and you could have an excuse to give it to them?

That was me last night, at Barnes & Noble. I'm there to pick up a book about quilting, so I can actually try and be good at it, and as I'm walking to the check out, a book caught my eye. As soon as I saw the title, I just knew it was for this one specific person. And so I bought it, because, like I said, eventually they'll have a birthday, and I'll have an excuse to just give it to them.

Now, I'm not in favor of holding off on gift giving. Heck, I'm all for gift giving year round. We don't need to wait for Christmas or Birthdays to show people we're thinking about them, or to bless them. But sometimes, as in this case, it might be a little awkward to give someone something out of the blue, so a birthday's as good as an excuse as any. And not that I buy into this load of Christianese, but if I had to say what my "Love Language" is (the one I give, not receive) it's gifts. I LOVE getting gifts for people (btw, receiving.... it's touch. Definitely touch). Finding presents that are picture-perfect for my friends and that are representations of their personality brings me great enjoyment. It doesn't have to be big, sometimes it's as little as a card, or a magnet. It really IS the thought that counts.

So this morning when I woke up, and I looked inside my Barnes & Noble bag to pull out my new quilting book, I saw the book, and I inscribed the first page with a little note that conveys the message of "I thought this book was PERFECT for you.". That way if I get hit by a bus and die today, I'll know there's a good chance that this person will get their birthday present, albeit a little early. And that brings me great joy. Well, not the getting hit by a bus and dying part, but you know what I mean.

So, my challenge to you all today is this - think about the last time you just showed someone they are your friend and/or mean something to you, in a way that is out of the ordinary and meaningful. I'm not talking the rudimentary, compulsory pat on the shoulder and "Hey honey, I'm thankful for you" affirmation. I'm talking really thinking about how we show the people around us that we're truly thankful they're in our lives. Think about the last time someone told or showed you that you're special to them, and then remember how it made you feel. I may sound like the Happy Hippie here, but wouldn't the world be a nicer place to live if we all did that for each other a little more often? I'm pretty sure hearing "hey, you're special" today would feel just like a birthday, and who doesn't like those?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A New Hobby

So, I've started quilting. I started last night. My first project is a baby blanket for the Bot. Baby Chloe, to those of you scratching your chins in confusion right about now. I got the most adorable brown and pink fabrics, with little pictures of Paris, the Eiffle Tower, etc on it, and I can't wait to see the finished result. Despite the fact that this is a super-easy pattern I still am crazy nervous and am pretty sure it's gonna come out spastic. Aaaah, whatever, it's made with love.

I have more fabric, for a little boy's quilt too, and hopefully, if I can pick up the skills necessary to be good at quilting, I'll get more fabric when I go back down to Lansing, before Yellow Bird Art closes out on May 15th. BTW - how sad is that?

In the meantime, I'm honing up my seamstress skills, and hoping that I can someday be as good as my mom is on a sewing machine. I'd love to learn how to make children's clothing, and this picture, of adorably baby Joy, has me totally inspired. In anticipation of being good enough to make children's clothes, I did get a pattern or two at YBA, while they were 50-75% off.

Exciting stuff, and as soon as I can get some pictures up, I will. Yay.... here's to a summer spent sewing. There's worse things in life.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Random Randomness

Hey it's me. Yeah, me. I just wanted to say that, and don't know why. Actually I do - I have so many things on my mind right now that I couldn't come up with a good intro, and I figured "hey it's me" is as good as any.

I bought a new journal last night. After years of hating journaling (an intense hatred too, the kind where I just refused to do it), I am for the first time in my life actually enjoying it. Having cute journals and nice Sharpie pens helps. It does, really. So last night, after dinner and an ice cream cone (mmmm, Sebastian Joes) with Josh, I dragged him into Patina, where I bought a new journal. I thought he would hate it, but he didn't. We might need to go back.

I wish I would have had said journal with me this week at camp, because there were so many blog post inspirational thoughts floating around in my mind, as I worked my little tail off. I know I had at least three, but only one of them comes back to me right now. I'll have to pray for memory on the other two. And make sure I write them down in my lovely new journal.

Also while at camp this week I took up a new hobby. Well I didn't take it up WHILE at camp, but in anticipation of being at camp this summer, and also while in Lansing, I took up..... wait for it...... Quilting!!! I. Am. SOOOO. Excited!! I can't even begin to tell y'all how excited I am. I bought a pattern that looks ridiculously easy, incorporates a ton of fusing so I don't have to stitch as much as I iron (a househole chore I'm ridiculously good at, and love), and is the perfect size for babies. Because, really, if I'm going to be making quilts, I want to make them for all the kids and babies I love. I don't need a quilt, and don't think I'd have the patience for making full size ones. But I would love to give them to the awesome kids in my life. So I bought some beautiful brown & pink fabrics (for a little girl) and blue/green/purple fabrics (for a little boy) for my very first ones, and I am ready to go.

I have perfect motivation to start it too - I can't begin, literally or figuratively, till I'm done packing. Because A.) I don't have a place to set up, B.) I'm hoping Peggy will let me use her sewing machine and C.) I need to find all my sewing supplies and get them packed up & moved before I can start anything. Oh, and there's the fact that I have a wicked amount of work ahead of me today and tomorrow morning. But, if all goes well and my first one is a success, then I have a whole summer in the middle of nowhere to perfect my craft. I. Am. STOKED!!!!! Seriously.

Speaking of summer plans - I still can't say for sure what I'm doing. I know what I want to be doing. I know what I think I'll be doing. But I am waiting for the people I'd be doing it for/with, to let me know for sure that this is what's happening. And unlike last week, where I was stressing out about it, I'm at a lot more peace about my summer plans.

Being at camp this week helped that a lot, as I went from questioning and doubting that I could "be away and be ok", to enjoying the time away from city lights, noise, constant social networking, and everyone I know. Instead of fighting God, as He tries to get me alone and get my attention, I began to be at peace with it, and desire it more and more. The wanderlust in me began to churn up, as I made the drive on Hwy 9, through rolling valleys of patchworked green. At one point, I wondered if I could just take the change in my pocket, and keep on driving, and end up somewhere that no one knew me, and just start over again. Anonymous and alone. To say that my fight or flight instinct is flight, well, that's an understatement.

But running away for good isn't the answer, and I know that. All running does is drag my broken heart along with me. Instead, one night as I was sitting out on J&A's deck, a campfire next to me, crickets and frogs and God knows what else singing in the background, staring off at the fields of green and the sky carpeted with stars, I knew that being out in the middle of Iowa for the summer was the thing I desired most in my life. To be in a spot where God can get me alone - where He can take me into that desert place to speak love to me. To let Him pour into me, and then in turn to pour all my time and energy into youth ministry. To bring Christ to kids in communities so small that they can't see past the same green fields and starry sky. To help them meet Him, and then to walk with them as they get to know Him more. And let's face it, to not have to see a certain face or hear the same booming laugh twelve times a week. In a big way, I know now that the best thing I can do is get out of Dodge for a while. My heart needs it. My relationship with the Lord needs it. I want it. So I really, really hope it happens.

And I plan on taking a few more journals with me, so maybe another Sebastian Joe's/Patina trip is in order. There is the prospect of quilting in my downtime, that is if I turn out to be any good at it. Even so, I know that pouring out in words all that God does in my life this summer is going to be something I won't want to neglect. Something deep inside tells me that there'll be plenty to write about, and that it's gonna be pretty good.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20

So, I've been freaking out a bit lately. Ask anyone who knows me. I've been at the verge of tears with a single glance, avoiding answering questions, though they get thrown at me by everyone I know, because the only answer I have is "I don't know". I've been scared, uncertain, paralyzed by all the things I don't know and can't control, subject to dealing with emotions I thought had long been forgotten, and I'm a little on edge these days. It's been crazy. For the first time in a long time, really been brought to my knees in vulnerability and humility. Yeah, God's breaking me. Isn't that great?

Actually it is. Because I realized, that I'm not seeing the bigger picture, and it's exactly what He wants to do, not just what He needs to do. This is such a wonderful thing! And after going back last night and reading my journal for the last two months, I see that it's not just what He wants to do, but what I've wanted Him to do to all along.

Imagine my surprise when last night I went back and was reading excerpts from things I wrote in February, and March, where I ask Him

"Please have your way with me. Do whatever it is You know You need to do to bring me closer to You. I just want to follow You, with all my heart and every fiber of my being. Make it happen."
And then another passage, when I was on the beach in California, before so much changed in my life, when I wrote
"My only desire is to be right where You are. I don't want to do Your work, I want to join YOU in the work You're already doing, and get to participate in what You've already started. Don't let me start anything new, in and of my own strength or ideas. Show me what You've already got brewing, and let me help out."
Later on I wrote
"The thing that brings me the most joy, that lights up my face like beautiful, glowing candlelight, is just being around our Youth Group and loving on them. Can there be more joy in serving You? I have to wonder. If there is, I selfishly desire it, but only if it's what You want for me. What DO You want for me Father? What would You have me be doing with my life? Surely, this can't be it - this pointless job, this selfish following after my own desires, this status quo. Was I meant for more? If so, can You please show me what, and then like a Father holding their child's hand as they walk them out into the sweeping tide, can you gently lead me into it? Please don't throw me in the water, but please let me get my feet wet."
I wrote that three days before losing my job. Do you think He answers prayers??

I don't know where or into what God is leading me. I don't know if He's gonna give me the opportunity to pursue youth ministry, in a greater capacity, for the rest of my life, or for just this summer. I don't know where I'm gonna work, and I don't know where I'm gonna live. I don't know when I'm gonna move, and I don't know where I'm gonna end up. I don't know how I feel from one day to the next, or how much more uncertainty I can take. I have no answers friends (really, I don't, so if you want to love on me, please stop asking and just be patient, as I'm having to learn to be). I only know that like a blind man, dying of thirst, staggering pointlessly through the desert, I need Him that bad! I cannot even point myself in the right directions. I can only desire, communicate and then wait.

As soon as He lets me know, I'll pass it along. Promise.