Thursday, June 2, 2011

Monster in the Hollows book review, rabbits and more...

neighborhood rabbit sighting

Today I received a link to a posting in the Rabbit Room.  How fitting it came from my husband especially since our recent close encounter with our very own neighborhood rabbit.  Another story for another time.  I know you are all breathlessly waiting to hear how Andy and the kids attempted to corner the poor beauteous animal but for now onto the link.  Andrew Peterson posted "write a review of The Monster in the Hollows (and the Wingfeather Saga in general) for your blog...  winners will receive an original hand-drawn picture from the Wingfeather Saga. Hand-drawn by me, that is, just for you."  Oh, I was all over that.  We received the most recent book, book number three in The Wingfeather Saga series just the other week.  A few days later our son had fully devoured each and every page- wanting to show me pictures along the way and trying his hardest to not speak of where the characters were headed or what they were doing.  Perfect, get him to write a little bit about his experience in the book and maybe win his favorite character to put up on his our wall!

In the humble opinion of my 12 year old son, his own typed words as to why this series is a good read:

The books by Andrew Peterson are very well written.  They make me feel like I am inside the books filled with adventure but also taking on the personal aspect of the story.  The third book, The Monster in the Hollows still gives us this feeling of anxiety and adventure. 

When they arrive at the green hollows what will happen to the family?  When they don't fit in and everyone makes fun of Kalmar what should they do?  And does Kalmar's change effect how he will act without knowing what he is doing?  Then read and find out the secret of the Hollows.

To the Rabbit Room for your purchasing pleasure...

I have not had the opportunity to begin reading this newest addition to the Wingfeather series as I am looking for the perfect time of quiet and space to entrench myself back into this world.  It would be preferable to read it before Caleb gets too chatty about what has transpired and I know the ending before I have even begun!  I have to admit, the maps and the background given in the first one had a hard time drawing me in but before I knew it the pages had flown by my fingers and I was completely immersed in this new world.  A world where a fair ruling system had gone awry when evil infiltrated it.  I agree with Caleb, the writing is such that even though it is so otherworldly you feel the characters pain and triumphs.  It becomes very personal as you walk the journey with them.  Peterson writes in such a way that you almost feel that if you were to sneeze the people on the pages would offer you a tissue.  It's real stuff the characters wrestle with, choosing between what's best and what's better, struggling with where your allegiances lie, who you are going to choose to follow, wanting the power of recognition and fame but knowing your place is to serve with humility and forgo gain for self. 

Speaking on behalf of my husband and I, we don't know when or how it happened, just that it did, we encountered Andrew Peterson.  We have never met him personally but we were first touched deeply by his music.  He paints a picture with words that goes way beyond the surface.  Joy abounded when Slugs & Bugs & Butterflies (Peterson and Goodgame) entered our world.  So much joy that during a family vacation we were asked politely to turn him off for awhile because the kids kept replaying some of the songs over and over and over again!  We have laughed and we have cried with him.  I know I speak of it often... but Peterson's music was a comfort to us when when we were processing the death of Andy's brother while working the land.  

Lay Me Down

...Oh, and I recall
We rode the combines in the fall
And there comes a time
For gathering the harvest after all

So when you lay me down to die
I’ll miss my boys, I’ll miss my girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die
You lay me down to live...

As Peterson's music has been timely in our life and in our healing of day to day happenings so have his books been able to transport us into another realm.  One of fantasy yes, but more importantly it has brought up questions in my mind such as how do I deal and react to injustice in the world and how far would I go to protect those whom I love?  Even if it meant losing myself and my ambitions in the process?

I can't tell you why or why not to read this series of books.  I can tell you that they make you wish for something more, for something greater to challenge all the bad guys in the world and to right all the rotten cards you feel you have been dealt.  Whether it be physical challenges or emotional ailments as the lots you have been been dropped and planted in- you will bloom if your face is towards the light.  We were created to crave something more, to serve something more.  So much darkness has filled this world that it's easy to give in, to succumb, to feel defeated, to join forces with the darkness.  If you choose to read the Wingfeather Saga books you will be inspired to take up your sword and fight awhile.   In the end, God will triumph.  I sure do want to be on His side when it all comes down.   

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

Last week the rain came. My feet were stuck in molasses and my mind didn't want to move me. Tears threatened to rain down my face to match the precipitation outside. I knew I had to get dressed and get going out the door but I didn't want to. I thought for sure my heart had stopped, I couldn't breathe. It was a familiar sinking feeling yet very unwelcome. I wanted to sit and keep on sitting. The energy it took to get ready was about enough to make me keel over. I had to will my arms to care to move and my mind to get past dwelling on all that has been considered lost to me and the failures I had yet to fail at but just knew I would. It came out of nowhere. Funny how sorrow has a way of creeping up on you and settling into your bones.

The feeling of being unworthy and sad and lonely and confused is almost too much for a heart to bear at one time. The weight of the world threatens to overtake and push down til life is all but extinguished except for a weak pulse. Ok, so a bit dramatic but trust me, it's quite stifling! I did manage to get myself moving and into the car. Amazingly God quickly brought to mind His presence within me, something I began to feel so forcefully while surrounded in emptiness over a year ago- I am known by Him. If I feel invisible to the world around me, I am KNOWN and LOVED by HIM.

I constantly fall into the trap of basing my worth on what I have to offer, how I am doing as a friend to those I care about rather than basking in the glow and privilege of being created in God's image for His glory. There I go again, "feeling" my worth, setting my eyes on my progress, meeting or not meeting my standards, thinking through what I can or can't do and finally coming to the conclusion that it's more of what I will or won't do and then the cycle begins anew... I know too much. I know what I need to be doing, how I need to be living, how I should be serving. Many days I wish I didn't know so much because the responsibility that comes with that knowledge can be super overwhelming and way too convicting that I give up before I've even begun...

Our church called a new Pastor.  You would think this would be a happy time of fresh blood to instill vision and healing. Instead it has caused me to reflect on the fact that there are so many people in my life who don't really know me, who can't offer me affirmations of who I am, who weren't close by when I couldn't stand on my own two feet and needed shoulders to lean on. I miss friends who noticed me when my teeth were crooked and supported me when we fell so far down financially that I couldn't see my way clear. Whether it's reality or not I feel that I am surrounded by people who don't know the depth of my heart and the stories that God has given me, who most importantly haven't witnessed the transformation of His redeeming power and provision in my life. Hence, the invisible feeling.

It lingers, the pressure of a lifetime worth of tears waiting to push over the threshold. My husband has said to me before that I am stronger than I think I am. I know it to be true but I wish it were not so. I don't want to be strong. I am full of contradictions. I want to be noticed yet when I am I shrink away fearful that the spotlight was wrongly placed.  I desire and crave community, a group of people growing together and meeting the needs of the body. Yet I fear what I want the most. I fear you getting to know me. I fear you not liking me. I fear God. I fear the power and glory of His name.  

I know I have worn down trails with the sameness of my daily living and when I have stepped off the path and branched out I have found many rocky patches, places where the trees haven't been trimmed and lined with boulders not wanting to budge. I bump my head and watch as my feet get bloody and don't want to push on. I run back to the well worn path because I fear not knowing if the pain is worth it. I am a creature of habit, be it or for good or bad. I desire to go and blaze a new trail yet crave the comfort and ease of knowing the way. I have driven the same road for the past 3 years to take my daughter to the gym. A few months ago I decided to find a different route to get there. It took many weeks before I could will my mind and arms to not get in the turning lane when I desired to make a change and go straight. Now it's easy for me to make the choice at the light. My hands don't go left instinctively anymore when I want to continue on straight ahead. It took time and effort to get to that place.

I still fear the changes taking place that were set in motion over the last couple of years within my church.  Most of all oddly enough I think I fear that not enough has changed. Everything is strangely too familiar and has carried on pretty much the same.  It's too easy to remain the same old me in my present circumstances.  God has graciously carried me through this time despite my kicking and screaming and wanting to run off to another country for a fresh start. In my perfectionist personality I have a tendency to want to scrap something and start all over again if it's not quite right. That's what I have been fighting within myself. I fear living with my failures in plain sight, always having to work through them, struggling with relationships that aren't pretty which need lots of prayer along with a heavy serving of grace.  I am a warrior yet often I live as one defeated and resigned to status quo. I want to be radical and live as one known to be loved and see what that love can do through me. 

I heard this song while driving in the rain... wow.  These lyrics coupled with the acknowledgment of my worth from a new friend in the presence of others the very next day helped to drive my mental rain away. Yes, I was shrinking inside but I was more amazed at how the Lord knew what I needed at that very moment.

                      Times (Tenth Avenue North)

I know I need You
I need to love You
I love to see You, but it's been so long
I long to feel You
I feel this need for You
And I need to hear You, is that so wrong?

Now You pull me near You
When we're close, I fear You
Still I'm afraid to tell You, all that I've done
Are You done forgiving?
Oh can You look past my pretending?
Lord, I'm so tired of defending, what I've become
What have I become?

I hear You say,
"My love is over. It's underneath.
It's inside. It's in between.
The times you doubt Me, when you can't feel.
The times that you question, 'Is this for real? '
The times you're broken.
The times that you mend.
The times that you hate Me, and the times that you bend.
Well, My love is over, it's underneath.
It's inside, it's in between.
These times you're healing, and when your heart breaks.
The times that you feel like you're falling from grace.
The times you're hurting.
The times that you heal.
The times you go hungry, and are tempted to steal.
The times of confusion, in chaos and pain.
I'm there in your sorrow, under the weight of your shame.
I'm there through your heartache.
I'm there in the storm.
My love I will keep you, by My pow'r alone.
I don't care where you fall, where you have been.
I'll never forsake you, My love never ends.
It never ends."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Please put a penny in the old man's hat

If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do

If you haven't got a ha' penny,  then God bless you!

I have been singing this tune for weeks now and at first the kids gave me strange looks and laughed at the funny words.  Then they asked me what the words meant.  It must be hard for them to imagine not having half a penny to give, at least in this past year when we have been blessed way beyond our daily needs.  In turn I as well have been ruminating over these words, pondering what they mean for me specifically this Christmas time.  What have I to give and to whom?

The what I figured out quickly. I am sitting here staring at 8 tins filled with chocolate drizzled caramel popcorn.  I decided my giving this year would be in the form of a homemade treat.  The task of making the popcorn was for sure a labor of love along with a smidgen of bad attitude for having it take so long, frustration over dropping sticky kernels off the tray every time I stirred and anxiety wondering whether the end result would be edible and actually taste at least slightly yummy!  The verdict was yes, it's good from what we were able to taste of the fallen particles!  Sad to say, the popcorn filled up the tins so perfectly that there is none left for us to officially partake of.  That's ok.  I have a few people in mind already that the tins are going to but the others are still a mystery to me.  I just know I was supposed to make it.

Last night we were sitting at yet again (surprise) the gym waiting for Moriah to finish up gymnastics.  My oldest played a game with his other sister and when that was finished he then had a seat and thought.  He didn't have anything else along to do so he told me all he could do was think.  He started to tear up a bit and I asked him about his thoughts.  He said he was thinking about what it would be like if one of us were to die in our family.  He then went on to explain that it was my cousin recently dying that made him think of this.  I wish I could have reassured him and told him that it would never happen or something else cheery along that vein.  I couldn't because I knew I would have been lying to him.  But, what I could let him know is that if something were to happen to one of us -the others would make it through.  I know this because I have been witness to it in the lives of other people, many times over. It would be hard but somehow we would muddle through it.  I didn't let him know that I have similar thoughts at times.  I threaten my husband about leaving me with trying to figure out how to do all the household stuff he does and then constantly remind him it wouldn't be a good idea for him to go first.  At least not before he gets the new faucet in which by the way is no longer dripping from the top because it has sprouted a hole and is now leaking down the side...

What I do know in my limited vision of life is that God loves us.  I sat down and had myself a thinking time as well and tried to recall to mind all the people I knew who had lost loved ones around the Christmas season.  The names and faces kept coming.  I have prayed for wisdom as to who to give the remaining tins of popcorn to- who I am asked to help remind that there is life before death as well as life after death, in Christ.  If we are in Christ there is always life.

I have my son to owe for my thoughts today.  He reminded me of the other side of Christmas, the side where it's not all rosy with thoughts of getting wished upon gifts and portraits of complete families in their christmas finery.  I only wish I had time and energy to make popcorn for everyone this season who is hurting, lost, alone, displaced, abused, homeless and without.  Again, as I have felt in the past I am grieving for all that I know to be good in my life while realizing that there are those who are unable to experience God's love in the form of physical blessings this Christmas time.  I know I haven't done all my part as I should and that pains me.

I was so privileged to sing these lyrics just a few weeks ago, "
Have you heard about our Jesus, have you heard about his fate..."  May the word get out it's not about the gifts or what ration of earthly blessings we have on earth, it's about the gift of life that was given some 2000 plus years ago.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

True Confessions: Part 2


Fancy meeting up with you here again.   Many changes have taken place.  I decided to spruce up my blog a bit which is much more fun for me than cleaning the house especially since I figured out I can use my own pictures for the background!  Amazingly it has been over a year since the puffy face picture post which could frighten young and old alike.  A  long year since taking the time to key by key my words into this blog.  It has not been for lack of writing material as evidenced by written on receipts and bits of torn-off pieces of paper in piles all around our house.  I will one day write a post entitled "pieces of me."  That one I imagine will have some kind of depth to it and since I am feeling a bit more scatter brained and on the fluffy side today it will have to wait for another time.  Today I am writing as I listen to the drip dropping sounds of our faucet. Hold onto your hats because I have a lot of scrambled words rushing to come out and find a place on this page.  Confessions, hurts, lessons in the midst of being learned all fighting for time to come out for an airing of sorts.

Drip... drop.

~ While sitting in the audience at a posh venue and one begins to sing in her tight bodiced, floor length sequined gown it's all I can do to restrain myself with such force to not open my mouth and sing along.

~ At the top of mountains the urge is so great to throw something down that I know will never be returned to me.

~ Using a public restroom I sometimes come close to taking a ring off and flushing it.

~ During rare moments in a car going at the slow speed of 30 mph I wonder briefly what it would feel like to cross over the center line into oncoming traffic.

Drip... drop.

I'm not really as cold-hearted and aloof to your pain as I seem to be.  I spend half my time worried I've said too much and the other half fretting over what I've left unsaid.  In a group setting if you have the same "gifts" as me and if you use them first with your words or actions I will sit back and let you take the stage.  I have yet to sort out if it's a spirit of humility that holds me back while allowing another to shine or if it's my pride.  Pride telling me to take my toys and go home if I don't score the first home run because I feel defeated already.

Drip... drop.

I stopped testing.  Well the school kind a long time again but I am referring to blood work and scans etc here.  I finally stopped worrying about my numbers and reaching a standard.  My husband found a naturopathic doctor for me who really has changed the way I view the medical world.  I am not in denial about the insufficiencies that I have or the conditions that afflict me, I am just no longer consumed by them.  I am choosing to not be defined by them any longer.  It's not to say that I don't curl up in tears with stomach pain anymore after eating who knows what that triggered it or that I don't get frustrated for not being able to consistently make meals for my family because of my spinning head, or that I don't wonder why I can do yoga one day with no problems and the next bend down and get back up only to find my vision is gone for a few moments from one of my eyes- I do still feel pain, confusion, and fear!  My mind is up one day, down the next with no warning.  Confusing things happening within me still have me perplexed but no longer terrified.  I guess it's me realizing that I am flawed greatly in more ways than one and it's ok to remain in that state and trust that God has His best interest in mind.  Some things are unfixable, you need to find a way to live with them and move on. Some things are fleeting and don't deserve the attention given to them.  My puffed state came in July of last year and left in December after powerful medicine was inserted into my lower back by way of really large needle.  The huge puffy face monster has not shown itself since then.  

Drip... drop.

I have made a few new friends though I find myself a bit scared and walking with soft feet because I am unsure how much of an impression my footprints should leave.  I am not wanting to sink too deep for fear of losing my shoes again.

Drip... drop.

I am actually enjoying my kids being home this year.  What a surprise and a gift, truly.  I love hugging them all day long.  I really love my kids.  It has been a long journey getting to this place.  I am here.  I am appreciating it and living in it.

Drip... drop.

I like being one of the last people at a party because that's when the masks come off, figuratively speaking of course. There is a realness that is finally exposed after having just spent the last few hours making sure your lipgloss wasn't covered in crumbs and now that it has finally worn off your guard tends to come down as well.  I live for those moments of connecting with an exposed soul.  If you sit around long enough with me you'll see glimpses of my rawness as well.  Side-note here:  I would appreciate knowing if there were say lingering crumbs from a streusel- topped apple pie anywhere on my person so I could finish them off...

Drip... drop.

It sometimes makes me weary to have to explain myself, again, that I can relate to what you are going through even though I don't weigh in at 200 pounds.  Between my anxiety trembling off some excess pounds and the few and far between days when I am the master of my ship I am able to keep up a fairly presentable appearance.  If you could see the war that rages in my mind when I am contemplating finishing off a carton of ice cream you would see that I suffer just as you.  You would see that I need you as much as you need me to daily get through this battle.

Drip... drop.

This past year I have seen the depths of my sinful nature plunge to an entirely new level of debris and dirt.  I am in shock at the thoughts I have thought, the words I have uttered and the way I have twisted circumstances to favor me as the one in the "right."  Shame on me.  I have a sort of barometer I use when picking a song to sing, I must have an emotional reaction to it if I am to sing it at all.  Usually it's in the form of tears.  I guess I am noticing the same thing when I write.  Perhaps that's why I have put it off for so long, me not wanting to face truth and the need for a spirit-led change.  I have finally gotten to the point in this blog where I am stirred.  I am here in this moment touched by how beautiful God's grace is in comparison to how ugly my heart has been.  With my words I speak of harboring bitterness for my fellow man and yet in the same breath I am asking you to love me in my sinful state.  How very warped is that?  Where is my forgiveness, my compassion?  Have I learned nothing from the cross?

Drip... drop.

I think I finally realized why I despise making a definitive decision about anything.  I don't want to be held responsible, no matter how good or bad or indifferent the outcome may be.  I fear making a mistake and don't want to be held accountable for my actions.  Hummm... am I really the only one that feels this way? 

Drip... drop.

My mind is constantly filled with random thoughts mixed with reality of life-changing scripture.  My 7 year old made a profound statement the other day "you are always thinking something, you can never think of nothing."  It's a challenge every day for me to choose to put in drops of truth and block out the drips of negativity.  Little drips over time create a bigger puddle and then overflow occurs.  I want my overflow to be of goodness and grace sprinkled with wisdom and beauty.  I want my overflow to be used to benefit the kingdom instead of tearing it down.  

Drip...drop.  One droplet at a time...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

True Confessions: Part 1

This is the first in what may become a regular series for me.  Me, how I am doing this minute.  I was contemplating my honesty or rather my lack of being completely open since beginning this blog.  I was looking backwards and thinking about how I always have to have everything perfectly worded, exposing only that which I want you to see, guarding what's close to my heart, not letting you see all the dirt, the grime.  I wrap each writing up in a pretty little package,  hopeful that I can just stare at that package and not have to open it up and painfully learn that nugget all over again... I have never considered myself to be a teacher- type but when I stumbled across Sara Groves describing her new album she summed up what I have been wrestling with these past few days. 

"I tried not to teach on this album," she (Sara Groves) explains. "And I'm a natural-born teacher.  I turn everything into a lesson--for myself, for the people around me. That's how I process my life, that's how I learn... I'm trying to be more confessional..."

Here I am itchy, rashed, and puffed all over, exposing my heart, my face.  I am seeking not to process and come to the fairy tale ending, but to share today what pains me, what is breaking me down- how it is to struggle with only one shoe on not knowing when your prince will come and save you out of your misery.  

Last month I went and had some allergy testing done.  Found out I am allergic to dust mites.  Not sure if that's what is causing the flare ups that I keep having.  Seeing the layers of dust around here it may very well be...  This last one began Sat. evening.  First came the itch, then the swelling.  Now I have a rash.  I am on some medications but they are not helping.  I repeat: THEY ARE NOT HELPING.  I want to claw off my skin.  It burns.  This time around it's blistering.  I am becoming frustrated dealing with the same things.  Not knowing how it's all going to end.  Test after test, prick after prick.

How ironic that when I am struggling with anger I pick up a book and start reading where I left off over a year ago only to find that the chapter deals with anger.  How is it that when I finally sit down to process changes taking place all around me with neighbors moving and old comforts slipping away that just days afterwards I find myself working through a deeper process of change that I never saw coming?  Familiar, well-worn friends no longer a major part of my story.  Feelings of abandonment, mourning the loss of individuals who have listened to me as I shared my joys and offered me tissues when the sorrows swelled my eyes.  

Looking for a friend:  Someone who is easy on the eyes, laughs at what I find amusing and will be quiet and listen without interrupting or passing judgment whenever I need to talk.  I will be terribly jealous if your house is bigger than mine but I still wouldn't mind being invited over once in awhile.  I don't make conversation easily and depending on what mood I am in I may or may not want to answer your questions.  I find that I am very manipulative and critical as well as controlling.  I would appreciate you calling or emailing me just to see if I'm ok.  I probably won't pick up the phone but just knowing that you thought enough of me to call would mean the world to me.  For my part I will wear your hardships in my soul and rejoice when good finds a home with you.         

Since this is "true confessions" I don't have an agenda for this writing, nor an ending point at which I will wrap it all up.  I just have my mind and my fingers working overtime trying to keep up with my thoughts.  When I can't sleep I write letters to people in my mind.  Letters that never get written, but it sure feels good finally putting into words what I really want to tell others.  Most of them are letters of encouragement telling individuals how they have blessed my life.  After the letters are written in air I fall asleep, peacefully.  Which reminds me, I still have half my thank you notes to write from my wedding gifts.  Not sure if the grace period extends past 13 years.

Today I am weary.  I am vain.  I don't want to puff anymore.  Today I am pained for a friend who is watching her father slip away.  Today I am wondering how it is that I am so full while others are going to bed hungry.

"From This One Place"

I was about to give up and that's no lie
cardinal landed outside my window
threw his head back and sang a song
so beautiful it made me cry
took me back to a childhood tree
full of birds and dreams

from this one place I can't see very far
in this one moment I'm square in the dark
these are the things I will trust in my heart
You can see something else
something else

I don't know what's making me so afraid
tiny cloud over my head
heavy and grey with a hint of dread
I don't like to feel this way
take me back to a window seat
with clouds beneath my feet...

~ Sara Groves

Friday, September 25, 2009

Living in a fishbowl


~ excerpt from My Sister's Keeper (page 79)

Two years ago I was in the church parking lot waiting for my son, my oldest, my firstborn. Earlier in the day he had been whisked away with a carload of other kids to the church camp about 40 minutes away. I look up to spot my Pastor and his family. They came to relay a message to a non-cell phone carrying person (myself) that my son had been involved in an accident, "A bottle shattered and a piece of glass hit his head, there was a lot of bleeding, he's ok but they think he needs stitched up." His Aunt (who had been up at the camp for the day) was transporting him to a local hospital to get checked out. I tried to remain calm and outwardly act this way for my sanity and for the sake of not looking like an overprotective nervous mom in the presence of others.

I casually called the girls to come to the car from where they were playing on the lawn. From there on it was full speed ahead. Quick stop at home for an insurance card and then wait- stuck in traffic! NO!!!! The thoughts running through my head at that time were numerous and then some. I thought about me, my child, wondered how deep the wound was, was he scared, would my husband make it to the hospital in time to not only be a comfort to Caleb but to me as well? Fainting is more my body's response to blood than being present. The cars were moving but as if in slow motion. I wondered if they knew where I needed to be, if anyone cared that it wasn't a super sale that I was anxious about missing, that it was my son that needed me to be with him! I needed to be with him. My heart was beating out of my chest, willing the cars to move faster.

What seemed like an eternity later I did end up at the hospital- ahead of my son even. Finally, in he comes, head bandaged up with dried blood caked on. He looked like a survivor. He had been crying and I could see the fear in his eyes. But, there was also a calmness about him as well. I knew at that point that life would continue on as normal after this little blip of 7 staples and having to endure wearing a swimming cap for swimming lessons the next week. It could have had a different ending, the glass could have cut deeper, or in his eye. The story would have played out differently than just an afternoon of inconvenience with another scenario.

Since that day I look at people driving along the road differently. I imagine where they are going, what awaits them at their destinations. I think twice when I hear an ambulance and try to put out of my mind the reason for the lights, the sirens. My heart skips a beat when I see the parking lot filled at the funeral home a couple streets over from where we live. It's so easy to get stuck in your own little fishbowl where you deal with only that which affects your personal space. Most of those days are spent dealing with basic survival tactics, taking in what each day brings and learning how to function in that realm. Most of my days are pretty ordinary, basic, transporting my children to their various activities while at the same time there are others living out a not so ordinary day. My normal is not the same as your normal.

I recently watched the movie Lorenzo's Oil for the first time. I was struck by one scene in particular. Children were flooding the streets with uncontained excitement after being bottled up in school all day. Then the scene abruptly shifts to Lorenzo, unable to move, gagging on his own saliva. Right outside his house children were laughing and playing. The irony in it. All day, every day, there are hurts in the world, around us, maybe right next door to us. People living out "abnormal" days, weeks, months, years even while the world goes on as usual. The mail doesn't stop coming just because your life is in crisis mode. I learned this 2 years ago as I raced to the hospital to deal with my not so ordinary day.

Through what happened with my son I learned that I can endure more than I thought I could. My mind went into preservation mode as I was able to take some pictures of him as he waited in the emergency room, blood and all. I also learned that my son will go through some hard things that will strengthen him and open his eyes to the world beyond our fishbowl, which might include pain, to teach him empathy. This was one of those times.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Read the fine print

I did it, well almost. I went back to a place where I had previously left with my head held down in shame. I had been working up the courage for weeks now, practicing avoidance the best I knew how. Then yesterday I told them, my children, we would be stopping by... the library. We, meaning all of us. The girls asked me if they could finally get some books, again. It had been quite a few weeks since I stepped inside. Fear, that my face would be remembered, the incident that I caused would come quickly to the mind of the nice librarian who had just been doing her job.

Let me back up a bit. My husband thought it was time to get away, take a trip, and off he went someplace with a hotel because he had work to do away from home. He was gone for 4 days. During this time period I had to return some library books. Not too hard seeing as the library is right in town, a 5 minute walk away. It could have been right out my front door and I still wouldn't have been able to return the books on time during this particular week. I told my husband my predicament, that I would not be able to get to the library before the books were due. He said to wait until Thursday when you could return books for "free" and not have to pay a fine. Ok, being the most dutiful, husband honoring wife that I am I obeyed, and waited until Thursday.

We ended up getting to the library around 3 that Thursday. Caleb went to return/check out his books. The very respectable librarian said that he had incurred a fine. I said "What? My husband told me to wait until today to return the books because it was a forgiveness day of sorts." The answer I was given is that you need to come in during happy hour times- which occur after 5 on Thursdays. At this point it was around 3:30. I politely pointed out the time to her and asked if there was any way that she could wave the late fees because it was almost 5. Her response, "No, I already checked in the books." Could I get the books back out and wait here til 5 to return them? No, they were already checked back into the system. There was no budging on this.

Ok, to be fair to myself I need to back up even further in the story. The day before Andy left town we discovered a note on our door. This note said that our water would be turned off the next day if we didn't pay up! My caring husband then proceeded to print out copies of bills to show they were paid on time and in full so I would be armed with "evidence". I had to be up and out the door early the next day, unable to call about the notice before I left. On the way home I stopped at the post office to pick up the mail. I discovered a letter about insufficient funds in our bank account and bills not being paid??!! What??! My pot was full and about to boil over. Thankfully, after making a few phone calls it was cleared up for me that the notice was put on the wrong door and the bank didn't need to send out the letter that it did. It was a mix up, a blooper! It did set the tone for the rest of the week as far as being uncertain what else would turn up that would cause me to stress more than usual without my husband there to help me...

Back to finish the library story which I'm sure you are quite anxious to see how it resolved itself. The librarian pointed out the sign to me that was at this point right in front of me on the counter. Funny, I didn't remember it being in such a prominent place before. It had the happy hour times listed. I tried again, this time my voice picking up strength, begging to no avail, telling her about having to care for my children for a week by myself, the bank and water issues that put strain on my worried mind and how I was just following my husband's orders about returning the books on Thursday and everything would be ok. It wasn't. At this point I was getting no sympathy and I was about to lose it. I excused myself to the bathroom before I could cause myself anymore embarrassment.

When I got back from the bathroom Caleb told me that the lady behind us in line had paid our fines. That's when I really lost it. I was really crying at this point, not just show tears meant to bring about sympathy anymore but actual tears of remorse for my actions. Me, supposedly a warrior in God's army, breaking at the thought of having to spend Panera Bread money for overdue library books and fighting as hard as I could because I thought I deserved a break. I didn't. I should have learned to read the fine print and put into practice a spirit of humility when I learned that I was incorrect. Instead, a stranger took on that role as she saw a confused person who shouldn't have been left alone to care for 3 children, needing a helping hand. She won the brownie points that day.

Yesterday, my first day back in there to face my fears. Kids in tow, books ready to hand over and I stopped mid- stride. There she was. I couldn't do it. I feigned interest in what books the kids had picked out, trying to time it so another librarian would be free to help me. "Go now," I said as I was practically racing to the counter! We reached the counter just as another librarian stepped up to help. This is what happens when you have too much time to think about yourself and what you have done in your past, good or bad. You start believing that you are important to everyone else, that they actually remember you and what you have done and said. I need to get over it. The librarian has probably long since moved on from the memory of a hysterical lady in front of her throwing a tantrum because she didn't want to play by the rules. Yet, I can dream, right- that I am slightly important enough that I will be remembered?

Someday I may have to tell you all about the Eagle's Nest incident. That also involved a stressed mom without her husband for the week, needing to dump her kids somewhere, anywhere that wouldn't involve getting arrested. The Nest was full, had to wait, was told I could put my name on the list. The condensed version involves more people coming and putting their names on the list and me, still waiting, because I did not put my name on the list. Didn't know you couldn't just wait by the wall, I mean I was there, the list people weren't. Had to wait and keep waiting. Poor girl was just following the rules as she called the people on the list ahead of me. I finally broke down and put my name on the list as I was realizing that just holding up the wall with my 3 kids and my tears would not get me in...

Realizing that sometimes you just can't manipulate to get your way. Oh, that sounds so very grown-up. I sure have a lot to learn, which includes reading the fine print. It may be worth reading if it can save me the embarrassment from having future public tantrums.