Thursday, October 29, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Last year I was asked to write a little essay for my church's newsletter. I was told it could be anything about my faith experience. In a moment of weakness, I choked out a "Yes, I'll write something." The following essay is what ended up on paper. I was reminded of this essay last week when I had coffee with a new friend. In the context of sharing a story about advice she had given a relative, my friend spoke words... words that I really needed to hear... words that were lovingly direct. The words were coming out of my friend's mouth, but as far as I'm concerned, I definitely heard God speaking. I continue to be amused, grateful, and delighted that God is so creative in engaging with me.
Often I imagine God is walking around with a huge network, finger pressed to ‘redial’ saying, “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?” I am able to hear God…sometimes.
I am able to hear God when I do the dishes and sometimes when I cook, but never when I do laundry.
I am able to hear God when I go for a run, take a shower, and when I drive somewhere by myself.
On a sunny day last summer, I think I heard God answer one of my BIG LIFE questions, but it makes me nervous and uneasy. So, maybe I won’t totally acknowledge it yet. (This might be considered ‘denying the call.’)
I am able to hear God when I hold a baby, hold my husband’s hand, and when I stare at my children while they sleep.
Last February, I heard God say, loud and clear, through my panic and fear, high upon the side of a flat-topped pyramid, “You need to let go of her hand.” An internal, spiritual & emotional, power struggle ensued: The parental primal need to protect vs. the power of faith to literally “Let Go and Let God.” I still haven’t quite recovered from that surrendering episode.
I am able to hear God when I play the piano, walk or have coffee with a friend, and sometimes when I read a book, or hear a song.
I am able to hear God when I eat lunch by myself, mow the lawn, and paint the porch.
I’ve heard God calling my name in the middle of the night. At least I think it was God. It definitely wasn’t my husband or children; They were sound asleep. I didn’t realize in the moment that the voice was God and so I turned over and drifted back to sleep myself. I wish I’d had the where-with-all to say, “Yes, I’m listening.”
I am able to hear God when I go to the beach to walk , or look for stones and shells, or to just breathe in the view.
I am able to hear God when I’m doing so many other things, but rarely am I able to hear God when I pray.
Lately, I am able to hear God more clearly when I sit down with a pen and a blank piece of paper. With a grateful and open heart and no preconceived notions of how the writing should evolve, I am enlightened in some wonderfully unexpected ways. The writing, itself, is not stellar, but it doesn’t need to be . The process has become an engaging prayer. I experience more of a ‘dialogue’ with God this way and the personal/ spiritual connection is deep and scary and intriguing.
My faith in and relationship with God is a work in progress. I am still learning, yearning, and trying to understand it all ~ it is hard and frustrating at times, especially when I can’t hear God. But, I know from a place deep inside my soul that even if I can’t hear God, God can always hear me. And, I am so thankful that God is forgiving and persistent and endlessly creative in trying to connect with me. “Can you hear me now?”
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
It was a Sunday in the Fall of 2001 and it was a beauty. The sun shined brightly in the cloudless sky, which was the deep, rich, and endless blue of Fall, rather than the pale blue of Summer. The air had that nice clean and crisp quality to it even though it was warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirt. The day could not be wasted, the sheer beauty of it called us to play.
Sundays are church days and family days. And so we, me, my husband and our two young children, spent our morning in church. I can’t remember now what the sermon was about. I was much more interested in looking out the big windows of the sanctuary. The window closest to me was opened a little and I could feel a breeze float across my skin as I sat in the pew, trying to pay attention. My eyes, though, were drawn to and fascinated by the dancing of the sunlight through the leaves of the big oak and maple trees. I felt that God, the Creator, was teasing me…begging me to come out.
With church and lunch over, it was time for the family to go outside and play! We decided to ride our bikes along the greenbelt path to Bug Light Park. Our ride along the path included the usual casual ride interspersed with our children yelling ‘faster, faster, pedal faster!’ We laugh and laugh and pretend to race. We enter the park via the parking lot and head to the open field and Bug Light. We are greeted with a lovely sea breeze and a stunning view of several sailboats taking advantage of a beautiful day on Casco Bay. We parked our bikes and my eyes, which had been focused upon the water view, gradually shifted to take in the open field where we planned to play tag. I happened to look up and then my mouth practically dropped to the ground. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was a rainbow, actually four of them together. These were no typical rainbows. They didn’t just arch across the sky, they danced whimsically up and down and all around. They weren’t the rainbows that come after the rain, as a reminder of the promise that God will never again destroy the earth. There had been no rain that day, but I felt that through the rainbows I was looking at, God was certainly sending me a message.
There were 24 of them. Four each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, sequenced that way four times. Diamond shaped kites, each with matching tails, all connected together as one. Lines going to all kites were attached to a man with a special harness standing in the middle of the field. I was completely in awe and completely delighted. The colors and the movement of the kites against the beautiful sky blue canvas were absolutely mesmerizing. I felt for the second time that day that God was teasing and playing with me. I smiled at the thought and ran off to play tag with my kids, while the rainbow kites played in the wind above us.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I can't say that I loved coffee back then, but I could clearly see that coffee played an important role in our family life. A fresh pot was made every morning. Cups were poured to welcome a friend, neighbor, or good customer to the table for conversation, support, or advice. Whatever words, tears, or laughter was shared at that table, a cup of coffee played a supporting role. A pot of coffee was always made on those nights that my step-father was working all night in a snow storm. My mother couldn't sleep ~ sipping coffee from a warm cup helped pass the time and calm the worries in the middle of the night.
There was loud banging and yelling at our door late one night ~ My grandfather's house next door was on fire. We all raced downstairs and naturally assumed our roles in this emergency. My step-father ran next door to try to contain the fire. My mother was understandably upset and panicked, but was able to call the volunteer fire department and my aunt and uncle for help. I went to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee; I knew it would be a long night.
My personal relationship with coffee was solidified in college. I drank it hot and black and it saw me through more all-night study sessions than I can count. In my professional work life, my coffee cup had its own special place on my desk next to my computer. Amazingly, I think I spilled coffee on the keyboard only once! I can't say the same about various articles of clothing.
When my husband and I were trying to start our family, my doctor suggested that I add more dairy to my diet. She said I could begin by adding cream to my coffee. Wow! What a fabulous suggestion! It has been my preferred way to drink coffee ever since!
So, I've only 'given up' coffee when forced:
- When I was pregnant and my body physically rejected my commitment. Once my babies had been born and then had stopped breast feeding, I renewed my commitment to coffee and its stimulating effects with vigor!
- And when my doctor suggested going cold turkey on caffeine for 6 months to see if it made a difference in the pain and lumpiness of my breasts. Those were dark days of coffee, tea, and chocolate deprivation. No change in the pain and lumpiness after 6 months ~ I couldn't get to the coffee and chocolate fast enough!
Like my mother years ago, I have found sharing a cup of coffee to be a wonderful way to connect with others. It provides a great opening when you want to get to know someone better ~ "Want to grab a cup of coffee sometime?" Or, "Let's get together for coffee - Soon!" could be code for "I miss you and want to catch up!"
My daughter asked me the other day, "Exactly how many cups of coffee do you drink a day?" My answer was "Just one, never empty till the end of the day, cup!" She was not impressed, as noted by her rolling eyes. Now, as much as I love and need my coffee, I could never love it more than I love my family ~ But, it could get a little tense and messy should they decide to block my path to the coffee pot first thing in the morning!
Monday, March 30, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
November rolls around and there is much to celebrate and I do, but November also makes me pause a little and reflect...
Many years ago, when my daughter had just turned 1yr old, I realized I was pregnant again. The news was so unexpected and abit of a shock because conceiving my daughter took time and required intervention. But, I was definitely pregnant, feeling completely exhausted and constantly nauseous! After getting over the shock, my husband and I were delighted and began wondering the gender of this new life and anticipating a November due date.
We had almost made it to the end of the first trimester when I began to bleed and a heartbeat could no longer be found. More shock, but now it was coupled with grief. I was now a member of the vast club of women who have miscarried.
I have been so blessed in my life and I have two really wonderful kids. When November rolls around I don't really dwell on what might have been or go back to the 'what if I had done this or hadn't done that' thinking that was a part of my grieving. But... there is a place in my heart and a knot in my throat that calls me to reflect and to whisper "Happy Birthday!" to the little spirit that was with me for a short while.
Monday, January 5, 2009
She was there when each of my children were born. Not actually in the room though, that might have been a little too hard. She was among the first to hold them, kiss their heads, stare into their little eyes, and tell them they were so bright and alert, not to mention beautiful! Her touch, her smile, her tone voice, and words told me and my babies that she loved them completely and that she relished her role as Mimi.
My mother lavishes love and affection on my children who are now 7 years and 4 years old. She sits in a big chair in her pajamas with the kids snuggled in beside her as she reads them one book after another. She sits on the floor with my daughter and plays Barbies. They talk about Barbie's fancy clothes and wonderful shoes, each fantasizing that such clothes and accessories were in their closets. My mother lies on the floor with my son and they play with trains, matchbox cars, and construction vehicles ~ she knows the names of all types of equipment and what each is used for ~ she is very cool that way! They have such fun with each other, my children and their Mimi.
When Mimi visits, there is great anticipation and quite a bit of planning as to how they will tease or play with her. She sleeps in our extra bedroom and inevitably the kids are the first to wake…they tiptoe downstairs, hardly able to contain their excitement and glee, they walk into the bedroom and practically pounce on their Mimi to wake her up. All that can be heard are wild squeals of delight as they chat and bounce on the bed! She always has a way of teasing them back though, such as when she suggests that their Halloween candy would make a nice midnight snack for her. They get very concerned because they know how much Mimi loves Oreos, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and other chocolate confections! I always find this type of banter extremely entertaining!
Hugs and kisses ~ snuggle time and play time ~ visits, phone calls, and postcards ~ laughter and crying ~ loud and quiet ~ love and love and love. My children are so lucky! Mimi is real to them and present in their lives. They have this wonderful independent relationship. It has been lovingly nurtured since day one.
Now, the energy at my house was anything but mild. There were 5 girls and 2 boys who were trick or treating together and then spending the night. There was lots of excitement and great anticipation for over-flowing pillowcases of candy loot and the possibility of staying up all night eating it.
I needed to pack as I was leaving town very early in the morning for a women's retreat so I volunteered to stay home and hand out the candy to all of the little ghouls, vampires, and princesses that came by. My husband had the more daunting task of shepherding 7 high energy kids around the neighborhood. All arrived back at the house with a little bit of energy burned off and the happy glow of knowing they had raked in enough candy loot to keep a good sugar buzz going for weeks to come. They proceeded to grab a couple candies from their bags, flopped around the living room and watched a movie. Ahhh! Quiet time.
The thing that kids really love about 'sleep-overs' is that its really about 'staying up and talking as late as possible-overs.' This is the thing parents tend to hate about 'sleep-overs.' At 1 am, with my alarm set for 5 am, I realized my window of sleep opportunity was rapidly closing. I went into the room with the chatty girls and used my most annoyed and annoying voice to suggest they 'Stop Talking and Go To Sleep! All that really did was keep me agitated so I couldn't actually get to sleep until around 2 am.
Boom! A boom that makes the whole house shake! It was close to 4 am and I was instantly awake. I wondered desperately what and where that noise could have come from. Seconds later, another Boom! I flew out of bed and down the stairs. I could hear a noise but couldn't identify it and then I saw an orange glow reflected by my kitchen window. Fire! Somewhere there is a fire! Not that house, not that house, not there, I thought, as I raced around our house until I got to our office. There, very close to our house, was our neighbor's car, on fire and blowing up before my very eyes.
I screamed for my husband to get the kids out of the house and proceeded to call 911. All of the kids followed the plan, quickly got out of the house, and walked to our other neighbor's house to wait and watch. Everyone, naturally, began running through their part of this story. What each heard or saw and when. And then, the 'Thankfullys' ~ Thankfully, its not too cold. Thankfully, no one is hurt. Thankfully, the fire is contained. And then, the wondering. What would make a car, that is just sitting in a driveway, suddenly blow up in the middle of the night? There was no satisfying rationalization.
We were back in our house by 5 am trying to convince the kids that getting a little more sleep would be good. I showered, gathered up my things, hopped into a car with a friend and headed out of town for the women's retreat. It was a short night and it was still dark.
12 hours later, I wondered, 'Did that really happen?'
Many days later, my daughter and I talked about some of the effects this event was having on us. It is still shocking and surreal. Our brains are still taking time to process. There are sounds and images, and vivid dreams of things and places blowing up, filling our night time. There is a new fear of fire to contend with.
Halloween 2008 will certainly be remembered, but not for the pillowcases filled with sweet treats!