Monday, February 27, 2012

How I *Know* Everything

Technology is not my friend. 

You know how sometimes when you're writing and you just *know* you're on to something and you're typing so fast you're hardly even thinking about it and you feel electric with energy because you are starting to think you are just Such. A. Flaming. Genius?

So then you take a moment to review it and you smile and you think, This is SO GOOD!  I'm just gonna cut it and paste it over here where I can edit it a little better without the worry of accidentally hitting 'Post' before it's too soon?

And so you go and you cut it?

But then for whatever stinking reason under this side of heaven it Just. Won't. PASTE?!


Yep, you guessed it.  Somewhere out in cyberspace (or hiding in some tiny unretrievable recesses of my computer) is that sheer genius piece of writing.  From Friday.  When I was trying to 'work ahead' and tell you what I *knew*.

So let's just agree that Friday's lost entry was my Pulitzer Prize winner that unfortunately got lost in a galaxy too large for any of us to find.  And when we see who wins the Prize this year we'll all *know* it was supposed to be me...OK?

Instead, I'm going to use today to clarify something.  Because since some of you have been kind enough to let me know you are, in fact, reading what I'm writing here in Blogland and that I'm not just writing it to myself  [which, by the way is incredibly kind of you, and also extremely terrifying for me, but I thank you anyway].  Still, since I'm pretty sure I'll have at least one reader every day (thanks, Mom) it's important that we are of the same mind on something.   

And that something is what I mean when I write the word know with those cute little asterisks around it like this:

*know*


You see, when I write that I *know* something, I'm talking about the kind of *knowing* that me and my Women Friends had when we were younger and newly married and we were SO READY to start a family and have our kids spaced out here.  And here.  And here.  And we had it all planned out.  And we *knew* that's how it would go. 

You know what I'm talking about?  Remember that kind of *knowing*?

I do. 

Any guesses how many times I've *known* I was pregnant? 

At least 12. 

Yep.

I'd bet at least that many.

Which is, of course, different from how many times I've actually been pregnant.


Which, for the record is three.  (And believe me, I'm OK with that!)

So, you see, when I say I *know* something, I think what I really mean is that I'm being intuitive.  But the stink of it is, that sometimes it's really hard to separate our intuition (our God-given built-in Truth-finder, if you will) from what we really, really want.

And what we want
may not always be
the Truth
we're intended to live.

SO...

sometimes we have to *know* and be wrong, and sniff (and cry) our way back to our Life Path before we *know* and get it right. 

And the reward is that when we *know* and we get it right, then it's confirmed for us over and over and over again-- through the things we see (ultrasound), and the things others see in us (You are GLOWING!) and the way we feel (over-the-moon-euphoric!).

And in those moments we can rest assured we have, in fact, found...our personal Truth.  Or we've let it find us.

Either way, I'm fairly certain that  in those moments when we realize our personal Truth, what's really happened is that our minds are finally in tune with our hearts.   Which seems like it should happen a lot more often because there really isn't that much of a distance between the two!


Still...sometimes it's a looooooong and crooked road between them.

*Sigh*

Anyway.

Now we can at least be on the same page and you will know that when I *know* something I just may be dead wrong.

And that stinks.

But it'll be OK.

You know why?

Because I've learned that my being wrong is really just an invitation from God... to wait. 

I guess it's the only way He can make sure He is out in front of me before I go blazing ahead.   He's real protective like that.  


BUT I REALLY LIKE TO BLAZE!

Still. 

In my heart I know that it really would be a whole lot easier if I didn't. Blaze, I mean.  Alone. 

You'd think we'd already know that since God sent us Jesus who told us straight up:

                                                            "Follow me." -Matthew 8:34

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” -Matthew 11:30


But I'll be honest, I used to think He was lying.   I really did. 

Not about the following, so much. 


More about the easy.

And trust me, I realize it's probably not nice to say you think God's a liar, but since it's my understanding that God created my heart (and my head... and my soul),  I guess there's no real sense in my hiding the fact that I may think He's a liar.  Because He's got a Front Row seat in there, anyway. 

Still. 

It's what I thought.  

He was lying. 



Or at the very least He was wrong.

And I thought that because it seemed like my own personal experience told me otherwise.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking this, because how often don't we say to ourselves and each other that "life isn't easy"?

It seems like I hear (and say) it a lot. 

But then.

Uggghhhh, but then


Then I went ahead and I let God weigh in with His two cents (and seriously, that's about all the more I let Him weigh in because I'm stubborn like that).  And  I realized that it really may not be as hard as I first thought. 

I mean, after all...

I'm living right now.  And right now.  And right now.  And this isn't really all that hard. 

But you know what's IS hard? 


WAITING. 


At least most of the time. 


At least for me.
 

So that's why God is sending me (and now you, too)  this here little postcard today. 




And you know what the postcard says?  It says,

 It's not FOLLOWING
unless you let ME go first.
Love,
God

SOOOOOOOOO...


I'm making a choice to listen.

Because if God isn't there yet... well... I guess I really don't want to go there yet either.  Even if it means letting someone else get that Pulitzer.  

So that's why I'm gonna sit another day or two before I rewrite that sheer genius entry I lost last Friday.


Because I may not have to rewrite it at all.


You see, I'm still trying to sniff out the Truth, even though I *know* what it is.  



And that sometimes takes awhile. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Entering the Desert



So, here  we are on day three of this little bloggy adventure, and I find I'm already at war with myself.

Based on experience, this is good because it tells me I'm on the right track. (Growing Season!)  But it also stinks, because it doesn't really answer the most pressing question I have for God today, which is:

"What do I write about!?!?!??" 

There are so many topics zinging around in my brain it's ridiculous. 

Seriously, is anyone else's brain this LOUD?

Still, if there's one thing I know for sure (and I hope there is)  it's that if I'm in my brain when I'm writing this blog, I'm probably not in the right spot.  Because it's occuring to me now (two days after the fact since I am a s-l-o-w learner) that this whole little adventure into Blogville --in all its uncomfortableness--is another faith journey for me. 

And a faith journey is not for one's head.  It's for one's heart

(*UGH!*  See what I mean? Even as I type that last sentence I'm worrying, "Is that right?  Should I have said, 'It's for one's soul' instead?"  And please don't even get me started on my very rusty editing skills.  Do me a favor, will you?  Just humor me and go with "heart" for right now, and if I need to later I'll just say "soul" and we'll all pretend like that's exactly what I said from the beginning, OK?)

But again I digress.


*Breathe*


You see, the thing is...all these thoughts-- every last doubt-- is really nothing more than a distraction.  And if I go with them, then I'm letting the distractions and the doubts win me over. 

And that's not what I came here-- to this Lenten Desert-- to do. 

I came to the desert to do what Jesus did.  To call out my demons, and --because I cannot overpower them-- withstand them until they go away. 

And once they go away the dust will settle.  And then I should be able to see and hear the Truth of the struggle.  If I allow the Truth of the struggle to soak in,  then  the other thing I know (looky there, I know two things!) is that in the end at least a teeny tiny little part of me will be transformed to a better me.  The true me.  You know, the "me" I was meant to be before humanity took its dreaded fall. 

And I will feel really, really good. 

But those who know me personally probably won't even realize the battle I've gone through because there will still be enough parts of the "other" me left that I will mostly look and sound the same. 


For instance, I'll still swear sometimes.  And, dammit, from time to time I'll still skip church.  (You see how I drove home the point of the first one just in case you didn't believe me?)  I'll still laugh with my friends and gossip and talk about things that I shouldn't "because that's what friends do."  I'll still find myself competing with them, judging them, being jealous of them.  (Even though I technically "gave those things up" last year for Lent...but that's another story) .  And I'll still want more of this material world and all it has to offer, even though years and years and years ago I was given beyond my equal portion.  I'll still eat and drink too much sometimes. I'll still want what others have, and what's worse is I'll sometimes even think I deserve it more than they do.  I'll still sin.  I'll probaby break every Commandment, but if I'm lucky not all in the same day.  And what are the seven deadly sins again?  Wrath, greed, sloth, gluttony, pride, lust and envy?  Yep.  I'm betting I'll at least occasionally nail all those, too. 

But mostly, I wonder --while knowing that's how I'll come out, still flawed and fallen and so...imperfect-- how all or any of that makes me even remotely lovable to God. 
And that right now, is the real rub. 

Because while I haven't pinpointed it exactly, I think that dangling somewhere near that little bit of wonder may be where my next journey begins in this newest of Growing Seasons ....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Give Up and Get Rich!


So, were any of you up late into the wee hours of the night hyperventilating wondering about what I would write about today, like me?


No?

Well, then you must have at least been up all night wondering what my kids gave up for Lent, right?

No again?  Really?

Well, poo!  Sadly, my children's Lenten decisions are my only idea as a follow up to yesterday's post!

(Allow me  a sidebar here, if you will,  but I feel I need to clarify EXACTLY what happened yesterday with the launching of this blog.  I've narrowed it down to one of two possible things that took place since I can't quite understand it myself, so bear with me: 


EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY VERSION #1:  I was just sitting at my computer innocently-- and, I may add, rather confidently-- typing away some great words of wisdom about life and Lent and God, etc., when I suddenly had a weird out-of-body experience that possessed me to log onto Facebook and post an announcement about my Maiden Voyage into Blogdom for all of my "friends"-- some of whom I may not even REALLY know--when my fingers rapidly typed something and evidently hit the word POST.    What was THAT?  I thought to myself.  Oh, well, it's the middle of the afternoon, no one will notice.  Then, suddenly [with comic book sound effects, no less]  Zap!  someone...no wait...a FEW someone's "liked it" and then... Zing!  I had one comment.  Then another. *Ack!* WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?? ?!  And then I returned back to my body, but now I somehow look like Sheryl Crow.  The end. 

I know.  Weird.

It was EITHER that, OOOORRRRR  


EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY VERSION #2:  The moment was what I can only imagaine must have been similar to when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and announced to her she would be carrying GOD HIMSELF in her womb.  Imagine for a moment that even though she'd never "laid with a man" so the possibility of being pregnant--let alone PREGNANT WITH GOD--seemed completely impossible, still here right in front of her was an angel telling her that she WAS going to do this and that she COULD do it despite all her doubts, excuses, worries, fears, trepidations and  misgivings.  And then what does the Virgin Mary do, you ask?  Well, apparently WITHOUT REALLY GIVING IT ANY THOUGHT she found herself giving a hearty "YES!"  And then I guess she ran off to go see her cousin and share some good news.  That last sentence is kinda where any similarities get real sketchy if, in fact,  this version has any hint of the truth.


So there you have it.  Those are the only  two possible explanations I can see.    Like I said, it was one or the other.  In one version I end up looking like Sheryl Crow, in the other I'm the Virgin Mary.  You can decide for yourself what you think really happened.  For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure the true version of what happened is somewhere in the middle.   However, today I know that I myself am wishing the Bible had a whole lot more solid info on just exactly what Mary did after this Angel appeared, besides running off to tend to her cousin Elizabeth.   Because I can tell you that if in that moment yesterday afternoon I was at all metaphorically the Virgin Mary, I do in fact feel like running right about now.  But unless "Elizabeth" is a code word for "hiding"  that's where me and the Virgin Mother really part ways. 

Even so, rest assured that me and my trusty brown paper bag *breathe, breathe* are back for Day 2.  ) 

Anyhoo, let's get back to you, shall we?  We were talking about you and you're complete disregard concern for me and my blogginess.

So, what you're saying is it was just me that's been thinking about my kids' decisions then? 
And by that, I mean it really was JUST ME.

Especially considering this was what I found when I posed the Mom-trying-to-act-like-she-really-doesn't-care -but-do-you-know-what-you're-doing-for-Lent? question this morning at breakfast. 

Let's see how they responded, shall we?

The Little One (kindergarten):  (Wrinkles up her nose)  What's LENT(Says it like it smells bad.  And though she posed the question, it is clear she really doesn't care to know more).
 
 
The Big One (middle school):  Umm... I'm still thinking.  (To which I force a That's OK I Can Wait For You To Decide Smile.  Instead of my preferred response of  wagging my finger in his face and telling him that "Deciding not to decide is still a decision!") 


So, with me now beginning to lose all hope, The Middle One (not-quite-10-year-old) chimes in with:  I'm giving up spending money during Lent.





I begin to roll my eyes and wonder what lecture I should begin.  But something stops me cold. I wait.  Did The Middle One have an answer?  I think he did.  What did he say again?  Something about money? 
 
 
Me:  I'm sorry, can you say that again?  (OK, I really probably just said, "Huh?" but it's called literary license, people!)
 
 
The Middle One (again):  I'm giving up spending money. (I stare at him a moment).  For Lent.  (He says to clarify, because apparently I looked as though I'd forgotten the question, but really I was just considering his answer).
 
 
I think ...this answer sounds... good!  In fact, it sounds responsible.  It may even have a hint of charity in it.  It also sounds vaguely...familiar.  Still, because this sounds pretty good, I give him my Encouraging Smile. 



Then, wondering what led up to his thinking behind this decision I ask, "What made you decide to do that?"  He got big eyes, and an even bigger smile, and said very excitedly, "Don't your remember?  The Big One (his brother) gave that up last year and he got REALLY RICH from it!" 

Hmmm...

This is true, I remember.  No wonder it sounded familiar.  I also recall that while The Big One was lectured encouraged to give charitably from his savings, it did not happen and instead ended up in the purchase of  (if memory serves) a Nintendo DSi.  For himself.  Not charity.

On the other hand, a voice whispers to my heart, don't we all get "rich" from our sacrifices?

After six weeks of letting go of "me" and letting God GO BEFORE me, don't I, in fact, feel "rich"  too?

I do.  I do indeed.

Of course, it occurs to me here that The Middle One may be forgetting that when The Big One made this sacrifice last year his birthday (a.k.a money deluge) fell smack in the middle of Lent.  It won't be that way for the The Middle One, I'm afraid.  And I wonder for a moment, should I tell him?

But then I remember Richard Rohr and his words again, "Your image of God creates you."

And I realize there is no need to tell him.  He's on the right path.  After all, I've been enjoying my own journey for some time now, and when I was a not-quite-10-year-old my image of God was a fatherly figure who kinda/sorta asked me to give up bubble gum for six weeks until the Easter bunny came. 

His not-quite-10-year-old image of  God will make him rich.

So I throw The Midde One a second Encouraging Smile.  

And I pray with confidence that for him (and for all)  this Growing Season ends for us in wealth beyond measure.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent - The Growing Season


As I listened to my children ponder this morning what they would be "giving up" this Lenten season, I was whisked back to the days of my youth, when I'd wonder and worry if I could really give up chocolate, or gum, or dessert all the way until Easter.  Usually, I'd opt to "set myself up for success" by choosing the easiest of the three, and sadly, even then I would often fall.  I would forget my personal sacrifice--sometimes honestly and sometimes conveniently--or, if it appeared that no one else was really watching or cared, I may even give up all together.  I mean, if no one was watching or paying attention, then what was the point?

Funny how time (a.k.a. aging) can change our perspective.  In my youth, that "someone" I thought wasn't watching would have been my parents, a Sunday school teacher, or maybe a more pious and devout friend.  (It seems there were a few testy and turbulent teenage years there where I *may* have completely disregarded this whole tradition of self-sacrifice, but I can't say for sure as those memories are rather sketchy --yet another convenient forgetfulness!).  

Later, when I became a parent myself, I grew to realize that I was now being looked to as that set of eyes for (by) my children.   I also began to really want to understand who the Someone is that is watching me now, and why it matters what we do even if we think no one is watching us at all.  The short answer is because in the end, the One who was watching me all the time was me

Or, as Richard Rohr so brilliantly states, "Your image of God creates you."  In other words, if your God is uncaring this Lenten season and wants to "give you a pass" from this trial, then I suggest you go look in the mirror and ask yourself who really doesn't want you to change!

This is a season where collectively we go into the desert.  But of course everyone's desert is different, and so ultimately we end up alone calling out our personal demons, and enduring them one by one.   Sounds like great fun, doesn't it??  However, we must remember that we are also here to serve one another, and so we really aren't alone:  for just as angels came to the desert and attended to Jesus, so can we attend to each other, even though our journeys are our own. 

Like I said, funny how time can change our perspective.  In my youth I would enter this Lenten Season with worry and a rather unwilling spirit. Now I enter willingly into what for me is no longer so much a desert season (though there are certainly plenty of "prickly" parts to it!)  but a growing season.  After all, what are our "ashes" for if not to fertilize new life?

I, for one, relish this opportunity. After all, just as the ashes remind us today that "you are from dust and to dust you shall return," so it is true that with our first step into the desert --even a trepidatious and skeptical one--our own personal resurrection has already been fulfilled.  

Let the growing begin!