So much love

When I was pregnant with my second child I remember being excited but also there was this nagging sense of fear.  I worried that I would not have enough room in my heart for another child.

I discovered at the moment my son was born that the heart is a remarkable thing; resilient, forthright, expansive, unending. The love was almost too much to bear I was so filled by it.

I talk about love a great deal. I do not demonstrate it in real life as often as I’d like, honestly, but I’m working on it. The essential thing about humans though, I think, is love. There is so much of it. So much available. So much ready to give. So much ready to be given. We never need to look for an alternative fuel source for the heart because as long as we demonstrate and in turn accept kindness and mercy and peace and joy and sacrifice and service one to another we create this perpetually refilling basin…a vein of gold which never ceases.

Can we have too much love?
Not the marred version of love that we are fed by media or culture but the real thing;
The moment with our selves when we breathe soft and full.
The moment with a child when we greet tears of gratitude.
The moment with a lover when we know we are known.
The moment with a friend when we grieve and heal.
The moment with our Creator when we know we are loved because we are made;
fearfully, wonderfully made.

Can we have too much love?
Can we give too much love?
That is a noble question to pursue. A research project which can only bear fruit.

Just Wait

***caution****parenting rant****

I’m tired of fear talk. I’m tired of hearing people place their fears on top of me like a death shroud. I am especially tired of this as it pertains to my parenting. This is a friend who tells me all the horror stories of parenting. They are the “Oh, just wait” parents. The ones who temper all my good stories with, “Oh, just wait, they get worse…”

For example a dialogue like this:
me- “Oh, my gosh, Miles is hysterical…yesterday he wanted to ride the dog…”
her- “Yikes, you know that could really hurt the dog!”
me- “No, no…I was right there, I didn’t let him do it…the dog loves Miles.”
her- “Yeah, well, you know…that can turn the dog mean and then pretty soon he starts to bite little kids…”
me- “Erm….hey, so I gotta go….”

It’s this kind of “fear” thinking that makes me mental, as a parent. I’m all about the process of discernment as it concerns pretty much everything. I’ll ask questions, do research, seek advice and look for the best route as far as I’m able. I’m just not about “fear.” Discernment means walking INTO situations with eyes open, questions asked, heart studied, fear abated. It does not mean sitting around thinking about all the bad things that can happen. I can do all the research and ask all the advice I can muster but basically, in the end, I’m discovering it’s not really ALL I need to be an effective parent. I need more if I’m to live in the real authentic community I crave.

In the hard situations that surround parenting I needs lots of affirmation and encouragement sandwiched gently in love. I need that. So I’m giving that out…free of charge.

I’m starting this new trend….it’s my own version of “just wait.” I’m going to make sure to employ it, in particular with every new parent I meet. It will include statements such as, “Just wait….it gets even better.” and “Just wait, someday he’ll do that on his own and you’ll be so proud” and “Just wait, it won’t always be this hard.” I think I shall add an order of love while I’m at it.

That’s where I’m at on it these days.

why do you let me stay here?

I’m lucky to have some really fabulous “in the know” friends. It’s even more lucky for you because once they turn me on to what’s out there I can pass that along to you lovely people. This one I stole from that beautiful Jude Adam via her Facebook page, thank you very much.

She and Him are a duo formed by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. This comes from their site:

The She & Him story begins when in 2006 , renowned one man band M. Ward, recorded a duet with a girl named Zooey Deschanel. A delightful recording session, the experience lead to a dialogue between the two about collaborating further. This, in turn, led to Deschanel admitting to secretly making dozens and dozens of home demos and hoarding them like acorns for the winter. Sick and tired of being stingy and secretive about music, Deschanel realized that if songs were acorns then this was indeed her wintertime: she sent the recordings to Ward and these demos became the basis for their first record, entitled Volume One.

They are awesome, they are. Plus that, honestly, I love the video. It’s just whacked out enough to keep me watching and I like that in a video.

Everyday friend…

Back in Chicago I have many amazing friends…this one friend in particular came to mind the other day, though. I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend Paula, who I miss so much sometimes it actually physically hurts my heart. I’m humbled to say that this is true of a number of my closest friends up there in the cold north. How can any heart be so lucky? I don’t know.

I was thinking about Paula though not just because I miss her but because I’m terribly envious of something she has…or rather someone she is. She has and is an everyday friend. She and her friend Lisa live a few houses away from each other. They have known one another for a lot of years. I think they get to see and talk every day. Every day.

Living out here in the country obviously prohibits this but it doesn’t stop me from wishing I was and had an everyday friend. I’d like to have the kind of kitchen that invites a someone or lots of someones to visit anytime. I’d like to be a someone who would be welcomed in that way.

Am I the sort of person who can be an “everyday friend?” I’d like to be one. I’d like to be the sort of friend that someone would really want to live next door to, sit in the kitchen of, see on an everyday basis. In my bad moments I find it hard to believe that I could be that friend. Am I interesting enough, patient enough, transparent enough to be an everyday friend? Am I enough?

I know that I’m needy enough…lol…I know that I would not only like to be an everyday friend but to have one….or six. I know that I am missing this.

And that’s where I am today…articulating a little further the person I want to be in the world. I want to be an everyday friend. As we determine where we’ll go after this extended vacation in the wilderness, whether it be back to Chicago or into Nashville proper this is where my heart lives…ready to be expanded again, ready to become an everyday friend.

Cutting into Ordinary Time…

A few days ago I turned to Dave and said, “You know, I think basically I will just have to do laundry every day from here on out for the next, I dunno, 12 years or so. After that I might be able to only have to do laundry every couple of days.”

This got me to thinking about the things we do on a daily basis, things that ought not be left undone, the “quotidian” as it were. It feels to me these days that our entire culture is somehow geared toward ridding us of the every day. All of our modern conveniences are designed to reduce the number of things you have to do every day…there are devices now which will water your garden, feed your pet, even record your television shows so that you won’t have to do that on a specified day.

Where the convenience of it ought to bring comfort, it just disturbs me, really.

It’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment. Believe me, the mundane tasks of the everyday do not exude the “sacred” I hope for in the moment and yet, there is something to it. Something rewarding…elusive but rewarding.

I can’t help but feel that is the Deforestation of our lives. Who knew that losing so much of the world’s greenness would lead to so much difficulty down the line? (Don’t answer that, conspiracy theorists, that was a rhetorical question.) So in taking away the quotidian tasks, in stock-piling and reorganizing and automating our lives…what is it that we will have to trade? What will we be sacrificing?

I don’t have the answer at the ready…but I think the question is a good one for us to ponder. It’s a good place to start.

Random Thing…

As my daughter ran up to me recently to ask me something I noticed how tall she’s gotten. She looks so grown up for 11 years old. I don’t know when that happened. I looked at my boys then and saw the same thing in them. The questions they were asking were blowing me away. I wanted to just soak it up and memorize every moment.

This one thought struck me and it stuck to me like glue. I’ve never been here before. I’ve been parenting now for 11 years and yet every day is new. They are each, all at once, the baby I carried and this brand new person I have yet to meet. They are so full of the now and the not yet.

I’ve never been here before…and that is going to keep happening over and over. It is terrifying and beautiful.

a great mystery.
a fine adventure.

Stay Awake

A while back I was out to dinner with some remarkable, wonderful and amazing women friends. After a few minutes of conversation the talk turned to antidepressants. A lot of people I know take antidepressants…I don’t know how to greet that sometimes. Not because I judge ANYONE harshly who takes ’em…but mostly because many many days I wonder if I ought to get myself some.

Then recently I spoke to a good friend who just tapered off of his “happy pills” and he said, “I just feel like I’m finally waking up.” This stuck to me…and it put these lyrics in my head and then my guitar had an idea about it too so we put those together and this is the result.
Once again…rough demo people…me and my laptop and pegging the red…but you get the idea:

Stay Awake adc 5/08
Tried to cram my trepidation
Into a vase on the table
But it just keeps spilling out
Maybe it’s time
that I decide
That life is just that messy

I’m beginning to wonder
If all I really need
Are some happy pills
To fill me up
But it’s all I can do
To stay awake
In the process
It’s all I can do
To stay awake

Hear those whispers in the corner
And the rumors that will follow
It’s all shadow and fog
Maybe it’s time
That I realize
That life is just this hard

So now I wonder
If all I can do
Is take happy pills
To get me through
All I need to do
Is stay awake
For the process
It’s all I want
To stay awake

Tried to pour out my soul
Into a box on the table
But it just keeps on climbing out
Maybe it’s time
That I realize
That souls are just this messy

And now for something completely different…

“an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.”

For years we’ve drilled into our kids’ heads that words like “stupid” and “shut up” were bad words…words that could hurt. They even call them the “s” words, which frankly in the company of people who don’t know us can give quite the wrong impression. ack.

The older three have got this down. They KNOW that I’m all about using words in ways which are uplifting and honoring. They know how much I value the words we say. Well, ok, at the very least they “get” that I don’t like them to call each other names which will hurt.

So after all that hard work with the first three… the youngest, my three year old who is a pistol…a loaded freakin’ pistol watched some movie where everyone said “stupid” and “shut up” the whole time, I kid you not. I don’t even know what it was, I don’t even know if it matters. I just resigned myself that this way of talking is everywhere and you know, I just do the best I can.

He’s running around the house with “stupid” this and “shut up” that and whatever else he can muster to get a reaction to which I respond, “Yeah, so you know…maybe you could pick other words because those are not so great. They’re rude. Think of some better words to use, k?”

So we’re working on it…I mean, after all, if the worst he gets to is “stupid” and “shut up” I’ll be doing FINE, right?

Yeah, well…now he’s planning to write a movie, which of course, I LOVE. He’s explaining it to me one day and it so happens that his main characters are called “Stupid” and “Shut Up.” He’s taking his sweet three and a half year old time to describe the entire premise which in three and a half year old time takes like 20 minutes with every other word being “Stupid” and “Shut up.”

I keep interrupting with “So can you call your characters something ELSE maybe ’cause those are not such great names for people….they’re rude, man.” He ignores this.

Finally I just give up. My son has personified the “s” words into characters in a story. There’s got to be grace in that, yes? I like to think so.

With my oldest hitting puberty I’m not sure I’ll survive.

Radical Thought: Paying Compliments

I have this little rule that I try to live by. I never pay a compliment I cannot afford, meaning, that I do not pay idle compliments. I happen to think that words are powerful and truth telling is important. While idle compliments might not be lies, they are at the very least a cheap use of one’s words.

If compliments are currency then I suggest that you pay only with cash. The real stuff. What you have in your pocket or what you keep in the bank. It’s authentic.

Bartering might work for a short time but frankly giving a compliment should never be dependent upon receiving one in return so this may pose problems.

Credit is how we are all tempted at one time or another. We borrow against what we think we MIGHT see in someone but over time all we accumulate in the end is debt we cannot afford.

Counterfeit currency is the probably the worst of all the non-cash transactions. These are compliments which are simply not true. We pay them freely and feel we’ll never be caught but alas, lies do always catch up to us and at some point along the way we are found out.

I am not saying in all of this that we should be miserly with compliments, just authentic. What this does is it forces us to really look and listen to the people we meet in the everyday. We find in those moments when we really look and listen that our bank account is much fuller than we imagined. We realize in that moment how much more we can afford to truly give.

So, my advice…make your words mean something and when giving compliments, pay only what is real. It will reward the receiver greatly and will make you rich beyond measure at the same time.