Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heading in to sorrow....looking for joy

WARNING: Sadness, tears and possible gnashing of teeth will occur in this blog...but please read anyway...because there is also a great awkward story and who doesn't need a good laugh in the midst of crying?

Today I am going to meet my sister, Jenny, for coffee and a pedicure.
We have lived within 30 miles of each other for the last 14 years.
And in 3 weeks...she and her family will be moving to Colorado.

My sisters are my dearest friends.
My confidantes. My sounding boards. My people.
I like my people close. Within shouting distance.

I told my sister, Erica, on the phone,
"Everyone leaves me. First, you. Now, Jenny."
There was a pause on the other end.
"Sue...I left over 20 years ago."
So what?
It may have been two decades ago.
But no one likes to be left.

When Erica left, I couldn't even say good-bye.
I was newly dating Scott at the time.
While Van and Erica were packing up the moving truck and heading out,
I drove the hour from Santa Cruz to Scott's home in San Mateo.
He held me in the car while I sobbed.
I was crying so hard....that I passed gas.
It was one of the darker, more horrifying moments of my life.
That made me cry harder.
Because of the humiliation.
Luckily, Scott was not put off by it. He just hugged me and told me he loved me anyway.

He does say, however, that this was the gateway moment that allowed gas into our relationship.
Up until this time, he had let himself be tied up in knots until the end of our dates.
My slip up allowed him to let go...literally. He felt free.
I am still super sad about that.

Back to my sister, Jenny.
We have lived these last 14 years out with no regrets.
We have gotten together whenever we could.
We have watched each others kids grow up.
We have been there on each other's darkest of days and most joy filled moments.
That is all I can say...lest, I put my head down on my computer and sob like a baby.

So for the last two months, I have known the day of Jenny's departure is coming.
I have been doing a lot of preemptive crying.
I think it the unraveling of my heart.
The loosening of the bond that ties me to Jenny to
so that I can send her off into her new adventure with joy.
With encouragement. With the knowledge that I am so proud of her,
and I love her and she is one of my most favorite people in the world no matter what.
Even if she is moving far...far....far..........far away.

I know that Jesus is leading the way in the Moody family move.
I want to be able to shout out,
"Go with God!" instead of "Stay with me!" when they drive away.

My sorrow comes from knowing that we will never be the same.
From knowing that we will be living complete lives far apart.
It is a kind of good grief. I have had the goodness of our closeness.
That part of our relationship is ending. Hence, the copious amounts of tears.
I will miss her. With my whole heart.

My grief over Jenny moving is added to other tears in my life at the moment.

This year, shifting from writer to educator,
working from home part-time to working outside the home full-time,
moving from our family home of 11 years to the tiny house then to our new house,
there has been a sense of loss that I have been wrestling with.

All good things taking place.
No tragedies.
And yet...I have cried. Almost every day. For the last 8 months.
I actually didn't know I could cry that much.
I am not even wanting to cry. Tears well up in my eyes without any warning.
It is making me feel crazy.

I think my tears are so at the ready because I feel like I have lost myself in so many different ways.
All the change has upended me and left me raw...with heart hanging and vulnerable.
Jenny's leaving just makes it all the more apparent.

I texted my friends a few weeks ago, since Jenny's imminent move has heightened the crying jags.
I said, "Please pray that I can stop crying. It is out of control. Make it stop."

Then my good friend, Jane, texted me back and in all of her wisdom said to me,
"Sue! You are having to let go of who you are to embrace who you are becoming.
Be gentle with yourself."

Be gentle. I am better at berating myself. Telling myself to pull it together.
Irritated that I can't control my emotions, for crying out loud. (Literally).

Sorrow is a heavy, deep thing.
But is the thing that buoys us up.
The love of family and friends and mostly...Jesus.

Weeping may endure for the night. (or for 8 months)
But joy comes in the morning.

That is the promise that comes from the One who loves us most of all.
We don't always understand why life takes the twists and turns that it does.
But His love, makes a way for us to look past the present sorrow, and know that joy
will come again...some time...hopefully, soon.

Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. To those of us who are experiencing loss
in a million different ways. He is pulling us into His arms, filling us with strength,
inviting us to look beyond what we are feeling and recognize who He is.

The Healer. The Provider. The Deliverer. The Giver of all Good Things.
The Lifter of Our Heads.

He is love.
And His love will lift us up.

He is going to walk with Jenny and her family when they move into the unknown.
He is placing a steady arm around my shoulders and reminding me one more time,
"I will never leave you or forsake you."
He wants to do the same for you. Wherever you are at right now. Whatever state your heart is in.

That is the truth of who He is.
Love upon love upon love.

And that is where the joy comes in.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

goodbye tiny house...hello 2 bathrooms

Yes. You read right.
Our year in the tiny house has come to close and in the miraculous way
that only God can do, He opened the doors for us in this crazy Bay Area rental market,
to rent a home with 2 BATHROOMS.

This is more important than how many bedrooms it has. (3)
Or how cute the kitchen is. (stainless steel appliances)
Or how big the living room is (plenty big with a fireplace.)
Because it means that no one will be peeing in the backyard anymore.

Just to be clear, I never once in the whole year used the backyard as a potty.
(There were, however, some desperate moments where I considered it.)

When we were looking for a new place to live I posed the question to our boys,
"Is it more important to have 3 bedrooms or 2 bathrooms?"

A universal shriek went up, "2 BATHROOMS!"
There may have been a slight note of hysteria in some of the voices.
Our family starts calling out, "I get bathroom first!" miles away from reaching our home.

Some of your may be thinking, "Big deal. I have had 2 bathrooms for years."
"Calm down. I have a 3 1/2 baths. 2 bathrooms is nothing to brag about."

But those of you with 1 bathroom and multiple children know what I am talking about.
You know why my voice catches with tears when I say,
"Two bathrooms, guys....2 BATHROOMS!"

Bathrooms can set the tone of your day....or week.
We have over-users in the house. Bathroom hogs, so to speak.
Those who lollygag and dawdle.
The rest of the family suffers.
The over-users have sent a few folks sprinting to the bushes on more than one occasion.

Let me be clear.
2 bathrooms is extravagant living.
Just like having drinkable water, electricity and 3 squares a day.

I know this.
In my travels, I have used squatty potties, outhouses and on occasion, nature
as my bathroom.
Arriving back home, I was always overwhelmed by the beauty of a neatly tiled bath,
complete with sink and toilet.

Over 2 billion people in the world right now don't have basic sanitation.
Over 8 million still have to do their business out in the open.
And not because they are camping. Because they are surviving.
Disease is held at bay when plumbing is present.
Cities thrive when toilets arrive.
London, Paris and New York?
All giant plague-ridden cesspools before sanitation.
History tells the story. I am not lying.
Bathrooms have revolutionized our world.

There is a certain amount of entitlement that I have lived with for years.
For 11 years, we lived in a 4 bedroom 2 bath home.
This past year? A 2 bedroom 1 bath.
This small home has been a gift to us.
An eye opener. A blessing.
And a reminder of how easily I take for granted the extravagances of modern life.
Wi-Fi. Refrigeration. Central heating. Hot and cold running water. Transportation.

Blessing upon blessing upon blessing poured on me day after day.
And I can complain about having 1 toilet?
Forget about it.

I am determined to enter this new season with a open heart of thankfulness
about every good and perfect gift that the Father has continued to pour out on me.
Even toilets.
I don't want to live entitled. I want to live grateful.
He has given me so much...every day....and I have just taken it in....
like I deserve it.
Like a rich kid who doesn't recognize her Dad's generosity.
No more, folks.

Come February 1st...we will be living in luxury.
And I am grateful.

If you come visit me, I will say, "Welcome to our new lovely home."

Followed by.
"Would you like to see our 2 bathrooms?"

Sunday, November 26, 2017

let's bring some hope...because we can

This morning I woke up to crazy headlines...again.
I have been feeling like I should chuck my phone straight out the window
when I read them...
maybe it would make the crazy go away.

Instead, I have taken to reading the Psalms because...BE STILL MY SOUL.
It feels like the world is going straight to Hades...not even in a handbasket....
we are just plummeting like a rock towards the fiery pit.

But the Psalms always bring me back from the edge.
They put everything back into perspective.
The world has always been the world.
Wild. Unpredictable. And broken.

And God has always been God.
Steadfast. Faithful. Powerful.
The Psalms remind me of what is real.

Ones like this....
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High with rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and he delivers them.

The thing is...hope will never be found in the headlines.
That is where fear and anger reside...headlines were made to get us whipped up.
They unsettle us and make us doubt the goodness in the world we live in.

But the truth of God's word...his Holy meant to anchor us with peace.
To still our beating hearts in the midst of the storm.
To lift our heads and get us focused on the One who is TRULY GOOD...and then some.
The One who is in charge and loves us most of all.

That would be Jesus.
The Hope of Heaven.

In the midst of chaos, Jesus always brings hope to the table.
In Him. And Him alone.

The hope of kindness and joy and forgiveness.
The hope of generosity and miracles and peace.
The hope of light in a dark place.
The hope of salvation. For you and me.

And we are like Him. Made in His image.
We are made with the great capacity for hope.
It is tethered to the fact that He has surrounded us with his LOVE.
He is changing us from moment to moment.
In Him we live and move and have our being.
And Jesus is chock full of HOPE.
Hope upon hope upon hope.

And the craziest part of it is - He is leaving it up to us to spread the hope around.
Christ in you....the hope of glory.

Did you even know that?
He doesn't have another plan.
You and me? We are supposed to be getting the job done.

In the midst of our own struggles and craziness,
with families and work and heartache and bills....
we can reach out with....hope. His hope.

We are the hope bringers in a world of headlines.

You reaching out in kindness. Me digging into the richness of  God's love.
You speaking truth and light. Me putting an arm around a frazzled neighbor.

You bringing holiday cookies to your mom friends.
Me sharing a word of encouragement with a co-worker.

You holding up your best friend whose marriage is frayed around the edges
Me reigning in my impulse buying ( Il love you, Christmas tchotchkes)
and giving more to those who need it.

You singing songs about the greatness of the God in your your the shower.
(Keep singing! SINGING BRINGS HOPE!)

Me asking Jesus to please change me...because sometimes I am hard hearted and judge-y.
(Pray with me! Soft hearts are a must when it comes to spreading hope.)

Us becoming more like HIM.
Because that is the only way we can bring hope.

Us letting His love shape our interactions....casting out fear.

Us asking for His will (not our grand ideas, schemes and truly worthy plans) to be done.

Us praying for our people. Our cities. Our world.
And asking Him to let His hope crack the more time...
ushering in peace and goodwill on this all people...
because that has been His plan all along.

All along.
A plan of  love. Peace. Healing. Reconciliation. Restoration. Bright joy.