Saturday, September 8, 2018

you are my density....or my destiny


























Yesterday was one of those days where I had Jen Hatmaker's phrase come to mind,
"Fix it, Jesus, fix it."

I sat at my desk after my last class pondering how the class had gone down.
Thinking about my lesson. My approach. My ability to challenge young minds.
My classroom management skillz. Skillz with a z because z stands for zero.

Then my mind shifted to my house that I was headed home to.
The one that looks like the Wreck of the Hesperus.
This ship is featured in a maritime poem in where said ship was obliterated.
That would be my living room.
I have this weird thing where if my house is a wreck..I feel like a wreck.

And then I thought about how I am pretty sure that
2/3 of my boys did not pack their lunch and had eaten air or dollar cup o' noodles
from the snack bar, which is sure to petrify their insides with monosodium glutamate.

Then my super positive train of thought led me to think about
the pile of grading on my desk,
the devotions I am editing over the weekend,
the week-long field trip I am prepping for in 2 weeks,
the retreat I am speaking at in 3 weeks, and
the fact that Scott and I haven't gone a real date in...I actually can't remember how long.

Then the thought popped into my mind that Jack will be leaving for college in less than a year.
That thought alone lays me out flat. Oh..and that he needs tennis shoes. There's that.

(I am not kidding, people, this is exactly how my mind works. PRAY HEAVY.)

Then I think,
Am I doing what am I am supposed to be doing right now? 
Is there something that I am missing? 
Is there some way that I can sew up all the jagged edges of my soul
and make this piecemeal life of mine have some semblance of order? 
Am I missing out on my destiny and that is why life feels so wild?

(And by destiny, I clearly mean, a life without issues, tragedy, stress, and cup o' noodles?)

The word "destiny" always reminds me of George McFly in Back to the Future approaching
his future wife and saying, "You are my density."

Maybe in this season...my destiny (or density) is in question. Because I feel undone.

So. Then we come back to the clearly needed prayer of  "Fix it, Jesus, fix it."

And as I was doing all this thinking (worrying, kvetching, sulking, stressing out) yesterday,
I was struck by the thought (HOLY SPIRIT, IS THAT YOU?)
that Jesus may not be that concerned about altering my circumstances.
Of course, there are moments in time when yes, absolutely,
in order to bring hope or healing or change that
He shifts the earth on its axis to change the course of my life
(marriage, motherhood, speaking in public, teaching middle school, anyone?)

But mostly, in the ordinary every day scheme of things?

He is using my circumstances to shape my soul.
Those rough uneven edges of my life are whittling away all pretenses and pride.
I am in desperate need of a Savior...and it shows.

The pressure of work and home and church and parenting are squeezing me.
What is coming out? Apparently some anger, discontentment, and a hearty helping of sarcasm.
I get snarky when life feels tight and overwhelming.

And the people that surround me? Jesus has them there to show me who I am.
I see my life mirrored in their eyes.
Am I loving? Am I forgiving? Am I gentle with my words? Am I ushering in hope and peace?
I don't know.
What are my people saying? How are they feeling around me? 
Is Jesus spilling out of me when life is cracking open my heart?
Maybe. Sometimes. Possibly not yesterday.

These pressures and hard places and impossible challenges...this life that I am living...
Jesus doesn't want to "fix it."

He is fixing....me.
With love and hope and prodding and prying and some uncomfortable situations.
He is allowing this world and all of its imperfectness to rub against my hopes and dreams
and reveal my destiny.

My destiny is not about what I am doing.
It is about who I am becoming.
And WHOSE I am becoming.

A little more each day...we are becoming...like Him.
From glory to glory.
(Or from Wreck of the Hesperus to Wreck of the Hesperus...it means the same thing.)
Our character is revealed more in our failures than our successes.
Our hearts are re-shaped during trials and struggles.

His glory at work in you and me...in real life...right now.
And if we let Him...He will use every single thing in our lives,
the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the difficult and the joyful,
to pour out His life through ours.
A collaborative destiny.

And that is a beautiful destiny to be a part of, don't you think?

Saturday, September 1, 2018

and the moral of the story is...don't take the trash out at 4:00 a.m.



























These first three weeks of teaching 6th grade have had an interesting side effect.
I keep waking up at 4:00 in the morning.
Even though I am crazy tired.
My brain is saying, "Right now, in the pitch black of early morning, why not think about grammar?"
And then I think, Maybe I should get up and take advantage of this time...even though I am running on about 5.7 hours of sleep, my eyes feel like sand and I feel like crying a little.
Then my body responds to my brain by saying,
"Stay where you are. Don't move. Don't get up. Nothing good can come of it."

So I have been lying in bed, for another hour and a half, tossing and turning,
worrying, running through weird classroom scenarios and questioning my lesson plans
until I rise, thoroughly exhausted, at 5:30.

Super fun.

All that to say...Scott, Jack and Will were away on high school retreat this week
and Thursday morning, I woke up at, you guessed it, 4:00 a.m.
Just in time to realize that I was hearing the garbage truck barreling down the street.
And just in time to realize that Addie and I had forgotten to drag our trash and recycling to the curb.

So I thought, "I am going to go put it out now."

I got up and threw on Addie's shoes next to the front door.
(They are just a smidge too big for me...like clown shoes).

Then I proceeded to carefully drag our giant trashcan to the curb.
Our next door neighbor is the sweetest older lady
and the rumble of the trash can on our cobbled path is a terrifying noise to wake up to.

So when I saw that we had very little recycling I thought,
"I will just pick up this ginormous can and carry it."

In hindsight, this is the moment that was screaming, "SUE, GO GET BACK IN BED!"

I made it about 5 steps down our path, misjudged my footing,
(half of my foot was on the path and half was in the planting area filled with lavender),
and rolled my ankle.

Badly.

One second I was tiptoeing to the street holding a huge can in my arms...
the next I was laying in our wood chips gazing up at the stars.

As my Grandma Blakeley would say, "Mercy Days!"

I just laid there and thought, "This was a bad idea."

a. Because of 4 a.m.
b. Because walks in foggy moonlight never end well
b. Because of carrying a garbage can the size of Rhode Island
c. Because of clown shoes
d. Because no one was going to get cholera if I didn't take the trash out
e. Because it is super uncomfortable to lay in wood chips...so pokey
f. Because Addie told me that our cat uses this area as his private potty

It was so very clear as I lay there in the lavender with a throbbing ankle,
trash can flung to the curb,
that maybe my pre-dawn decision making skills are not the best.

I also had the split second thought that if we had a surveillance camera, I would really like to have seen what that all looked like going down. Because I have never hit the ground that fast before.

So I hobbled back into the house, iced my ankle and then crawled back into bed until 5:30.
I made it through the school day with ibuprofen and an ace bandage left over from Will's last injury.
When I finally made it to the doctor later that afternoon,
she listened to my story with very highly raised eyebrows.

"What time in the morning did this happen?"
"4:00 a.m."
"Because you were...."
"Taking out the trash..."
"Hmmmm." (I think that sound meant, "I feel bad for you...for lots of reasons.")

So.
Now I have crutches.
This is the best.
Because you know how awesome I am with crutches.
And an ankle brace.
She said sprains are tricky and can take 6-8 weeks to heal.
Mercy Days.

So this is my 4:00 a.m. advice to you.
STAY IN BED, PEOPLE.
1 out of 4 doctors does not want to hear about how you pitched headlong into your herb garden.
(The other 3 enjoy a good laugh.)
The truth is...you need to rest.
Your body parts need to be kept safe and whole.
And crutches are Satan's unwieldy tools of discouragement and upper body torture.
I believe this is a sound word from the Holy Spirit.
May Jesus keep you and your ankles safe in the coming weeks!




Thursday, August 2, 2018

sisters, swimsuits & synchronized joy



























I was talking to my friend, Lindsey, the other day.
I love her so much. She is one of those people I could spend hours pondering life with.
And laughing with.
We both have awkward underpants stories that have haunted us throughout our lives.
But her stories are better. I can't breathe right when she re-tells them.
Her lost swimsuit-bottoms-jetskiing-in-a-lake-after-a-speaking-engagement-with-people- 
she-just-met-that-day? One of my favorite stories of all time.

Joy.

I so love to laugh.
I think we are made for it.
Our faces look so much better when we are smiling.
All the wrinkles go the right way.

Lindsey and I talked about hard things, too.
Like who we wanted to be when we grew up.
Things keep switching up on both of us. Life is crazy life that.
But I told her that I knew one thing, no matter what career path I am on....
If I can make some people laugh while I am figuring this life thing out...
If I can usher in some joy...
If I make some people hold their sides when I tell a story...
I want to do that.

Because joy lets us breathe.

I had a moment of pure unadulterated joy on our family vacation this summer in Colorado.
Laughing so hard I couldn't catch my breath.
Which should have been scary because I was in a pool.

Except that I wasn't swimming...I was in a water aerobics class
with my sister, Jenny, my sister-in-law, Traci, and my cousin, Janna.

Yep. Water aerobics.
The class was called "Aqua Pump."
That should give you a visual. We were pumping it up...in the water...
with about 20 other women...in our swimsuits...to 90's hip hop.
They had all the jams playing.
It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right. Or a whole bunch of AARP members with pool noodles.
You get it.

We were at the lower end of the age spectrum.
So we were feeling good about ourselves.

Except that Janna and I were having issues with our swimsuit bottoms
while we were pumping it up.
Who knew that while performing underwater jumping jacks
your swimsuit wants to stay in one place while you jump up and down?

This would have been no big deal...
expect for the lone guy swimming laps in the lanes behind us.
He had goggles on. We weren't interested in giving a show.
Janna and I had to resort to one handed jumping jacks.
One hand flailing in the air, the other hand was keeping our pants up.

We moved on from jumping jacks to the "taco/tostada" move.
This required us to bend in half like at taco...then flatten out like a tostada.
Keeping your head above water.
Using your core.
Let's be honest. I don't actually have a core.
I was very little taco...mostly tostada.

The few times I got the move right propelled me across the pool towards another aqua pumper
who was facing me.
She was coming for me, too.
Our feet were headed towards each other.
I yelled out, "I don't want to touch feet with you."
Something I have never said to a stranger before.
We altered our course.
Strangers shouldn't touch toes in the water.

Or should they?
Our instructor thought that we should at least hold hands.
Yep.
The whole class joined hands. In two cocentric circles.
One inside the other.

And we proceeded to put Esther Williams to shame.
Or shame her...I don't know...one or the other.
One circle jogged to the right, hands held under water.
One circle jogged to the left, clasped hands held high above our heads.
The instructor would yell, "Switch," and we would change directions and arm positions.

Traci was all business - she hit every switch with precision.
My sister, Jenny, was laughing so hard she could hardly make the switches.
I was waiting for some synchronized swimming instructions - it felt like that was the next step.

We were so pumped up after our aqua pump class
we talked other family members into joining us for a different class, later in the week.

Aqua Plunge in the lazy river.
A full hour of under water laps with resistance training.
With 9 of us.
My two sisters.
My sister-in-law.
My teenage niece.
My two married nieces.
And their husbands.

Seeing David and Zach taco/tostada?
That was a pleasure.
Aqua Plunge was no joke.
There were floaty weights involved and deep lunges as we struggled against the current.
David was bypassed by an elderly plunger who taunted him saying,
"And you thought this would be easy!"
Cousins lined the side of pool nearest the lazy river and cheered us on.
We gave them high fives and hollers as we would come around the corner
to complete our laps.
We were a bit raucous. There were high spirits.

Joy.

I would do it all again in a second.
I am trying to talk a couple of my girlfriends into
helping me find an aqua class that we can take here at home.
Not because I feel great in a swimsuit.
I just really, really like laughing.

Get yourself down to the Y and do a few taco/tostadas with a friend.
You'll see what I mean.