Friday, August 30, 2013

THOSE WHO FEED US!






My senior boy spends much of his days outside of chores, school, sports, church, and the moments at his home with his real parents at his other two  homes---those of his close friends (Thank you Days and Luksanders).  As most parents of teen boys, we joke about how they eat us out of house and home.  The thought gripped me that my grown boy takes up their couch and parking space because they feed him.  We all know that if you feed a stray, they will stay a while (emoticon wink).

On  deeper level, I know my son would not stay at anyone's home just for the physical food.  He gets fed  too well at his homestead. But these homes feed him on a deeper level.  I haven't asked him, but I would guess that beneath the allowing him to play video games and watch endless sports, he senses they want him there, they care for him, and he feels comfortable and safe. Are there any better feelings in your day or world to want?

The thought just slammed into my chest with the entire power that gratitude can have that there are SO many people that feed  him and us, and I want to write a blog about that.  I want to hear other people's uncensored thoughts about those people they feel fed them when they were hungry. When I think of my own life, I know there are so many moments of being fed. I could make a list blog, but doesn't it maybe feed others' souls when they hear gratitude stories, which reminds them of the table of plenty that is prepared also for them? 

For me, I imagined the joy of floating in the pool  with my close friends (I only risk being in a bathing suit in front of close friends), or watching from the football or basketball or baseball bleachers, or manning the football concession stand, or coaching volleyball, or sitting in the lounge chair at my parents---- sharing the story of those people and moments that fed us. 

We have these moments of gratitude that suddenly grasp our hearts and make them smile, but do we express them?  Do we release the caged bird to sing or the fluttering butterfly to share their beauty?  Do we release those words in our heart to describe how someone fed us a morsel or a full course meal that filled our  soul?   As I reiterated to my friend Michael Linser yesterday, the power of the song he chose to share with his school the other day was in its words---"It's all about the words!"

I  may just make that wordy list for a few blogs, but really I would like to hear yours.  If you cannot figure out how to comment with your words of being fed at the bottom on my blog by choosing anonymous (be sure to leave your name after your writing), then leave your words on FB or a message on FB or even an email to me.  Your words may just feed someone else.  What menu we would be creating. A place of filling food choices of thankful.

Writing these no-calorie, gluten free, organic words may just be what you need to fill you up today.  And certainly they will be a delectable dessert to me. Let's have our cake and eat it too!

Burp and thank you ahead of time. ---Cherie
http://theplaidguy.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/happy-baby-eating-a-chocolate-cake.jpg




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A LETTER FOR THE GIRLS!

http://spiritualityhealth.com/sites/default/files/images/blogs/ceremonies-rituals/handwritten-letter-to-a-friend-443x300.jpg

So  I wrote a midnight letter (really it was even later) to a small group of high school girls that I will get the privilege of working with this year.  Someone will give it to them next week at their beginning of the year retreat since I cannot be with them.  I want to encourage them this year because, even though they don't know it, they will water my soul.  I taught each of them in ninth grade so I know a little bit of who they are, but I look forward to discovering the bigger gift they are to me and the world. 

I know they won't read this blog, so I can share these very sentimental thoughts about them.  We meet for the first time tomorrow, and I hope we will share life just where we are.  (Karly, such a beautiful girl inside and out, has already said to me that she is so glad I am her small group leader this year.  Choke and a million smiles from my heart to her.)



Hey Girls,

Even though I am not with you right now on retreat, I wish I were.  And you know if I were, I would ask you questions because well that’s what I do best. I want to know you and I want YOU to know YOU.

If we are all painfully truthful, we know that we experience those exhausted moments when we question what is going on in our life.  We question how God could possibly be working good through the difficulty we are in.  And then we might even add the worry about questioning God.  (He is big and can handle it.)

We wonder if we have the strength to meet all the demands of friends, coaches, teachers, work, and parents.  We worry that we don’t measure up to others’ expectations, or worse, our own.  And how do we gain balance between the not caring of complacency and the continual striving to do well for others and ourselves?

And do you want to live this school year begrudging the mundane?  How many times do we have to hear ourselves say we are bored before we are bored by that?  And we feel helpless to change it.  What do we really want to replace boredom with? How can we change the pattern of our same as usual days and going through the motions moments that we allow our days to become?

Sometimes, we wrap our thoughts in a cocoon to hide because we feel alone and trapped in our doubt and fears and expectations and stress and ordinary.  It feels too risky to let others see our exhaustion, stress, pain, and worries.  

And then we wonder how what is on the page in the Good Book can really break through and make any real and lasting change to these kinds of days, these kinds of thoughts, these kinds of feelings.

And here’s a radical statement:  believe it or not, we can find peace and joy and rest and contentment in the midst of the lives that we are living right now.  I get to come to you every once in a while and speak some words into your life and then leave.  I hope you know that I really want to speak words that are real and authentic and true and Divine.  So at the start of this year while you are at retreat, I am taking a chance to ask this question that is on my mind for you this year that I would ask if I were sitting with you.  I hope you take this question seriously.

WHEN THE END OF SCHOOL IN MAY COMES AND YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BE ABLE TO SAY ABOUT IT? 

If I could sit with you in a group now, I know no one would answer, “Well, Mrs. Roberson, I really hope I will be able to say that I was  a failure, anxious, scared, worried, bored, lost, fearful, exhausted, pretending to be something I am not really….  No one sits and plans for these kinds of things.  No one thinks they hope they feel doubtful and defeated at times.  No one hopes they get tangled in the web of procrastination or comparison or aloneness. 
And again---in May what do you hope to be able to say about this year?  Don’t hope to skip to May.  You are not going to get any MORE time in your life for this moment or more TIME for today or MORE DAYS for this year or more DAYS for your LIFE.   Please stop wanting to race to the end of this year in order to get to the next year, to get today over with to get someplace.  God has some things He wants to speak to your heart today, tomorrow, next week, all the way to May.  Live the God ordained moments! Look for the God ordained in the moment!

He has a plan for you that is for good and for joy despite the pit you may feel you are in sometimes.  And your answers to finding how you can begin to understand it begin with following Daniel into his pit.  When it got really hard and scary and worrisome and---He praised!  He praised and his eyes looked up!

So truly, the few moments it will seem like we have together, I am going to fight with my words and smiles and songs and prayers for you to expect and plan and hope for joy and peace in the every days:   the cloudy days, the messy days, the weary days, the I am pretending days, and the I can’t stay awake days.  

Then maybe while you are living a life right now fully present to what you are experiencing, you will know that expecting God and planning to experience God comes through praising Him in gratitude in spite of your surroundings, and you will be enveloped by the unordinary, the Divine, the joy, the peace, that you didn’t think you could find. 

Don’t hope for May….Make each of your moments this year what you hope to say about your days in May.

And to end our time together in this letter, if I could sing you a song to sleep or awake, this is the song I would sing:

 These Are the Words I Would Say  by the Sidewalk Prophets

Three in the morning, and I’m still awake
So I picked up a pen and a page
And I started writing just what I’d say
If we were face to face


I’d tell you just what you mean to me
Tell you these simple truths


Be strong in the Lord
And never give up hope
You’re gonna do great things
I already know
God’s got His hand on You
So don’t live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don’t forget why you’re here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would say


Last time we spoke you said you were hurting
And I felt your pain in my heart
I want to tell you that I keep on praying
That love will find you where you are


I know cause I’ve already been there
So please hear these simple truths


Be strong in the Lord
And never give up hope
You’re going to do great things
I already know
God’s got His hand on You
So don’t live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don’t forget why you’re here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would


Say… from one simple life to another
I will say… come find peace in the Father


Be strong in the Lord
And never give up hope
You’re gonna do great things
I already know
God’s got His hand on You
So don’t live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don’t forget why you’re here


Take your time and pray
And thank God for each day
His love will find a way
Theshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bItzgw7OAUe are the words I would say

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bItzgw7OAU

 

Blessings for the beginning of something new in you this year.   

INVITE…PLAN…HOPE…EXPECT…GIVE THANKS AND PRAISE

THESE ARE THE THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO PRACTICE FOR THE FUTURE YOU WANT TO HAVE…when you get to May and look back.

Love,

Mrs. Roberson


And maybe it was just the letter you needed too?

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Keep Pressing. Keep Holding.

As a baby I was a bit jumpy and preferred to be swaddled.  I still like the safe feeling of tucking the covers around me, being held securely.  It's the same holding still of  glue to repair small broken pieces, and maybe even sometimes it might be the holding of a vice.  It is a holding until  I am sure the pieces can hold on their own.  Hold and then test and see and, if necessary, hold some more.  

And maybe that is what happened after a lovely night of ice cream with my husband.  We reviewed the recent year of teaching for the warning signs of needed repair, for the pieces that glue still needed to hold together.  

Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.

And somewhere in that ride home, it was as if suddenly a piece fell off of me and my hand was floundering to find it on the dark floor mat, seeking to grasp something I couldn't see. Why did I suddenly feel like I was rolling around in uncertainty of my decisions?  I needed to hold tight, but I felt like pieces of me were breaking apart.

Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.

My contentment  with today had suddenly fallen away. I stepped into the mud of the worry of tomorrow and the mire of the shadow of yesterday.  My focus was suddenly no longer sure but blurred.  Burdens of failure were bonded to my soul: failure of worrying the small issues to big; failure of seeing turmoil instead of treasure; failure of making me the centerpiece of the divine; failure of cataract seeing.

Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.



And the very same eyes that had moments before looked at today with thankfulness and rest were eclipsed  by those failures.  And my soul was no longer quiet, but impatient and scared. My heart no longer found contentment, but raced in apprehension.

Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.

My husband, who was trying to share practical words of encouragement, couldn't imagine what he'd said.  But sometimes we hear what we fear and the heart beats to battle. And then we battle people on the outside when we should battle the demons who are warring on the inside.

Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.

On this beautiful, cool  moonlit night, it was as if I had walked through the squeaky cemetery gate into a dark night of worry about right decisions. The demons of doubt haunted my trust and the path that was once clearly illuminated was lost in a haze.

 Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.

Pressing holds me still and secure.  When tears suddenly appear in my eyes and sadness eclipses my joy, I have learned to press hard for the moonlight. In clarity, I know those moments  are treacherous illusions of reality, and while I may not change what I see before me, I can securely bond  the pieces of life with joy  by changing how I see them.

Keep pressing.  Keep holding. Pressing holds me still and sure.


Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  (Phil. 3:12-15)

Friday, August 23, 2013

LEAVING THE ARENA (Round 4)

blog.tcsand dsq.com
...And then the arena doors were closed. There I stood,  out-of-body watching my tight-fisted swollen hand cling to the handle.   The arena doors, now in my weakness, seemed like dragging weights. The final drawn-out clash of the cathedral doors, like the final note of "The Swan Song," jolted my mind from its fog.

The silent, breathless walk was interrupted only by tapping footsteps. Heavy eyes hung from a drooped face that grazed the grey pavement. 

My blank-stare thoughts were consumed by the growing pressing of memories...the force of finality...the pain of leaving...the anxiety of what  next...the thumping in my ears of loss ...the panic of right choices...the nausea of  doubt...the wounds of words.

My eyes could not recall seeing. My mind, my neck, my jaw, my throat, and my arms paralyzed by fatigue.  I barely comprehended the steps that beckoned me to stop. Unguarded, I could not respond to this moment, to this fan who suddenly thrust a rhythm into my ears to restart my soul.

She searched for hope in my awakening eyes that now lifted to meet hers, and she wondered if she should dare one last act before her retreat.   She clasped my wrist, cupped in them watering words for my soul, and whispered, "Leave It All Behind." What she offered rose to a crescendo in this song. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKioQPEW4do

With that chorus repeating in my head, I opened the crumpled paper pressed into my fist. In her hand-penned words she shared, "You spoke these words to the crowd one day, and I just wanted to give them back to you today to let you know you will be okay."  As if searching desperately for an answer, I read the simple truths over and over as I walked, pressing them into my brain. I remembered those words; I had said those words; I had read those words; I had bled those words.

               THE MAN IN THE ARENA                          
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910    http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WHEN YOUR PRIZED-FIGHTER TURNED TRAINER and COACH SPEAKS (Round 3)


www.gettyimages.com


Stumped over on the bench with my arms on my elbows and gloves covering my eyes, sweat dripped from my nose and chin.  Removing my gloves, tears welled and dropped to small puddles on the concrete floor. Taped, cramped hands became closed fists. Rehearsing the previous round in my mind's eye, doubt pierced my soul. My mind wondered if  I was qualified to continue sparring in this arena and feared that I wasn't even qualified from the start. 

What if people saw my utter dependence on Christ?  What if they saw that I controlled less and less? What if I worked harder and harder and better and better and still felt out of balance and unsure?  Wouldn't that be out of control?  What if my portion of need seemed so much larger than theirs?  What if I knew He was enough, but didn't always live that promise?  What if they knew I was this weary?  What if they knew that some days my motions were only sustained by His promises?  Didn't that sound lost?  What if they knew that  some moments music didn't dance anymore?  What if they knew that music didn't just lift my soul, but it also pierced it? What if they saw that His words jumped off pages for me?  Did that mean I needed a lot of guidance?   What if they knew I could hear him speak in my ear more and more these last training years?  Did that mean I was needy and unsure?  I couldn't figure out how not to be  this way.  What if they knew that my quietness was listening to Him, desperately trying to hear His words? What if they knew how hard I had trained and still lost?  Would I be mistaken for lost?

And what did my Trainer say of my defeat in the public arena made private?  He picked up the sweat stained towel and wiped my brow, pressing hard against me as He sat on the bench. A familiar feeling of His pressing. He had pressed hard during recent training.  He sat with me alone together; His tears began to puddle.  No words were spoken, but there was knowing. He placed His arm over my back and held tight until my sobs became sighs and the eyes no longer leaked and my nose was swiped. A sidewise glance suspended our eyes in knowing and with heads shaking in affirmation we both knew "yes and amen." As we stood, His wind-knocking bear hug held me close, and I rested my head to His shoulders.  Just upon release and as if in a final knowing, He took my partially wrapped hands and raised them to the sky mirroring them with His hands, fingers wide.  He didn't make promises of future fights or improved training; in quiet He just held my shaky, sweaty, small palms high.

I accepted with less wavering legs what His mouth did not speak out loud but pierced into my soul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  And then the music faintly seeped into my soul, a song  sharp and tender, freeing but all consuming. In this moment of grief, He whispered in my ears words to worship in gratitude:

"Though You Slay Me" by Shane and Shane featuring John Piper.
I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say you do it all in love
That I might know you in your suffering

Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all

Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still more than I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me


Audio excerpt:
[Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.

I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.

When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.

Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.]

Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need


The audio excerpt comes from John Piper’s message, “Do Not Lose Heart” (2013).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY&feature=share


I see now that He agonized from my corner of the ring, knowing this particular fight in the arena would come and where I would succumb.  He knew he would pick me up off the mat and water the thirsty soul with His well water.   He knew he would again remind me of  HIS stance.  He has trained me in this over and over. Now, He realized I didn't want to endure the 12 rounds of a prize fight. He knew I would  STAND numb here at this moment, legs quivering and heart realizing I had fought to the end of my strength.  And maybe the end of  my strength could mean the end of my desire to fight, the end of my hope to defend myself, the end of my seeking for clarity, the end of my wanting to please others, the end of my trying to appear strong and unscathed by inflicted wounds.


When  I was ready to throw in the towel,  He stepped in to the ring to defend me, to replace my strength, to take my jabs and bruises. And therein, I know my story is not really about a boxing match, a 4:30 in the afternoon bout with a parent that brought my heart to the floor, but it was a bout within myself.

This fight brought me low to my knees, humbled me. Training creates memory muscle so when the battle begins our response is rote, without thinking. I felt prayed up, versed up, but when this battle raged, my memory muscle for the stance failed.  I wasn't able to hold the stance, to stand firm (which in practice really looks much  more like a hard off-balanced LEAN on HIM).  Like a puffy eyed boxer unable to see his opponent, I flailed around the ring fighting an unseen opponent, jabbed at air, traded the dance for stumbling,  leaned to find rest. A ghost fight within me, wounding myself.


When life's battles require me to be on guard, to stand strong, to be courageous  (I Cor. 16:13), my mind and body immediately jump to action.  I survey and plan what needs to be done and where to go. I ready to battle, to swing, to jab, to begin, to work hard, to work harder,  to do, to do more.

So when He firmly lifted my body from the mat, with the opponent still dancing circles around the ring, clapping his gloves in fury, he whispered in my ear that if I just stopped wasting my energy and stopped being distracted by the opponent and just stood still and let Him fight we would gain victorious life  (Luke 21:19).

He reminded  me that the greater courage is  knowing the battle raged all around me in the arena and being able to face it without flinching, jabbing, moving. 

He reminded me that strength and bravery are found when we prepare,  when we gear up, when we wear the correct protective garments of salvation, peace, truth, righteousness, and faith for our bodies, minds, and souls and then let Him do the fighting (Eph 6:12-18).

He reminded me to stand firm no matter where the punches landed, no matter the points tallied, no matter the blood spilled. I was commanded to not waste wearily away and waver in imbalance,  but uphold that training stance girded by a core strength of truth buckled  at my waist.  I was only called upon to watch no matter the pain and anguish I perceived  and humbly know that allowing my fight to become His fight was the only round to complete victory.   He exchanged my doubt and recrimination for lessons of enough, of hope, and of joy.

He reminded me TO STAND  confidently and trust that He will be the author of my needed training,  my fights, my work, my defeats, and all my days, but then He will also be the finisher of my training, my fights, my work, my defeats, and my life (Hebrews 12:2).

He reminded me of His training promises:  His plans are for me and  they are good. Even when I know the battle rages near, even when it is dark and I cannot see where the enemy of sadness and weary creep in,  even if I am pummeled to the mat again,  His enough and in-time love will lift me under my arms to hold me up to stand with hands raised high in victory. 










Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ROAD CONSTRUCTION--EVEN WITHIN YOU



No matter what direction I  travel today from my home, I face road construction: going in town via 150 or highway 74.  No matter where I desire to travel within Mahomet, I encounter road face lifts and  detour signs for new school bus pick-up and drop-off routines. Yesterday's surprise was highway 74 being coned to one lane at the on-ramp.  Soon the highway between our two Mahomet exits will be totally closed in order to work on a local bridge which is projected to take a year.

I know I should be grateful for improvements. And really I am, but the unexpected on ramp congestion to highway 74 had me mentally sighing, "Man, we have construction going on everywhere don't we?" which was quickly followed by "Yes, we do and even within you."

Now, I don't talk to myself, but this response must have been bred from my slight frustration of having to closely watch the road.  I don't drive without thinking,  but common routes that don't normally require concentration now necessitate more intentional driving, attention, and  focus.

"...and even within you."

Just trying to leave the grocery store, the entrance and exit was routed to one lane requiring the sharing of that lane.  Minor problems ensued as the construction lady holding the stop sign tried get a truck's attention which didn't heed her warning sign and stop to the oncoming traffic whose turn it was to slowly proceed.

"...and even within you."

School starts tomorrow, and to alleviate major back-up new orange signs around turn have turned certain roads to one-way or only allowed to be used for two-way traffic during certain hours.

"...and even within you."

Walking through town, I realize the amount of work and time precipitates fixing roads before the final surface is laid.  They strip the road to nearly nothing and level poor areas. Some of the asphalt-rock mixture laid creates quite a drop off at the edge which could cause quite a panic to distracted drivers.

"...and even within you."
 

My poor friends and family  have to reroute because of the reconstruction of the bridge over the highway.  It will be a long year of enduring taking the long way to get to places. For some, it will be a long year of enduring many lost people creating congesting on their streets as they travel down their roads to turn around.

"...and even within you."

Again I would plead with you that I know I should be grateful (especially with Illinois' funding anything) that these improvements are taking place. And really I am, but what about:

"... and even within you."

And I really do have to closely watch the roads I travel so I am not all ramped up. Life does seem to stall with congestion at times. Plans need to be made to maintain fragile paths and remain mindful of what's going on within and around me. 


At times, rerouting forces me to forge new roads, new on-ramps and exits.  This construction detour requires warning precautions  to create  protective zones for what is being built up within my soul. Those orange barrels that seem to start long unnecessary miles before the work site suddenly make sense because change sometimes requires warnings of slow, gradual progress.   New memory and spiritual muscles are created like new traffic pattern shifts. These detours' end will at some point be signaled by flashing notifications of  a new normal.

Those friends who hang out at my work site, who some swear are taking an extended siesta in the sun or chatting over lunch,  are really maintaining and continually evaluating the vision of the site plan's road construction. They stand by as spotters protecting my days and decisions, praying for progress, and safeguarding my design by remaining visibly reflective.  They identify those existing and predictable hazards and distractions so that I don't become faint of heart and find an ambulance as my first responder.

Maintenance and construction of our roads are essential.  We cannot drive distracted in life but must intentionally focus on the paths we take because as Robert Frost understood which road we travel makes "all the difference."




"and even within YOU."

Monday, August 19, 2013

WHEN YOU ARE SCHOOLED BY SIMPLE RESPONSES

View 0819131442.jpg in slide show

It's that time of year again...the near end of summer,  another beginning of school, the close of summer picnic coolers, the opening of backpacks, the beckoning of morning alarms, the call of cicadas in the evening...the darkness greeting your morning eyes,  the drawing of daylight to a close sooner each evening.

At the kitchen counter after dinner, trying to assemble the next morning duties, I casually strummed those usual question chords, "Hey, what are you needing for school?"   My straight forward high school senior  calmly responded "food" as if it was the obvious first response.  With a smirk and an eye roll, I added "Besides that!" Then he simply added, "Mom, what we always need. You know better than me what I need.  You have done this for years.”

Suddenly, the wisdom of his abdication catapulted off the page.  All areas of healthy living begin with the right "food."   In a variety of ways throughout life,  we often get asked what we need.  Many times we don't respond.  Sometimes, we are not even clear ourselves what we need. And even when we think we could confidently create that list of needs for life, it is always best to defer  the supply stock to the One that has done this for eternity and really knows what we need better than ourselves.

So there lie his needs on the steps, ready to put to good use the first day of classes at the teachers' requests.  Analogously, stocking up on needed supplies is wisdom for healthy, holy, successful living.
 










Friday, August 16, 2013

ROUND 2 (of WHEN THE ONE-TWO PUNCH KNOCKS YOU OUT OF THE ROUND)

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And in those moments, I lay there knowing defeat, it felt achingly alone and surreally solitary and crushingly quiet and night-time numb.  Feeling miraculously ceased which  barred the pain and dammed the tears so I could walk the aisles of the grocery store praying for no eye-contact, no niceties of  "How are you doing?" Driving home, my phone recorded the moments I didn't respond to my husband's calls, wonderer of  where I was.  Answers would not come for fear the well would
not cease.

And wasn't  that  exactly the deeper question bantering around in my head? "Where was I in this?"...
"Where was I going with this?"...  "What was this sadness?" ... "What  about this moment did I believe to be true?"... "What bruises would I continue to press, allowing the pain to regurgitate again and again?"... "Why did this feel different than other moments of criticism?"

The painkillers no longer worked, the numb wore off letting the pain etch around my body like a broken washer allowing drips to become full kitchen sink streams.  The nerves were reconnecting at their synapses in electrical currents.  I wanted to scream like a blinded and defeated Rocky calling for Adrian. He knew, just desperately trusted, she would be near, hear his pleading pain, come hold his begging spirit, take him  home to bind his pain and ease his sorrow.  All this, even when he could  not see her.

Around the kitchen counter with four sets of eyes watching and wondering and hearing and knowing and telling and being okay, my heart shed tears. I trusted for okay, desperately needing their trust  even when they could not know all of my inside.  And their eyes told me they didn't really know, but that didn't matter. There they stood arms encircled.  And that day bred a decision.

With a choked up throat, I feared being held hostage to my response  to that parent's charge:   "You better bet I will go home and think about the kind of teacher I am."  Introspective by nature, I prayed against the readied critic. And I left the arena unclear as to my career but sure the ransom would be paid.







 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WHEN THE ONE-TWO PUNCH KNOCKS YOU OUT OF THE ROUND (part 1)


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And this year I am not entering the arena.  The school booklet doesn't list my name as part of the "sweet science" of education.  I am not a contender in the daily ring to forge life lessons for souls dry and thirsty and souls budding and growing high.


I could see the battle clearly for others.  I found words of affirmation for others.  I heard them come from my own mouth time and again.  I even adhered to the counsel of those sought after holy words.  I prepared in prayer and sought in tears, but still this round it was me that succumbed to the pain.  Why would I lose when I prepared? When I gave so much of myself?   I had not abandoned the play book.  I followed the strategies.  I even tried to live them and sought Christ, but I was not to win this round.  There was no God abandonment here.  He still fully endorsed my soul.


Battered and bruised, jab upon jab landed on the same weakened work weary body.  An unseen quick one-two punch  sent me flat to the hard mat with blurred vision and a fog dizzy head.  How did I get down here?   I swished in the sweat of  my labor.  Suddenly, every muscle ached. My head pounded visible noise. I was unable to demand my reflexes to pursue a stance. Mind forcing strength and endurance willed to last another round.  Energy drained legs wanted to call fast feet and crushed conscious soul to rise again amidst spitting words to stay down. Where was the referee? Where was my standing eight count, this protection count, a respite?

The bell rang and the ring's corner called for rest.   Smelling salts admitted a jolt to every sinew. Wounds wiped clear and bruises brazed by standing sideline supporters, the final bell signaled, and the towel was thrown to signal defeat. The Prize-fighter turned Trainer and Coach whispered life-saving words that confused this concussion injured mind.  

The  Prize-fighter turned Trainer and Coach observed sheathing pain and damage that caused functional insufficiency.  A fatigue, nerve damage to my whole system.  Diagnosis: neuropathy of the soul. Treatment: balance and cognitive awareness needed.

This knock out round was fought in the bathroom after school on a Friday at 4:30.   It was only one round but the words in an instant stole the soul of this teacher, stomping the wind out of my lungs, and dropped me blinded to the ground. A parent asked to discuss today's events from class, and a forty-five minute round later, I was very late for the dinner I planned to prepare for my husband's birthday. 


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The jabs and one-two punch landed bruises:

JAB
"You don't even understand my child?"


JAB
"I don't know why, but you are the person she always worries about pleasing."


JAB
"You made my daughter cry.  You were determined to do what you wanted come Hell or high water?"

JAB
"I will not let my child into your class until we have a meeting with the principal first."

ONE PUNCH
"You are the reason my child doesn't want to come back to this school." 

TWO PUNCH
"You are insensitive and harmed my child. You should go home and think about what kind of teacher you are and if you should even be teaching." 


The fog in my brain kept telling me that I had actually thought through my lesson plans.  Had I lost balanced decision-making for students? Was I calloused in making her do this and didn't understand my callousness?  How did I get to be that kind of teacher?  If that were so, then I needed to not be there.  I didn't want to be a teacher that made kids dislike school or run them away from my school. Why didn't her mom see my plan as a viable next baby step in her educational process? Was my vision blurred?  Was it wrong to want to please me as a teacher or was I a taskmaster in her eyes that her daughter could never please?  Why did she have this perception of me?  Was it the subject  matter the student had difficulty with or was it me, and I couldn't see it?   Where were the eyes to see the many different ways and attempts I made throughout the year to help?  Why were they tainted now?

Why did it feel NOW that I just couldn't enter the ring again after this round?

They say trauma has a way of closing the senses.  I was too numb to any good I had done.  I could only hear this parent's pain and desperation caused by me, a teacher, and feel my own exhaustion begging to run from these type of bouts. If all the time I was spending and what I was doing and giving left me feeling like I had fallen hard on the mat and unable to get up, then I needed to find a better way. There must be some training needed. I needed to feel as if I wasn't a rug frayed and unraveling. With my courageous and persevering nature, I could have mustered the energy to rebound and to join the ring for future bouts, but the long term effects and final price I would pay if I were to continue to endure would be a numbing pain existence. 

After some of the brain fog cleared from that inflamed round, I better understood.  The Prize-fighter turned Trainer  and Coach had whispered: "THAT is not HOW you are called to live, not a life endured but a life abundant." And so the towel of life was chosen and thrown into the ring.  I admitted defeat to numb living.  I chose to lay down my life for the life the Trainer called me to, even if it meant enduring the pain of leaving the ring and arena that I love.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

...of HOME

Today....just a stream of thought about home. 

Books and movies I cherish wrap the setting or theme around home. ( I turn up Phil Phillips Home  loudly and sing along.)  

Home is a drawing force to me, but for others it is the place they seem to be running from.  A place of refuge but maybe a desperate place to leave or forced to leave.  In  all, it seems to be a birthplace of  great emotion---emotions that span a lifetime that we hold close and that influence who we are, what we become, how we become, and what we think. 

I am inclined to think that this emotion of being drawn to home was ordained from the beginning of time.  We are both called to run  home at times like running to base in hide and seek  and also to be able to move away  knowing the light is still shining from the safe harbor.  It is a place already established but that is also being created with our own hearts and souls and hands. We are both at times a native and a stranger at  home, an alien within our own land. This longing for a place to call home is central to who we are because we are both home here on earth but not quite home yet. The restless drawing  of us toward home is fused to each of us to find our way back to the One that gave us this longing.   

It is the place you are loved and accepted but surely challenged by others that force you to live a real, authentic, and abundant life with your messy work boots on but that also lets you dream so that you soar like an arrow but just a little higher than the current target.  It is the place for honest answers and soft responses and where people learn to hone the difference.  It isn't a perfect place and that is perhaps what also draws us there.  It is a place where perfection isn't expected and all the answers are not known, but it is a place where we are just perfect the way we are to others.  It is where we sure wish others would give us some  answers, where sometimes they give us more than we really want, and where amidst all this we alone have to choose the launching pad.

It is the place of sharing space, of being disturbed, of being awaken by others,  of being out of milk or bread, of friends spending the night, of the obligatory parties our parents made us attend, of the yard we mowed, of the room and bathroom we had to clean, of the corner we threw all our belongings, of the street we parked our car, of the walls we hid behind to cry, of the ceiling we challenged ourselves to touch, of the bike we parked where others were trying to walk, of the wiffle ball game, of the game of catch, of  birthday candles blown, of the slide and swing set, of the popsicles in the backyard, of hide and seek with the neighbors, of the tv shows in the a/c on hot summer days, of the homework completed at the counter, of the temperature taken and medicine given, of the money given, of the car loaned, of the family vacation, of the sitting around with nothing to do, of the  drive-in trip, of the Christmas movies, of the letting go of a beloved furry friend, of the coming to after a year at college, of the favorite birthday dinner, of riding bikes without holding on to handle bars, of attending a parent's work picnic, of practicing piano, of the family pictures, of the reunions at holidays and birthdays, of the same stories shared again and again, of the card games, of the favorite recipes,  of softly settling tears wiped away, of screaming our thoughts, of forgiving for offenses we wouldn't dare try with others beyond those walls, of sincere thankfulness, of staring at the ceiling and wondering, of pitching the tent in the back yard, of riding the horse or the big dog if you don't have a horse, of writing a horse on your Christmas list for 5 years in a row, of waiting for your friend to come out and play,  of finding an adventure with your friend, of popcorn and a movie, of being crabby for reasons you won't explain, of playing Marco-Polo, of wanting to give kids more than you had, of working to build relationships in new ways every day, of offering the last cookie to another, of a trip to McDonalds to share a cone or Steak N Shake for a half price milkshake, of a quiet Sunday drive, of enduring listening to Harry Chapin in the car to liking him when you are older, of wishing a birthday card would come in the mail, of entertaining Grandma and Grandpa, of playing hard on the court and field, of cheering loudly from a distance, of coaching delicately from the car, of wedding plans, of leaving and coming back,  of really loud music and being told to turn it down, of waiting for the school bus, of parent teacher conferences, of being compared to sisters and brothers, of playing basketball in the rain, of not flushing the toilet, of screaming at brothers that drink from the milk jug, of rooms that become too quiet, of dust collected on games of Monopoly and Clue, of pools green from not being swam in much, of boxes from kids to sort through, of hand me downs, of piles of laundry that lessen with days gone by, of childhood inventions, of duck tape solutions, of our stuff, of...


Why is it such a drawing force?  Whether we are running to it or away, it holds us.   Is it  because it is the place that comforts us?  Is it our ground zero?  Is it our common ground?  Is it our base? Is it the known and expected? Is it where we know we can handle the unexpected? Is it where the love we have to give is accepted?  Is it where we first learn the horrible and terrible of life and realize we can survive both?  Is it the good and the bad?  Is it the striving without being judged for wrong steps? Is it the harbor for the heart and soul and mind?

It is both the sacred novel written and the one still to be written!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

WHEN YOU SUDDENLY FEEL LEFT OUT AND ALONE!


Disappointed by a delay, the train delay to Chicago gave us time to relax.  Iced coffee and chai tea in our hands, I settled into a table for conversation with my nephew as my husband attended work via texting with his exhaustively small Blackberry.  Easy chatting everywhere in the crowded waiting area. My mind wandered to nearby couples planning a trip, a lady asking a gentleman about receiving Wi-Fi, a lady  asking to share a small circular table--2 private entities sharing one space, a young lady upset on her phone, a young man zoning to the Beats in his ears. Many people and many moments passed. Less coffee and  no chai tea later,  we joined the formed line for the arriving train. 

Still quietly sharing. Still people watching.  Still my husband texting. Now nephew groping in his wallet.

A sudden sure realization grabbed me from low in my stomach, paralyzing my throat. A quick turn and seeming run to the man holding my fate behind the counter. Quietly, I thought maybe I shouldn't ask, but I had to know.    His answer was NO; they would not.  Panic. Begging a second time, the answer was NO, assuredly as the first came a certainty that there would be no change. My heart fainting, I shouldn't have asked.

I wanted to blame him.   Couldn't he see I belonged on that train? I needed to be on that train.  I wanted to get mad at him.  He has to see that I was harmless to others. I wanted him to know my desperation.  I only needed to get to my son, to see his performance. My world for this moment in time belonged at the end of that train.  Doesn't that love and need and  pure desire somehow supersede his regulations?  I had my purchased ticket in hand.  Can he not see my pain of being left out,  left behind?  

The only answered logic shouted that it was not his fault but mine.  My mistake.  My idiocy.  My payment.  My punishment.  My missing out. My being left behind.  Alone.

No corner could  hide my pain from the crowd.  Wanting to be lost in the crowd.  Wanting to be granted permission to go with the crowd. Seeking refuge, my mind raced toward a small, closed, dark tunnel. Amidst the crowd, I sheltered into me, into my corner, clasping hands over my face. Losing awareness. Wanting to collapse into the sadness.  Scared tears streaming, disappointment and loneliness climbing. Short breathes made it hard for my husband to hear clear words.  No quick answers just a rapidly silent heart beat flailing over a fine edge. Soft questions under seeking brows from my husband and nephew sought answers. Rejected, no answers were the Yes I needed.  Weightless and heavy of heart. 

I would be left alone. They would travel the train to Chicago and find joy and communion at the end without me.  I would disappoint him.  I would miss seeing his quiet strength, accomplishment, and joy.  I would not share his moment.  It would ride ahead without me.  Forever knowing, this time could not be returned.

What was I thinking---traveling light walking the streets of Chicago? How could I have forgotten what I surely knew I needed?   I always facilitate all the needed trip details.  What kind of mother was I traveling without my license?  Having nothing to prove who I was somehow concluded that I couldn't prove how important this time was for me, too? But everyone needs to have an identity, a license. I needed to be allowed.  I had no license to belong.

With loss, despair dives quickly.  Logic is lost in panic and feeling left out forces retreat.  Embraces of arms and reassuring words pulled me to reality. Words whispered into my ears and mind that had slammed shut from fear of onslaught of the same painful NO. 

Another way.  Another path.  That was the offer.  The answer was not perfect but viable.  Tears cleansed the corners of my mind as they peaked at  the plausible joy  like a new sun glints  light in a dark tunnel.  A  misty path grew clearer.

Grace was the license for this failing mom. Simple solutions from my nephew were God's breath of hope drying my cheeks. His whispers that He would make a way because I belonged to this day, this son's moment.

Reminded.  Overwhelmed. Joy returned.  Communion was sweet!