Saturday, June 28, 2008

Archiving my old quote of the week...

"She had caused to surround us the very atmosphere of "home," so that however far we traveled, however strange the territory, I was "home" as long as I was with her. "
— Walter Wangerin, Jr. (As For Me And My House: Crafting Your Marriage To Last)

Happy Birthday to Me



So, I turn 30 tomorrow, just days after watching my youngest daughter learn to ride a bicycle. And I've been thinking about how life is kind of like that - like learning to ride a bike. Pedal, pedal, steer, balance, steer, balance, pedal. It's doing all of those things at the same time that's tough...not to mention keeping your head up so you can see where you're going and watching for on-coming traffic.

I feel like I'm getting kind of good at it, though - at riding the bike of life. I'm not upset about turning 30. I think I learned something in the last few years about being a "grown-up" in some very important ways while still being adventurous, vibrant, and full of life. I think I'm finally getting the "balance" part down after years of pedaling and steering. I've worked and worked and worked, pedaled and pedaled and pedaled to get here, often tipping too far to the right or left. I feel more balanced now, and maybe I can slow up on the pedaling a little and enjoy the scenery. Maybe I'll learn to do some tricks. Or maybe I'm headed for some more rugged terrain, and I'll take up mountain biking. But, hey, at least I know how to ride the bike now!

Maybe now it's less about learning how and more about learning endurance, perseverance, even how to trust and relax...loosen my grip on those handlebars, huh? Maybe even learn to ride with no hands while the Unseen Hand steers the bike for a while? This is what's hard. Keep going, endure, but also trust, relax, loosen up, let go, break free.

I'm looking forward to this chapter, this journey, this part of the trail. I *know* Gad hasn't brought me this far to watch me crash now...which isn't to say that I don't expect any suffering in the future, but just that I expect something beautiful to come of it because God is my God and God is love. God's love means I can trust something beautiful to come even from suffering, and not that God plans or creates suffering, but that the suffering that happens as the result of the free will of God's created people can be turned into good in my life because I love God and God loves me. That's the promise God gives, and I choose, today, to believe it.

Now, if only I can ride forward, with my head up and a loose, yet determined, grip. That would be the best birthday present to myself.

Happy Birthday to me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

If Life is a Highway

Since I FINALLY posted there, I thought I'd advertise to all of you another blog, of which I am a co-author: If Life is a Highway. You can also find the link in my sidebar. My friend, Heather, was gracious enough to invite me to write with her there along with her friend, Sabrina. Come on over and have a look!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Funny Camping story

Mane saw a pop-up tent trailer for the first time. She observed how the bunks stick out the sides of the pop up, and you could see the beds since the curtains were open. The people who were staying in the tent trailer were sitting out by their fire when we were walking by & Mane loudly proclaimed, "How embarrassing to have to sleep like that!!"

Photos from Whitewater

Hiking Trail


Cliffs


Flood Damage


More Flood Damage


Food Picure! ...just for Tesha!


And Feet Picture! ...also for Tesha!


Our Campsite

Whitewater State Park

I promised to write about camping. So, here I am. When I'm on a different computer, I'll post pictures, too.

We spent 3 nights, 4 days at Whitewater State Park in southern Minnesota where the rumors proved true that there are indeed very few mosquitos at Whitewater. "We" included myself, Mango, Vespera, Mane & Novio. Yes, everything, including the gluten free groceries, fit in the Subaru Forester, though somehow it all took up the same amount of space on the way home, though we had eaten most of the food. We learned that Mane can hike longer than all the rest of us combined, that last year's flood left rock piles on the sides of the river full of all kinds of interesting gems, and that cool nights and warm days make perfect camping weather, as long as you have a warm enough sleeping bag.

We also learned, again, that we have the best family ever, that we can do anything, and that some major bumps in the road - like a trip to the emergency room and another trip to the sporting good's store in Rochester to get warmer nighttime gear -don't have to ruin a trip. We *still* came home raving about what a great trip it was, and I made reservations today for our next camping trip in August. We're troopers, and we have a sense of humor.

Everything in my life these days has something to do with letting go, with breaking free, with loosening my grip a little bit. This trip included the aforementioned major events that required some letting go, but those aren't the things that really pierced my heart and taught me something. I handle major catastrophes pretty well. What lays my heart open this year is something that most parents experience sooner or later...the letting go of their children. And I realized something. Letting our children go doesn't mean that we have a sudden rush of relief that we're no longer responsible for them or that now we can relax and believe that everything will be fine. In fact, seeing them move away, get married, have their own children simply provides more opportunity for anxiety and more things and people to be anxious about. Which means, that unless I can take this anxiety to the cross, I'm stuck with it...and more...for the rest of my life. Nice thought, eh?

To what do I owe this sudden preoccupation with letting go? Well, I owe it to Novio and his presence on our trip, of course...his responsible, compassionate, humorous, and gracious presence. Vespera & Novio began dating over 14 months ago now, a little over a year, and their relationship continues to deepen in a way that seems to be leading toward a lifelong commitment. I saw the way they work and play together, the way they tease and protect each other, the way Vespera is tranferring some of her reliance on myself and Mango to reliance on Novio. And I am practicing the oft-neglected art of staying out of the way. It's a careful dance - knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet, when to carefully plant a word of advice and when to wait it out.

I *do* see and acknowledge how this "letting go" is not a real letting go at all but only a change of roles. And I see how Vespera's eventual commitment to a lifelong partner will involve more gain than loss for all of us...a son for us, possible grandchildren. Wow. Too much to think about. I have to admit I love the feeling that we're building a more full family. I love having 5 people on a trip. I love the way we troop around together. I love the way it feels comfortable and natural, the way Mango and I take up our role together as partners and parents.

I am dizzy with how fast my life has changed in the last few years. Just barely over two years ago I would never have imagined that I'd be sending a daughter to college next year, or thinking of her eventual marriage. I don't feel a whole lot wiser, but I do feel as though I've grown up some. I've grown up enough to be "mom" to a 17 year old and to sometimes "mother" her 19 year old boyfriend. Our time with her has not been enough, though, and that's where the letting go is difficult and painful. It doesn't matter, though, that it's painful. It is necessary and healthy, for her empowerment, for her happiness and health, for her ability to live and love and be free.

And I suppose that's what raising children is all about.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Flood

I *will* write about the camping trip soon, as it was everything I could have hoped for, some things I didn't hope for, and a whole lot more. ;)

First, though, I want to direct you all to the blog of a friend whose house is flooded in Iowa:

Exit 242

If you scroll down the page, you can see the YouTube video that Andrew made of visiting their house in a canoe.

If you haven't heard about the flooding in the Midwest U.S., you can get a brief, recent report here:

Flood Museum Under Water in Iowa


Please pray. This is so difficult for so many.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Camping!!

We're going camping next week, and I am SO VERY EXCITED!! Did I mention that I'm excited?! Camping has always been so good for my soul, and this year I am looking forward to the trip as the beginning of our journey into summer. I've had a full plate this year, loads of anxiety, maximum stress levels, and I'm still operating under high stress mode until we get out the door, but I can't begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to this trip. I feel like I'm ready to embrace the quiet, the peace, the stillness. I am SO READY this year. And it's not because it's been so stressful, but because I think my heart is more open this year. Every year I heal a little more from past hurts. I grow up a little. I learn. So, every year I'm a little more open to what I can receive in the quiet. Each year we camp in June when school gets out and before it's too hot. This year is tough because we'll be packing up Mango's office at school when we return home. I'm hoping, though, that the trip will revive us, that we'll return home with more joy and energy for the journey. A new sense of direction might be asking too much, but, perhaps, we'll even gain some excitement about the possibilities ahead.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Piece I Read at the Wedding in Belize

"...tell me the word that will win you, and I will speak it. I will speak the stars of heaven into a crown for your head; I will speak the flowers of the field into a cloak; I will speak the racing stream into a melody for your ears and the voices of a thousand larks to sing it; I will speak the softness of night for your bed and the warmth of summer for your coverlet; I will speak the brightness of flame to light your way and the luster of gold to shine in your smile; I will speak until the hardness in you melts away and your heart is free..."
— Taliesin to Charis in Book One of the Pendragon Cycle: Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead

Archiving my old quote of the week...

"Bread is as spiritual as human life gets. Rumi wrote, 'Be a well-baked loaf.' Loaves are made to be eaten, to be buttered, and shared. Rumi is saying to be of service, to be delicious and give life."

~ Anne Lamott from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Thoughts from Belize


That's the landing strip in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.



...looking out on the ocean from the island...



...another view from the sidewalk at Ramon's Village...

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I am a firm believer that there is nothing more therapeutic than water...with chocolate not far behind... And there was absolutely nothing like standing with my feet in the ocean in Belize this last week. I could stand and listen to waves forever, I think. I brought Mango's ipod with me on the trip, but I couldn't bring myself to take it out. I simply wanted to listen. I was blessed, in what seems a rather unusual way, with sleeplessness. So, I got up before the rest of the island was awake on both of the mornings that I was there, and I simply sat...and wrote...and listened...and gazed off into the wide expanse of ocean. There's something about knowing the world is so big, and I am so small, that's comforting. There's something so soothing in the created world.

Here's a sweet thought from my journal:

I realize right here at this moment how deeply in love I am, how fortunate I am to have someone let me go and long for me to be home also...but not in a demanding way, in a really sincere and honest kind of way. I want to stand with my feet in the ocean with Mango, yet I know, too, when I stand here in the ocean by myself, my heart isn't empty, and I am loved from very far away.

Belize

Since I have been so uninspired to write lately, here's an excerpt from an e-mail I wrote about the trip I just took to Belize for a friend's wedding:

What did I think of Belize? Hard to say. I didn't see a lot of it...mostly just from the air. ;) I think it was what I expected. I knew it was small, though I had imagined Belize City to be bigger. I figured it would bear some similarity to Mexico, which it does. Having been a British colony doesn't mean a lot. Puerto Rico is technically part of the U.S., too, but it resembles many developing nations.

I had a few moments while I was there wondering what Vespera would have thought if she was there. Back home here in Minneapolis, it's impossible to miss the sharp contrast between the consumers (typically "white" people) and the service workers (often Hispanic). It's especially noticeable when we travel. So often hotels are filled with "white" people & staffed by minority ethnicities. Since I was, indeed, visiting Belize it totally makes sense that the service people (restaurant servers, housekeepers, etc...) would be Belizean & the tourists would be primarily Euro-American. I noticed the contrast, though, and it brought up some mixed feelings for me.

Belize is most definitely beautiful! I would love to see more, meet the people, listen to the music, eat the food. I'd like to go in further, to notice the differences between Belize and the surrounding countries. I was fascinated by the bits of history ya'll shared with me. ...and I wanted to see some monkeys!