Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Put Your Feet Down Child

Mane is a dramatic child, and it seems that so many things in her life are an emergency. She spills water and starts hyperventilating. She can't get something out of her closet and starts crying, "Mama, Mama, MAMA, I NEED YOU! COME QUICK." I wish she could be a bit more calm, but this seems to just be who she is.

When we took her swimming in Lake Superior this summer, I carried her out into the deep water. Then I brought her toward shore & told her she could let go of me now, that the water wasn't over her head. She clung to me in panic, afraid that the water was too deep. I held on to her & said, "Just put your feet down." She put her feet down, and sure enough, the water wasn't much higher then her waist. She looked surprised and said, "Oh, I can touch."

It reminded me of some song lyrics that someone at GCM has posted in their signature by Kate Bush:

He said,
"Just put your feet down, child.

"Just put your feet down child,
The water is only waist high.
I'll let go of you gently,
Then you can swim to me."

Is this love big enough to watch over me?
Big enough to let go of me
Without hurting me,
Like the day I learned to swim?

A lot of people have taken a lot of different meanings from that song. (Yes, I looked around on the internet to see what other people had to say, and, no, I don't actually recommend her music, but I liked these particular lyrics.) For me, I've created my own meaning, about God, about God's love, a love big enough to let us make our own choices, let us swim, be free, find our own way back to God...because I just love the analogy. And I've seen it first hand with Mane and her panic about swimming. I sometimes want to laugh, but her fear is so real. Maybe God feels that way toward us sometimes, too. God sees us here clinging and panicking, and God is there to say, "Just put your feet down child. The water is only waist high." It's like when Jesus stepped into the boat, and the wind and the waves were still. God will hold us until we're ready to put our feet down, will carry us in the deep water, will speak softly to tell us when the water is only waist high.

I don't think it means that nothing bad will ever happen or that everything always turns out perfectly if we believe in God. For me, this has something to do with inner turmoil, with the calming of the anxiety storm. If I would just stop panicking and put my feet down, I'd see that God's rock is under my feet. The water is swirling all around, and I'm not going to get out of it, but I can plant my feet.

I think God carries us, though, carries us into the deep water sometimes, holds on to us when we're too afraid to put our feet down, speaks gently to us until we can unfold gently and walk in the water. God isn't going to let us drown. Jesus didn't let Peter drown when he walked toward Jesus on the water, and we aren't going to drown, either.

No, we're not going to drown. Be still and be carried or just put your feet down child, whichever place you happen to be in right now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leap, and the net will appear.

The experts say that the most difficult circumstances to live with are those that involve ambiguity. Interestingly, we seem to do an awful lot of ambiguity over here at The Midnight Cafe. Between moving houses, totaled cars, varying degrees of relationship with Vespera's birth family, and, most recently, a health scare involving Novio's heart, our ability to live with the ambiguous, the not-knowingness, has been stretched to nearly breaking. When I awoke with a headache and Vespera with a sore throat, I knew the ambiguity was getting to us. defines ambiguous as:

Doubtful or uncertain, particularly in respect to signification

The quote on my sidebar right now says it another way:

Leap, and the net will appear.

We often have no choice but to close our eyes, leap, and wait for the net to appear. There is no prior assurance. We cannot know how it will turn out. All we can do is be faithful to our own part of the journey.

Novio's heart felt like the last straw. When the doctor said "left ventricular hypertrophy" and ordered an echocardiogram, we felt the free fall and wondered what happened to the net.

Today Vespera and I accompanied Novio to his echocardiogram. When his heart appeared on the screen, the sonographer smiled and announced, "He has a heart. Now we know he's lovable." Yes. Indeed. And this is why we are here embracing all of life's ambiguity...because we love. Later, the sonographer turned on the doppler, and we heard Novio's heartbeat. Vespera whispered that it was like a drum chorus, and the sound filled the room.

My own heart beat in my ears like jungle drums.

It seems that Novio has a heart murmur and that his heart is otherwise structurally sound. He is not in any imminent danger. We had been waiting for this moment for over a week, hoping to hear those sweet words of reassurance.

The net. We fell into the net. For this moment, we will rest.

And go out for ice cream.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's up with the boats?

As you may have noticed, my blog got a facelift. And some boats appeared on the top of the page. Now, I was really going for the coffee cup, as this is The Midnight Cafe, and we're always drinking coffee over here. But, I absolutely loved the template as soon as I laid eyes on it. I think we're all fascinated by boats and ships in one way or another. In the same way that the vastness of the ocean captures us, the ships that sail across are fascinating, grand and dangerous.

That's the way I want to live my life, too. Grand and dangerous, I mean. I chose a couple of quotes for my sidebar recently to reflect that. The first is a verse from the Bible, and the story goes like this:

The disciples were in a boat when a storm came up. They were afraid, and then they saw Jesus walking across the water to them ...which really got them going. I mean, here they are in a crazy, wild storm. They're trying to keep the boat afloat and on course, and then they see somebody walking toward them on the water. I imagine it was probably dark, and, perhaps they were seeing him in quick flashes of lightning. They thought they were seeing a ghost. I can't say that I blame them. Though they may have desperately wanted Jesus at that moment, they had no reason to think He could actually get out to them. Perhaps they even thought that their wishful thinking was causing them to see visions. Perhaps they thought they were dying, and so they were seeing visions of the afterlife.

In any case, much to their surprise, they heard Jesus voice coming across the water, and he said, "Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid." What sweet relief to hear that comforting voice, though, again, they may have worried that their ears deceived them. So, "Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down." (Mark 6:51)Sweet Jesus. Strong, powerful, tangible Savior. He stepped into the boat, and the wind quieted. Their hearts were still. They could rest.

That's what I want for the sailboat of my life. I want Jesus right next to me, quieting my racing heart, my fear and anxiety. The storm that troubles me is so often inside me. I cannot see God clearly for all the darkness and the lightning and the rain. But Jesus is right there, walking across the water, climbing into the boat, saving my life. I want to hear that voice, "Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Slow Motion

I wish I could capture just these few moments in slow motion...

Tonight, after a blaze of emotion, a day filled with relentless demands and unsolvable troubles, we sat in the living room in this place that is now seemingly, finally belongs to us. We sat here, with Mane asleep in her loft, her school notebook spread on the floor, with Vespera and Novio strumming guitars, wordlessly side by side, with the wind creating just enough stir to be heard inside our windows. We sat here, Mango and I, in a moment or two of contentment, just us.

Something felt familiar and warm, like the quilt I made with my own two hands.

And I felt for a second how I have been missing that familiarity, how in some ways I've been very homesick ever since we moved...not so much because of the change of locations, but because of the stress that was involved in moving, unpacking, starting school, endless rounds of soccer games, and , finally, the car accident. Stress and anxiety have overwhelmed me in a way that I haven't experienced in years, and a sort of mental fog has been my constant companion since the move.

Tonight everything was clear and bright. Maybe it's that today was a blaze of emotion, and once we've walked through the fire, we come out a little more shiny, a little more bright and clear. These familiar faces are my sanctuary, my familiar quilt, my home. And tonight slowed down enough for all of us to curl into that feeling. The fog, the shroud of constant anxiety, melted in the blaze. I'm tired now...but relaxed. There are troubles unsolved, as I suppose there always will be. But tonight, I go to bed a little more at peace.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I wasn't cut out for this

I don't really think I'm cut out to be the mother of a 6 year old. I don't mind the toddler years so much, though they were hard, and I've positively enjoyed the teenage years, but this 6 year old thing is making me nuts.

Heather of the EO used the word "sassitude" in description of her 3 year old's latest style. He is 3, right Heather? Anyway, a wise mama at GCM likes to remind us all that 6 year olds are like 3x2 ... meaning they are like 3 year olds times 2 (because they're bigger & smarter now). At 3, sassitude was surprising and somewhat funny (Heather may beg to differ). At 6, sassitude is decidedly not funny.

The primary issue lately is flat out telling me "no" when I tell her to do such and such. I know she's trying to find out how much power she has and get a sense of her own independence. I know she's putting her feelers out to find the boundaries. And I also know that making sure there are boundaries helps her to feel safe. I gotta tell ya, though, I understand why parents "give in" when faced with the sure knowledge that as soon as they enforce the boundary, insane shrieking will commence. This is aggravated many-fold by living in a duplex downstairs from your in-laws. Who wouldn't rather just give in than wait out the screaming fit knowing that grandma is right upstairs? Ugh.

I have to tell you that Mane is a total charm the other half of the time. She's cooperative, helpful (think folding laundry & setting the table), loving, and empathic. She loves to snuggle and make cards telling me how much she loves me. She wants to know everything about the whole world. She loves to take care of other kids. She makes friends easier than I do.

Maybe that's what makes the sassitude so difficult to deal with. It comes on so suddenly, and the charming girl is buried so deep under there it's hard to remember. And she seems so mature and reasonable sometimes...until she just really isn't. know, typing this all out has reminded me that we were just in a major car accident this week, and it's possible that the emotions and attitude are running high and wild because the whole world tilted for a little while. I forget that Mane needs structure and predictability as much as I do. When something throws a wrench in the predictability everything falls apart. I need to watch for that on other weeks when this starts to happen. This week isn't the first time I've noticed it, but I'm willing to bet there were other factors associated with other weeks.

Ok, ok...I'm putting a lot of things together now. For Mane, whenever life is unpredictable, she responds by digging in her heels or getting really irritable and angry. It shouldn't be hard for me to see this because I'm the same way. But instead I sit here being frustrated because she isn't being her usual, predictable self, which makes me feel irritable and angry. *sigh*

I'm hoping to teach her to make sense of these feelings as she gets older. I've worked through a lot of this type of stuff with Vespera. I think it's harder with Mane because she's not old enough to really understand the abstract way that life events, emotions, and behavior work together. This is what makes 6 really hard for me. If it were Vespera, we'd talk it out.

I wonder if there are some ways to begin talking it out with a 6 year old. I'll keep ya'll posted. didn't plan this post. It came together just the way I wrote it. Thanks for reading if you've made it this far.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Peregrin House has a Blog

You can read about the adventures of Peregrin House here: I decided that I need a place to keep track of homeschooling separately. Most days you'll find more written there than here, as the life and doings of Peregrin House are what consumes most of my days right now. Enjoy!

And, as a reminder, you can also find me (and some other smart & funny ladies) over at If Life is a Highway.

Taking Care of Business

I feel like I've been on the phone constantly since the accident. The fact that you have to keep it together enough to write down claim numbers, medicals claims insurance agent names and numbers, auto claims insurance agent names and numbers, total loss department addresses and phone numbers, police report numbers, auto body shop numbers, etc, etc... makes me wonder how the rest of the world makes it through car accidents. The big news today is that the subaru is, indeed, TOTALED. Unfortunately, our insurance assessor probably won't let us know until Monday what the insurance company will give us for the car. So, we'll shop for a car this weekend, not knowing how much money we really have. It could be worse.

I am so thankful today, actually, though, for the myriad of people whose names and numbers are scribbled on the back of the envelop on the table to get us through this process. I know it's their job, and this is what they're paid to do, but, for the most part, they've also been really nice about it. How often do you get to say that? It reminds me that we can all use a little kindness. I mean, I honestly don't expect people to be nice about this stuff, and it reminds me of how desperately we need a little kindness in our culture, in our communities, in our lives. We're parched and dying from lack of simple kindness.

So, think of me and be kind to someone today. It's been balm to all our wounds to hear kind words, to be treated gently and with respect. I will go out and do the same because I believe that the practice of kindness is just as healing as receiving kindness.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yes, you're still at The Midnight Cafe

I'll be playing around with some new templates for a while. Bear with me. You're still in the right place.

No Picture This Time

Last spring, when the RAV4 was totaled, I took a picture and posted it here. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, I didn't have to say much else.

This time there is no picture, and I don't have a thousand words, either.

We were in an accident Tuesday afternoon. We're all ok. Our car is not. We're still waiting on word from the body shop and the insurance company about whether it's totaled.

So, we wait. And go to the chiropractor. And wonder whether we shouldn't just scrap the car idea all together.