Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To Stabilize in Rejoicing

"Stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in Your [God's] works." --John Calvin

Voskamp asks, "Doesn't my world also stabilize when I rejoice in Your words?" (One Thousand Gifts Devotional 31).

I'm trying to process those thoughts because I don't want to be flippant about this relationship that often confounds me.  I think maybe the difficulty is in the word "stabilize."  The first entry on Google says, "Make or become unlikely to give way or overturn."  That makes so much sense to me, because my initial feeling about stabilization indicates an "evenness" I never have in difficulty.  I'm far too emotional--too up and down to be "even" during chaos.  And I've envied people with that kind of demeanor.

But the fact that rejoicing in God may be the very thing that keeps me from "giving way"?  Yeah.  I get that.  In the middle of the darkest days, when I first started praying for God to save us from drowning, I couldn't' see any movement on His part.  I prayed in panic daily--sometimes hourly--because I honestly felt like breathing was an impossible task.  Looking back, I know that "no response" isn't true.  (Though, I only saw Him through this "looking back.")  We never overturned.  We breathed in water, but did not drown.  We walked through the fire, not without scorch marks, but without being burned up.

That description doesn't sound much like rejoicing--simply praying for survival.  But isn't acknowledgement of God in itself rejoicing?  Isn't it honest and open recognition of who He is?  A recognition of the creation in the chaos, to quote L'Engle.

That's how I didn't overturn.  I cried.  A lot.  And I was honest with the One Who Hears.  

So I guess my world does stabilize in rejoicing.  I'd never thought about it like that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You've Been Weighed; You've been Measured

I've spend this pregnancy in a weird place--overwhelmed and excited to do something again we'd never thought we'd do once and simultaneously cursing the state of my body when we learned Ryan would be a big brother.  It's sad, and I'm mostly ashamed to admit that I've looked in the mirror with far less wonder than I did when my belly grew the first time.

All my life, I've heard jokes about men and how they compare "members" without realizing women are far worse about measurements.  We aren't just concerned about inches, but about pounds.  We measure weeks and months, ounces and amounts.  We measure intensity and emotion and worth and contribution.  We measure cost and time and devotion.  And when the sum total is in?  We almost always find ourselves wanting.

All that measurement leaves little room for wonder.  It suffocates grace and makes gratitude almost impossible.

It's strange to me that a year of focused gratitude would come at a time when I'm so zeroed in on measuring--as strange as last year when the word "peace" was dictated in a year of chaos.  I've spouted sayings that indicate situations like this are how we learn, but I wonder why that's the case.

Ann Voskamp describes thanks as recognizing the gift set before us, and, ultimately, how that attitude makes joy possible.  Because, she points out, "wonder really could be here--for the seeing eyes" (One Thousand Gifts Devotional 27).  Maybe my lack of gratitude stems from my unwillingness to see, and leads to my inability to perceive the wonder of what's around me--the gift of my boys, my coworkers, my church.

Far too often, I see the obligation and fail to receive the gift.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dismissive Communication

Contract negotiations at my school are in a much better place than they were two weeks ago.  I've had trouble determining right action during the whole process because I'm not a huge fan of the Us/Them mentality that develops out of situations like this one. 

When those mentalities first developed, I shrugged my shoulders because I believed it really was just part of the process.  My dad served on a school board for a couple of decades, so I feel like I speak from experience there.  I feel like the real loss, though, comes in the form of an unwillingness to reach out for the sake of conversation--people don't want to look at each other.  Forget talk.

We stop hearing each other.  We stop understanding that some (though definitely not all) motives might be good intentioned the way ours are.

I'm guilty.  After several months of emotional ups and downs on a contract, I just wanted resolution.  I got tired of hearing that my one concern as a teacher was money and I was sitting pretty with a "posh" contract and I needed to count my blessings.

Those were the things that were actually said.  What I heard was that it was OK for others to have deeper concerns regarding contract negotiations, but any unwillingness on my part to accept what is offered is greed, plain and simple.  It didn't matter if there were reasonable solutions presented.  At that point, I couldn't hear them.

Sometimes it's hard to hear people.  Hearts are all tied up in words and that may mean there is intention and deep conviction behind something that sounds a little flippant at the forefront.  But I'm so quick to dismiss words--a lot because I'm an introvert and would prefer to surround myself with only people I know and connect with easily, but also because I think I've allowed myself to become dismissive with words, and, as a result, people.

It's a work in progress.  It's letting myself share what I think without being able to fully process the emotion behind it and then allowing someone else the same luxury.

That's the difficult part--allowing someone else the same luxury.

Because often there just aren't conclusions--and I need to stop drawing them.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Since I've closed my blog, my only reader is you, Ronnie.  You'd think that means I'd be more willing to sit here and type the things I'm really thinking instead of constantly editing how I need my thoughts to read, but that's clearly not the case.  Otherwise, there would be more than two posts in the last four months.

I've been thinking a lot about what you said about nostalgia--particularly church nostalgia.  I think tonight I'm super guilty of the same sort of sentiment.  It's not about the old church, exactly.  I can't gloss over the problems enough to be guilty of nostalgia in that respect. 

I don't belong at The View.  I'd like to tell you I know exactly why, but I can't.  Everyone else seems to be finding a little niche, but I can't figure out what I'm supposed to be doing there or why I felt drawn there in the first place.  The deep connections we had before the Josh saga have largely disappeared and few people seem to interact the way they did previous to that incident.  Jermaine and Mallory, who were great connection points for me, have left for another pasture (which I hesitate to identify as "greener" as I'm not entirely sure that's the case) which was further small group displacement.  Not only that, but I really connected with Mallory which you well know isn't something I do easily.  I alienate people.  It's my personality.  But it's weird for church dynamics.  I assumed that being a Mom would automatically connect me to the other moms, but that's a misconception.  I'm probably never going to work in the nursery or kid's church.  It's just not my thing.  (And one Sunday of accidentally saying something inappropriate to a repeater would prove that true.)

I don't want to be a part of Praise and Worship.  I don't want people to look at me.  I don't want to be on the stage.  But music is such a vital part of worship for me.

So I'm nostalgic.  I miss my women's group.  I miss their consistency and welcoming nature.  I miss our understanding and their commitment to drawing others to Christ.  I miss their lack of judgment on how Christ works through individuals.  And that nostalgia means I feel sorry for the people who must really just long for the day when they felt like they really belonged.

You think that's what nostalgia is about?