Saturday, August 23, 2014

Identity

Lately, I've been musing about that word.

How do you identify yourself?  What words do I use to identify myself?

At the most surface level, words like "tall" and "brunette" and "thin" came to mind.  But, that's too shallow.

I kept pondering.  Who am I?  Personality traits?  Maybe those more fully answer the questions.  "Organized."  "Funny."  "Reliable."  Well, that's headed in the correct direction.  But, it's not where I begin to settle comfortably.

Daughter.  Sister.  Friend.  Wife.  Mother.

Those are the words that really provide me with my identity.  Some of those I chose.  For some, I had no choice.

I'm aware that although those words will always be true, the relationships that allow for those terms will not always exist in this world.

I'm a daughter because my parents chose to give me life.  I'll always be someone's daughter, but the time will come when I no longer am actually called that term.  Those people will leave this earth.  Never again will I receive a card addressed to "My darling daughter."

Those terms will potentially shift.  Someday, I may become a widow instead of a wife.

************************

When we were in the United States this summer, we visited my grandmother at the nursing home.

**Let's just put this out there.  I'm not a big fan of nursing homes.  I have this hyper-strong sense of smell, and nursing homes smell bad.  They just do.**

As we were driving to the home, I was going over with the kids the nursing home ground rules.
1.  No running.
2.  Speak slowly, clearly, and loudly.
3.  Make eye contact.
4.  Act interested.
5.  Don't complain about the smell.

We arrived, Tony parked, and I called upon all the strength I could muster.  I opened up the van door, put my happy mommy face on, and walked in.  Good news.  No smell!  That immediately put me at ease.  Ok, not at ease, but it lowered my defenses.

We found Grandma, and the kids immediately reminded me that they're better people than I am.  They ran (walked appropriately quickly) up to their great grandparents that they hadn't seen in a year, and they started handing out hugs and kisses.  This ability must come from their father.

More strength mustering, and I found myself hugging as well.

Lisa, get a grip.  These people are the same grandparents that you've always had.  Why are you being a mess?

I determined to deal with the thoughts later.  I'll just sit and be friendly while being made completely aware that this is not my comfort zone.  Perfect.  I look around the space.

Tony has settled in next to my grandmother.  They are having, apparently, a lovely little conversation that has some general basis in reality.  The Middles and Bits are keeping Grandpa entertained with their (within the rules) antics.  My mom and uncle are chatting about the day's news and needs.

All is well.

Except for these thoughts in my head.

What are you looking at?  What are you looking for?  What are you seeing?  

I can't figure out why I'm so uncomfortable beyond the obvious that I have a weird relationship with sickness.  But, it's more than that.  What is the deal with me?

I scan the room.  Elderly people in wheelchairs.   People with walkers and canes shuffling from room to room.  I hear a commotion coming from behind me.  I follow the sound to the dining hall where several of the home's residents are lined up in their wheel chairs.  They are listening to various music (Christmas in July, anyone?) and shaking maracas and other similar instruments.  More thoughts.

What are the people doing?  Are these exercises?  Why are they listening to Christmas music?   

My mom interrupts my thoughts to ask me to find out what's for dinner.  I'm told where the menu is, and the Bits and I walk down to find out the info.  As we head down the hall, we begin passing the resident's rooms.  We'd been in the visiting portion of the home, but now we're really in the home.  And I can barely walk for the conversation going on in my head.

How many people live here?  What's wrong with them?  Do people visit?  What are their stories?  How do they feel about this place?

I can feel the emotion welling up behind my eyes.

I look at the menu except I don't know what the date is.  Vacation does that to me.   Well, that and the emotion I'm trying to deal with.  I shake off the thoughts, and I look at the menu again.

All I see is mac and cheese.  And, I start crying.

I'm allergic to cheese.  I get migraines from cheese.  How could I live here?  Do they make dietary changes for people who need them?  Would I have headaches all the time?  Would anyone care?  Would anyone even notice?

I wipe my tears, pick up Bits, and remind her that I'm allergic to cheese.  She seems confused.  We walk back to the group.  No one asks us what's for dinner.  Good thing, because I don't have a clue.

We say our good byes to my very grateful (there really are no words to describe the depth of gratitude) grandparents and get into the car.

Tony, driving through a cornfield, looks at me and asks if I'm ok.

Behind my sunglasses, the tears begin to fall.

"No.  I'm not okay.  They're losing their identities.  These once vibrant amazing daughters and friends and siblings and wives and mothers are becoming a group.  They're just 'the elderly.'  This is the "greatest generation," and now they're slumped in wheelchairs shaking rattles to "Angels We Have Heard on High" in the middle of July.  Are they seen for who they were or who they are?  Are they loved for who they are?"

This was never the plan.  

Different voice in my head.  This is the Voice.  The one of the Father.

"What was never the plan?  Nursing homes?  God, Mom is doing everything she can."

No.  Sickness.  Death.  Never part of the plan.

The sunglasses no longer cover or contain the tears.  I'm quietly weeping.

Psalm 116:15, Lisa.  You love this verse.  You have no idea the depth of it. Remember it.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

I didn't ever desire this pain.  I created these lives to love Me in perfection.  Now, death has to happen.  But I still love.  Love perfectly.  As these individual lives walk out their final days, I hurt for them.  These lives- too often forgotten by the world- are precious to Me.  Precious.  At death, each of my followers has a single identity.  Mine.  At home with Me.


 **********************

As I ponder identity, I am brought to face the truth.  The Truth.  The single reality that when my days have ended I will have a single identity.  I either belong to the Father.  Or I don't.  I've spent a life devoted to Him or I haven't.

Am I living with that identity in the forefront?  Am I living as He purposes?  Or am I avoiding opportunities to love because of the smell?


Monday, August 4, 2014

First Day of School!

We made it back from the US on July 27, and I have plenty of blogs and thoughts to follow. But, today is the first day of our home school for the 2014-15 school year.  This year is sure to be very different because Coralynn will be joining us!  She definitely adds an element of... well, an element of... how do I put this nicely?  She adds an element of chaos!

Chloe Marie
7th grade
When did that happen???

Carson David
Fifth Grade
He is ready to go!

Camilla Rose
3rd Grade
I can't believe this child is only almost 8.  Tony and I sat down the other night and recounted to make sure.  Yep, born in 2006.  She's almost 8.

Coralynn Mae
Pre K4
Dear God, please let this year be smooth and let Bits learn a lot!

Team Us!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'm better.

Life is busy.

And, we're travelling to the US for the month of July.

After this month of vacation, I hope to have need energy and outlook for the blog.  :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Super Mario Bros Isn't Real Life

Imagine.

You try to do something a few times.  You give it your all.  You die trying.

No problem.  You reset.  5 more lives.

You get back out there and keep trying.

Wouldn't it be nice?

That's not real life.

And, that's not the part I wish were real.

I want to be able to save my progress.  Specifically, I want to be able to save my Spiritual progress.  My Jesus progress.  I want to save where I am in my walk.

During Super Mario Bros, you could stop, save, and shut down.  You turn off the Wii, and three or four days later, you can turn the Wii back on, put in the disc, and you pick up exactly where you left off.  Nothing has been lost.  Or forgotten.

You don't have to redo a level.

You don't have to re-earn you rewards.

You don't have to think about anything that you've already completed.  Because it's complete.

That's not real life.

Someday I'll share much more detail about the freedom I've received in the past 28 months.  I used to be frozen in fear.  Absolutely frozen.  I breathed fear.  I slept fear.  It was all I did.  I functioned in fear.  I look back at pictures and see times that were joyful, but, at the time, all I felt was fear.

Today, I feel joy.  And sadness.  I get to feel a spectrum of emotions.  That's what healthy people do.  And, I'm a healthy person.

But,

(Why does there have to be a but?)

I still have times- generally short, perhaps extended moments- of fear.

And, you know what?

Those times make me super angry.

I don't want to have to fight off the fear.  I want to be passed that.  I want to be beyond it.  I want to be above that.

And, you know what?

I'm not.

And, you know what?

I'm a healthy person.  I'm walking my walk with everything I have.  And having the Holy Spirit in me is a lot to have.

And, you know what?  (I promise not to ask again.)

I still have to fight.

In the book of Revelations, we get this amazing vision of Heaven.  Jesus is rapid-firing information at John, and John's recording as fast as he can.  We come to the third chapter, and Jesus has letters for some of the ancient churches.  In verse 1, He is speaking to the church at Sardis.  They have a reputation for being alive, but they are dead.  He tells the church to

"Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God."  

I'm not concerned that my faith is getting ready to die, but I do know that my walk has ups and downs.  (And, your does, too.)  Strengthening what remains means that we keep fighting.  Even when it's something we've been over before.

But,

(I like this but better.)

I think Jesus is okay with this.

The apostle Paul, when writing to Timothy, chose to use the metaphor of a running race.  I happen to like that choice.  Running races (track and field) take me to a warm place in my memory space.  He's says that we're supposed to run well the race set before us.  That we're to finish the race well.

In our 100-meter dash mindset, we like this race picture.

Run like crazy, never think about anything twice, feel no pain, and hit the finish line in like 10 seconds to the sounds of the heavenly cloud of witness cheering like crazy folks.

Sounds nice.

It's not real life, either.

This life race is long. (Actually it's short like a vapor, but we need to run it like it's long.  Like ultra-marathon long.)  As we run our race, we might come to similar issues on our course.  For me it's fear.  I slugged through too many years of fear mud.  I had an amazing breakthrough from that life-halting mud.  I'm not going to hit that kind of mud again.  I was freed, but it still rains on my ultra-marathon course.  And, there are still fear puddles that pop up.

Which means I have a choice.

Do I run around the puddles avoiding anything that might bring me pain and fear?

OR

Do I run through the puddle knowing that Jesus is on the other side, the Comforter- the Holy Spirit- is running with me, and that I'm being purified in the process?

Marching towards Heaven being purified on the way?

That's real life.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!


Happy Father's Day to the most important men in my life!  
 It is a privilege to be called your daughter, Dad, and your wife, Tony!
Thank you both for being amazing fathers!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Thoughts from Bed

Ok.  I've pretty much been in bed all week with a lovely viral thing.  Nothing major, but I will be happy to have restored health soon.  As I've spent entirely too much time on the computer and mindlessly sitting, I've come to a few conclusions.

1.  I am so thankful to have a fulltime maid.
This is a perk of Panama that I resisted for a long time, but I am so thankful for her.  It is great to be sick all week, and still have the all the laundry and dishes done.

2.  My kids are super easy.
Perspective makes the world go 'round, right?  Some of my kids are easier than other of my kids, but as a group they are easy peasy.  Yes, they've spent all week mastering Super Mario Bros, but they've been compliant and agreeable.

3.  People on Facebook are overly dramatic.
In full disclosure, I'm a drama queen in recovery.  I was cracking up reading statuses, pictures included, about the most amazing cheeseburger and fries.  For real?  It's a cheeseburger.  I don't mind an occasional picture and a heads up to the restaurant, but some of these statuses read like a middle-schooler's essay.  Way too many adjectives.

4.  According to the Internet, no one is capable of thinking for him/herself.
It's pretty much amazing the multitude of articles out there on the web.  Everything from why to breastfeed, how to punish children, what college degrees to skip, and where to retire.  Have we all become so reliant on being told what to do that there is now an answer for every question?  I want to know what it was like to think as an adult without the Internet telling you which way is up.

5.  Being sick is pretty much the worst.
I am so over this virus.  It's ruining my week.  We had so many plans to get ready for our trip to the States, and they've all pretty much been pushed aside by fevers and Kleenex.  I am so thankful for our normal level of health!

6.  Candy Crush only remains interesting for so long.
And thank you to those who took pity on me and gave me more lives!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Someone Turned 4 This Week!!

Coralynn Mae is officially a "big girl" now.  We know because she tells us 4-5 times a day.  Our tiny baby has become a bundle of personality, and we are so thankful for her!