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God Wink

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I’ve been reading my One Year Bible since April 24, 2019.  I don’t know why I started it that day, but I felt called to do so.  My One Year Bible has an Old Testament, New Testament, Psalm, and Proverb reading for each day.  Since I began in the second quarter of the year, my reading started in the prophets and ended in Revelation.  I didn’t keep up well around Christmas and Anniversary/New Year season, so now I am over a month behind reading Genesis/Matthew through the prophets.

I experienced a “God wink” when my reading of the description of the cherubim Proginoskes in A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle lined up exactly with my daily reading of Ezekiel’s description of an angel.  The reading was November 4, but I’m pretty sure I was a couple days behind when I read Ezekiel and L’Engle on the same day.

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Ezekiel 10:9 
I looked, and each of the four cherubim had a wheel beside him, and the wheels sparkled like beryl. 10 All four wheels looked alike and were made the same; each wheel had a second wheel turning crosswise within it. 11 The cherubim could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. They went straight in the direction they faced, never turning aside. 12 Both the cherubim and the wheels were covered with eyes. The cherubim had eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, their backs, and their wings. 13 I heard someone refer to the wheels as “the whirling wheels.” 14 Each of the four cherubim had four faces: the first was the face of an ox, the second was a human face, the third was the face of a lion, and the fourth was the face of an eagle.

 

It was awesome.  I am God’s child.  He knows what gets me really excited and creatively energized.  What a wonderful love note from God that day.

I am finding the more I look for “God winks,” the more I find them.  The more present I am in the moment, the more I feel God’s presence.  I look forward to more providential lining up of God’s word and its application to my life.

 

 

 

 

Not going according to plan…

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life plan

Things are not going according to the plan.

If I had a phrase that would sum up the last couple/few days–and even years–of my life, it would be this.  I was supposed to spend the day today packing up baby gear to give away, consign, donate.  I was supposed to be gathering up this gear that was intended for the second child I’d planned, but did not manifest.  Did that happen?  No.  Stomach bug gave its (I hope) last stand.  I thought Daughter had turned a corner after Sunday, but Monday night a series of surprise, boomerang, dead-body-pop-back-up-at-the-end-of-the- horror-movie puke sessions showed up hourly between 11 pm and 2 am.  At least my five year old was able to aim the last two and flush them away.  There was no bedding left to change.  Anyway, enough puke talk.  I did not sort and give away Mount Babymore.

So, I was all geared up to deal with my baby gear.  I let about 30% of it go to Cousin L, who was at Nanny’s funeral.  It felt surprisingly good.  Honestly, the thought of the colossal pile of baby gear being gone felt freeing.  It would no longer have mental taunting power over me.  It wouldn’t remind me about how things didn’t work in so many ways.

A few weeks ago, I attended a church service intended to speak to the congregation about allowing God into your finances.  While I read it that way, more loudly my heart responded to the question, “If you are going to turn your life over to God, you need to turn over your possessions too.”  All I could imagine was this mountain of baby gear that I couldn’t trust God to deliver on.  I couldn’t trust Him to give me a second baby, and I couldn’t trust Him to give me peace without a second baby.  So I held onto my stuff.  It sat there with no one getting the benefit.  It was hoarded.  It was five talents buried.

As I was processing the nudge to put the baby gear back into circulation, I mused that I had bought everything in green so a second baby of a different sex could get double play out of everything.  A precious mentor reminded me how well off I really am and how great I am at finding deals.  Whereas it may feel that this chapter is closing, you never know, God may just want you to buy pink OR blue later.  The Bible is filled with geriatric and problem pregnancies.  Those babies went on to lead very significant lives.  (Who is to say that the Daughter I already have is that significant person, whose birth was a miracle, unrecognized at the time?)

I don’t know what is going to happen, but I know I am unclenching my grip on these particular possessions.  I am trusting God with the story.

Now, I even get to trust God with the fact that he didn’t want me doing the sorting today.  Okay, okay, God.  I am here.  Send me.

 

plans

Blessed Chunks

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We decided ahead of time to spend Friday night in my hometown and return to Atlanta late Saturday night after Nanny’s funeral.  My husband wanted to be back home in our bed that night and have the next day to decompress.

My eulogy went very well.  I had a funny part that I chose to sing which made me more nervous than usual, but it went well enough that one of my distant (old man) cousins asked me to sing it again before we left.  The eulogy had a nice balance of funny, informative, and sentimental.

After the graveside service, changing clothes, and eating the obligatory post funeral southern meal with the family, it was time to go.  I wondered if my mom would feel more comfort if I stayed and helped her put everything away, if I was there in the quiet the next day–but I was wasting my time pondering a “what if” that was no longer an option.

An hour and a half after putting my daughter to bed–and moments after falling into my own bed–I heard a thud followed by tears in her room.  I rushed in only to find she’d thrown up everywhere.  It was an “exorcist” scene where the child is screaming, everything is covered in puke, and I don’t know what to do first.

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After cleaning the carpet, stripping the bed, changing sheets, bathing child, and settling back into bed almost two hours later, I found the blessing.  Thank GOD we went back home and my grieving mother didn’t have to deal with the horror while in such a delicate state.  (My daughter’s sleeps next to my mother’s room at her house, and I’m down two floors in the basement.)

While I haven’t blogged in almost six years, my life took an interesting path toward twelve step recovery in the last three.   I would have focused on the puke four years ago, but I am so grateful that today I can only see the blessing.  I had felt a twinge of guilt about leaving hometown “early,” but the events after getting home underscored that I had ultimately ended up in the right place.

Much easier to handle puke in a familiar environment…where you can find your hazmat gloves, heavy duty upholstery spray, and carpet scrubber.

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Transfiguration

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My Aunt mentioned a phenomenon where once someone dies, the bad memories melt away and you are left with only the good, inspiring, and uplifting memories.

I absolutely love this idea.  It reminds me of childbirth.  It was the worst physical pain I’ve ever felt, and people told me that the memory of the pain would become fuzzy in the glow of the new life that had sprung from it.  It is like that with Nanny.  Now that she is in God’s glory, many of my distressing moments with her have melted away.  She was often in utter confusion and worry, but I know that this wasn’t the true Nanny.  This was the Nanny of dementia, of lost boundaries, of worry and preoccupation.  The sum of the not-so-great things in her life had left its scar on her.  But that mark was erased when Nanny  was made complete in the presence of her shepherd.  She had become everything her creator had intended, and we are able to remember the good, the strong, the glimpses of her living completely in God’s will.

Isn’t a beautiful thought that one day those that saw the worst of us will mostly remember the best?

 

 

Procession

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Funeral-procession

Whenever I return to my hometown, I’m reminded of things that are more prevalent in small towns that are not done anymore in greater Atlanta or its suburbs.  As we celebrate the life of my grandmother, I revisit the tradition of the funeral procession.

Growing up, someone’s importance or impact was judged by the length of their funeral procession.  I always hoped I would have a really long one.  In Atlanta, processions just aren’t the norm–nor are they safe.  I know that it is expected for slain police officers,  politicians, or celebrities to have significant processions (wherever they take place, no matter how big the city).  In small towns like my hometown, everyone gets a funeral procession between the church/funeral home and the cemetery.

The first time I vividly remember being part of a funeral procession was surrounding the death of my paternal grandfather when I was almost sixteen.  Several people pulled over, and I remember one person in particular stood with his hat off, placed over his heart, in honor and contemplation of someone he did not even know.  Wow.  Today, people pulled over and watched our long line of cars proceed slower than the usual flow of traffic.

When you are part of a procession, the funeral home personnel tell you to turn on your blinking caution lights.  It’s as if to say “Caution.  Death coming through.”   I’ve been on the other side of many a procession.  It has been very good for me to take a minute and realize that life is fleeting, make it count, be thankful for what AND WHO you have.  Waiting for a funeral procession has been a different kind of interruption for me.  Instead of being annoyed, I think to myself, “I wonder who they lost.  I wonder how they died.  I wonder how they lived.  I wonder how the living will adjust to the new normal.”

The procession is one area where the small town wins.  It whispers, “Slow down and appreciate.”   I revisit my losses and memories, but I also tap into gratitude for all relationships I take for granted–even the monotonous.  There is beauty in the everyday when tomorrow will never be the same.

 

 

Backspace, Backdate, and Underestimating Time

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I’m the queen of going back and writing a blog for the two days I didn’t write.

I committed to do this, I knew I was in the middle of frenetic funeral business, and I knew I would have to be out of town.  How did I talk myself into thinking I would actually have time for personal contemplation, copy editing,  and wit in the middle of a visit to hometown with all the family-of-origin fun and funeral pomp that goes with it?  Probably the same way I estimate time for getting ready in the morning.  No matter what time I wake up, I will inevitably end up rushing to the first appointment of my day.

I’ve never been good at estimating time.  I was born with a ridiculous level of optimism.  I can cut everything to the skin of my teeth because all will go as expected.  Has real life reinforced this idea?  Abso-lutely-NOT!

If I go by what always happens, I would leave myself an extra hour between major dayparts, and I would write a few blogs ahead of time instead of colossally wasting time on social media.  Is it optimism or denial?  This question could extrapolate rather beautifully across all aspects of my life.  Hmmmmmmm.  Maybe there’s another topic to put in the can to write about later!  Ba ha ha ha ha.

 

Optimal Grief for an Optimal Death

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“Your grandmother died an optimal death.  She was sleeping.  No gasp, no struggle.  She was 92.  She lived a long life.  She had been in a lot of pain and confusion, and now she is not.  It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Someone very close to me uttered the above words.  While they are true, and death was a respite in so many ways for my grandmother, it doesn’t make it any easier to lose her.  In my life, contemplating the idea of something has always been more of a challenge than the actual thing.  The symbolism has been more intimidating than the experience.  Concepts and feelings behind big words such as love, marriage, and motherhood freak me out more than the actual experiences.  Death.  Nanny is dead.  She is not coming back.

My source of the wonderful memories of my childhood is now on the other side.  Nanny was the last of that generation to go.  Now that she is gone, my Pa is really REALLY gone.  I’m re-feeling the grief of losing him even though it’s been eighteen years.  I also feel the grief of losing my childhood: that place where nostalgia meets longing that makes your chest hurt.

Now my parents are at the top of the family seniority food chain.  They are supposed to be the wise old giving owls.  I am concerned as I watched my mother lose herself in mental gymnastics worrying and fretting about Nanny constantly, using Nanny’s existence as an excuse not to go anywhere, do almost anything.  Will my mother join life again now?  Will she find a hobby, passion, or her grandchildren?  Will she just find another thing that ties her to being miserable, unable, incapable?

Nanny made worrying a sport, and my mother has been on that train.  I would be taking on an unhealthy family legacy to do more than pray for my mother.  I’d be using worry as a love language, when I don’t believe that it is.  Worrying actually shows lack of love and care for myself.  I’ve heard it said that worry is like a rocking chair, it is something to do, but it gets you nowhere.  It doesn’t help the person you are worried about, and it is a waste of time that can make the worrier physically and mentally ill.  So–I am noting it here and hopefully not picking up that rubik’s cube as much as I might have been inclined in the past.  In reality, I will probably realize that I’ve picked up the cube and promptly put it back down.

So, when all of these thoughts come at me–along with the pressures of an impending move, career change, and countless other details–I need to deal with my grief.  Since my loved one quipped about how optimal Nanny’s death was, I decided to fantasize about what it is I actually need.

When I was in college, I went to a formal dance with a friend, and my sorority sister went with one of my date’s fraternity brothers.  Said gal pal would frequently have too much to drink and get weepy.  At this particular formal, I returned from the bathroom to find my friend on my date’s lap while he patted her on the back and gently cooed, “Just let it alllllll out.”  I hadn’t thought of that scene in twenty years, but today, it seems like perfection.

In real life, I don’t get to bawl like I want to.  My spouse doesn’t get it, it was an “optimal death.”  I have to ask for a hug most days.  My daughter is only 5, and this is her first brush with death.  I could cry into a pillow, I could cry into the air as I pray, but I really really really just want to cry into the presence of another person.

Remember the scene in “Goodwill Hunting” when Robin Williams repeats “It’s not your fault” until Matt Damon’s character lets it loose.  (I’ll wait while you youtube it….)

That’s what I want, except Santa Claus seems like a jolly old elf that would let you do that kind of thing.  I would get to cry the ugliest cry ever cried into his shoulder while he patted my back, and that storybook voice would say, “She’s gone.  Things are different.  Things are frustrating and sad.  We don’t know what is next.  Just let it alllllllll out.”

sad santa

Letting it “Do what it Do”

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Whenever I am in the midst of a creative project, I am notorious for letting the medium “do what it does.”  I am in a dialogue with the paint, canvas, and sometimes even my hands–who don’t always draw the foundation sketch I have in my mind’s eye.

Many times I have happy accidents that take the piece in a direction I never dreamed of.  Sometimes I struggle with experimentation in the middle of a painting.  What happens to this if I move that?  What if the paint dries, what if it drips, what if I’m out of a color I need–AND all the colors it takes to mix it up?  This isn’t working–that isn’t “right.”

Does it make me less of an artist to surrender some control?  When I start a piece, I usually allow for the idea that it may not turn out like the original vision, and I am okay with that.  In fact, I enjoy it.  Somehow, some way, I feel like God painted it with me.  I like letting the flow “in” to paint.

Such is my life, full of unexpected wonderfulness that turned out way better than I could have planned.

I’m all for some planning–it’s necessary to organize life and cover the basics.  I don’t ever want to be unwilling to flex if something cool shows up, though.

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Modern Day Lullaby

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So, I understand that my unborn child can now hear me singing, talking.  I’ve been thinking about what to sing.  Cheesy, but I really like this song right now.

My mom’s favorite modern day lullaby (for the time) was “Cotton Fields” by Credence Clearwater.

Valentwined

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One of my best original quotes ever was made off the cuff in 2006 while being interviewed for a women’s weekly magazine in Birthtown.  I was all excited about being highlighted in the magazine only to discover the caption on the cover underneath my portrait read “Valentine’s Day for the Romantically Challenged.”  OOOOh geeez, can’t I catch a break?  I was single at the time and going through some really craptacular relationship stuff.

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So here is my quote.  When asked why celebrate Valentine’s Day, I replied, “We need a holiday that reminds us to love each other for the same reason that all public restrooms have a sign posted that says ’employees must wash hands before returning to work.'”

So, for posting my own quote, I probably relegate myself to the group of people who laugh at their own jokes and fawn over their own reflections.  Oh well.

For some of us, telling others how we feel is natural, but for others, not so much.  Some of us need to hear that stuff and understand exactly what kind of waves are undulating from our loved ones’ grey matter.

Last night, Hubbs had a little truth serum and revealed some of his deepest darkest about our upcoming life transition (into parenthood) and its effects on his plans for business and our future.  As he went on, I realized that he’d been consumed with these thoughts for days on end.  Since he was mentally spent already, he asked me point blank what I’d like for Valentine’s Day.  I told him my wishes–exactly.  (Romantic, huh?)  He’s followed my suggestions beautifully so far, but the real gift was the meandering conversation that flowed into the wee hours of this special day: his profession of how our lives joined together and how he prepared for me before he found me.  LOVE.

P.S.  In two hours, we pursue the reservations for our candlelight dinner at WAFFLE HOUSE–novel, different, and fitting my cravings for all things potato.

Egg Heart

Scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked,

Me