Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Worthy Read

I promised a fellow member and friend in Living Whole with Chronic Pain Network that I’d read his book this summer. I finally got around to that, and actually listened to it in audio book form, which was even more pleasant to actually hear Chris’ voice.

Chris Tatevosian wrote Life Interrupted: It's Not All About Me. This is by far the best depiction I’ve taken in on one’s first reactions of a serious medical diagnosis during those first few days and his ongoing acceptance of the disease. Chris has multiple sclerosis. It’s a honest, refreshing memoir of how Chris’ words, actions and self attitude cost him his first marriage. I’m so pleased for Chris to be happily remarried at this time and relying on his strength and faith in God. He stretches his readers to consider their relational patterns in a marriage or partnership with one or the other experiencing chronic illness.

This read is a eye opener to the fact that good communications skills for both in the relationship, no matter what form of chronic pain or illness is involved, is imperative. It’s really written to both partners who struggle with not relating “normal” due to chronic pain and conveys much towards what it is to live, love and sacrifice for the other. Chris desires to share what he has learned to help others avoid his situation.

I thank him for his transparency. Therein, I believe, releases much power and strength to help one another in the journey. This is a funny, sad, and real book. It is a book of hope.

Thanks Chris!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twenty Four Years Ago Today

Twenty Four Years Ago Today
It’s July twentieth again.
God provides.
It’s our anniversary and God gifts us with another year.
He does what we cannot do ourselves.

Who would have known all the years would hold.
It was with overwhelming joy and a few growing pains to widen our
love circle, but I look around this old kitchen table and feel these walls talk.
I know how blessed I am with three children and this man,
who time and time again, turns me eighteen with a single smile.

I never imagined what it would be like to be married this long.
I never really knew how it could work.
It’s not as if one is given a manual of instructions.
Yet along the way, you realize it is about the ability to grow
individually, yet together, to share and to ride the bumps and
persevere and maybe most of all, to be open to fall
head over heels in love again and again and again.
It’s about holding hands through the years and living the dance.

God gives.
We circle arms around and pull us into one.
This music, this man, these children and hope
dance me out of bed
every morning
I’d say it again.

"I do."


Friday, July 17, 2009

Blue Sky and Green Leaves

"In solitude we voluntarily abstain from our normal patterns of activity and interaction with people for a time in order to discover that our strength and well-being comes from God alone." Richard Foster
I’ve walked along the winding creek and spread out the old pink and blue round -the- world patterned quilt again. It’s my latest trick on days I am well enough to gather a bit of solitude, as the girls are literally immersed in the water catching newts and minnows in their nets. I have come to claim my quiet time with a notebook and Richard Foster’s book Seeking the Kingdom.

A quick review of my "to-do" list, a few scribbles and scratches later, I pick up the book. It’s a good read for me, with it’s short excerpts, considering my eye pain currently.

But the trickling and the bubbling sound spoke to me about as clear as God would I imagine, or perhaps did, that my seeking the kingdom is here, right now and that it is alright to just take in the moment, to put my book down and just be. I’m attempting to rest more than my date book demands of me. Some days I am a complete failure at this slower pace and letting go just to experience, but I am trying with the advice of a good friend. Today was a success and it feels pleasant. I lay back, drop my books and look up at the blue sky through the canopy of green leaves. I am not alone.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Please Stand Up

It's been a long week. If you can show me some Quaker equality and tolerance at the moment, please stand up. I know, I know that sounds really rude, but I am at a loss on the topic most recently. This frustrates me, as it is one of the very testimonies in which attracted me to Friends. I have not dared to wade out into the subject before now, as I don’t know how to do so without appearing judgmental myself, but it is so heavily on my mind I determined to put my thoughts here rather in my personal journal hoping for some insight. I am thinking more of how the various branches of Friends themselves respond and view one another in light of equality, rather than in the broader sense of the word.

Equality is so at the very heart of our Quaker faith. It’s not hard to see why as the other testimonies such as peace, simplicity and truth really cannot be of proper emphasis in one’s life without equality. To me they go together like a neat little package and while I’ve been witness to a lot quick reactions and dissension amongst the branches recently online, I don’t believe anyone consciously undermines those they feel as equal to. I’ve come to the notion that our lives, our actions can and should display items of commonality rather than a constant underlining of a particular branch. Thus, I’ve even changed my description on this blog as I’ve come to realize it is not benefitting unity lately.

I rely heavily on the internet with it’s various forums and blogs for Quaker companionship. While involved, it does not take long to observe the sting, this seeming urge to cast one as "other" if not in a similar Quaker mind set. I wonder if within the cyberworld there are simply those who are more vocal or that it is easier to fall into critical introspection due to the more impersonal medium. I know first hand that it is not exclusive an experience to a more Conservative Friend, as I’ve watched some Liberal loved ones really get bashed as well and my heart hurts. Quite frankly I am sad at this very moment over it all, as I think love can cover it but I don’t know the solution of this equation in a practical method that could be applied within communities to make all feel equally welcome. I’m left wondering why and I think it is only human to have the need to express and be understood, but some where between expression and the mark we often leave behind, there seems a trail of defensiveness that can easily turn into unhealthy debate.

I can’t claim to be a great scholar in the study of various religions. However, in the overviews and a course I have taken, I’ve never seen historical founders of a faith so esteemed such as Fox and Penn while simultaneously those adhering to that original practice of faith, perhaps a more primitive Christianity referred to as "unlearned". Yes, I am guilty of painting with that broad brush here and I know it full well. But there is something to be said on this delicate ground whereby the case condemned is not always one with a closed mind, but rather a Friend asserting their right like any other person to be true to themselves without having that freedom discarded. To me after observing this for several years now I am finding it the antithesis of Friendly thought. I find it just as wearisome as when my non-Quaker Christian friends or family scrunch up their faces at my announcement of Quakerism and begin questioning my salvation in clever little ways or even bold out right questionnaire-like conversation. Then I watch it largely assumed that some of my more liberal Friends just don’t esteem the Bible at all or have any such knowledge of it, which is blatantly untrue. In fact, I find most to have superior knowledge. Short of all that, does anyone really ever know a person’s heart?

My concern does not fall short here as I am sensitive in nature to the core and I don’t think I am alone in that. Very deep some where inside me is a place, this place that lacks enough words but needs to embrace others who are not like myself. I learn from them, I enjoy them and yes, love them. It some how brings me more peace and heals my own soul. My husband often tells me that I suffer for it and to an extent I think on occasion, he has said it plain. It is in this place where I do not reject my upbringing of Christian heritage, but sift, retain, and gather unto it what I feel are my own individual truths which do very much contain Quaker orientation and testimonies. But I must say, I sit up on the fence like a school kid, wondering how to make others feel loved and their variation welcome and how to not jump off and away from what I’ve claimed as my own–my very own freedom of choice as I need this focus and form of worship. This Quaker way helps and completes me. The practice of unprogrammed worship meets my spiritual needs as well as my physical requirements as I am finally able to enter in to community worship without the constant pressures of being called upon with my painful voice, eye sight and physical demands. I can be myself, reflect and relax and even close my eyes while I seek the Spirit. When meeting is over, I feel I have directly worshiped, rather than been worn out. That to me is refreshing and how I would hate to give up on it. I need elbow room and I see that we all do. My thoughts keep turning to various labels being more of a hindrance than a help.

In my seeking, I can’t help but find myself at the feet of Jesus, pondering his teachings to love God and my neighbor as myself. He didn’t just tell us to love our enemies, he did it. In this society that often pushes Jesus further and further away, I embrace the fact that his teaching was against being judgmental. Many of his followers today ignore this. I have at times ignored this in my fellow Christians. I do think Friends have some thing very special to say to the world right now and though small in number can quietly lead the way, but I feel we need a coming together once again to see all as equal and valuable; we need an equality as portrayed by Jesus. I want the courage to trust and follow so that we can unite together without the constant emphasis of our differences, but living our experiences and truths instead. This thought strengthens my resolve a bit and I sit and wonder can we start with one another?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Seriously Now, I Need Holy Silence

A few weeks back I slowed down my internet time due to being over-extended here at home. I desired to get caught up, but even more than that, just needed some space and quiet time for reflection and renewal. I was not resting-at all. Though soon to find out once again, the work and interruptions never end. No never. Not when you are a teacher, a mom, a lover, a daughter, a sister, aunt, a house keeper, and friend. Wow, how those roles are not necessarily in the correct order here, nor am I am to fulfill them all as I’d like! They are all a blessing, but a busy one.

As a responded in one of my comment sections, I’m hard pressed here for any sort of quiet place and really have to steal away the time to rest daily or it doesn’t happen. Some times it can’t happen. That’s reality. At age 45 I’m smart enough to fight a bit for what I need and that’s a time for sacred holy silence. It’s tricky here, so I claim a few green fields as my own as well as the bathtub. I’m not ashamed to say it, I read, pray, eat, day dream and yes– commonly fall asleep in my bathtub. See, a shut bedroom door might work– but only for a while.
I’ve come to identify in William Penn’s words, "True silence is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. "

So, I’m making an effort to take the time and it helps me slow my thoughts which come to me at lightening speed often. It makes more room in life to expect to connect directly to God which is becoming increasingly important to me the older I become.

That being so, I thought I had my personal time nabbed the other day. Sliding into a rejuvenating tub to the brim, my muscles relaxed and with eyes closed I shut out the world for a while. Though in the distance, I hear my phone belting out it’s tune not once, not twice, but five times. This was a persistent caller and with that many consecutive rings, it dawned on me it could be an emergency. So, dripping wet, wrapped in a towel I go running through the house to search for my phone, which was of course, very deep some where in the abyss of my purse. At this point I was very aware of the puddles across the wood floor and oriental rug. Sure enough, a message from hubby telling me that the next door neighbor had called him at work and did I know that our two horses were loose in his yard?!? That was a relief, as it was no emergency, but one look out the window–still in the towel mind you–it evidently seemed an emergency to him! Being the overly reflective person I am at times, I chalked it all up to God letting me know that I’m not always in control and it just wasn’t time for my silence for the day. We precariously took care of that one here and mopped up....

I am not giving up. I need time for this daily renewal apart from the noise of the day and the internet that so easily becomes like a magnet in order to to reflect on thoughts that arise. I need to continue to rest and process what I've been through while recreating a new and different life today. I want to claim more time of expectant silence to experience God for myself. It can’t be done in noise and it has to be done in my own way, not necessarily how others do it. Don't get me wrong, I love time on the computor as well as most people, but more silence and more time in the green world to gently rock me like a baby may work best.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer is Here!

Summer time may have finally come to my part of the world! I believe we lost the month of June to rain, chest colds and completing our home school year. We finished up the year by boring the girls with the IOWA Test of Basic Skills. It was the first year for Teacup to be taking it and she finished almost every battery by standing up on her chair about half way through the timed test, announcing she was "all done"! Then we took a day to visit various museums in the area and a nature center. We brought the Principal with us. I have a 'thing' for him.....always did like nice looking educators. The girls liked having Daddy along too.

Our son also graduated from public high school. We are still reeling from all that involved and adjusting to the fact that we seem to have an adult child living under our roof. It's not a statement I say

So, I've spent most of June selling our old books and purchasing new ones for next September. I ordered a lot of curriculum, but also let the girls pick out several hands-on science projects and experiments. The problem there is they have just arrived in the mail and they want to do them now. I hope they are still as enthusiastic when I break them out next semester. I'm finally done organizing my files and records, breathing that sigh of relief, but lingering in my mind is we will never pass this way again. Grade 3 and grade 7, for whatever levels are worth, are officially history in our family.

And now, Ganeida over at Ganeida's Knots has decided I should get this 'True Heart Award' for one who with "true Quaker simplicity&directness chronicles the ups&downs of her life." Hmm...very kind and generous, two in a row, but my readers probably all deserve it more than me for reading about all those downs! LOL...anyways, I am grateful for this and cannot turn it down as it is a heart and I am so particularly fond of hearts!

"Those who receive this award are of the sweetest nature. They are kind, friendly, funny, loving, eager to share their love for Jesus with others, and brave in their efforts to reflect Him to this darkened world. They are the kind of folks you're blessed to know, even if it's only in the bloggy-sphere."

I'm passing this award onto three lovely people who come to mind immediately after reading that:
My Autumn Years, Renee
Light in the Sphere, Farrah
Sufficient Grace for Suffering Saints, Marsha