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Showing posts from February, 2013

Lenten Love Letters: Teachers and Friends

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Two weeks into writing my Lenten Love Letters, I find myself drawn to writing to people who have had a positive impact on my life.


Three letters went to friends who have truly been a blessing in my life. All are wonderful friends.

One inspires me to delve deeper into my spirituality and beliefs, challenging my thinking and my actions in a positive, productive manner.

Another lives life with mindfulness and strength, speaking her truth and empowering others to share their own stories. 

A third walked into my day with exactly the words I needed to hear, and with levity I have been able to call upon time and again over the past few weeks as I continue to deal with the outcome of what has proven to be a huge learning experience for me. 

Next, my mind turned to the teachers in my life. 

One transformed an introverted mom who was hoping to make it to six weeks of breastfeeding her firstborn into a breastfeeding advocate who has nursed all five of her children well beyond toddlerhood. At my first …

Why My Kids Love the Dentist

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Free awesome video games in the waiting room. What child wouldn't love that?

But that's not all. The staff is amazing, the atmosphere fun and welcoming, and the care is above and beyond anything we've experienced at a dentist office. Alia gets upset when it's not her turn to be in the dentist chair. She doesn't even mind getting cavities filled. We love Tiny Teeth!

In This Circle...

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Women. Sharing tasty food. Watching a documentary or discussing a topic. Sitting in a circle:  acknowledging their maternal roots and branches; sharing thoughts, experiences, hopes and dreams; shedding tears; laughing out loud; comforting; encouraging; being together. Being, together. Listening with understanding and acceptance. For some, a catharsis, for others, an opportunity to connect. So often, healing.

We each have our own story. We each own our own story and embrace others' stories. Bodies and souls nourished, we leave, carrying no longer the burden with which we arrived, but instead a new energy, vitality, and peace. Usually. Sometimes, having delved so deep, having shaken ourselves to the core, we leave feeling unsettled, with things to contemplate, changes to make for the better. But it all is so very good and so very necessary.

Only in this group of women is it possible for me to fully embrace that deep dark place where my brokenness lives and know it's ok. Only surro…

Lenten Love Letters: Faithful Friends

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"Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us, once more..."

Why I've had that song stuck in my head for the past few days, especially considering it's Lent, I have no idea. What I do know is that during the quiet moments that I've devoted to meditating, praying, and writing Lenten Love Letters over the past few days, I've felt called to write to people in my life who have inspired my faith.


The first letter went to a wonderful pastor who had a great impact on me in just one short week of camp. Pastor Aaron opened my eyes and my heart to new ways of spending my time and my life with God and with the people in my life. And he taught me that sometimes there are more lessons in falling off a bike than in having a smooth ride. He also was my daughter, Alia's favorite person that week.




The second went to the pastor of my church who has not only been a wonderful pastor, but has set a wonderful example of what it is to be a good husband, parent, and frien…

Dear God,

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I'm going to give it to you straight. A broken car that isn't worth repairing wasn't on my list of things to deal with before my remicade infusion. In fact, I'm having trouble dealing with anything more serious than the lack of foods in my house that soothe my prednisone-induced cravings, and even that is pushing it. At this point I don't have the energy to throw a fit, and wouldn't put it past myself to sprain my eyeballs crying, so I'm just going to pray for the ability to shut off my ocd and not spend every second of the next however-long-it's-going-to-take-to-figure-out-the-car-situation worrying. Please grant me peace.

Thank you for listening, and understanding, and for any cheesecake you'd like to send my way. And for my parents, who, bless them, upon hearing the news said we'll talk. That can only mean good things. And for a husband who chooses his wife's mental and emotional health over going to work. And for kids who are in their roo…

Five Souls

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Every once in a while I stop, look around, and am absolutely astounded at where life has taken me. Sitting here, listening to my almost-five-year-old and her best friend playing upstairs; watching my seven-year-old build amazing creations with Legos; the clanking of bowls and measuring cups revealing my ten-year-old is honing her gluten-free-baking skills; knowing the silence from my twelve- and fourteen-year-olds indicates they're deep in the world of Minecraft or other game, the enormity of what life has handed me hits, overwhelms.

God has entrusted me with five lives - with five souls to nurture and nourish. I can barely wrap my mind around the concept. 

So many times over the past fourteen years, I've felt like a total failure as a parent. Through morning sickness, psoriatic arthritis flares, and bouts of depression that have left me barely functioning, it has pained me to not to be able to do and be more for my kids. At the opposite end of the spectrum, when I have been abl…

Cabinated Moose

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Once upon a time I was making something that resembled dinner ...actually, it more closely resembled breakfast, but that's beside the point. As I was chopping potatoes, I noticed a moondragon in the cabinet. The curious moondragon peeked out from the cabinet and asked, "What are you making for dinner? Are you making Cabinated Moose?" Not wanting to argue with a moondragon, lest it burn my breakfast-like dinner to a crisp, I responded to the affirmative and the news was received with great joy. The moondragon sought out Dragonman to give him the good news, and like most good news, it traveled quickly. Soon all the small and not-too-small creatures in Nurselonia were alternately excited and perplexed at the prospect of dining on Cabinated Moose, and when finally seated at the table, thought the dinner of Cabinated Moose was quite scrumptious. This is one of my kids' favorite stories. It is about Coren Ryu (aka Moondragon), who one day, while I was making a dinner of egg…

Memory Lane

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Reading through old posts on a message board I was a member of for years, I came across some gems from my kids' younger years. Here's a little taste of what life has been like living in a house full of rannygahoots...

CastAlia: 14 months oldCoren: 3.5 years old  Scene The Living RoomCoren appears on the stairs naked, except for a red sash slung over his shoulder and across his belly, holding a sword. Alia, who had been nursing, breaks her latch and exclaims, "Where sawd doe?" Coren races up the stairs and down again with a sword for fair Alia, who has wiggled herself off the futon. Coren tosses a sword to Alia, who amazingly kinda sorta catches it and stands, feet apart, sword at the ready. Coren moves in for his attack, exclaiming, "Taste my steel!" and they have at it, Alia holding her own against the fearsome Cap'n Moondragon. "Tang ting!" exclaims Alia as they battle. Coren turns to say something to Mama, and Alia, seeing her opportunity, g…

Lenten Love Letters: Apologies and Memories

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I sent my first Lenten Love Letters this week. The first, I sent out on Ash Wednesday. It was a letter asking forgiveness and letting a (former?) friend know that I continue to value and love her. The second and third, letters of gratitude for wonderful memories. These are to an Aunt and Uncle I wish I saw more often, a relationship which I know I need to put more energy toward. 


Writing these letters has brought home to me how precious the people in my life are, and how tenuous many of my relationships with people really are. These three letters are to people who I don't see or communicate with often - people with whom I wish I had done a better job of keeping in touch and nurturing our relationships.

Someone asked me what my expectations are, in sending these letters. The answer is simple: I don't have any. I'm simply sending out love, and all the silly, hard, wistful, difficult, and holy things that go along with love. I expect nothing, need nothing, in return. If not one…

Alia's Fifth

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Five years ago you came into the world, into the water, into my hands, surrounded by people who love you. Every day since then, I have thanked God for you. You are an incredible gift. 

Since you are a big fan of numbers, especially of having things equal to your age, here are five things I love about you…


1. Your indomitable spirit. Things don’t ever seem to go wrong for you. If you are having trouble with something, you see only that there is a solution – if you don’t know the solution, you are confident you can find someone who does. You know you can accomplish anything you set your mind to – to you there is no such thing as too young or too small.

2. Your mother-goddess-warrior soul. Your gentle heart, caring ways, and fierce protection of everyone you love, especially those smaller than you. You soothe the littlest of babies effortlessly. You know what everyone is supposed to be doing and encourage them, quite authoritatively, to live up to their responsibilities and pote…

Any Dream Will Do

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After two days of blizzard fun, it was nice to get out of the house. Well, farther out of the house than the front yard. We made our way through a snowy labyrinth of streets, arriving at church in time for Coffee and Conversation and to cobble together people needed for worship. 

The organ player, lector, and acolyte couldn't make it through the snow, so volunteers needed to be found. Not having played piano in years, but the only one with any piano playing experience, I was elected to play the melody line to hymns during worship. My daughter became a substitute acolyte. A member of the congregation volunteered to be lector. Pastor G welcomed those who managed to make their way to worship, and I plunked out the first hymn. 
Partway through worship, God sent the gift of an accomplished piano player who volunteered to take over for me. What a relief! 
After boxing up our Alleluias for Lent, we descended to the Fellowship Hall for lunch before journeying to a nearby town to enjoy a perf…

Thrift Store Thursday: Blizzard Edition

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I spent waaaaay too much time in bed during and after the blizzard, mostly due to my joints swelling to epic proportions due to the lovely barometric pressure. This week's Thrift Store Thursday is full of things I can see from my bed. 

We'll start with these two mirrors, which hang at the head of my bed with hand-painted (by me) mirrors and a couple works of art by my kids. I found them a thrift stores, years apart, and love them.


Hanging from my curtain rod (also a thrift store find, as are my curtains ... surprise, surprise), is something the littles in my house love - a string of hand-painted animals and beads. It was funky. It was fun. It was $2.50. It became mine. 



Below is one of my favorite things that hangs in my house. It is a hand-carved depiction of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. 


And last, but not least, a thrifted chair. My husband uses it as a computer chair, the cat uses it as a lounging spot in his absence.  The baskets in the background are thrift store finds as we…

A Cloud of Witnesses

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"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us..." Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)

Lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely...

"No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sin." (Message)

On Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or whatever you want to call it, we use up the fat, preparing ourselves for the Lenten fast. On Ash Wednesday we get rid of the extra spiritual fat, our parasitic sins, so that we may journey through Lent as Jesus journeyed to the cross - each confession a step closer to the forgiveness of all our sins, a step closer to everlasting life.

On Ash Wednesday, we come together in community to confess [our] sins to one another and pray for one another so that [we] may be healed (James 5:16). We receive, in ashes, a cross on our foreheads - from babies in arms to our elders - to remind us that &…

Hibernation

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As snow piled on top of snow, pain piled on top of pain. As the blizzard blew mountains of snow outside, pain blanketed my dreams until sleep became impossible. My body doesn't like storms.  Awake shortly after three, I gave in and got up shortly before 4:30 to find the world had undergone quite the transformation while I was attempting sleep. Peace enveloped me as the snow swirled past the window and I sat for a while, transfixed.
Returning to bed in hopes that pain would give in to sleep, I soon discovered it was not to be. Up again, I took my meds and made some rather strong coffee after taking a pound of bacon out of the freezer. My alarm sounded as I poured my first cup of the day. 
Soon children descended the stairs, excited to see what the night blizzard had brought them. Two were into snow clothes and out the door before even contemplating breakfast.
Back in bed, coffee in hand, I settled in to check to see how friends and family were weathering the storm. 
I've spent most …

Lenten Love Letters

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Lent is swiftly approaching. Last year, I found that Resistance is Lenten. It was a wonderful way to journey through Lent and beyond.
This year, in thinking about a possible Lenten discipline, the need to write letters to people in my life became quite overwhelming. Forty letters in forty days (not including Sundays). And not just any letters - love letters. 
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. (John 3:16, Message)
[Jesus said,] I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34 NRSV)
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how …

Here Comes Charlotte

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There is a storm a-comin' - I can feel it in my bones! And my joints. And everywhere else. Ugh. 

As Blizzard Charlotte  approaches, my health steadily declines. As the barometric pressure falls, so does my ability to be at all useful. 

Copious cups of coffee and a little pain medication facilitated a quite productive morning of errands and housework. This afternoon was fueled by chocolate and baby snuggles. Dinner done, kids on their way to bed, I finally have a few minutes to sit and get better acquainted with just how much my body is hurting. 

Years ago, when a storm of this magnitude was predicted, you would find me scrambling to gather supplies - flashlights! candles! food! blankets! shovels! salt! snow gear! panic! anxiety!

This time I managed to give the fridge and pantry a quick once-over, determining that we won't starve to death should we lose power, and there's plenty of coffee. I also had the kids gather their snow gear so it's at the ready ... more to avoid dra…

ThStTh: The Wine Rack in My Bathroom

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What better place for a wine rack than in one's bathroom? Really!

In this edition of Thrift Store Thursday, I will explain why there is a wine rack in my bathroom. 
My bathroom, as I've described, becomes a Sanctuary for me at times. It is the only place in the house where I can lock the children out and enjoy a few quiet moments, alone. When I came across the wine rack at the thrift store, I knew the perfect place for it - the bathroom. What better to compliment an atmosphere of peace and tranquility? 

I can already hear some of you celebrating this most delightful of locations for a wine rack. I can hear others, the wine enthusiasts among us, gasping in alarm - the temperature changes, the humidity, the horror!

Fear not. No wine has or will be harmed in the use of this wine rack. I promise. Look ... 



No more is the tiny linen closet stuffed so full of towels it won't close. No more are the hairbrushes, bath salts, and lotions lost amongst the toothbrushes, toothpaste, and cup…

RA

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As I seem to be needing to brush up on my RA mindset as of late, here's a repost from a year ago...

People with all types of arthritis, chronic pain, and/or chronic illness struggle with RA, as do many others. Many fail to see the value of RA. They cannot conceive that RA could be at all helpful to their lives or bring joy to their lives. Instead they become bitter at the limitations that have been thrust upon them. RA is not about giving up on life and giving in to disease, it's about letting go of your own expectations and accepting the new doors that are opening to you.


"The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to center the consciousness upon the limitations. This is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a door through which the confirmations of the spirit come. They come to a man or woman who accepts his life with Radiant Acquiescence."
'ABDU'LBAHÁ,
Divine Philosophy


Focusing on Radiant Acquiescence for the past year has taught …

Turning Tides

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With life comes change. Lately, there have been major changes in my life. 

Over the past few weeks, I've discovered that there are people who genuinely care about me and there are people I don't need in my life. Forward movement depends on letting go of things that drain my energy and embracing things that inspire and invigorate. 

I've learned that my journey over the past two years has brought me to the point where I'm emotionally raw, and that's something I need to embrace. Having torn down the walls I'd built around my heart, I've opened myself to feeling emotions in all their ferocity - both joy and sadness, both love and pain. And feeling them to their extremes is ok, good even. Not too many years ago, these past few weeks would have left me devastated, in pieces - or I would have numbed myself to the pain. Not now - now it is an opportunity for me to open my self to God's most excellent harmonies


Through the torrent of emotions that have relentless…

Room to Breathe

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Room to breathe. That’s what I need. Winter’s cold dark days have closed in on me. Recent stresses have taken their toll, and I have had little time to process. I need to open the windows of my stale soul to invite in fresh, new life.

I’m taking time away from everything to sit with myself and figure out what doors to keep open, which to close, and what new paths I might want to take. I need silence to be able to hear my own voice. I need solitude to be able to figure out my own energy and where it needs to be focused. I need space to be able to center myself.

I ran away from home by going home. Spending the night in my childhood home while my parents are on vacation will hopefully provide me with the necessary atmosphere to get rid of some stress and find some clarity.

I’m taking a break from everything other than what brings me joy and feeds my soul. And my body – I stopped by my favorite gluten-free bakery for a gluten free vegan pizza and a cupcake on the way here.
Taking a day…