Category: the inevitability of change

friendship: it’s what I give.

Women don’t need to learn how to build a shelf or organize a closet. They need friendship.

my new friend Tishala

It is amazing to me sitting here tonight how puzzle pieces come together.

My personal and professional and ministerial (what a word) yearnings seem to be finally lining up, and they go something like this:

Love people. Reach out to people. Serve people. Let people fill you up. And then do it again.

yourfriendFor the last week, I have been visited by friends, you know the kind – the ones who are really family- who know me so well that they can fill me up with a few words, a look, a anecdote, a hug for my babies, a bag of Doritos, a 30 minute walk. I spent the last week getting my “love tank” filled, almost effortlessly. There were simple group dinners and leisurely talks oceanside and one night that will live in infamy when my girls were allowed to get in the hottub, past bedtime, in their clothes, because they wanted some extra minutes of fun with Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Liz. I live off those moments. I savor them.

Because you know, we spend so much of the rest of our lives in the trenches. We spend so much time trying to Figure It Out, Do The Right Things, Be The Best –

“The more I try to be the best, the more I get the worst.” – Amy Grant

– that sometimes, we wear ourselves out trying and never accomplish anything.

Well, you might say – I know I say it – God didn’t give me this skill/talent/gift/motivation to just sit here. I’m supposed to be doing something. How can I change the world if I am just sitting here, folding laundry? How can my voice be heard if I’m just singing in the shower? How can God speak through me if the only thing I ever say is “JUST A MINUTE! Mommy’s hands are FULL!” ?

So we try harder. We pack our schedules. We Pin good ideas and implement a few. We research. (aka “Google stuff”). We discuss. We blog. We comment on other blogs. And we try.

I am not here to tell you to stop trying. I won’t. But what I am saying is, just for a minute: pause.

Do you see it?

Do you hear it?

“It” is what God has for you right now.

For me, today, it was a few very specific women… a few praying in the altar, a few scattered around the sanctuary, a few in seats just feet away. I had nothing profound to offer them. I am not a prophetess, a deaconess, a pastor, or any other Title of Distinction. I don’t pray like a good old saint, and as good as I can be with words some times, emotions often render me tongue-tied.

I am a mom, a wife, a battle-scared girl with a somewhat colorful past. I am an idealist but also a cynic. I do not trust anyone, but I love everyone. I am braver than I’ve ever been, but still afraid of a lot of things. I am a wordsmith… I observe, I read, I write… but none of that is what I have to offer any of the hurting people around me.

I have love. Arms. Tears. Smiles. Friendship. A desire to connect. A desire to know, and to be known. A desire to see, and to be seen. A desire to share what God has done for me, and also to share my latest pop culture obsession (ABC’s Scandal) and gluten-free bread recipe. A kitchen that will always at least have coffee and tea and chairs and a welcome mat. That is what I have to give. That is what I will not run out of. That will not make me tired. That does not involve a formal description, a meeting, a committee, a project plan, a Facebook page, a marketing plan, a weekly report, a group of investors, a hashtag, a logo, or any angst, fear of rejection, suffering by comparison, or even possible failure.

nofearinloveIf I give friendship and get nothing in return, so what? The gift is already mine to give.

Lord, forgive me for spinning my wheels trying to come up with a plan. Forgive me for putting my offering in a box or letting anyone else tell me what it should be. Thank You for opening my eyes to what already is and not just what “could have” been or what “might be.” Help me to love as You do:

the potential-friend sitting alone
the potential-friend whose husband is mean
the potential-friend who lost a child
the potential-friend paralyzed by fear of losing her child
the potential-friend who never feels good enough
the potential-friend who will never love me back
the potential-friend I will never see again
the potential-friend who is way prettier, skinnier, and seemingly better than I am
the potential-friend my other friends won’t like
the potential-friend who won’t accept it
the potential-friend who will abuse it
the potential-friend who will change my life, for better or worse.

I have been blessed with friendship – ones near and far, some who fill me, some who challenge me, some who seem to forget about me but then come back around. I am blessed. I have nothing to lose by loving big. It is what God called me to do from the very beginning.

Ask, “Is the juice worth the squeeze here?” and sometimes it is. – Jen Hatmaker

When the juice involves loving another human being in her need, it will always, always be worth it.

~
for levity’s sake:

“Chicago feels smaller today”

The news broke as it so often does these days: on Facebook.

Immediately, I tried to go to the Sun Times website. It would not load, so I went to Chicago Tribune instead. There I read the headline about Roger Ebert’s death, and the essay about his life.

I posted my own thought on Facebook, and one of my oldest Chicago friends pointed me to the WBEZ stream, the whole show being dedicated to discussion about Roger.

And that led me to this tweet:

 

And that led me to this thought:

twitter screen-at the moviesDays like today, when pieces of my childhood, pieces of my life in Chicagoland, are gone not just from me, but from the world, my heart is never more there.

We used to have a little black and white TV in our kitchen, and roger and Gene Sikel’s At The Movies TV show, on channel 11 {aka PBS} is one of the shows I most remember being on it. As a teenager and budding journalist (my dream job is still “paid columnist”), I loved that Roger was a graduate of University of Illinois, my dream school and where I eventually attended for a year. As an adult, I still always turned to Roger’s movie reviews first…and sometimes found myself stirred or angered by his social commentaries on Twitter.

I heard him described 100 times on Thursday afternoon as “prolific.” ‘Tis true.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever think of any place but Chicago as home. I still go to Chicago websites for news. I  know what the weather is like there most days. I hold allegiance to their teams, museums, colleges, Mexican restaurants, and airport. And even though it would be entirely sensible, I have not been able to change my area code form “708” just yet. And upon hearing the news of Roger Ebert’s passing, just a day after hearing about his recurrence of cancer and lovely turn of phrase, “leave of presence,” I found myself more than a little homesick.

In these past few weeks, I have made big strides in solidifying the south strand as my home. We have found doctors… local-owned favorite shops and restaurants…shortcuts. I am in the mix of things, like playdates and meal trains and gatherings. I get asked where to get hair done or what is the best movie theatre! I am so, so, so happy about and grateful for this.

But for now, my home is still divided a little (hence the title!) {Chicago-lina, if you’re new here). I first heard this beautiful song the month we moved, when Rod and I were sitting in our still-not-quite-unpacked living room and watching the season/series finale of the great show, Chicago Code. I can’t imagine moving away from my beach, from the blue and green and salty air and basket full of flip-flops, but sometimes, often really, I still dream of Chicago.

~
Recently, the same dear, talented, lifelong friend I reference above sent me pictures she took of our “See YouS Later” party. Here are a few of my favorites, and just a few of the reasons my diverse, sweet home Chicago is close to my heart always:

Mort Castle and Miranda
Mort Castle and Miranda
My Gramma, Aunt Janice, baby cousin Gavin, and Dad (Paige laughing in background)
My Gramma, Aunt Janice, baby cousin Gavin, and Dad (Paige laughing in background)
Me, Rick, and Bex
Me, Rick, and Bex

some positive, encouraging K-love

Paige asked me for a post. I have so much to say about so many things, because life is being lived fully right now, but I haven’t had time to write. The short update is that Rod is doing better. He is adjusting well to gluten-free eating, putting on a little much-needed weight, and hopefully building up nutrition before his next assessments in early May. I am doing fine with gluten-free eating as well, except the weight is not coming off like I hoped. So, Jesus help me, I am cutting out sugar as much as I can. I even drank a cup of coffee without it today. We used some free minutes tonight to go for a walk, and a friend of mine has inspired me to let my kitchen cleaning wait until the afternoon (what?!) so I can walk in the mornings. I need to.

We are working through a situation with our house in Chicago that hopefully means it will be not-ours soon, preparing for kindergarten registration (KK…it’s a whole other blog), Easter, and our 10th anniversary. We spent the last weekend tied up with Rod as Willie for 2 benefit concerts, and the last 3 weeks working on a new ministry through church (I can’t wait to write more about that)!

And the pollen…holy cow! It needs to be gone. Anyway, that is the surface version of goings on. The rest I cannot summarize now, but I give this feeble attempt at my emotional reaction to so many things around us…

candleBlessed are the friends~

who love up close and those who love from afar.
who love in bold declarations and those who love in quiet prayers.
who love in daily text messages and those who love in annual visits.
who love in tough honesty and those who love in flowery greeting cards.

Blessed are the friends~
who show up at the hospital and those who wish they could.
who bring gluten free snacks or cheese for your chili or their empty stomach to your refrigerator.
who love your children and your parents.
who joke about your failures and celebrate your victories.
who don’t want you to change your 708 phone number even though they have no idea what it is.
who share recipes, request recipes, and alter recipes.
who remember your important details and signature stories.

Blessed are the friends~IMG_1321
you’ve known since grade school
you haven’t seen since high school
you have never met in person
you are just now finally getting to know.

Blessed are the friends~
who give what you need
and who receive what you give.

Blessed are the friends
who love backstage, when you need the encouragement,
who love in the spotlight, because we learn from them,
who love all the time… who are needed, and treasured, more than words can say.
~
The more experiences I have, the more clearly I see the incredible variety of friends and relationships that bless my life. There are people across the states, in both my Illinois and South Carolina homes, in my various stomping grounds, even simply on this blog space. I’m behind in keeping in touch and even answering messages, but know that you are appreciated, and that your words and your continued presence in our lives, matter.

 

do you think I’ll ever get there?

This week, I was waxing nostalgic about 2010.me2010

2010 was a banner year. We met people and had experiences that changed us, forever. We traveled more miles than any other year. If I were speaking superficially, I would say that we were at the top of our game.

Oh sure, there were setbacks. There was a particular situation that left me angry and a little violence-leaning a lot of the time (no violence was committed, just fantasized about. Hey, I’m human, and the weapon was just a folding chair…)

And now, when I get defeated or disappointed or mournful, I think about 2010 and wonder if that was when I “peaked.”

You know, at the ripe age of 33. (I did proclaim it my year of perfect, as at age 33, Jesus completed His ministry on Earth).

Rod tells me this is foolish, stupid thinking. He is probably right.

But sometimes I feel like, even though I believe I was “born to fly” (thank you, Sara Evans), my wings have been clipped… or at the very least, I am living in a box that is nailed to the ground.

Is is delusions of grandeur I have? Or am I really called to, meant for, something other than “this”? …understanding that “this,” my life, my family, my job, my home, it is All Good.

Am I just never satisfied? Or is there more? And if there is more, “How do you wait for Heaven? And who has that much time? And how do you keep your feet on the ground when you know you were born to fly?”

I love us, part 2

I have a confession to make:

In one area of my life, I am a snob… a conceited, arrogant, stuck-up, snotface.

The area? My girlfriends.

They are the best… the BEST. I would enter them in a friendship contest any day, any time.

Now, I have friends in many facets, from my phases of my life, and I love them all, but for this one, I am going to focus on a little core group of them. They are… The Mommy Friends.

I have written about them before. We met in 2008, and had we met each other online, in a park, in a birthing class, or anywhere else, things might have gone differently. But we met in a Moms’ group… with our kids in another room, over coffee and yummy treats, under the leadership of some pretty amazing people, and at the time, we all had at least one in diapers (some of us 2), and so, the time was ripe for us to connect at a deep level.. a sister level… a forever level.

Through the last years, we have seen each other through a laundry list of ups and downs… children in the hospital, children being born, husbands working major hours or traveling, husbands losing jobs, going back to work, quitting work, moving, leaving churches, family feuds, financial difficulty, broken bones, tragedy in our other friend circles, more children being born, big spiritual decisions, parental health issues, and on… and on…

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was leave this particular circle behind when we moved, because even though since the 5th grade, I have always had friends, this was the first time ever I felt like I had My Own Group Of Life Friends, kind of like the show Friends, close and comfortable enough to strike a silly pose.

friends(We haven’t, but we so could…)

But they have made it ok for me, because we are in touch all the time… texting. Facebooking. Emailing. Quick little (usually ridiculous) videos. When we can steal some quiet minutes, talking. A few of them have even come here just to visit me. And they are people I will always visit. Even though life moves on… they have filled in their circle and I have started some new ones, there is always us, a touchstone. It hurts sometimes to miss out on the day-to-day stuff… homeschooling together, double dates with husbands, 40th birthdays, kids’ birthdays, book club meetings, meal-deliveries when one is down, hugs and coffee and chocolate on particularly crazy days… I know that this circle is intertwined with my life. It will never leave.

Right now there are some specific reasons I would like to be close to them, even in the Chicago winter (I am also a snob about weather now, apparently). There are some hands I’d like to hold and some prayers I’d like to say in person and some Godly wisdom I’d love to receive in real-time. Even so, when I get a 4-screen amazing sermon-text from De, or a Facebook shout-out from Martha, or a “I am sitting outside Moo’s door again!” from MoJo, I feel close. Because we are close.

A thousand miles can’t break a friendship. It can make it harder… but it also makes it intentional. There is no laziness in this relationship. There is no longer any dropping-in or making last-minute plans or easy. And for me, the one who is far away, there is so often so much missed that can’t be made up, and sometimes even gut-reaction jealousy and then guilt over that feeling, because I’m the one who left. But what there is, always, is a rock-solid foundation, a touchstone, and it means that my voice can be heard in a whisper through all those miles by people – by sisters – who see my heart from that far way, who read between my lines and love between my faults. It means there are some sweet children who my children still talk about every day and consider their best friends, too. It means that when I feel alone or ignored or like an alien life in a new world (and honestly, sometimes, don’t have the heart it takes to forge a new connection), all I have to do is push a few buttons and be home.

And I love that about us. I love us.

then and now