A Miniature Clay Pot


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Feeling Confined? Lepidoptera’s Song of Freedom (Lessons from the Grandson :) )

Sometimes I’ll crumple a piece of paper or mail, and ask him to go throw it in the garbage just so I can watch him strut on over to the trash can. He walks with the same reckless abandon, the same unbridled, full-speed-ahead manner in which he does everything else. His chubby little legs move so fast, and with such purpose that I can’t help but laugh out loud and squeal with grandma delight.  I love everything about my grandson, but his walk? It is the cutest thing. Ever.

As he begins his exciting adventure of true mobility, I’m reminded of some important truths.

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It was one of those gorgeous Colorado evenings, the sun coloring everything an inky shade of romantic as it began its final bow before the credits rolled across the night. The HH and I decided to take Mason for a walk before the nighttime bath ritual that accompanies his sleepovers.  The HH buckled him into the stroller and pushed him down the uneven sidewalks along our house. Mason kept up a nonsensical chatter, replete with inflections indicating questions and exclamations. It wasn’t long, however, before he grew restless.

He’d recently discovered that attached to his very own chunky little body was a personal mode of transportation. The boy had discovered how to walk and he was no longer satisfied to be a passenger. As soon as we reached a quiet street, the HH unbuckled him, lifted him up and set him on the pavement. The boy was off!  Heading straight for a rose-bush.  I managed to plant myself between him and the lovely red flowers. He tried to get around me but I wasn’t giving in so he turned around and headed in the opposite direction. The street.

And although it was a quiet street, currently with little more noise than the rustling of tree leaves, the HH and I knew that sometimes cars with teenagers who fancy themselves invincible, come flying down the road. So grandpa quickly blocked the way with the stroller.

Our grandson is a bit strong-willed. (I’m fairly certain that comes from his maternal grandfather’s side…) He wasn’t about to give up. He tried tirelessly to get around the HH, to get around me, but when he discovered he was fighting a losing battle, he headed straight down the sidewalk. There were a number of times when he likely thought we’d forgotten, or that he would be faster than his grandparents, and he would again try to veer off the path only to find himself once again thwarted. He made it vocally known he wasn’t happy.

We know the boy was created to explore this world. We let him stop and pick up roly-polies and other crawlers between his chubby little fingers; we let him  grab sticks and rocks and dirt. We even let him try tasting some of his findings. (Sorry, Alyssa…) We let him go as far to the edge as was safe and then corralled him back in.

Because we love him.

And it is our job to keep him safe.

And because he isn’t quite ready to be free, we hedge him in, prevent him from going where he wants to go.

He didn’t understand that, and sometimes he got downright mad at us, plopping himself down and refusing to budge. So I’d pick him up, swing him around until he squealed and set him back down. And we’d continue on until he once again found himself boxed in by his two grandparents.

Do you ever feel hedged in? Stuck? Thwarted?  Maybe it is within a career field or a place or a relationship or a disability?  And you long to be free to go your own way; you sometimes want to kick and scream or plop yourself down, refusing to budge until you get your way?

Maybe, just maybe, Mason has a lesson for us here, a lesson about God’s great love and protection.

I know I’ve been here before, curled within the dark confines of a chrysalis, stuck in the in-between, longing for the freedom of a butterfly’s wings.

And I learned.

I learned that if I wait patiently for God’s perfect timing and don’t give in to my own impatient breaking free, breaking away

that I will

I will

I will soon be singing the lepidoptera’s song of freedom.

Soaring.

Free indeed.

butterfly2a

The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 NASB

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles (or butterflies :) ) they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31 NASB

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a :)


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On Pen Pals and Practicing Out Loud

Me gusta mucho escribi. Me gusta mucho escuchar musica.

 In keeping with our current high school Spanish lesson, I can  now write a grammatically correct letter to a pen pal, describing my likes and dislikes. The reading and writing, the learning of Spanish has been fairly easy so far,  particularly the lesson on creating a letter to a pen pal.

But the speaking? Out loud? IN FRONT OF PEOPLE??

(That’s real life. That’s the way languages work.)

And yet this girl, who mortifies her husband by approaching random strangers and asking questions without fear, (hey, people tend to respond well to a little ‘ole granny :)  ) well…she’s rather embarrassed about saying the words out loud.  They are much prettier sounding when they are kept locked up in her mind. So she avoids it.

But really, the learning, the understanding, is of little value if it isn’t practiced. So I’m gonna start forcing myself. Soon. :)  I know I’ll probably butcher the lovely words, but apart from actual life conversations, there’s no growth, no exchange, no mastering the language. Some things just need to be practiced, to be lived out in front of others.

And that’s the real reason behind this blog, behind the little glimpses into my diary of life.

Yesterday a friend wrote thanking me for my transparency.

Your last post was such an encouragement to me as I need to see other people that are dealing with ongoing struggles but are choosing to keep walking with God as they work through everything.  I need to be encouraged as I try to do the same in my life. I need to know there are others who are also “imperfect” clay vessels but are choosing Life in Christ in spite of the difficulties and the setback, he wrote in a facebook message.

And I was reminded why I keep on blogging, even though it’s not always pretty, not always comfortable, and my posts contain no great theological discourses.

Instead it’s an awkward living out loud of my very messy faith.   I may butcher some things in the sharing, but it is always authentic.

‘Cause faith needs to go beyond the knowledge stage – it needs to be practiced in order to grow.  And it really ought to be a conversation, a dialogue among believers. So let’s share our stories, shall we? I love hearing from you, and the telling of YOUR faith walk.  Thanks to those of you who take the time to share.  Together, we got this!

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you  Phillipians 4:9 NASB

Tonight, after some girlfriend time, I’m gonna share some thoughts I’m learning from my grandson about feeling caged in. So check back tomorrow!

Grateful for this wonderful(ly messy) life,

Marie with a :)


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Marriage: The Brutal Truth

I could see my breath this morning.

And I was still in bed.

In my house.

Yep, winter weather before fall strolls on in.

I was supposed to be waking up in a tent, snuggled between two zipped together, flannel-lined sleeping bags that are getting threadbare from use, watching the sun stretch and yawn and languidly sit up over a river bed.

It’s amazing how quickly seasons can change here in Colorado, and I am again learning the importance of flexibility.  An appropriate lesson for this 27th wedding anniversary of mine, the one for which poor weather thrwarted our planned camping excursion to a favorite river spot.

Flexibility.

‘Cause things can change in an instant.

And when we have set in our mind one particular image of how things are supposed to go, and they don’t go that way…well without flexibility we are done in.

Through the years, the HH and I have had innumerable people tell us how envious they were/are of our relationship. They think we’ve gotten lucky. They assume it has all been rose petals and sunshine for us.

It ain’t so.

Marriage is hard.

Sometimes really, really hard.

The reality, the ugly truth is…marriage can be brutal. It is the laying bare of an imperfect body and soul before another equally imperfect body and soul, under the harsh, glaring lights of real life.

Sometimes laborious, sometimes frustrating, sometimes painful; marriage takes work. It requires flexibility, and it s not for the faint of heart.

And if I’m gonna continue to be transparent, I gotta confess: there are times when I have felt like giving up. Even recently.

But the truth is also this: marriage is the beautiful meshing together of those imperfect bodies and souls, of  memories and relationships, of sweat and tears and hopes and dreams, until two truly become one; a tangled, haunting tapestry that cannot be unraveled without ripping apart the individuals themselves. It is a comfortable quilt on a cold day, a two-man fan club, a mirror for reflection, a song that no one else knows the lyrics to;  it is private jokes, and tender looks,  a breathless anticipation, a possibility unleashed, a sum greater than its parts.

Marriage is the most sacred, the most endearing, the most rewarding of all relationships. One worth every ounce of work when the two are willing to give it their all.

Though I’ll never claim to have arrived, I’d like to share  just a few ways we’ve managed to spend 27 years together and still enjoy one another, in spite of seasons of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. These are just a few random, rapid thoughts, penned while distracted by on-line Scrabble games, and not even close to an exhaustive list. But perhaps there is a grain of help that can be gleaned for some floundering marriage somewhere.

You definitely need to be flexible.You also need to  Be Generous.  Be generous with compliments, hugs, forgiveness and self. Give lavishly without thought of getting in return. And be stingy with nit-picking and fault-finding.

Be Focused. Be focused on the right things, the good things. Recently a Crime Scene Investigator visited a photography class that I take some of my students to. She shared how photography is used to document and to solve crimes and showed a few series of photos from actual crime scenes, 8 x 10 glossy images that many had to look away from. Yes, many were pretty gruesome but one in particular left me with an aching sadness. A man had passed away, alone, in an incredibly filthy mobile home. It was weeks before anyone noticed, and by the time the police arrived to check on him, there were maggots in his beard. Alone. Unnoticed. Maggots in his beard.

How does that happen?  And how do you ever get that image out of your mind? I wondered.

So I did what I can’t help doing;  I cornered the investigator, a towering, somewhat imposing woman until I looked in her eyes and saw the kindness, and I asked questions. How do you deal with this type of thing on a daily basis and not become disillusioned with humanity? 

I remind myself that this is not the whole picture; this isn’t even the big part of the picture. This  – she tapped the photo - is not our city. I keep my focus on the good and the beautiful things, she replied.

Sage words, ones that collided with other words that an unbeliever, someone with a different world view but still tremendous wisdom, said to me recently when I was foolishly lamenting on marital struggles.  Why are you focusing so hard on this one area? I’m not saying you should accept it…but why are you focusing on it like a magnifying glass on a happy-go-lucky sidewalk ant?

Ouch.

We do that sometimes, don’t we? Put all our attention on the wrong things?

This welding of messages was a timely encouragement to set my mind on the good things.

Someimes marriage means loving in action even when you don’t feel in love.  If you are struggling with the emotional aspect, Go Back.  Matthew West has a great song, called Moment of Truth and the lyrics begin like this:

You got your hand on the door

And you’re ready just to walk out

Well, the fight that you had

Filled your mind up with all this doubt

And you’re losing your mind

And you’re losing your faith

And you can’t remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Go back, go back

To the moment of truth

When she walked down the aisle

And you first said “I do.”

What drew you together in the first place? Go back to that place.  For the HH and me, it was purely lust, a physical attraction. The rest came later as I wrote about HERE  And I’ve found that physical is still one of our best ways to communicate. If I’m spitting mad and he hugs me, well, I tend to forget what I was mad about.

And even if it wasn’t what initially drew you together, Be Physical.  Touch is a universal language, with proven healing powers. Speak it often!

Find Common Interests. The HH and I…well, personality wise, and gifts and talents and callings…we are polar opposites. Yet. There are things we both enjoy doing –  hiking, camping…and hanging with the grandkids. These things unite our hearts and help us create beautiful memories. We try to do them as frequently as possible.

Be Individuals.  Yes, it is important to have common interests, to create memories doing fun things together. But it is equally important to have the freedom to be unique individuals. The HH accepts that I find watching Sunday football a ridiculous way to spend an afternoon…and I’m never gonna get him to scrapbook with me. That’s okay.

And above all…love unconditionally, without expectations.  Love with total abandon. In one of my recent blog posts I said this:

There is a tremendous amount of freedom in letting go of expectations –expectations of others and of self – that have been gripped tightly in the fist like the strings of birthday balloons; there is an exhaling in the opening of the hand and watching them rise until they become nothing more than colorful dots in the distance, a memory of childhood. 

Yes, marriage is hard. But when we put on the grace of God in Christ, and love  as He does, liberally and unconditionally, it is the sweetest, most rewarding, most divine of all relationships.

AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Mark 10:8 NASB

But now faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love  1 Corinthians 13:13 NASB

Happy 27th to the HH and Me :)

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a :)