Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Walk by the River.

I took the boys to the park yesterday. I called some friends but nobody could come with us and it turned out to be nice to have some alone time, just me and my little crew.
We went to a park with trees the size of small apartment buildings, down by the river. The air was sweet, the grass cool. We walked along the path by the river, Ethan riding his little red "Rocket" bike with those darn training wheels teeter-tottering from side to side, not helping a thing, but ever so necessary, psychologically, for him. In fact I believe they make things worse.
I never imagined in my whole entire life what a pain in the rear a bike and a four year old could be. It's been a long, whiny, meltdown, road to get to where we are today: sometimes he rides fine, most of the time it's on and off the bike the entire walk. Usually, he won't go down hills. And by hills, we are including the little dips in the sidewalk when you get to someone's driveway.
But yesterday was a good day. He went over the "speed bumps" (little cracks in the path) with no issues, and he even went down a pretty steep hill.
I was ecstatic, lavishing the praise. I was also shocked.
At one point Noah and I were doing our thing, moseying along, while Ethan went on ahead. His bright green shirt blended nicely with the background of trees, his red helmet sticking out like a big bug's shell. It's adorable to watch a little kid on his bike-when you are not dealing with them tipping over or wanting to get off every five seconds-their nobbley legs doing circles around and around. It was so satisfying to see him forge on ahead, independent, enjoying himself, my eyes got teary. I know, sometimes I surprise the heck outta myself.
We went back to the car and got our sandwiches and Ethan's Cars blanket which is way to small for a picnic blanket but was the one he wanted to use, and laid out under a small tree right there by the sidewalk. (Once you've had a successful two mile walk/ride with small children, there's no way you'd risk another couple of yards just to get a better spot).
The river was green and moving swiftly. Every couple of minutes you'd hear tubers pass, their happy voices rising up to where we sat, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Ethan made silly faces at me, making me laugh, and Noah gummed his small pieces of sandwich quietly in his big fat cheeks.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts on an Early Morning that Smells Really Good. Must of Rained Last Night.

I am re-reading all my books on monasteries and monks lately. I went through this phase in college where I was really into them. I'd read all their gut-wrenching, soul searching things they'd say and do and think, "Oh, that is so nice." And then I would carry on with my stress free, kid free, mortgage free, newly married life.
Now I read it and what they say hits me in the gut like a boxer's glove, sending me backward, writhing in pain. They strip everything down, take everything away, except for the vulnerable, weak little Soul and God, and you can't help but ask, OK, now what?
And the thought of nothing but my pitiful little soul and God is so disconcerting to sit in, to just let them be together, no distractions, no lists of a hundred things to do, no urgent needs to be met, no amazing clothes and jewelry to be worn, no hair to do---that I usually can't. I have to be sucking on coffee, writing, reading, mind mucking--anything to keep me from the stillness of reality.
El problemo is when I don't do this, don't quiet my anxious self enough to remember who I am and who God is, things come up. I take that back. Even when I have some moments of peace or stillness, I still make dumb choices, Joey and I still fight, things don't go right. But at least I have the sense to go back to the stillness, and remember. Or is that grace?
It's progress.
There's this sentence that I like that Henri Nouwen writes in The Genesee Diary that speaks to me concerning going back to that place where it's just God and me alone: "that 'other side', the quiet, rhythmic, solid side of life, the deep solid stream moving underneath the restless waves of my sea."
Shit I need that. My "restless waves" are more like "tidal waves."
Along these same lines, I am turning a new leaf in my life.
Leading worship for me before was ninety-nine percent torture and one percent joy in the past.
I have taken almost a year off, completely forgotten how to play the guitar and sing without making my voice crack, and this Sunday, or maybe the next, I am going to sing a song I wrote at my new church.
There are things I know I must keep telling myself, in place of the overall feeling of dread that so easily makes it's home in my chest:
It's you and God, baby. I was told once, as advice for helping me calm my nerves, that I was singing for the people. You know, for their benefit, their blessing. And I get that and it helps on some level. However, it also turns every Sunday morning into a show, which as the people pleaser I am only makes things worse. I tell myself, You are singing for your father who loves you.
Another thing I have to tell myself is I am good enough to do it. I am not Rhiana or Leona Lewis but I can sing, sort of.
There is something healing in sharing what is going on in your soul. And this song is just that, it is what God is doing in me lately. Sharing it with others is a blessing for me.
Someone once asked me why I can sing my heart out in front of people, but can't talk. That's another reason why I am doing this in song form. I want to share what God is doing in me, but the man was right; I almost ALWAYS cry when I talk in front of a group.
Wow, I just realized I have some serious problems.
Anyway, I cry less when I sing.
So, back to those good things I am going to be telling myself....
It's fifty percent show (preparing, using the 'ole noggin and common sense) and a hundred percent heart. I don't care if I mess up if I sing with a hundred percent heart it's gonna be alright...because He already loves it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stuff I am Thinking.

Sometimes I think maybe I am just looking at the lint in my own belly button and this is all just a waste of time and energy, and then I think about someone who said if you want to know God, you have to get to know yourself, or something like that. Which makes me think maybe this will all be worth it someday.
I am, slowly, becoming more sane. I am reading this book that takes you back, way back, to all those childhood memories and experiences that formed who you are, memories you thought were nothing but a thing of the past, but really they are why you said A today instead of B, why Bob is your friend instead of Mike (these are just silly names, of course).
Why all the mind mucking goes on and on in your head everyday.
You see, if you remember the cause, then you can know where the weird feelings come from, and it's easier to say, "Get lost."
I am angry at this one gal. I asked Joey what I should do about it because he always gives good advice. He was quiet for a while and then said I should just keep being polite.
I was thinking about writing her an email asking why she's been such a *BLEEP* lately. Or maybe I should facebook her?
Anyhow, I am learning to feel these things. I definitely don't know how to deal with them yet, but I am allowing myself to feel them--anger, for one, and it's quite thrilling. "Be angry, but do not sin". Now that's a mind rocker.
I am learning to set boundaries on idols I've made (Idol numero uno: Mr. Lear. Idol numero dos: never get fat ever ever and ever) and maybe not think about them so much.
When I get stressed I am remembering God is near, even when I don't feel Him anywhere. And then I say, "Where in the blazing are you? This is when you need to show up! Now!" And then I wait and tap my fingers or bite my hangnails and when I still don't feel him, I blame Him when I start to bleed. Sometimes, though, I know He's there and my heart quiets a little bit.
I am thinking about being fearless.
I am at home. Much saner than usual, especially under the circumstances. I won't go into details because I don't want some gross blogging stocker to know my schedule but I have not seen Mr. Lear in quite some time. At one point we crossed each other at the intersection by our house, and I waved. I could see his outline through his dark tinted windows, his Oakleys jutting out on the sides of his head.
Another thing I am thinking about is women. Not anything gross, sickos. But women, like me and who we are. Why we were made.
Digging down deep in my soul, I have found some surprises there. Weird things I didn't think I thought but really I did, like a tape recorder in my head everyday. Goes a little something like this:
Women are sex objects. Women are evil, and cause otherwise good christian men to sin. Women have no worth apart from men. Women are only to be helpers and don't have the emotional sensibility to stand on their own two feet. Women are emotional basket cases and are to be disregarded.
Yikes. I could keep going but you get the main idea. Where do these ideas come from? I don't really care, all I know is they are dumb.
I take that back. I have my guesses about where and when these ideas surfaced, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I have believed them and they are holding me in some serious bondage. Fear.
So maybe I'll scroll back up and read what I wrote yesterday.
It really pisses me off I can't sing like Kari Jobe. My voice sounds like a dying duck compared to hers. I really am not supposed to be saying mean things like this to myself if I ever want to not be so darn codependent, but it's true. But maybe I could say it to myself in a nicer way, in a nicer tone of voice, something like, "Oh hunny sweetie pie, you may not sound just like Kari Jobe, but who the hell cares?" Also, I like to think that when I am singing my heart out in my bedroom with all the doors and windows closed so no one can hear me, God is looking in, just like when I look at Ethan when he does his singing thing in his bedroom, thinking, man, my kid is so darn cute it busts my heart.
It's a start, at least.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Moonlight Maddness, 2010.

It was a beautiful run. Got dark at the end because we didn't start until eight twenty or so, so I had to find another runner I could keep up with that had a light. Before I found one, I had to watch the runner about eight strides ahead of me, watching her legs reflect in the dark, trying to place my feet were hers were, seeing as she wasn't falling. I almost seriously ate it two times. The course had a lot of dirt trails with little miniature canyons caused from water run off, perfect for rolling your ankle or sending you flying face forward onto your nose.
We started in the front at what I felt was lightening fast. You feel like you are in a wave, and you can't control the speed at which you are moving forward. And there's runners everywhere, trying to make their space. My first thought was, Don'tfallonyourface, don'tfallonyourface...and I pretty much said that to myself the whole run. The trail was tricky, rocky, holey, uneven. I have a hard time seeing in the dark, hate driving in the dark, and this race was seriously a picture of faith, of running head on into the unknown, trusting your footing, scared as hell but knowing that if you fall you will just pick yourself up again and keep running. Fast.
I am extremely competitive. You wouldn't think this about me, or maybe you would but I wouldn't think this about myself, but reality proves otherwise. When I worked in sales everyday was always a competition between the other girls, especially, and the same thing happens when I run, not surprisingly.
I told myself not to let this special part of myself ruin my race, to enjoy it and not always be thinking about passing the person ahead of me, and I did the best I could.
But that competitive side is just plain fun. My husband has the bug too, really bad. I can't blame him though, he's a male and has all that going on. He got second place. I am so proud of him I could scream.
So, uh, when's the next race?

Friday, July 16, 2010


I've seen that butterfly now on two separate occasions, floating around, flying through the warm summer days in my backyard. It's pretty freaking incredible. Like God is saying to me, "Whoya calling jerk, now, huh??"
I watch her float through the air and I take a deep breath and just sit there, stunned.
I didn't have to go into work today, so I am being quite lazy. Nap. eat. blog. Tonight I run in my very first race, and I am soooooo excited!! Mostly for the time of night I will be running: the race starts at eight, that perfect summertime time, where the air is cooling off but still deliciously warm, the sky is dull pinks and yellows and greys, and the mountains turn purple. The smell of the air turns sweet. I used to always run at this time in the summer before children's' bedtimes took over. So tonight is a treat, a drink, if you will. And indulgence. I plan to savor every step.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I walked out on the patio today and there was a big, beautiful butterfly laying in the little plastic pool, floating, in circles. At first I thought maybe it was a plastic toy, it was so big and bright. But when I moved the cup it's little head was laying on, it's legs started moving frantically.
Shit. I hate to see things die, suffer. Especially something so beautiful.
Yesterday I tried to save a little ugly moth by taking him out of the pool and this morning, after I saw the butterfly I looked where I had laid the moth, to see if maybe the butterfly would make it if I took her out, and there the moth was, stuck to the pavement, almost back to dust. Fried.
I had to try to save her, regardless. I scooped her out carefully with Ethan's blue plastic shovel and laid her on the pavement, in the shade so, maybe, she could dry out. I had my doubts.
She was trying desperately to get away, erratically flapping her one wing that must not have been quite as wet. Her little body was soft and fuzzy, her legs long and delicate. Her yellow and black wings stood out on my patio like a flower. Her movements kept getting fewer and farther between. Then she got quiet and just laid there, like she was waiting to die.
I couldn't bear to watch her.
I've been thinking a lot lately of healing, of new life. I read recently a book called Hope for the Flowers, a sweet little book about caterpillars looking for new life, of surrendering to a Love that transforms them into beautiful butterflies.
As I watched this butterfly flutter desperately, hopelessly, on the pavement, I told God, "You jerk. What about this one, huh? What about this butterfly? You are just gonna let her die. She'll be fried and then I will have to explain to Ethan about death and I will have to scrape her off my patio."
I blew air out of my cheeks, the way I do, the way my mother does, and walked up the stairs to sit with Joey and read.
I told Joey about the butterfly, about how beautiful it was and how she was a gonner. Then I forgot about her.
One my way back down, half an hour later, I remembered her.
I looked where I had laid her, and she was gone. I looked around the pool, no butterfly anywhere.
So then I came inside and wrote this, because I don't want to experience God's touch in my life, and then walk away and forget.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Show's Over.

I am just loving these summer days. Wearing dresses, flip flops, not feeling the hair on my legs grow. I am, once again, going through some intense "growing up" season. I never thought I'd be doing this at twenty seven, I thought I grew up when I got married and moved out; turns out not so much.
It's good because I get glimpses of how full of purpose, how inspiring, life was meant to be. I get a little more of an understanding of the lies I am listening to, the depth of them, and it's freeing to be able to see them for what they are and tell them to shut the f up.
And maybe, after a million trillion days at church, I am only now starting to see, through eyes half shut, that God loves me.
I came home from church today and pulled out the guitar. You know if I am singing I am feeling something stirring inside of me, something awakening from the listlessness that usually permeates (although sometimes my guitar and singing makes me even more depressed than when I started). I remind myself today God sees my heart, not the missed notes. He is abba.
He is also safety and protection. Rest for my soul. How sweet, how foreign these thoughts are to me.
I took the boys to church today, without Joey, and for the first time it was OK. Because church is not about my marriage. It's about God. I felt the stirring of the holy spirit within me, awakening me as if from a very long sleep. I sang about hunger and thirst, and realized my soul is starving. I didn't know how hungry I was until I started eating, just a bit, of the word. Psalms. And just like when I was seventeen and anorexic, the more I ate the more I realized how hungry I actually was.
I didn't realize I was neglecting my spirit. Shoving it down, suffocating it with all the to dos and expectations of what I thought my life is supposed to be looking like. Poor little thing. Now that I've let her out for some air, I feel like I should be apologizing to her, for shutting her out, for making her feel worthless and that nobody wants to see her.
We had to put on a show, you see.

He speaks to me so softly. He is heavy, in the air I breath.
I know that you are for me, I know that you are for me. I know that you will never forsake me in my weaknesses.
If you haven't heard this song by Kari Jobe youtube it. (You Are For Me). It broke my heart clean in two, like old walls, like old dirt, crumbling.
We forget God is for us. At least I do. For years, I have forgotten.
And then today, sweet today, I remembered.
I know that you have come now, even if to write upon my heart, to remind me who you are.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Proving Myself.

I was desperate yesterday, hating myself, feeling like I had to prove something, so I ran ten miles instead of the six I started out for. Anyone else seeing a pattern here? It's like the only way I can get any spontaneity into my life: start out for a certain distance and then at the last moment, at that critical turn for home, I say NO! I get to do something totally unexpected and the thrill of being a free agent, in a world where I so rarely get to make decisions on the fly, is just thrilling.

And then I keep running, wondering what the hell I was thinking.

My particular plan yesterday was to run six miles, when at the pivotal moment, I decided to make it ten. At the time, ten didn't seem that much more than six (I think the running was messing with my brain; plus,math has never been a strong subject for me). I felt really good, not at all like the last time when I ran after eating a huge greasy cheeseburger. I pretty much felt like a contestant on the Biggest Looser on that run. I wanted to die.

This run was like flying. All I had for breakfast was a half of pastry and two cups of coffee and not one single cramp the whole run. I am making a mental note to remember this.

When I got home I was pretty tired. I stretched a lot because Joey told me I needed to. The look on his face when I told him I had run ten instead of six was pretty priceless, like You did what you crazy woman? Whatever I had to prove I had, or I thought I had. I had Ethan help me stretch by pulling on my hands as I stretched forward. He sat on my back and his little thirty pound pressure was just perfect. I guess I felt I had even more to prove because I did the splits, on both legs, something I have not done in years, and to my twenty-seven-almost-thirty delight I was amazed I can still do them, both legs. I feel super bad ass about this.

Then we went to Home Depot for some plants. Our plan was to do yard work all day. I know, I know, I am a complete idiot. We bought seven or eight plants, a huge blue spruce. These all had to be carried up our stairs in the back. Then we had to go up and down, up and down, sixty five million more times to get the hose, or more planting soil, or whatever. I started to move extremely slow, like a cartoon being hit with a tranquilizer. I could tell Joey was a little upset, and in fact the truth came out a little later when I told him to stop being so mean to me, and he said, "Well, you make me do everything!" He had dug all the holes, carried all the super heavy things up the stairs. But the thought of digging a hole in our hard as rock clay soil made me want to take the shovel down the stairs, crawl into my bed, and take a nap with it.

I thought he'd be a little more sympathetic, seeing as he runs like this all the time. Instead, when I started to complain of my hurting legs, he told me the number one cause of injury for runners is increasing mileage too rapidly.

And in fact I have hurt my IT band, as Joey calls it. Whatever it is, it aches and sometimes burns and then feels like pins and needles. Yowchers. This is all a huge blow to my pride. When we went to bed, he graciously rubbed it down. The pressure of his hands was relieving, as was the fact that he didn't make any Itoldyouso comments; he was helpful and maybe even tender. He showed me some specific exercises to stretch it out.
At least I know I can do ten. And if I can do ten, I can sure as hell do thirteen point whatever.

Friday, July 2, 2010

San Fransisco, Part II.

The other part of San Fransisco, besides the baseball, was surprisingly intoxicating to me. The last time I was in a large city I didn't like it. The smell of the exhaust, the sewer, the hundreds of people who walk by you and completely avoid looking at your face. The litter. But this time I saw new things. It was like color, everywhere. The variety of people, the variety of shops, the busyness, the constant movement. I just loved it. I could feel the rhythm of the city, pulsing, as we walked up and down the long streets. It was a rhythm so different from home, and I needed something different from home. I needed something fresh and foreign and new, something that let me be new.
We stayed at the Clift, a large hotel off Market. The lobby had dark amber walls, large plank wood floors. The whole theme of the hotel was chairs. Big chairs, little chairs, weird chairs, HUGE chairs. Like Alice in Wonderland. There was a large fireplace with a beautiful warm fire burning. The floors where, in contrast, the same periwinkle purple we girls painted my house growing up. Everything was this purple: the walls, ceiling, floorboards, molding, and carpet. And mirrors, lots of mirrors. Our room was beautiful. Luxury bedding in a crisp white and large cream window coverings on each wall. You could open the large window to get some air and even on the tenth floor there was no screen.
I didn't have any "just OK" food. It was all unique and delicious. I had a salmon salad at the Cheesecake factory, a glass of Merlot, and Joey and I shared a huge piece of a chocolaty peanut butter cheesecake. We had seafood at the wharf (clam chowder in a bread bowl) and pizza at a place called Blondies. In typical big city style, the Parmesan and red pepper flakes were chained to the counter.
We rode the trolleys and the bus and at one stop there was a Brazilian family. They spoke in Portuguese with each other and it wasn't just the language that made me feel that longing I feel whenever something really reminds me of Brazil, it was the way they interacted with each other, their mannerisms, that made me miss my families and the country itself so much. I couldn't talk with them in Portuguese. We spoke in broken English, like I could barely speak it myself. It was incredibly sad, like being caught between two languages. It has been ten years and it's silly to think I wouldn't stumble. Speaking another language is like your brain turning over.
I can't wait to go back. Joey was so awesome and worked a lot of overtime so I could have money to shop to my heart's content. He takes care of me so well--not just the money, but the desire to make it a special trip for me. I am thankful for him.