Tag Archives: clues

Keeping Memories

I don’t think it’s that you have too much stuff. I think it’s that you have a lot of people to keep track of, and so it looks like too much.

These words of wisdom, spoken by my recently graduated high school senior, offered comfort to my heart, as I sat sorting and sorting and SORTING at the dining room table. End of the school year papers, awards, and report cards only scratched the surface. There were bits of art work, creative stories, and pictures in the mix. There were outgrown toys being boxed up and brought down from rooms.

There were my own issues coming into play, surfacing in the midst of the sorting. There was the reality of another year passing and change knocking on the door of my heart, or at least tapping me on the shoulder. There was a deep sense of reminding and remembering.

Once upon a time I dumped my memories into the trash. Boxes containing awards, medals from band and music achievements, childish journals and pictures, scrapbooks, all were cast aside. In their stead, I packed boxes of magazines for the mid-senior-year move that wrenched me 1,100 miles away from all that I knew.

Upon arrival at our new house, I asked when trash day was, so that I could leave the box of magazines on the curb. When packing up the old house, now several states away, mom had to leave her dining room chairs for lack of room on the moving truck, and dad’s tools went like hotcakes at a fire sale. I think we all were in a state of disorganization, shock, and chaos.

Maybe this factors into why my children’s memories are so important to me, and why I find it necessary to save things of perceived meaning. I want them to remember, or at least have the option of remembering. I don’t want to revise, though. Therein lies a bit of tension.

Each child has a clear plastic tote in the basement where items holding memories can be tossed. They also have a binder on a bookshelf with clear page protectors where papers can be inserted. Finally, each has a file folder where I can quickly sort and stash paper items to save for later.

I realize that everything cannot be saved, and I am not an advocate of hoarding. What holds meaning for one child does not for another, so one may have notebooks filled with written stories and hand drawn pictures, while another has objects no longer played with but still special.

Some kids are more sentimental than others.

Here is a list of things that I place value on and often date and save:

  • Creative writing or original stories
  • Hand-drawn pictures, especially “firsts” first drawing of a person or drawing of our family or written name. Usually found on the back of proper school work or on a church bulletin somewhere.
  • Samples from various developmental stages A kindergarten drawing of a family looks different than a third grade drawing, so I might have a sample of both.
  • Places where identity or dreams are processed What I want to be when I grow up. What makes me special now at whatever age I am.
  • Notes from others written to them
  • Words of affirmation
  • School certificates or awards
  • Team pictures
  • Programs or playbills from concerts or performances or recitals they were in
  • Notes written by them to us, even painful ones where they are angry
  • Birthday lists
  • Anything they request that marks a milestone or end of an era One child often asks me to put small items in the memory box that are outgrown, yet meaningful.

There are so many other options, and each family and child is different. I tend towards the tangible rather than the digital, even though I blog and do plenty of work with technology. No, I don’t save everything, and sometimes when going through items, I pare down further, realizing that I was a bit over-the-top.

On this particular sorting day, I processed my workbasket which was piled high with end-of-school-year paper items. Pulling everything out and separating into piles for each child and then into binders and finally onto shelves, the feeling of a slate being clean was very real.

I am ready for fall with the middle schoolers’ elementary items boxed away and the elementary child’s sorted into her binder. The high-school graduate is preparing to move and doing some serious de-cluttering of his own.

Maybe it is the season of mid-life processing that I am entering that calls me to keep memories for those who do not know their value, yet. Maybe it is the reckoning with myself. Whatever it is, by keeping memories for my children, I want to hold for them that who they are is connected to who they were as they grow into who they are becoming.

I also want to get a jump on my mama final exam.

When a Dream goes Out of Control

I had tidy plans back in early February.

There would be a timeline and agenda and a launch to raise funds, definitely after I had been accepted to the program.

I am still waiting to hear if I have been accepted. It has been over two months. I applied early and had my phone interview early. Now I wait. And wait. And begin to have second thoughts and over-think in the waiting.

This dream of doing the Lay Counseling Certificate training at the Allender Center in Seattle began to get away from me a year ago when I attended my second To Be Told conference with a friend. It was a different friend than the one I had gone with the year before, and I was beginning to feel like that friend, which I kind of am.

I am that friend that you can invite to do personal growth work, and I will join you.

I followed her prompting and agreed to attend. I was grateful to her for setting up the details and making arrangements. I was determined to be present and do the work and followup writing. She was determined to engage me and ask questions and listen to my answers.

When the Lay Counseling Certificate information was presented, I shared with her that I had a desire to attend the program. It was a dream that I held in my heart and had voiced to very few others. In my mind, I held maybe the year that I turn 45 as the far-off time, because, well, it felt so far away.

Her response was enthusiastic and encouraging. It was scary. Now she knew and was going to ask and followup with questions. She was going to question my pros and cons and search for solutions with me.

She did.

I can help you set up a Go Fund Me account!

The thing about speaking a dream out loud is that it allows another person or persons in and gives them space to speak into and dream with and encourage. The thing about speaking a dream out loud is that it also allows a person or persons in and gives them space to put down, dismiss, and mock.

Sadly, I experienced the latter during a vulnerable season of dreaming about my life and future, teaching me that if I had a dream, I should just keep it to myself and work quietly at it alone, if at all. I learned that it was dangerous and painful to dream and impossible to let others in. Dreaming was too risky and extremely foolish. Who was I to think I was anything special?

By keeping my dreams tidy, small, and under control, I avoided painful disappointment. I avoided questions that I might not be able to answer. I avoided risk. I stayed pleasant and static and one-dimensional.

By keeping my dreams tidy, small, and under control, I also avoided joyous celebration. I avoided the intimacy that comes from sharing my heart with safe people and having them wrestle through the unknown with me. I avoided reward. I squelched passion and desire and shut down many facets of myself in order to survive.

So here I sit on the edge of an out-of-control dream.

I don’t know what these upcoming weeks hold.

I don’t know if I will get a letter of acceptance detailing the next steps to take, or if I will get a Thank you for your interest, but. . . response.

I don’t know if I will be able to go this year if I am accepted. I don’t know exactly how all of the pieces will come together.

I do know that I am grateful for the chance to dream again and to see where the dream will take me. Thank you, Dear Readers, for your kind encouragement in the process. Each of you who takes time to read, comment, share, and speak up, offers me hope in the dreaming.

This blog was the result of one of my first risky dreams!

If I can offer you a bit of hope or plant the tiny seed of a dream in your heart or remind you that you are not alone, that is a doubly sweet gift.

Easter Memories

Dragging the basket bin from the basement and trying to remember whose is whose as I prepare to fill them brings many of my own Easter memories to mind.

Growing up we celebrated Easter mostly, meaning, usually celebration happened unless we were in a time or season when it didn’t. There are things that I remember happening around the holiday and things that I remember wishing would happen and then things that actually happened.

Things that I remember happening are dying eggs, having them hidden, and getting Easter baskets. Things that remember wishing would happen are that I would get one of those amazing ready-made, cellophane-wrapped baskets with a chocolate bunny in it and tons of novelties, candy, and toys. Things that actually happened were whatever my parents could pull off in whatever season of life they were trying to survive.

Dying Eggs
There was this rule about eggs akin to the one about swimming after eating lunch. After the eggs were boiled, they had to rest in the refrigerator at least overnight. So asking to dye eggs meant that we would get to do it, just not that day. The large pot was hauled out to boil the eggs, and they sat in the refrigerator overnight or longer if there was a special circumstance.

Egg-dying took place in Mom’s wedding china pattern tea cups. That is what they were used for ~ the egg-dying cups. It is the only time I remember getting them out, those white china with the wide black pattered stripe around the top and the silver edging cups. What else would you use to drop the colored tablet and add vinegar and water to?

I don’t remember the actual process other than sometimes using a crayon to write on the eggs. I can only filter how stressful it must have been through my own mothering experience as I am the firstborn of seven. When I was ten, there were five younger than me. That is a lot of littles trying to color eggs.

Egg Hiding
There was not such thing as hiding plastic eggs back in my day. Maybe there was, and we just didn’t use them. What happened in our house was that the real eggs that we colored would be hidden around the living room to be found when we woke in the morning. I have only one vivid memory of finding real eggs, and that is of my dad seeming stressed that there was still an egg at large that hadn’t been found. At the time, I didn’t understand the big deal.

Maybe we only did that real egg hiding thing one time.

Easter Baskets
We got Easter baskets on Easter morning. I wonder how my parents worked that out? I have a vivid memory of my brother, Nick, getting an upside-down cowboy hat as a basket when he was a preschooler. That seemed so special. As a parent I can also see the pragmatic side of panic when the realization that another kid needs a basket hits, and something useful is found.

I can also see it as being different, hence, memorable.

Chocolate Bunnies
This really happened ~ once. One time there was a foil- wrapped bunny in my Easter basket along with a sticker book, little packets of snacks, and other non-candy treats. It was the basket of my dreams for about five minutes.

Upon closer examination, those little snack packets were sesame stick snacks. They were a twig-like texture covered with bumpy seeds. The wrapped bunny was not chocolate, but carob, and sucked the moisture out of my mouth completely as I bit into an ear with gusto. I am sure there are things are more disappointing to a child than thinking a foil-wrapped carob bunny is real chocolate, but none come quickly to my mind.

<b>Carob</b> solid Chuckle <b>Bunny</b> Shapes 120g Of COURSE they are chuckling!

As a parent, I totally get alternative treat ideas. I understand trying to limit sugar for a number of reasons. I am the one who says that you know you have crossed to adulthood when the candy aisle becomes about behavior issues and dental bills rather than fun. But on Easter morning, That just ain’t right!

My son asks the question, What did you do with it? after I let him preview the post. It’s like tofu for meat, he comments.

I don’t remember. Do any of my siblings remember the Healthy Crunchy Co-op Easter Basket fiasco? What did you do with your bunny?

This is the part where I give a shout out to my parents for the effort they made to make Easter fun. Sitting on the other side of the equation, I understand the struggle to keep proper focus, to limit sugar intake, to want to make memories.

Thanks for the memories! I know my kids have a pile of their own that will be a topic for another time!

And, Sibbies, does any of this ring true for you? What was YOUR Easter experience growing up?

Sick Day

I am rarely sick. It is hard to admit that I am too sick for anything unless I am on the edge of consciousness, and someone else decides for me. It is difficult to trust my instincts.

In fact, when I began feeling rough on Saturday, I immediately ascribed it to the residual effects of a fun Friday night out with friends and eating sticky nuggs at Billy Jack’s too late at night. It certainly COULDN’T be the stomach bug that has been going around and had many of my students and some fellow teachers missing school or leaving early this past week.

No. Not that.

To make matters worse, Sunday was to be my return to singing on worship team after a hiatus of several months. I had been looking forward to this Sunday and after practice on Wednesday night, even more so. It was a great team, great set of songs, and I was excited.

Saturday I woke up feeling a little off.

Probably too much fun last night.

I don’t do fun well, and can’t just go with the flow and enjoy. I drank a cappuccino, but breakfast was not happening. Steve and I were out together at a coffee shop enjoying some quiet time to write and reflect. He got food. I didn’t but later nibbled a bit on a piece of croissant and smidge of donut. Clues much?

Heading home, my stomach began to churn.

Ugh. I am getting too old to eat sticky nuggs late at night!

Saturday was spent trying to coach myself through to the end, waiting to feel better. Certainly better was just around the bend. Once I take a nap, have a snack, get the shopping done.

Steve was worried about me.

You’re not doing well. You seem to be going downhill.

I’m fine. I just have to get through ____________________ fill in whatever was the next thing I needed to do and then I will feel better.

I didn’t feel better.

Before going to sleep, Steve expressed concern that I wasn’t listening to my body well and didn’t seem to be in a good place to be getting up at six in the morning to get ready for worship team. I was sure I would be feeling much better after rest.

I felt much worse.

Waking up, I knew that there was no way that I would be able to hoist myself up in front of a bunch of people to sing. I could barely walk across the floor of my room. Also, I didn’t think anyone would appreciate me bringing my upset stomach to share with them.

With great disappointment I texted the leader, who responded with kindness. I went back to sleep.

Sunday has been spent sabbathing, resting, listening to my body. It keeps yelling at me to get up and do something, but I haven’t cooperated. I have slept a lot, read a bit, written a bit, and watched Netflix.

Tomorrow will be better. I just know.

In Which I Have a Dream

. . . about puppies!

It’s Leap Day, and before it ends, I want to write about something light-hearted and fun.

I blame my sweet friend, Davene, and her copious Facebook puppy pictures and posts filling my feed. I’d much rather focus on puppies than Presidential Primaries, which is saying something, because dogs aren’t even my favorite.

Just yesterday there was a video of the puppies venturing outside for the first time, and I watched it. Then there was the blog post about it. Then the dream.

I am fascinated by these puppies, seeing as I first heard that they were on the way on the eve of the big snow. Davene and I ran into each other at the library, and I asked about Willow and found out that she was great with puppies. Turns out, she gave birth to them during the storm.

I have followed their progress, often thinking, At least I don’t have 10 puppies to care for! in the midst of my overwhelm. We all have our own stuff, you know. Some people have puppies. There is lots of love to go around in the Fisher household and lots of schooling going on and lots of learning. It is pretty incredible.

Davene is pretty incredible!

On to the dream. It was one of those that comes in the night and just sticks. I still remember it, even after writing it down this morning in my Dream Journal.

We went to the Fishers’ house to see Willow’s puppies, finally, after talking about it for some time. As usual, there was attitude from a certain child or children who shall remain unnamed. Not unusual.

We were still driving our big white van, parked it, and got out.

We went into the house, and puppies were EVERYWHERE. They were anywhere you looked. Puppies. Crawling into this and out of that. The children noticed two that they wanted. In true dream form, they looked nothing like any of Willow’s ACTUAL puppies. They were more cocker-spanielish in appearance.

The Fishers were more than happy for us to take them, so we began making plans for that. I noticed an unusual-looking black puppy that seemed to have a collie-like appearance around the face and ruff around the neck. It also had stripes on its sides and a bushier tail. I noted to myself that it seemed to have gotten all of the recessive genes, and looked rather skunk-like.

That is when we noticed that it really WAS a skunk. It jumped onto my back and began clawing at me as I ran around, freaking out, in true Christmas Vacation form. THERE IS A SKUNK ON MY BACK!!!!!

I ran outside where it was somehow removed.

We loaded up and headed home with two new puppies to add to our menagerie. The dream ended with them being introduced to Dewey, Zephyr, and Buddy.

There you have my latest dream. It’s not big or life-changing or risky, unless I choose to analyze it. Then, maybe, I had better look out! Because, you know, there was that skunk and all of those puppies.

Sex? A Backstory

One of my goals for 2016 is to write and submit to Red Tent Living each month. Whether a post is accepted or not is beside the point. The exercise and discipline of writing is what I am after.

I held this in my heart quietly and ambiguously as I am wont to do and for good reason. In fact, rather than intending to write each month, I told myself I would do it on a regular basis.

What regular basis meant was left open to interpretation, and since I was the one interpreting, it was pretty safe.

If I don’t say it out loud, no one will know.

It meant that when I saw the theme for February was Sex?, and I had already submitted for January, I could breathe a big sigh of relief and decide that every other month was a good enough regular basis.

What’s going on with me avoiding a topic that is hard and feels terrifying? Why am I having this thought? Who cares whether I write or not? Why am I bothered by my avoidance?

I knew I needed to write. Something. Even if I never hit send, there was something there. I opened a new document and began typing.

There is not much space in my world right now. Usually when I want to write, a topic has been floating around in my head for awhile and the act of opening my laptop and getting it down is the culmination of the process. Twenty minutes later I am finished, especially if it’s for my personal blog.

The Saturday morning in early January that I began free-typing thoughts on Sex? left me feeling agitated and disrupted. I shared words with my husband who found them powerful and honest and necessary. I found them raw and vulnerable and way over-exposing.

It was a good first step.

I knew I needed to keep moving forward towards the terror and discomfort. I knew I needed to engage my heart with curiosity and kindness, thanks to those who have invested time in helping me to process my story. I closed the document and took some deep breaths.

What was up with that? I usually don’t feel this disrupted after writing. I’m glad that I began this post early in the month. There is still a lot about my journey with sexuality that needs to be sorted.

Finished with the editing of my article, saving the raw original document for myself in another folder, I opened an email to submit my work. Usually I include a few words along the line of, Here is a post for consideration this month. This time there was a paragraph of back story and explanation that definitely left plenty of room to not consider this month’s offering, but thanks for the opportunity to write.

The response that my post was in the line-up for this month left me feeling many things . . . excited, nervous, terrified, proud.

You can read it here.

Writer Girl(s)

I’m pretty sure that if we lived in a time where vocation was based solely on family heritage and calling, maybe by castes or clans, then ours would be that of the creatives ~ the musicians, writers, jesters; those and the teachers.

Today was the last for picking up my daughter of ten from school. Tomorrow eleven arrives with all of its angst and disappointment over the laptop, chromebook, iphone or at least POD, that will not be wrapped as birthday gifts (though I have promised to keep receipts to return the disappointments in exchange for cash to build her stash to purchase the desired electronics).

My girl is creative. She is a writer as demonstrated by the big stack of books that she was checking out of the middle school library as I waited for her out in the car. It only took one mistake of going in to fetch her over the loudspeaker that time to learn that when she is in the library she will come out when she gets all of her books. Today I got that part right.

A Big Stack of Books

My girl is a comedian. This is demonstrated by two things in these pictures. First, the Rules for Writers book on the top of the stack above is sub-titled A Brief Handbook. She found that hilarious, which is why it is on top. Second, the version of A Wrinkle in Time that she chose to finally read because we rave about it so much, but no matter how she tries it’s just hard to get into is. . .

A Wrinkle in Time

. . . the graphic novel version, in case you can’t read the fine print.

I love my funny writer girl.

I also have a bloggy girl and a college girl who sent me this in a message today, Yesterday someone told me that I stress too much over grammar that normal people don’t understand. Simple sentence and word structure-type things they said college seniors learn in high English classes. I credit you. Haha! It was a funny thing to hear.

I was at a poetry and story reading coffee house with my fourth-grade girl tonight.

Yes, this is a family of writers and creatives with lots and lots of words. That and laughter. And some yelling and strife thrown in for good measure. Real life.

Fixing My Gaze

It is hard for me to fix my gaze directly forward and not all around me at everyone else, yet fixing my eyes on my own path is the only way to progress in my own life and achieve my own goals.

Too often I jump onto social media sites to see what others are up to. I read of their hopes and dreams and see what they are accomplishing, only to find myself lacking.

Instead of taking the steps ahead that I need to take in faith, I remain paralyzed with fear and doubt and comparison.

It’s time to take some steps of my own.

I appreciate my daughter and the inspiring way she has put herself out there this year. If you have never read her blog, check it out here and consider following her to stay updated with, and inspired by, her progress.

I am still figuring out what my steps actually look like. There are a few close to me who have heard my heart and helped me to identify what it would be to move forward with my dream amidst the responsibilities I carry. There is a fine line there and a place of incredible balance.

Someone once said, Baby steps. I’m taking them.

Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure.
Proverbs 4:28-29

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.
Psalm 20:4

Return to Year’s End

It’s another year’s end. Almost. Today I sit in the tension of a messy house and messy relationships and messy conversations and a messy heart.

Floodplain, the latest project by Sara Groves, plays in the background while my youngest plays in a box in the living room for her not-so-quiet-time.

Really we don’t need much
Just strength to believe it
There’s honey in the rock
There’s more than we see.

These patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow.

I’m trying to trust enough for today.

My brain works faster than my fingers as thoughts bombard my head, trying to connect in a coherent way. Last year’s word drifts through my mind, filtering experiences and thoughts through its grid.

Did I do enough? Get it right? How was my progress?

I’ve been here before. . . Sara croons in the background. Friends, get this album. *She has an incredible gift . . . wondering why I can’t do better than I’ve done.

The hand of grace reaches down to me ~
A voice inside says that I can be free.

And I sit here wanting to be anyone but myself.

A voice inside says that I will be free.

Ah, yes, it’s another year’s end.

*When I say get this album, I mean it is amazing. I receive nothing from this link other than the joy of knowing that others may discover Sara’s gift of singing to the heart.*

Reasonable Service

This morning, Pastor Todd brought words from Romans 12, challenging us to give our entire life to God. I was transported back to a season of meditation on this very passage.

Certainly not the only time I have spent in Romans, it was a significant season in my story. I recalled the exact journal used to process and pulled it from the shelf this evening to examine my thoughts more closely.

The first page tells me what I need to know.

I’ve just given birth to child #7.

It’s August 7, 2006, and it’s been a week and a half since her birth.

The summer seemed quite fragmented due to the fact that I was very pregnant for the first half and post~partum for the second.

As there are four full weeks of August before school starts this fall, I am trying to begin collecting my thoughts and planning for the coming season.

This is followed by lists of things that I would like to accomplish during the month along with things that have been lacking in my life. There is concern for my emotional stability as we enter a season of transition in the areas of church, school, and family. There is looking ahead to the fall and what to focus on with the parenting of seven children ranging from 13 years to 10 days.

There are goals set. There are lists of things to rejoice in. Blessings.

There is the question.

How can I not feel blessed?

A theme in my story is trying. I am grateful that God’s Word does not return void, no matter where we are on our path. In 2006 I was trying to do the right things on the right lists and to understand what God was doing with my life in the midst of feeling lost and overwhelmed.

The following is a mediation on Romans 12, demonstrating how God met me there in 2006. This is directly from my journal to illustrate where I was during this season.

Romans 12 ~ Wow! What a chapter! Here is what jumped out at me.

“living sacrifice” ~ daily sacrifice of self
“reasonable service” ~ caring for home and family
“do not be conformed” ~ worldly desires
“be transformed” ~ changed through the Gospel
“renew your mind” ~ think like Christ
“Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought.”
“All members do not have the same function.” ~Not everyone has my role, and that’s okay. My job is to be me.
“Having gifts differing according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” ~gift of mothering 7 ~not 2, not 12, but 7 children
~abhor evil
~cling to good
~be affectionate with brotherly love
~diligent, busy about my own work
~fervent in spirit
~serve the Lord (with gladness!)
~rejoice in hope (what is to come!)
~be patient in tribulation (dirty diapers, disagreeable children)
~pray!
~care for the needs of the saints
~practice hospitality
~bless, rejoice,weep
Do not be wise in your own opinion!
~don’t seek to get even

I am to present myself as a living sacrifice to God through the daily offering of my life to him.

He has given me a measure of grace to mother seven children, and I am to use that gift for him. It is my reasonable service to do laundry, potty train, change diapers, clean up messes, organize toys, plan meals, read stories, wipe noses, run errands, and do it all again tomorrow.

My desire to conform to the world says there must be something more than this. This feels boring and pointless without a renewed mind that says, You are being transformed! Being transformed sees my life as full of opportunities to be Jesus to those around me and to use my spiritual gifts and to function as part of Christ’s body on earth.

So in my behavior day to day, rather than wallowing in not this again, I should be crying, Transform my heart, Lord! It is thinking of myself more highly than I ought to say, Not this again. I am exactly where I need to be to fulfill God’s merciful plan for my life.

I should be rejoicing in hope while patient in tribulation. Instead of wallowing in the messy pants, I can rejoice in the hope of no diapers one day!

I should have a fervent spirit making me diligent about my daily work. I should be giving preference to my family with brotherly love. Am I distributing to their needs? Showing them hospitality?

And if my greatest “tribulations” are a house to care for (shelter), laundry to do (clothing), and meals to plan and prepare (food), then how ungrateful to complain about the blessings in my life!

I resisted the urge to edit, especially all of those shoulds. I left them. That is where I was back in 2006. It was a season of shoulds. I was also in a season of the New King James Version of the Bible, which gives context to my notes and why I linked to that version above.

I hope these words have encouraged you. They certainly have encouraged me by reminding me that God has always been faithful and will continue to be so, even in the lost and overwhelmed. Thank you for journeying alongside of me and for your kindness in glimpsing my world, Dear Reader. Be blessed!