Tag: the good life

What a Ride

My blog schedule is totally out of whack. Posting? On a Thursday? After leaving you hanging last Friday? So sue me. It’s been a busy couple of days… I’m sure you can relate. 😉

I feel a little unsettled right now, and I think it’s because I haven’t written in a very long time. I get nervous and antsy when I’m not regularly putting pen to paper, but a series of events in my publishing world have conspired against my creative process. I’m the queen of editing instead of the princess of prose. Did I just write that? Oh. My. Word. I need to get back to writing. Please, shoot me if I ever write anything like that again.

I won’t lie: it’s been nice to have a bit of a break. The last few months I’ve been able to really plug into my family and my home. I’ve caught up on photo albums, tended our gardens, painted and decorated and made sure our house was always scented with the aroma of something delicious in the oven (or our yard was laced with the smell of burgers, steaks, barbecue chicken…). But I’m one of those people that works better under pressure. The more irons I have in the fire, the happier and more productive I am. I can’t help but wonder why that is. Why I thrive on having an assortment of different shaped irons in the fire.

My parents were recently on a mini-vacation and happened across a quirky wall-hanging in the window of a store. My dad snapped a picture of it with his phone because he thought it was so inspiring.

Don’t you just love it? It’s a bit of a bulky life-motto, but I’m adopting it as mine all the same. Our time here is fleeting, and I feel like I grasp that truth a little more with every passing year. I remember when I thought the world would end at 30! Guess what, I’m still here. And I still believe what I held to be true back then: That life is too short to waste sleeping or resting or taking a break.

These last few months I’ve been able to catch my breath, but I am more than ready to be breathless again. Writing, running, laughing, playing, living, dancing, hoping, dreaming, planing, wishing… Take my breath away. I want to skid in sideways, screaming, “Woo-hoo! What a ride!”

How about you? Do you long for a rollercoaster life? Or would you prefer to watch the scenery from a picnic blanket in the shade? I love both, but personally I’m more of a thrill seeker…

the good life

Ever a Surprise

Life is full of surprises. How’s that for a cliche? But you know it’s true. I can hardly go a day without being bowled over by something — and I’m guessing the same is true for you.

Last week my middle son (a bright-eyed wild child who can’t spare a second for a quick squeeze or a peck on the forehead) crept into bed beside me in the middle of the night and curled up with his cheek against mine. “I love you, Mommy,” he breathed. Not: “I had a bad dream,” or “I’m thirsty/hungry/not sleepy/etc.” No, he whispered I love you, plain as day, and I spent the next hour wide awake and cuddling him because it was such a wonder to find him beside me for no reason at all. Of course, not all of my surprises are so sweet. Finding a grasshopper in my favorite pitcher was a recent shock. Or learning that the splashing sound coming from the bathroom was my baby playing in the toilet (he can lift the lid all by himself–oh, the horrors).

Photo Credit

I love surprises. Usually. And nothing stuns me quite so much as when I surprise myself. I mean, seriously — I know me. I think I know me pretty stinkin’ good. It’s not often that I can pull one over on myself. But I just did exactly that.

One of my best friends has had a pretty rough 18 months. A family crisis, a devastating loss, a battle with cancer. It’s been very hard to watch her struggle, and yet, she has been (and continues to be) an inspiration. Over a month ago, after all this madness settled down enough that she could step back and take a deep breath, she approached me and a few of our friends and said that she wants to train for a half marathon. Would we join her?

*Quick (but very necessary) digression: I am not a runner. I hate running. When I was in high school and we had to run two miles for that stupid worthless waste of time mandatory presidential health test, I was the girl four blocks behind everyone else, wheezing and gasping and trying not to cry. Never mind that my dad was a marathon runner or that I had a runner’s body (I closely resembled a stick at the tender age of 15). I have always hated and will always hate running… Or so I thought.*

So, back to my story… My friend approached me with this goal, and because she has been such a bright spark, such a model of grace and peace in the midst of such turmoil, what could I do but cast my lot with her?

I’ve been running for a month, and what a surprise it has been. I love it. Really love it. I know I’m a fledgling runner, and I even feel a bit presumptuous calling myself one, but these weeks have been downright joyful. I’ve been taking it slow, working on a program that will have me running a 5k in nine weeks. So I guess I’m almost halfway there. And though I have no aspirations whatsoever to run a half marathon (shhh — that’s our little secret, okay?), I’m taking it one day at a time — and freaking out about running in my first official road race at the end of the month. Did I really sign up for that?!? And is it too late to back out?!?

Fears and frustrations and joys and surprise aside, I have to admit that I’m marveling at the girl in the mirror. The girl who gets up at 6:30 to log 5k before the kids wake up. The girl who can’t wait to lace up her tennis shoes and hit the trail. I’m not quite sure who she is, or what she did with the real me, but all the same, I kinda like her. Even if she is slow and awkward. I think it’s kinda cute when she almost trips over her own two feet. 😉

How about you? Have you done anything recently to surprise yourself???

the good life

Community Building

Monday I blogged about my longing for community, but I don’t know if I did a very good job of communicating that this is a half-baked hope for me, not a reality. I’m no community guru, I just like to think out loud about these sorts of things. Mostly, I like to post about my crackpot ideas in the hope that all my brilliant readers will rock my world with their equally brilliant comments. I learn so much from you…

(Photo Credit)

Anyway, in the spirit of half-bakedness (Ha!), I’m going to continue to define community today by using crappy alliteration to tell you three things that I think exemplify true, authentic relationship. Feel free to chime in. No, really. Please chime in.

Authentic community is…

Safe – Duh. And yet it deserves to be mentioned all the same. Have you ever told someone something only to regret it the second the words were out of your mouth? There is nothing worse than leaving a piece of yourself with a person who you do not consider to be safe. I have a lot of fun, wonderful, exciting people in my life who I don’t feel comfortable enough with to be authentic. We simply haven’t gone deep enough for me to trust them with all the messy parts of me. I think they’d probably scream and run the other way. Rightfully so.

Sacrificial – We all know that relationship is about give and take, but what about the times when it is about give and give (and some more give)? I believe that when you exist in true community, you don’t keep tabs. I’ve been in a relationship where everything was measured tit for tat, and it nearly drove me to drinking. I’m terrible at math and simply couldn’t keep up with the mental gymnastics necessary to stay abreast of when it was my turn to call. Guess what? There are some things I just plain suck at: I’m awful with dates and will forget your birthday unless you tell me when it is. I don’t pick up on subtle clues. I will almost always be five minutes late. But I am fiercely loyal. I will lavish you with compliments — and mean every single word. I will write you great (though admittedly infrequent) notes. The balance will always sway and tip, and there will be times when it feels like I take more than I give. Stay with me: it’ll fall back.

Scary – And hard. I believe that authentic community requires the sort of honesty that invites accountability. It means going the distance with one another at great personal risk and investment. And I really think that a lot of us would probably rather just go on skipping across the surface of our relationships. It’s much easier — and ultimately a lot more lonely. Are you afraid? Me, too.

Okay, that’s it for me. What do you think are some of the hallmarks of true community? I’d love to hear what you think.

the good life

Sister Wives

Confession of the day: I’m addicted to the TLC reality show Sister Wives. My husband and I stumbled across the half hour program one Sunday night during that brief, sacred interim that marks the end of the weekend. We’re not big TV watchers (Parenthood and Castle make up our entire roster), but we usually find ourselves cuddled on the couch every Sunday night, enjoying a final hour or two of rest before Monday morning rears its busy-busy-busy head. And wouldn’t you know? There is nothing on TV on Sunday night.

(Photo Credit)

The first time we landed on Sister Wives, we watched because we couldn’t tear ourselves away. Have you seen the show? It’s about a polygamist family (one husband, four wives — they call themselves sister wives–and sixteen kids) and it’s like witnessing a train wreck — you know it’s going to be horrible, and you really shouldn’t be watching, but you can’t look away no matter how hard you try. I’ll admit that I spent the entire half hour wondering how in the world four women and one man juggle the intricacies of the marital bedroom. You don’t need to know the specifics of my thought process because I’m sure you’re thinking the exact same thing: EWWWW! I quite literally shudder at the thought.

But after watching a half dozen episodes or so, some of the shock factor wore off and I found myself actually liking this weird family. Never mind that Kody is a total creep and Robin has some pretty obvious emotional issues. For the most part, they are relatively normal, well-adjusted people who dote on their children and enjoy relationship with each other. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not condoning polygamy, nor do I consider myself desensitized to it. In fact, if anything I think I’m hyper-sensitive to it because I feel like I know how these women feel and why they have allowed themselves to be a part of something that most of the world finds disgusting at best.

Your line (heavy on the sarcasm): Uh, excuse me? You think you have polygamy figured out? Do enlighten, oh wise one.

Okay, okay. I’m no professional here, but it struck me as I was watching Sister Wives last night that I get it. Or, at least, I get a very small slice of it. These four women are a part of the kind of vital, vibrant community that most of us deep down long for. I’m not talking about sharing a husband, I’m talking about sharing life–to the extent that my strengths and weaknesses are complemented by a community that both cherishes and challenges me.

We live such individualistic, autonomous lives that it’s no wonder we boast the highest rates of discontent and dissatisfaction in the world. Our families are often self-contained planets, fully functional and independent, to the point where we run ourselves ragged being everything to everybody in our tiny sphere of influence. We cook, clean, grocery shop, do load after load of laundry, decorate, garden, volunteer, work outside the home, drive carpool, mediate, counsel, cuddle, play with our kids, make dioramas, attend meetings, participate in Bible studies, and run, run, run from one thing to the next. Then we flop into bed at night so exhausted we dread the sound of the alarm clock the next morning.

Whether I like to admit it or not, there is something raw and honest about the lifestyle of the four sister wives on TLC. One sister wife works. Another takes care of the kids. A third wife clips coupons, buys groceries and cooks healthy meals for the small army that is their family. Every woman works to her strengths and stands in the gap for her sisters and friends. I don’t agree with their solution, but I admire the fact that they are willing to openly admit the problem: we can’t do it alone. Or, more to the point, I can’t do it alone. Maybe you can. But I have been recently plagued by the understanding that something has got to give in my life. I can’t write and edit books, blog and network, parent and do the whole Susie Homemaker thing and still manage to find time to brush my teeth every day. I won’t even go into the moral dilemma of taking precious shower time to shave.

So, I admit that there’s a problem, but I don’t agree with the solution presented by Sister Wives. I’m a big help, aren’t I? Actually, I do think there is a more palatable answer to the problem of rampant individualism: authentic community. And I don’t think that community has to share a bed with one husband. Can I get an amen?

I long for community. I long for the sort of relationships where my friends and family see my weaknesses and not only love me in spite of them, but realize that their God-given gifts may very likely be coordinated to fill a gaping hole in my life. It’s not easy to enter into this sort of emotional intimacy, nor is it fun to admit that you simply can’t do everything on your own. I’d love to be Superwoman. To be successful and beautiful and gracious and a perfect mother to boot. But the truth of the matter is, I forgot Clifford day and my son was the only first-grader in his class who didn’t wear a red shirt. And though I talk a big game about tilling a vegetable garden this spring, I’m going to put that dream to rest right now and tell you that it’s not going to happen. I can’t do it all. But we can.

I don’t want a sister wife. But I do want sisters. And friends. Mothers, grandmothers, cousins, and neighbors. I want to live in the sort of community where someone will text me on Wednesday morning to remind me that it’s a chapel day and my son needs to wear his theme t-shirt (because you know I’m going to forget). And where another friend will call me from the grocery store to ask if I need a gallon of milk (because you know I do). Most of all, I want to live with the understanding that I don’t have to do it alone — and neither do you.

I guess this is a sort of going public for me. No, I’m not a polygamist. But I want to be a part of a community that requires me to sacrifice, to think about someone else’s needs in addition to my own, and to reap the blessings that come hand-in-hand with stepping outside of my comfort zone and into a place where I can live in honest authenticity with people I love and trust. Yikes. Do I really want that? Am I willing to give myself that wholly and completely? I hope so. I guess we’ll find out.

In the meantime, I’m on my way to the store. Does anybody need a dozen eggs?

the good life

Good Life

I didn’t blog a lot last week. Or do much of anything, for that matter. Aaron was in Colorado all week and I was the single mom of three rowdy boys. One of those boys had the flu (fevers of 103), the baby was teething, and my eldest decided that I’m “the worst mom ever and I don’t like you and I mean those things I said.” Ouch. Then there was some friend drama and some family drama. Don’t even get me started on the rest of the world — between the chaos in Libya, the aftermath of destruction in Japan, perpetual unrest in the Middle East, and the constant threat of terror hanging over everything, I’m about ready to stick my head in the sand and pretend nothing exists beyond the sound of my own steadying heartbeat. Except that I imagine all that sand would make my double ear infection feel even worse than it already does. Drat.

Symmetry

(Photo Credit)

Don’t you just feel that way sometimes? Like the world is every sad and sorry shade of gray imaginable? Like life is a constant parade of frustration and disappointment and bad news? Don’t you just cringe sometimes when the telephone rings? Or when someone gives you that pointed look that lets you know in no uncertain terms that you’ve failed somehow? I do.

But you know what? Not for long…

I’m an eternal optimist. The glass is not only half-full, it’s positively overflowing with possibility. There’s something new and different and unexpected and wonderful on the horizon. There has to be.

I am so sick and tired of the constant barrage of hatred and bitterness and dissatisfaction and manufactured fear that we are inundated with every single day. In our personal lives we’re tired and overworked. Our relationships are broken, our days leave us unfulfilled. And beyond the borders of our four walls we’re defensive and cagey, scared of the world around us and quick to misinterpret everything.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to be sad. I’ve gone through very sad seasons in my life, and I know that my troubles are nothing compared to what some people face. There’s a reason we have counselors and therapists and medication. I even think it’s okay to believe that the world is hard and cruel — for a time. But the sun still shines, sweet friend. Coffee is still hot, the rain soaks the ground, children laugh. A line from one of my favorite songs (Wholly Yours by David Crowder) captures it beautifully: “But a certain sign of grace is this, from a broken earth flowers come up, pushing through the dirt.” And it just so happens that those flowers are pushing up right now just outside my window.

It’s a good life. A beautiful life. A gorgeous world filled with love and wonder and hope and possibility. It’s a creation in the midst of redemption, one small piece at a time. One act of love, one hand reaching out at a time. And on the flip side of every circumstance is a loveliness you would never expect. After my seven-year-old called me a bad mom, he buried his face in my neck and called me mommy. Stories of hope and compassion continue to emerge from the rubble of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Though my ears still hurt, I live in a country where I can go down the street and pick up my prescription from a pharmacy I trust. It’s a good life.


 

Your turn: Is your life a good life? Why or why not? Want to make the journey from pessimism to optimism? My friend Mary DeMuth is discussing this on her blog right now. Head on over and check it out!

the good life

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