Free time & other musings on a cloudy Tuesday…

I have 40 minutes until I pick up my little big kids from school. Doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve chosen to steal time where I can get it – free time.

Life is beautiful, still. I will declare it. But it is also full. I have a dwindling yet still there built in margin that is constantly being threatened by the Pressing In. Life. Family happenings. Work responsibilities. Grad school. Bulletin board interactions. Forced reading & writing. Rinse. Repeat.

Free time. Time alotted for nothing but whatever I could find to give myself to. It is precious, & when i find it, like I have today, I treasure it, relish it like a teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter on a hot spoon, smothered in chocolate chips. Even if its just 40 minutes.

The Pasty Gangster called me just now – he had 10 minutes to kill, & thought of me. It has been 7 months, 9 days since we last interacted face to face. I’m hoping to be able to send theBean to see him soon; don’t know if it will work out for all of us to get there, but if anyone goes, its gotta be theBean. Mom’s gotta be able to see her son – where he lives, works, etc. Somehow, its enough for me to hear about it & let my mind paint pictures of what his life is like. Mom has gotta see it. I understand, I think. And wonder if I’m just in denial, telling myself it will be ok to send Just theBean to Knoxville, & that me, theWeez, & iDoey will hold down the fort. Cause if its ok, then the hurt & longing of missing the boy can be wrapped up in the joy of theBean getting to see him on our behalf.

I just want people to know Jesus. To know His love & acceptance, the transforming power of forgiveness and grace. The real freedom that comes with a Holy Spirit-led life.

So often, the familiarity of the life we know keeps us from moving forward into the life in all of its fullness.

Had coffee with a new potential friend today – a fellow laborer within the church in Reno. It was fun, truly, getting to talk & feel each other out & to talk about commonalities.

More on that later.

Wind and fire, a return to school-ness, family, & other musings…

Oh LORD. Have mercy.

Fire is one of my favorite things – candles, camp fires, a back yard fire pit. Fire. In moderation, under control, providing ambiance, warmth, cheer… Sigh. I’m sitting at my desk looking out my window at the smoke filled sky… yet another wind-blown rager has descended upon the Reno area, consuming at least 10 houses in the Pleasant Valley-ish area. Oh LORD. Have mercy.

Sunday evening marks my return to my Master’s program & with it a 6 month deluge of reading & writing before my next break. I find myself wanting to drag out the days until I go “back to school” as long as possible. Its not the work – its the stress that keeping my school schedule in the context of an already full life – puts on my attempts to live “in rhythm,” balanced; to not only have a good day off, but to Sabbath. To cease. Rest. Celebrate. Reflect. Deadlines, assignments, pressures have taken me & my resolve to Sabbath to the bending point… bending to the point of recognizing a great need for an iron backbone and a forehead made of flint that, for the good of me & mine, will enable me to navigate the next phase of life & school. Oh LORD. Have mercy.

It has been exactly 5 months & 7 days since #1 son, the Pasty Gangster, moved to Knoxville, TN. He is doing well, has a great job, is prepping for a return to school in the fall, & his relationship with Alexandrea is going gangbusters… (He inherited from his Papi the uncanny ability of having a beautiful, talented, compassionate, caring woman fall in love with him. 3 words: Jedi mind tricks.)

I miss him something terribly. There’s a part of me that is so happy for him – the prayerful choices he made to get where he is, the hard work he’s put in to excel at his job, & set himself up for the next phase of life… And there’s a part of me, that is still grieving, missing him; it is so close to the surface that merely thinking on it moves me to weepyness, & I find myself “dad-gumming” the dust in the room that has gotten in my eyes. Oh, the joy of feeling one’s emotions… Don’t have a date to see the boy yet, but I’m hopeful. And praying for him. And us. And asking the LORD for mercy on our lives, and favor upon his.

Joey, aka iDoey came into our room last night, and laid across the foot of the bed. The whole thing. He was even hanging off the edge of it. What HAPPENED to that kid? When did the little man turn into the tallest member of the family? His drivers license tells me he is 17. I don’t believe it. I still see the 2 year old boy that used to try to sneak into my room in the morning (if 4 a.m. is the morning), dodging pillows that I’d toss at him, trying to make it to his mom’s side of the bed so he could alert her to his need for food & drink: “I’m hungry, and thirsty, and hungry!” Always the same words. The same intensity and desperation.

iDoey is passionate. His personality is reminiscent of my brother Johnny’s – super strong, articulate & well-expressed. I have oft been tempted to counter his strength with my own tidal wave of forcefulness, strength, & power… but that’s been shown, long ago, to be ineffective. Meekness, controlled strength, patience and perseverance is what was required. Oh, so many times I blew it in a blow up, only to repent later, asking forgiveness of my God & my boy. There’s not much time left before the world we live in calls my son an adult, challenging him to move out on his own to pursue life, dreams, & God’s plans for His life. I resist the temptation to control, and find myself praying for this boy/man. Oh LORD. Have mercy.

Alyse, theWeez, Princess Weezer-brooks just had birthday #15. She takes great joy in tormenting her father with stories of her dreams of getting married in just a couple more years… Oh theWeez, you can wait a little while, can’t you? I will spoil you something terrible, & you will get to have your mom & I all to yourself…

We, she & I, picked out a ring for her birthday – its special, with her birthstone – we call it a “getting a vision for sexy-time with her husband and only her husband” purity ring. To save the specialness of intimacy for marriage. Because my girl is special, & worth waiting for. Oh LORD. Have mercy.

Thankful for the peace of God that transcends understanding & circumstance, filling my heart & mind with the comfort of KNOWING that I KNOW that He is with me. Is sufficient for me. For my life situations. And my kids.

So say we all.

Day 2 – Deutschland Fall 2010

Today was Eddy’s day off, which perfectly coincided with my day too. I woke up at 7:15 to the sound of the Brandenburg Concertos, my preferred alarm. (It’s hard to be grumpy hearing the sound of Bach, even in the morning when one’s body is telling you that its really 11:15 p.m. & you should be GOING to bed, not getting up. But I digress.)

Laura made pancakes, Eddy-style, meaning they were filled with almonds, apple, & coconut. I ate to my hearts’ content, using syrup, Nutella, & apple marmalade as toppings for different rounds of pancake-ery. Good times. The coffee was excellent as well.

Beings as it was the day off & the two oldest kids were at school, it seemed like a good idea to take a nap. So I laid down on the couch with a favorite book, (Heschel’s The Sabbath,) & read/napped for about an hour. I think. :)

Woke up in time for lunch, which was raviolis. Eddy & family headed off to a birthday party & I set myself for an afternoon of solitude. Which is my favorite. Read & dozed for a bit, then decided to head towards the city, through Bockenheim, which is where the church is located. Walked past the White Tower, which is located near the university. It used to be a watch tower, a line of defense for the city of Frankfurt.

Made my way past the familar cafe’s & university dorm-style apartments towards the city center. It was quite a ways away… further than I’d remembered, which is funny, because I usually take the U-bahn downtown. And now I remember why.

This is the “Hammering Man” – he symbolizes the 24/7 work ethic represented within the city of Frankfurt.

He’s about 45 feet tall – makes me think about the Sabbath & the need for rest. (Probably because this is where God first ‘convicted’ me about my own work-a-holism…) To me, Hammer Man stands for the worst parts of humanity,  Western Civilization & how we so easily work ourselves to an early grave, valuing each other only based on what we make or produce. I know its just a sculpture, but it stands out in my mind as a symbol of what God has rescued me from.

It also makes me think about tomorrow – I’m giving a presentation called, “A Revolution of the Soul” on the topic of living life in all its fullness; talking about rest, life rhythm, & the Sabbath. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. :) Truly, God’s work in my life in this particular area has been one of the most impactful things that has ever happened to me, & the thought that I get to share what He’s done in me, & what I’ve been taught & what I’ve learned brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes I get weepy. It happens.

Came home from my walk just in time for pizza & movie night with Eddy, Laura & the boys. Then to bed early so I can get good rest & be ready for the day tomorrow.

Blessings to you!

a series heavy sighs, or wondering how many times I dance this dance?

Oops. I did it again. Over-scheduled my life, with the best of intentions, & a complete disregard for the fact that:

  • a) I’m human;
    b) I’m married & have three kids, each with their own complex layered schedules;
    c) Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a toll on you
    d) sitting in meetings for hours on end counts as a double no-no

  • And so I find myself to be spent; physically, emotionally, & relationally. Spent. Done. Finis. In need of a ‘hit the alarm 2x in the morning,’ followed by a 2 p.m. nap. And to bed early.

    I’m not scratching my head, wondering, “What happened?” I know exactly. I went to Sacramento the week of 9/13 for our fall pastors conference. Great conference. Fun with friends. Challenging speakers. Meaningful interactions. Late nights & early mornings. Came home, hitting the ground running to catch something that could not be caught: Monday & Tuesday – they were long gone.

    Jerry came in Friday, & I spent the weekend trying to spend as much time hanging out, talking with him as I could. And Friday/Saturday, I managed to shoehorn in a wedding rehearsal & wedding, a gathering & hang out on Saturday morning with Jerry & some friends, another gathering Saturday evening, & a full Sunday. Which was my birthday.

    Ended the day with packing… cause I had to catch the first flight out on 9/20 to Burbank for special meetings… in which I sat on a ballroom chair for a total of (drum roll please…) 21 hours over the course of Monday – Wednesday morning. Rushed home for round 3 of a special Marriage Enrichment series (which I’m loving, btw,) & staggered to bed.

    We’re hosting friends, a family of 4 Germans from Mainz, Germany through Friday 10/1. NOTE: this is not a bad thing to have & to host friends. But it does take it out of you.

    Did a Quincenera Saturday – absolutely wonderful time. Church on Sunday. Home & slept for 3 hours in the afternoon. Oh goodness.

    Still trying to catch up. Heavy sigh.

    Throughout the madness, theBean mentioned to me once or 30 times that this pace wasn’t ok. That my sabbath day of rest & recharging wasn’t getting the priority & attention needed. That the schedule I was keeping was… wrong. Too costly. Heavy sigh.

    At some point I gave at least mental assent to what she was saying, then hurriedly justified the 2 week sprint as “fun” or “mostly fun.” She wasn’t buying it. I’m not either.

    Today I spent time in repentance, embracing a change of mind, asking God’s forgiveness for the pace I’ve been functioning at. I know better, but it happened anyway. And I’m paying the price. A small part of me is questioning my ‘toughness,” as though if I were just BIGGER-FASTER-STRONGER this wouldn’t have happened, & I SHOULD’ve been able to make it through this, kicking the calendar & schedule’s proverbial butts, taking their proverbial names. Heavy sigh.

    Then I realize this small part of ‘me,’ isn’t me after all… its the enemy of my soul. The one who wants to steal, kill, & destroy. To poison & drain the very “life in all of its fullness” Christ came to bring & give. Hmm. Duly noted. Heavy sigh.

    On that note, I look at my calendar & see I have 34 days until I’m off to Frankfurt – November 3 -16. And the schedule there is full-ish, but I have some downtime intentionally included in the travel schedule. Praying for wisdom. Aiming for balance. Staying on rhythm. Heavy sigh.

    I might fall down, but I’ll get back up.

    Got a note from another ‘scoey’ the other day (2 weeks ago now… at the beginning of the madness.) He had the same nickname as me – who’da thunk it possible? And lots of similarities in the happenings in our lives. I wrote him back, but it seems that the earthlink spam filter may have been bouncing me back. So scoeyB, if you’re reading this, thank you for writing. And I’d love a penpal. :)

    Pasty is dominating his college schedule, passing all tests with flying colors. And getting A’s, which is better than colors. His girlfriend from Tennessee is coming to visit in just about a week. We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it.

    There I times I have to literally refuse to get offended… to not be antagonized by someone else’s (real or perceived) actions, words, slights, condescensions, etc. My anger & indignation rises up… & I realize that at that very moment, I’m thinking an awful lot about me. ME. And goodness, am I of primary importance? Oh yes. Heavy sigh.

    Last night, I was playing with EllieG, my niece… we were wrestling around on the ground (which means I lay on my belly with my face in the carpet & she & her little sis the ZoeHawk use me as a jungle gym. Good times.) EllieG stopped climbing for a second & touched my head, smack dab on the big bald spot. She did it again, harder. Then she asked, “Tay, what HAPPENED to your hair?”

    “Ellie,” I replied, “it fell out. Sometimes when a man gets older, his hair falls out. And I’m getting older…”

    She pondered this for a second & said in the sweetest voice, “Oh. I’m SOOO sorry Tay. But I still like you.”

    Heavy sigh.