Tag Archives: love

“This is NOT home.”

airplane over cochabamba, bolivia, january 2015

Our little mob of weary wanderers rounded the final corner of our 36 hour journey. Mama and Papa caught each others’ eyes and puffed out a breath to prepare for impact.

“You ready for this?” they asked.

“Nope,” they answered.

“Here we go,” they said.

All the kids, with baggage to drag, followed the plod of their parents up the ramp from the airplane to the airport. I saw my parents before they saw us. My mom, my dad, my youngest brother, and my youngest sister came out that chilly Saturday afternoon in January to gather us. You might tell me that was only four days ago; it feels like a lifetime ago.

We left Bolivia. To quote a friend, “It is not so weird that you left, what’s weird is that you are not coming back.” Oh the sting.

The impact of the separation has not yet hit me. I am sure the ones we left back in Bolivia are feeling it. I have been the one left behind, it is excruciating. I can see on the faces of some of my kids the sadness and loneliness. Others beam with relief and renewal. The colors of our emotional profile burn bright like a sunset on fire. Or is it the sunrise?

The transition material tells me that a new beginning starts with an ending. The rites of passage of ancient cultures teach us to face the end, embrace the grief, and move through to the new. Denial, slap a happy-face emoticon on it, fake-it-’til-you-make-it, just won’t do. Honest tears help wash the soul.

It hurts so much, though. And there are so many people so very happy to have us here. And we don’t want to disappoint people. But it is not fair to them if we are dishonest with our “glee” in the hopes to manage their emotions. No. This is not what we want to do. So we sit broken, together. Yet, there does exist happiness in all the grief. Sparks of hope of what will be flare up and our faces make genuine smiles.

Oh yes, I was talking about the airport.

We walked into view. My mom burst with shouts and ran to catch me. My sister cried and wrapped my kids in her arms. My brother said with pride and joy, “My sister!” My dad laughed as he welcomed us all. What was left of my mascara ran down my cheeks. I felt like my heart would explode.

Then I looked around at my children. My oldest stood off to the side, away from the huddle of hugs. I moved over to her. The anger and helplessness radiated from her reddened eyes as she met me with an indictment. Through gritted teeth and a cracking voice she whispered a gruff, “This is NOT home.”

I wrapped her in affirmation and understanding. Yes, I told her, you are right, this is not home. We cried. I told her we would talk later. She nodded.

We grabbed our 12 checked bags off the conveyor belt. I unzipped a few and snatched out sweaters and jackets for all of us. No matter how many layers and hats and scarves and gloves I put on I couldn’t cut the chill. We loaded up the people and the stuff and drove to our borrowed residence. The rest of the day rushed by as we set up beds, tended to the kitchen and bathrooms, and sorted the bags into the rooms.

When just the Washingtons remained in the home warmed by the wonder of heat blown through vents I called Raimy to my side. She initiated the conversation. Her countenance was calmed yet fatigued, and she said, “About what I said… this is not home, yet.”

Yes. That’s right baby.

Love. Be loved.

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Bravery, a Derivative

My Teen Girls in Uyuni

I really don’t feel strong or brave. Most days I jolt awake as the rush of nervous acid pours into my stomach. The aftereffects of the daily emotional roller coaster ride make me nauseated. The regrets choke. Thus, I have determined that bravery is not an emotion, it is a derivative.

As I share my story with a low voice, tears in my eyes, so many people tell me I am strong, that I am brave. They see me. They see the circumstances. Then they affirm strength??? I really don’t feel it. Oh boy do I wish I did!

I wince at their words, doubt trumps dauntlessness. I bury myself in my notebook. My hand trembles as I make it pull the jumbled words onto paper. My thoughts slow and calm comes as I think about bravery.

Forged in the fires of truth unhindered, time, and surrender comes forth words to define bravery. Definitions help me maintain realistic expectations of myself, and others.

> Bravery is not a stoic face to mask authenticity. Nuh uh.

> Bravery is not a bully who lashes out in fear. Nope.

> Bravery is not an ungodly holler from a maniac who runs reckless to sure defeat. Sorry Sparta, you can keep that crap.

Bravery: Life lived with strength derived from the assurance that 1. I am the beloved of God, 2. God loves everyone, and 3. His love in me enables me to love well.

So when my teenagers come to me distraught and fraught with emotions I can rely on the strength in me derived from the love infusion from my Father God. Then I can attempt to listen with empathy. I can speak, if I need to. Or shut up. I trust that God can love them well when my resources fail. I choose to engage, rather than cower and hide (which is my default mode, by the way).

So when the days topple on top of each other and mash with the piles to-do lists, and I breathe too quick, and my brain begins to spin like the tilt-a-whirl, I can stop the scared screamy sounds in my mind. I see the lips of my friends who tell me I am strong. Yes, I am strong, because this tangible weakness draws me to the source of my bravery. My bravery is a derivative of the assurance I am loved.

So when terrible scenarios of what-if replay on loop in the darkest corner of my heart I can crawl to that place and face the fears. In the past I have shut that part of me away as “bad” and “sinful” and “faithless”. With weak limbs and scraped hands I can do the next thing. Just do the next thing. And the next thing might be a simple flip of a switch on a plastic flashlight to shine a shaft of bravery on the damp, creepy parts of my soul. A simple task made nearly insurmountable by the paralyzed state created by my imaginations of what will be revealed. But my bravery is not brazen or foolish. True brave strength is surrender to Love. Love knows me. Love accepts me. Love sits beside that awful terribleness, and waits with me for the light.

So what do I do when I just do not feel so strong or brave? I cry. I fuss. I complain. I moan. And when I get that all over with I return to the assurance part of my definition. I can rest when I have been assured. Sometimes this blessed assurance comes from those around me. Sometimes the assurance comes from a song whispered in the recesses of my throat, sang with raspy tones. Other times gritty, holy stories or chunks of scripture assure me.

One prayer from the book of Ephesians has brought encouragement.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”  –  Ephesians 3:14 – 21

Love and Peace.

 

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Expect Acceptance

Expect Acceptance birds 1

The sun hangs hot and low in the West and our neighbor feeds the birds. He shuffles out in his neatly pressed button up shirt and pleated polyester pants. His white hair ruffles in the breeze as he tosses the crumbs on the walk. Steady and sure, though slow and old, he turns and returns to his home. Maybe he watches perched from a window, but he doesn’t stick around outside. When I see the birds flocked for their daily feed I slow my steps and watch a while.

Expect Acceptance birds 2

Three or four kinds of birds come to eat the crumbs on the painted blue path on Pachamama Street.  Black, yellow, grey, and dappled they prove the old adage birds of a feather flock together. That saying came to mind during a conversation. We tend to choose to spend time with people like ourselves. This translates into a filter or lens which determines our worldview. It also builds the assumption that those around me think like I do.

Expect Acceptance Lost Lose Love 1

One of the core factors of my species of personality is a tendency to categorize and judge situations and people. I default to ‘black and white’ or ‘right and wrong’. This comes in handy at times when concepts need to be organized, goals set, or outlines made. It trips me up when I let it lose in my relationships. I am learning to appreciate the browns, golds, greys, polka dots, plaids, rainbows, and iridescence surrounding me.

In this discovery process a new way of seeing things came to me. Three strong women spoke to me truths that picked at my layers of suspicious cynicism. God hasn’t given up on me yet; for that I am so grateful.

“The majority does indeed extend to you grace, love, and mercy beyond condition.”

“You are loved by many.”

“I love you.”

Expect Acceptance Lost Lose Love 2

It sounds so simple, so pure. Yet, for me to lay aside my previous assumption that most people were looking at me to scrutinize, criticize, and classify (which I lament to inform you is my go-to mode when interacting with others, an error which I hope is corrected soon) does imply a difficult task. Because it is not a task! That’s the tricky part.

My task oriented brain wants to DO something. In this case I cannot DO anything about it. I need to BE. As I embrace the truth that I am loved I can BE the beloved. When I know in my soul I am accepted I can BE accepted. When I assume that everyone I interact with wishes me well I can BE well.

Expect Acceptance.

Accept Acceptance.

Extend Acceptance.

Live Expectant of Acceptance.

Anticipate Acceptance.

Grab grace.

Attract attitudes of acceptance.

Tractor beam trust.

Magnetized with positivity.

Positively magnetic personality.

Gravitate to goodwill.

Go with goodness.

Give grace and goodness.

Try trust.

Be beloved.

Be blessed.

Trust your True Love.

Surrender.

Assume doom no more.

Kindle kindness.

These catchy phrases need to be the crumbs that daily feed my belief belly. And it starts with being aware. I want to be aware of God’s unconditional acceptance of me. As that seeps into my soul I can then be a carrier of grace to others. So be it, Father.

The talks with these women plus a good dose of journal writing landed me on an interesting word trick. One of my journal sessions ended in one little word at the bottom of the page: lost. A couple journal sessions later a word appeared on the bottom of the page: love. How did I go from ‘lost’ to ‘love’? We used to play those word games where you change one letter at each step to go from one word to another in the fewest steps possible. For me to go from ‘lost’ to ‘love’ took two steps.

Expect Acceptance Lost Lose Love 3

lost –> lose

When feeling lost I need to surrender. Lose the self-righteousness, pride, and self-sufficiency. Lose the strenuous trying. Put tying on trial and choose to lose.

lose –> love

When I lose myself in surrender True Love tells me, “I love you” and gives me back myself with value and worth. I am accepted just the way I am. I am free to accept others just as they are in true love.

Expect Acceptance birds 3

Do you struggle with trust? Do you assume, like I have so frequently, that others are constantly judging you? What has helped you to connect with others deeply in unconditional love? 

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Trail Mix

Now on with the crunchy, munchy, mixed-up life I lead…

  • Pomegranate season has begun! For the the next four to six weeks my fingers will be tainted purple. Yum!
  • Third week of the 2011 school year started yesterday.
  • Due to strikes in the city two days of school were canceled last week.
  • The city is also gearing up for the yearly week long festival called ‘Carnaval’.
  • After Carnaval comes the birthday of my eldest. We will be parents of a teenager!
  • After that momentous occasion our interns will have their baby.
  • I’ve got babies and birthdays on the brain since the 27th of this month marks 9 months since we brought Kaitlynn home. Need to journal my thoughts about the significance of that date.
  • Do you read the blog we do for the orphanage? Three times a week we have stories going up about The House of Dreams. Here’s the link: http://houseofdreamsorphanage.wordpress.com/
  • Last night I taught a group of people how to eat sushi.
  • I keep replaying in my mind a sentence that my husband said to me yesterday that made me feel so very loved.