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Archive for July, 2012

Baby Jessica sleepingI’ve always loved sleep … A lot. It’s like one of life’s pure joys.

I hate that fuzzy, grumpy feeling that comes with being tired.

The toughest part about becoming a mom, for me, was the broken sleep, and the fact that for the first few months of her life, Jessica Rose didn’t fall asleep before two am.

The first tell tale sign of pregnancy I always had—and the worst to deal with, even more so than four months of perpetual queasiness—was a constant state of fatigue.

I remember reading, in one of the books in my mom’s vast ‘library,’ that a pregnant woman resting is burning more energy than someone climbing a mountain.  During the times I was pregnant, I had no doubt about that fact.

 

Last night, my son woke me not long after midnight. He had a bad dream and kept me up for the next hour or so as I tried to comfort him, sing to him, pray with him and reason with him.

Today, as soon as I woke up, my first thoughts were, “I’m definitely going to nap today.”

I didn’t.

I tried, but couldn’t. Maybe too much caffeine running through my system.

But more than that was the thought that struck my mind.

One of those weird thoughts that, in my case, unfortunately kept me from slumber.

The thought?

How would I be spending my days if I knew my time on earth was short?

Oh gee. I mean, I know we’re supposed to live each day as if it’s our last and all that, but who really does?

So I started to think about it.

And decided against a nap.

Got better things to do.

Actually, I’ve heard that as people get older, like when they enter their “golden years” they start to sleep less. They wake up earlier or stay up later. My father-in-law, who is in his late 70s, wakes up at 2:30 every morning, spends hours in prayer, and then sleeps for a little while before waking up with everyone else for the day.

Is it a sense that they no longer have “all the time in the world” and a desire – maybe even subconscious – to get the most out of the time they have left?

How would I live if I knew my time was short?

For one, I’d spend more quality time with my kids. Yes, I’m with them 24/7, more or less, but how much of that time is creating lasting memories and some sort of progress and growth in their minds and hearts? Definitely less than 24/7.

I’d also get my writing in some sort of sense-making order, so that if I don’t have the opportunity to finish it, at least I could auction the ideas off to other writers.

There is that logo from somewhere that states, “Life is Short. Play Hard.” Come to think of it, I think I’d need to live by: “Life is Short. Sleep Less.”

Something else I would do is to find a way to tell as many people as possible that they are loved.

That their life has purpose.

And that it’s a beautiful one.

What could be better than living with a sense of purpose and destiny, knowing that you are loved? No matter how short or long our lives on earth, living with meaning, living for love, and living knowing that the best is yet to come – I can’t imagine a better life than that.

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A leaf covered in frostI came to a realization about myself – not the most impressive one. I have a lot of “unfinished business,” well, at least with personal things. When it’s “work” given to me by someone else, with deadlines, I generally accomplish those in a timely fashion.

Cross-stitches I started years ago remain unfinished in my drawer.

Blog posts I have begun – over 150 at the moment – are incomplete and unposted.

And then there are the books. I have a neat excel file of the working titles I have given to my “books.” There are more than 50 now. One column gives the number of words written for each book. I have over 100,000 words – but no more than 15,000 in any one of them.

Photo albums. Lots of them, with packets of photographs sitting on top of them, rather than placed inside.

If I died any time soon, for any reason, I would have left a lot of things undone. I’d have to get someone auction off all my ideas. J

I wondered though, why do I operate this way?

One reason could be that ideas are always popping into my head. I’ll wake up from a vivid dream and before the morning is over, will have a book outline from it. Poetry starts forming in my mind as I’m sitting on a bus, or reading, or working.

And blog posts? Any time the randomness of my thoughts come together into a cohesive pattern, a moral interwoven – through an experience of the day, an memory from the past, or a realization of some sort – I start to write it up.

That’s the problem. I start.

Then I get a phone call, or reach my destination, or get a request from one of my kids, or realize I need to get back to work, start dinner, or wake the kids.

Is it procrastination?

Busyness?

Lack of organization?

Too many pies up there in the sky?

All of the above?

What’s the solution to getting a few things from “pending” in my brain somewhere to “complete,” where they can actually make a difference and benefit someone?

In his book, The Weathering Grace of God, Ken Gire writes of the importance of “stillness.”

“Poets know the importance of … stillness. They know that if they are still enough, long enough, the art they are working on will speak to them, tell them what it wants to be and what it needs from them to become it. All artists know this, whether they work with paint or clay, words or musical notes.

“Michelangelo knew how to be still before the stone and listen to the David within it. Strauss knew how to be still before the Danube and listen to the waltz that was eddying about in its waters. Monet knew how to be still before the pond and listen to the lilies sunning on its surface. …

“Our culture knows little of this kind of listening.”

The best ideas, and the completion of them, require not only time to do them, but also stillness. Listening – to know what it is that needs to be done with them.

We are encouraged by the Psalms to, “Be still and know that I am God.” The finishing work – whether of a small project or of life itself – requires stillness in mind and soul.

It is easy to start something. It is good to start something. Well begun is half done, as they say.

But to finish something – to see it through to the end – is not always easy.

It takes time.

Patience.

Faith.

And those aren’t always easy to come by.

We don’t always find them by looking within, or by looking around.

But when we look up, and in peace and quiet of mind, listen to the still, small voice that whispers to all mankind, we will know the path to take to complete what we have begun … and what He has begun in our lives.

We are all, in a way, God’s unfinished business.

He has started a lot of things that are well begun, even perfect in their own right.

But we are not complete.

The work continues: the molding, the shaping, the cutting, the polishing.

Along with the promise: “He makes all things beautiful in His time.”

(And look at that, another blog post complete.)

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Window to Let the Sunshine InIt never ceases to amaze me. It’s a feeling that I can’t quite explain, but that never fails to fill my heart with wonder.

Ken Gire, one of my favorite authors, in his book Windows of the Soul, writes of the windows that give us a glimpse into things that lie beyond the surface. In his unique, lyrical voice, Ken writes . . .

“We have all had moments when we’ve experienced something . . . we can’t quite explain, yet can’t explain away. Moments when God has touched our lives like a soft hand of morning sun reaching through our bedroom window, brushing over our eyes and waking us to something eternal.

At some of these windows, what we see offers simple a moment of insight, making us slower to judge and quicker to show understanding. At a few of them, though, what we see offers a word spoken to the very depths of who we are. It may be a word to rouse us from sleep and ready us for our life’s journey . . . It may be a word telling us who we are and why we are here and what is required of us at this particular juncture of our journey.

Or, in a startling, sun-drenched moment of grace, it may be a word telling us something we have longed all of our lives to hear – a word from God – a word so precious it would be worth the most arduous of climbs to hear the least audible of its echoes.

Windows of the soul is where we hear those words.

And where the journey begins.”

In the book, he writes about many windows – windows of dreams and of depression, windows of writing and of wilderness, windows of movies and of memory.

Another window – one that was not mentioned in Ken Gire’s book – is the window of friendship.

The dynamics of friendship have altered somewhat with the rise of social networks. It is simple to add hundreds of people to your list of friends with nothing more than a simple click.

I don’t doubt that real friendships exist within these parameters, and commenting back and forth on random happenings is not necessarily a bad thing. But I would venture to say that they seldom offer a glimpse into the soul.

Those are the places we often keep partitioned off, closed to others. Why we do so is anyone’s guess.

We have fears of being misunderstood, fears of being laughed at, or of standing alone as the only one who thinks or feels a certain way.

We keep the curtains closed. And so often we dwell in darkness.

Accepting a shadowy, colorless existence as a life.

Certain moments, however, let sunlight stream into the windows of the soul that we so seldom allow others to see.

I recently read a book about sight to one of my kids. It started that our eyes and brain capture over 60 images per second in the light. When it’s dark, they only capture about ten images per second.

I think the same could be said for the questions that lurk around in the darkness of the soul. We only grasp shadowy images – outlines, really.

And so many questions remain.

But when we let go of our fears and open our hearts to the illuminating love of a friend, the gloom dissipates.

Let the Sunshine InColor and light replace the darkness and shadows.

Suddenly the focus is clear, as details fill out the sketchy outlines.

Images start to make sense with all the brilliance of a new morning.

The curtains draw back to let the sunshine in.

The wonder that never ceases to amaze me is the gift of true friendship – a window to our own soul, and a bridge to another’s.

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