The Riskiest Holiday

The time for dying eggs is here. The kids look forward to finding candy to put in baskets of plastic grass. We celebrate the coming of spring, new life on branches, in holes, and in coops. Most of all we celebrate new life for our mortal bodies. We can do this because one went before.

Eggs

We celebrate in hope of what we don’t see. Who hopes for what he already sees? I no longer hope to have children someday because they’re here. Now I hope they will grow to be adults that remember to be childlike.

People with hope seem foolish. Others want proof of what they’re waiting for. That’s not hope at all.

This week we embark, or continue, on the most dangerous journey of all. Maybe I should say, “risky”?

When you hope in Christ and his resurrection, you hope

. . . to follow Him to a new heaven and earth.

. . . for all pain and oppression to be gone, all tears dried.

. . . the sins done against you to be forgotten, by you;
and sins you’ve done to others, forgotten by them.

. . . for no more toil and tiredness, and fruit from your labor to flourish. Everyone succeeds at what he puts his hand to. No more weeds.

. . . for laughter and light at every turn.

. . . to see children play with lions . . .

. . . to be beautiful; beauty not spoiled or ripped away by the covetousness of a beholder.

. . . that all nations are there, a multi-faceted diamond reflecting the glory of their King.

My list is too short, but there’s a lot wrapped up in this hope.

Emily & Eggs

On this earth, the ones who are most pitied when life cuts them short are children. They’re most pitied because of what they had ahead of them. It’s sad when anyone is mistreated, and when they die, but one who has lived out their years isn’t pitied as much as a child who had lots more living left to do.

It’s a risk to be like a child this holiday, surrounded by candy and eggs, waiting to hatch a new skin of our own in a new world. Will you take the greatest risk with me and dream of all the resurrection could mean?

My faith does not hang on a cross. It hangs above the hole of the tomb where the stone has been rolled away. It hangs on the hope that the God of galaxies beyond reach is preparing a new place for me, lots of living left to be had. After I’ve been laid to rest in this soil, I will be called to wake again to things I’ve never imagined. And if I’m wrong about that . . .


. . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

I Corinthians 15: 17-19

Standing up to Live

“How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.”
~Henry David Thoreau

I know better than to think you are living each day to check what I’ve written here. But I have an undeclared (which is probably a problem) goal of posting here twice a week. I haven’t met that goal for at least a week now so I wanted to pop in and share why.

“When the cat is away, the mice will play.”

Feet

I’m the lead mouse when my husband is gone on business.

He’s not a drill sergeant, like many often assume, but he brings a sense of order to our home that I don’t naturally exude. Almost all discipline that I put forth in my life is due to his patient and kind direction in wanting to help me succeed in doing what I do.

When he came back last time, I was lost in a cloud of frustration and resentment. It took me a while to figure out what was going on with me. Sure, it’s hard to be on your own when you’re not used to it, but the problem was not the “cat” being gone . . .

It was my choices while he was away.

So I’m challenging myself, because I realized, on my own, that I need to get my big girl pants on and be responsible for the time I keep wasting and wondering why there’s never enough.

I’m trying to stand up from my bed early in the morning when there’s no one’s lunch to be made at 6 am (which is usually the only way I will get my fanny out of bed). I’m doing this so that I can live my life, not just have life happen to me.

I’m trying to see my children, whom I have chosen to stay home for, and be with them instead of feeling the pull to write my latest thought down or feel resentful that I wake to their needs every. day.

I love this writing thing. It’s the only place I can really figure out what I’m thinking and share with someone. When I don’t put forth the effort to use my time well, I don’t get time to write, my kids get all of my time by default, and things don’t end well. I don’t want to give them my time by default, I want to give it freely. I’m learning to do that, one step at a time.

This is not the blog to come to for 3 tips on time management, make-ahead sack lunches, or best app reviews. But I can point you to some like that . . .

Since my last wasted week of Hiro gone on business, I read Mindset for Moms by Jamie C. Martin. I think she stole the first chapter from my thoughts, I related to it so exactly. If you’re needing to reset your mind (which I’m thinking needs to be done as often as setting the table), give it a try, it’s worth the five bucks!

Living for the Day

It’s dark outside, time for little ones to sleep.

We’ll read a story, maybe one in each language, if we make good time on milk drinking, teeth brushing, and jammie dressing.

Some nights it’s a quick hug, I love you, and hope for no deep questions. Other nights are stretched out with more feeling in, “I love you,” and I breathe in their skin with each kiss.

The last time I was soaking in that smell of young skin, I was trying to make up for not really seeing them all that day. They were here, under my nose. It was Sunday and I was reading on the couch while they played happily. It was a fine day, but I didn’t notice until it was closing time. That’s when I brought out my list of nice things to say and tried to hang on to the last moment of the day with them.

I was giving the day an epitaph, making up for the things I hadn’t said when there was time.

Songs on the radio praise the night, living for the life that happens in the dark. But what about the dark that stays? When it’s too late?

The day can be hard to wake up for. Lots to do, we’re slaves to the urgent. When is there time for the important things, important words?

Epitaphs

What if I decided to stop having funerals every turn of the axis? To stop living for the night, slapping all my best wishes onto the casket of the day? I’ve tried almost every day. I think I’ve gotten better at defining important vs. urgent, but not much. My effort makes a difference but still has a way of showing me how very short it is. There’s only one Arm that is never too short and it’s not mine, I am reminded . . . again.

So like I said, it’s dark outside, but it is still today and words need saying.

The “I love you’s,”
“I’m sorry’s,”
“Wanna talk?”

I’ll keep trying to live for the day, but will still proclaim my daily epitaphs most of the time. I’m so glad the words were penned for us so long ago, “His mercies are new every morning.”

When the darkness closes in and doesn’t shine this side of the sun, the only epitaph I need is that His mercy has covered all that I’ve left undone.

Struggle and Waiting for Immortal Love

I’ve been struggling hard with life and have no details to share,
not able to mine the sense of it yet.

However, matching salami with bread for lunch today,
I listened to a song . . . written for vampires.

I didn’t read the Twilight series, but saw the movies. I don’t know if this song was in there somewhere before the end of the whole series, but I didnt notice it until then. It’s got me all tied up and swells my eyelids.

If nothing else about the song, this part does me in:

I have died every day waiting for you,
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more . . .

The struggle of everyday is the waiting and longing for the Immortal lover of my soul to change me. I’m His already, but I don’t see Him as He is. I’m not like Him, yet.

Twilight WM

I do feel like I die most days waiting to be victorious, to conquer, live in complete freedom. His blood has been spilled for mine, but stuck in time and twilight beyond darkness and not yet morning, I wait for a trumpet to blow, the trees to change, and the dead to live again.

He who never sleeps and waits for me, more faithfully than I wait for Him, has loved me more than a thousand years . . . and will love me for thousands more.

My, how that lightens a load, don’t you think?

Slippery Hands, Slippery Life

When Hiro’s gone on business, Claire sleeps with me.  She’s too big to fit otherwise.  Turned all long and gangly right in front of me.

The other night, just before the sun rose, she was there and I was between sleep and awake.  Two memories surrounding her birth popped in.

She was born in Japan amidst sweet, calm nurse voices.  I understood quite a few of the words around me then, but not all.  From the hushed voices and the checking of the monitors, I knew something was not quite right.  There was talk of taking me to another room to labor as things were progressing slowly but also talk of cutting open and rescue.

When it was clear she was ready to be born, her stress was more obvious.  Her heart rate was even lower, she had to get out.  I was told there would be cutting and a vacuum, both things that were not on the birth plan.

Baby Claire

The moment came, we waited for the cry.  It always seems like a long few seconds I suppose.  They handed her to me slippery.  I was flat on my back and couldn’t keep hold of her.  She kept slipping into my armpit, rooting around for food.  I kept looking to Hiro and the nurses to help me figure out how to hold this little creature.  This was not my ideal beginning.  I was sure I was going to be a pro, but instead I felt like an animal without arms to cuddle my young.

. . . A couple days later, still in the hospital and sharing a room with three other moms , it was 4 am.  All beds were tucked behind their curtains, a low light above my bed.  I read in a book to undress your baby when nursing them so young, to keep them awake and interested in eating.  I unwrapped her terrycloth kimono and admired her with saggy, red skin as she worked to get her fill with eyes big and black as marbles.  I smiled at her, loving the quiet moment,  but then I looked down . . .

Her feet were purple as eggplants.

Slippery 2

If any of the other moms were awake I wonder if they heard my shock.  I was horrified, opened my robe putting her skin to mine and wrapped us both with as many layers as I could and cried with my head back on the pillow as she kept working at her part to stay alive.

So helpless, both of us.

There I was with a plan for birth.  It didn’t go too far off, we ended up not needing the vacuum, but in the end it didn’t really matter.  I think back to the whispering and wonder how close she was to not making it.  Even her daddy who understands every word . . . How much was he told?  It doesn’t matter now, she’s here in my bed, all long and gangly.

slippery 4
And then there was the plan for how she was going to fit into things.  All with good intentions, but the heart is deceitful.  To get her to fit, she had to eat a certain way, but what about purple toes, freezing and numb?

I don’t know quite how to express it.  But you know those moments you remember and shudder . . .

I reached over in bed to touch that filled out skin, my eyes welling.  Her curls fall pretty on the pillow.  She doesn’t let me hold her much, never really has.  How much of that is just who she is and how much of it is me dropping her all slippery so many times?

It can be a complex, this regret.  Wanting her to lose her gangliness, go back almost a decade and start over.  Surely I’d know how to hold her this time, wouldn’t I?  And I don’t mean just the first time, but all the times between 0 and 9 I’ve tried to be the mom that knows how to love.  What do you do with a story that’s written and can’t be edited like a page in a word processing software?

 Slippery

The artist who paints the sunsets, makes rough rocks smooth, spoke monsters into the deep and galaxies too far to find gave me, with slippery hands, a slippery little life.  Her first breath happened in His grip, not mine.

They passed her to me and I thought I had it, holding onto her, but there can still be purple, oxygen-starved limbs.

In a few hours, I think to myself, I will wake up encouraged after watching her sleep, a whole nine years bigger.

“Surely this time we’re going back, I’m starting over, I’ll never drop you.”

And a couple hours later, will drop her again.  It’s Grace that shows me if I could go back and hold her small once more, it’s never been about my grip.

The only comfort I have sometimes is that while she is in His grip, I have been too, all along.

Slippery 3

Uncomfortable Meetings part 2

So I’m 13 years older now and in the western hemisphere, standing at the kitchen sink where a lot of thinking happens.  Back when January hit, I heard some buzzing on blogs about choosing a word for the year.  A word to summarize a bunch of goals in one.

“I don’t have time to think of a word,” I thought.  It seems complicated to sort through goals and dreams and get down to just one word.  After all that effort, what if I get a few weeks into the year and decide it’s not the right word?  Too much commitment!

Not purposely thinking about this one-word idea, it crossed my mind for a moment here and there.  Then with my hands in suds, there it was, as if handed to me on a silver platter.  A word was spelled out right before my eyes.

“Unafraid”

 

It was interesting . . . but could I have a different word please?  Something is bound to happen this year that makes me afraid and am I really going to commit to being not?  But the word kept following me, like the spot in your eye after staring at a light bulb.

Hiro and I were out for wings one night and I said the word out loud.  I rambled about how this word was so amazing and made sense.  I told him all my fears I could think of then.

Unafraid 2
Of writing and a new blog. . .
Being vulnerable and what if I run out of things to write about? . . .
What if the title doesn’t work after a few months?  . . .

What if its just bad and i don’t know it?

I told him I’ve been afraid to trust him, specifically to work with him to make a family vision statement we tried a few months back . . .

What if we come up with the wrong goals? . . .

What if we lead our children the wrong direction? . . . Heck, what if my fear is creating fear in the kids?

What if I invite those moms over and they don’t have a good time? . . .
What if we don’t know what to talk about and there’s moments of awkward silence, even in English?

 

Unafraid
As I talked, I saw this word taking root.  Saying my fears out loud seemed to dispel some of their power.  “What if . . . ” has been my line, but I’ve been handed a new one.

What will I do when I am afraid?  I’m guessing I’ll hear a whisper from backstage, reminding me of my simple, yet hard to remember line, “Unafraid!”

 It’s not about having arrived at the word.  It’s a guide, a vision and without one we perish.

 Have you heard if the one-word idea?  Do you have a word for this year?  Wanna be “unafraid” with me?

A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were made for.   ~Unknown

Uncomfortable Meetings

Our apartment in Tokyo was nestled in a residential area with quite a few houses crammed in around.  The homes had gates in front, putting a few feet of yard between them and the narrow one lane road.

As I took my daily route to the train station or grocery store, sometimes out of the most traditional looking house she would be out sweeping the street, and would smile and bow to me.  She was probably in her 60’s.  I received so many kind gestures like this from people around me.  The talk of the neighborhood,  everyone knew there was a  “gaijin”  (guy-jean) in the hood.  We lived out from the center of Tokyo so there weren’t a lot of foreigners on the block.

One warm, sunny day, I was on my bicycle to get groceries.  No other pressing plan.  To my surprise, she spoke to me as I passed.  Before that we had exchanged a “konnichiwa” or “ohayou gozaimasu,” but this time I figured, by her gestures and the few words I could make out, she was inviting me in!

Japan

I didn’t want to go in.  I wanted to say I had somewhere to get to, but couldn’t with my limited vocabulary.  Rather than be rude, I was overcome by her generosity.  I followed her through the gate and into her house.  She asked if I liked green tea.  Not just green tea but, matcha, the kind used for tea ceremony, thick, foamy, and bitter.  I smiled and accepted to be polite.  I watched her measure the green powder, adding in the hot water and stirring it with that cute little brush like that girl used in Karate Kid.  I accepted the bowl of tea and chose the senbei she served over the dried crunchy fish she also had set out (There were certain things I have been able to avoid without being completely rude and that has been one of them).

She asked me many questions and I struggled to respond.  I understood that her daughter was married and living in France.  I managed to say I was from the middle of the United States but probably not much else.  We finished our tea and crackers and she must have figured I couldn’t handle much more.  She lead me back out the front gate, insisting that I come back again.  I never did.

I was too scared.  Scared of what, I’m not sure.  Perhaps of making more mistakes, not knowing what to say. . . of being known, eventually able to share more that just the superficials.  Afraid of being asked my opinions of things which I had a lot of in those days living in a foreign land . . .

. . . to be continued!