As Trees Do

I saw them falling and felt my heart sink a little. July? It’s too soon.
What’s wrong with those trees? Are they ill?
I looked around town and found out, no,
no, there is nothing wrong with my trees.
Tulip poplars can start to lose leaves as early as July.
As early as July when it’s dry.
It’s just what tulip poplars do.
Winter isn’t coming early and the tree is not over sick.
I can relax and un-brace myself.
A tulip poplar will be a tulip poplar.

and people will be people
and that person will be that person
and I will be me
and we can grow as trees do

Un-brace, Un-fear, Un-clench.
A tulip poplar will be a tulip poplar.

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Some Days

There are days
cold, dark soul days
when I see only the broken things

Those days
cold, dark soul days
I wrap my shoulders with grief
and wait for the thaw

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Spooning

For people with chronic illnesses, or just limited energy levels, the Spoon Theory makes a lot of sense and helps us explain to those we love why some days we just can’t even.

Briefly the way Spoon Theory works is that you have a finite number of spoons each day, paying a spoon or two as you go for each activity. Some days may end with you needing more spoons than you have on the table, causing you to to borrow from tomorrow’s stash. So then tomorrow you start the day with fewer spoons, again paying as you go. Some days you may find you have only enough spoons to get out of bed and eat.

My goal has been to manage my spoons well so I don’t find myself in a deficit. Some days it can’t be helped, but the idea has been to spend, or not spend, my spoons as well as I can.

I have a hunch, though, that it isn’t beneficial for me to conserve spoons for tomorrow anymore. I suspect that when I go to bed with leftover spoons I don’t sleep well, which gives me too much time awake in the dark. Hello, anxiety.

For the past three weeks I’ve been experimenting with spending all my spoons every day. I am walking between 4 to 6 miles each day, as quickly as I can. I’m pushing myself, draining every last bit of energy each day. No spoons left behind.

It is my goal to drop into bed exhausted and sleep like a farmer. Assuming farmers sleep well. I am trusting that the new day will arrive with enough new spoons for me to do what needs to be done that day. “Give us this day our daily spoons…”

And guess what! Sometimes I have enough energy and sometimes I don’t!

But usually I do.

The worst that has happened so far is a low energy day (think tired from the bones out) and have to cancel my plans for the day. Or muddle through in a thick fog. It’s not the end of the world, and I know by the next day I’m likely to be up and running and using up spoons like a soup kitchen.

I’m sleeping great. I’m gaining muscle and overall feeling much better about all kinds of junk. Who doesn’t have junk? I have junk. And those fatigue days? Fewer and fewer, my friends.

Spoon Theory makes sense, and is a very good explanation to how our energy works. But I believe that for me, right now, conservation is not good – it leaves too much energy left for worry and fretting. The best use of my energy is to use up my energy, each and every day.

We’ll see! I reserve the right to be wrong. I’ll let you know.

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Once an Austrian went yodeling

I need to explore this more. This thought.

This morning as I was drinking my coffee and reading I suddenly remembered a person who over 30 years ago was in my College and Career Sunday School class. He was paralyzed (recently?) and was trying to make connections with others in the class. Sometimes I would sit next to him as he tried to turn the pages of his Bible.. his hands in a type of strap that made it difficult. I remember wondering if he wanted help… sometimes I would help.. sometimes I wouldn’t. Why didn’t I have the sense to ask him if he’d like me to help? The thought didn’t enter my mind. Only whether I should help or not help.

But that’s not what my mind was focused on this morning. This morning I remembered when this young man tried to start a Bible study class in the evening, and nobody came. I don’t remember any other facts around this event, just that it pierced me. But no, I didn’t go the class either. I felt horrible about it, but pushed it out of my mind as best I could.

And this morning I remember him and his Bible study and I ached for him. And then I wondered, how would I feel if one of my sons tried to start a Bible study and nobody came? And what if my son was this paralyzed young man? He’s somebody’s son.

I only thought my heart was pierced before. It bled when I placed my sons in this other young man’s place. And myself in the place of his mom.

And I prayed for that man, and if he was alive today would God please bless him. And while I was yet praying, suddenly and without warning, a new thought came to me:

“God, do you want me to be sad about this?” Because I was. I was very sad.

“God, if you want me to be sad about these things, and all the sad things that pass my eyes (and imagination) all day, I will. I will be sad if that’s what you want. But if there is something else you want me to feel, please let me know.”

And as the story often goes, I opened my Bible for my daily reading and this is what I read:

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.”

In all honesty, I read this and it didn’t hit. I looked up and prayed again, “Lord, if there is ANY other way you want me to feel besides sad, please somehow let me know…please show me…somehow please make it known…. Oh. You just did.”

There it was. How God would like me to feel. Just from that little bit of a Psalm is a blizzard of how he wants me to feel! He wants me to be thankful and call on him. He wants me to let others know what he has done. As you may know, you can spend a great amount of time recalling what he has done. I intend to do that.

Also, he wants me to sing about him, to tell about him, to Glory in his name. I’m not 100% sure what glorying in his name means, but I’m hoping to find out.

Lastly, he wants my heart to rejoice. To look to him and his strength, and to seek his face always. Rejoicing sounds quite a bit different than what I’ve been doing. Yes, please, I would like to rejoice.

I do understand that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, and I understand that he makes some of us more tender (frail?) than others, and this is his will. I also understand that just because I think something or feel something doesn’t mean it’s what I should be thinking or feeling. My thoughts and feelings need to be sifted though his Word. Early and often.

Now, I don’t want to be a hearer only and not a doer. I know I will have sad thoughts because sad things happen, but it is my intention (Father, help me) to liberally add thankfulness to my thoughts for what he has done. And I’ll start right now.

Thank you, Father, for creating me.
Thank you for redeeming me, for making me new, for giving me a new name.
Thank you that my future is secure in you.
Thank you for the Holy Spirit – your Spirit lives in me!
Thank you that you will never leave me, never forsake me.
Thank you for rescuing me from wrath, thank you that you are preparing a place for me…

I could go on and on. And I will. Thanksgiving really does have snowball effect. I’m hoping for an avalanche.

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Always Sunny

When we’re all un-addicted
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

(Apologies to Eliza E. Hewitt. Maybe she’d understand.)

I was wondering the other day what the world would look like if everyone woke up un-addicted.

What if tomorrow morning no one had to have their coffee, or had to have it just right? What if at night no one had to have their sleeping pill or special pillow or fan running? What if no one needed that early morning adrenaline rush from a jog or work-out? What if no one needed a cigarette, or a joint, or a needle…? What if no one needed their house cleaned just so, or needed to check their social media status(es), or look at their phone, or lose themselves in a video game?

What if no one felt the pull and prison of their addictions, great or small? What if there were no “I must have it” clouds following us around, no shadow of addiction anywhere?

Un-addicted.

I love the thought! Imagine what we could do with all that free energy. Imagine how much more time and brain space we would have to talk to each other, to really see each other, to see the world we live in, to do what we know we should do and not what we “must” do. How much less sorrow we would have! How much more relaxed we would be.

It would be heavenly!

It will be heavenly. One tomorrow we will wake up in Heaven and all our addictions will be gone. What a day of rejoicing it will be!

“While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when trav’ling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.”

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Be kind, it’s just my heart

After 51 years, I’m starting to notice a pattern. Every so often, when life changes up a bit or I’m going through a rough patch, I find reasons why I should be disqualified. Not disqualified from salvation, but disqualified from engaging – from signing up and showing up. From entering the race, our “human race” – our corporate daily doings from sun up to sundown. I can run MY race, I just don’t think I have what it takes to enter into yours, and yours, and yours… So I disqualify myself.

It’s easy to do. Just add the word “too” to anything about you. I’m too shy, I’m too tired, I’m too insecure, I’m too needy, I’m too sensitive, I’m too awkward, I’m too divorced and too remarried,… and now entering the arena: I’m too old.

Yes, I have had to work through all those too’s. Some I have worked through better than others. But the new guy in town is old age. In my silly mind I am entering the world in which what I have to say and who I am is no longer important. Well, I do mix words up… I forget stuff… I would rather take a nap… I resist changes in culture and music… my face and body have changed (and not in good ways)… surely this means I’m (gulp) too old to engage in a world much brighter and shinier than I am.

Lies, lies, lies. I’m calling it all lies.

As I’m sure I’ve heard before but passed over because it didn’t apply to me at the time, there is no age requirement for running the race. There is no memory requirement. There is no beauty requirement. There is no coolness requirement. There is no “relevance” requirement. If you are breathing air, you’re in.

I’m in.

It’s going to be a pride bashing event, I can tell you that. Engaging means being willing to say stupid stuff sometimes, to show up with my wrinkles and gray hair, to stand next to those more put-together than I am. It’s going to mean letting go of a lot of crap I held on to before, because I thought it made me qualified and important.

If we live long enough, all those things that we used to hold on to so we could feel good about ourselves are going to go up in smoke. And all that will be left is us. You. Me. Where do you go with it? Where do I go with it? Do I hide away, like Moses when he face stopped shining from being with God? Do you hide so no one can see your glory fading?

I’m asking myself as well as my friends. How do we live this part of our lives? How do we love others and ourselves well? Lord willing, we’ll have decades of figuring it out. But one thing I know, we are not disqualified from this race. We are called to it.

Thanks for reading.

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Apologies to Ms Bronte, it’s been a long time.

Do you ever feel like the beginning of Whuthering Heights? Like you are sitting at the dinner table in a dysfunctional mess, and someone steps in for a visit and can’t quit figure out what is going on. Who is who and why are they angry? And nobody cares that the visitor doesn’t get it. They are too much into their situations to care.

It’s a snapshot moment. Just a snapshot of the dynamics in that household.

I feel that way sometimes.

I feel like both parties in this story – the person at the table caught up in my own situation, and the visitor trying to figure it out. I see it freeze-framed in my mind. I would paint it if I could. With shadows and grimy scowls.

And if I remember correctly, at the end of the book we, the reader, is brought back to that scene at the beginning. And we all say “Ah! Now I get it!”

Not that our getting it helps the characters in anyway. But still, it’s nice to be in on the story.

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