Surrender – I Hate It.

I hate words like surrender.  I hate actions like surrender.  I hate to surrender.  And what I hate I’m attempting.  And don’t like it.  It’s been two years and a few months living a jellyfish status.  A new me brought on by a total thyroidectomy February of 2015.  A self I have never known. 

Weak.

Sloppy walking. 

Buzzing head. 

Awkward.

Clumsy. 

Fumbling words. 

This past week I hit my limit.  That same day I heard a talk on the radio about a famous swimming champion Michael Phelps who kept a paper calendar.  Each day he swam, returned home and with red sharpie cut a line through the day.  He was determined to keep an unbroken chain of red marks on the calendar, and did so for many years.  His collection of medals show how effective his unbroken chain of swims had been. 

His story inspired me.  Inside I’m an athlete.  Yes, an athlete who never was, but still inside I house the drive and dreams and the planning of one who is driven by such things.  I have a hard time walking much at all these days.  Still, down in the bones I tear through brush to the top of grand mountains.  I run and run and run some more. Bike till I’m in shreds.  Swim till I’m gasping.  I want to be all that, and can’t.

And so this week, I decided to start an unbroken chain of movement.  I have moved plenty in the past 2 years, with no results.  This time I decided to take the advice of those who help people with my condition for gaining momentum.  I decided to force myself to not overdo.  What that looks like for me right now is to swim 20 minutes per day, six days a week, with one day of palates and hula and stretching, the other 6 days lap swimming.  Just 20 minutes. 

Kind of like eating 1/2 spoonful of ice-cream when my body wants the bucket.  Because although 20 minutes is all I am able to manage the first week, my core is screaming at me to swim that – times 20.  To push myself.  To count laps to a mile, two, and then three.  Kind of a strain-the-body junkie.  An acceptable addiction in this culture, but damaging, nonetheless. 

Which brings me to surrender.  Surrender what I want to do for what just might help me get my health back.  Surrender the fix for what heals.  Surrender looking lazy, old and lame for what my body needs.  I don’t care for surrender.  In fact I hate it.  Will following direction and doing what is best for me prove beneficial?  At this point, I’m 30 pounds over.  I sleep more than I would like.  Am foggy brained and weak and limited.  I’ll keep you posted as day after day my calendar takes on a sharpie mark.  I pray for an unbroken chain. For a stronger body.  And a newly discovered contrite spirit. 

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,

to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

Romans 12: 1 and 2 (a)

Minimalist For God

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Based off of Mark 10: 17-22

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him.  “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered.  “No one is good – except God alone.”

Good.  What is good?  Running up to Jesus?  Falling on knees before him?  Asking the way to eternity?  Very good, I’m thinking.  But not good enough. 

Jesus listed off more:

Do not murder

Do not commit adultery

Do not steal

Do not give false testimony

Do not defraud

Honor your father and mother

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Loved him for what he was, and for what he still lacked.

And loved.

“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” 

At this the man’s face fell.  He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Couldn’t trade the goods for Good. 

Couldn’t exchange what is good for what is GOOD. 

Neither can I.  I lack, and he looks at me and loves me. And still he asks me what I call good, and reaching out beyond his heavens he reaches further still into the the piles of good heaped all around me.  The good that gobbles up ever last second of my day and night.  The good that must be done, for how else will it get done?  The ultimate minimalist action.  To release the good for good. 

“Come, follow me.”

The Race of Purple Toes

This past year has felt like running a race in a rainstorm, in deep mud, up a hill with large family on my back, wearing shoes loosing their souls, kind of half way attached and flapping.  It started out with determination.  We had completely rid ourselves of consumer credit debt, and somehow managed to hunt it back down and take it on.  While taking on more shifts than I should have taken on, between the two of us, my husband and I cleared the debt just in time for me to get breast cancer.  Then a year after breast cancer and changing my career for health reasons, our debt doubled as we had two kids in college, and I was diagnosed with cancer again, thyroid this time.

Today my drummer friend stopped by.  We had worked with the same band a few years back.  He had left his music stand behind, and was finally stopping to pick it up.  His booming voice greeted me.  I was able just barely to scratch out his name.  Throat lump, memories of the last time we worked together.  No cancer then, singing jazz standards for the big band he played for.   Singing.  Can’t even speak a solid word.  

Today the sun shines warm, an early springtime day. The kind of day I would have loved to hit the trail with bike and trailer, kids and husband, lunch and water and …. a day to track miles and sweat.  And I walk across the floor, heart races, pains at too fast a movement.  Limbs jiggle, all tone gone, and ache.

Today All Mr. Business is sick.  He’s been fevered.  He lays around listless.  Cheeks pink, eyes glazed, and miserable.  I know the past couple weeks has taken a tole on my kids.  Our dear friends have worked hard to love our children.  Regardless of the loving care from others, the kids stress level and health has been harmed from the angst brought on by my surgery, then the emergency surgery hours after.

In dozens of ways, life is not the same.

And so I paint my toes purple.  That’s the color Little Miss chooses for my toes.  I make a smoothie.  The kids ask for one. I’m the designated smoothie maker, and feel strong enough to stand in the morning kitchen to make sweet and fluffy.  I sit on couch and watch the kids play Sequence and argue over rules.  I visit with my Mom awhile.  And think about what I miss out on when my voice is strong.  When my biking legs are able.  When I can work shift after shift, clocking 60 hours in a week, can hurry scurry about the house to do the the things the kids need of a Momma.  And purple toes get another coat.  A deeper purple.  And the rainstorm race is calming down for now.  I plod with purple toes and give thanks. 

Uniform Colors

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Chapel uniforms have been the same four years in a row for our school kids. For some reason I can not ever remember what they are. Navy and kaki, white and kaki, or the burgundy and navy. Humm… maybe it’s the navy with the white. Well, year book came home with the kids yesterday. Oh dear, picture after picture. Ribs started aching at the outlandish hilarity of what we were seeing. Butterfly – the only little Pre-K’er wearing a kaki jumper and white blouse under, kind of the centerpiece angel, surrounded by her entire class wearing burgundy and navy. All Mr. Business in his class picture wearing a burgundy shirt and navy pants… color was right amazingly, but the only one without a vest. Another picture – there she goes… Butterfly running for the fund raiser, rainbow striped shirt and hot pink pants, the rest of her class behind and before wearing the burgundy spirit-wear.

For Mom’s Day at school a month or so ago, All Mr. Business asked me what my most embarrassing moment ever in my life was. After listening to my story, I asked him about his most embarrassing ever in his life moment. He told me it was a few years ago when I told him to dress for spirit day… he showed up to school in cowboy attire, from boots to chaps to belt, bandana and the hat – only to find out it wasn’t spirit day… nor was it spirit week. I remember the day well. I drove up to the school end of day. Marching up to the car he swung open the door, plopped onto the seat, slammed the door hard and announced “I HATE SPIRIT WEEK!!” Making my way out of the Mom’s Day event, I stopped to tell the school “Mother” about this incident. It took her a bit to contain the howling, snorting doubled over laughter – catching her breath she said she remembers that day. One of the teachers came by to ask her why Henry wore cowboy clothes to school. “I don’t know. I guess he likes to wear chaps and boots. I wonder if he remembers he attends a school with uniforms.” The kids and I realized, laughing hysterically as we poured over the year book that we really missed having College Girl home this year. Didn’t realize how much she had helped our entire family keep our details straight.

Well here’s to College Girl home for summer, and the minimal clothing complications summer might bring:)

Amelia

How Not To Be

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain

                                          Solitude- by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

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Amelia

Along the Way

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Tomorrow Christmas Vacation ends.  All Mr. Business goes back to school, Adored Husband goes back to work, College girl gathers her things for a return to dorm life.  Butterfly and I will be back at it again, driving, forever driving.  Breakfast, snack and sometimes even lunch from a car seat.  The never-ending drives from school to gas station, doctors’ office, to the Y, to Rite Aid, the dry cleaners, post office, the house for a few hours, and sometimes back in the car for All Mr. Business again. 

 

I love our drive, although it takes more time than the highway, but it’s back roads all the way.  Down the hill, round a few sharp turns, along a road that parallels a busy bike path, through back part of our small town, past soccer and cow fields, under a railroad tussle, past homes, sheep and fence lines.  Every morning the world peeks at me, looking far different than the morning before.   One morning it’s fog heavy and mystical.  Another lacy frost.  Mornings of green on ground, blue above.  Mornings of soft dancy show-off rain.  Mornings rain comes strong enough I barely see beyond the wipers.  Flooding across the moor deep enough to close our route to school.  Mornings behind some sluggish ole truck, driver reluctant to get where he’s a-go’n.  Mornings without a car in site. 

 

Butterfly, All Mr. Business, and Car Pool Pal chattering as we move along.  Or singing loudly to VegiTales sings the 80’s, or telling some knock-knock joke that makes me smile.  God and I silently chattering up our own storm.  We talk about today, about yesterday and tomorrow.  I take in comfort from our friendship.  God paints me a new picture every morning, just for the fun of it.  Taking in the radical change from the day before, I’m always surprised at the way new day art makes me feel. 

 

School boys are delivered to an institution of learning, Butterfly and I meander from school to Y, to needed stops, then back home.  I can either be a frazzled mess we live out of our car, or feel lucky I’m given such a view as the scenes I pass day after day, not one the same, and life all about.  Under every mundane task is hiding fulfillment beyond anything I’ve chased.  I’m Okay now for Christmas Vacation to end.  Off we go, down the hill, round a few sharp bends and beyond. 

 

Amelia

A Warming Chill

Morning wakes me up, but still.  Too quiet.  Breathe deep and slow, sinking back into unconsciousness before another day begins.  Perfect silence is interrupted by “thud”, and frantic feet flying one direction, then the other on the floor above my head.  I now lay worried.  It sounds as though Butterfly has slipped out of bed and is needing to get to the bathroom but not managing to get there.  Guilty for not rousing myself, but still I pull the quilt tight under my chin and soak in a last chance at rest before the whirlwind of a day begins.  Then I realize it’s not one set of feet, but two, wildly flying about – loud happy voices waft through the house.  Adored husband rolls toward me, reading my thoughts.  “It snowed” he says.  “SNOWED?!” I say sitting straight up in bed.  Snow!!!  Forever 10, nothing makes me happier than for life to come to a screeching halt by ice and snow, kids outdoors most of the day, sliding up and down the hill, happy whoops, back inside for warming up, out again, finding yet another set of dry gloves before more fun is to be had.  I don’t get out much, but stay busy wiping up puddles made by little boots and soppy snow pants, making hot drinks and soup, and more puddle management.

Our neighborhood is a bit stodgy.  We keep to ourselves mostly.  That is, until snow falls.  Snow extracts people, transforms them – loud and happy, until the temperature rises, steals away the white, and once again the neighbors disappear to busy and alone.  But while the snow is here, it tugs at us until we are milling about and everywhere.  People with sleds, snow boards, skis found buried in far reaches of attics and closets.  Crunching across snow, through drifts, up icy patches.  Hearty fires, S’mores, kids old and young flying past each other down, down – screams.  A quick roll to avoid the corner of a house, fence line, or human.  Loud grunting exertion righting ones self once again to march up steep and ice – for another chance at hurling downward.

Life is that way.  So backwards.  So upside down.  Like the way it takes cold to make us warm.  Sometimes takes hard times to make us soft, pain to make us strong.  Comfort can isolate.  I hear ten year old All Mr.Business’ heavy boots at the door.  Sparkling hazel eyes show me the glories of wounds incurred on the snow hill.  Raw ice burns on side of chin from a wild crash with another body hurling downward.  It burns and he’s proud and he’s off for more.  And it starts to snow once again as darkness moves in.  The rare sounds of happy fun continue late into the night in a cold we are all so in need of.  

 

Amelia

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