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Archive for the ‘Life Pondering’ Category

Eight years of expensive schooling, hidden away at a mundane and “unimportant” job, a disappointment to parents and loved ones who had seen so much promise at the start… but I realized tonight, if David hadn’t been at that simple wasting-of-life-and-talents job, he may have never noticed the hidden sequence. The countdown. And the whole series of events would have changed and we would have lost him, the president and the world.

But perhaps I shouldn’t build my reassurances or life philosophy on a science fiction movie. Perhaps I should be looking elsewhere…

And what do I find there?

A simple cupbearer hidden away under exile who happened to be in the right position to rebuild and help restore the wall and the people…

A young lady taken for a harem in a strange land who happened to be in the right place and time to save her people from annihilation…

A lad with stars in his eyes who was sold into slavery (by his own family) and then ended up in prison which just happened to be the perfect position to save his family and all of Egypt…

A child with so much potential and promise who ends up a man hidden away as a mundane shepherd in the wilderness which just happened to be where God wanted him to call him onward?

A foreign young woman, her dreams and potential now as low as her widow’s covering, who chose the un-exciting, no-potential path of staying with her mother-in-law who just happened to end up in the right field of the right man and ended up an ancestor of kings and the Messiah!

And speaking of which… a “family runt” shepherd boy as warrior and king?!

The story is always the same.
And the story is never the same.

Big ways and small ways. Affecting families, kingdoms and the world.

“For who has despised the day of small things?” says the Lord to Zechariah. Or in another translation, “The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant.”

And it was true when rebuilding the temple
—a temple that was a far cry in stature and pomp from Solomon’s—
and it’s true in many other situations…

…whenever God is at work (often behind the scenes) and we respond to where we are and what we have in our hands with trust in and obedience to Him.

Big ways.
Small ways.
Every way.

And I start this as a Facebook status, feeling facetious with my Independence Day metaphor, but it grows long so I decide to switch to a blog post and when I do my eye catches the mini notepad-on-magnet-clipboard on the magnetic note board by my desk—the one I questioningly scribbled a thought on way back in January—a thought about, perhaps, what this year was to be about. How it would be framed and focused.

And it wonders:
a year for “Little Things”?

Apparently.

May I not despise the day of small things.
Instead, may I trust and obey—
here where I am,
with what all or what little I have,
big ways,
small ways,
every way.

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How do you know if something is worth it?

Worth the time, the effort, the struggle, the pain, the recoil, the rebound, the sacrifice, the negative or not-so-pleasant consequences?

The answer seems easy when the end result is good.

A goal achieved. Success attained. The betterment of a person, place or situation. A reward. Happiness. Even simple satisfaction. 

Worth it.

But what about when the end result is not so good? Or even bad? Even when there is pleasure or goodness in the process?

It seems a very basic logic would say, not worth it.

I think of sin and how we often give warning that “momentary pleasure” is not worth “eternal destruction” (or any of the other negative consequences of sin)…

But I have to believe there’s more to answering, “is it worth it?” than by evaluating only the very end result.

Because there are more complicated situations.

It was nearly 2 centuries ago now that Tennyson penned his famous line, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

If the very end result is the only determining value, then Tennyson got it wrong.
And I don’t think he did.

So there must be another way to figure out if something—a decision, an event, an investment, a sacrifice—was worth it.

But I don’t know what it is.
And I’m having a hard time navigating such things right now…


Yesterday I went to tea.

With all my health problems, symptoms, reactions, restrictions and issues—not to mention being an HSP Introvert—it seems easiest and safest to stay hidden away in my little Hobbit hole.

Which for the most part, I do.

I leave the house for doctor and chiropractor appointments and some trips to the pharmacy, for salt cave and sauna sessions, for work (when I can make it there)… occasionally to a “safe” restaurant or (carefully and with masks and filters and backup helpers and drivers) to the grocery store.

I almost never make it to church anymore. Even more rarely do I socialize.

And I miss going to tea events and craft shows and game nights and shopping and exploring new places and visiting family and friends and getting out and about.

I mean, as an HSP Introvert I never did those things in abundance to begin with.
But I could.

And I miss it greatly.
And I grieve the loss.
And it hurts.

So after awhile I get fed up with the isolation, with feeling trapped, with the loss of it all and I get determined to try and get out and do something.

Mom and I had been talking about “doing tea” at Kristtany since they opened years ago.
A full tea.
With friends.

For Administrative Professional’s Day in April my boss gifted me with the money to go and do an afternoon tea there. Some four months later Mom and I finally make plans to do so. Mom makes the contacts, gathers a group of lovely ladies from church and makes the reservations.

I look forward to it like a fresh spring in a desert wilderness.

It takes work to get there. I need to make sure there is no air fresheners or potpourri in the tea room (there wasn’t) and they need informed of my black pepper allergy and we have to ask the ladies who will be joining us not to wear perfumes or body sprays or scented lotions that day…

And in addition to normal tea day preparations like picking out which skirt and hat I want to wear and packing my little tea purse with my tea fund, my hankie and my travel Stevia and ensuring I have plenty of battery and memory card space on my camera, there is this whole host of other preparations that take up most of the remaining hour we had until leaving to meet the ladies—

I had to figure out my medicine timing, pack extra meds to help my body handle the unusual influx of sugar and gluten and the pain that would come with the excursion, prep my diffuser necklace and my nose filters and put them in and get my face mask. My little tea purse isn’t quite big enough anymore… So I packed a back-up bag with more meds and oils and a water bottle for afterwards. I took my first dose of meds when we left the church parking lot, the next when we arrived, the third when the scone course arrived and the last when we were finished.

It’s work.
It’s tedious.

But I told myself it was worth it.
To be out and enjoying one of my favorite things with some of the ladies I enjoy the most.

The layout of the tearoom meant that our party of 13 was split between a table of 6, a table of 5 and, a little ways back from the others, a table of 2.

Mom and I took the table of 2.
Which was quite a sacrifice for my more extraverted mother who loves being a part of all the conversations.

But it was better for me to be a bit removed from the movement and commotion and scents. Because not everyone got the message or remembers to come sans fragrance. And even then, while I can ask folks not to don perfumes and the like, I can hardly request folks not to wear clothes washed in normal, fragranced detergent or with fabric softener or dryer sheets. And those insidious laundry chemicals and scents are some of my most problematic instigators…

And it was tea and it was lovely. I was able to remove my face mask and eat and drink freely. There were scones and soup and salad and savories and desserts and they gave me special treats to replace the two items that everyone else had that contained black pepper. And it was beautiful and there were conversation and laughter. And my new supplements really helped to curtail the more acute gut symptoms of consuming tea treats.

And I took it all in and smiled wide and basked in the pleasure and enjoyed every minute of it…

… for about 90 minutes.

Before I even started in on the desserts I could feel my energy waning and my eyes beginning to gloss over. My chronically ill body and HSP introverted spirit had reached their limit. The food and tea didn’t taste as good or rich and the conversations just sounded like noise.

I kept smiling, albeit weakly.
And I grew quieter.
And when all were standing around chatting afterwards I stood off to the side.

I’d gotten up to go to the bathroom and when I stepped in I was immediately overwhelmed with scents. My eye caught two bowls of potpourri in there that I hadn’t noticed earlier with my face mask on (in addition to my nose filters). I quickly exited and headed back for my face mask and when I went to reenter the tea room itself I was hit by a wall of scents again (likely from people moving around at that point). Those two scent-overdoses on top of all the “little bits” of scents I’d been dealing with the rest of the time took everything else out of me.

I came home and changed clothes and rested the rest of the afternoon and evening. I couldn’t make us dinner and each time I got up from the recliner I felt weak and woozy and had to do what needed done (getting more water, using the bathroom, etc) quickly and sit down again. And I crashed into bed while leaving the kitchen cleanup (from earlier stuff and what I was able to grab for dinner) and my normal morning/breakfast prep for my parents to do…

And I slept nearly 12 hours over night and even today I am still symptomatic and weary and mellow…

And so I wonder, was it actually worth it?

All that work?
All those symptoms?
All the other stuff that I should be doing getting put on hold while I rest more?

I want to say yes.

That getting out and about and having a special treat and enjoying (at least for the most part) something I love is worth it every now and again.

But I wonder.
And I question.

Because there are other things I choose not to do because of the work or symptoms or consequences involved. For so, so many things, “making myself sicker” is distinctly not worth it.

And maybe I question because I fear the validity of my choices and what I enjoy.

Or I fear that others will see what I do and do not choose to “sacrifice” for and think it silly or stupid or wrong. Misaligned priorities on my part…

So I wonder if there is a better way to figure out if something is worth it.
Or maybe there isn’t an easy standard of measure.
Maybe it’s on a case by case basis.
And maybe we’re meant to wrestle with it.
And maybe that’s part of the process.

 


I was ruminating on the “was it worth it?” question yesterday afternoon and evening and even as I was in bed trying to sleep.

And sometime this morning a thought occurred to me.

It is usually worth it.

But maybe I also need to somehow balance and take into account more of not just how often I do something like that, but other factors… time of day and day of week and just keep it to 4-6 other people (or no more than 8) because being socially overextended impacts how my physical body handles everything else.

Earlier yesterday I told Mom that I wanted to join them again this November for the Hickory Bridge Tea. I’ve gone the past 2  years and the folks there do a wonderful job and it’s always a delight and they work well around my black pepper allergy.

But I told Mom today that I’m not going this year.

Because we usually have 10 or 12 ladies there and it’s an event tea in a packed room with dozens of other chatting ladies which means much more movement and commotion. Plus it’s on a Thursday and I have to work the next day (and Fridays are always big days at work).

So even though I’ll miss it. And I’ll probably be mellow and bummed that day knowing I’m missing out… I think it’s the best decision.

Because in my case at least it would seem, stuff like that isn’t always worth it all the time.
And perhaps few things are.

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Last evening I posted probably one of the most difficult posts I’ve ever written. It was a lament. Fairly raw. Honest. Not overly filtered.

The entire time there was a part of me that wanted to cheer it up with some white-washed scripture. Something positive and reassuring and… ultimately, in the circumstances, pithy.

But I couldn’t.

And not because I was trying to hold on to good theology.

It was, rather, because I was too worn. Too broken. Scriptural truths (in context or not) were simply slipping like water from my grasp.

And yet, as we almost always find with laments in the Bible, I could not close without a reaffirmation of trust and truths that are so engrained within me that their presence is known even when all else falls apart.

Those four sentences were a struggle.

And yet they were just as raw and honest as the rest.

So I hit the publish button and I brushed my teeth and turned down my bed. And before I put my computer to sleep I opened up iTunes to my morning exercise playlist. And when I got my pjs out to put on, I placed my exercise clothes on the bookcase.

Just like every night.

I also had my tea pot warmer and cup ready on my desk along with the BIC lighter that I use to light my candles when I get up on time to write in the mornings.

And then I realized what I was doing.

I said it aloud. To myself. To God. I didn’t believe the morning would bring the ability to move about and stretch and exercise and I didn’t believe I’d be able to get up and around early enough to have some book time. There was no hope for a better morning.

But I still prepared for it.

Because it is habit to do those things.

And that’s when a new thought struck me: Maybe hope is a habit.

And I crawled into bed, with heat on my pressure-filled, aching ears. And I carefully placed my head on the pillow so as to not incite dizziness. And my weary body sunk into the warmth and comfort of my bed.

And I struggled to focus on my memorized evening daily office prayers.

And that’s when God’s Spirit  offered flashback images, reminders and new thoughts.

Because yesterday I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep off symptoms and cry. All day. But I went to work. (Well, Dad drove me.) And though I may not have gotten much actual work done (for more reasons than just my health – it was an unusually busy-with-people day), I was there.

And when I came home I crashed for a 2 hour nap, waking at 5 to my parents wondering what was going on for dinner. They could see I was not in a good place. They even offered to take me out to one of my favorite places. Mom asked me what I wanted to do. What I felt like doing for dinner.

“I feel like eating ice cream and going to bed,” was my honest response from my ever-sore throat and ever-weary body. “But instead I’m going to help you (help me) make dinner as best I can. And I’m going to enjoy the strawberry-chicken-spinach salad more once it’s in my mouth than I can currently imagine I will. And then I’m going to enjoy a half cup of strawberry ice cream. And then I’m going to make that Norwex call. And get that e-vite for another hostess out. And maybe write a blog post. And then I’m going to bed.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

Right down to enjoying the brilliantly combined flavors of the strawberry-chicken-spinach salad once they were in my mouth.

And so as I was in bed a few hours later, I was reminded of these things.

That perhaps I still have hope even when I don’t feel hopeful.

That perhaps God is still building character in me even when I feel I am lacking, slipping.

That perhaps I am still persevering even when I feel lethargic, apathetic and threadbare and like I’m slo-mo falling backwards rather than pressing forwards.

And maybe this is what it means to be held.

To be sustained by God.

To be formed by His Spirit.

To let go of my ideals, my pride and my striving.

Maybe this is what C.S. Lewis was referring to in The Screwtape Letters when he mentions obedience in the face of nothingness-of-desire.

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

I had always pictured living out that philosophy—that encouragement—victoriously. Defiantly.

A strong warrior’s cry deep within. I will do what is right! I will do what is asked! I will not let the enemy win! I will battle on! I will persevere! 

Like a movie montage highlighting the strenuous striving, sweaty effort and dogged determination of a warrior or fighter or athlete or overcomer, set in snippets and run together in moments what in reality takes months or years, all set to inspiring music like Eye of the Tiger or Chariots of Fire.

But maybe it’s not always like that.

Maybe it’s most often not like that.

There was no defiant cry last night. No striving. No battle cry.

Just a weary resignation to do what I had no desire to do.

And so I think of Bonhoeffer’s words and I wonder if I am “like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved.”

When I set to choreograph that poem as a mime piece, one of the first and easiest parts, and the image that sticks with me the most even now, was that line.

Fleeing in disorder. 

I slow-mo’ed into a running statue.

From victory already achieved. 

With each beat I transformed the running statue into a cross.

The cross is the victory achieved.

God’s incarnation. God’s sacrifice. God’s work.

Not ours.

Not mine.

Maybe there are no movie montages for me.

Maybe there are no valiant battle cries or enemy-defiant shouts.

Maybe there is no earthly healing.

Maybe there is little to no seeing on my part of perseverance, of character, of hope.

Maybe there is only Jesus.

And maybe that’s okay.

Maybe then, in my failures and in my frailty… in my weariness and in my weakness… in my apathy and in my honesty… in my shameful brokenness… maybe then Jesus shines through.

Maybe then others can see what God is doing in and for me.

Because I am often blind to it.

And maybe that’s okay.

And maybe that’s what it means to be held.

And maybe hope is a habit not of my doing, but worked and sustained by the one in Whom I abide and Who abides in me, keeping me connected by grace to the vine that sustains and causes me to bear fruit.

Even when I can neither see nor feel it.

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I am worn.

There’s that Bible verse. The one about endurance. The one that lists all the good things that suffering produces.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I’m having trouble believing it.

I echo the father in Mark 9, trying to put on the appropriate faith—”I believe!”— but then honestly crying out, “help my disbelief!”

Because from where I stand or, rather, sit dizzily and wearily, there is no perseverance.

I’m ready to throw in the towel.

My resolve is weakening.

My endurance is nonexistent.

I noticed in my symptom journal that out of the 207 days so far this year, only 15 were not noted as experiencing these ear and throat issues. I didn’t even bother looking at the fatigue and dizzy stats…

I no longer have good days. Sometimes I have a good half-a-day. Or a good string of hours.

But no good days.

And certainly no good weeks.

The longer this goes. The day in and day out of illness. The pain. The fog. The fatigue. The constant sore throat. The incessant aching pressure in my ears. The near-continuous state of dizzy. The unrelenting symptoms. The unanswered questions. The dashed hopes of thinking we have it figured out and a way to help heal or treat but it never working out. The frustration of doctors who won’t or can’t help. The pulling back in all areas of life. The isolation.

It’s getting harder and harder to hang on to hope for anything to change… for anything to do anything other than slowly, continually get worse.

I feel I have less character now. If the symptoms themselves don’t give me blinders, making it hard to see anything beyond their screaming for constant attention, then the depression that comes along with the constancy of such symptoms surely does. I do less for others. I put myself first more often. I give in more easily to sour attitudes, to grumpiness, to moodiness, to anger and frustration, to inaction… (and let’s not even mention how much church I’ve missed and how far behind I am in my daily audio Bible).

And I’m losing both the energy and the resolve to fight it.

I am not persevering. I am not persisting. I am not continuing steadfastly.

I’m at a standstill. Crumpled in exhaustion while the world goes on.

Maybe I’m just filled with the cynicism of Dilbert.

But I’m having a hard time believing that scripture verse out of Romans.

Because I don’t feel that anything of value is building in me through all of this. No perseverance. No character. No hope.

I simply feel worn.

Like an over-used shirt or a child’s poorly cared-for teddy bear. Days and years of use, of dragging, of friction have thinned the fabric, frayed the edges, worn some spots clear through.

I am threadbare.

And maybe, despite the fact that the verse keeps coming to mind, maybe I’m reading it wrong. Maybe it wasn’t meant to apply to my type of situation. I don’t know.

I’m frankly too tired to find out.

I just know that I’m not seeing it happen that way.

I am wearing. Not building.

I go back and read the verse.

Read that section.

Part of my brain acknowledges the truth in it.

That there is beauty there.

But it is fleeting.

And I look around about me. And I try to think if anything is still solid. Still steadfast. Still resolved.

And there is this:

God is real. God is good. There is grace. Heaven holds healing for me even if earth does not.

You will never convince me to disbelieve those things.

But right now? Right now I’m done.

I’m ready for Jesus to return or call me home.

I am worn.

I am threadbare.

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chaos and waiting

And still, the waiting is the hardest.

Over and over as a child, when I was working on beading or untangling Christmas lights or other such tedious tasks, my mother would remark incredulously, “you’ve got a lot of patience!”

But I still don’t have nearly enough. One of the quirks of my OCD tendencies is this revulsion of disorder, flux, chaos. And that is where I find myself as I await the final results of my Lyme test and next month’s allergy testing. So much depends on those results which will bring both answers to questions and change involving healing processes, solutions, more problem-solving and learning to adjust once again to my body’s quirks. And none of it instant.

Because of research, observation & connections and the words of various doctors, I am fairly certain of at least part of the outcome of my allergy testing. And being the type of person who would rather make environmental and lifestyle changes (especially that get at the root of the issue) than piling on more and more meds (especially when they mostly just cover up symptoms), I foresee a great many changes coming to my life and living space.

And though I know it makes sense to await the official results (because the anticipated change will take so much time, effort, energy and money), right now it is rather driving me batty.

I am in the midst of cleaning (yay for two weeks in a row!) and I have to restrain myself from diving into my anticipated purge while I clean. After all, it would take time I don’t have right now and I have no where yet to put stuff.

But even more so is the emotional toll. It was just this past winter that I finally got my small living space to a settled place after 2015’s purge and clean. And now I’m considering and even more drastic change and purge, the process of which will take a lot of letting go and a little bit of grieving. So there’s this part of me that simply wants to “get it over with” and get it to the next settled place with the few new things that are helping me deal with the loss of so many old ones…

I don’t like the chaos and the flux and the waiting.

Because it hurts.
And it’s hard.

But that’s okay.
Somehow in the grand scheme of things, hurt and difficulty have value.

They are not “for naught.”

So I will remind myself to slow down.
And wait.
And trust.
And be patient.

And you know what? Perhaps these weeks until the final results come in can be spent finishing up some of those other purge-like elephants I hadn’t gotten to yet that will help the anticipated new change in the long run?

And perhaps I can use the time to more fully appreciate the way things are here now.
Before learning to fully appreciate the way things will be later.

To be present in each moment.
Even in the chaos and the waiting.

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It’s a catchy tune.

And to be honest, I’ve always been a bit jealous of just how much she gets done before 7:15.

7 AM, the usual morning lineup:
Start on the chores and sweep ’til the floor’s all clean,
Polish and wax, do laundry, and mop and shine up
Sweep again,
And by then
It’s like 7:15.

Mandy Moore voices the young lady Rapunzel who sings this song when we first meet her in Disney’s 2010 movie Tangled. Through this song we are introduced to how Rapunzel spends her days and what is the deepest longing of her heart.

And so I’ll read a book or maybe two or three
I’ll add a few new paintings to my gallery
I’ll play guitar and knit, and cook and basically
Just wonder when will my life begin?

Then after lunch it’s puzzles and darts, and baking
Paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess
Pottery, ventriloquy, candle making
Then I’ll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb, sew a dress!

And I’ll reread the books if I have time to spare
I’ll paint the walls some more, I’m sure there’s room somewhere.
And then I’ll brush and brush, and brush and brush my hair
Stuck in the same place I’ve always been.

And I’ll keep wonderin’ and wonderin’, and wonderin’, and wonderin’
When will my life begin?

The song came to mind yesterday as I was taking a brief get-up-out-of-this-chair-away-from-the-computer-screen-and-get-some-sun-and-fresh-air walk around the parking lot at work.

Because it came to mind that next year marks a decade since I graduated from seminary.

A decade.

And I’m not where I thought I would be. I moved back home after graduation. At the time it seemed to make sense. When I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia after my freshman year of college, there was only “try and manage symptoms” and “do what you can while you can”… so I did. I got through college and headed to seminary to study theology and arts. And while there I found a new doctor with a protocol that was supposed to help me reverse (though not “cure”) symptoms so that my future could actually be better, healthier, more vibrant and active than my past. But I wasn’t progressing very quickly on the protocol. And while Southern California may have been a better location for doing the mime and arts theology that was my goal, I was floundering financially, having been unable to get a decent job my last year of seminary (after losing the one I had). My health was a major reason for this. So I thought it made sense to move back across the states and move in with my parents until I was able to get on my feet.

I mean, my small town here in south-central PA isn’t ideal for starting a mime team or making a living doing “creative arts consulting.” But I had some ministry contacts on the East Coast and figured that would give me a start and I could expand from there. And once I got on my feet (and/or got married), I’d probably move to some place more appropriate/central to what I was doing. This was supposed to be temporary.

But here I am.

Ten years later.

Now don’t get me wrong, the issue isn’t that I’m still living at home. (Although my tendency to care too much what others think makes me feel awkward about it at times… well, too often.) My parents and I have a great relationship. We operate as a family unit of three adults, loving and taking care of one another. The original plan was that I would get “room and board” in exchange for doing the meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Which worked well for all of us. And that’s still basically how it is… except when my health gets in the way…

The issue is the dissonance between where I expected to be and where I am.

After ten years.

I’m still at home, still single, still only working part-time and still struggling with my health…

And though I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others, the contrast is sometimes so stark that it is hard to ignore and thoughts come unbidden and unwelcome.

Watching others live “real” life. Folks who are my age (and sometimes the “kids” I worked with in youth groups and ministries) are celebrating a decade’s worth (or more) of anniversaries, have children who are teenagers, own homes, have proper full-time jobs or run their own businesses, are involved in their communities, churches and more. Things we associate with real life.

Even more, I see friends and acquaintances who are “living their dreams” – dreams which were the same or similar to mine. They are doing mime and drama and arts… they are reaching and encouraging others through ministries… they are teaching… they are doing tea events… they are writing and publishing books… In short, they are blooming.

And I don’t begrudge them this. I am happy to see them getting to do these things. It makes my heart happy when such dreams work out for them.

And yet there’s a part of me that wonders if I’ll ever get the same.

When will my life begin?

Because from my viewpoint, my life is shrinking, not expanding. My dreams are dying, not being fulfilled.

True, there has been a series of shifts in my dreams and at the time of each shift (and even now for the most part) I see those as being God-directed. From performing mime to teaching mime and arts theology to teaching the Bible and arts (and less mime) to the tea room dream… and all along this story that pursues me that I’d like to finish and publish as a book…

But I couldn’t tell you the last time I performed or taught or even practiced mime. Or taught arts theology…

And though for a time I deliberately stopped saying ‘yes’ to new involvements at church, I then slowly backed out of other commitments at church except for teaching for one class once a month… but even then I found that my unpredictable health kept causing me to have to find last-minute replacements and so I’ve turned even that small task over…

I haven’t hosted or planned a tea party in ages, I go to few teas now and I’m drinking tea even less because of its effect on my medication (not to mention the effects of the carb-heavy “tea foods” on my blood-sugar and health)…

And though I had a decent streak for a few weeks, most days my allotted “writing time” is spent in bed or struggling through symptoms rather than working on my book…

One by one these things are fading.

As for social life and relationships, I’m really only in regular contact with my parents, my co-workers (3 of them) and the folks at church -when I’m able to make it there. And whatever relationship I can manage with other friends on social media…

Okay.

So despite the fact that my eyes sting a bit with salty wet tears as I write all this out, I’m not saying it in order to throw a pity party for myself and invite readers along for the misery.

I’m saying it because yesterday when Mandy-Moore-as-Rapunzel’s voice went through my head, I had a thought.

When will my life begin?

Who says it hasn’t?

Why must life always be something more?

“Real life” doesn’t start with a full-time job. Or marriage. Or having children. Or owning a home. Or being healthy. Or attaining titles or being published or getting promoted… or having dreams fulfilled.

Ideal life, maybe, but not real life.

Real life is simply living, breathing and walking day to day in the reality in which you find yourself.

The thought that struck me as I walked yesterday was simply that my life is now.

I am alive.

The circumstances of my life may not be what I was expecting. Or what I wanted. Or what my culture promotes as normal, accepted or celebrated.

But my life is now.

This is real life.

And that is not a battle cry to “seize the day” or “follow my heart” or “chase my dreams”…
It is simply a call to realign my perspective.

(And maybe another day I’ll get around to processing through my struggles on how our culture defines “full life” and what Jesus meant when he said that he came to give “life, and have it abundantly.)

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Just because a gift is not exactly what you want doesn’t mean it is not a gift and not worthy of gratitude.

For example, I would much prefer complete healing. For my symptoms to be non-existent. Or even for them to be negligible, where they may still be present, but only in the periphery, not intruding or requiring constant care and maintenance.

Today, however, my symptoms are manageable. With medications and limitations, thought and wisdom and care required. I do not feel as well as I would like, but I am quite functional and today can be a good day.

And this is a gift, too. It truly is. And I can (and will choose to) be grateful.

And not with some sighing resigned “I’ll take what I can get” attitude. I don’t want to see this gift as anything less than what it is. Without caveat or addendum or excuses.

I want to walk this day as it is. To breathe it in and walk in grace, acknowledging and experiencing the presence of the One who walks with me – no matter what kind of day it is.

And that is the choice I am making here and now this morning.

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