Trek

Groggy from another challenging sleep night, I mumble to myself, “I got this, day.” In the sometime stumbling of the morning, I set about to keep the steps going.

At the top of the steps, Ephraim smiles at me, with a hopefulness I can see in his eyes for Mommy to feel better. I nod to him and he nods to me. An I love you gesture for quiet mornings.

Kira calls to me from her room. She’d like a morning hug as she struggles with her own battle of getting up. I must try to push aside all doubt in my body to fill her with expectant joy for the day. She looks in my eyes, searching to see if I feel good today, but not asking.

This morning after they are dressed and fed and off at camp with lunch boxes filled with snacks and prayers, before I sit at my computer, I will ride my bright yellow bike in search of healing.

As the kids eat, I stretch in my flip flops and the tight cycling clothing that feels safe against my skin. Somehow the pressure reassures me in myself. I am a person going for a bike ride.

At only 7:30 am, the heat is already rising through the air. I breathe it in slowly, adjusting to its push against my lungs, and then releasing what pulls at me.

My daughter stands at the doorway of the deck, watching for a moment, I see her noticing the smoothing lines of my stomach, wondering. I wrinkle my nose at her. She giggles. Thumb up. Big smile. The olympian being she sees in me in that moment is beyond the clothing, the stretching and the ride ahead. She sees love. She lifts a camera to capture what she sees – for me as much as her, I believe – and I repeat her smile and thumbs up, inhaling their purpose, though forced they might be. I am loved.

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Once they are at camp, and I’m staring down the lines and bumps of the roads, I do see that picture in my mind, edging me onward towards another mile, towards the roads with climbs. Watching the houses, woods and NY farmland to my sides. Balancing getting stronger and not over-doing it.

I know the tightness in my legs will ease if I relax my rhythm, find a steady cadence and let adrenaline and grit defeat fatigue, to try to store it for the night, to win a better sleep.

The smell of new pavement in the sun and passing of cars. Nods and waves from people in yards. My prayer handkerchief tied to me, pedals offered for others’ wins too. A hand I’d like to hold.

It seems these weeks and uncertainty have weakened me to somehow raise me up to what I just cannot quite see. Images and thoughts. Change. Discovery. Less sense. More just. In what has felt lost, perhaps was the very greater understanding of me. My body and mind will sort out, and I will remain acutely aware of the need for self-care. The cloak.

My phone buzzes, tucked in the case on my bike bar. I glance only to see it is not my children and ride on. On.

I check my pulse, my breathing. Drink. Shift up and down to try to even out a rubbing gear. Will myself well enough to keep it going. No solving. Just moving.

Sections of who I am. One whole person. This vulnerability has shifted me to strengthen me. Loved. I am still a rider.

Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Now.

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It is foolishness to expect and seek to be treated with more value than we give ourselves.
If we are truly looking to be the best and most honest version of ourselves as we were created, it is that journey that we should show to the world, with all of its mis-steps and hopes.

Morning Walk

I walk my property this morning, looking at what’s growing, what I’ve trimmed, what’s in need of much attention. I spend a moment with a tiny white flowering plant I must have planted a year or two ago and thought it was an annual. It’s made it back and lies nestled amidst mostly weeds in what is unkempt, in progress. Beginning, middle, end.
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Uneven divisions of dirt and soil, pebbles and remnants of mulch outline the almost indiscernible difference between one plant and the next.

Dew drops on leaves of bushes needing pruning, still perfect. It seems most of the birds are singing and blend together, yet I can hear certain whistles or chirps as they call out. One of my favorites, the Cardinal,  sings perched nearby in a loved tree that was almost cut down. Beautiful new growth springs up its trunk. The dead branches at the top provide birds a vantage point from which they can watch me, watching them. This Cardinal and I admire one another.
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My neatly trimmed lawn, that I cut just so, like a canvas laid out. Oh, weeds and flowers and bushes and pile of dead branches, soaring and searching and perching birds in song, stack of rocks, gardens in need of care, you make so much sense on these grounds in need of repair.

Persistence of nature that the work is never done, and the beauty always there.

My toes wet against the morning grass, already bright summer sun on my skin.

I’ll turn towards a list of tasks and a computer and numbers and plans to make just so. They may blossom. They may fade.

And in my own journey of overturning the soil to see what new may grow, my hands get wearied at times. Stretching out to lessen the tightness and work the ground.

I am aware of all these things. I catch my breath in the anticipation of what I do not know and must begin. These hands have grown stronger with the lifting, but there is a weariness in my being too.

Let this day, and all its glories and stories and mysteries and lessons bring each of us to truth in ourselves.
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He’s Waiting

Listening to John Waller’s “While I’m Waiting” [song below]. Offering my weariness and wonder and amazement of the grace at work in my life.

I listen to these words, though, and it strikes me how often, maybe even now, I am not truly and fully waiting for God, but waiting for what I want. He is more waiting on me, waiting for me to see something He already knows. He moves me in these very moments.
I must be open. I must be willing. I must be His and not my own.

When I was a child, I often talked with God, wrote to him in diaries, closed my eyes and asked him to hold me as I would curl up under my bed or in my closet or whisper to Him from a tree I had climbed. I questioned. I believed. Each time I wondered how He would see me through.

I was confused by what I felt were unanswered prayers when I knew He loved me. I thought it was a weakness in my faith, that I did not believe purely enough. I committed to making my faith without the doubt that must be the difference between getting requests. Ah, that sensitive and scared little girl, me. She was searching for something to make hurt make sense.

I spent time asking God to guide me, to help me have a better faith, against the backdrop of turmoil. It would be my refuge.

IMG_20150814_185942110And when I felt I was ready, I stood on the road near my house, in the mountain air. Quietness of trees. I looked at the sky. I wanted a pet chimpanzee. I wanted one that would hug me, that would play with me through the mountain forest and ease my challenges. I was ready. I was excited that in the moment I asked it of God and believed it would be mine, it would be.

Face turned to the sky. Hands clutched in anticipation and determination that I not falter in my belief. There was only the sound of a birds. No voices. No cars. No one to see me as I stood there, small and faithful. And I asked. I asked for the chimpanzee and then awaited its leap to me from the tree tops. Ready for how we would explain it was meant to be mine and it would be. I waited. Quietly. Earnestly. Shaking a little at first in the excitement, then in disappointment in myself, feeling silly and finally wondering if there either was no God or if He did not want me to have what I asked for. Or was my faith not strong enough? I waited.

Then, as now, though, it was God waiting too. He was waiting for me to understand His love beyond the answer to a child’s chimpanzee prayer.

He was waiting for me to understand His love beyond the answer....

He was waiting for me to understand His love beyond the answer….

I think looking back, of the things I’d asked for that were harder and seemed more out of reach, family healing, a feeling of calm…. Yet, at that moment because it was the request of an instant, I was seeing right then that I could not affect the delivery of what I wanted.

There would be so many trials still to come for that little girl, hard, scarring lessons through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. God ever waiting for me to make peace each time with it being less about what would or would not be answered and more about how I would turn to Him through each seeming broken prayer.

I would never grow out of that fragileness.

The older me seeks to protect her, to remind her that those expectant, hopeful glances to the sky do not need to be cast aside to trust in God, but be spoken with  openness, to be able to leap from the trees into God’s waiting arms.

I stand in my yard, voices and cars in the distance and birds still too and welcome the breeze against my soul, feel God decorate my memory.

If I hold the aching just so, I can touch the changes coming, the shaping growth of walking home.

“While I’m Waiting” – John Waller, originally on John Waller’s album The Blesssing (Reunion Records) –  March 6, 2007.
Featured in Fireproof  (Sherwood Records) – September 26, 2008. DVD released  – January 27, 2009. Fireproof Soundtrack (Reunion Records) – July 14, 2009.

Keeping on

We are of God, made of different pieces that construct the beautiful unique puzzle of each of us. We are each magnificent. We are each a gift.

In uncertainty we can lose that truth. We can drop pieces of the puzzle and fumble with where they belong. Even the most gifted solver can be rendered completely confused when it comes to one’s own wonderful, peculiar and perfect, yet disorganized, pieces.

It is me. I am the sometime too deep thinker of thoughts and feeler of feelings. I sometimes say too much and with an intensity that can overshadow what is meant to be genuine openness, to be real and to learn with someone and to not be restricted by the expectation of soft disguise.

This wordiness and feelingness can overwhelm.

I sink myself.

Anxiety/panic/depression, separate, yet overlapping, difficult to hewn out as one or the other at times. The feeling. A deep dark beastly ache that muffles vision and attacks hope with an angry punch. When you have been through that, you avoid it passionately, you dread it, try to live to keep it at bay. Sleep and eat right, I must, you think. Exercise. Think carefully.

But. This me contributes to the piece that has led me to physically feel hurt for others, to appreciate small beauty in nature, to recognize the hurting places in others, to seek to help heal where I may and pray with fervor.

This me has been blessed with gratitude and with amazing opportunities when the path was unclear, and those who understand the way both joy and sadness are profound to me.

Yes, it is me. With the me that is faithful, the me that is a mother, daughter, sister, friend, lover, athlete, silly and serious, committed team member, leader, volunteer, nurturer of people and pets, stubborn, hopeful, hard worker. It is me.

I can calm and speak before a crowd with focus. I can put people at ease with my gentle humor and kind demeanor. I can socialize with new people and take on challenges both cautiously and confidently.

I appreciate silence.

Dishonesty wounds me deeply.

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The people who have appreciated and embraced the entirety of me have celebrated life with me, have enjoyed my capacity to empathize and sow hope. My desire to listen and share comfort. They have enjoyed my propensity for laughter when the moment is right, my full and real hugs of concern. They have sought my advice. They have shared their heartaches. They have known the depth of me that includes an ache that sometimes may comes when I feel I have failed by sharing.

Some have not understood.

I feel badly for the often preference for quiet, my deck over a party, even a small one. To have peace and rest. It has left some friendships confused at times.

When the pit comes, it sits at the desk with me while I work, weighing heavy in my concentration. It mows the lawn with me, on my back. It parents with me and pushes against me while I try to sleep. It is exhausting.

Does my willingness to admit to weakness make me naive?

When I can, I run, I bike, I hold onto something that allows me to move forward, to let go. I carry intentions with me, tied around my ankle, declaring future forward.

I am the “over-thinker,” with the gains and losses that come with that. I will continue to stop to admire the shadow of a broken leave on the mud, the breeze against a weed, the wisps of clouds in dancing shapes. I will sort through the questions of intentions, the uncertainties and purposes of paths. I will wake up at 3am and scribble down words that push into my head with an insistence, whether creativity or escape. I will stop and watch the deer out the window, the farms’ crops rise and fall, the angles and lights on city buildings, and hear the hum.

I am that person. Deb. Debbie. Deborah Jean. Sensitive or strong or both. Teetering on the uneasiness of too much transparency, not for pity, but for a longing to be real. For the broken, struggling me to be seen in the black and white image of me on the first place podium. It was a medal I was given there, not an identity. I want the compliments on my resilience to not be misplaced. I want my failures and shortcomings, my not good choices, my fragility and confusion to be collaged with the pictures and quotes that seem to show only victory.

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Jack Douglas

Dear Jack Douglas,

Welcome to a family filled with a whole bunch of loving people.

Your Mommy and Daddy, Paige and Matt , have beautiful pictures to show you some day of the days leading up to you. 🙂 They loved you from the first day they knew of you.

Your Grandma is my God-mother. She and your Grandpa Jack have got a lot of love to give. ❤ Enjoy!11737893_10100771416711955_1719201472508043399_n

I think you’ll find your aunt and uncle to be a lot of fun, and they can teach you awesome things about life. If you listen well, you’ll probably find out some funny stories about your Daddy too.

Life will be hard some days; drink extra milk. And easy others; relax on the blankie.
Some things that seem tough are good for you, like diaper changes.
Pain passes, just as a tooth breaks through.
Challenges are overcome; you will figure out the whole motor coordination bit.

Most of all, just be hopeful. Mommy’s and Daddy’s faces will return to the side of the crib and by your side for your whole life, cheering you on.
Be you, little guy!

Love,
Cousin Debbie

One.More.Step.

Up early. With God.

Sorting through how we find clarity when the scope through which we look is cloudy from experiences. A “gut” feeling is not always so straightforward, and the strong independent self seeks to protect the fragility that is very much a part of it. How do we discern between what is fear and what is insight? Trust?

There are the situations of greater magnitude that weaken it, but also those that may not seem as big, but continue to reinforce that it is not safe to trust. Strategy comes into play. If God has given one the skill of mitigating risk, I think, then why not apply it to protect the very part that has been so broken? Don’t trust. Why trust?

Ah, but the lover of life in me knows that is not the way to live.

Optimism and skepticism will need to walk hand in hand.

I find myself on the tightrope walk of discovery, clutching the balance bar of faith, concentrating on the peace that awaits at the other side if I can but stay the course.

Prufrock can enjoy a peach. Can my feet find the next step?

I have stepped out before to find the rope shaky, or my legs, balance uneven, retreat came to late, and I tumbled. My weather worn heart and body already toughened for the fall and a net of resources to soften the blows.
It seems the rope grows higher and longer each time I painstakingly, cautiously, questioningly, hopefully scale the pole to consider the view, the distance and the fall.

Hemingway, will I be separated from the “feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice [because I am] vulnerable;… often wounded, sometimes destroyed”?

Or fight on.

I have chosen leaps that have cast the faint color of hope, even when darkness chased them.

It is okay to invest of oneself and to expect a return when not done charitably, to seek the respect given to the trust extended. And if empty pockets find, then move on.

Perhaps in future forward the darkness will not chase, as it drops from the rope that is cut from the platform of peace.

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you/me

Hope.

Change.

Want to really try to alter the tide?

I think we can start by not engaging with hateful comments, including to people who have posted hateful comments. There are posts out there simply intended to stir up heated, hateful, not productive (which differing opinion discussions CAN be) debates. There are partial truth anecdotes and doctrine, often miscommunicated. Gross generalizations. Inaccuracies. Myths posted as fact. Revisions and reasoning left un-noted, to see who will bite. Troll sites existing soley to infuriate anyone. Uninformed, or misinformed foundations for opinions. Twisted stories to help a cause.

Words filled with venom only serve to feed hate.

We are each entitled to our own opinions. We are each entitled to express them. We are each entitled to be angry. And we are each entitled to verbally express that anger with hate or with rational thought. Because we can be spiteful, doesn’t mean we need to be or should be.

We widen the gaps that bridged could heal hurt when we refuse to speak from a place of information.

This is not about any specific issue or coming from a specific side. I see it applied across topics, geography, faiths/denominations, backgrounds, political viewpoints, cultural economic statuses, races, etc. This is not a post about me disagreeing with or supporting any particular ideology.

It is everywhere.

I was somewhere with my kids last summer, where a “family” comedy routine included statements that made both my children feel sad. I have seen things posted on here that bring that back to quote copyme, that it’s considered “OK” to ridicule certain groups through humor, yet to criticize others for doing that. I see people presenting things in a way that is not true. One last week was particularly bothersome to me. I had responses in my head, even calm ones, that would point out the inaccuracies and to explain specifically the frustration for me. I decided to leave it alone, so as to not set up a thread for debate where nasty comments could come from all sides, as social media would allow mere split seconds for a thought to be shared.

No pausing before posting in many cases, just typing and hitting post as quickly as possible, to release the emotion.

I could get off of social media. I can choose what to read, so clearly I cannot and do NOT bemoan the status of an unchosen captive audience.

I hope to try to be a voice of hope, but I’d be lying if I said I have not also posted for attention, affirmation, discussion, and/or sympathy at times. Like a school girl who stares at her desk, waiting for “what’s wring?” I post to seek support. Most of us do at times, I imagine.

So I am no noble warrior of pure vigilance and selflessness. Selfies abound. My family paraded as my celebrities.

Yet, in it all, we can still be conscious of the impact of what and how we share and of what and how we  respond. People may chuckle at how someone teases their spouse or reveals a parent’s faux pas. Was that the only result?

When hateful words are used as a counter-point, does the argument gain more merit…or less?

We talk of so much negativity and corruption, every side of every issue blamed at some point. We wish there was a solution.

I believe there is. I believe we can start by pausing before posting. We can use words of light and life, even when we disagree. We can send private messages with truth. We can refuse to feed hateful speech.

#pausebeforeposting #futureforward

Dear Grandma

Dear Grandma,

I love this moment today, laughing, deeply, brightly. Sun touched, breezey song of trees and birds and your life lived hand squeezing mine.

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“Where’s my mom?” you had asked, “In Heaven,” your daughter and I replied, and tears filled your eyes. I ached at what was a new hurt for you again and a reminder to you and us of memories forgotten. I took your hand in mine and you held my fingers and looked at me through the eyes of all we are, “She is so very proud, though,” I told you “of the life you’ve lived, of the children you’ve raised and your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” And there was suddenly a clearness over you, “It’s really amazing all these people are connected to me” “Yes, it is Grandma” And you smiled, “And we’re going to have a new baby.” “Yes, yes we are,” I say smiling too, you beaming at the thought of the new baby and that you’ve remembered. “Yes there’s going to be a new baby.”

So we talked for a moment of a baby coming soon to my cousin Matt and his wife Paige, of your youngest daughter Nancy becoming a Grandma.

We talked about foods and flowers, and your sneakers and pink socks bought in the same store.

Your legs have relaxed, settled down, feet resting, and there’s a peace about you. I feel the trees in the courtyard speaking to me in my veins of the generations that have sat here near the blossoming branches. Branches wound together as our fingers on your lap.

I feel happy. I feel sad. I feel grateful. I feel how old and young this moment makes me. We take a picture so you can see us, beauties in the sun. I say something silly, that I don’t even recall, for it is you laughing that I hear, when I see that moment. You always like how you can see the picture right away. But this time you don’t say anything when you see it. You smile, nod and squeeze my hand. I am you half a century ago.

I am brought back through the years to a broken down train and walking the tracks with you into Port Jervis, where we sat on a curb near the old railroad station and ate snacks waiting for my mother to come and pick us up. I am brought back to your porch and pie and puzzles in the summer when I visited overnight. I can feel the resolve in which you placed yourself in the face of my hurts when my path was hard. Tradition was not stronger than love.

I know all of that and more is in you, your love for the many people connected to you. I will sing it in my prayers that it may find you in your sleep.

A new baby will come and he too will be a piece of your legacy. He will laugh, as you did, at something silly.

I love you, Grandma.

Love,
Debbie

Let us sleep

Camp out in the living room tonight. I let them believe it was for them, a simple yes to their request, for they do not need to know how I want to watch them sleep, breathing in a slow steady rhythm my heart knows so well. That tonight I wanted to hear them turn in their sleep, imagine happy dreams are their peace from the hurried and hard days that life can bring. They…we are all more than the misconceptions, miscommunications and marginalizations. We all stand closer to the same than we know amidst the easy shouting of social media. We are losing opportunities while we post. We are losing lives while we rush. I love my country, diversity, tradition and the heart of the town I have watched grow with me. I love the preciousness of life and mourn its loss. I love these two children and the power of what they can do with the hope stirring within them while they sleep. May peace and courage in quiet and patient conviction be the impetus to just pause for a moment and hear the song of someone’s breathing.

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