When the World is Broken Along With my Heart

I hardly know where to begin these days, to write down my heart’s cry and soul’s sigh.

The world is splintering, shattering it seems, on every side. All I can do is re-center myself with a song. Thank you to my friend Laurie Klein for the nudge.

Here’s “Alleluia” by Fernando Ortega from the Odes of Solomon CD–Ode #40. It’s actually a YouTube link; there’s over an hour’s worth of his worship music. Good for the soul, I promise.

That’s all I have this week friends.

Peace.

 

Why Self-Care Needs a Dose of Fun

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Moi, five (?) years old. Redondo Beach, Ca.

My netbook is propped on my lap as I type these words, the summer sounds of Southern California floating through my sister’s living room windows.  The cool breezes, the rush of cars on the street, the sounds of new-to-me birds remind me I am Somewhere Else.

Somewhere Else besides my Seattle area home. A place where the sun and the sand the surf are less than a mile away down the highway.  A place I remember like the lines in a book I read, where the words are etched in my memory, no, etched deep in my bones.

Last week, while visiting my other sister (I have two-how lucky am I?) we decided to spend an entire day at the beach. (L. also lives only a few miles from the ocean.) We hauled beach umbrellas–one a piece–beach chairs, thick towels, a cooler with lunch and our 60+ year old selves down to the shore.  The sun was bright, the water temperature inviting…a perfect day.

After setting up camp and surveying the scene we contemplated our first dive into the ocean.  Considering options–toes first touching the lap, lap, lapping waves or should we just run like fools and belly flop over a wave like crazy people?

Up out of our chairs, inching towards the water across the sand, we slap-splashed into the waves and voila! the crazy times had begun.  My sister and I each dove into the soupy surf and came up sputtering and laughing. Laughing at the sight of our far-from-svelte selves and at the sheer joy of being in the water once again.

Every dive under the breakers prompted chortles of glee.  These were not perfectly shaped curls to dive through but more like a salt water washing machine, churning us to pieces. Our guffaws signalled astonishment that we’d survived, sputtering as we came up for air after sloshing to the surface.

We were getting pummeled and we had a blast.

Three times that day we ventured into the water joining 2,000 of our closest friends as we frolicked in the saltwater like sun crazed fools.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard; it was so.much.fun.

There’s a reason God’s word says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22). Because it does. Laughing releases endorphins in the brain, relieving stress, strengthening the heart. The delight is like a daily dose of God-given touch on our wound-too-tight lives.  Oh, how we need it.

Many times in conversations that followed I encouraged my sister (and myself) to take time to do something fun. Not just take time, but make time.  We often think self-care and soul-care should consist of quiet and contemplative times, space for conversation, prayer with friends and the like.

However as we walk out our faith, I think we may have convinced ourselves (or maybe it’s just me) that fun and laughter are somehow less ‘spiritual.’

That relishing in delight and joy are just too carnal for those of us who call ourselves believers. As if Jesus wants us to wear our serious face all the time, you know, ’cause life is a Very Big Deal.

My point exactly; life IS way too serious. We live in a sin-wracked world, challenges face us daily, people die, our faith is tested, we can’t keep up. All the more reason we should revel in joy, make a space for laughter, allow opportunities for fun. And while we shouldn’t spend our days seeking it, we can live with open arms to make space in our days for delight.  God knows we need it.  God knows the world needs it.

Like medicine with eternal shelf-life, laughter can be a well of life, too.  Jump in, get wet, and drink deep. Throw your hands in the air like a crazy fool once in a while and let God heal your soul.

What It’s Like to be Married Forever

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My husband and I are busy empty nesters (although a college grad with a whiz bang journalism job is renting our furnished basement apartment). We look forward to our Sunday mornings which hold the promise of worship and fellowship which feed our souls.

One recent Sunday while my husband was in worship, I hung out with the kids in Sunday School and played with dish soap, food coloring and milk.  We were each ministered to (being with kids energizes me) and looked forward to the rest our day.

Instead of stopping at the grocery store—‘Second Church’ where it seems we always meet a handful of fellow believers in the cereal aisle—we came straight home. We had Nothing Else to Do all day long.  What a glorious Sabbath Sunday indeed.

The cooler, gray Northwest weather wrapped around the morning like a warm wool sweater. All we wanted was a comfortable chair and a cup of coffee.

Whenever there’s a wide-open-with-possibilities stretch of time ahead of me, I mentally fill it up with way more activities than there is time in the day.  Maybe you can relate?  The upside to that is there are choices; the downside is I never know where to start.

I love words and books—reading and writing are my two favorite indoor pursuits.  Three book stacks were calling me, there was a poem to work on, letters to write and maybe I’d take this chance to have a crack at the memoir I’d started.

Of course it follows that sitting at the desk in our study is my number one Happy Place (except for the garden; but cool & gray, remember?)  I relished the idea of quiet time to type, write, read, whatever. Ahhh…the small joys of a room of my own.

I retired to the study with coffee in hand. Several lines had been written, a poem revised, I organized the story line for my memoir. Such productivity; I was basking in the just-me time.

Then my husband came in and sat at his desk.

Oh, shoot, he’s probably going to want to talk—Mr. Verbal Processor. Please, God. Maybe he could just sit at his computer and read emails. To himself, not out loud like he usually does. Please, God.

Computer pings on. No talking. At all.  I’m cautiously optimistic that my author zone will continue uninterrupted. Our backs are to each other, desks on opposite walls. I can’t see his computer screen but I hear a video of a worship song he enjoys (Casting Crowns). I like it too; I silently sing along under my breath while I focus on my work.

Next is another song by the same artists—the LIVE version.  Hard to ignore; okay I’ll just hum along, but NO talking or my desk time will be gone for sure.

He queues up Video Number Three. Now I turn around in my chair; clearly my alone time is over. Husband wants the airspace to worship and enjoy the music.

At this point I had two choices—grumble and moan about how I had been looking forward to working undisturbed just this once. Complain about how he was being inconsiderate playing the music so loud.
Asked him to mute it or use headphones.  All of those may have been a justified response.

But this is his Sunday, too.

For a retired person he works way too hard Monday through Saturday; he needed a place to do what ministered to his soul just as much as I did.

How would I respond?  Number one, I changed my attitude and decided to rejoice in his little soul-care decision. Why not be just as happy for him that he was doing something he enjoyed?

Next I brought my work—my laptop, books and poetry clipboard—into the living room. Then I went and got a cupcake to go with my lukewarm coffee—there are limits to being inconvenienced—and sat down in my favorite chair.

May I just say that it has taken me a  l – o – n – g time (43 years on July 14th) to learn to be anything near accommodating and accepting of my husband’s quirks and equally endearing ways?  I call that small Sunday miracle. 

Just ten years ago I would have been quite vocal about his choices, accused him of being selfish and unthinking, would have yelled at him about “my” needs and “my” space and on and on, completely ignoring that this house is his sanctuary, too.

Instead I decided to find a room with a different view, my own quiet and (my own cupcake) and left my husband to enjoy his Sabbath alone, in his own way.

I was delighted to be in my comfy, quiet chair in the peace and quiet of the cool, gray Sabbath Sunday. And I rejoiced—with a bite of cupcake—at God’s glue and my husband’s patience to keep us married almost forever.

Happy Anniversary, honey. 

Love, your word processor.

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Linking with Lyli for Thought Provoking Thursday

and Ms. Jennifer Lee for #TellHisStory

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