Friday, February 06, 2015

Since last I was here...

It has been a busy eight days since my last post. (If you are uncomfortable with stories related to female anatomy, then you should probably skip this post. I'm warning you now.)

Last weekend, I attending the most lavish, beautiful, fun, well-planned, no-detail-left-unattended-to wedding I've ever had the pleasure of being invited to. The daughter of a dear friend was wedded to the love of her life in the presence of dear friends and family. My husband and I were honored to be included in the festivities. We attended the rehearsal party on Friday night. And on Saturday, we stayed until the last dance of the reception, hugged and applauded the bride and groom, and then I hobbled back to the car in my high heeled shoes purchased especially for the nuptials. How do women wear such shoes every day? I'm so glad there was never a dress code for homeschooling that included such instruments of torture. But it was worth the pain. As someone said to me nearly twenty years ago, "Sometimes you have to suffer for sexy." I suffered last weekend with high heeled boots on Friday and then towering toe-crushing shoes on Saturday.

On Sunday, I attended a Sunday school class at church and listened to the principal of a local K-8 grade school talk about the challenges and the rewards of working at a school where more than 75% of the students come from economically disadvantaged families. Keeping teachers motivated, involving parents who don't have a high school diploma themselves, working in a community where churches are closing down and unable to assist - she has her hands and her heart full. But she spoke with joy and excitement and gratitude for all that is happening there. She spoke with candor about the need for more volunteers and more time with students and more money to keep the whole thing up and running. She has a tough job - and also a huge, generous spirit.

On Tuesday, I attended a writing class with my favorite writing teacher. Writing prompts. Reading aloud. Discussion. Laughter. Tears. Eleven or twelve women with writing projects under construction gather to share our stories and our work. We sit together as a group for an hour, and then we break into small groups to share pieces we have honed and receive support and suggestions from each other. My group is the best - of course! We laugh and groan and ask questions and share insights and encourage each other so seamlessly. I hope the three of us remain friends beyond the timeframe of this class.

On Wednesday at Wednesday Worship, Erika preached a great sermon about peace in life and in death and included stories about Oscar Romero, the priest who was assassinated at the altar while serving communion at a church in El Salvador. The Scripture passage for the day was the story of Jesus showing up among the disciples after the Resurrection and showing his wounds to Thomas. Even though his terrified followers were behind locked doors hiding, Jesus appears and offers them peace. Then he offers his wounds as proof of his death and of his resurrection. Rather than heaping condemnation or shame on Thomas, Jesus offers his comforting, peace-giving presence.

In her prayer after the sermon, Erika said, "Into the locked rooms of our lives, Christ comes." That statement has stuck with me ever since. How many locked rooms and secret places do I think I can hide in? Why wouldn't I want Christ there with me? Why wouldn't I want to be reminded that death has been swallowed up in victory? Don't those wounds remind me of that victory? Don't my wounds remind me of the many trials and difficulties I have overcome? I hope and pray that I will never try to lock Christ out of any dark or shadowy or dusty or dank or messy areas of my life.

On Wednesday evening, I taught a class on journaling as a spiritual practice at church. The folks in the class were great - participating, asking questions, sharing their journaling experiences, fully engaged. I hope they all come back next week and bring friends. I love to journal. I love to teach. Combining the two? Priceless!

On Thursday morning, I got up extra early and drove half an hour to babysit for two precious little people while their 30-year-old mother underwent chemotherapy. (Have I mentioned lately that KANSWER SUCKS???!!!) The three year old boy and two year old girl had me singing and jumping and dancing and reading and laughing. I fed them and changed diapers and filled cups with milk and water and cooked ravioli and baked cookies and followed them up and down the stairs to their bedrooms several times. I loved every minute of it. They were so polite - saying thank you for everything I gave them and did for them. I cuddled with the little lady in her bedroom before putting her down for her nap: she nodded slowly and sweetly when I asked her if she was ready to be in her crib. I didn't hear a peep out of her for the next three hours. I hate that their mother has kanswer, but I am glad to know them and be able to support them and encourage them through this dreadful battle.

Late that same afternoon I tutored a young man in Spanish. Such a sweet kid. Such a tough road he has had to travel to get to Spanish 3 as a junior in high school. I tutored him on Monday as well. I am glad to be able to help him gain some level of proficiency and enjoyment of the language I love so much.

This morning, I met with a new ObGyn for an annual exam. It's a strange thing to have an appointment with a gynecologist being that I don't have many "female parts" left to be examined. I had to do an online health assessment earlier in the week and the program practically screamed at me because I haven't had a mammogram in more than two years. Um - I don't have anything to be mammogrammed, people! Nothing else to press in your torturous device. Thanks be to God!

It is a strange and a wondrous thing to be able to give thanks that I no longer have breasts. There's a great tee shirt I've seen online about that very thing. It says, "Yes, they are fake, but the real ones tried to killed me." There ought to be one that says something like, "Yes, I'm completely flat chested. But I got rid of them because they tried to kill me."

Anyway, great doctor. Patient. Funny. Kind. Gentle. Exactly what you need when you lay back with your feet in stirrups.

Which reminds me of a story I heard more than twenty years ago. A woman I worked with at the time had bright red hair. I think she was the reason that I am so drawn to "gingers" nowadays. I loved her and I loved her hair. She was beautiful and funny and generous and thoughtful and, for some crazy reason, she appeared to like me as much as I like her. We talked about food and exercise a lot. At the time, I was a member of a gym but hated going. It felt like a waste of time to get ready to go to the gym, drive there, work out, drive home, shower and get on with my evening. I wished there was a way to get a good workout at home. She introduced me to workout videos - which I have been pretty much addicted to ever since. How did I not know about workout videos???

Anyway, she told me about going to the ObGyn one time. Her doctor was a man. When she laid back on the table and looked up at the ceiling, she was shocked to discover that there was a picture of George Clooney on the ceiling. What on earth would make that doctor think that a woman would want to see that handsome face staring down at her at that precise moment in her day? And then the doctor, trying to make small talk at one of life's most awkward moments, asked her, "Is your hair naturally that color?" Her answer was: "Well, doc, you should be able to tell." How funny is that???

Okay, back to my day... After the doctor's appointment, I went to the supermarket and loaded up on salad fixings, ingredients for green juices, some fruit, and kombucha. It's gonna be a healthy eating weekend for me. I sometimes miss my bags of red australian licorice washed down with cherry coke, followed by sour cream and onion potato chips, but I feel so much better now that I eat better. I am always a little shocked when people tell me they don't like salad or fruit. Then I remember that when I was pregnant with Kristiana, I used to eat a big spinach salad nearly every day to provide dark greens and healthy protein to my growing baby - and I would hold my nose while I ate. I hated salad that much back them. I've come a long way from there. Thanks be to God.

This afternoon, I had to go exchange to shirts I bought for Steve for Christmas. They were too big for him. The saleswoman who helped me find them in a smaller size informed me that the price had fallen since the holiday. So I ended up returning two shirts and leaving with four shirts - and the price difference I had to pay was less than $8. After that, I spent almost two hours with a friend whose daughter is getting married this June. Wedding preparations. Job searches. Stories. Laughter. And more to pray for. Life is full. So very full.

While I ate dinner tonight, I talked on the phone with the guy who was my boyfriend on my first trip to Spain. We've known each other since the fall of 1986. The last two times I have gone to Spain, he and his wife and daughter have taken me out to dinner. What a beautiful family. What great memories and stories we share. I am enormously grateful that we are still such good friends.

After saying "adios" to Jorge, I finished my preparation for teaching Sunday school this Sunday. And then I began preparation for teaching next Sunday. Yes, it's true - two Sunday school classes and two Wednesday night classes within two weeks. There is precious little that I like doing better than studying, planning, preparing, and then teaching from the Word of God to the people of God in the church of God.

Tomorrow morning, I head off to a day-long retreat with the elders and deacons from church, to plan and dream and think and pray about the direction we will go as a church in 2015 and beyond. Lots to ponder. Lots to discuss. Most important of all, lots to pray about. May God lead us, guide us, direct us, and woo us into the kingdom building work that is ours to accomplish in the coming months and years. And may we have fun together as well.

So, there you have it. My week in a nutshell.
My life these days as an empty nester is busier than ever.
I am grateful, so very grateful for the freedom and for the limitations.
For the free time and for the ways in which my calendar is filling up.
I am grateful that my relationship with my children is still strong - even though they have both flown the coop and are making their way in the world of university study.
I am grateful for the deep conversations and deep laughter I have shared with my husband now that we are alone together again.

Since last I was here, I have seen joy and pain, sorrow and celebration, peace and suffering.
Since last I was here, I have written and read and prayed and laughed a lot.
Since last I was here, life has been so good.
I am enormously grateful.
Thanks be to God.

1 comment:

Nomads By Nature said...

Your joy that explodes through your writing is so inspiring. I just wanted to tell you that.