Blah blah blah

I’ve written a lot about not knowing what to write lately.

The irony is not lost on me.

I’m trying to force myself to write until the words just flow, the stories return, my punctuation and sentence structure improves.

Blech. (Thank you for putting up with me.)

I’ve been writing on other sites about other topics, but this blog is my tiny piece of property where I can chew on things, toss them around and try to make sense of the world, share my deep thoughts, or post random photos showing how my hands look like Madonna’s (they totally do.)

My stream of conscious thoughts are not always pretty, so I still censor. My point of view has changed on many things, and I’ve irritated too many ‘friends’ on Facebook already, so I bite my tongue.

blah blah blah…

I’m afraid of losing my voice.

It’s why I keep forcing myself to write at least one post a week, despite the fact they say pretty much the same thing, every time.

linked up to “Just Write” at Extraordinary Ordinary

 

What Defines a Woman… [scratch that] a Person?

 

I’m sitting at the table tonight while my four children are getting ready for bed.

The eleven year old asks a question about something she’d like to purchase with money she has recently acquired.

Somehow, said eleven year old ends up weeping on her bed… overwhelmed by the choices she faces in the years ahead of her.

When she walks back into the kitchen, hair disheveled, nose red, eyes swollen, it is hard for me to breathe.

She is me. Crying as a child, the only daughter, realizing that one day, I would be the only one in my family with a different last name.

Why are you crying?”, my parents asked.

When I get married, I will no longer be a ‘VanBibber’. I will be different from the rest of you“, I replied.

Tonight’s conversation was that. And yet it also veered so far from those sentiments.

Why are you crying?”, we asked.

The girls in my class already know what they want to do when they grow up“, she replied.

But so do you. You want to own your own animation company and create cartoons. Have a cat of your own. See the world.”

(blank stare)

Oh…

Their plan is to get married, have children and own a big giant house.

Suddenly, my self-confident child, so sure of her purpose and dreams, is doubtful.

Her dreams don’t look like everyone else’s.

And that makes her a target.

We want everyone to look like us. Dream like us. Think like us.

It makes us feel better about our own choices, doesn’t it?

But that doesn’t make those choices better, or more right for us.

And that doesn’t make them any more likely to come true. If being my own independent-free-spirited self and having four children has taught me anything it’s this: We aren’t all cut from the same cloth.

We all have different purposes, hopes and dreams.

Mama and Riggy, can I call you anytime I need advice, when I grow up?

Of course, Sweetness. We are always here for you.

Just be you, my sweet girl.

Just be you.

linked up with Just Write

Processing a Disaster: restoration

One of the problems I keep encountering in my personal blogging is knowing where to write certain things. I’ve mentioned this dilemma before, and it frustrates me to admit that I am not one step closer to sorting it out than I was 5 months ago. (I’m still open to ideas, so feel free to weigh in)

Therefore, here I sit, attempting to write about my visit to Pleasant Grove, Alabama, three weeks after the fact.

Its taken about that long to begin to process what I saw.

As I’m sifting through it and trying to process it,  I am all over the board. On one level, I find myself racing to help. On another, I want to sit quietly and just pray. I recognize that people can only take so much before they shut it out completely, yet  I struggle with the desire to post every single article, photo and video I come across that pertains to the destruction and recovery.

Because in every way, this strikes something deep that ignites a fear. We long for control. For a sense of order. And nothing about this feels orderly.

While the entire state of Alabama and other parts of the Southeast continue to process this record-setting devastation and destruction, a fear that creeps in to our minds is that others will quickly forget and move on.

And there lies the trigger for my struggle for control.

What many are faced with every single day now is this:

Their lives and spirit broken and scattered in every direction.

From the outside, it has the appearance of  hopelessness. It’s scary; overwhelming.

I hear it so loudly in my head: How in the world can we pick up the pieces?

Until I find myself back in that spot where I recognize and acknowledge that I am not in control. I still have no answers for my children who ask why some were spared on one side of the street while the other side is gone. Who try to wrap their heads around whether or not God caused this…

I believe in a God who doesn’t cause the storms, but Who is with us through them.

(image credit: Church of the Highlands)

So even though I can’t hold and comfort every victim of this storm, nor wipe every tear that falls, I am seeing Him all around in the recovery and relief efforts. He is still here in the midst of it. And once again, I am reminded of how restoration works.

As love pours in…

Restoration takes place.

And pinned to the sleeve of a child’s shirt, I am spoken to:

Restoration will take place across the state and in our hearts.

To help those affected visit Magic City Post’s “Now It’s Time to Help” – many volunteer opportunities and lists of needs. Also included are ways that those not in the region can help directly.

For more related links, see my prior post “Pray for Alabama” and scroll to the bottom

Joy to the world

He is my last born.

The one who made his arrival into my life unexpectedly.

Made his arrival into this world early.

He has brought me so much joy.

Merely by exuding joy himself.

Like when Ho Ho passed in front of our house for the Christmas parade.

And he waved at him.

I love how he expresses his joy without any consideration for appearance.

Or self-consciousness.

Just total in-the-moment-ness.

Joy to the world.

Christmas, where are you?

 (originally published December 21, 2007)

I’m usually very transparent on my blog. I figure, if I can’t tell it to a group of strangers who I probably won’t know this side of Heaven, who can I tell? It is harder, now that I know some of you and have established friendships with many of you.

That’s my round-about way of saying that I’ve gotten a little more opaque lately and good at keeping things more fluffy.

Not today. Today, I am hurting and trying to work through some things. I know that as I write this, I will keep wrestling with myself, telling myself to just delete it, once I write it and get it off my chest. But I wonder if others can relate?? So, I’m rushing through it, misspellings, poor sentence structure and all… before I can change my mind.

The best way to explain, is to sum up how my morning went:

Abbie was allowed to not wear her standard school attire to school today because she has had no violations in her dress this year. The note home said “jeans and/or a holiday shirt”. Abbie had no holiday shirt. She was upset, but she worked hard to get over it. I was frustrated because I would have loved for her to have a holiday shirt. But, even a cheap one wasn’t in the budget. I raced her to school. She got out of the car and ran towards the school.

Suddenly, she went down. And landed in thick gooey mud… I got her to the door and then raced home to get her clean clothes.

In the meantime, her teacher called and said that Abbie was crying and embarrassed. My poor, sweet, forlorn girl.

And I barely had enough gas in my car to drive back over.

I started crying because of the frustration of the gas, the no-holiday-shirt, the mud and the child trying to be okay with it all.

But I wasn’t okay with it.

Why? Because this Christmas we’ve struggled with getting presents, let alone extras. We’ve got medical bills that have to be paid and we are still trying to take care of bills that went to collections when we lived in Maryland. We’ve been poor stewards of our money in the past. We’ve been trying to catch up from our year of constant errors and times are especially lean. When we do have extra, it’s like a gorging feast that gives you indigestion when it’s all over. It’s not frivolously spent – but in the lean times, our list of things we need when we have extra money grows longer and longer.

So I’ve cried this morning. I’ve cried for my daughter who is so sweet and tender and wants to be wearing a cheery Christmas shirt at school today, but isn’t. I’ve cried over the fact that were it not for other family members thinking of us and sending gifts, the tree skirt would be showing all of its un-hemmed glory. I’ve cried over the simple frustration of day-to-day life.

And then I remember Jesus.

And I remember His words.

And I remember what He gave me and what He did for me.

And I remember that Mary and Joseph and the shepherds didn’t have festive holiday attire at that first Christmas.

Rather, they were in a smelly, cold stable. And it was still the most perfect Christmas in the history of the world. No festive lights (other than that shining star), no shiny bows and trimmings, no Ho Ho Hos… 

The Gift that was laid in that manager so long ago is still my gift. It is far better than anything that could be under our tree or that my daughter could be wearing to school. Because of Him, I am redeemed and justified. And no one can snatch me from His hand.

Not bill collectors.

Not grumpy holiday shoppers.

Not advertisers that tempt me with all of the things they say will make my holiday perfect.

I am beginning to remember the real reason for this Holy day. The reason my home is decorated and presents are wrapped.

And I’m praying my heart will be filled with His peace and love.

And I pray the same for each of you.

Merry Christmas, friends!

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

~ Luke 2:8-14 (the Message)