Divider 1
Divider 2

Archive for February 2009

Harmony: A Starting Place

harmony_postmark When I first surfed across the idea of choosing a theme word for the year, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do.  It was the one idea that inspired me to follow through with some sort of newness resolve for 2009.  I started my word search with a question: What do I want to be different about my life this year? In the space of about ten minutes, the theme word for my year fluttered into focus.

HARMONY

The last few years of our lives have been ones of unprecedented joy, springing largely from the birth of three glorious gifts that have so impacted my heart of hearts.  But, these last few years have also been ones of unprecedented change, and change is challenging.  I came into 2009 feeling tired and disjointed.  The fragments:  the push and pull of being a working mother, the ups and downs of starting a small business, the yeses and nos of raising toddlers, the outs and ins of ordering a bulging home, the gives and takes of nurturing relationships, the blacks and whites of growing a God-pleasing heart, and all the grays and middle grounds and maybes in between.  Like playing with one of Squiggle’s favorite shape sorters, I’ve found myself shuffling this handful of disjointed life parts, looking for ways to piece them all together–to make them all into a kinder, gentler, greater, better whole.

Don’t get me wrong.  All my wonderful “parts” continue to bring joy, and I’ve been able to maintain a fragile, but consistent peace.  But, if I’m honest, it’s not enough.  I want more than tenuous contentment.  I want more than sanity on the verge.  I want more than barely under control.  I want more than a fragile peace.  I want to give my family more than a fragile peace.

So, I started thinking about harmony.  And what kind of peace it brings.

My handy dictionary.com defines harmony in these ways:

1. agreement; accord; harmonious relations.
2. a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity.
3. in music
a. any simultaneous combination of tones.
b. the simultaneous combination of tones, esp. when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm.
c. the science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords.
4. an arrangement of the contents of the Gospels, either of all four or of the first three, designed to show their parallelism, mutual relations, and differences.

In keeping with what I learned about my 252 approach, harmony is a noun–a state of being, not doing.  When I think of harmony in music, I think of a blending of beautiful sounds that creates an even more beautiful sound, a sound that is richer than the sum of its individual notes.  Hmmm. Harmony brings stability and strength and agreement and melody to my fragile peace.  It becomes peace plus.  Peace beyond.  Beyond just acceptance.  Beyond just contentment.  Beyond just existence.  Harmony is a peace that embraces.  A non-begrudging peace.  An open-hearted peace.  A peace that sings.

Sounds good.  So, how do I get it?  Where do I even start?  Dictionary.com’s quickie etymology lesson, gave me an idea.  The word harmony stems, in part, from a greek word for “joining” or a “joint” and “shoulder”–for me, a body analogy for fitting together in such a way that allows a full and productive range of motion.  A fit that can bear weight.  The greek word (harmos) shows up in this verse from Scripture:

“the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (hebrews 4:12)

So, that’s my starting place–God’s word, again.   The source of all truth and understanding.  The depths of where soul and spirit are divided, it can penetrate.  Where joints and marrow are disconnected, it can reach.  It can pierce the most disparate of dividing lines and weave clarity and unity.  It is the only foundation of a peace that sings, the starting place for Harmony.

Where Resolutions Come From, Part 2

If you read my Part 1 of Where Resolutions Come From, you know that the theme word of the year resolve is a new concept I’m eager to explore.  It encouraged me to get beyond a list of to-dos and focus on how I want to be a year from now.  As Slightly Cosmopolitan put it’s something “that reminds you what’s most important and what’s at the heart of all your other goals.”

Hmmm.  And, what about those other goals?  Enter the 252 approach I mentioned in part 1.

“and Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.” (luke 2:52)

It may seem like a small and insignificant footnote to the greater truths of Scripture, but somehow I think the verse is  powerful.  It has something to teach me about what’s important.  I was reminded again of its power a few weeks ago when reading the blog of Paul Young, author of the New York Times best-seller The Shack (anxious to read this one.)  He wrote a post about the nature of significance beginning with a statement from his book:  “if anything matters… everything matters.”  His point was that significance is derived from being, not doing [woo hoo, theme word].  Trying to gain significance from doing is inevitably fruitless.  But, when we live based on the significance we have because we are human beings created in God’s image, our “doing” becomes an out-flow and response to that relationship with Him.  Therefore, everything becomes significant.

That’s a shift in thinking!  The laundry drying in the background and the 50 times I’ll likely wash those same clothes this year are significant.  Washing the dishes in my sink, and the 350 times I’ll likely wash them again this year are significant.  The lightbulb is getting brighter, but how does that relate to resolutions and 252?

The time between 252 and the launch of Jesus’ ministry at His baptism was approximately 30 years.  Other than an overnight Temple experience, we don’t know anything about what he “did” during that time.  Yet, Mr. Young reminded me of this:

Jesus spent 30 years ‘doing’ nothing (as the world would understand it), but the first thing we hear about him out of his Father’s mouth is how pleased Father is of His boy.  Did Jesus become significant because of the next three years?  Nope.  He was already significant.

Whatever Jesus did during those 30 years, it was a sinless pleasure to God, and it prepared Him for the greatest accomplishment mankind has ever known.  And, all that God saw fit to tell us about that period was that he grew in four areas–four areas of focus that must be pretty important in becoming the well-rounded, God-pleasing, best versions of ourselves:

1) Wisdom
Jesus grew mentally.  (watchful thinking, decision-making skills, application of knowledge)

2) Stature
Jesus grew physically. (in strength, in stamina, maintaining the body efficiency and economy that God made)

3) Favor with God
Jesus grew spiritually.  (embracing the ways of God and the permanence of his Word, loving the loves of God, acting on the priorities of God)

4)  Favor with Men
Jesus grew relationally.  (building favor with others, building up others, respecting others, loving others honestly and selflessly)

Even in the daily-ness of life, I can see that almost everything I “do” has some sort of impact (positively or negatively) in at least one of those four areas.  And, each area affects my “being” the God-pleasure I was designed to be.  This year, I’ll be looking for ways to allow my theme word to manifest itself in each of those four areas.  Thanks for sharing the journey with me and stay tuned.

Where Resolutions Come From, Part 1

I’m behind.  Again.  This post has been procrastinated and interrupted so many times that it’s dangerously close to being ridiculous.  Still, I am compelled to write it.  Compelled by whom, it’s hard to say.  Maybe by glances at the multitude of now-outdated January magazine issues boasting 276, 10 or just 1 brilliant way to do something or another “new” with your life in 2009.  Maybe by society’s continual quest for “more” and “new”, the rat race of discontent.  Maybe by my own thinking.  Where do resolutions come from?

Thinking is a funny thing.  I think.  Although I do it constantly, it tends to be something I plan to do.  I have a running mental list of topics, choices, concerns, and ideas that need further mulling in order for me to decide on a stance–thoughts that have been relegated to the pile of “this requires more brain capacity than I have available at the moment.”  It happens especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed in mind, spirit and schedule.  That’s where I’ve been.  But, invariably if left unattended, those thoughts sometimes gain strength and power, bunch together with other thoughts, jump on board with various reminders from the world of my experience and wriggle their way to the top.

Thus, the resolution post.

It started as an obligation, something I felt I ought to do if I call myself a thinking, responsible human being.  And, of course, any self-respecting blogger must post said obligation for all the internets to see and thereby hold virtually accoutable.  Ick.  Plus, shouldn’t I prove myself to be a “now” woman by adopting some habits to better myself and my surroundings in the year to come?  Double ick.  Since nearly 1/6th of the year is behind me, the ship of self-motivated, on-top-of-it Super Woman has clearly sailed.  Still, my mind has been insistent on resolution-making in some form.  How can I pay attention, if I can’t look at where I am, where I want to be, and how to get there?  I even Googled “resolution” to try to gain some inspiration/motivation.  You’ll be happy to know that the U.S. Government offers a glimpse at 13 popular New Year’s Resolutions.  Thank you.  About.com showcases a bunch of top ten resolutions, and not your average ones.  There’s a top 10 list of resolutions for everything from your yard to your human resources department.  Oh, triple ick.  This year’s inspiration was hard to come by.

I usually take the 252 approach to New Year’s Resolutions–following Jesus’ model of growth found in Luke 2:52. (More on that in part 2.)  But, this year, I just couldn’t start there.  My thoughts were too scattered.  Still, I wanted to come up with at least some semblance of a resolution before the year got away from me.  Then, I came across a post at slightlycosmopolitan.com [awesome blog, btw] that inspired me.  She described reading on one of her favorite blogs [don’t know the one :(] about the concept of a theme word for the year.  She described it as:

“choosing a word to represent your year, a word that inspires and centers you, a word that reminds you what’s most important and what’s at the heart of all your other goals.”

Wow!  It was satori, boo-yow, an aha moment, whatever.  It struck me as the very thing I needed.  I started with the basic question:  What do I want to be different about my life this year?  The core-level answer bubbled up almost immediately, and I’ve been brainstorming on it ever since.  I’ll be sharing it soon (I promise) because it’s at the end of the resolution story, but the beginning of the resolve.  And, I hope to explore it in greater detail at EyeJunkie as the year progresses.  But first, the 2nd part of where resolution come from…

Saturday Evening, Uncomposed

The loss of our ordinary.

Baby Girl and I drove home at sunset tonight.

A brilliant ball of yellow-hot fire melting into a stoic treeline.  Radiating red giving way to lavender and a nearly cloudless subtle blue sky–the last vestiges of a waning day.  A day representing change.  Complete sentences are hard to muster.

It’s Saturday night.  The night we’ve come to take for granted as a night for family suppers.  Most recently wedged in between loads of laundry, mop sponges and Barney movies.  As has become our habit.  

But this night is different.  Last Saturday my father rocked Baby Girl to sleep in his special way, and then drove home.  The next morning, he had a stroke.  This night, we are not enjoying a family supper.  This night, he’s in a hospital room.  My mother is by his side.  They are not with us.  As had become our habit.  Though, he thinks and speaks more like himself each day, he cannot move in the way he did six days ago.  We hope and plan that he’ll regain most of his skills, but I’m still numbed by the sudden change in reality.  The servant, for the moment, becoming the served.  The strength I’ve assumed my whole life in a weakened state.    The final release of any tightly-held fragments of childhood.  I’ve already begun the thought- and writing-process of recording my testimony of God’s steadfastness, but this comes first.  The mourning of the loss of our ordinary.

I covet the mundane reality of Dreft and Gain alongside conversation and ballgames. In the span of six days, I’ve come to covet the ordinary of a walk down the hall, a drive down the street, sitting at the table for a meal, an unencumbered smile, the familiarity of blue jeans, the sop of bread against your green bean juice, the hand-off of a sleeping baby, the balancing act of carrying five full take-out cups and a drink box, the simplicity of a kiss on the cheek.

The blazing sunset–an ordinary occurence–this night, signals a new ordinary for me and mine.  Maybe temporary, maybe not, but we hope.  In this moment, near is made far by the lack of a physical presence we’ve come to assume.  But, oddly, far of spirit is made near by readjusted priorities and the loss of the ordinary time together we almost forgot to cherish.

It’s Saturday night.  The night that marks the shifting of our ordinary.  The sun setting on the complacency of extraordinary habits that had come to be ordinary.  In the span of 20 miles, the solar spectacular giving way to halogen beams marking the yellow lines to home.  A reminder of the invariable constants.  The comfort of the familiar.  The hope and promise of rising in the morning.  To embrace a renewed ordinary.

 

It’s not that unusual 
When everything is beautiful 
It’s just another 
Ordinary miracle today 

The sky knows when it’s time to snow 
Don’t need to teach a seed to grow 
It’s just another 
Ordinary miracle today …

Sun comes out and shines so bright 
And disappears again at night 
It’s just another 
Ordinary miracle today 

It’s just another 
Ordinary miracle today

~ from Ordinary Miracle by Sarah McLachlan

Open Letter to Sports Advertisers

To Whom It May Concern:

I got 4 hours of sleep last night.

Why, you ask?  The Super Bowl. No, I was not in some Steeler-induced euphoria.  Why, then?  Super Bowl commercials. Yes, I know how really fun it is to wait for the commercials; laugh, cry, and puzzle at their meaning; rate the best, worst and most colossally lame.  But, I sort of have this unwritten inner rule about my entertainment.  It only qualifies as amusement in so far as it a) does not make my children cry, and b) does not interupt my intentional slumber–both of which happened last night as a result of Super Bowl commercials.  And at 4am, I was NOT AMUSED.

At 5:30pm yesterday, we switched on the big game–no small task, mind you.  There was some convincing required since turning on the game also meant turning off Bob the Builder.  To Little Drummer Boy: “I know, sweet, but we only have one TV and we have to share.”  To Squiggle:  “Daddy wants to watch a special football game.”  “Foot.  Baw.”  Suddenly, we were all convinced.  “Foot. Baw.” fans are in training at our house. [hmmm. point to ponder.]

Coming a little late to the party, we were orienting ourselves to the game and getting excited about what food might appropriately accompany our “foot. baw.”  Midway through the first quarter, what do we see?  I actually don’t know what we saw because I was distracted.  What I saw was Little Drummer Boy: close look, giving way to concerned look, giving way to startled look, giving way to tears peeking out at the corners, announcing “Mommy, that scared me.”  Yeah, I don’t know exactly what we saw, just that it involved a big, scary dinosaur with big, scary teeth coming right at us through the screen.  NOT COOL.

Explanations required:  Dinosaurs aren’t around anymore–not just at our house, but anywhere.  It’s over now.  We can see “foot. baw.” now.  Then, we were ok to get back to the game.  All was well.  Only, shortly after, what did we see?  I don’t know what we saw because I was in the kitchen making the Super Bowl meal of choice (pancakes and bacon). What I saw was Little Drummer Boy rounding the corner with more tears, in need of a hug, sporting a more urgent “Mommy, that scared me.”  Oh, and Hub turning OFF the Super Bowl as a result of what I can only guess was some gun-toting, teeth-baring, sword-wielding, fire-breathing, machine-morphing, head-banging conglomeration of a supposed consumer enticement.  Choose any or all that may apply.  Sadly, I was thinking “Thank God” that’s all it was.  I mean, literally, thank God there was no female clothing involved.

Was that the end of it?  NOT EVEN CLOSE.  Our Super Bowl experience was not complete until it involved soothing the tears of bad dreams and their subsequent reluctance to go to sleep (count them) SIX TIMES last night–2 for Daddy and 4 for me.

So, we didn’t get to watch any more Super Bowl commercials or any more “foot. baw.” for that matter.  Guess what?  DON’T CARE.  Because I was TICKED OFF.  TICKED. OFF.  Ok, now that I think about it, I care a little that I didn’t get to watch SPRINGSTEEN either, making me even more ticked off.  See paragraph 2.  To reiterate: supposed entertainment was sooo NOT entertaining when it involved Little Drummer Boy’s tears.  Not to mention the fact that I AM SLEEPY.

In the wake of MY sleep-deprived morning, I’m sure you’re all getting together to high-five the success of your ad spots and write the checks.  ATTENTION all you marketing execs and creatives.  Take this down:

1.  Yes, we only have one TV, and I like it that way.  So, don’t even think about turning this around on me.

2.  No, I don’t think my THREE YEAR OLD needs to get out more.

3.  A bzank-bzillion dollars is an obscene and offensive amount of money to spend on an advertising spot.  Go get yourself some corporate responsibility — economic crisis, children in poverty and all that.

4.  Yeah, I get that the Super Bowl doesn’t claim to be “family friendly” entertainment, but I have two “foot. baw” fans that will meet your demographic in about 15 years when (at the rate you’re going) you may really need some customers.  Only, now they’re scared of the commercials.

5.  I’d like, just once, to enjoy non-DVD programming that does not involve monsters, sexed up clothing, psycho-murderers, a steroid scandal or an explanation of ED.  Just once.

6.  I know I waited until a half hour before the game to ask “now, who’s playing?” but me and my little contribution to the middle class Gen X demographic still have a tiny bit of discretionary income that we WON’T be spending on people and things that give our kids bad dreams.

Rant over.  Although, frankly, I’m not really over it, because do I feel better?  NO.  I feel SLEEPY.

Divider Footer