Sunday, September 26, 2010

Roomie Camp

A gift. Amazing. Still can't believe it all came together. The details weaved in and out through three months of summer "reply all" emails, and several weekends ago my college roommates and our families spent Labor day weekend at a hill country ranch in west Austin. All together in one house - eight adults with eleven children between the ages of 4 and 10.

We've attempted this before, but newborn babies and nap schedules and ferocious viruses put a dent in our well-thought-out plans. But somehow, this time it went without a hitch.
Of the adults, seven of us navigated Baylor together, and in fact a few dated each others' spouses before it was all said and done. Eric, the lone non-bear in the group, worked with several of us at Kanakuk throughout college, so the relational lines blur pretty well.
And once you've shared a few simple experiences like snowskiing for the first time (ridiculous),
hiking the Napali Coast barefoot, rummaging for bargains on Rodeo drive, hosing down a throw-up filled van (!!!), standing in each others' weddings, visiting each other in hospitals with newborn babes, and then more recently supporting each other at a parent's funeral, the old memories mesh with newer ones pretty seamlessly.

A few memories from our weekend -
- Walking into the brightly-lit backyard of the Hanson's incredible hill country ranch home Friday night with a velvet backdrop of Texas stars. "All hat, no cattle," this ranch house and its grounds is beyond description. My goodness. 
- Laughing so hard our mouths ached that first night, watching the VHS of Eric and Brandon as 1999 Luau champions. Corbin and Todd remain horrified that they would have ever volunteered to get on stage in the first place. Mahalo, party people! 
- Watching the boys - all eight of them - cream each other in football. Mason scored a touchdown in his first ever football game, and TB and Bran trash talked their way through the plays.

- BRRRR... even with chilly water at Barton Springs pool, it made for a fun outing. Someone decided it was time to go when all the goose-bumped kids huddled in towels while Jessica and I sat and solved the world's problems on a sunny stone... how were we to know where the kids were, anyway?!
- Bright red cups strewn across the patio from fishing for minnows in the pond, crisp white art paper and markers spread out on the coffee table, Kristin trying gently yet firmly to get a pill down Marley, canoeing on Town Lake (an optimistic TJ with phone AND camera aboard), kids taking turns on the outside swing, girls playing house in the bunk room, tucking all eleven kids in at night and continuing the conversation downstairs...
- A sneak preview of Brandon's film, Sironia, wow wow wow. The two-hour recap afterwards with director's notes was almost as good as the film. Will be shipped to Sundance in the next week...

No question, the best part of the weekend was the easy, refreshing interaction between all four families. It's dreamlike for us girls especially to see the longevity of these relationships continue as our husbands have become each others' confidants and our kiddos form important friendships.
As Kristin's uncle said it best, "So there are new support groups being formed and older ones being reinforced."
So, so thankful for you, dear friends!




Monday, September 20, 2010

Gift From the Sea

I've met a new friend this week. She is adventurous and interesting and enthralling. Best of all, she reminds me of my Granny, so I can't get enough of her. Anne Morrow Lindbergh died in 2001, but her stories and thoughts stay very much alive through her books, particularly her small book written in 1955, Gift From the Sea.

So for my friend Krista's 40th birthday, I got a beach vacation and Lindbergh's book. That's pretty cool. It makes Gift From the Sea even more compelling to be reading it with my toes in the sand, the surf crashing just a few yards from where I sit. I knew nothing about Anne and her books before being introduced to her through this book. The wife of Charles Lindbergh, Anne was a pioneering aviator in the 1930s, an award-winning and best-selling author, and also raised five children after her first son was tragically kidnapped and killed in 1932.

Gift From the Sea is a short compilation of Lindbergh's thoughts on patterns of living, of balancing life, work, and relationships. It was borne from much contemplation and discussions with other women (and men) and even though she penned this national best seller over fifty years ago, her words continue to resonate with women today.

I love her writing. Even while using words like "diminutive" and "propinquity," I could understand her musings. It comes as no surprise that Lindbergh is a poet, because even in this journal-esque, nonfiction work, her writing is lyrical and poetic. Using different shells as metaphors for life stages, Lindbergh gracefully describes the cycles of a woman's life, of desiring a life of simplicity yet struggling to achieve it, the importance of living in (and appreciating) the moment, the liberation that comes along with growing older, and the discipline of choosing just a few good things from the multitudes offered us.

In response to the post I just wrote on struggling with busyness (written two days before I received this book), I'll close with one of my favorite passages from Gift:
We are asked today to feel compassionately for everyone in the world; to digest intellectually all the information spread out in public print (she had no idea!); and to implement in action every ethical impulse aroused by our hearts and minds. The interrelatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold... modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and life span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds. 
How did she read my mind? And again, Lindbergh composed this in 1955 - yikes. Timeless questions and contemplations that she doesn't tie up with a pretty bow, doesn't pretend to have all the answers (though she does make some suggestions), but rather encourages the reader's unique response by offering a platform of observations. So get a copy of this treasure of a book, put aside your speed-reading skills, and if you can, digest it while at the beach. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Barrenness of a Busy Life

I didn't make it to BSF this morning.
I've been tentatively looking forward to it all summer, studying Isaiah and being back in an inductive Bible study after a several-year-long hiatus from any type of in-depth Bible study. I've never been a part of BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) before, but thought that perhaps this was my year. Especially with my kiddos back in school. Especially with Isaiah. Especially with the location three blocks from my house.
Lord, my heart is not at peace! When I begin to look at the next few days and weeks, my heart is filled with unrest, suffocation. I don't feel quiet, peaceful. Somehow we're 3 1/2 weeks into school and my days are a blur. And the evenings are worse...
That was my prayer this morning, scribbled into my journal. Reading Scripture didn't put me at ease, just increased my longing for a settled heart. Prayer didn't erase my angst. So I asked the Lord to clear out my heart, prayed again the familiar request of directing my hours, my days, my weeks. Asked Him to brush away shame at saying no, and helping me recognize my limitations.

The pattern of events unfolded before me, confirmations to stay home this morning, to stay still. A late night last night with a mom's group meeting. Then Branson making it to school without a VERY important homework assignment this morning, requiring another immediate errand (whether or not I should have taken his homework - that's another post entirely, but in this case it was my fault that his homework was left on the kitchen counter next to the breakfast bowls). And as I was putting his folder with my Bible study materials, the school nurse called to say Hudson was in her office, not feeling well.

So as I drove Esther to school, she asked what I was doing after I dropped her off.
"Mommy was planning on going to a Bible study, but I don't know now, Es. I'll have to wait and see how Hudson is."
"Noooo, Mommy, don't go to Bible study, go HOME after you take me to school."

From the mouth of babes. Whether or not it was the Lord speaking through my little one who can't even pronounce her r's, He got my attention. Essie put words to my thoughts as I drove, struggling with what to do.

This is not about BSF, certainly. It's about being able to let the world keep spinning without me doing all the thing I want to do. GREAT things, great studies and get-togethers and important volunteering going on - without me. It's about letting people down for the sake of not letting myself, my husband, and my children down. It's about not constantly being rushed, dressed, prepared, hurried, spinning. Just this fall, I've already said no to much more than I've said yes to, and I'm still spinning.

I once heard Kristin Armstrong, Lance's ex-wife, interviewed on Oprah in the aftermath of their divorce. In the process of rebuilding her life, her family, and then encouraging other new single moms through her devotional, Happily Ever After,  she mentioned two of her favorite things, "red wine, and taking my time." Her words stirred my soul. I realized in that moment, that I agreed wholeheartedly with the blonde gal on my TV screen. I really like taking my time. Not being rushed. I love it, in fact.

Some things I've been contemplating the last few days especially...

Psalm 90:17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.  
(Imagine  - the Lord's favor on the work of my hands! What could be more productive than that?!)

A quote by Lynne Hybels that my friend Nikki shared last week while speaking to a ladies' group about peace. Beautiful and timely:
I determined the best gift I can give my family is a loving, joyful, attentive presence. Nothing I can do for them, or give to them is worth a thing if I am crabby, rushed, stressed out or preoccupied.

And then part of a brief devotional from Jesus Calling, Sept 13th. Familiar passage on rest, but new thoughts to me on forming judgments:
Come to me and rest, give your mind a break from its habitual judging. You form judgments about this situation, that situation, this person, that person, yourself - as if judging were your main function in life. But I created you first and foremost to know Me and to live in rich communication with Me. When you become preoccupied with passing judgment, you usurp My role. Relate to Me as creature to Creator, sheep to Shepherd, subject to King, clay to Potter. Allow me to have my way in your life. Rather than evaluating My ways with you, accept them thankfully...

So perhaps I'm unique in struggling through this quest for a little more peace, a little more quiet, a little more rest... but if my conversations with other women are any indicator, it's a universal (at least American!) longing. This is not a new journey for me, not a new longing. Surely I have some say, some decisions, some options, in protecting moments of solitude and quiet. In the meantime, I'll be praying Psalm 90 for myself and for my friends who find themselves spinning - that the favor of the Lord rests upon us AND establishes the work of our hands.