Saturday, February 28, 2009

the tiger's nest

The other day I discovered the list of tags for this blog.  There were only 3 that I’ve used more than once.  They were fear, love, and surrender.   I found this appropriate as the most significant moments of my life have involved these three actions…births, deaths, illness, healing, mystical experiences.  I would have to say I would have never truly experienced love without experiencing some fear.  And that in order to overcome those fears a degree of surrender occurred. 

John told me a story that illustrates this so beautifully.  He saw a beautiful picture of a Buddhist temple while waiting in a doctor’s office with his dad.  In the picture the traditional pagoda style monastery appears to jut out from rocky cliff and overlook a deep forested canyon.  He decided to ask the doctor if he had taken the picture when he went in with his dad.  The doctor told him that his wife had taken the picture.  They were in Bhutan on a doctors without borders mission.  The monastery is not open to the public, but because of their work they were given a special pass that enabled them to tour the Tiger’s Nest monastery.  The only way to get to the monastery was to take a small footpath that hugged the side of the mountain.  The path was so narrow and the cliff so high that they couldn’t bring themselves to go all the way and turned back about the halfway point.  The beauty, the peace, the wholeness, the truth was so alluring, but their fears were too great to overcome. 

I am finding myself once again on a narrow path like this.  It is so easy to retreat to the familiar, the accepted, the expected.  Surrendering to experience something different takes mindfulness, patience, determination, passion.  Sometimes I feel like my foot could slip at any minute.  And the more steps I take, the longer and more difficult the path becomes.   As we are entering the time of Lent, I can’t help but relate this to the passion of Christ.  Step after step walking toward what is truth, what is Love, rebuking fears and the world to do what we are called to do.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”-Matthew 7:13-14

Monday, February 23, 2009

fun things we've made

It's show and tell time.  Here are some projects that we've completed recently...

I love the Picasso-like face on this snowman that Jude made at a recent storytime...

And here are some valentine's gifts I made for family and friends this year....

Travel tissue holders became a favorite project. I used this tutorial to get the size and a method, but I decided to change the design to make them more interesting. They are quick and satisfying. I love combining fabrics so each one was a real treat except the one I did with silk lining because an edge frayed around the opening. Oh well, now I have a travel tissue holder.

A red rosette pin for my mom made from felted sweater scraps and a fabric covered button.

A lavender rosette pin that ended up looking a bit different when all was said and done. I added two more pins to the center in different shades of pink and purple.

Late Christmas presents....
I used a pattern to get started on this felted purse, but I had to modify the original design quite a bit since I was using felt and wanted to do a couple of things differently.  I used a thrifted abercrombie and fitch belt for the strap and added a flap for the clasp.  The original design is called the 1-hour bag. took me 3 weeks, but I have been planning this bag for over a year.  I love the juxtaposition of the sandals with the felted wool.  It's like the little reminder of summer that we all need in the winter.

This is the third fold-able shopping bag that I have made using this tutorial.  I think I finally got it right this time.  I finally understood all the directions which seemed to help a lot.

And for fun...
A hat for Jude.  I used and followed this well-written tutorial.  There were some tricky parts to this design, but the designer really explained it well and made the project easy-peasy.  And it makes my guy look adorable so I'm happy with this one! (Notice Elmo on stage in the background.)

"I think there is something necessary and life-giving about 'creative work'.  A state of excitement.  And it is like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on, and the more you turn it on, the more comes." ~Brenda Ueland

Saturday, February 21, 2009

the parent-child dynamic

A friend of mine who is Greek sent me the link for this short movie.  I found it so touching, especially since I know so many people who are taking on new roles with their parents.  It is so interesting that as we age many of us will become dependent on others just as we were when we were children.  

Jude will often repeat the same thing over and over until I say exactly the same thing back to him.  He just wants to make sure that I am really listening.  That I am there.  Admittedly, I let a lot distract me.  One of the things he will say many, many times a day is "I love you, mommy." He uses it like "thank you".  May we all have the patience and grace to “just be” with our children and our parents and appreciate them for just who they are.  

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus

Thursday, February 19, 2009

holy water

There are a lot of things that I am passionate about, and water is one of them. Water is necessary for life. Without it, no life exists. But beyond that, good water is necessary for health. And it is getting harder and harder to find good water. Yesterday I heard a story that cited more than 40 % of wells tested in a Pennsylvania study failed to meet the state’s safe drinking water standard.

I’ve been buying alkalized water from a place in Lewisburg. It is filtered and, using electrolysis, separated into smaller mineral clusters. Supposedly, it hydrates you more easily. I buy it because it is filtered and alkaline.

Today, I went in to buy 5 gallons. I reached down on the bottom shelf and removed the jugs and saw on a piece of cardboard these letters LOVE AND GR. The rest of the letters were covered by more gallons of water. I recognized it at once because this is a blessing that I had over my kitchen sink for quite a while (until John cleaned the windows and didn’t replace my blessing). I also use it as a breathe prayer. On the inhale I will say to myself “love” and on the exhale “gratitude”.

I told the owner how cool it was that she had this blessing on the water and asked if she ever saw Masaru Emoto’s fascinating work on ice crystals. That got us started on a lovely conversation about love and gratitude having the highest vibrational frequency and all the implications. It was so inspiring to know that she was applying this to her business…the water business.

I know there is a lot of skepticism about alkalized, oxygenated, or energized water like the water I buy in Lewisburg. There are numerous anecdotal accounts of people being helped by the alkalized water. And so I just take off my scientist hat, put my hands to my chest, and give a deep bow of gratitude (and love!) to all that I don’t understand. Then I take a big drink of water.

“Water has a message for the world: The world is linked together by love and gratitude.”-Masaru Emoto, The Hidden Messages in Water

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

life's a party

Don't you wish life could really be like this...spontaneous parties, gaiety, dancing where ever you went?  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pauper to princess

Last week in the midst of all the turmoil over the job, I found myself experiencing a wide range of emotions…despair, excitement, dread, anticipation, fear. Ah…that was it. When I got right down to it, I was afraid. I was afraid that if I went back to work something would happen like when I went back to work before Bennett was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was also afraid of what might happen to my relationship with Jude. Would he suddenly discover he didn’t need to be a mommy’s boy anymore?

I was also frustrated. It seemed like all our dreams were being thrown out the window. Because I have trouble stopping at what happens when I take a job for 7 weeks. I end up skipping years ahead and thinking, “Okay, great, now I’ll be working full-time there is no way that I can homeschool Jude.” But being able to pay off our debt and having enough money to pay our bills sounded so good to me too; at least having less stress about these things. I ended up having to surrender it all to God. There was no easy answer.

Then I received a Bible Study the day before my job interview. When I clicked on the link and at the top of the page appeared the picture I have at the top of this page. I was instantly drawn to it because that was exactly how I felt. There I was clinging to the earth when Jesus was reaching out to me with a crown of jewels.

The Bible study was about chapter 41 in Genesis. This is a story about Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream that there would be 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. Joseph is put in charge of all of Egypt, and he stores up huge amounts of grain that he sold when the famine came.

After I read the chapter, I asked God what I was supposed to take from it. Clearly, I was shown that this job was a way of providing for our family now…it was God’s provision to prepare for a time when the resources will be needed.

I emailed Brenda Hendricks, the person who sent the Bible Study, to find out more about the picture. I told her that the woman in the picture was me. She told me that the ashes falling from the woman’s hand spell the word “Pauper”. And that the jewels in the crown spell the word “Princess”. On the cross were the words “Jesus Saves.”

She told me that as she worked on the illustration she had these thoughts… “discard the ashes of your past pauper-existence for now you are the Bride of Christ.” By clinging to the earthly things and ways as I do, I have become such a pauper. Not just in a financial sense, but in a spiritual sense. There are heavenly riches that I cannot even fathom if I can trust and have faith in Christ.

And so I did. I took that leap of faith again. I went to the interview with the thought that it didn’t matter one way or the other to me personally whether I got the job. If I got it there was some reason for me to be there. If I didn’t, God needed me somewhere else.

I’ll have to say, even though I hadn’t interviewed for a job in 10 years, that was the easiest job interview I ever had. I basically had a conversation with the four people who were interviewing me (the principal, assistant principal, and two teachers). After a while, the principal said, we had a bunch of questions we were going to ask you, but I have a good feeling about this. I don’t think we need to ask any questions. He called before I got home to offer me the job. I asked if I could let him know tomorrow because I wanted time to pray about it.

I start in April probably 3 years to date that I left my classroom when Jude was born.

"You turned my mourning into dancing
You stripped me of my sorrow and clothed me with your joy
I cannot be silent, I will sing Your praises forever." ~Psalms 30:11&12 (paraphrased by Brenda Hendricks)
The illustration was used with permission from Brenda Hendricks

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The fog lifted, temperatures are rising, and the ice is flowing….

Tuesday morning, I drove into Lewisburg for Qigong. I was still brewing over all the job stuff. I called my mom and spent most of the 30 minute drive in talking about how uncertain I was about going back to work right now. It was incredibly foggy which was the perfect metaphor for my mental and emotional state. I arrived at Qigong. And after an hour of meditation, slow movements to disperse stagnant Qi, and acquire and redistribute new Qi the fog had lifted. We looked out the window and you could see the Bucknell practice field and route 15 again. And I suddenly had no feeling one way or the other about working again. I surrendered it all.

Well…I have more to write about that, but I’ll leave it at that for now because the rest of the week was chaos. I had the job interview on Thursday. Jude has pneumonia and infections in both ears. With a fever that has been difficult to get down, he has been lying on the couch for four days. The plus side of this is that he has said “Mommy, I love you” about 10,000 times. I am so blessed to have such a sweetie. And, I have a sinus infection with a fever as well.

The temperature is rising outside too. The water is rising as the ice is flowing slowly by our house. Thankfully, it’s not raining.

“Feed a cold, starve a fever” –wise American proverb (not much of an appetite here anyway)

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm back

Aunt Judy called me on my cell phone last Friday and said “Where are you?” My response at the time made perfect sense to me given the chaos of last week. “I think I’m here,” I responded. The truth was my mind was racing all last week as I wrote test articles for freelance writing gigs, attended playgroups, and looked for and applied to teaching jobs.

And besides the activities that have me all over the place, there is a battle of beliefs rolling around in my head that’s been keeping me rather occupied. There is part of me that really needs some relief from the financial strain that our family is experiencing and then there is another part of me that believes so much in the dream of being stay home with Jude. There is no easy way out. I believe in dreams. I believe in doing what you are passionate about and doing it to your best ability. I believe this is what should drive your choices and actions. But without a bit of guilt, shame, or even disillusionment (much to the disagreement of my beloved) I know there is a huge part of me who doesn’t give a whoo about money, but there is another part that likes to buy Apollinaris mineral water at $2.49 a pop. I like knowing we have good credit because we pay our bills on time. And I like having more than a few coins in my wallet.

Jude, regardless of what is going on, will respond “pretty good” if you ask him how he is? how his food is? etc. I’ve been working very hard to appreciate all I have. I’ve been finding many blessings in these circumstances. But the best I can manage anymore is “okay” when asked the same questions. And sometimes, not often, I feel like saying, “pretty crappy.”

I know how to find joy in any circumstance. I know how to stay present and not let my mind slip away into what ifs. I know how to avoid sending negative energy to future, a.k.a. worrying. But for some reason right now I’m struggling.

I have a job interview this Thursday…. I hope I can be there.

Been meditating over these today at the wise advice of a friend….
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8
“I’m not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” –Philippians 4:11-13