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Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

I read a book called Lamb over the weekend.  The author, Christopher Moore, put together a hilarious take on Christ’s life as told by Christ’s best friend, Biff.  It was gritty and colorful (both in its telling and in its language – read: lots of swearing and sexual situations).

I loved that the story was gritty because I believe that life is gritty and raw.  I believe that more often than not, life is messy.  Life is change and evolution and growth and development and loss and loosely controlled chaos.

We are all on the verge of being tagged out of this great game of life – and yet we mostly live our lives with a somewhat misguided belief that we are immortal.  That’s why we’re shocked when something bad happens.

Sure, there are some of us who are better at faking the control.  There are some who might say, “aw, Em, cute – but I have this all wrapped up!”

But I believe for the rest of us, despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves putting out more fires during the day than checking things off of our “to do” lists – and that’s ok.  My dad liked to quote a Beetle (or someone) who said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

So I loved the grittiness of Lamb.

And I loved that Jesus had a sense of humor in the story.  Yes, the book still portrayed him as innocent, but I loved that his best friend taught him sarcasm (which he used very moderately in the book).  The Bible is great at telling us a lot about Jesus – what he did, his virtues and character – but I kind of wonder about his sense of humor.  Was he playful?  Did he ever play pranks on the disciples?  I wonder if he ever short sheeted Peter’s bedroll or teepeed John’s tent.  Did Jesus spend time on the banks of the Jordan, hanging out with his friends and pondering some of the great mysteries, like: if Elijah and Moses were in a cage match – who would win?

Why does it matter if Jesus had a sense of humor?  I dunno.  I guess I just like the idea of knowing the person of Jesus – I like to imagine what it would be like if Jesus walked in the door and said hello.  Would he have a booming voice or a quiet disposition?  Would he shake my hand or give me a big hug?

I loved that Lamb painted a picture of Jesus that was so much richer than what I am able to glean from the Bible because so much of the Bible gets lost in cultural translation.  Perhaps there ARE elements of Jesus’ sense of humor embedded in the stories about Him – but humor in each culture is so subtle, it’s hard to pick up just by reading without studying the culture further.  And we all know that when you have to explain the joke, it really becomes less funny anway.  I am sure “That’s what she said” would be completely lost on ancient Jews.  And I can only imagine how future generations will interpret our jokes.

But I also felt convicted while reading Lamb.

Not because I was reading a story that was an irreverent and somewhat scandalous telling of Jesus’ life, but because as I read this story,  I was struck by Biff’s unbelief.  I don’t want to ruin the story in the case that you decide to read it, but generally speaking, I was surprised that this character Biff could literally WALK with Jesus for practically of his life and so miss the point on so many occasions.  It reminded me that I often miss the point.  It reminded me that I so frequently forget who Jesus is and get distracted by my own selfish desires.

I don’t know if the author intended for this result – I think the author wrote this book to provide a humorous explanation for what happened to Jesus between the ages of 6 and 32.  And perhaps the author knew enough Christians to know how many of us often spend all of this time learning about Jesus and God and MISSING THE POINT; there are so many of us who KNOW much, but BELIEVE little.

The disciples didn’t always understand what Jesus meant, but they believed in Him.  They were willing to stake it all on Him.  They believed He was who He said He was.

So yeah – I liked Lamb. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great satire.

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Ok, in no particular order:

1.  I am running again.  Well, jogging.  Very, very, very slowly.  At this point, it’s as much for my physical health as it is for my emotional health.  I find that when I run, I am able to process things better and have more energy.  So I am committed to running/jogging/moving my booty every other day.

2.  For anyone wondering about my sugarless lifestyle, yes, we are still sugarless in the K House.  I have to say, there have been quite a few moments of weakness, but we are proud that we haven’t caved.  The only sweets we had were for FK’s 30th birthday.  Hey, that’s a pretty special occasion, right?  So we busted out some cinnamon bread pudding and homemade whipped cream.  Soooo good.  I was worried that it would become some kind of gateway drug – you know, leading to other sugary delights – but we stayed the course and did not venture any further into Candyland.

3. There have been lots of different themes floating around in my life.  I want to write extensively on every single theme, but right now is not the time.  Here are some highlights:

a. Definitions.  I’ve been wondering a lot about how to take control about how I’m defined, both by others and more importantly by myself.  This concern is on a personal and professional level.  Personally, I’m not afraid of being defined as someone who has had a very difficult time having children, but I AM afraid of being defined as ONLY that.  And maybe “afraid” is the wrong word.  I think if people only saw me for this trial, that would be a very limited way of looking at me and that I, and others, would miss out on the bigger picture of what God is doing in my life.  I also think about this a lot professionally, too – the woman who did my job previously really only focused on one particular area, whereas I’ve branched out and brought an entirely different skill set to the game.  I’m concerned that my success is being defined only based on area, without taking into consideration all of the other things I’m bringing to the table.  I have ideas on how to resolve my professional dilemma, but it’s a little bit more difficult to resolve the personal side of things.

b. Attitude. I’ve been battling attitude a lot lately.  For a great many reasons, it’s been particularly difficult for me to keep my attitude in check.  The running is helping with cleaning out any emotional overload, allowing me to refocus my energies when I feel myself slipping into a swirling vortex of sadness.  I think it’s a difficult one to balance, though, because I do believe that I need to be where I am, and not rush through it.  Said another way, I’ve spent a lot of my life checking things off of lists.  I like to do that.  But living a life of checking things off of lists sometimes means that I rush through things to just to get through the list.  A conversation I had tonight reminded me that life is really a series of processes and experiences, not a neat and tidy notebook of lists with check marks next to each item. Discontentment is being in one place, but believing that I should be somewhere else.  I kind of wonder if I would be more content if I just said, “Ok, this is where I am today, and that is ok” – with an understanding that I would not be in this same emotional place forever.  What does it look like to live a more contented life?  Hm.

c. Fluidity. In 2004/2005, I was working a lot of hours.  A lot of hours.  Even when I was not at work, I was mentally at work.  My brain was constantly thinking about things going on at the office; looking for solutions to problems I was having.  It doesn’t help that I worked in advertising and our world is inundated with ad messages.  Even if I didn’t want to take work home with me, it was everywhere.  But when I look back at that time and remember trips we took or things we did, I don’t remember the pervasiveness of work.  I just remember the fun things.  It’s amazing how my brain can edit out work and make my memories into a nice, clean 30 minute montage.  So why do I bring that up and what does it have to do with being more fluid?  Well, I realize that I have a selective way of remembering things.  I remember the joys of the simplicity of life being young when I feel overwhelmed.  But when I really remember what it was like to be me in second grade, I also have to remember that I was totally overwhelmed by simple things then (which were not so simple to me at the time).  I remember lying in bed one night, tossing and turning because I forgot to bring a worksheet home from school.  I knew I would get a “zero” for the assignment.  I finally went into my parents room really late at night (probably 10 p.m.) and told my mom what I was thinking about.  She laughed and told me about times when she felt the same way. The adrenaline from worrying about that worksheet left a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth.  The same taste I get even now when I realize I forgot something or am on a tight deadline.  We edit our memories.  Things do seem better in the past and more hopeful in the future.  Life is constant change.  People are born, people die, people move away, people move in… The sooner that I am comfortable with the idea that nothing is permanent in this life, the easier it is to roll with the punches.  I was not born as a person who is comfortable with being fluid, but over time I’ve come to be better with it.  I think being married to a pilot has expedited my personal growth in this area.  Let’s not go crazy though – I have hardly mastered being fluid and I still love a good check list, but in the realm of things I cannot control, learning to be fluid has been an excessively helpful trait.

So yeah.  Just a few thoughts.  No particular order.  More on some of them later.  Or maybe not.  Well, you can be 100% assured that I will likely talk about running and sugar again.  I’m predictable like that.

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Walking out of work today, there was a smell on the air that smelled like summer and sunshine and softball and Saturdays at dusk.  It was the smell of grass.

I breathed the smell in deeply and I smiled.

If God had a smell, I think it would be fresh grass.

This has been a long winter.  I feel like last winter never ended and it just bled into this winter.

Maybe that says more about the emotional situations that Frank and I have been dealing with than the actual state of the weather around here.

But there was a peace in the air, sweet like the smell of the grass, that made me feel hopeful that while it has been rough, it is far from over.

The world will be new again.

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Well, let’s go back a little further – about eight years ago I was breaking up with my then longest boyfriend ever.

It was definitely for the better.

A few days later, this tall, lanky, cute friend of mine, who was very concerned about my well-being after the break up took me out to dinner.  It was probably one of the best dinners I’d had in a long time.  He was so much fun to talk to!  We laughed the entire way home from the dinner and then we sat around for a few hours talking. When he left, he asked me for a good-bye kiss.

“But I just broke up with my boyfriend…”

EMILY!!!  What were you thinking??

And I didn’t think he was really serious.

I called my friend Julie D (who later caught the bouquet at our wedding, coincidentally) and told her “I think I like my friend Frank!”

A month later I went down to Eastern Illinois University and then University of Illinois to meet up with friends… and Frank.

While at U of I, I told my friends that I had a crush on Frank.  I didn’t want there to be any ambiguity about the situation.

I wore a skirt (I knew, even then, that Frank had a soft spot for skirts)…

We went to a party and came back to my friend Kate’s house.

Instead of my friends leaving Frank and I alone to talk, they all sat on the couch with us.

After five long, awkward minutes of virtual silence with everyone staring at eachother, Frank said, “Well… uh, I gotta get going….”

I walked Frank to the door.  He said, “Well, kiddo, this might be the last time I see you until like, Thanksgiving…”

My heart sunk.

“Really?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Oh.  C’mon, I’m sure I’ll see you before then.”

“Well, how about a good-bye kiss?”

“Frank!  I don’t think so.”  I smiled.  He smiled.

And he left.

Without a good-bye kiss.

EMILY!!! Tactical error!

So, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I didn’t realize that Frank liked me, even though I totally had a crush on him.  I guess the use of the word “kiddo” kind of threw me off.  It’s sort of a distancing, kid-sister kind of word to use.  Plus, we’d been friends for four years – I couldn’t imagine that he was interested in me.

After that weekend, I called Frank one night “just to talk.” For an hour.  The entire time, I was trying to get the nerve up to tell Frank that I liked him.  You know, liked him, liked him.

I couldn’t do it.

I hung up the phone feeling like an idiot.

So I did what any mature adult would do: I went online.  (hey, I was only a senior in college – what did I know)

Tallgrl98: Hi Frank

Frank523: Hi Emily

Tallgrl98: So, I wanted to tell you something on the phone, but I didn’t get the nerve up to tell you on the phone.  Well, anyway, I like you.

(after I hit send, I wanted to hide forever)

Frank523: Well, I like you too, in a non-platonic kind of way.

Here is where I remind you that I was a BUSINESS major.  I couldn’t remember if platonic was good or bad.  Is non-platonic good or bad?

Instead of going on Dictionary.com and finding out that Frank meant that he liked me as more than friends, I assumed that he was telling me that he only liked me as a friend.

SERIOUSLY??  EMILY!!

Thinking that Frank made himself perfectly clear in not liking me, I moved on.

I dated a few other guys.

But I still REALLY liked Frank.

And one night, again on the instant messager, I was talking to Frank about this new guy I was dating and he told me that his heart was broken.

This confused me.  I asked him why.

He explained that he liked me.  As in, he liked me, liked me.

My heart dropped.

I liked the guy I was seeing, but I liked Frank a whole lot more.

Night and day really.

You know, I like orange juice, but I realllly like ice cream.

Two totally different kinds of like.

But who knew what was going to happen with Frank.  He wasn’t sure where he was going after graduation.

My heart was so torn.

Over Memorial Day, I went down to visit a friend in Asheville, NC.  While I was there, we watched a movie and I fell sound asleep on the couch.

While I was sleeping, I dreamt about Frank.  I won’t bore you with the details (and I could totally tell you exactly the dream I had – it’s still vivid), but I woke up with the distinct feeling that I HAD to break up with the guy I was seeing and I HAD to figure out a way to make it work with Frank.

So, as any mature college senior would do, I logged on to instant messager from my friend’s house.

While I was breaking it off with one guy in a conversation in one window, I was making plans to go on a date with Frank in another window.

And my soul felt at peace.

And Frank finally got his good-bye kiss.  And I realized that Frank only says “kiddo” to people he really, really cares about.

About 10 months after our first kiss, Frank proposed on March 21st, 2003.

But one week before he proposed (seven years ago today), I graduated from my PIT class at my first ad agency (PIT= People in Training).  After 10 weeks of the class on top of my regular work load, I was looking forward to having some semblance of my life back.

Frank suggested that we go on a nice date to celebrate the end of training.  Little did I know what he was planning.

What’s funny is that the week before he proposed, I was starting to wonder where the relationship was going.

We were having some pretty deep conversations about our relationship, and in an effort to not tell me his plan to propose, Frank was being a little bit aloof about our future plans.  And I read that as him not wanting to get married.

The good news is that I was wrong.

Six months after Frank proposed, we were married.

I think it worked out perfectly.

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The other day I was driving along, thinking about our fertility situation.  And I realized  that the hardest part of the journey has been the comparisons.

Medical Comparisons – I often find myself thinking of friends I’ve known going through  infertility.  We talk and we compare notes and often I will say, “Hmm, I am worse off because I didn’t get that positive result on that hormone test like Betsy, but I am better off because I ovulated unlike Suzi.”

***

Situational Comparisons –Sometimes Frank and I will say, “Why is it that we can’t get pregnant but XYZ high school student got pregnant thinking about sex??”

***

Comparisons as Comfort –I have experienced this, and I have seen it in action.  It happens a lot when people miscarry – well-meaning friends say, “Well, I know a couple who lost their 2 year old.  At least you didn’t lose a real baby.”  To someone who is pregnant, that child is a real baby and they are experiencing real grief.

Even still, I found myself thinking the other day, “Well, at least it’s not like I’ve gotten pregnant and lost the baby.  I should feel better that at least I just haven’t been able to get pregnant.”  It didn’t make me feel better, by the way.  It still hurts.

***

Comparisons as Advice -Or others will try to make us feel better and say, “Our friends Lynn and Gary were in the same exact situation, but then they adopted/stopped trying/did something else, and it worked! And now they have 5 kids!”

***

I find myself experiencing, thinking or witnessing a lot of these comparisons. I was trying to turn my own attitude around the other day by telling myself, “It’s not like losing a child or a baby.”  But it didn’t help because I still felt loss –  losing the hope for a child or a baby that month.

Everyone has their own problems and issues.  Sure, having babies is difficult for us.  But there are so many other ways in which God has blessed us.  Others might say, “at least you have jobs”  — and they are right.  There are so many positive things going for us.  I rejoice to God in those things and I give thanks to God for those things.

Even though it is so tempting to compare myself and our situation to others, I have to fight it daily because there is no peace in the comparison.  How can there be?  I am not Suzi or Betsy or anyone else.  God has given Frank and I our path of life because He knows us more intimately and more profoundly than anyone else.  He knows how many hairs are on my head (and Frank’s too), He knows all the days of my life.  He knew what today would be like before I did.  In so many ways, He has graciously prepared this season of our life for us by putting people in our lives that have been down this road, have felt this heartache and have glorified God in the process.  What a kind and loving God He is!

Most of my closest friends “get” where I am at and are truly encouraging and comforting and amazing.  But on several occassions, I have had to bite my tongue and listen to people say things that they clearly haven’t thought through.  I find that I actually have a lot of compassion for those people .  It has to be hard to be in their shoes, looking at me and not knowing what to say.  I totally get that.  As someone who regularly sticks her foot in her mouth (and I have HUGE feet), I often say the wrong thing.  And going through this, I feel like I am more qualified to provide a few pieces of advice to anyone wondering what to say to someone like me.

Listen.  Really, really listen.  Grieve with your friend.  Ask questions.  The ability to not get pregnant is difficult and every month that we are not pregnant feels like a loss.  Only it’s not a visable hurt – it’s a quiet hurt.    Don’t cut your friend out of activities or events because children will be there.  Your friend(s) will politely decline if it’s too much for them or they have other plans.  At least give them the option.

And please, don’t tell them “at least you can adopt or foster.”  It’s such a personal decision and it is not a “fix” for not being able to have biological children.  Adoption is a fantastic route for starting or expanding a family, especially if you are at a place where your heart is open to it.  But you wouldn’t say to someone who lost their spouse, “Well, there are other fish in the sea.”

And hey, I totally know that 99.9% of people mean well.  If you see someone hurting, then you try to tell them things to help them feel better.   But sometimes part of healing is hurting.  And that is ok.

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