The Mat Doesn’t Taste Very Good, part 2

Here’s the deal: a few months back I determined to attempt to get closer to God than I had ever been. I got down on my face, in the literal sense of the word, multiple times daily (and sometimes in the dead of night) to talk to Him, and to try to hear His voice. I doubled up on my daily Bible reading. I made a point to praise Him in all things.

 

I lasted a few weeks.

 

In those few weeks, there were no mind-blowing or earth-shattering revelations. The clouds did not part. I heard no audible voice. I did not perceive any response from heaven whatsoever. In other realms, however?

 

All hell broke loose.

 

Beneath the surface of my cool exterior (heh), there was a battle raging. The swing had swung, and I was grinding through the mud again.

 

It hardly seemed fair.

 

The harder I tried to “press in”, the thicker the mud became.

 

Doubts, fears, depression, darkness. Deep, deep darkness settled over me. I felt more than ever like the ship tossed by every wind and wave, incapable of receiving anything from the Lord because of my own incapacity for trust.

 

And so I gave up. I got off my face. I staggered over to the corner of the mat to get my eye stitched up and my mouthpiece replaced.

 

And I stayed there.

 

I didn’t know what God was doing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. Especially if He was doing nothing at all; watching impassively from the sidelines.

 

As time passed and I slogged up out of the pit, I mustered up the courage to question God. Why? Why, God? What gives? When I draw near to You, You’re supposed to draw near to me, not duck and cover while the devil and my own traitorous nature break chairs over my head repeatedly.

 

Keep wrestling. I heard Him speak to my heart. Just keep wrestling until the blessing comes.

 

I might have snorted aloud when He said it. But I knew it was truth. And I also knew that I was scared spitless to enter the ring again.

 

I knew that He had said everything that can shake, WILL shake. Whatever can be lost WILL be lost. That His trials are the fire by which we are refined. And I realized that is the crux of my fear. That is what causes me, over and over again, to forfeit the match, gather the shreds of my strength and my wits, and retreat.

 

I do not want to lose everything.

 

I am deeply, profoundly afraid that there is nothing in me of substance. Nothing that cannot shake. Nothing that will not be lost. That, at my core, I am a vast wasteland of dross, with no silver to be refined, and when the fire comes, I will simply melt away and be no more.

 

When the shaking is done, what if only dust remains?

 

My Beloved bears the brunt of my fist-flailing. He watches and prays as the tears fall, and holds the glue that pieces me back together. He says the darndest things to me.

 

Even the dust belongs to God  he says. Maybe that’s what knowing Him really requires; the willingness to become dust again if we have to.

 

He’s quite the preacher, that man of mine, though he’s never been paid for it.

 

So I am coming to believe that it’s not about tending to my wounds and hoping that someday I’ll be strong enough to go ten rounds. It’s not about getting out alive.

 

It’s about being weak. It’s about letting the battle rage, and trusting that if all that is left is dust, then it will be His good pleasure to breathe life into it.

 

He’s pretty good at that, after all.

 

He paid the ultimate price for you. My beloved asserts. Because you are worth something to Him. You are more than the dust you are made from.

 

I’m choosing to believe it. I’m taking that promise to the mat. And this time I’m going down for the count.

What’s in a name?

Stole this from my good friend Straight Shooter…although it’s been around a while, I had never tried my hand at the full gamut of name possibilities!

 

Feel free to purloin it for your own site and amusement!

 

  • Rock Star Name: (1st Pet’s name & current car) ~ Otto Taurus
  • Fly Guy/Girl Name: (1st initial + first 3 letters of your last name) ~ J-Wil
  • Detective Name: (Fave color & fave animal) ~ Blue Rabbit
  • Soap Opera Name: (Middle name & city/town born in) ~ Rose Anchorage
  • Star Wars Name: (First 3 letters of last name + first 2 of first name) ~ Wilje
  • Superhero: (“The” & second fave color & fave drink) ~ The Green Margarita
  • Nascar Name: (1st names of grandfathers’) ~ Richard Martin
  • Stripper Name: (Fave scent/perfume/cologne & fave candy) ~ Obsession Caramel
  • Witness Protection Name: (Mom & Dad’s middle name) ~ Mollien Harvey
  • Weather Anchor Name: (5th grade teacher’s last name & a city which starts with the same letter) ~ I don’t think my 5th grade teacher HAD a last name…she was a nun!
  • Spy/Bond Name: (fave season/holiday & fave flower) ~ Summer Lilac
  • Cartoon Name: (fave fruit & article of present clothing + “ie” or “y”) ~ Apple Shortie
  • Hippy Name: (What you ate for breakfast & fave tree) ~ Coffee Sycamore

You know…I think that last one sounds distinctly UN-hippie-ish, sadly enough. I would love to have a hippie name.

 

My favorite is the stripper name. Perfect.

LOST: MY Way

So I finally watched the LOST season finale! I’m all caught up! And let me tell you, folks…I am not a little dissatisfied.

 

Hello, writers for LOST? How about you stop getting all your best ideas from the daily horoscope and instead come up with a cohesive plan for your characters that involves them behaving in ways that are at least 53% in-character at least 67% of the time?

 

But rather than rant about all the things that the writers have done to underestimate their viewers (not the least of which is, ostensibly, expecting us to forget all about the entire first season), I decided to take the opportunity to simply write my own ending.

 

So hold onto your Dharma-issued hardhat and prepare for what will surely be the finest possible conclusion to the dizzying twists and ridiculous turns in the lives of our friendly and conflicted castaways on the mysterious island.

 

Firstly, Sawyer and Juliette settle down in a little California Craftsman bungalow on the coast and have a half-dozen adorable little blonde boys named Desmond, Hurley, Sayid, Jin, Daniel, and Miles. Also a sweet little girl whom they do NOT name Kate. Sawyer becomes a best-selling writer of pulp fiction, and wears his glasses frequently. He homeschools the kids while Juliette does the Doctor thing and they celebrate 63 years of marriage before dying in one another’s arms during an earthquake.

 

(smolder, smolder)

 

Sawyer and Juliette rent their garage apartment out to Jacob, who can weave to his heart’s content without fear of loopholes and psychopathic lesser dieties. Ben comes to visit frequently to work out his Daddy issues without interference from the aforementioned, and every session ends in with healing tears and lots of hugs. He dotes on Sawyer and Juliette’s children, and becomes their much-beloved Uncle Benry.

 

he just wants to be loved, folks!

 

Daniel and Sayid set up a lab at Oxford University, and, with their combined dizzying intellects, change the world by inventing a bra equipped with an anti-gravitational force-field and no underwire.

 

brains AND beauty!

 

cutest egghead around

 

Miles and Hurley join together and create the ultimate forensics team, fighting crime and bringing peace to the families of deceased people everywhere. If there’s a body, Miles talks to them. If not, then Hurley. Super hot girl groupies hang upon their every word. Hurley lives to the ripe old age of 89, in spite of never losing a single pound.

 

super twin powers! Activate!

 

Sun and Jin and little Ji Yeon buy their own sailboat and join Desmond, Penny, and little Charlie in sailing around the world and having pretty much the most freakin’ amazing lifestyle imaginable. Ji Yeon and Charlie get married eventually, of course, and all the far-flung characters from the island come together to get misty-eyed and sing songs from Fiddler on the Roof.

 

awwwwwwwwwwwww!

 

Uhhhh…a little too close-up…sorry…it was all I could find!
 

 

Richard insures his eyelashes for two million dollars apiece and retires to a museum-quality display case.

 

In my living room.

 

Heh. Heh.

 

Is he ugly, or what?

 

Oh! But let’s not forget about Jack and Kate!

 

Oh no, we musn’t forget about them, the precious little angst-riddled, wishy-washy, two-faced, desperately co-dependant, emotional lampreys (bless their hearts).

 

The only question is, what would be the most appropriate conclusion for two of what are surely the most irritating characters ever to grace the small screen?

 

I puzzled over many scenarios, my friends, including those involving sharks and life rafts, but in the end, I decided that the only just and fair finale would be to leave them both on the island, alone, forever and ever, amen. Although it is tempting to have him die by man-o-war eventually, leaving Kate with only palm trees and sea kelp to beguile.

 

somebody needs to file for emotional bankruptcy

 

So there you have it. It gives me intense satisfaction to play out these little endings in my mind, much as I did with Gone With The Wind when I was a child and yelling What??? That’s IT???? at the TV screen as the credits rolled. Anybody out there want to chime in with their own conclusions? Please, tell me what endings you would like to see for your favorite (or not-so-favorite) characters!

Metaphor Monday

Anyone up for a metaphor this fine Memorial Monday morning? If you are, read on. If not, go here and learn how to refute relativism.

 

(I pride myself on taking a “something for everyone” approach here at ye olde blogge.)

 

 

Anyway.

 

A while back some of the kids and I planted Sweet Pea seeds along the wall behind our house. I knew that Sweet Peas, being a flower of a viney variety, would need something to clamber up sooner or later, but I didn’t take the time to locate and provide such a structure right away. Frankly, I’m not always successful in getting flowers to grow from seeds, no matter how elementary such an endeavor seems to be, so I wanted to see if they’d even sprout before I bothered.

 

Sprout they did, however, and they began to grow quite vigorously. Before I knew it, they were a foot long, and practically waking me from my sleep at night with their desperate cries for supportive help. So the other day, I went out to take care of the problem, and lo and behold, a metaphor! Right in front of my eyes!

 

The little darlings were sprawling all over the ground, trying in vain to reach for the sky as they were intended to do. Instead, they were wrapping their little tendrils around anything they could find, with dismal results. They had wrapped around each other, around the bark on the ground, even around themselves, for pete’s sake.

 

 

The sad thing is, in their desperate wrapping around whatever was near, they were inflicting damage upon themselves and each other. Turns out those little tendrils are shockingly strong! They were breaking one another’s stems and choking the life force out of themselves.

 

 

I enlisted the help of my 13 year old in unravelling the mess and in gently wrapping the flummoxed foliage around some wooden trellises left over from last years veggie garden. I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the flowers entwined themselves up the supports…I like to think I could hear shrill little piping voices expressing thanks to me for the help.

 

 

Anthropomorphize much? Oh, you have no idea.

 

I don’t know about you, but I see myself in those Sweet Peas. I cling to the world, I cling to other people, heck, I even cling to myself in my eternal quest for support and strength. But I always wind up on the ground sooner or later, broken and mangled. Sometimes I even take somebody down with me.

 

I need something stronger, straighter, and sturdier than this world. I need to be staked and supported if I’m going to climb higher. And there is no surer trellis for the human soul than the cross of Christ.

 

 

 

Got a metaphor for me? Leave a link in the comments! And feel free to take my little Metaphor Monday badge.

Dear Ocean,

My darling, beloved friend! I’m sure you have been questioning my devotion to you these two long years since last we met. You think me cold, unfeeling, faithless! But nothing could be further from the truth!

 

My longing for you is a deep and endless ache, an appetite that cannot be quenched by any mortal thing, a cruel torment of misty dreams and memories worn to tatters by my constant handling.

 

How long must we be apart? How long will time and space stand between us? Must I forever pine for a permanent union? Will my tears be my only taste of you?

 

How I long for your warm embrace, your salty kiss, your boundless generosity. I long to walk with you and discover your many moods…from blue and peaceful to grey and stormy, how I love your unpredictability! Every day with you is a surprise.

 

I cherish the gifts you’ve given me through the years. I turn them over and over in my hand and try to hear your voice in them. Your scent is long gone from their surface, but when I close my eyes I catch an echo of its perfume.

 

Dearest, fairest, brightest friend! If circumstances forever prevent our reunion, know that I am, as I ever was…

 

Yours.

 

The Caribbean Vacation that Almost Was

Have you heard that the economy is shot to heck? Up the creek? Over a barrel? Between a rock and a hard place? In a pickle? On the fritz? And other assorted prepositional phrases?

 

Yeah. I think I heard that somewhere.

 

Fortunately, even though the economy is, well…you know…here’s some good news. You can still take a lovely Caribbean vacation! Yes! In fact, in my current issue of Coastal Living (AKA “that glossy publication that repeatedly causes me to break commandment #10 into teeny, weeny pieces”), there is an entire article devoted to helping good, hardworking folks like you and me save a buck or two on just such an endeavor. And since I am all things magnaminous, I will henceforth share this information with all of you.

 

First on the docket is the fabulous island of St. Lucia. Can you believe such places exist on this earth? Are those angelic voices that I hear, or have I just suffered a minor brain embolism in the face of so much lush tropicality?

 

 

Lucky, lucky us! Coastal Living informs me that we can go and stay at the Jade Mountain resort in St. Lucia anytime this year and receive our fourth night FREE!!!! FREE!!! Absolutely FREEE!!!!!

 

Pack your bags! Buy your flip flops! Slather on the sunscreen! Wax your…

 

Hang on.

 

Forgot to mention something.

 

The first three nights? $850.

 

Per night.

 

Okay, okay, okay! Don’t despair! I’m sure that was just a little joke to whet our appetites. Let’s move on and see what else they can offer us middle class slobs who stand in Wal Mart and compare cost-per-oz before choosing a can of garbanzo beans.

 

Deep, cleansing breath.

 

Ready!

 

Oooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….be still my heart. The Turks and Caicos Islands are surely the jeweled landing on the staircase to heaven, if not the lobby of heaven itself. Drink it in, my friends. Drink it in.

 

 

And guess what???  After June 1st, rates drop several hundred dollars per night! And if you book four nights in a row, you get FREE MEALS!!!!!

 

Where’s my snorkel? Is my passport still valid? Does my camera have batteries? Has anybody seen…?

 

Ahem.

 

I seem to have overlooked the fine print.

 

Staying in one of those cute little pavilions?

 

$1200. Per night.

 

But yoga classes are free with that! And afternoon tea!

 

If your windows shatter suddenly, do not be alarmed. It is simply the frequency of my shrieks at this moment.

 

Okay, Coastal Living. I’m giving you one more chance. Show me something that the teeming masses can enjoy, or I’ll cancel my subscription.

 

How about Virgin Gorda? It’s a sweet little British spot of fragrant frangipani, sea grape trees, and white sand beaches rimmed by that undefinable blue-green Caribbean sea.

 

 

I’m finding it difficult to type, my keyboard being so slick with drool.

 

The good news? Seven-night stay packages are several THOUSAND dollars cheaper right now.

 

So now, nights at the resorts run a paltry $700, champagne included.

 

What are you waiting for? It’s practically free!

 

Forget drooling. I’m starting to spit.

 

On the bright side, I think I’ve figured out what sort of relaxing, sun-drenched vacation I can afford this summer.

 

And it looks something like this.

 

Some thoughts on taking extended bloggy hiatuses

Hiatuses? Hiati? Hiatia? Hiatial?

 

Anyway.

 

Where did I ever find the time for this blogging business? How was it that my many small offspring were not wandering the streets, naked and tear-stained, begging for scraps, while I blogged my little heart out?

 

And what about now? Now that I have had two months of NON-bloggage? Shouldn’t I have written a couple of novels? Maybe an opera or symphony or something? Engineered a cure for tennis elbow? Solved the problem of the gigantic floating raft of plastic in the Pacific?

 

Sadly, no.

 

I have, however, logged some serious grandson-cuddling hours. And baked a few birthday cakes. And took a few nature walks. And breathed in and out, deeply.

 

It has been really good to quiet the running blog-commentary in my head for a while. That crap is really annoying sometimes. And to take pictures simply because, hey, I wanted to, not because I felt compelled to plaster them on the internet later, with captions.

 

Still haven’t figured out what I want from this little forum, but I have at least decided to continue, albeit in a much more scaled-back form. Frankly, I need a brain-dump site. Sort of like Dumbledore’s penseive; I simply don’t have room in my mind for all the daily flotsam that I’d like to remember.

 

Some of that flotsam is pretty important, I’ve learned.

 

So here I am, and if anybody is left reading, I am humbly grateful. I’ll keep hashing out my soul’s wranglings for my own insight, but talking to someone besides myself is always nice.

 

And now, some pictures. Complete with captions, from the last couple of months.

 

Because old habits die hard.

First, there was this delightful creature, who came along after a verymuch extremely grueling labor and delivery (remind me to tell you about it sometime)…

 

who turned these two lovely people into a family…

 

for which some of us are extremely grateful…

while others are still reserving their opinion…

And then there were birthdays (Jordan, left: 13-mine; Ian, right: 13-my sister’s)

And more birthdays…(Tasha turned 10)…

And more birthdays….(who, me?  Turning One?)…

Awesome!!

Cowboy X cupcakes…

Demolished unceremoniously…

He has the most ridiculous eyelashes ever for a blonde baby of one year…

But anyway, back to the birthdays…(Emma, now quite elderly at 7yrs)…

Girl + 7 years old = horsey birthday party theme…

The Mona Lisa turned 18…

 

But it hasn’t ALL been birthdays…we also did some of this…

 

 

Which is pretty awesome…

And some of this…

 

And this…

And this.

 

Which brings me to the end of this ridiculously long hi, howyadoin, I’m back post.

 

What have you been up to?