Missing Her

Last week was the four years since my mother-in-love passed away from cancer. Four. It seems like last week. It seems like a lifetime ago. And of course I always think about her that week, just like I also think about her on Mother’s Day and her birthday and my husband’s birthday. Just like I think about her on a weekly basis. It’s been four years and I don’t remember when it happened but I finally quit reaching for my phone to text her but I’ve never stopped remembering her. But I don’t usually GRIEVE her on those “big days” though. In fact last week, even while remembering the last 12 hours, I felt buoyant. I found myself smiling. In part, that’s because even in her last hours, hard as they were, she gave us reasons to smile through our tears. We can celebrate that she’s not suffering anymore, that we will see her again. So I’m not surprised necessarily when those milestone days don’t cause tears. But a couple of weeks ago, my supervisor’s father died after a long and difficult struggle with cancer. And when he sent our team the email with an ADORABLE picture attached, I found myself sobbing at my desk. Not just crying. Quietly sobbing. Once I gathered myself, I went to my husband’s office to let him know (we work at the same organization) and I found tears leaking down my cheeks again. Thankfully I was still clutching a tissue. I cried off and on all day. I had worked there for a month. I don’t know my supervisor that well and I had never met his parents. But I realized, I missed my mother-in-love. Grief rolled over me like a freak storm.

That’s the most recent example. Four years and while it doesn’t happen as often (or as dramatically), the most mundane moments will send me into a tailspin of missing her. It might last a few seconds or a few minutes. It might result in tears or just a tightness in my chest. But it’s never something I can prepare for. Grief is a strange thing isn’t it?

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit

I have never had reason to describe myself as a “morning person”. I have re-arranged my schedule at various times of my life (including this one) to be up early but it’s never been my natural rhythm. So when my wide awake brain popped my eyes open at 4:30am (30 mins before my alarm), I jokingly thought to myself “Well…this is an act of God.” However, when I sat down with my Bible app for an extra half hour and “randomly” stumbled upon a verse that I’ve read a million times but suddenly jumped out at me with different implications that spoke directly to something that has been nagging in the back of my mind for a while now, that thought suddenly didn’t seem so much like a joke.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalms 37:4 NLT

I had been wrestling a bit with this concept that God should be enough, that my joy and contentment should come from my relationship with Him, that if I never board another airplane or my body never cooperates again, I can be okay – even happy – in those circumstances. Except I wasn’t. I’m not.  I want lots of travel and supernatural healing, just to name a couple of things. And doesn’t the Bible say right there in Psalms that I can have what I want? I’m not sure how to “delight in the Lord”. Some days I “get it” better than others and it’s something I pray for daily but some days, delight is not the word I would use.

But I realized that morning that the verse isn’t saying I can get whatever I want. It’s saying if my focus is on my relationship with Jesus, He will give me the actual desires. Not what I think I want – He will actually give me the desires that line up with Him.

Now I’ve HEARD that general concept before. I’ve heard it preached from the stage and in various podcasts and in this devotion and that study and blah blah blah. But for some reason, it made sense this time. And there was a bit of a relief in realizing that it’s okay to “give up” a dream or desire. I don’t have to keep striving for something just because I “always have” or it’s “my thing”. God might, quite literally, be removing a dream or desire from my life and replacing it with something else. And that’s okay. It’s good.

That being said – I still wouldn’t mind a plane ticket and supernatural healing.

Thanksgiving?

I think I’ve mentioned this before but I live a charmed life. Seriously. But I don’t participate in “30 Days of Thanksgiving” or anything like that because history shows, if I commit to do something like that, I am less likely to do anything even slightly resembling my commitment. I will take pictures daily and be aware of beautiful, wonderful moments in my life…but the moment I sign up for “100 Happy Days” or whatever the flip it’s called…pft. Pictures? I have a camera?

I have been slowly becoming more aware of moments of thankfulness and more conscious of actually including God in those moments with quick prayer of thanks instead of fleeting thoughts of contentment. But recently I’ve found this dangerous irritating little voice whispering in the back of my head.

Me: “Gorgeous sunrise. Thank you for a beautiful start to this clear day. I love driving in clear weather.”

Dangerous whisper: “Yeah…but would you still have a thankful heart if there was a foot of snow on the ground and nothing but gray clouds overhead?”

Me: “I love my home so much. Thank you for providing this beautiful shelter and the opportunity to indulge in Thanksgiving cooking!”

Dangerous whisper: “What if you were spending Thanksgiving in a hospital? Or a homeless shelter? What would your attitude be like, your prayers sound like?”

This voice is dangerous because it’s prompting me to start adding a layer to my conversations with God. It’s causing me to start asking, not for more moments of contentment, but a heart and spirit that is prepared to be thankful and content in situations that aren’t beautiful, warm & cozy.

20151124_193906I am still incredibly grateful for the plethora of warm fuzzy moments that I’m experiencing. I mean seriously – this was my view while baking pies this week. A cat napping near a fireplace…it doesn’t get more warm & fuzzy than that. At the same time, I am aware that my comfort isn’t what is important…and it’s definitely not guaranteed. Would I still maintain a grateful heart and deep rooted joy even in the midst of hard times?

What would you do?

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

I’ve always hated that question because I couldn’t answer it. But last night I realized I was always looking for an answer that was grand and/or spiritual. But the truth is my answer is rather…mundane. I’d be a full time/professional photographer.

Boring huh.

I realized it when I was wrestling with whether to borrow a friend’s Nikon D40 for a couple of weeks. She’s selling it for a pretty good price but offered to let me play with it before she puts out on Ebay.  I can’t justify dropping the money on any DSLR…even one for such a good price. We have a decent camera. And for what I use it for, it’s sufficient. Would I love to branch out and make it a side business? Yes. But. There are A LOT of talented photographers with unique personalities that shine through their work.  I’d even go as far to say the field is starting to get saturated if it’s not already to that point. I don’t know that my little corner of the world would support another fledgling photographer. So I’ll enjoy playing with the DSLR while I have access to it. And I’ll enjoy learning manual mode on our camera. And I’ll enjoy making sure our kids have plenty of pictures to remember their childhood by.

So what about you? What would you do if you were guaranteed success?

Oversexualization

I’ve heard it argued that women shouldn’t be so catty towards Megan F0x. That they should be self assured and proud. After all, she is not a woman to take home to mom. She’s just an object of lust and the “real women” are the ones that men really want to spend their time with. But. I don’t think any man would deny wanting to get just one evening with her (or some other fantasy woman).Yes, they love their wives and girlfriends and fiancees. Yet they’re being bombarded with these highly sexual images. And how does that affect how they view their “real women”? How can a man come home to their normal, average woman and feel any passion towards her whatsoever? Warm fuzzies , appreciation for her, yeah. But relationships don’t thrive on warm fuzzies. A relationship fed by kisses on the forehead, a peck on the lips and the occasional cuddle is starving. They don’t survive on pure passion either – there has to be a balance, a blend of elements.  But it’s like setting someone in a room full of luscious delectable foods that’s locked behind glass all day and then sending them home to broccoli. How appetizing is THAT?

And how is it affecting us as women? We’re bombarded every day with these unattainable images. And though we may intellectually KNOW it’s a fantasy created with lighting and make up artists and photo-shop, after awhile of seeing it everywhere we turn, it’s easy to internalize. It’s difficult to look in the mirror and NOT quietly critique the differences. We’re told to celebrate our uniqueness, to focus on what makes us beautiful. We trumpet our strong, independent, self assured feminine selves. And then we flip through channel after channel of fantasies. We listen to men casually comment on the beauty & sexiness of the fantasies in everyday conversations. And we lay in bed and wonder how we can possibly live up to that, how we can possible spark the lust in our men that we hear & see them exhibit towards the dancers and vampires and spies and aliens and super-heroines.

I don’t fault the Megan F0x-es of the world. They’re doing their job. They’re doing what we pay them do. We buy the magazines and go to their movies. We tune in to the tv shows and scan the websites. Women want to be that, men want to be WITH that. I just wonder how much of this over-sexualization is affecting our divorce rates? How much of discontent in relationships is fed by these images? How many women lay awake next to their spouse wondering if he’ll ever desire her and what she can do to BE desirable?

Is there a male version of Megan F0x? I honestly don’t know. While there are male celebrities I find attractive, sexy even, I don’t fantasize about them. Maybe I’m the odd one out there but I’m honestly so completely satisfied with my husband that I don’t consider anyone else. Call it the honeymoon phase if you will.

I just don’t see how the constant influence of (outside) lust can co-exist with love.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t NOTICE attractiveness/sexiness in people other than our mates. Not at ALL. That’s not realistic or possible. We’re all human and sexual beings. But as a society we’re way beyond simply seeing someone on the sidewalk that turns our head. At least they’re REAL. It’s the constant bombardment of sexualized images that I worry is diluting and undermining our relationships – both with our spouses and with ourselves.

Hypocritical hypotheticals

The love of motorcycles seems to run in my family. My dad loves them, my sisters and I all love them and our kids have shown their appreciation at young ages. So of course I married a man who shares that love. He’s owned a couple of  bikes. Alot of his friends ride. And he’s survived a couple of wrecks – only 1 since I’ve known him and that one wasn’t bad as far as wrecks go. But it left him with a messed up shoulder and massive bruising. I know he’s a cautious and responsible rider. It’s just, well, accidents happen.

Last summer there was at least one local fatality involving a motorcyclist and a car. I looked at pictures afterwards…it’s not really difficult to figure out who the fatality was and who walked away. The car crossed the center line and hit the bike head on. I don’t know if the rider was wearing a helmet or being aware & cautious. It really doesn’t matter.  He didn’t stand a chance no matter how “safe” and responsible he was.

Wednesday morning on the way to work, I passed an accident that had apparently just occurred. It didn’t look bad at first glance. There were cars stopped but I didn’t see any damage – until I saw the crowd of people hovering around a figure on the ground. A figure laying behind his motorcycle. (I assume he was the rider anyway) I don’t know what happened or how bad it was. It LOOKED like he was conscious and moving a bit but I was headed the opposite direction and only glanced for a moment. I had seen enough to make me cringe. I’ve seen the results of a minor accident. I don’t WANT to see the results of a major one – or even another minor one.

Regardless of the dangers, I still want to ride. The idea of wrecking doesn’t scare me. I know the odds are high that SOMETHING will happen at least once. It’s kinda like skydivers saying “It’s not a matter of if you get hurt it’s a matter of when.” I oddly don’t have a problem accepting that at all. (I planned to pick up skydiving when the kid turned 18 but Jon has vehemently argued against that little plan) No – my stomach clenches when I see/hear of these incidents because if I ride, then that means Jon will too. And I can’ t stand the idea of HIM being the one laying on the road in the middle of traffic. I can handle being in pain myself  but to see HIM being injured…I don’t know how well I’d deal with that.  Oh I know it’s hypocritical. And since we don’t have bikes, it’s really not an issue for quite awhile. We have other priorities before we start on the expensive toys wish list. But still – it’ll be something to consider.