Thursday, October 18, 2018

From My Viewfinder

I stayed up too late last night (again) and I'm paying for it now. Since tonight will likely run late as well, sitting for a moment seems reasonable. Andrew has a writing assignment he wants me to help with; I'm not exactly taking a break as I intermittently focus on the feudal system of the Middle Ages and work on my post. I'm adding a few ocean pictures from the weekend. These pictures are of the water before the rain came.

Yep, we got rain on Friday! At long last! It came complete with lightning and thunder. Jon and I were on a date together, darting from roof cover to roof cover, trying to find a restaurant that could seat us within an hour. Without the outdoor patio space, seating was really limited. My younger boys called from home to tell me about the storm, and Michael texted from a high school football game to say the lightning show was pretty cool. Olivia came home drenched... and smiling. Rain after several months is such a novelty to us.

The ocean is endlessly fascinating to me. I am captivated by its movement, colors, texture, and all the surprising expressions of temperament and mood. Every moment is new; art in motion; vastness and power beyond comprehension. Who can keep from thinking of the Artist, and what he must be like beyond surface comprehension?

A small portion of my running route viewed from the pier~

Saturday I found myself out on the pier once more, but this time I took pictures of birds. I had my 50mm prime lens, so these images were taken from very close range (less than 2 ft. at times).

It's interesting how much can be seen through a small camera viewfinder. Through a little peephole, we can see vast landscapes, for example, or intricate details of an insect. In comparison, my ability to see the whole picture of reality is extremely limited, but with intent to understand there is still so much to be seen and understood through the means God grants us. He gives us viewfinders by which to see reality.

What matters most in my understanding, though, is grasping the fact that the Artist of my soul and the Writer of my story has unlimited sight and knowledge, and he creates with eternity in view. Amazing.

Breaktime over.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Beauty of Blur

"When life gets blurry, adjust your focus."

This quote resonates with me.

There are times when blurry is better; obscured detail is kinder. Obscurity is a softer place for memories to land, and allows for creativity and personal rendition. Blur prevents full interpretation and simply commands acceptance. This is not a denial of the truth, rather an intentional letting go of what cannot be understood with clarity. Maybe it's also called forgiveness.

We can't solely focus on the past, always trying to make sense of it, trying to understand its impact. If things seem blurry, adjust your focus on what is true.

"Perfecting the past blurs your focus of the future."
 -Marvin Davis

"Perfecting the past" is a futile pursuit, and constant attention in the past diminishes the clarity we can set for ourselves now. I get to focus on what I can understand, what I can know with certainty; I can meditate on what is true. And this is freedom for the future, and a step towards freedom today.

Maybe a combination of the two - focus and blur - is ideal: Focus on the present and the future, and trust that the details of the past were both lovingly ordained and redeemed for something beautiful. We live by faith, not by crystal clear sight!

(Just some passing thoughts on past acceptance and present mindfulness as I scrolled through and organized summer pictures again at lunch time today. It's a reminder to think me to think rightly.)


Monday, October 8, 2018

More Notes on Being "Enough"

More summer pictures; another day-long excursion with my kids.
At this point in August, we were making sure to scratch off all the remaining activities on our annual "Summer List."

We rode the trolley through town and beach hopped.

Magnificent views

Moody beach at high-tide

The pools were filled with people. It took some serious strategizing, patience, and interesting maneuvers to get these shots!

As a follow-up to my last post (HERE), I had more to say on the topic of being "enough." For various reasons, I think many women struggle with this one. It can be blamed on our backgrounds/upbringing, on our own proud expectations and comparisons, on toxic relationships, on people and their unhelpful comments, or on a society that says "we can do it all." I'm sure there are other reasons as well.

But it's still true. I'm still not enough.

We sing of it from the pew-- words like wretched, worm, broken, vile, worthless... they are all true. We have nothing to offer God, no basis on which to claim righteousness or acceptability. We have nothing but filth beyond comprehension. Less than nothing.

BUT! If you surrender your life to Christ -- all that you think you have and all that you wish you were -- He gives you LIFE! And HOPE! And He is enough... so much more than our understanding of enough!

And so despite how we may feel at times, we don't remain empty and broken. Not for a single moment if we are in Christ. We are made ALIVE, made right, conquerors, whole. We are even now being transformed into the loveliness of his image day by day; we are made beautiful in his sight. 

So when my heavy eyes look in the mirror, or I bend my neck over the kitchen sink with hands moving mechanically, or I lay at night tired and wide-eyed... I am a daughter of the King, an heir with Christ for eternity. And that makes me more than enough!

Friends, the truth of God's Word is that we are loved and precious to God. In Christ, we find redemption and eternal value and purpose. So when the mind fights against the onslaught of lies regarding our worth in this life, let us remember the armor (Eph. 6) we've been given; strap that belt of truth on a little more snuggly. There's a reason TRUTH comes first in this battle of life, because without it confusion and lies abound. 

Maybe your battle is different than mine today, or maybe you can't even relate. Likely, however, we all need to be reminded that in whatever battle we face today, there's always a truth revealed in scripture that must be meditated upon and applied. 

Because truth makes all the difference.

So smile. Live like you are loved. Love like you are loved.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Notes on Relationships

Slowly, I'm sorting through summer pictures. It struck me that my camera has been in my bag for many weeks now because I hardly ever think to pull it out in the midst of my days. Anyone have photo challenges or projects they've done and would recommend? No 365 projects, please, as manageability is key for me. 

The kids and I took several exploration day trips this summer. We're at a point in family life where I can't expect everyone to be available and willing for all of my plans, so I take what I can get. Mostly, it is still the case that my kids do want join, so I am thankful. Below are pictures of two such occasions.

Belmont Park-

We each got to pick a ride or activity here. Of course Jack picked climbing, and Andrew joined me on the coaster.

Michael, in the heat and the sun, proved that he's not an amusement park kinda guy and he got sick just watching us! Olivia opted for a pastry, because...

Look what we found! Beavertails has made it to the U.S. They were my first real employer as a kid after a couple years of babysitting. The kids have heard me tell of my many jobs...

I had a polo shirt uniform which I always wore with black shorts, my black Converse, a hat, and a hunter green apron. I worked in the booth alone, opening and closing, taking inventory, daily accounting, and occasionally keeping the money float in my bedroom when our safe was compromised. Once I burned three fingers and knuckles in the fryer oil right in the middle of a busy rush, that time of day tourists arrived by steam train to look through my town. I tried not to cry but one customer noticed my pain and ran to an nearby restaurant to get me a cup of ice. It was a kind gesture, but impossible to continue shaping, frying, and flavoring the pastries with one disabled hand resting on ice. So I just kept working. Often, I had creepy men hang around the back door when there were no customers around and the sun had set. Sometimes my manager's loser boyfriend would come and "check on things" and I knew enough to at least make sure the counter island was always between us. If I could manage, I'd slowly circle around till the door was nearest to me, but usually he kept me cornered. He was super creepy even when my manager was around but inattentive. I was 13 when I took that job, and it helped pay for my clothes that year. 

Canadian Beavertails are not the same near the Mexico border, but we shared one nonetheless. Now my kids know how a pastry can be a beaver tail.

Point Loma-

Severely overexposed images above and below, but I like nonetheless.

Andrew's summer hair. I love long, sun-bleached, salt-damaged summer hair on a boy. One of my favorite things ever. And the tiny blond hairs on the back of their necks... slay me now.

San Diego with just my boys-

When your teenage boy wants to make a memory together in front of a mural, you don't let the opportunity pass... even if that means hiking up your skirt and making it mini-er. Life is more than man-made rules regarding codes of conduct and dress; I don't intend on letting the good stuff pass me by because, um, what again?

He's 6'3" now.
And after a summer of racing sailboats with a crew of experienced men, he shared some knowledge and stories with me as we walked along the water. His captain tells me Michael has unusual intuition for sailing and has learned exceptionally fast. Plus, it turns out that his tall and lean physique makes him an advantage on a racing sailboat. When I asked if maybe I could ride with him on one of the races, he looked at me seriously and said, "Mom, we try to keep the boat as light as possible."

I picked up some personal ice-cream cartons for the kids on our way home that day, where we met up with Olivia by the pool. The joke this summer was about Andrew's tan and the fact that his nipples were nearly camouflaged. This picture didn't capture the tone quite right, but when you live with lots of boys you can be sure to hear the most random things. Like camo nipples.


Coffee shop again. It's becoming an unintentional Monday ritual.

I’m waiting to pickup my boys and their friend, and taking the opportunity to sit and be still. I decided to try a different option from the Starbucks nearby— the one that keeps serving my pour-over coffee cold, or a spoiled almond milk latte. It’s the Starbucks that is filled with people I might sort of know or recognize, but don’t really want to enter into conversation with. I get a couple hours a week alone, and I’m not the personality type that wants to give it up on small talk and pleasantries. Introverts understand.

But this stuffy place is, well, empty for a reason. They call themselves a French bakery, but it’s not. The faded, white lace curtains don’t fool, but only add to the bland, generic decor. The coffee is blah, the pastries look meh, and the only employee is not French but rather the furthest image of French imaginable. The first table I sat at wobbled so bad my coffee spilled, and the electronic sensor at the door beeped and blandly said, “Hello, welcome,” when the only other customer left. There is no wifi, just the female voice that now keeps repeating “Hello, welcome” to nobody. By the time I arrived here, my two hours had diminished to less than an hour, so I decided to stay and support a local small business. :/ 

I’ve been pulling my journals out recently. I’ve got far too many to keep track of. Some are for personal study notes, some for lists of thanksgiving, some for thoughts jotted down or notes gathered, one for points of affirmation I see in others which I hope to repeat when opportunity comes. Others contain scraps of more notes, quotes, and keepsakes. One small journal stays in the car and contains the addresses of fun places (aka “secret places”) to explore in different cities or towns.

The act of hand writing helps me to remember. It’s how I studied for tests in school and how I stay concentrated at church. Writing helps the evolution of understanding and impresses the things I learn on my heart and mind. Journaling assists me in recalling the goodness of God in my life. It helps me take in the good stuff I am learning - at times disjointed - and assists me to respond with some clarity.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts in my life about not being enough— not measuring up. Insecurities abound. I don’t want to get into an explanation, or go into defense mode about why I need to work through some faulty thinking. I only want to type into this blog (my public journal) a few words I found in one of my journals, because I am fairly certain this might be helpful to some. These were likely notes scribbled out on the go, and today as I type them out I know they are not perfectly cohesive. This is the freedom of a personal journal. It’s a spilling out of thoughts. I’ve omitted some things and added a bit more today, even if in the back of my mind I think I've already shared similar thoughts here.

Notes on parenting and thoughts on NOT being enough: 

I am not enough. Not for my husband, not for my kids. Not for extended family or friends, or church members, or neighbors. 

Just accept. Acknowledge.

This is not necessarily a conversation you need to have with everyone in your life, but it might be a worthwhile topic with your kids. Validate what they already know.

Yes, it is true my kids feel unloved by me at times; I cannot meet all emotional, material, physical, and whatever-else needs. I can try in frustration and disappointment, or I can accept the limitations God places on me and on all human capability. I need to accept the fact that my kids will be disappointed in me. They just will. In fact, they may grow up even resenting me for doing or not doing certain things.

Here's the thing: If I could love fully, reaching each heart and caring for needs perfectly, then my kids wouldn't see and feel their need for God. How could they, if I could perfectly satisfy? I can't do that for anyone, just as we should never expect to find perfect satisfaction in anyone save God alone. It's a futile pursuit. Probably even idolatrous.

On the other hand, be humble enough to acknowledge their hurt. It's not up to me to decide/judge what hurts and if it should be counted as hurt. If someone communicates being hurt, acknowledge and seek to do differently, without minimization of their feelings. Seek forgiveness as often and as fully as necessary.

{By the same token, release any bitterness you may have against your own parents. It is a fact of life that every generation looks back and wishes they were treated, led, instructed, befriended, etc. differently. My kids will do the same. In all probability, your parents did the best they knew how. Release bitterness and refuse to join a generation of finger pointers. If you are not who you want to be today and you blame your parents, consider that it may be time to FREE yourself through forgiveness. Then begin the hard work of becoming who God created you to be. This is humble maturity. Welcome to adulthood. You were never meant to be fully prepared for life by your parents' efforts alone.}

No one is created to meet another's needs perfectly... Not in parenting, not in marriage, not in any relationship. No one will ever feel I am enough. And just as I am not capable of fully satisfying another, I cannot begin to expect to find that full satisfaction in, say, my husband, kids, family, or friends.  This is God's design and plan, and it draws us to a relationship far more satisfying in Him. If we fail to understand this, we are prone to disappointment, depression, conflict, rejection, and even abuse as we try to bend and mold and make another what we desire. I think this is of particular danger within families. If we try to find full satisfaction in a human relationship, there will be a type of selfishness that is destructive and yields suffering. Guaranteed.

Along similar lines... Conflict comes when we try to change people to make them like us because we think we're better.

So watch out. Unless we're mindful and prayerful, we naturally slip into some awfully destructive  patterns, and on these we build our relationships and the stories of our lives.


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