earthquake thoughts

As I stood waiting, for what seemed an extraordinarily long time, at Starbucks this week, I listened. I was privy to several personal exchanges between not only friends, but total strangers as well.

Everyone had a story to tell.

Each one was unique, yet the common theme was obvious: we had all experienced the trauma of the earth giving way beneath us. (Admittedly, I grew up in LA, so I’ve lived through worse earthquakes.)

Glass broke. Furniture splintered. TVs toppled.

The ear splitting sound was overwhelming. The unpleasant bouncing and jolting actually caused me to become motion sick. Each person searched for their loved ones in a frantic dash, urgent text or middle of the night phone call.

Most of us some how were safe- at least bodily. Yet our minds and emotions were far from “safe”.

We were numb, stressed, hysterical, frazzled, shocked, jolted, overwhelmed, distraught, grieved.

I’d say, the vast majority are still coming out of a “post afternoon nap” type haze.My recurring ambivalent thoughts are like: “I want to run away from this chaos” then, “I want to stay home, close to my family”. The world feels a bit scary. I keep imagining phantom aftershocks that I know are not really happening.

Then, last evening after my first venture out to the local banged up Target, I rounded my street corner to five police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck. Two doors down a young man took his life. I stood at the window and stared, not in a nosy gawking kind of way, but in an incredulous “why did he do this” kind of way.… I did not know the family. But as I watched the coroner enter the house, I was reminded of the power of human emotion.

What a paramount, driving force our fears or sadness can have over our bodies. Our heart and mind truly are command central for what motivates us or holds us captive in this life.

I am humbled as I look across the street at their house, wondering what they must be going through today- pain unutterable, vacuous loss, unanswerable confusion.

I remember the earth revolting under me six days ago, my broken dishes and table, my raw and shattered nerves. Those are nothing compared to the searing loss of a child.

My stuff can be replaced this week. This week, they will lay their son to rest.

 

Not-So-Manic Monday #1

Today I started a book whose subject matter I’ve been preaching to myself for over two decades. Yet, every once in awhile I need a refresher course- a reminder to embrace a principle that was imperative and central, but seems to have gotten lost or set aside in the shuffle of life.

The book is called, “One Way Love” with the subtitle of, ‘Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World’. Try as I might, I often find myself on the performance treadmill, striving with all my might to get it right, get it done, “be all things to all men (women and children)”, or at the very least earn favor with someone (namely God). Then I am acutely aware of how stupid, self-deprecating, exhausting, and pointless this is.

If you are at all like me, I hope this quote will renew your mind to carry on in God’s lavish GRACE: 

“Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person. We see this over and over again in the Gospels: Jesus is always giving to the wrong people- prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds. The most extravagant sinners of Jesus’s day receive his most compassionate welcome. Grace is divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. It refuses to play it safe and lay it up. Grace is recklessly generous, uncomfortably promiscuous.”

~ Tullian  Tchividijan

My Overflowing Cup

True to my “go against the flow” side, I have not partaken in the Facebook trend to write a daily “what I ‘m thankful for” ditty, but as I was looking up some recipes this afternoon (for absolutely obliterating the healthfulness of sweet potatoes by adding copious amounts of sugar and butter), it struck me that indeed, my heart brims over with gratitude.

I promise you won’t walk away and think I have some peachy keen life full of sunshine and flowers. In fact, I hope to reveal that some of my most profound thanks is born out of loss and despair.

So here is my (brief) gramercy list in no particular order:

~ Thankful for parents who took me to church and raised me to know who God is so that I wasn’t left searching the void when my young adult years came.

~ Thankful for parents who stayed married so I never had to endure the pain of divorce, yet whose poor communication and lack of friendship made me realize early on the immense priority those things must be in my own marriage.

~ Thankful that my mom and I had 24 years together. Her death caused me to be acutely mindful that each day of life is a gift to be treasured and that the influence a mother has on her children is life long. Death doesn’t scare me anymore.

~ Thankful for a husband who has endured many rude, disrespectful words from my lips without retaliating, also that he stuck by me through seasons of depression and loved me when I was so unlovely.

~ Thankful that we have “lost it all” materially speaking because this revealed my heart of greed, sense of entitlement, misplaced worth, lust for earthly treasures and lack of compassion for the poor.

~Thankful that God gave me the distinct privilege of being a mother to my 3. Thankful that the intense pain and intense love of motherhood balances me out and reminds me of the great love God and mercy has for me.

~ Thankful that, after being part of the conversation between a partially hearing and a deaf person, I have my five senses (for now). To see the beauty in creation, to smell the rich brew of espresso, to hear the notes and tempo of my favorite song, to taste the creamy sweetness of crème brulee`, to touch the strong hand of my husband- these are the spice of life!

~ Thankful that my few lifelong friendships give me a depth, solace and acceptance that is irreplaceable and for the friendships that come and go- they are precious if only for a short season of time.

~ Thankful for a sister who, despite our very different personalities, is my dearest friend, confidante, cheerleader, prayer partner.

~ Thankful for a hip disease that humbled my youthful pride and for the surgery that took a year to heal from, so that I can empathize with diseases/illnesses that debilitate other people. I am mindful of this every time I run, jog or walk.

~ Thankful that my husband and I are committed to each other through the ups and downs of life (and there have been many downs), that he values our time together and dates me “just because”.  His laugh and smile make my world a brighter place.

~ Thankful for a God with whom I have full acceptance, a Savior who knows the nuances of humanity, and the Spirit He gave to empower us supernaturally; also for the Bible- the beautiful words we have that reveal His plan for the world, comfort our hearts and direct our steps.

Give thanks. Today. Everyday. For the rest of your days.