My broken snow globe holidays

In a matter of days they will arrive. You know, the cards with families full of mirthful expressions, the letters telling of orgasmic feats, exotic vacations, university degrees and oh-so-amazingly talented children.

Then there others that would like to send a card but can’t. They just buried a loved one and are clawing their way through grief, one torturous moment at a time. There’s the once happy family that was splintered when their rebellious child left everyone in the lurch with their choices. Then, there is the jobless family who could not fathom the frivolity of a holiday card, as they look at their dwindled bank account in worry.

Oh, it’s not like each of these can’t somehow muster a few “things I’m thankful for” to rattle off when asked. Rather, the crushing weight of current circumstances has shattered the idyllic holiday snow globe scene: shards of hopeful expectations or family traditions, broken, unable to be recaptured.

It’s that time of year, where all the things we might know about friends and family (but can blissfully ignore every other month), are lovingly and without malice, foisted right in our faces. These messages arrive in glitzy envelopes, picture cards that are downright movie set quality and letters listing feats of epic proportions. They come to us innocently. But the emotions they evoke are quite the opposite of the beauty they display.

Don’t tell me I’m just envious because that is not it. Don’t tell me to “rejoice with those who rejoice” or don’t rebuke me with some trite saying like “hey, you’re not dead yet.”

This isn’t self-pity or envy. This isn’t a sad miserable soul trying to garner attention and a tiny violin serenade. This is me admitting my globe broke and it hurts like a mother.

Let me hold the base of my broken snow globe and weep. Allow me to look longingly at the scene that will never be again. Help me by gently picking up the slivers of glass alongside me. Don’t offer to go buy another one. That would never make me feel better anyways. Just let the hollowness be. *

*Maybe you know a person like this. What can be done?

Invite me for a coffee. Wrap me in a warm hug. Drop a non-glitzy card in the mail just to say, “I’m thinking of you.” Be mindful of your message when you send out that card or letter. Most of all, don’t forget that not all of us will have a happy holidays this year (even if we might really like to). It may be your broken globe year one day.

broken-globe

Getty Images

Forget to Remember

Sometimes it is so good to remember. Generally speaking, we like to forget all the bad stuff (and certainly it is a coping mechanism that proves to be effective). But the good things, well, they are easy to recall, then we get all mushy on the inside- as we should. Some really bad things seem to self-destruct, leaving something like a temporarily numb frontal lobe behind.

September is our month to remember as a nation- not in a good, celebratory way like the fourth of July, but in a somber, reflective way. In fact, we adopted the slogan: “We will not forget”. Last week, as 9/11 came and went, I pondered why. Why is it we will never forget those terrorist attacks, fourteen years ago? Why must we remember? Why all this reflection and reviewing the images of that day?

I think that pain, that gut-wrenching, heart-gripping memory, makes us stronger, resolute, united. It makes us feel the ire of injustice all over again. It makes us defensive and protective so that it may never happen again.

In a micro-cosmic way, it’s the very thing we need to do from time to time in our own lives.

Don’t forget to remember the feeling of emptiness when we lost something or someone we cared about, the self-doubt we experienced as teenagers, the feeling of separation or loneliness from a divorce or broken friendship, the fear of the unknown when we lost a job, the worry over a wayward child, the anger of being hurt by words and actions of others.

Why?

It makes us real to people who may be going through something similar. It makes us profoundly grateful for having crossed over to the other side of the challenge. But most of all, it makes us resolute, stronger, a tiny bit more invincible. It allows us to see that though the divine plan has unexplainable injustice, it also has inconceivable joy. We can wear the victor’s crown for having overcome.

We are changed. Forever. We are better when we remember.

One Word

A few months back, I posted how we like to hear ourselves talk about this or that. This is also known as, venting, blabbing, gabbing or (if you’re of the female persuasion), bitching.

Since that post, my desire to write became wrapped in something mysterious. It was a little like fear, something until the events of this summer, I had never before experienced. Me, afraid of words? How could this be?

After some evaluation, I realized I wasn’t afraid at all; I’d simply become more cautious, more reserved. I want what I say to be reflective and impactful. Every breath matters and I don’t want to waste mine.

You see, over the summer, I met a woman who had an aura about her so divine and spiritual, her words burned into my soul. She was simple yet authentic in prayer, with pauses that were downright uncomfortable, each word deliberate and thoughtful. She didn’t waste breath, yet what she said hung in the air like a beautiful fragrance.

I guess I learned to be okay with silence, actually, not just okay, but to invite the quiet, to bask in it. And strangely when I did that, both in prayer and in life, a single word would come into focus. The prominence of that word would overcome every other thought, flickering like a neon sign until its full brilliance was illuminated.

Now I can put my finger on it: that is what has changed.

A powerful word can linger on the tongue like one bite of a decadent dessert or savory appetizer. It stays with me throughout the day, simple and beautiful. Words like:

 Lavish

Exquisite

Marvel

Array

Bountiful

Steadfast

Long-suffering

Unshackled

Enraptured

I read a statistic that women speak up to 20,000 words per day while men only 13,000. We are word gluttons, gobbling them up and spitting them out with great rapidity.

I intend to change that. Starting one word at a time.

The Day Between

My heart wrenches with a sadness so heavy, it is difficult to breathe. Yesterday, I had to witness the death of my firstborn Son at the hands of evil men; something a mother should never have to endure. His was no ordinary death. This was murder- execution by crucifixion.

Thirty-three years ago, my divine journey began. Engaged to be married to a wonderful man, I looked forward to my future with delighted anticipation. Then just before it unfolded according to plan, my life was transformed forever. An angel appeared to me. He called me, “you who are highly favored” and told me that I, an insignificant Jewish girl, had found favor with God. His words still ring in my ears, especially today as grief overtakes me. I was to bear a Son, while still a virgin, and He would be the Messiah- the One the Jews had waited for so many, many years. As strange and impossible as it sounded, my faith was made stronger to accept this God-sent message with humble honor.

Normally, this is the day of the week I look forward to most- the Sabbath- our day of worshipful rest, a solace from the work and toil of other days. Today is different though. Physically, I am resting but inside my heart and soul, I am in a state of great unrest. The events that took place yesterday replay over and over again in my mind. My tear stained, dusty cheeks remain unwashed. My hands still emanate the fragrance of the burial spices I’d prepared. What seemed to be an incredulous event so many years ago- the birth of my firstborn- had ended in the most violent, cruel death. I could never have imagined this intense grief would be mine to bear.

~~~~

As I stood at a distance with the other women, I could scarcely look up at the cross. My son hung there so seemingly helpless. He, who had always obeyed, always helped, always loved, was exposed, naked. Bloody, beaten and mocked He was. I can still hear them shouting jeers at Him: “So you call yourself the King of the Jews! He can save others, but He can’t save Himself! Come down off the cross if you are who you say you are!”

Jesus had told us this day was coming. In my heart, I knew He was right. I understood from the Old Testament teachings that just as a Messiah would come, He would also suffer and die. But this Messiah was also my Son and nothing prepared me for this motherly pain. My heart felt near the point of breaking. I wept in anguish.

John and I stood together, his arm draped around my waist for support. Jesus looked down on us with compassion. In His own suffering, He saw mine. “Dear woman,” He said, “here is your son.” Then he said likewise to John, giving him the responsibility to care for me as his own mother.

Dying a very human death, writhing in agony for each breath drawn, he was thirsty. Even this request was fulfilled with hatred and mockery. Instead of a refreshing drink of water, sour vinegar was offered to Him and he received the gall. When His body could stand no more, “It is finished,” were His final words.

~~~~

So, I wait grieved. Rest eludes my soul today. Although I feel a sense of anticipation, I cannot go to the place they have laid His body. Tomorrow, I will awaken before the first rays of sunlight and see if what He said will come to pass. I believe, yet my heart is weak, for I am not like my Son. I am a just a mother who has tasted the bitterness of her child’s death.

This Sabbath day will be forever in my memory as I reflect on the life Jesus lived; first as a baby at my breast and finally as a Man rejected, condemned to the death any common criminal might die. My hope is not quelled by my sadness though, for I hang onto the words He spoke about His resurrection on the third day. My heart wants so badly to believe that I will see my Son alive again! Had Jesus ever given me reason to doubt His words?

As evening draws to a close, John and I eat supper together along with a few others. The silence is deafening. Our grief hangs heavy in the air. Yet, each of us hold fast to eager expectation. Tomorrow will bring fulfillment to those prophetic words spoken ages ago. He will rise again and in doing so, complete the work of redemption, not only for my people but for the whole world. My Son, Jesus, and my Savior will do what He said.

So Over That

Agonizingly, I put my pencil in the journal’s spine. Was I missing something? Did I overlook an important goal or area of needed improvement? Were the resolutions I made realistic and attainable? I fretted. Reviewing them, I felt the list complete yet already there was this sense of weight, expectation, pressure.

This was me, the first week or so of every new year, dutifully listing out what I truly believed would head me in the right direction towards accomplishment. I had catagories with sub-points (which often included goals for OTHER family members inadvertently).  Little did I know how it would eat away at me, undetected, because breaching my own personal “contract” was a blow of momentous proportions. I would, by mid-year, slunk away from rereading my resolutions, defeated.

You see, this fit in so nicely with my type-A, “get ‘er done” mentality. I couldn’t IMAGINE life without my yearly list! I mean, just creating it gave me a sense of security- I knew where I was headed and why I was headed there. Then about five years ago, through my own series of unfortunate events and the wise counsel of someone, I stopped. January, two thousand something came, and my resolve was NOT to make that list.

I WAS FREE- free at last- from the torment of my own expectations. I could breathe and just live life, come what may. New Year’s Resolutions = bosh and poppycock!! Jane was unshackled!

In the spirit of this same freedom, I embark on the unknown journey of this year. Yes, I have some personal benchmarks in mind. Yes, I will endeavor to become a better version of myself. Yes, I expect growth, change, and accomplishment; all the while knowing full well that divine plans DO prevail, that often I let myself down and other people I love disappoint me.

I accept that, no actually, I embrace that- happily.

Nowadays, come January, I ruminate on a theme for my year; a phrase that I hope will embody the 52 weeks to come (should I be blessed to live that long). I discovered this song the other day. It spoke the words of Psalm 100 to me and I decided that my theme for 2014 is: I shall not want.

http://youtu.be/LjGExaRTCvA

Bits and Bobs

So, forgive me. I’ve taken a weeeee bit of a break. The respite offered was truly needed this year. Besides a lovely family vacation, I have taken some time to inventory- my life, my house, my priorites.

Back in December, I wrote a little ditty called, “Meet Grinchetta” about the stresses of Christmas (maybe I’ll post that NEXT year).  It was during the midst of my own personal Grinchmas that it happened.  The street was perfectly quiet and still as I walked the dog. Despite my mad rushing mind, I suddenly became acutely cognizant of the carefully laid lawn décor and colored twinkling lights. Instead of my knee-jerk response of a possible eye-roll or disdain over the gaudiness, I smiled a genuine smile. I paused- this was pleasant, a sight to take in, appreciate and remember- a season fleeting. From that moment on, I vowed to let Christmas enrapture me.

I would stop the madness, stop worrying about my Amazon orders or wondering how to strategize my next Costco trip without feeling like I was in a stampede.

I made batches of my favorite candy, a recipe handed down from my great grandmother. I lingered over the recipe card written in my mom’s impeccable penmanship and shrugged at the vanilla extract stains on it. I didn’t bake a single cookie though, which is a first.

I played the shmultzy Christmas music and sung along out loud to the likes of Dean Martin and Bing Crosby. I REALLY listened to the rather steamy lyrics of: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” (Who knew it was so scandalous?)

Then a new year snuck up on me. Maybe I was enjoying myself a little too much. 🙂

It came anyways. 2014. And I didn’t make any resolutions. Oh the bliss! But that’s a story for another post…

man, oh man!

Staring.  I can’t help myself. The words sound like the “wah, wah, wah, wah” of the teacher on Peanuts cartoons. Everything feels a bit surreal and fuzzy.

Sitting across the table is a man. His eyes are still the vibrant blue of the sky on a sunny day. The pile of curly out of control hair on his head is representative of the phase he is in right now. Still an adolescent, but an adult in a few short days: my boy and yet a man.

I have to keep my mushy-gushy mommy emotions to myself. I’m no crier, but I do feel a haze of sadness creep over me. (It is more wrought by some disappointments at the moment and not by sentimentalities.)

His dad and I are at a special lunch having “the talk”- no, not that talk. That one happened years ago. This is harder but in a less awkward way. Our topic is a heart strings tugging one about what happens when he is an adult: how and what will change, how he lives within our home as a man and yet still our child. It is sticky business.

I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like this Sam I am. I do not like it one little bit. It makes me sad and want to throw a fit.  I will miss his antics here and there. I will miss the adventure that took us anywhere. I miss those carefree boyhood days. Not a fan of (some of) your manhood ways.

How did I get here, to this place? A flood of memories rushes in like the time lapse  films I’ve seen- overwhelming and beautiful all at once. Sensory overload. I am reminded of all the mistakes I’ve made- and it pains me to my very core. Then comes the sweet picture of the sleepy toddler cuddled against my chest. I can almost feel his baby soft skin as he contentedly sucks his thumb.

I am the mother of a man, but he wasn’t always one. Things will change from this day forward. Some changes I will welcome; others I will not. But one constant will remain: my deep abiding love for my firstborn son.

Memoirs From the Gem State

Two things were solidified on my recent trip to Idaho:

One-  I was meant for the city and the city was meant for me!

Two- They say home is where the heart is and a little piece of my heart will always be in Idaho.

Two other random things were also reaffirmed:

One- I have some phenomenal friends that love me NO MATTER WHAT.

Two- My dad, despite all our differences is an absolute blessing in my life.

So about the city thing, here’s a little background: I was raised in the country, like the hardcore, rural part of none other than Los Angeles county. In my childhood, I experienced many creatures of reptilian persuasion, (including, but not limited to): Mojave Greenbacks, Rattlesnakes, King Snakes, and the Gardener variety type (discovered in the living room no less). Then there were the tarantulas, scorpions, fire ants, centipedes, and a plethora of black widows, wasps, and household spiders.

When I left home for the city life, I dusted my hands off and never looked back. This week after less than an hour in the boonies, I nearly stepped on a coiled rattlesnake! In that moment, as my life flashed before me, I remembered the many reasons why I hate the country: it’s dusty, the insects are large and in charge, it’s wild and untamed, too quiet, too isolated, too dirty. And besides, what is it about country folks and their large, obtrusive amounts of lawn ornaments? Oi!

Number two on my list was the heart thing. It’s true that a piece of my heart will always be in Idaho. Has to be. I have family there and several friends that I am sure beyond reasonable doubt, rival your best friends in character, love and over all coolness. But, I must say, the key to my heart is unlocked by the Golden State, hands down. California is where it’s at- plain and simple. Maybe because I was born in the heart of LA, the rays of sunshine (and prolific smog) hold my heart captive.

Now for the mushy stuff:

I had the privilege of spending the past two weeks with my dad. That’s the longest  amount of time we’ve been together since childhood. My dad and I were buddies back then. Over the years, our ideas have changed and we have not always seen eye to eye. He is sometimes just a grumpy old man, what can I say. Yet the past weeks together have reminded me that there is no love like a parent’s love: they will support you in times of trouble; they understand what a pain in the butt raising children can be. A dad always has that special protective eye for his daughter. MY dad loves me through and through and despite his many labels for me like tree-hugger and yuppie, I know he always has my back.

My friends are just the icing (actually, I hate icing, so I will dub them the “butter cream frosting”) on my cake. I spent several hours with many dear ladies that bless me beyond measure. One in particular has enriched my life for 37 years- a life long friend for sure. Over lunch, when she threw her head back and laughed her hearty, beautiful laugh at some silly antic from me, I was reminded of all the reasons I love her. She and I have shared many lovely and some sad moments together (our oldest sons were born 4 days apart almost 18 years ago), yet our friendship has stood the test of time and many miles. I am so, so grateful for her.

The Gem State may hold pieces of priceless treasure for me, but I prefer my sunshine, smog, and overpopulated city life to the wilds of untamed Idaho. I am a Cali girl through and through!

Dear Me

My heart’s been aching for my teenagers recently because frankly, it’s a crazy place out there and when you are 15 and 17, it can be straight up crazy on the inside too.

Inspired by the question, “What would you say to your 16 year-old self?”, I wrote this letter. After all, it is with the same blue eyes (albeit with wrinkles and bags around them), that now look with concern on my own dear children who are right smack dab in the middle of this thing…But it wasn’t so very long ago that I was there too.

 

Dear 16 year-old Rebekah Jane ~

First, I am just gonna say that if you think this letter might be a good old-fashioned dose of whoop up, you are right. Get ready because I am going to give it to you straight.

OK, like, what are you thinking? (Oh wait, that’s right- somewhere around the age of 13-14, aliens from the planet DUH come abduct the logic part of your brain and they are holding it hostage until around the age of 18.) So, since you are not thinking much, I’ll help you out with that.

YOU ARE DROP DEAD BEAUTIFUL. YEAH, YOU- the one with long blond hair and sky blue eyes. Why the heck are you starving yourself? Today all you ate was a McDonalds salad (without dressing) and a piece of toast. Then you went and cheered for an hour and half long football game, didn’t you? No wonder you feel like you might die. My guess is you weighed yourself this morning and the scale said 111lbs. instead of 110, isn’t it? Do me a favor. Go home. Grab your scale and throw it away. Then pick up a fork and eat your favorite dessert. Now take that same fork and poke it into next person who insinuates that either they or you are FAT.  Oh, and make sure you go poke your brother with it since he helped start this insanity by calling you “the Good Year Blimp” when you were 12.

STOP TRYING TO ACT THE PART OF A DUMB BLOND! You know those boys who tease you day after day with the blond jokes? I know you don’t want to hear, much less believe this, but they are seriously crushing on you and besides that, they are enamored by your smarts and wish they had straight A’s too. (Sadly, they are just too lazy to work for them.) Stop trying to hide that you are a bit of a book nerd and really actually enjoy school. Aim high and start planning for college now. Just because no one in your family went beyond 12th grade, doesn’t mean you can’t.

Buckle up, girl. This one might hurt.

STOP DATING THAT JERK YOU ARE WITH- THE GUY WHO BELITTLES YOU AND MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE BENEATH HIM. (Yes, the one with the unibrow.) Next time he tries pushing himself on you and then comes crawling back with a lame excuse of why he just can’t help himself, remember these are: lies. All lies. (I will refrain from calling him what I would like to right now, but maybe you could just slap him for me, huh?!) AND I know you want to be like “everyone” around you and have a BF (so as they say now, you won’t be “forever alone”), but first you have to know WHO YOU ARE and be CONFIDENT in that.  Only then, can you have the common sense to know a snake in the grass when you see one. There are true gems out there. Just wait, you’ll discover one soon enough. I promise ;).

Lastly, STOP BACKING DOWN FROM YOUR CONVICTIONS. Trust me when I say that all the kids out there partying it up are likely to walk a difficult path and some of them may not even make it out alive. Getting high and drinking may seem wildly fun for a season, but it leaves ugly scars and bears consequences- sometimes in the form of addictions. STAND UP FOR WHAT’S TRUE AND RIGHT. Someone awesome once said, “If you don’t stand for something; you’ll fall for anything.” It takes more moxie than you think you have, but trust me when I say, if you learn this principle now, it will save you from much future heartache. (I’m sorry but that totally sounded like a fortune cookie paper.)

Well, I know you probably won’t FOLLOW all this great, wise life advice because I know how stubborn and hard-headed you can be- uh-hum. But try, pretty please, for me?!

Oh and one last thing. Your mom, I know she annoys you- laughs too loud, wears her “I LOVE Jesus” pin everywhere and wouldn’t let you go to the Depeche Mode concert last year. Love her. Hug her. Listen to her. Soak up every moment with her and let the little things roll off your back. You only have 8 more short years with her.

Bunches of love from this wise old sage,

Your 39 year-old self

PS. Ditch the MC Hammer pants and paisley vest. You will thank me later!

PSS. Learn to enjoy life more fully. The drama you deal with now, is nothing compared with stuff of adulthood!

 

16 year old Rebekah Jane
16 year old Rebekah Jane

 

 

 

Super Glue Connections

Dizzying.  Astounding. Bewildering.

 The choices we have to stay connected with friends new and old, family near and distant, and (even) almost strangers are practically limitless.

But sometimes, every now and then, step back and consider what it all means. All the notifications, likes, comments, loves, shares, subscriptions, shout outs, upvotes, et al . What value do we feel or worth do we derive from it all?

Are we like a drug addict that needs a fix? Are we like the athlete that needs a medal? Perhaps we need applause, award, recognition or accolades to make us feel accepted.

I fight it, yet sometimes I am over taken. Pride creeps in. Self gets the best of me. I’ve abused the very tool that was meant to help connections, facilitate relationships, bridge communication, and share news.  Instead I have used it to feed my ego, waste my time, squander opportunities, miscommunicate thoughts, dwell on unsavory images, etc.

This video says it masterfully. Hoping you and I will thoughtfully pause to listen to what David Bowden articulates.  

David Bowden- “The Inner Net”