Frozen In Time

I wasn’t prepared for the plethora of Frozen II¬†paraphernalia when I walked into the store. I should have been.¬†Frozen was a phenomenon that never grew old. There are grands in the family born since the movie first hit that have been entranced by Elsa, Anna, and their exploits since they could say “Olaf”.

This has been the most serious of Halloween discussions–who will dress up as Anna and who will be Elsa?

Two little girls trick or treating this year want to be a character from the movie. Neither wanted to be Sven, Kristoff or Olaf–all very male and none of whom wore pretty dresses. Choosing whether to be Elsa or Anna has been challenging.

Three-year-old Brooklyn had decided to be Anna. She’s the one I’d have picked. Spunky and engaging, friendly and bold She very much is like¬† Brooklyn, who has had Anna’s dress for some time, putting it on for dress-up fun, having conversations with her imaginary Olaf. Living the part.

Sloane, also three, had decided to be Elsa. Elsa is more guarded, royal in her posture, with a mind of her own. Sloane has the mind-of-her-own part down; guarded is the exact opposite of who she is.

Sloane also had the gloves that were very much a part of Elsa’s character and growth.

The girls have changed their minds several times in the last few days. Typically, both want to be Elsa. The desire to wield the magic and freezing everyone into popsicles seems a greater draw than being the sister that helps the queen find redemption because of her love.

They listen to the soundtrack all the time. Alexa is constantly asked to play “Let It Go”. As the song begins, inevitably one of the girls will yell, “Pause, Alexa.” They both run off to put on the costumes so they can let it go in style.

All for Halloween.

Halloween. Making believe we’re something we’re not or can never be. For fun and candy.

Watching these two prepare for this very auspicious night has been fun and thought-provoking. The fun of make-believe is in imagining what it would be like to be someone so different from us. I’m not a fan of the macabre, as so many are, but when kids dress up as Superman or a doctor or a princess, there is something inside driving them toward that choice. To be more than they see themselves at present. Whether it’s bigger, scarier, weirder, or goofier than they are, it’s a chance to step out of themselves. For an evening.

God has made each of us with a unique skillset and story. I know I haven’t often agreed with His choices–some have been harder than I wanted to deal with. But I’ve been made for a purpose that is greater than any make-believe. To love God, be loved by Him, and love others.

It’s easy to compare myself to others, to wish I was someone smarter, more respected, better positioned, But who I am is significant for all those lives I’ll touch. I need to be the best me God has made me be.

That and wear the Olaf costume I was gifted with.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sick Side Of The Domino Effect

 

Who plans for this stuff? Nobody.

Insidious germs, however, are a fact of life. Things that come upon us unaware, and strike when we least expect them.

I’m talking about the flu.

Two of our children with their kids are staying with us presently; the cousins are having a blast playing with each other.

A damper has descended on our joyful troop. One of the adults came down with the flu. Immediately got on medicine and stayed quarantined in his room.

Then Ward, not quite two, came down with it. Coughing, feverish, unwilling to eat. His medicine tastes like something you’d flush down a toilet, but the little guy managed to take it with a cookie held in his hand.

The germs were on a rampage. His sister got it.

Then I fell prey to the nasty bug.

I don’t get sick often–or at least I don’t cease activity with little under-the-weather issues I may have. This has thrown me for a loop.

Especially since everyone wants me out of sight. Keep my bug to myself.

I get it. I got the medicine immediately and have been taking it.

But the nasty medicine my grands have to take is another matter.

Ward might be coerced with a cookie, but Sloane has had the flue before. It’s a struggle to get her to take her medicine. She’s not as receptive to coaxing as her brother.

I don’t blame her. Given the opportunity to take the medicine or swallow a cockroach, I think she’d choose the bug.

What’s so miserable with any bout of contagion is the effect it has on those around. It’s a horrific ripple effect, where those who’ve tried to keep their distance are still ensnared by the illness. At the very least, the workload created by sickness increases everyone’s burden.

I hate the fact that I can’t be of more help right now. I’m isolated in my room, trying to keep my germs in containment, knowing that’s a ridiculous desire because I can’t live in total confinement. I need help from those who are healthy. I got this because I was helping those who didn’t feel well.

It’s a sad cycle of need and expectations and frustration when life doesn’t turn out as hoped.

Even without illness, I’m affected by the hurt and pain in the lives of others. Sadness and heartache are different contagions–they require compassion and presence that reminds people that what they experience matters. That who they are, no matter what their circumstances, is valued.

In our busy world, it’s easier and less messy to ignore the complications in the lives of others, give a sincere, “I’m sorry”, and move on. Keeping their own pain at bay lest it affects others.

The English poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island”. We weren’t created to live alone, not connected to others in heart and mind. God created us to enjoy community, to care for one another. Even if the mess of one life encroaches on mine. God has engaged us at our worst. And He gives us the power to come alongside those who hurt.

After all, humanity isn’t contagious. It’s our condition.

 

 

 

 

 

Birds Of A Feather Don’t Have A Clue

photo courtesy of Mike Noemi Gonzales on Unsplash

I was in our backyard with two of my grands, trying to distract them from parents leaving.

What they can’t see can’t bother them.

We headed for the pond to look for ducks.

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see something with feathers hit the water.

This was no duck. When they fly in, ducks skim the surface and land with finesse. Movement from flying to swimming is smooth. This was a loud “plop”, and this bird didn’t even attempt to swim.

The boys pointed and screamed “duck”. I went close to the edge to see what it was.

A small bird with a head crowned by red feathers was using one wing to try to stay afloat. It swam in a continuous circle, its other wing dragging in the water like a rudder. It wasn’t staying afloat well–its head went under with each rotation, staying down longer each time.

I had a dilemma. I couldn’t go in the water without the boys following me. But I was determined to save the bird.

I clapped and yelled encouragements at the little guy. (No, I’m no bird whisperer.) The ruckus I made caused him to come closer to the side. I prayed he’d stay alive–I was imagining one of the larger basses in the pond eating him.

He made it to the side and rested on some pond weeds. He couldn’t get out on his own–but he fussed furiously when I tried to grab him to bring him out. Yelling at the boys to follow, I ran to the house to find a box.

The guys looked at me like I was nuts.

The box worked as a scoop to get the bird out of the water. When I got him to safety, he wouldn’t come out. His wing seemed useless, but he was wet, a condition that was obviously not his norm. My neighbors Ed and Syl came to help. Ed recognized it to be a woodpecker, and he was able to get the bird out of the box. We crowded around to see him. He wasn’t flying, but he hopped with a purpose–to our big tree, which he then climbed. And hid in the branches.

He showed no gratitude for saving his life. He was put out by us because he had no clue what we would do to him. Fear made him agitated.

I sometimes treat God with that same disdain. He’s done the hard work of saving me from an eternity of separation from all things good and lovely and has provided me with the promise of heaven. I don’t always understand why He does what He does because my circumstances don’t make sense to me.

I become fearful and refuse to listen.

If I could get it through my head that God has my best interests at heart, even in the hard times, I’d be better able to rest in Him in the moment.

If the woodpecker had understood my motives, he’d have trusted my actions.

My new definition for bird brain.

 

 

 

 

Blame It On The Bands

It’s all because of the bands.

No instruments involved. These were rain bands from post-tropical cyclone Nestor.

I didn’t even know there was a cyclone Nestor. But his angry, thrashing rain made driving almost impossible.

And I was just riding.

My daughter and I were heading to a gathering early on Saturday. I graciously turned the keys over to her so she could drive. She was willing–though she really didn’t like driving in the rain.

Riding with my driving would have been worse.

The rain came and went for most of the day. Downpours followed by sprinkles followed by renewed cloudbursts.

Wet makes one weary.

I’d had tentative plans, but those were washed away. So my daughter and I returned home and confronted the things that had to be done.

Cleaning.

I’ve never made a claim to be a domestic goddess, a careful caretaker of home and hearth. I’ve loved how my kids have decorated my spaces in ways I’d never have thought of.

Cleaning of said spaces is always an issue. Dirt and clutter happen.

We tackled the cleaning. It was easier doing it with someone else who had the same goal as I did–declutter and de-mess.

We then hit the space where things had been stacked to peruse when time permitted. Things to be given away; things to be pitched.

She grinned at me and started in. I stood and watched for a moment.

“You’re going to help, right?”

I really didn’t want to.

I’m no packrat, but I do have a struggle throwing things away that might be useful. Someday. I’m no Marie Kondo, the gal who says if it doesn’t give me pleasure, get rid of it.

I’m not sure what gives me pleasure. Usefulness is a value. Someone in our family could possibly find a need for this. Someday.

Does that equal pleasure?

Feeling a bit guilted into helping, I dug in.

And questioned everything,

Some of these things haven’t been seen in years. Much of it was unidentifiable as to which family member had owned it.

It was still hard to let things go. Even when they had no value for me.

There are so many things in my life I hold onto that don’t add to my life at all. Habits that undermine great intentions; attitudes of entitlement that add arrogance to my demands; things I take on that I don’t need to be doing just because I want someone to like me.

So few things in life really matter. Family, friends, character.

Most importantly, do I know Jesus?

None of the things of life I hold onto will impact my eternity. Except God. A lot of things I’d just as soon hide, things I don’t want others to know about me.

God knows it all. And still loves me because I’m His.

I need to do some soul cleaning every now and then to make sure I’m not hanging onto things that can destroy me–grudges, anger, regret, despair. Those are things that will mess up my life quickly.

They don’t go away unless I deal with them.

What would it take to engage with your own soul cleaning?

No blame is necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

Life–The Long And Winding Road

The Beatles had it right–the long and winding road leads us somewhere.

The challenge is we don’t always know where that path is taking us.

While in Wisconsin recently, my sisters and I went to Gills Rock, a place photographed countless times during different seasons because of the winding road surrounded by magnificent deciduous trees that robe themselves in glorious shades of green in spring and summer, lacy branches that trace the grey skies and snow in winter, and brilliant bursts of colors in fall.

It was incredible.

This road is as winding as I’ve ever seen, rivaled by Lombard Street in San Francisco, known for its crookedness.

There aren’t the trees on Lombard Street.

Our grand idea of taking time to walk a bit of the road and get pictures like I’d seen others take was a bit naive.

There were a bunch of other folks who had the same thought. Many of them stood in the middle of the road to get a centered shot. Blocking the view for those of us who graciously stood on the side, not wanting to be in someone else’s picture.

And then there were the cars. It is a road, after all, and they kept coming up and going down. Not realizing–or caring–that they were messing up the possibilities of beautiful photography.

So we waited. In the cold. And this Florida girl doesn’t do cold well.

I talked to a young man sitting on the hood of his car, watching the mayhem around him. He held a camera with a lens the length of an elephant’s trunk.

“How long have you been waiting?”

“About an hour.”

Was he kidding? An hour for a picture?

More people kept coming, standing in the road. The cars kept driving by.

Frustration was building. I was willing to leave.

I walked down the road alone and stood off to the side. Watching. My phone was ready–who needs a fancy camera?–and I took trial pictures with cars and people populating the photos.

I waited. Ready.

It couldn’t have been more than a two-second space of time. The road cleared, and I snapped several pictures.

And then the parade of cars and people resumed.

I don’t fancy myself a photographer. I don’t work at it.

I took a picture.

It worked.

There were many that didn’t. Today I waited and was prepared.

Every day that road stretches before me, and I have no idea what awaits around each corner. Often I’m frustrated by things I can’t control, that don’t work out the way I’d hoped.

In the waiting there are moments of clarity, joy, gratitude that fill me with a sense of the goodness of God.

He’s on that road with me. Ahead of me and behind me. Present in all my circumstances, good and bad. Waiting to show me His beauty and purpose. Surprising me with His love.

That guy with the camera was still there when we left. Camera in his lap. Maybe he’d get tired of waiting.

We all tire of waiting.

But God.

He shows up in the grandest pictures of our lives.