Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blowing in the wind

I want to stop and write, but the winds of life keep blowing distractions my way. Tornadoes, too close for comfort even when they don't directly touch me. Chaotic work schedules that are stressing me out more than I think they should. Sports teams (Dallas Mavericks, Texas Aggies baseball and softball, the Texas Rangers) I enjoy following making some great runs, which I like, but then I want to watch the games and catch the stories surrounding them, and I really don't have time -- especially since the schedule has me so far out of a routine.

I feel as if I've been blown off course, and I'm having trouble getting back on track. Things that usually really pick me up, such as visiting my parents and going to church with them; spending time in Texas with other family members, too; teams that look like they are down for the count coming through with big wins -- give a very fleeting pleasure, almost overridden by tiredness and a sense of ... what? Is it so what? Or, maybe, what now?

I just know I've had a great couple of days, and it seems unacceptable to let anything take away from that. I want to focus on the bright realities, the joyous and fun and intimate moments -- and not get caught up in speculation or anxiety about a potentially chaotic future. (The future also has the potential to unfold wonderfully, especially if I get out of the way and let it!)

So, earlier this very windy Memorial Day weekend Sunday in north Texas, my husband put up an ornamental, 8-foot-tall windmill at my parents' house. After days and weeks that have included too much wind and too many storms, I can't help but wonder if the structure stands a chance. But there's something hopeful and courageous -- maybe even stubborn -- about defying the wind's damaging threats.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Checking in on deadline

It's blog deadline again. I don't remember when it switched from Monday to Sunday, but I knew it would eventually become problematic if I didn't get something written on a weekday. Tonight, after a busy and fun Saturday-Sunday trip to see family in Texas, the Sunday deadline is problematic.

Sometimes I jot down blog notes during the week, but I didn't this time. I don't have anything ready to write, and I don't have time (it's 11:23 p.m., even though the blog time stamp will say it's much earlier) to just sit here and mess around until I come up with something, which is what I'm able to do sometimes when deadline sneaks up on me. It's not as if I don't have ideas. But it definitely takes time for me to make anything close to sense of those thoughts.

But I've seen the value of checking in and writing a few words. Sometimes something comes together that amazes me. That's not going to happen tonight. Checking in really is just checking in. It's really just making deadline. It's respecting the deadline. And it's not letting go of the hope/dream of something better to come.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rejected but not dejected

Several months ago, in probably my last time as a volunteer helping with the Angel Food distribution at my church, I was in a discussion that led to me wonder why I don't participate in periodic blood drives at the church. I remembered giving blood a few times when I was younger, but as best I could recall, the reasons I quit volunteering were because sometimes I felt faint afterward, and also because, although it wasn't really painful, it wasn't exactly comfortable. But I was just so aware that many people who could offer legitimate reasons for not volunteering at Angel Food and other events and for not giving blood apparently wouldn't dream of not participating. I looked around and thought, if these people can do this, certainly I can, too. So I vowed to participate in the next blood drive.

As luck (?) would have it, the next two or three drives scheduled at the church were Sundays when I was out of town. I'd be lying if I said I was sad to realize I could delay the experience. Then, when we received an e-mail reminder this week about weekend events at the church, including a scheduled blood drive, my thought was that it would be a busy day. But my commitment didn't come to mind. Even Saturday night, I was thinking about the pancake breakfast the Mission Team has the third Sunday of every month and that there would be a blood drive, but that's as far as it went.

One thing worth noting is that this weekend and the coming week were shaping up to hold opportunities for me to get some things done I've been putting off. Before I went to bed Saturday -- without getting anything on that mental list started, much less accomplished -- I wrote these words in my journal: Praying to make a list of priorities for this week -- prayerfully -- and to lift it up to You and just do it, do it, do it! One moment at a time.

Lo and behold, shortly after I awoke this morning, it occurred to me that today was the blood drive, and I had no excuse not to participate. So, to keep from talking myself out of it, I couldn't even think about it, other than to make sure I dressed comfortably with easy access to my veins! Even though I hadn't given the blood drive any thought on Saturday, I realized I had eaten some extra protein and other things that seemed healthy, and then I made sure to eat what I thought was a healthy breakfast. I won't say I was excited, but I was committed. I even got to church earlier than usual, to make sure I had enough time before the choir gathered to prepare for worship.

As soon as I got there, I headed to the check in. I answered the questions and everything seemed to be going fine -- temperature, blood pressure and pulse. Then she pricked my finger to draw a little blood, and the next thing I knew, she said I wouldn't be able to donate. It seems my iron level was low. It needed to be 38 and was just 34.

Of course, that's when I remembered I'd tried this before sometime in the years after I started facing some of my petty fears and being a little less selfish and a little more serving. And this had been the result then, too. But I had completely forgotten. I am a bit puzzled though, because I recently had routine blood work done, and I had not been told my iron level might be low. I will be checking into this further. Could this explain why I always seem tired even though I get a pretty good amount of pillow time each night? (I still think the sleep problem might be related to having a cat on my legs, causing me to wake up and reposition several times each night.)

I think on some level I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to give blood. I know I'm glad I was willing to make the effort. And I think I'll see if I can figure out what I need to do to get the iron level up -- both for my own health and so I can try again to share this gift of life!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day reflections

There were times in my life I didn't really give much thought to whether I'd ever have kids. Especially when I was in college and dating and even after I was engaged, the thought of focusing on career and spouse  instead of raising a family seemed as instinctive as anything maternal. 

I won't go into the details of when and how that changed, but by time I was 35, I was pretty sure I would never be a mother. And by then, I wasn't happy about it. 

I went through a period where  Mother's Days and many other family, work and church events, especially those involving stages of growing families, carried some bitter along with the wonderful sweetness. I regretted decisions I had made that seemed to have led to this fate, but I also wondered if maybe God didn't think I would have been a good mother. After all, He knows I can barely take care of me and my own stuff; how could He have entrusted me with precious new lives? But I would look around at the wide range of women having children, some seeming far less capable than me, and again not understand why I couldn't be one of them. After all, doesn't God equip us for the roles He gives us? 

OK, then, maybe, for whatever reason, the role God equipped me for wasn't to be a Mom but rather to be a searcher, an observer and, eventually, a supporter.  I'm not sure I fill those roles much better than I do the role of personal caretaker.  But as my faith continues to grow, I feel peace with where I am in relationship to my husband, my parents, my siblings and extended family and friends.

There are so many ways in all of these relationships that I would like to be more -- more supportive, more helpful, more consistent, more reliable. I continue to pray to grow in  all of these relationships -- and beyond -- to God's glory. He continues to show me the blessings of such growth and that gives me hope that all things are possible in my relationships (including self and self-care) if I stay focused on God. 

I'm not a mom, but today was a great Mother's Day. So much love of mothers and grandmothers and greats and other special women was shared among family and friends. I hope and pray everyone was able to experience some blessings and precious memories today. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Still my parents' child

I had looked forward to another weekend trip home to visit my parents. But after another long work shift Friday that didn't end until after 2 a.m. Saturday, I was about to talk myself out of the two-hour trip. What was I going for, anyway? Basically, just to visit. Some of my siblings are good at recognizing chores to do and needs to fill when they are there. But I tend just to visit. 

And it finally occurred to me: That's reason enough to go. And then I had another realization: I still really benefit from time with my parents. As I told them after church today, I do hope my visits are good for them, too. But I know they are very good for me. I still need parenting. Spending time with my parents is like going to church. It infuses my soul. I soak up love and inspiration and wisdom and just the treasures of presence.

This trip also included an opportunity to spend a little more time with my husband, which, due in large part to that same crazy work schedule, seems to require more planning than it used to. 

I'm grateful I gave myself the extra push -- or maybe that was God, because the decision came after some focused prayer -- and made the trip. I had to pass up some things I wanted to do this past week and even the weekend, but I feel confident the time was well spent and I am blessed. I pray to share the blessing, to God's glory.