Mondays and cupcakes

We had to wake up early on a Monday after a full, full weekend to get to an appointment for one of the kids. No one within our walls is a morning person by nature and we were all wishing for an hour more sleep. My house smelt like five people’s stale, sweaty soccer gear waiting to be washed and garbage that should have been taken out the day before.

No one was getting ready, or eating breakfast or brushing their teeth. I kept finding them all with books or toys, quietly settled instead of staying on task. There was one giant melt down before we left the house – I told them it was okay, they were sad, they were frustrated and rubbed their back. I ignored my impulse to tell them there was no time for this, they were too big for this, this was not a big deal.

Sometimes it feels like there is no time for compassion.

We made it eventually, we all got in the car, two out of three with brushed teeth and made it to our appointment just on time. Then, we start the drive home. There was a lot of bickering from the back seat. I put in one headphone and turned on my music (highly sensitive mama’s driving with kids survival tip).

Still it got too loud and at one point I yelled ‘would everyone be QUIET!’. It worked for two minutes before the bugging and bickering started up again.

So I took them all for cupcakes.

Here is one tiny thing I know about life. Sometimes we all act like assholes. We pick a fight when we should pick peace, we yell when we should listen. We melt down when it is inconvenient.

There is no such thing as perfect.

Yet there is such as thing as beloved – it has nothing to do with how we act – it has to do with who made us. It’s an unfathomable idea. How we are so loved all the time, no matter what we do. How that love is expanding continually like the universe itself. Nothing can ever convey it fully.

I still feel this urging inside to try though. To give my children and myself glimpses that it is okay to melt down, yell, disagree, bug, bother, be selfish and act ungrateful. All that doesn’t change how you are loved. How you are needed. How you are cherished. How you are safe here in this place of beloved love when you are not at your best.

And just for one day, that looked like cupcakes.

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Summer is for…

My husband built me a new desk as one of the final projects in our house renovation. It sits right in front of a window overlooking one of the original apple trees on our forty year old property. Two weeks ago the tree started to bloom. It is a stunning thing – it looks gorgeous yes, but more than that it is the smell – delicate and sweet. When you stand under it you can feel the way the whole tree is absolutely alive with hundreds of bees buzzing among the blossoms.

Apple Blossoms

This picture isn’t from this year. I kept meaning to get a shot but didn’t get my camera out in time. A rain storm we really needed washed them away before I anticipated in the midst of an overfilled week. This picture isn’t from last year either because last year I was depressed and reeling from death. It’s a quick one I snapped on my phone from the year before and all three of my kiddos are there, enjoying the gift of the blooms and the rain showers, tinier than it seems they ever were.

Two years can go by just like that. I’ve been told and I’ve seen it myself, the truth that days (especially if they are dark) can drag on and on and on. Yet somehow I was just rocking my last baby under the stars and now she is about to be five.

I haven’t written much here the past year but it feels like it is time again. Time to bring some presence back to this place where I like to reflect about love and life and God and belovedness.

One way I’m going to ease myself in without feeling a need to be too serious or too wordy is a summer series. I’m calling it ‘Summer is for…’  Just a photo or two with a few words. A chance to capture a few moments of gratitude and a few memories for the future hopefully once a week or so because summer is for savouring.

Summer is for biking in the middle of the day under gorgeous skies just because it is fun and we have nothing else to do.

Blue Sky Biking

Summer is for reading bedtime stories in the gazebo while the sun goes down.

Summer is for little girls with pink toenails.

Gazebo Reading

Summer is for new life.

(If you blog or instagram I’d love to see what you are using your summer for too.)

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Looking for hope

It turned out to be a hard week to write about hope. This week my little view of the world seemed to have more than it’s share of loss, mourning, injustice, hardship, sadness, sickness.

When I think about what I hope for it’s this: wholeness for people and planet. Kingdom come. I think this is why Barbara Kingsolver says the most you can do with your life when you have figured out what you hope for is to live inside that hope. ‘Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under it’s roof.’

How many of us have the gumption, the strength in spirit really to do that – to say ‘I hope for goodness, wholeness, light and well being and most of all I hope for love’ and stay there living with it in a week like this one. In a world like this one.

When I was depressed I couldn’t. The mind lies to you and says there is no hope, there is only more drudgery. There is only more getting through, there is only more of this. There might only be more darkness.

I’m still learning this the thirties are more than tired – they can be a breeding ground for mental illness.

I’ll end with this: I believe in Jesus but sometimes I feel like I can’t see. So I look for the light he brings instead. I see it in money raised for a new widow. I see it in people speaking up and demonstrating about oppression. I see it in meals cooked and kids looked after and ‘how are you doing’ texts sent with some chocolate on the side. I see it in fair trade Christmas gifts and spending time with family who are hard to love and cups of tea shared with friends. I see it in parents who work hard at jobs they wish they didn’t have to go to. I see it in diapers changed and toddlers consoled and books read. I see it in prayers prayed and love sent. I see it when I look in your eyes.

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Emily Dickinson wrote:

“Hope is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all -”

Today is the first Sunday of advent in my faith tradition. Advent is thought of as a time to spend preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus – the four weeks before Christmas. It’s a time of new beginning. Each week has a word associated with it and the first week is always hope.

For a few months I’ve been listening most days to this podcast called Pray As You Go. It’s not for everyone (in many season’s it wouldn’t have been for me) but right now the contemplative, liturgical style is giving me peace and connection. It always has the same format: song, scripture reading, questions for contemplating, scripture reading again, song and benediction.

This morning’s podcast for the first Sunday in advent started with a traditional song asking for Jesus coming and calling on Jesus during the hard and dark times in life. The reading was Mark 13:33-37 which is a parable about being awake not asleep when Jesus comes. They had us ponder what kind of a year we have had. What stands out. What does Jesus want me to wake up to? What do I need more of and what do I need less of?

When I thought about what stood out to me this year the words the words came fast: depression, death, injustice, anxiety, survival, coping, irritability. Ambivalence. Heaviness.

All this to say – I disagree with Ms. Dickinson. Hope has feathers but it’s singing can also be stopped.

I haven’t written much here because depression being new to me took me months to figure out and then several more months where I was trying to dig myself out and recover. Months where I mostly felt myself but had a few low periods again too. And let’s face it, it’s hard for me to be vulnerable in my day to day life, never mind on the internet.

But it’s advent and I believe in hope, even when I can’t feel it beating or singing. I’m questing for hope this week as part of my advent pondering. And I’m writing about depression linked with my advent journey because this year I can’t separate the two.

‘The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under it’s roof.’ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

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