wait

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“Wait. You have to wait.” It is the hardest thing to hear for someone who has the patience of a hare. But yet, in this human life, we must wait. We must wait for the process of change to take foothold. We must wait for still, small voice. We must wait for the right time to come.

 

The elapsed time between finishing my Master’s in Ed Admin and starting my first principalship was six years. In all those times, I needed to be faithful that God had called me to this work. I needed to be patient that all the small leadership experiences-formal and informal, the coursework, the books read, the discernment, would all come to fruition.

Now, in leadership, I must continue to honor the change process in others. I need to honor the capacity for change humans are able to handle at any one time. I need to honor that God is not finished with me yet and despite my current wants–His divine time is what really matters.

Waiting doesn’t mean complacency. It doesn’t mean sitting on one’s hands and doing nothing–it means honoring the process of growth and deeply discerning. It means following the “I think this is it” until “it” shows up or becomes clear. So I’m not sure what I’m waiting on right now, but as I wait–I will serve and love.

 

integrity.

I have been dwelling a lot on integrity these last few days. I cannot stand dishonesty, sins of omission, white lies…they all make me sick. I have had too many experiences in my life with dishonest folks and I’m just not doing it anymore. Life is too short to be lied to–even if the truth hurts.

Luckily, the Lectionary agrees with me. Yesterday, in Psalm 25 and today, in Psalm 26, I have had affirmation in my belief that standing with integrity is incredibly important.

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Am I blameless, no. I, too, have had sins of omission, white lies, etc. that have caused hurt to others. And for this, I seek forgiveness and repentance. I also know that I can choose TODAY to walk in the light of truth. To walk in honesty. To allow my character to speak through my actions and words. The time is now. There is no turning back. And when I fall, I will dust off and start again.

The legacy I want to leave is one where people know what I stood for because I lived it out loud. Kindness, honesty, courage, resilience, adventure, faith, and love. I must be honest with my own self before I can stand in integrity before others. So here I go. (Come with me.)

dreams

Dreams take on many forms. Sometimes they are the passions that you work hard to achieve. Sometimes dreams are the things that wake you in the night breathless. Sometimes they are the mindful fancies of immaturity. Sometimes they are wishes. I’ve been pondering dreams lately as I approach year two since Kenny left this world. I continue to grieve lost dreams, lost hopes, lost plans.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind” but I’m not entirely sure I believe it. I want to believe that some of the best things I have done in the past or left behind will not be outdone. I want to believe that for those six years that the moments of glimmer from the shore of Mirror Lake to the first cup of coffee to the epic breakdown on Kent Island can’t be repeated and won’t be replaced.

But how do you move forward when these dreams die? What is the catalyst? Can you ever really leave the dreams behind or will they always linger in the ether?

I have a ring that I purchased for myself and it says “forward” because no matter what dreams are dashed, one must move forward. I cannot allow myself to be stuck in the mire of grief. It may not get better, but I will trudge through faithfully until new dreams are implanted in my mind and heart.

free write

It has been many months since I have posted to this blog. I spend quite a bit more time on my professional blog. But I’ve been inspired by the many women taking up the 31 Days of Writing challenge wherein they write for 5 minutes a day on a particular topic for 31 days. Well, it is October 16, so I have completely missed the boat on this one, but I am writing all the same.

Our kids at school are learning to write with Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop this year and the process for writing is so well-structured. They glean ideas from their own reading, from conversations, from their own environment. They practice noticing sensory elements in the world around them to increase their expressive vocabulary. And most of their writing is choice based allowing them to explore personal topics that have meaning for them.

I feel like I often don’t publish more because I spend so much time working to create the perfect submission. Instead of writing what is on my heart or mind–I build the right set of links and images to express whatever it is that I want to say. The freedom to simply write about a particular topic, memory, or whatever without the constraints of perfection is ideal. When I write on this blog, I don’t particularly know for whom I’m writing (other than my mom), so rather, let me write for me. Let me use this forum to share what’s on my mind, put it vulnerably into the world and see what comes back.

So off I go, to try to write more and experience the freedom of simply writing to write. What a gift.

consider the birds.

I have been following the SSJE “Growing a Rule of Life” study during Lent. Thus far, it has been a lovely metaphor of how my relationship with nature and practices within it parallel that of our relationship with God. Today, I was asked to “pick something in God’s creation to consider” and reflect upon it. I immediately thought of birds. It’s interesting in that I purport a fear of birds, but I actually love (most of) them. I dislike big black crows and turkey buzzards that, while important to the food chain, remind me of Tippy Hedron being attacked in Hitchcock’s The Birds. However, my affinity for most other birds was developed in me through my dad. And this affinity has stuck with me for a lifetime.

As a child, we would pack up the binoculars and go bird watching–looking for a variety of birds within our particular outing. It was not uncommon to hear the words, “Oh look, a hawk” during a car ride; all eyes in the car darting up to look at the golden creature atop a power line. Each of the Thomas girls has a keen eye for spotting a woodpecker, a blue jay, or a heron before most would even blink. And now, in my new home of Montgomery, observing the long-tailed mockingbirds in my front yard brings delight.

So how is this a metaphor for my relationship with God?  Jesus said, “Consider the Ravens.” The word consider is the important one here. From the Latin-considerare-to observe closely. As I observe the birds of the air (or the lilies of the field), I gain a connection to the creation made by God. These intricate, graceful, beautiful, and intelligent animals breeze through the air as a marvel of physics and perch ever so daintily on teeny wires and posts. They are, for me, something to behold in reverence. As one watches birds, one gains a keen eye for detail, an intrinsic sense of patience, and an appreciation for silence. In walking with God, God can be found in the details, in the silence, and in the moments of wonder and delight. However, I must observe keenly to find God in these things.

Just this morning, as I was in the middle of this study, I stepped on to the porch for a brief moment. I looked up to find a feathered friend, perching for a rest on a wire. We considered one another for a while, and hence this meditation was born. And in that moment, God reminded me that it is so deeply important to take time to consider. To be a keen observer of nature, of people, and within we will find God.

Morning dove

 

 

making room in the inn.

My heart has been stitched up pretty well in the last year. I feel like the stitches are strong and some of them are mending up well. In the last few weeks, I’ve regularly taken a peek at the local shelter dogs to see if someone might pull at my heart. I kept sending them to my sweet sisters who kept reminding me that a big, black, pit-bull mix might scare the rest of my family away. And then my sister sent me Toby. A terrier-mutt with a sad story. Found on the side of the road, practically bare with mange. A sad sack to say the least but a sweet face that needs a new home. A canine refugee, a last chancer. The kind people of PAWS have had him treated and have given him lots of love and care. His mange is cleared, his body healed, and his spirit is beginning to renew.

I was going to wait until summer. But my “inn” has plenty of room and my heart is ready to be full. So my Christmas gift is a new partner in crime, a new snuggle mate, and a new companion. Maybe in a way, we will save each other.

Tobias Bartlet Thomas will make his home at the Porch Swing Palace in a few weeks and I’m just simply over the moon.

 

52 Tuesdays.

I stopped counting the Tuesdays long ago. I decided it was just keeping me from getting stronger so I stopped. But there is no denying today’s number. It’s 52. 52 Tuesdays since the worst day. The change of scenery in the last few months has worked wonders for my mental health. I feel like I can breathe. I feel like the cloud of widow doesn’t follow me with eyes of pity everywhere I go. I don’t hide it. I talk about it–most of the time I tell the story without blubbering (last weekend not withstanding.) But I don’t feel like it is the first thing people think of when they see me like I did in the last few months of home.

I know tomorrow is going to be messy. I’m ok with that. A lot of “helpers” have told me what I should do…I think stemming from their own fear for my emotions. There will be crying. There will be meatballs and hopefully a cannoli. There will be Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Lily Allen. Darla will go out for a ride. There will be a Starbucks iced coffee with hazelnut (ew.) There will be Old Westminster. There will be looking at pictures, reading cards, laughing, and remembering.

October 21st will always have such a tumultuous meaning. It will also, at some point, be a date in time that will hold less power over me. When that time will come, I do not know.

In 52 Tuesdays, I have learned that grace is the only way. Giving it freely, receiving it humbly. When we open our hearts and let it all spill out, it is our truest friends who will help pick up the pieces and patchwork us back together. And, it is also the countless unrecognized prayers from all over the world, that are felt in moments of despair. Love, patience, grace, and community are the reason I am able to stand up, each day, and know that I can move forward.

a love letter to Glennon

Dear G,

Thank you for so many things. For being real, raw, honest, and hilarious. For stripping the glossy finish off the brutiful in life. For making each and every person who comes in contact with you feel loved and valued. You are a gift to the human race. Last night, you spoke real life to a group of women in Birmingham. You probably speak similarly every time you speak and maybe you get tired of sharing the same stories, but you wouldn’t know it. Shoes off and heart bared-you let us into your soul and we got to share ours too.

Here are some of the things you said last night that made me love you even more:

  • Use your broken heart as a teacher–it will teach you who you are meant to serve and that is your purpose.
  • Some of us are made like canaries. (We are more attuned to the sensitivities of life.)
  • You can be perfect & admired or you can be real & loved.
  • Wisdom, kindness, and resilience are born out of pain.
  • There is a before to redemption-and it hurts, but love wins.
  • Now one is allowed to push us towards hope before we are ready.
  • Rock bottom is the beginning.
  • Be brave enough to tell your story but kind enough not to tell someone else’s.
  • Everything we are meant to be is inside our pain. We need to transform our hot loneliness, not just transport it.
  • The freer people are to be human, the better we are.
  • Be still with your pain.

All of this. Yes. A thousand times. You have shown me that it is ok to be real and to be anything else would stunt my life’s journey. I am grateful to you. I am grateful to those who have held up my joist by sistering it with love, compassion, patience, grace, chocolate, wine (none for you my recovering friend), and laughter.

Love,

S

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freedom

I picked up my book, In the Midst of Winterfor the first time in a while yesterday. I was tired, cranky, and felt a general sense of malaise. I wanted something–I didn’t know for what I was looking. I turned to the summer-fall section entitled, “Grief’s Wisdom” and found this lovely bit from Albert Camus. I read it a few times. I felt a pang of guilt at the phrase, “the loved one obstructed a whole corner of the possible.” Is that ok–to accept that there is/was possibility I would not have seen if life had stayed on the same track?

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Back when “it” all happened, a friend said to me, “If this happened to me, I would pack my kids and my bags and be out of here. If you decided to do that, I would not hold it against you.” That has stuck with me. While it wasn’t immediate, I did pack my bags and get away. But I wasn’t running away. I could have found contentment and healing in my home place. I ran towards the uncovered possibility that had always been part of the “plan.”

So I look to the next line, “Freedom emerges from weariness.” Freedom is not forgetting. It is not closing a hole. It is the acknowledgment that forward motion is right and good. It is not freedom from love or memory; it is freedom from the daily in and out of grief. And a lot of the time lately, I feel free and even happy. As my weariness dissipates into fits and spurts rather than a steady stream, I hold onto this freedom with a vice grip for fear if I loosen my grip, it too will slip away.

hole. whole.

You can never fully repair the hole in your heart. It simply becomes a part of you. You mend and you grow and you make peace with it. In his piece in the NY Times, David Melham said it best, “No, what happens is that a weight that initially feels unbearable becomes, in time, manageable.” I feel like this weight has become manageable. It sometimes tears through the mended stitches but it is no longer shredded.

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from the Mishkan T’filah

I walk forward. I walk on. I make peace with what has happened to and around me. For I cannot truly live without finding this peace. But, sometimes I walk at a different pace than others and I must make peace with that too. For we all walk the path of forgiveness, acceptance, and resolution in our own time. I want to heed the wisdom of the Mishkan T’filah and live fully. This means risk. It means risking the possibility that the wound will rip open once more. It means risking the possibility of more loss. And, it means risking the possibility of regaining wholeness.

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The hole shall live with its stitches but it does not mean I am not whole. It simply means I have to make peace with all that was, with all that is, and with all that will be.