Follow You


I need to flow again. But there has been no time alone, no opportunity to reach into that warm dark place that swirls with un-born words. And the absence of writing time means the well in me fills higher and higher with sludge. Every song, conversation and movie, every disappointment, worry and joy adds to the mix and without expressing, I become jammed.

Too many days of being compacted, and a problem occurs. I stare at the new post screen, dry of expression and my fingers hover without direction. I lose the stream. I get lost, blind and unable to feel my way out on the letters that put flight to my expression.

Simply put, the last few weeks have been a challenge and yet hold the markings of great growth.

Health-wise: things are difficult to manage. I simply cannot function like a normal person. Walking a short distance makes my pulse pound and nausea and dizziness surge up. I have to rest several times in the day, lying down, arms and legs feeling weighted by lead. Saying no to things is a constant exhaustion of its own, for the guilt that tends to follow. Most people are unaware of how things are, I do not like to appear weak! Too much pride. If I am careful, then I can meter out my energy measure to get me through the needs of my week. My doctor and I are working carefully to try to treat the condition, working out which hormones to supplement, which injections, which surgery. It is not serious, but it is distracting to say the least, and influences where I go, what I do, which me I choose to be.

Inspite of, or perhaps ideally, doors have opened for me at the very moment I feel least equipped to go through them. Suddenly, quickly, I have been caught up in the unfolding of a dream of mine for many, many years. Without warning. Without any of my previous fallback of time and strength. At the peak of the time I feel most vulnerable and bewildered at my fragility, I am in a position of being a bridge to others. Despite a lack of professional training and a lack of free time, I am practicing in the area of emotional health. People with broken places are knocking on my front door and meeting with the only Great Counsellor there is, witnessed by me.
I am confounded by this. Nothing makes sense. My body feels wooden and exhausted. My brain like sludge, and yet they come. And we sit or kneel, a team of us who feel this call to the marrow of our beings and acknowledge the presence of El Roi, El Shaddai, Immanuel. We draw our Godspaces. We learn, plan and share. And thus equipped, we turn outward again, to the broken.

And I feel more alive than I have ever felt before.

And I feel barely alive, like never before.

It is a miraculous tension, my inadequacy meeting my desire to be used. The call has become a magnetic force, to walk in the opposite direction would be impossible. I hear the words to the song that says it all, and my knees buckle with recognition, and before I know it, my cheeks are wet with tears. Not for me. For them. For the ones that come and lay broken, shattered hearts out. And the King comes, simple and faithful to the end of time. A balm of healing oil pools around them and I watch in wonder as the Restorer sees them.

And then, humbly I return to sit, mute with frustration at my heavy, reluctant limbs and realise the truth of this life we breathe in and out. How frail we are, but how mighty. For He lives, exists and soars in us, but not for anything we have done. For who He is. Because He is.

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Inadequacy

Yesterday.

8.15am - Walk Maddy to school, and back home in the rain. My jandals squelch and my legs ache with the tension of holding onto wet shoes. I hobble barefoot some of the way on uneven and lumpy sidewalk.

9.15am - Back home. Tidy up and change Mish's nappy, find her shoes.

9.45am -Attend Mainly Music session with my littlest girl. There are no words to describe how dismal being Matilda the Gorilla makes me feel, or how swishing rainbow ribbons and stomping bunny feet make me writhe with awkwardness. But my sweet preschooler leaps with joy when I tell her we are going, and participates with such animation that I gain enough joy from that to outweigh the agony of my introverted behaviour.

11.25am - Rush out of there late for an appointment with a prospective daycare for one day a week.

11.55am - Eventually find the wretched place after driving around in circles. The place we see is dismal, dirty but reeks of chemical cleaners. My toes curl up involuntarily. Yuck. No way.

12.45pm - Home for lunch and clean up kitchen, fold washing, read stories.

6pm - Stare blankly at my dishevelled reflection, slap on more face paint and drag on my fat jeans (you know the ones that are so loose that they make a muffin top feel like washboard abdominals...no, not really, but better than the mental torment of holding one's breath due to waistband torture.)

6.30pm - Attend Maddy's school Meet the Teacher night. Park the car miles away from the gate out of stupidity and force legs not to droop like wet noodles. Again, awkward stretch as there I am a stranger, having left all my school mum buddies a year ago. I shuffle around with the other parents, trying to keep my arms uncrossed, but they just keep snapping back into position. Plaster on what I hope is a welcoming and pleasant expression and try to appear interested in why certain spelling words are chosen and who sits where. As soon as the bell goes for the PTA meeting my jandalled feet patter me away as fast as they could. My brain protests weakly, PTA? Maybe? I could put myself out there and be a part of things at this school....??? No way Hosea my feet retort and keep walking, fast, back up the hill to the car.

7.30pm - begin sleepily to turn into the driveway and remember critical lack of food in pantry, and essentials like milk and bread desperately needed. Swerve (kind of safely) back onto road and drive to grocery store.

8.30pm - Unload groceries and stagger up steps. Unpack and put away. Can't find the Ricies I know I bought. Thank God for my sister who was babysitting and had prepared dinner and put Mishal to bed.

9pm - Deal with 8 year old who needs a shower and hasn't done homework and is wracked with overtired complaints.

9.15pm - Tuck other child up in bed and try to not to fall asleep as I lie next to her and we stare out over the soft night-lit garden and talk about Daddy.

9.30 - Fall onto couch with hot mint chocolate and consume several squares of hazelnut chocolate, watch recorded show Flash Forward.

10.30 - Scrub off makeup, brush teeth, crawl into husband's empty side of the bed, read for 10 minutes. Fitfully sleep.

Today.

9.30am - Denial fully rolls away, and I drive back to the shop.

Yes they say, you left your groceries.

I left them? No, the cashier put them on the floor while he packed everything and I never saw them.

The customer service lady shrugs and reads from a page in a tatty book, listing my groceries. Three bagfuls.

These have been put back she casually says, flicking a hand behind her, you'll have to go round and get everything again.

I stare at her incredulously.

Sigh deeply, and transfer Mish from my hip to a trolley. Feel wet on my right side. Her nappy has leaked and I am sporting a puddle of wee the size of her bum while I re-shop my shopping from her list.

Infuriatingly, I had forgotten to buy onions the night before, but there was no way I was complicating things by putting them in my trolley of replaced goods. So after we had been given the all clear to leave the shop, I park Mishal out side a fresh fish shop and dash into the vegetable shop next door to buy some onions.

I only leave her because I cannot fit the trolley into the narrow shop aisles. And she is WET you understand. Everything is okay thankfully, but my heart nearly stops when I realise a very interested gentleman standing next to her, tall and ghoulish, long pale fingers holding a cigarette and dressed from top to toe in black. He moves away from the trolley and pretends to study a fish through the glass as I rush to her. Mish says to me, Mummy, who that man? Who man mummy? I was calling you Mum, come back. Adrenalin and fear flick through me and I squeeze her arm reassuringly as I steer her back to the car. Breathe Amy.

So, yes now we are home. Tired. My exhaling breath is hung on sighs and fatigue shoots hot up my spine, and I am soothing the jagged place where my fright lies, at something happening to my baby while I bought onions. I keep staring at the onion bag, lying on the bench like a grim reminder, and will not be using them for tonight's dinner I think.

It doesn't help that I have given up coffee - the caffeine evilly feeds estrogen dominance but I miss that steadying energy not to mention the simple joy of my mug of long black with a dash of trim milk.

The Big Guy is home tomorrow and I know from experience that relief follows reunion. But for now, for now there is a tired baby screeching and a meal to be made, and another Meet the Teacher night at the Intermediate school. Perhaps a coffee today will be in order - purely medicinal you understand and for a cloak of extroversion, if there is such a thing.

There are some days I just feel inadequate.

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Wordless Wednesday...

(Ratties in Residence at the Auckland Museum)

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Rosy Love

We don't 'do' Valentine's day.



Red hearts and roses are too cliche for me to associate with love.
Or with those tanned smooth hands that gripped mine when I laboured to bring his babies into the light. Those hands that cradled their newborn heads and held them to his heart.
For the arms that are always open and the chest I rest my forehead on when I'm down and out.
Too cliche for the belonging, and the missing. For the generosity and the protection he offers.
Perfume, cards and jewellery seem out of sync with this groundswell of love, the one that transcends colour, age and emotion.
When I was fifteen he sent me my first Valentine's Day card. Be Mine? I was. I still am.
Let me take the opportunity now though, to say that as powerful a priviledge it is to journey through life in marriage, it is no walk in the park.
I have been as ungrateful and ungracious as a woman can be.
I have been sharp and brittle with expectation.
I have raged and sobbed and at other times, smiled and encouraged.
How he has known which side of grumpy to find me on any given day, I'll never know.
He is one of those few, all man but sensitive and uncritical.
We do life together - some weeks in a blur, some days in combat and some years tightroping between our own desires and the needs of the other.
Love is so bruising, grieving, desperate, placid and impossible. It is such a gift and grows as we do.
And sheepishly, I'll admit to now taking back my scoffing at the rose.
Its fragrance is well matched to the order of its velvet petals. Its thorns though easily draw blood. They are hardy, prune well but succumb to pests if not protected. They are vintage, age-old and come in thousands of varieties. They bring hope and are an international symbol of love. They bloom and wilt.
But more than this - the fruit of the rose, the rosehip is a wonderful pod of medicinal value. Among many other things, it is renowned as a nourisher and restorer of skin, supporter of white blood cells and eases joint pain, contributing to better sleep and energy levels. It has high levels of vitamin C, an important fighter against free-radicals in the sludge of our lives.
This delicate and common cliche bloom has my renewed respect.
As does my husband, whose strong shoulders and uncomplaining support of me and my conditions, deserves higher reward than he will probably ever know.
To you all, especially those of you who are spending this weekend in the pain of singleness, may you know the everlasting love of God, who romances and woos us like none other, if we walk softly and listen for that heart that beats for us.
Happy weekend of love :)
And Big Guy? Be mine?

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I am always...

very low in iron.
Sometimes walking from one end of the house to the other exhausts me.
Getting out of bed is a huge effort some days,
it's like when you lie in the bath and let the water run out around you,
heavy limbed and impossibly light at the same time.
My brain is foggy and soupy. Too many people talking to me at once blows a fuse.
I move like I am wearing a wetsuit, flippers and goggles, very slowly.
Despite years and years of tablets, and nasty injections,
it is still the same.
And. I. Am. Over. It.
Ok, grumble over. Back to staring at the wall and eating steak and spinach.
Photo credit - Veer

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Wordless Wednesday (give or take a few words...)

Title: Groundbreaking Theological Viewpoint

Artist: Maddison, 8 years old

Medium: whiteboard on fridge door

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Slave Training


Warning: Mess inducing (slave clean-up help usually slinks away after bowl has been licked clean) and sadly sufficiently calorie-loaded to blast any adult food consumption restrictions to kingdom come. Also in the negative quarter, a batch lasts, if you're lucky, about an hour due to its deliciousness (and the greedy nature of my hungry girls, who won't eat before school due to nerves but more than make up for that with afternoon tea.)
Muffins of Yum
2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
125g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla essense
1/2 - 1 cup chocolate chips (or however many you have rattling around in the pantry)
Chuck together dry ingredients and mix.
In another bowl, mix together wet stuff.
Make a well in the dry, pour in the wet and mix just enough to combine. Add choc chips.
Spoon into muffin pans and bake at 200C for about 15 minutes.
My ten year old can do this with her eyes closed. The 8 year old still needs a hovering guide with the melted butter etc. So easy for kids to make though. These are able to be made into monster size muffins as they rise well, but we also make lots of minis.

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The Middle does the Middle Years

This little pocket rocket sallied forth into the big world of a new school and fitted in like she'd been there for a lifetime. She grinned as she came out on her first day - relief making her eyes bright.
"Mum, I've had such a good day" she exclaimed as we walked hand in hand back over the school fields, "it's so surprising!".
She had watched her older sister for a few days, watched her melt into a puddle of tears on both her departure and arrival and assumed naturally this was the pattern to expect. What a delight it was after last year's misery to actually discover, quite accidentally, that she is in for fun and belonging.
Sadly the youngest does not share anyone's enthusiasm, she feels quite rotten about it all and is not afraid to show it. She has found a backpack (which she calls her handbag) and most mornings tells me earnestly that she is ready for school too. She erupts into wails of woe as the family all go their own ways and she is left, saddled with me. :)

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Big girl - Big life


This sweet child is half caught in my memory as a confident, sparkly imp who scrunched up her eyes when she smiled - but the other half of her on the threshold of her intermediate years, is troubled and serious, tears coursing down her face for days in a row. Wearing optimism like a banner, this intelligent, sweet-natured girl stepped into the unknown of a new school on Tuesday. But she was back home by lunchtime, in her bed, wracked by convulsive sobs. What a shock it all was for her. To walk unerringly, with integrity and courage into a hostile and unfamilar environment shattered her. She fell hard, feeling sick to her gut and ran to the only safe place she knows, our arms. The absence of friends and a teacher devoid of empathy was enough to scuttle the bravery and replace it with the the sense of how very large the world is and how small she in fact is.



It has been a stretching time. For her, to see how only God can rescue us and how in fact, these times bring us to a place of understanding other's pain in a valuable way. For me, watching her temporarily shrink and withdraw while she processes her new position, the week has been poignant and bittersweet. For in as much as while I watch her grieve her old life, I realise that she will become established soon enough, and that will be the beginning of the end of her childhood. She is learning to become a leader, learning to manage herself and apply herself to the values of character and academic achievement. I want to rush in with rescue arms of nuture, and tuck her into the cottonwool of my love, but we choose the bracing and very challenge style of 'white water parenting', releasing her enough to experience things for herself. It is like freefalling in trust. I believe children are pure blessings from the lap of God. For me to actually walk that out and not be the ever-present voice of reason and guidance in her world actually robs me of comfort. I want to shield, protect and snuggle my children into idyllic nests of complete dependance, but more than that I want not to need them in order to survive. I want to be strong enough to let them fall and hurt and grow without directing their every step. I want them to have the opportunity to rise up in their spirits against the challenges they face. I want to learn from them. I want them to never be afraid of real life and how things are not as easy as we think they ought to be and that that's okay.

I fold her into my embrace at night time and pray over her. She rests her blonde head on my shoulder and I can feel the tears dripping through my tee-shirt. I am gripped by the overwhelming urge to be her warrior. But I stifle it, and together we creep in humility before God and give the situation to Him, the good, the bad and the ugly, and I walk in complete blind trust that nothing is ever, ever, ever, wasted in Him. He will turn this heart-wrenching start into good for His purpose.

In the meantime, more chocolate, hot milos and backrubs, nods, murmurs and cherishing. More quotes written on the fridge door about courage. More celebrating on the weekends that she has seen off a whole week. And more thanks to our Creator for letting us learn, and trip up and keep on going. It is not easy to let those you love learn like this.

Hope your Fridays are all full of joy and that the weekend finds you all embracing celebration and rest.

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