Nothing Doing

See this view?

It's mine.

I had major hip surgery 11 days ago (more on that later), and this particular surgery has a long and complicated recovery. LONG. Did I mention it is lengthy?

I can bear zero weight on my operative leg (the right one) for a total of six weeks, so here I sit. Actually, I can only sit in short spurts too. So here I lie. Or lay. Whatever–I couldn't figure out "lie/lay" even before pain meds.

(And let us pause for a moment to acknowledge that if you zoom in on that picture, you will see the name of the socks are "Bair Paws". Seriously. They gave me misspelled socks in the hospital's pre-op room. I took one look at them and started to gather my things and told Hubs, "IF THEY CAN'T SPELL 'BEAR' THEY ARE NOT CUTTING OPEN MY HIP." Thankfully, he talked me off this ledge, as they are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. Also, and I really need you to work with me and picture this, the Bair Paws gown they gave me had a hose attached and it blew comfy warm air into my gown. I am a chronic spelling snob, but I'm also a chronic cold person, and guess what? Comfort wins. Nice job, Bair Paws people. Atrocious spelling, but great product.)

Back to recovery.

(Side note: Clearly, the FDA should list that a side effect of painkillers is over-use of italics and parentheses.)

I haven't been this helpless since I was a toddler. I can't fix a drink and carry it with me to the couch. I can't sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. I can't sweep a floor or empty a trashcan or drive a car or walk to the mailbox with my husband.

My mother–the Greatest Hero In My World–has all but moved in to run my family. Precious friends are providing weeks of meals and rides for my kids and are coming to sit with me so that I will not be alone.

This is how it will be for much of the summer. Once I can start walking in six weeks, I am assured the recovery will still be slow and my limitations will be many. I am told my joint will not be normal, strong, and pain-free for six months.

And I won't lie to you: This is hard.

Me, the mom of the carpool, the class party, the field trip, the sleepover, the mega-grocery trip–I am a bump on this couch while that world outside my window just whirls along without me.

And I feel it, smacking me in the head every time I look around, the lesson that hangs in the air waiting to be learned: I can still love my people.

Let me repeat that, because I don't fully believe it yet, even though a little part of my brain knows it must be true: I can still love my people.

I sit here, waited on hand and foot, knowing how much work I'm creating for the people I love best. And I can't help. I cannot love them by jumping up and fixing them a casserole or driving to dance class. I can love them, as I sit (lay/lie) here. I can listen, pray, watch, laugh, comfort, but I can't DO.

And guess what? Loving your people by DOING is way easier than loving them the other ways. I realize, painfully, how addicted I've been to proving my love to my family (and myself) by just moving around on their behalf all the time.

The other day, I crutched myself gently out to my front porch because I need to breathe some air. It was starting to sprinkle, and my ten-year-old daughter dashed out past me and began to dance in the rain. I just watched her, easing myself onto a bench. She danced. And I just watched. I didn't run inside to grab my phone and snap a picture of the cute moment. I didn't watch for ten seconds and then tell her, sorry, I have to go inside and fold clothes now. I just watched her. I watched the beautiful length of her legs, and the funny way the hair started to stick to the side of her face. I just watched and savored that moment, right there.

I just loved her.

I am seeing these moments begin to take shape, as I let go of the old ways of loving my family and try to embrace these newer (and harder) ones. I listen to the sound of my husband's footsteps in the kitchen as he prepares my meds and comes to put me in bed, and I pray that God will ease his burdens. I just love him.

When my son needs to discuss a school frustration, I do not cut the conversation short to hop onto the next thing, because I can't–because the only way I can love him is to hear him. And we talk, more deeply than we've ever talked on the topic. I just love him.

I am ashamed how hard it is to slow down and love my family in this new way. I should've learned it years ago.  I wonder what all I have missed when I dashed off to fold their towels instead of watching them dance in the rain?

Teach me, Lord.

 

 

Mark Your Calendars For February 27th!

One month following the 7.1 earthquake that struck Haiti, an all-star cast of musicians is gathering for Help Haiti Live, a two-city ticketed concert event taking place on February 27th, 2010 to benefit Compassion International’s Haiti disaster relief fund.

Don't live in LA or Nashville? Watch the concerts for free (streaming live) on the 27th at Help Haiti Live website. Go ahead and bring your wallet, though–at the website you'll be given a chance to donate to Compassion's work in Haiti. If you've not already done so, this will be the perfect opportunity.

One hundred percent of on-line donations through HelpHaitiLive.com will go to Compassion International’s Haiti disaster relief fund. One hundred percent of net proceeds from ticket sales will go to the same place.

Some of the artists participating in this concert include Jars of Clay, Amy Grant, and two of my personal favorites: Dave Barnes (*squeal*), and Alison Krauss and Union Station (*double squeal*). This will be a spectacular night of music for a great cause–I'll be watching live. Join me!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9307574&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Help Haiti February 27th – HelpHaitiLive.com from Compassion International on Vimeo.

What We Can Do

"Should we go there?" my eight-year-old son asked me last night as we sat and watched CNN as a family.

No, I explained, we shouldn't–we'd only be in the way.

But I know how he feels. Watching the epic destruction unfold leaves me sitting with a shaking head and a heavy heart, wondering what on earth I can possibly do. Hand-wringing won't help, of course; there is always a course of action, even when the path seems overwhelming.

:: Give. There are people on the ground with access to the tools to help–give to these organizations generously, until you feel the pinch yourself. If you've never been a giver before, let this be a wake-up call and a chance to stretch that part of your heart, and see how your life is changed when you sacrifice for someone else. Compassion has had a strong presence in Haiti for a very long time, and–praise God–their office still stands. You can be sure that your gift will be stretched and used to its very last drop. Here's a great explanation (directly from the Compassion folks) about why their model for disaster relief is so effective:

In
this disaster it is crucial that first responders receive support
quickly. Because Compassion International ministers through local
churches to meet the needs of that church's neighbors, and because
these church partners are respected aid workers in their communities,
Compassion is uniquely positioned to assess and meet the needs of its
sponsored children quickly. This is an advantage of our church-based
model in practice for more than 50 years.

:: Talk to your kids. Don't hide tragedy from them. Their world, unfortunately, is a scary place sometimes. Poverty and disaster should be jarring, and seeing it will help them grow into people who want to make things better. Pray together. Brainstorm as a family about things you can give up together to give more generously. Let them feel the pinch, too.

:: Live with intentional thankfulness. When I came home from Africa, I struggled with guilt–why am I comfortable when so many others aren't? I understand a little better now that I can channel those emotions into thankfulness, and I can teach it to my kids. I don't know why my kids are safe and my house is standing and our water is clean. But I will be thankful, and I will take opportunities like this one to re-tune my heart. So many of the things that occupy our minds are fleeting and unimportant. Let Haiti awaken us to a perspective that is laser-focused on what really matters.

http://farm.sproutbuilder.com/load/kADUtMgfH0EiNN2H.swf

Ho, Ho, Ho (and Other Things I’m Thinkin’)

A sheepish "thank you" to those of you who have dropped a note to ask if my lack of posting means that something is terribly wrong. 

Things are, in fact, terribly right these days–the book is done (DONE, I tell you, DONE!) and it's off to the printer. I'm so giddy with the new-found freedom that I've celebrated by alternately plowing through my reading list and learning to crochet (and by "learning to crochet", of course, I mean "looping  a bunch of sloppy knots, but gosh, it's fun.") The kids are out of school and they're helping me with holiday preparations (and by "helping", of course, I mean "not really helping at all, but gosh, they're cute"). We're staring down the barrel of an especially action-packed holiday season this year–details to follow, once all the dust has settled.

In the meantime, as a very tiring 2009 draws to a close, I find myself feeling a little reflective about this silly blog o' mine. It started as a hobby, grew into a "job," and it's mercifully, gently settling back into a hobby again, for which I'm profoundly grateful. I've learned so much about setting limits this year; perhaps I'll write on it once I grab hold of the right words. Thank you for bearing with me during a busy, chaotic year, and for the frequent doses of encouragement and laughter you've sent me at just the right time.

I just yawned, which reminds me that, yet again, I've stayed up too late, cramming in all the last-minute Things Which Must Be Done. The presents are sloppily wrapped, and the kitchen floor is covered with sprinkles from our (highly unsuccessful) foray into holiday baking today. The kids played too many video games, and the 8yo has been throwing up all evening. I sigh to remember how I was crabby when I should've been kind today, how I was rushed when I should've paid attention. I'm beginning to think my decades-long tradition of falling short at Christmas may actually be by design: if I had it all together, I suppose I wouldn't have needed a certain Baby to come and rescue me from my own messes.

So I'll sit here, picking cookie sprinkles off the bottoms of my feet, and I'll think about the manger. I'll say a prayer for peace and rest for those of you who are fighting hard battles right now–I know there are many of you.  And I'll think on this, by lovely Madeleine:

He came to a  world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Be merry, my friends–I'll see you back here in the new year.

Is This Thing On?

Hi, blog friends. I'm back. Or at least back-ish. It's been a long and strange several weeks: the normal madhouse of back-to-school chaos (including our first year of middle school), plus the frantic pace of a book deadline, plus the sudden death of my father-in-law. (And by the way, many thanks to those of you who sent such kind expressions of prayer and sympathy–that meant more than you know.) I'm not sure I've ever been sprinting in so many directions at once.

Case in point: I went to curriculum night at my kids' school a couple last week, dashing out the door after a full day of writing and a thrown-together meal of macaroni and cheese. I talked with all the teachers, and I had a nice chat with the PTA president and principal and several other parents. As I was leaving the school, I looked down to see that the entire evening I'd been wearing a giant, streaky blob of macaroni and cheese stuck to the front of my shirt.

NICE.

While I'm quick to kick myself for letting things get so chaotic, I don't want to miss the lessons in the mayhem. Times like this have a way of forcing me to focus on what's important: Turn off the computer and enjoy the cool evening. Love my husband. Check my shirt for wayward pasta. Live and learn.

The good news is that the book is going very well. We're almost to the halfway point, and we're so proud of what we've done so far. You TypePad users already know how many changes are taking place as the new version continue to get up and running, and we're writing this book to the new version of TypePad, not the old one. This has meant many, many hours of poking around in my dashboard, learning the new lay of the land (and, by the way, loving it. I don't always love change, but this new TypePad design has really grown on me.) If you're a new TypePad user (or you're an old one who is still getting up to speed on all the changes), I really think this book is going to be a great help. Sit tight–I'll tell you more about it soon.

In the meantime, I'll continue to be in and out here at my blog, until we hit our final deadline later this fall. OH, the irony that spending many hours a day writing a book on blogging doesn't leave any time for…um, blogging. Also, a quick note–I'm using my personal blog as a guinea pig for implementing some of the TypePad features I'm writing about. Hopefully the changes will be (mostly) unnoticeable to you, but if anything seems wonky, now you know why.

Enough about that. What's new with you?

Grand

I saw the Grand Canyon yesterday, and none of my children fell over the edge, which is a good measure of a successful day at the Canyon, I’d say.  The real measure of a day at the Canyon, in which I try to put into words what I saw–well, that eludes me.  For centuries, people have tried to capture that spectacle in words, photos or paintings, and for centures, they have fallen short.  I’m not sure I’m qualified even to try.

For starters, we saw this:

100_4334

And this:

100_4341

My oldest son became pensive, remarking that standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon makes you realize how small you are.  My youngest son coped with the philosophical enormity of that observation by hocking a loogie over the edge.  My four-year-old daughter seemed unable to take it all in (she asked us which of the Disney Princesses we could expect to find there).  I think she thought she was looking at a giant painting, a feeling I can certainly understand.  I felt as if I stood at a masterpiece in the finest museum, my jaw hanging open at the creativity of an Artist who wields a river as a paintbrush.

100_4358 We stayed long enough to watch sunset, a spectacle we’d been told we didn’t want to miss.  Though the crowds had thinned through the late afternoon, a large gathering had assembled at the recommended lookout.  Several brave souls sat right at the edge, their hiking shoes dangling over the precipice.  There was a rumble of friendly conversation all around us, much of it in French, Japanese, Spanish and German.

The sun began its final disappearing act, lowering to touch the western edge of the canyon.  The conversation around us slowly quieted.  We all watched the vanishing sun, vaguely recalling our mothers’ warnings that we’d burn our eyes, but how could we look away? 

The sun turned very quickly into a semi-circle on the horizon.  A last, giant burst of orange and purple exploded across the canyon walls to the east.  A few people gasped.  My sons began a countdown: “eight…seven…six…five…” 

Cameras clicked. 

100_4350“Down, down, down,” my daughter whispered.  There was just a sliver left. 

“…three…two…one…”

And then it was gone.  The dusty, sunburned, multi-lingual crowd spontaneously erupted into applause, the sound of our claps disappearing instantly into the depths around us.  It was such a small thing to do, to clap for the sun and the Canyon, two giant forces so much bigger than any of us, and entirely out of our control.  But we did it anyway.  I guess there’s just something in us that needs to say thank you.