You know how some news clips come with a warning: What is about to follow is disturbing and not recommended for younger children. I feel like a warning is appropriate: Scattered thoughts ahead, motorcyclists beware, or anyone who needs order and immediate clarity-be wise about proceeding. Needless to say I feel scattered.
I texted a photo to my husband. He is running with our two year old granddaughter, Elsa, and the slanted golden sunrays on a gorgeous October day warmed their smiles and curls as they ran. He texted back that he looks awful in the photo. I never would have sent it if that had been what I saw. What he saw was an over weight 62 year old. What I saw was the dearest love of my life who adores his grandchildren and loves his family well. I didn’t know what to do with his response.
It’s one of those complex days when my heart takes in so much that it hurts. It seems as if time is rushing at a furious speed and so I reflect backwards to try and slow it down. Life seemed much simpler when we got married in 1977. We had so many years ahead of us, unlike today where the years ahead are short.
Our friends were starting out in the ministry and we all lived on next to no money and we were somehow able to make ends meet. We lived in unusual places like a cabana hut in the back yard of someone else’s home, or we shared a home with a widow and made our own haven in her attic. Our last crazy abode was a 500 square foot one-car garage apartment. I longed for children, a home and furniture and “roots”. The roots came along with more disruption and at times chaos, but looking back it seems serene and easy.
The world seems more complicated to be “launched” as a young adult today. Housing is much more expensive and two incomes are usually necessary (and desired) to make ends meet. I quit my teaching job when we had our first child. Our budget was tight, but it worked even if I had to wear a swimming suit in our Florida home to save money by not using our air-conditioner.
Today seems different as I watch our adult children make their way. Four years ago our daughter and her husband and two sons lived with us while they were looking for a house to buy. Annie works two day a week as an acupuncturist and on those days I would take Van and Cole to “”Auntie Helen’s” for day care. I cannot say enough great things about “Auntie Helen.” She is a few years younger than me and has been doing childcare in her lovely home for twenty-five years. Her Australian accent is pleasing and her smile warms my heart as much as the children who come to stay while their parents go to work. I have learned much from her thankful heart and her love and skill in caring for young ones.
Currently, our son and his wife and their two year old live with us as they transition from having lived two years overseas. Our daughter-in-law teaches part time and I, once again, am back greeting Auntie Helen and dropping off Elsa so I can have a bit of time by myself.
I just dropped Elsa off at Helen’s to write this blog. You should see my house (a wreck). You should see the refrigerator (empty). You should see my “to do” list (pages with nothing crossed off). Sweet Elsa wanted to stay and and jump on my bed and go for a walk and read books. I made her cry when we had to get in the car for Helen’s so I could write. It hurts me to see her sad. I am not keeping it together as I’d like to be. My feelings are too tender and I am no longer on hormone replacement therapy, but that’s another story!
It is joyous to see life through the eyes of a two year old, but trying to keep my life and house in order is like trying to out run the bulls at Paloma. I know that this is a time for grace for myself, but I am not finding it! Where is it? Help!
Our daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks. Deadlines are crashing down quickly and too many loose ends keep showing up. I know about breathing, exercise, meditation, eating right, time for myself, and prayer. But, right now, none of those seem to be “working” as I would like. The black out blind did not get repaired and returned today (why did I put the port-a-crib so near the window?); the deck never got re-stained; the grass didn’t get thatched and now hydro-seeding is needed; the window replacements did not arrive.
I think what is going on is utterly unrelated to all that is swirling around me. I finally named what is at war: I am missing my parents. Amanda’s wedding has brought up the loss of all of our children marrying without my parents being there. It would have been wonderful to have had them alive and be able to attend. And, it would have been difficult to have had them there.
Both sentences are true. I have learned new things about trauma and abandonment through my Lay Leader training with The Allender Center. I am more aware of my parents’ trauma and loss. I am more aware how their trauma affected me in how they parented. I am more aware that I have failed my children and their children and I long for a day when all the harm of all our lives will be washed away in the bright presence of perfect love.
And so, I will gather my mature and aging self and pick up Elsa and go to the park and grocery store and have a bit of quiet during her naptime to edit. I will clean, pay bills and prepare dinner before everyone arrives home tired. And in this act of, “doing the next thing” as Elizabeth Elliott wrote, I will gain perspective higher than my own. His purposes are greater than the failures of our daily lives. I will trust that simple acts add up to a greater good. Sometimes experiencing joy take the patience to wait for the swirl to stop, for the next thing to be done, and to remember the new day ahead will come whether I am ready or not. And sometimes it comes with a kiss on my cheek. May mercy surprise me again.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!
I love you Becky! Thank you for penning the words that speak to my heart this morning!
Thank you, Autumn! I miss you and will I see you soon in Seattle?
Beautiful words, Becky!
I love the image of all of the swirling and grace abounding. Breathe deeply…
Enjoy the gift 💗
Ahhh, Jean, thank you and yes, thank you for the reminder to breathe deeply! Truly that alone is PRICELESS!
I understand completely. Our son, wife and three children 6, 4 and not quite 2 lived with us for almost a whole year. Fortunately our Lord provided space for this endeavor. I’m sure my husband and I grew spiritually from our adventure but now that we are in our own space again it feels better. I don’t think generations ago people were quite as ambitious as we are today and just let things come as they may. I find that difficult. The good news is it is temporary and it will get better.
I love you Becky Allender! As tears run down my cheeks and my thoughts swirl as well. God loves your open heart and the desires you have for the glory to come. Me too! I often quote Elizabeth Elliot about doing the next thing. We can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to the right, best, next thing. So grateful!
Dearest Laura, you shine stunningly with your encouraging words. Jesus’ goodness flows through your face and comments. Isn’t He good to connect us after all these years!!!!
He absolutely is ! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a sweet reunion of old Boca friends? But of course we will! In that day! However, there is always a chance He may help us orchestrate something before then.
You and Dan always look eager for extraordinary adventures. Really? Sailing off the coast of Croatia? Very exciting! All part of satisfying the wild in Dan ? Our wild consists of water skiing and knee-boarding! Our grand-kids think that’s normal.
So love reading your thoughts as well as Dan’s. Thank you for taking the time and effort to bless so many. We’ll look for Dan’s newest book! Say hi to him. BTW Lil and Hank Bradicich are in our weekly small group and Lil is often referencing comments from her time studying with Dan. She’s also a great fan of his. She still counsels women weekly.(at 79)
Beautiful Becky…how i love this. Your authenticity is so refreshing to my soul. I’m wailing with you in that ‘cry for help’- how I too wish all of those pertinent, rich & life-giving ‘tools’ would bring the clarity & peace so needed at certain moments our lives. Sometimes nothing seems to make the madness stop. It’s definitely challenging to live in this place that’s not our home. If I may reflect aloud, for me, after 43 years of Chicago living, to uproot and move (to sunny Florida) 9 days ago, I’m feeling a swirl of emotion in the midst of scattered floor-to-almost ceiling boxes. Stresses of new school, kids not wanting to attend any other church than the great one we had, living out of a food-less frig (we have butter), trying to stay in unity with my husband, and the worst part–my dear friends (& family) living 1,000 miles away. (AND we’re just renting/waiting to move in another 6 months while our home is being built!) I fear I’ve said too much, but I’m attempting to communicate that you are not alone – and that I’m grateful that you articulated so well what I can’t right now. In fact, this is the first “reading” I’ve done since I moved…so thank you!
I’m so grateful our Creator knows our struggles well…and knows US well. Praying for that perfect Peace to rescue our scattered minds/souls. Love your heart, Becky!
Dear Mary, how wonderful to get your feedback. I have wondered how life is going as this huge transition. I have been praying for solid grounding admidst the storm of chaotic newness for all of you. Thank you for your kind words.
My granddaughter, whom I raised from age 2 – 7, visited this past weekend. In the midst of a garage sale (Lord, please remind me to never do that again…) as I once again prepare to rid myself of excess “stuff,” in order to scale down, sell my house, and move to a one bedroom apartment….did I mention, starting my life over again at age 60?…she romped and played in the neighborhood with friends whose friendships were forged in her 5 years here. After I drove her home, and once again sat in the stillness of my home, alone again, my sadness and aloneness was overwhelming. When I bought this house, after travel nursing out west post-Katrina, I had such great hopes that it would be a place in which my one-day healed addict sons and their children could come to…celebrate holidays, birthdays, etc. Still, I wait for their deliverance and healing. The words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus ring in my ears these days….”we had hoped….”
After attending the Allender center lay training, and opening my heart to relationship, I began dating a really great guy with his own set of wounds….”I had hoped….” Although we remain friends, the hope that I had to no longer do life alone is pretty much gone. Connection, attachment, hope….all issues of my heart which are swirling around this morning. Reading your words helped me to feel connected, knowing that this is part of life at this stage. As I miss my granddaughter, yet love my life without raising kids, I am reminded of my own daughter and my enmeshment with her and then the disconnect as she began to be her own person. My work, “Be patient. When you feel lonely, stay with your lonliness. Avoid the temptation to let your fearful self run off. Let it teach you its wisdom; let it tell you that you can live instead of just surviving. Gradually you will become one, and you will find that Jesus is living in your heart and offering you all you need.” (Nouwen)
Dear Donna, oh my goodness….wow. You shared so much and Dan and I cried as we read your comment. I pray for your family, a perfect mate and for you. Your heart is so lovely and I love your trusting strength. I am the one who sits at “your” feet. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much for responding. My heart was so stirred by your honesty this morning, as I walked the dog and read your “scattered” thoughts. So very grateful I’m not the only one scattered. Truths learned in Chicago last year have helped me keep my heart open. Love you guys…so thrilled to have connected. I’ve read your postings many times and ALL the time, feel that old, “ah…you too?” What a wonderful luxury. Didn’t know I could comment:)
i feel your aching swirl and it resonates with mine this morning. The gift you gave in sharing, combined with the comments that are following, is that I feel like I’ve linked arms with other swirlers and that feels a tad more stable. Now I shall get out of bed and test my sea legs. 😉 thank you, Becky.
Hooray for testing sea legs. I trust in heaven we will be awarded for the hope and trust in which we stand in the chaos and storms. I hope your day is going WELL!!!
Dear Becky, your honest words paint a picture that I can place myself within. I doubt I’m the only one. The canvas looks kind, messy, hopeful, hard and honest. What a gift you offer being honest about where your heart is struggling. Life on a day-to-day basis is brutal and it’s beauty. Living between those differing places requires us to open our arms wide to the changes yet holding one hand gently over our heart offering ourselves care. I love how the portrait you painted for us still has wet paint. There is room for movement, for the colors and the stories to engage and entangle, for new places and chapters to be birthed from the paint you have offered on our canvases of life. Thank you friend. Your words are gifting. Valerie
Valerie, you always speak blessing!!! What a gift you are to me. Oh, I loved your wording:Life on a day-to-day basis is brutal and it’s beauty. Living between those differing places requires us to open our arms wide to the changes yet holding one hand gently over our heart offering ourselves care.” YOU are a woman (friend, wife, mother and grandmother) who lives this out elegantly. Thank you, Valerie, your words are a gift to me.
You, my friend, are a writer. How well you capture our lives, so often scattered. And yet, this is life! And I feel both the wonder and frustration, the longing and future anticipation, the struggle and surrender in your words. You, my dear friend, are a writer and I’m so glad you share your words with us.
Thank you Kelli!!! I miss you! You know the war to believe that and continue faithful to the encouragement to keep writing. Thank you. I hope you are well.
Beautifully expressed, dear friend. And so we swirl and dance with Jesus.
Love and cherish you
Thank you dear friend… I really miss you! Yes…all with Jesus….more and more learning how to live and dance with Him.
Great read Becky, I appreciate your increasing transparency!
Bless you, dear friend. ❤️
Thank you, Ann! Blessings to you dear Ann!
Thank you for your heart. You my friend have a lot of life going on! Scattered? I followed you all too well! Pieces of my heart everywhere. Grateful for the reminder of in whose Presence it is all made whole and right.
Dear Robyn, I love thinking that we have the same scattered pieces in our hearts. Thank you for your encouragement.
Becky, there are so many things I could relate to in your words! Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggles. Deanna
Deanna, thank you for taking the time to write and encourage me. We all really are so much a like in this journey we call life.
What a gift your writing was for me today. Two sentences I wrote in my journal to mull over and pray about::
I am more aware that I have failed my children and their children and I long for a day when all the harm of all our lives will be washed away in the bright presence of perfect love.
to remember the new day ahead will come whether I am ready or not. And sometimes it comes with a kiss on my cheek. May mercy surprise me again.
The kiss on my check is often delivered by my amazing husband who constantly reminds me of his love for me in spite of the “war of Life” and the “messy of blending two families”.
Thank you Jaimi Jones
Thank you Jami for the gift of your words. We are blessed women to have our husbands. I am grateful my words were a gift. Thank you Jesus!
“Sometimes experiencing joy take the patience to wait for the swirl to stop” I am all too familiar with the swirl, and how difficult it is to find joy in the midst of it. Your words are a welcoming, kind reminder to be patient and look for that kiss of mercy.
Thank you Janet! Thank you!
Becky to name the war in the mist of what feels scattered sounds so firm and grounded. Thank you for sharing real life with us for it is quit chaotic and yet so lovely in all it’s oddness. Love to you!
Thank you Anna! Love to you too!