Saturday, October 03, 2015

Nothing and Everything

Clearly my little blog has been abandoned.
I've been busy and overwhelmed and there hasn't been time or motivation tokeep this up, when really... it's just me blabbering and there are like four people who read it. I've been planning to shut it down but I can't quite make myself do that yet.
But I do hope to make a new blog some time. Soon. Maybe after the baby comes. Maybe after the house is built. Maybe when JJ doesn't need so much medical attention. You can tell. Things have been busy. So that's all I've got to say. If you loved my blog and are sad to hear I'm going to leave, well... you probably should have said something sooner. :D This is goodbye. At least for now.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What Happens in Montana Stays in Montana

When I was a kid, we looked forward to our summer vacations in Montana all year. We'd head up there in the old station wagon and spend a week or two with our cousins running wild on the prairie doing things no civilized children were ever allowed to do (you know, with guns and fireworks and probably peeing outdoors). They were our glory days. It was different from what we did at home. The people there didn't know us like the kids we went to school with. We were friends because we were related to each other.
Then we'd come home, and as much fun as we'd had, we couldn't really explain it to our friends. I loved being up there with my grandparents. I was so proud of their organic flour (before organic was the hippest thing to do) and Grandpa's work at the mill and my uncle's mechanic business, and that my dad knew how to ride horses and wrangle cows. But back here in the city, in boring Iowa, it just didn't really make sense. My friends didn't "get" it. And the older I got, the more I felt that way.
Those weeks we spent with our cousins were great. Not only because we got to do all kinds of illegal, unsafe things, but because there's something about extended family. They get you, you know? Like some of those quirks and things that set you apart from everyone else, you share with each other. That's what our family is like. We come from the same places, from those wheat field and wild horse hills. We're all different, but we're all the same.
This last trip up for Grandpa's funeral was the same for me. I have different friends now, and I want to tell them all about all of the funny things that happened while I was up there. I had such a great time. I got to shoot some guns, climb the buttes, drive out in the wild hills on an ATV... you know, crazy Montana stuff. I haven't told most of my friends about much of it. I want to talk about our snowball fight and hanging out at the supper club and the funny things we said to each other. But it just doesn't feel the same talking about it, here in Iowa, where Montana and family are so far away and disconnected from my Mommy life.
So, yet again, I have to just write them all down and remember them for the next time we're all together with each other. When we share our old memories, we bond all over again.
That's what family is for. Preserving the things that are precious, funny, happy and sad. We pass them on to each other because some day we won't all be around.
Sometimes I take a trip and wish I were there for the sake of being there. The scenery, the escape. The whatever makes vacation what it is. This trip (not a vacation), I wish I could be there so I could be with the people longer. I miss my cousins. We don't always understand each other, we all live totally different lives. But we're family, and I love them.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ripping Off Masks

Yesterday at church the pastor came in to talk to our small group about the plan for the next sermon series/initiative. He asked how we had seen God work through our group or through the church. One of my good friends told about how, when her husband had been very sick, the class had come and helped with things around the house and mowed their lawn all summer. She mentioned that she hadn't wanted to ask for help, but I'd sort of made her. I remembered her finally asking the class to pray for her, and someone said, "Do you need help with anything?" And she was hemming nad hawing and saying, "No, not really." And I just looked over at her, and said to the group, "Yes. She does."
Yesterday as she reflected, she said, "It hadn't really registered to me that I could even ask for help, I was so busy just trying to hold things together." Pastor Bob talked about authentic community, and he said, "Kristin saw past Karen's mask so she could get the help she needed."
I jokingly said, "I ripped that mask right off."
Later I thought about it and realized I think that's what I'm good at.
We did this Bible study book called Restless by Jennie Allen, about how we search for our "purpose" or whatever, and how God wants to fulfill that in us. Whatever. The book had you do some navel gazing and try to put the threads of your past--the good and bad things that made you into who you are--together and see the pattern God was weaving. I didn't really see one.
BUt I've been thinking about it, and yesterday I realized that I kind of like taking peoples' masks off. I don't do it that often, but the older I get, the more I do it. I'm learning the art of it, of being real and (hopefully) letting other people be open and real with me too.
I used to be afraid to. I used to never say anything, even when I could see some deeper need or see that someone was hiding something. I just let it go figuring they'd open up if they wanted to. I thought I was sort of failing when people didn't. But I think, what was happening, was they thought they'd fooled me, just like they fooled the rest of the world. But, while I'm pretty clueless about a lot of things, I'm pretty good at finding fake.
I'm kind of shy. A long time ago I was really shy. In middle school and high school, I would never ask prodding questions or bug people about what was on their minds. I'm pretty good at keeping shallow. I think we all are. But it made me really dissatisfied in some relationships, because I wanted to know those friends better. I wanted them to know me, too.
My best friends were the ones who saw through my masks.
All of our best friends are the ones who see through our masks. Who tear them off and say "No. We're not going to keep being shallow like this. I want to know more than what you made for supper and what your kids did last week. I want to know YOU."
It's work. And I still suck at it because I get afraid. I don't want to make people uncomfortable so I just sort of settle for that place where we just brush the surface of all the things that matter. That's what people like.
But that's what's keeping me (and everyone else) from having meaningful relationships. From true community.
That's what makes me frustrated when we're sitting around talking about TV shows and movies and dinner and decorating. I see your soul sometimes in those shallow encounters, and I don't want to talk about things that don't matter. I want to talk about why you're hiding and what you're hiding from.
I want to be a truth-seeker, and a truth-speaker.
In the age of social media where everyone's busy painting their best faces on for the public world, we need it all the more. We need people who tear off masks. We need to BE people who tear off masks. Our own, and others'.
If we aren't OK with brokenness and imperfection in others, we aren't OK with it in ourselves. And we miss out on the perfect promise of God, that in our weakness, He is strong. That His grace fills all of our emptiness, and that we are complete in Him.

Friday, January 23, 2015

One Man

News came this morning that Grandpa has passed away. It went fast and he lived a full life. HIs tired old body couldn't keep up anymore, after years of farming and fighting. I'm still processing.
In 2013 I sent this to him, right after he moved to the nursing home. He called me to say thanks, to tell me the stuff in the poem wasn't all true but it was nice. And I keep thinking about how I'm glad I bothered. Because those guys just didn't get thanked enough. I'll miss you Grandpa. I'm thankful for all that you've left behind.




One Man, One Soldier

He walks with courage
Though now with a cane, but once it was a gun
Now his steps are slow, but once he marched into war
Never seeing the man he would become
Maybe not understanding all he fought for.

He shuffles slowly down the hall
But once he ran full force onto the beaches of France
Screaming out over the mortars and cannon blasts.
Now that voice that carried commands
has become harder to hear. His eyes, once bright and soulful
now wear wisdom, wrinkled and woeful.

Now his steps are slower and he’s always being passed
by all the generations behind him
moving too fast
All those people who will never understand
the honor he deserves,
the indelible mark his actions made on the pages of time
in the stories they have never heard.

His tall frame now withers, hunching from age
And though that tired body has worked itself sore
The marks made that day have remained
The memories of war
The purple heart on a shelf in his closet
The friends who died on the shore
The family to which he came home
                To remind him what he fought for

He used to fight hard and long, but now he’s tired
And he already found his hill to die on
The man who stormed the beaches
Who limps with shrapnel in his side
Now walks with careful steps, leaning on his grandchildren
                who have always known his sacrifice
                Who listen to his tales of war and find
That ordinary men become heroes
 and courage shows itself in many ways
--sometimes in war stories and flashes of light
Sometimes in farming and strife
Sometimes in the faithful way you live your life.
This man, the soldier could teach them all that.
When they look into his eyes and listen
To one man’s journey in history, to one man’s scars
Teaching about bravery
Making his children who they are.

To Grandpa Alvin Rustebakke on the anniversary of D-Day, June 6th, 2013

Friday, December 26, 2014

Rest - The Innkeeper's Song

 Lately I've felt really worn out and tired. I had several big responsibilities stacked up on my plate all at the same time, and I just never felt like I recovered before Christmas hit. I've just been tired. Physically and emotionally, more than ever before. I haven't taken time to feed my soul, and my body has been sore and I've been running around trying to get everything done.
I was headed to my small group on Tuesday night and I put in a new CD from my husband. Jason Gray's Christmas Album. I really liked the first song, a call to join in Christmas. "Christmas is coming, will you be there?" I felt like i wasn't there. It was two days before Christmas and I just felt empty and blank inside. Earlier that day the shelf on my hutch had broken and all of my crystal and beautiful glass had fallen to the ground and smashed into thousands of pieces. Shattered. And it was about all I could take.
The next song on the CD was "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem". I'd just been thinking about that song, about how simple and quiet it is, and how it points out "How silently, how silently the wonderous gift is given." And I just wanted to stop and really think about it, about the gift of God and Christmas and the wonder I was missing.
The first song had a line that said "I don't want you to miss it/I know I have before/like the innkeeper who missed the wonder just outside his door". And I thought about how I've been missing it. It's been a great holiday, and lots of special memories with the kids have come from it, and lots of family time and really nice things. But I've been so tired, and when you're tired you don't feel things the same way you should.

The third song on the album was called "Rest, The Innkeeper's Song". I was driving up first ave when it came on, waiting in the mall traffic and trying to find a parking spot. And as it played, the poignient words hit me in the heart and I just cried. So I'm sharing it with you, even though it's too late now to think about it for Christmas. It matters every day. And I feel this way so often. So worried about getting rest and filling my needs, that I miss those moments with Jesus, those moments when God wants to show me something miraculous or teach me something new. Or just share his love.
 
I'm thankful that He answered my prayer for having rest, and that He still shows himself to me in the midst of my selfishness. Over and over.
 
 
 Rest- The Innkeeper's Song By Jason Gray
 
I found them standing in my door
In the clumsy silence of the poor
I've got no time for precious things
But at least they won't be wandering
If they're sleeping on my stable floor

There were no rooms to rent tonight
The only empty bed is mine
‘Cause I’m overbooked and overrun
With so many things that must be done
Until I’m numb and running blind

I need rest, I need rest
Lost inside a forest of a million trees
Trying to find my way back to me
I need rest

As a boy I heard the old men sing
About a Kingdom and a coming King
But keeping books and changing beds
Put a different song inside my head
And the melody is deafening

I need rest, I need rest
Like a drowning man in the open sea
I need somebody to rescue me
I need rest

To Rome we’re only names and numbers
Not souls in search of signs and wonders
But we're waiting for the day of our salvation
The messiah who will be our liberation
We’re waiting, I’m waiting

I need rest, I need rest
Oh come oh come Emmanuel
With a sword deliver Israel
I need rest

Tonight I can’t get any sleep
With those shepherds shouting in the streets
A star is shining much too bright
Somewhere I hear a baby cry
And all I want is a little peace

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Reading List

I decided to take a break from facebook and its incessant time-sucking and distractions for Christmas this year. To enjoy my family and clear my mind for thinking about Christ and Christmas.
It's going to be  a low-key Christmas without a lot of relatives around, so I'm planning to have lots of down time. (We'll see how that goes). Which means I will have time to catch up on some reading. Here's my plan for things to read:

Walden - I haven't read it since high school and then it was with a begrudging heart, so I want to read it again and see what I can enjoy from it this time around. I'll probably throw in some other transcendentalist poetry while I'm at it.

Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck. So far everything Richard Peck I've read has been really good. Daniel gave me this book for Christmas last year and I haven't gotten around to reading it Mostly because it's about mice.

Ephesians - Well, not really read. BUt finish memorizing chapter 2. Because it only took a year to memorize the first 19 verses. I want to finish it before new year.

Isaac Asimov's Robot collection. Another Christmas present I haven't read yet. It's time.

Journals of Lewis and Clark - I'll just be happy if I finish a few chapters in that one.

So what about you? Any good reads coming up? Want to join me with a facebook fast over Christmas?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Infant Loss Awareness Month

so yesterday was the Infant Loss Rememberance Day. This whole month is infant and pregnancy loss awareness month. Which I have mixed feelings about. In some ways it just rubs salt in an open wound, but I guess there's some healing that goes with it too.
Today someone posted this beautiful article about infant loss. It's called The Other Quiet Mom, and it's about how the grief never totally goes away When you're a mom and probably just a woman in general, you get stuck in these conversations about having babies and kids. You listen, you participate. And, sometimes, when you're a mom who's lost a baby or a child, you just check out. Because something someone said caused your mind to wander off to the worst day of your life, and you just need a minute to breathe, to let yourself grieve, and of course the middle of a casual conversation isn't really the place to do that.
If you ever wonder how I feel about that baby, read this article. Because that's what it's like. Most of the time it's OK, but sometimes, while you're telling your pregnancy stories, I'm just thinking about her and wishing she were here.
The worst part for me is when people start actually talking about infant loss. People who don't know my story. And they blab and say things that no one should say at all, let alone to someone who's actually lost a baby. Those conversations are ones where I sort of wish I had a knife to stab people with. I once got stuck in the hot tub at a hotel with someone like that. It's kind of a funny story, but it actually isn't. She was "just wondering" if Michelle Duggar actually felt sad about losing her baby. (That had just happened, and Michelle was speaking at the conference we were all attending). She didn't think someone with 19 other kids would be as upset as someone who'd lost their first pregnancy.
Fortunately I had a friend with me. I miiiiight not have been so gracious if I hadn't. Part of me gets so pissed I want to scream, and part of me gets so sad I just want to shut down and hide. So you can imagine. Anyway, I assured that girl that it didn't matter how many kids you had, losing a baby is always painful and you always miss that baby.
It's weird. You just don't know what to say in those scenarios. I didn't tell that loud-mouthed girl my story. I didn't want to entrust that to her, although it probably would have shut her up. The story of your lost baby is a sacred one, and a person can't just spout off sacred things to just anyone. But sometimes, you feel like you should say something.
There's a kind of loyalty, like you have to tell people or else that little baby will slip into the nothingness of unnamed children. But you also know that, in telling people, you risk changing the dynamics of the relationships. Conversations have sort of a jive to them, and saying the name Grace to friends who know me sort of breaks up that jive. People are used to it, I think. I don't know if they mind, but I also sense a sort of hesitation to return to the subject of babies after her name is uttered.
Then there are people who are just OK with saying it. And that's some kind of glorious relief in just knowing it's OK with that friend if it comes up. Three examples:
1) When I first lost the baby, my friends came over and immediately one just asked, "Hey, do you want to talk about it, or do you not want to talk about it?" Let's just get it out in the open. That's a great thing to say to someone, by the way.
2) My husband's brothers are also really sweet about Grace. One of the youngest ones told me that he still counts Grace when he tells other people how many grandkids there are in the family. I didn't really know how to respond when he told me that, but thinking about it now makes me tear up, so it must have meant more than I thought. The more time that passes, the more things like that mean to me. I just don't want her to be forgotten.
3) At gymnastics once there was a gal I knew from church-ish things that I small-talked with every week. She was bulging pregnant ready to pop, and we were talking about it. She mentioned being high-risk and so I told her I was too. Then I , for some reason, told her about why I was high risk. And she nodded her head. "I had the same exact thing." She had the same experience I did. Same diagnosis. And same symptoms of future pregnancies. It was great. Because for once, it didn't make things a little awkward. It just made us better friends.

So, all that to help you understand how the long grief goes. There's the intense short-term grief of the first weeks, months. Then the year-long one, where you think of every little thing that should have happened. And then, as years pass, it becomes more like wishful thoughts, coming in waves. Some waves are bigger than others. And once in a while, I still almost drown in one and completely break down.
But I want you to know. I don't mind talking about my little girl that is in heaven. And I don't mind crying sometimes about missing her. The only reason I hesitate is so that you don't feel awkward.