Thursday, November 24, 2005

butterflies

I am not talking about those wonderfully colourful flighty creatures that float on the air, having started out as an unattractive ground-bound cousin of the worm and almost inconceivably hatched from a cocoon coffin. Not this time, though that sounds like a wonderful topic for a future blog.

I am talking about those moments just before something ‘big’ happens when your stomach lurches and becomes weightless for just a second and whatever you are doing at the time suddenly becomes insignificant in light of the coming event. For me as a child, Christmas Eve was always a night filled with butterflies surging like waves through my midsection as I lay in my bed and listened to the endless ticking of the grandfather clock marking off the long minutes of a seemingly endless and sleepless night.

These days, my sleep is seldom interrupted by anything but persistent cats demanding food or a Diet Dr. Pepper that perhaps should not have been consumed at 11:30 pm. The excitement and anticipation I experienced as a child seems to have been closely linked to my struggles with fear and worry and therefore, as I have dealt with these two issues in my life, anxiety has been pretty much erased from my life. But so has a lot of excitement, it seems. And I miss that.

I am leaving on a vacation to the Dominican Republic tomorrow with my husband. It will be my first time ever to the Caribbean and the first time ever to a nice all-inclusive resort. And I want to be more excited – not freaking-out screaming, hyperventilating, can’t sleep all night, totally useless for any other tasks, kind of excited…but I want to feel the butterflies. I know I will feel them when I catch the first glimpse of the islands, for then it will all be real and happening, but something has changed since I was 7 that keeps me pretty much in the moment and not thinking weeks and months ahead. And I think this is basically good. I am learning to walk every day by faith, trusting that God is going to take care of tomorrow and all my worrying and obsessing won’t do a thing to make it better or worse. Don’t get me wrong, I can get very excited in the moment, just ask my friends, but there is nothing like a long-anticipated wish coming true. Something about waiting and longing makes the desired outcome that much sweeter.

Perhaps I have ceased to let my heart long for things, and have decided that I will just be content with what comes my way. Yep, I think that’s it. And that’s not a bad way to spend your life, never expecting much, not being disappointed much, being pretty easy going, but then…you miss out on the wonder, the excitement, because the greater you can be excited by something, look forward to something, the greater you can also be disappointed by it going wrong. I know God has made me to be a person of passion. I look at David in the Bible, a man after God’s own heart, and he was a man who really really really REALLY wanted some stuff and though that got him in trouble a few times, for the most part, it kept him chasing after God relentlessly to see those longings come to pass.

Relentless…I like that word. I want to be relentless. Not indifferent, not unflappable, at least not about the things that are important to me. I do want to be unaffected by the little stuff that doesn’t really matter in the long run, but I want to be relentless in pursuing the things that really mean a lot to me, even if I hit some disappointments along the way, or run into some walls as I hurl myself headlong towards them. A few bruises and setbacks are to be expected, but they should hardly deter me. It is called discipline…setting a goal and not letting anything distract you from it. Crying out to God to hear you day after day after day after day and not letting the waiting dull your soul.

I need butterflies.

Friday, November 18, 2005

THE small STUFF

My life is filled with a lot of things that are small. I DO a lot of small stuff like bake muffins, clean the bathroom, iron shirts, put up shelves, take care of banking, read my Bible, pray for people, write emails, make the bed, pet the cats, take pictures, and study French. I AM relatively small. No matter how much protein powder I ingest or how many push-ups I do, I will never be a large person. Most of my clothes have a label that says “S”, I can fit through an 8 inch gap without any trouble, and most 13-year-olds can wrestle me to the ground in short order. I am FASCINATED by small things: an ant, a pebble, a penny, a leaf, a puddle, a word. Sometimes I wish I lived on a grander scale; that I oversaw the design of sunsets, or planned world summits where enemies had to be roommates and make meals together and learn how to get along, or I discovered how to instantly transport matter from one location to another. That would be cool! But let me tell you a small story…

There was a girl who lived on a small farm in a small province in an insignificant country. Every day she got out of her small bed, put on a small dress, and walked to the small one-room school. One day, on her way to school, she saw a flash of fur in the high grass beside the road and turned to see a small cat running past. She crouched down and remained perfectly still, then called softly. The cat stopped its flight and looked at her, eyes wide with wildness. The small girl and the cat stayed motionless for a few minutes, then the cat turned and left.


The next day on the way to school, she saw the cat running by again. She crouched down and held out her hand. The cat stopped and remained in one spot, sniffing the air in front of it, but would not take a step towards her. The next day the girl brought a piece of cheese. When she saw the cat in the distance, she laid the cheese in the grass in front of her, then stepped back, but the cat would not approach with her in sight, so she walked away. For the next few months, the girl stopped at the same spot of grass every day and laid down a morsel of food for the cat. Gradually, the cat came closer and eventually started to eat the cheese right out of the girl’s hand. Over the school year, the cat began to accompany the girl on longer and longer segments of her walk, but remained in the long grass. Then one day, the cat came out of the grass and joined the girl on the path and walked beside her, and several weeks later, let the girl run her fingers through the fur on its back as they walked together.

Nearly a year after the girl first saw the cat, the teacher invited several students to bring something for a special show and tell the next day when an important guest would be present. The little girl volunteered. The next morning, the teacher and the students were all astounded when the little girl walked into the classroom with her arm draped around the neck of a young male lion. But not as astonished as the little girl was when the special guest of honour, the commander of the whole country’s army, pinned a shiny medal on her small dress and told her she was braver and had more authority than most of the people under his command.

Big accomplishments are always made up of small steps. Enjoy the small stuff. Do it well. Be faithful.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ode to d.e.a.n.

Today I had lunch with someone that I am just starting to get to know in my French class, and in the course of telling each other a bit about our lives, I mentioned some things about my husband, Dean. Her response was, “Wow, he sounds great. I hope I find someone like him.” (yeah, she is young and single). To which I replied, “Yes, everyone should have a Dean!” And that got me thinking about all the things that make Dean so great. Here are a few:

- someone who knows when to take you seriously (weeping uncontrollably when things disappoint me) and when to laugh at you (weeping uncontrollably when I read a book)
- someone who never leaves one doubt in your mind that he will always be faithful, and tells you so
- someone who thinks you are the most gorgeous babe around even when you show him your wrinkles (he thinks they’re cute)
- someone who will stand up for you when others say mean things
- someone who will always tell you the truth – “that is a hideous colour on you”
- someone who never hesitates to give you what is in his power to give
- someone who calls you everyday even if there is nothing important to talk about
- someone who is fun to hang out with – “let’s drive to Chicago for pizza – its only 16 hours!”
- someone who likes to play and laugh
- someone who enjoys your company and listens to you, even when you don’t make sense
- someone who calls you from his hotel on a business trip and wishes he were at home with you instead
- someone who knows you well enough to make you totally comfortable, never ashamed or embarrassed
- someone who delights in your quirks and encourages you to take risks (even shaving your head)
- someone you can disagree with and know he will respect your opinion
- someone who loves to sit back and see you try something new…and succeed!
- someone who accepts your shortcomings and mistakes with grace (and tries to help you get better)
- someone who is consistent yet can always surprise you
- (Dean just called and when I told him I was writing something about him, he asked if it was called “How Does Someone Get That Good-Looking?”) so make that…someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously, but has that perfect balance of confidence, humility, and a sense of humour
- someone who is musical and creative, always coming up with new ideas
- someone who loves words and knows how to use them
- someone who likes to sit close to you (there is no substitute for this!)
- and there’s more but I will stop here…

Never take the “Dean” for granted. Recognize the “Dean” in those around you. Be a “Dean” to someone.

Oh, in case you think Dean is perfect, never fear, he has some shortcomings: he doesn’t like carrots, he sometimes leaves his socks on the floor, and he has been known to play the radio too loud.