Monday, March 28, 2011

Playing as Spiritual Practice

Almost 9 years ago- my husband took me on the best vacation of my life- our honeymoon! When we arrived I started planning, thinking, scheduling-- what day should we do this or that, budget out our money for eating out, etc. There was so much to do- parasailing, kayaking, going to the beach. Kevin said, "Nope- we'll eat when we want to eat, sleep when we want to sleep, and play when we want to play." That is probably the first time I really really played and rested. Kevin has taught me how to rest and how to play!

But I don't know if anyone has taught me how to play better than my girls. My youngest especially! Sophia knows how to play! She has the most amazing imagination. Both of my girls do- but I realized that when Gracie was Sophia's age she was always instructing her little sister to play. "Sophia follow me" and "Sophia let's go do this." Gracie is often content to do her own thing and lead-but Sophia has no one to teach--except me and Daddy usually! And she does! She teaches me how to play!

Saturday Gracie napped as she recovered from her fever and Sophia and I played and played. Yesterday when we came home from church Gracie said she was going upstairs for a nap and Sophia said, "Mommy! Color with me!!" I wanted to just check on Grace and Sophia just screamed "No Mommy! Stay! Sit! Color!" After a brief meltdown where I checked on Grace and I came back- we began our coloring.

Sophia put a crayon in my hand and said- here Mommy you use this one. Draw a princess. Now draw a prince charming. She is coloring with me. She took a pink crayon and said, "Now the monster comes." and she draws a monster. Then there was a wolf, and a pig, and then a wicked witch, and then another prince and princess and I think some other characters too! She created a whole storyboard!

Here's a closer picture:

We then had to go hide Sophia said! Because a wolf was coming! (They love playing wolf and pigs and singing a song about the Big Bad Wolf that they learned at school!) She loves to hide behind the big chair in our living room and its a house! And then she brings everything and dumps it back there. I was directed to stay. I propped myself against the buffet and the wall and she covered me up and brought me pillows and we had a tea party, called Grandparents, sang our ABC's, and played and played.

Then all of a sudden Sophia said- Okay Mommy- You be a alligator and I'll be a dog- Now you're a pig and I'm a horse- I'm a princess annnnnnd you are now a monkey!

Then Sophia said- Mommy let's go play with our dolls! We go upstairs and play with barbies, princesses, McD's toys, Shrek, stuffed animals, little people, and my little ponies, and one random dragon. All came together in a brilliant story Sophia orchestrated and directed me in. (Seriously- Toy Story got it right!)

Then it was time for dress up! She flung open the trunk and began pulling clothes out left and right until she found what she was looking for. She was determined and had a plan!

All along- Sophia taught me to play and dream and imagine. Playing is pure joy. Play is a spiritual practice- it opens us to discover to dream- to aspire. Not to have a plan-- not to figure everything out- not to schedule but to enjoy one moment at a time. I am so thankful that my wise Sophia and my sweet Grace pull me out my moments of thinking--- "but I really need to clean this or do this or go fold this laundry..." Sometimes what I really need to do is "Sit down Mommy!" and play!

Momma Love Power

Thursday I ended up calling my doctor- thanks to the encouragement from a friend. I was coughing to much that I couldn't keep anything down and was most likely close to breaking a rib! So I called my Dr who sent me to a Pulmonery Specialist (Lung Specialist). My friend stayed with me through the day! Loaded me and my kids in the car and took me to the Dr. She entertained my kids and fed them at McDonald's while I saw the doctor. The Dr was awesome! She perscribed more steroids, another antibiotic, and gave me a samples and a script for more breathing treatments. She also gave me a spacer- it helps your inhaler do its job better. And she wants me to get an x-ray of my sinuses (which I have not yet had a chance to do). While I was getting the breathing treatment- I just laid down- it was the first time the pain lifted. My friend took me home, helped get my kids down, and offered to get my scripts for me! She is amazing. She brought me such peace on that day! I am so thankful for my friend being with me.

Friday the whole family rested- one child with a fever and Kevin not feeling great and I was doing the breathing treatments every 4 hours. But Kevin had to leave at 4 for the Confirmation Retreat- I had to get it together.

Some of my amazing co-workers brought us lunch and that became our dinner- sandwiches and soup from Panera! I got the kids down- and I rested too and kept doing my breathing treatments.

Saturday we had a lovely and easy day. I played with the girls, we rested and cuddled, and I kept on doing the breathing treatments. I managed to make food for us, to call and catch up with some folks, and even by the evening to do dishes and pick up the living room before going to bed.

All day Saturday I was sort of in awe of how I felt. I still had tightness and a coldness in my chest- I didn't quite still feel like a sumo wrestler was sitting on me - but I still felt pain and it lifted during the breathing treatments on the nebulizer. But the energy to do- to be awake and alert with the girls- I was shocked that I was mobile, breathing, alive, functioning! All I could think was God is so good! I am able to be their mom and see them play with play-doh and dress up, and take care of my four year old's fever!

It is healing work of God and it is healing work of medicine- but I think there is more to it too. I couldn't let this pain and illness keep me from loving them, taking care of them, playing with them, reading books to them (between my hacking cough). I had the energy- the will- the desire- to do this.

I think that there is power in Momma Love-- when your mom takes care of you there is healing power in that-- but there is more to Momma Love-- your love for your children as a mother is powerful- and it can heal them but also heal you! It was healing me- it was Holy Spirit filled Momma Love power.

I think Momma Love is quite biblical and has the power to heal and restore much. Julian of Norwhich talked of Jesus as Mother Jesus who gave us new birth on the cross-- Jesus says he longs to gather us a mother hen gathers her chicks. Jesus's mother love for us is healing for the world- healing, reconciling, restoring us to be in real and right relationship with God and with all the world.

My love for my girls holds power.

I've just finished reading Shayne Moore's book "Global Soccer Mom." You can learn more about Shayne here

She talks about her love as a mom hurting for the world and I feel that too. My love for my children is powerful and I connect that love with and all the other children of this world. I may not be their Mom, they may not have a mom and I may not be able to adopt them- but my love can do something- it can be healing- and it work in the healing love for living God's kingdom now. Christ is seeking to gather us - his little chicks- to be well.

What if all the moms in the world - we're busy- wiping bottoms and noses, making sure our kids eat enough vegetables, and brush their teeth- what if we also did something about the rest of the children of the world too. That's what Shayne talks about in her book.

I finished this book over this time I've been sick. Resting was like forcing myself to stop- so I stopped and I read. (I'm sure that someone will say I didn't really stop- but reading felt renewing and restoring too).

Our love has healing power. In these days I am feeling that very personally as I heal from this illness, but I realize too that my love for my girls does a lot more in me too. Let your love - especially your momma love have power- Shayne talks about how it has power to change the world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Learning Wholeness

I have not written in quite a while. I returned so full from our Holy Land trip- and I still am- I am filled with peace, with joy, with smiles and memories- and looking at pictures, reading my journal, I am back there. I even have an App on my phone that tells me the weather in Jerusalem! Part of me is still there... I've planted a part of my heart in the Holy Land and with the people there.

I have been ill since I've been back fighting off bronchitis and sinus infections. I pushed through and got exhausted and rested and pushed again and fever, headache, sinus pain slowed me down. I'm not good at resting. I feel like I should be able to take the medicine my Dr gives me and poof! be better. It seems that I have to learn this over and over again- that- this isn't quite how healing happens. I cannot keep doing and keeping a normal pace.

My husband is good at this or at least he is good at holding me accountable to this. I feel guilty when I rest- when I miss things- when I can't keep up my normal pace. I am a high energy person and I really can't stand when I can't keep up my regular pace. There are many people I haven't had a chance to catch up with since I returned, there are things I haven't had a chance to get done...I'll finally have energy and clean the whole house, do five loads of laundry and then I'm back to being exhausted. Kevin just looks at me and says- "You have to rest." Yesterday he said, "Hey- you promised to do this when you were ordained." I said, "How so?" "Well, he said, "you committed to self care too." It is really amazing and wonderful and even little frustrating... to have someone who holds you accountable. I need it and I am thankful- the frustrating part really is not being able to be as productive as I'd like. There's a lot to be done.... and I enjoy doing it too...

But I'm learning. Lent is a powerful time to be held accountable. I find that one of the things I have to learn is to slow down- to focus on Christ- and to be still. I do not do this naturally... or easily. But I have a best friend in my spouse who reminds me of this and teaches me. I can rely on him when I need to rest and there is no guilt and this is amazing. I especially felt guilty resting after being gone for 10 days on our trip- and now I'm back-- but not fully back like usual!

But this has also taught me- I'm more than what I do. There is more to me- to those I love than what I can do for them. Sure, they love my energy, and my doing-ness- but they love me first.

God loves us first- God is not satisfied with sacrifices and what we do-- Our actions are important and necessary- but there is more that God wants.
Psalm 51 says, "For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

I think sometimes I feel so filled with the joy of Christ that I think I can just go forever and not tire... and yet I do - I get really tired, I get exhausted, and I get sick-- these past two weeks- evidence.

I pray that in this Lenten season, I may learn to have my heart, my soul, my body, my whole self broken for Christ and healed by Christ, and made whole by Christ. That I may listen and be still for what it is God is calling. Let me then bring forth my energies, my sacrifices, all my service-- for then I will be filled and able to give more freely.