Moments of Peace

This has been one of those weeks that remind me of an ocean’s tide; how the waves crash into sand, recede, and then stretch across the beach again.  Guessing and second-guessing rolls much the same way.  And it’s just as exhausting as swimming against the current.

When I thought the stress, worries and big decisions would surely pull me under, something would come along and lift me up long enough for me to catch my breath and remind myself that God is bigger than all of it.

I found my first uplifting moment in my mailbox.  No, it wasn’t my mortgage statement or phone bill that made me smile – it was a package from Barbara at Purple Moose Gazette.  Get this – for her birthday, she randomly chose several people to mail gifts to…and I was one of them.  How fun is that?

Cool stuff from Purple Moose
Cool stuff from Purple Moose

A second uplifting moment came in my email box.  Nancy (Spirit Lights The Way) included me as one of seven finalists in her Writer’s Desk contest.  Voting began on Saturday and each person can only vote once.  If you have a moment, please click here to check out the entries and vote for your favorite.  I hope it’s mine (titled Look If You Dare) but if it isn’t, that’s okay – you’ve done your civic duty by casting your vote 🙂

Of course, there were hundreds of other moments that lifted me  up this week.  I think of them as God’s way of sending me a life raft when I’m too weary to swim.  These are blessed moments of peace in a world rife with evil and turmoil.  They are small things that work in a big way to keep me from being swallowed by our broken world.

I pray that everyone reading this has a heart willing to recognize their own moments of peace this week.  Maybe this image will help:

Take in the beauty of the day
Take in the beauty of the day
Advertisement

I Have A Voice

The voting has begun for the Trifextra weekend 33-word challenge and will remain open for 12 hours (til 8AM Monday, Eastern time).  There are some great entries, click here to cast your vote.  There will be no hanging chads, no electoral votes and no re-counts – the winners will be chosen by the blogging community and the most votes wins!  My two entries are submitted under JannaTWrites, with the following gravatar (my kitty, Cybil):

Now on to the regularly scheduled Sunday post:  I Have A Voice

A bird found its peace in the letter "e"

I am not the most patient person, but I am a peaceful one.  I don’t like conflict, or its cousins, tension or resentment.  I prefer relationships where each person can speak his or her mind, knowing that the foundation of the relationship won’t crack under such truth.  I like to be trusted to hear dreams, secrets, or fears, and I like the security of knowing that someone will do the same for me.

Unfortunately, not all relationships are created equal.

Some relationships are bound by tenuous ties.  These relationships require much more effort to keep stable; to keep peace.  These relationships aren’t conducive to open communication.  The thing is, the longer these relationships are forged, the more necessary it may be to speak my piece in order to achieve inner peace.

At least, this is what I’m discovering.

Last week, my older son burned his chest on a griddle because he decided to make pancakes for breakfast before my husband woke up (I’d already left for work).  The burn blistered and he didn’t want to tell my husband because he didn’t want to get in trouble.  (This tells me he knew he shouldn’t have been cooking alone.)  We had a talk with him and explained that cooking requires adult supervision.  We thought he understood so we left it at that.

This morning, our older son came in at 6:45AM and asked if he could make pancakes.  We said no, because we wanted to sleep a little longer.  Half an hour later, my younger son told us that our older son made cornbread.  Sure enough, the oven was going and he was spooning out batter for another 6 muffins.

“We told you not to cook without an adult.  We told you ‘no’ on pancakes today.  Why on earth do you think it’s okay to use the oven by yourself?” I asked, frustrated.

He had no answer, but I suspected he found it easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission (because our answer would have been ‘no.’)  It’s yet another event that makes me feel I’m speaking but am not heard.

I hold my tongue quite a bit where my MIL is concerned.  The things I have voiced an opinion about, she often disregards (if it conflicts with what she wants to do.)  I don’t want to put my husband in the middle, nor do I want to engage in a power struggle with her.  She’s held the power because of my desire for peace…but I’m done being undermined.  When she bought my older son the Betta fish for his birthday a couple years ago, I swallowed my anger and let the fish stay because I would only be seen as the ‘bad guy’ if I made him get rid of it.  Now, after a week-long stay at her house, he came back with a TV she bought at Goodwill for $1.  This is after we already told my son a TV wouldn’t happen because of his disrespectful behavior toward us.

This time, my anger is stuck in my throat and resists being swallowed.  All morning, I’ve been seething over the whining from my younger son because he didn’t get a TV.  I’ve been fighting with my older son about the way he talks to us.  That TV is one more “Why don’t you do it yourself?” away from going back to Goodwill.

I have a voice.  I want to be heard.  I want peace.  In the presence of potential conflicts in relationships, I can still find inner peace, if I look close enough.  How about you?

Cholla Cactus Bud
Agave in Bloom (taken in the parking lot of strip mall....hubby pretended he didn't know me and threatened to leave me there)
Ocotillo Cactus in Bloom
Morning Glory in our yard. The white blooms make me smile 🙂

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always .  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Peace Among Chaos

I love Christmas.  I really do.  I love to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the peace and love that come from honoring that joyous day.  I even like to see a beautifully decorated tree, holiday lights and a child’s eyes when they find the perfect gift from Santa on Christmas morning.  I enjoy the random acts of kindness that spread like a virus.  If only this bug didn’t seem to pass by the time January 1st rolls around.

The negative side effect of the season for me is an increase in impatience.  There is more to do, but it takes longer to do everything because everyone else has the same deadline:  December 25th.  The kids are more likely to misbehave, even though the threat of being skipped by Santa should bring out their best.  By Tuesday, I’m counting down to the weekend for my days off (so I can get more stuff done.)

Instead of bothering myself with checking cookie ingredients and waging the never-ending battle for order in our house, I should be relaxing in a chair with a cup of hot tea, reflecting on Jesus’ birth and His life on Earth.

Still, on this day, exactly one week before Christmas, I found myself filled with annoyance and impatience.  I was annoyed at being awakened by my sons working out their differences with flying fists and screaming…at 6 o’clock in the morning.  After only five hours of sleep, I wanted to steal another hour or two.  I asked the boys to each go to their rooms and clean – and to not talk to or touch each other.

Yeah, you guessed it.  The fighting continued.  More sleep was not on my agenda.  I stomped out of bed at seven, only to find their rooms were still a mess and our dining room table littered with craft supplies.  In that moment, I wished they were more responsible, could interact without fighting, and realized that mommy is best left to sleep on a Sunday morning.

After the wish flashed through my mind, I wanted to take it back.  This day is no doubt somewhere in the future, though I can’t see it on the horizon yet.  I felt guilty for my impatience.  Just like they learned how to use the toilet, write their names, and say ‘thank you’ for a gift they didn’t like, they will learn how to communicate (and respect my wishes for more sleep.)

In the meantime, I will do my best to soothe my impatience and enjoy the moments that God has given me now.  It helps that my older son has the right idea:

Son's chosen words say it all...

So, with that, I’m going to sip my cup of hot tea amid the clutter in my house.  I plan to make peace with the disorder that surrounds me.

I hope we all can find peace amid chaos rather than let it become us during these potentially stressful days leading up to Christmas.

At peace with mess (via greetings.ca.com)

Impatience isn’t a new thing.  I found comfort in that fact that even David could relate to the struggle with impatience:

Psalms 27:13-14 – “I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

In the Absence of Peace, I Have Faith

Last Memorial Day, I wrote about my cousin – a Marine stationed in Afghanistan.  A lot can change in a year, but by the same token, much stays the same.  Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, over 1,500 American soldiers have died (according to stats on Wikipedia.)  By the grace of God, my cousin is not one of them.  He came home before Christmas last year.  Unfortunately, he will be in Afghanistan for another tour later this year.

In this post, I will not venture into political territory, because I am unarmed and ill-equipped to stroll through that minefield.  I also choose not to analyze past events to discern who is “right” or “wrong,” because judging is exactly what I want to do less of.  What fascinates (and sometimes frightens) me is our human nature.

Since Memorial Day is a designated day to remember men and women who died during military service, it started me thinking about conflicts throughout history.  Wars are fought for two main reasons:  to protect or gain power and defend or spread religious beliefs.  This may be an over-simplification, but that’s how my mind works best.

In college, I took a few Religions classes to round out my degree requirements, so I have an awareness of some spiritual beliefs other than Christianity.  My knowledge is about as deep as icing on a sheet cake, so I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of every religion, but I don’t remember hatred being the basis of any of them.

This is why I feel the lust for power drives most conflicts, even when defense of a religious belief is claimed.  Greed remains anonymous because no one wants to call it what it is.  The conflict must be justified – and surely God (or the spiritual leader) would approve of defending and spreading the word.

I wonder if the world would be a different (read: better) place if we were more in tune to the weaknesses of our human nature and committed ourselves to strength training.  Instead of allowing pride, entitlement and defensiveness to rule our actions, what if we gave humility and understanding a chance?  Instead of assuming a wrong was done to us intentionally, what if we gave the benefit of the doubt that the slight was accidental?  Instead of suspicious doubt, maybe we could draw on our faith and risk trust.

I know I’m a dreamer.  Thousands of years of history point to our inability to overcome our weaknesses.   No one is willing to be the first to lay down the sword (or disarm the nuclear firearm) because the consequences are too great.  The irony is, that in destroying the enemy, everyone is destroyed.

So, until my dreams of peace come true, I will continue to reflect on Memorial Day.  I will think of those families who have lost loved ones in war.  I will pray that my cousin does not become a casualty of human weakness.  I will appreciate the freedom I have to write and publish these words without fear –all because of the men and women who have fought to make this a right for citizens of the United States of America.

Child’s Interpretation of American Flag

I’d love to read your thoughts about Memorial Day and/or human nature – please feel free to share 🙂