Flights of Fancy

On a rare warm day in February, I step outside,

Feet squelching through the muddy brown grass.

I pause and look up, the blue sky calling my gaze.

White clouds drift across the sky, and I am mesmorized, 

This temporary break from a gray, cold winter. 

Suddenly, three birds fly over my head. 



But they are close. I can see them. Their wings flapping with strength, 

Their chests straining as they climb through the air. 

I watch them, and I feel the muscles in my arms and my chest, 

Straining in rhythm with theirs. And for one moment, I am certain…

I have flown before. 

I know this feeling. My body remembers the exertion. 

My arms begin to raise, as if, at any moment, they wil be capable of lifting me into the air.

I close my eyes and I can remember the feel of the wind hitting my face. 

I can remember squinting through the bright sunlight.

I can remember the exhilarating rush of climbing and falling.

And then I step back. 

Silly me. 

What flights of imagination.  

I am a logical woman. My feet have never left the ground. 

I bring my eyes back to earth, continue to walk through the brown grass. 

But one part of my mind rebels. It says, No, you are wrong. 

You have flown before. 

We remember. 

I wrote this poem because it showed up in my mind and needed to be written down. But, I sat here puzzling over it. Because, I do have this feeling that I have flown before. What is that all about? And as I have sat here thinking about it, I suddenly have this memory of me, as a small child, on a very windy day, running through a field. Certain that if I just run fast enough, lift my arms high enough, the wind will lift me off the ground and take me away. Maybe if I just take some jumps in the air, that will help the wind along. I remember running for the joy of it, my face turned to the sky, my heart pounding as I pushed myself as fast as I could go. I remember lying on my back, staring, watching the clouds sail past. Dreaming of living in those clouds, how soft they must be! Ah yes. I have flown before. 

Oh, to remember how to be a child and fly again. 

Jesus and the Spaghetti Dinner

This past week I started watching the show THE CHOSEN put out by VidAngel. I’ve seen three episodes so far. It’s about Jesus’ time of ministry and the people he called. I think what has been most impactful has been seeing Jesus as a person, living and interacting.  My kids watched with us, though I think the different plots swirling around were a bit too confusing for them. In the first episode, Jesus didn’t show up till the very end. The kids were asking all kinds of questions, the biggest one, WHO IS THAT? That’s Jesus. WHAT?? Is he a ghost? Can those other people see him? Is he flesh and blood? (Yes, those were all genuine questions I fielded.) And it occured to me that my kids did not have a good grasp on the fact that Jesus was a living person who walked this earth. So, it’s been good for all of us. 


That first night after I watched the first episode, I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night. I have struggled with insomnia my whole life and find that it always gets worse when I’m really stressed. As I lay there, my mind went back to the show and I had the thought, What  would it be like if Jesus came over to our house for supper? I lay there thinking about it. I could picture him sitting at the end of the table, watching all the kids, grinning at their antics and excited conversation. I imagined how gratifying it would be for him to casually put his hand on my husband’s shoulder, tell him he’s doing a good job caring for his family. I imagined how the kids would be tumbling over themselves trying to get his attention first and tell him all about their favorite toy or the game they had just played. 


The next day,  I mentioned it to my husband, What if Jesus came over to our house for supper? The first thing out of his mouth was, You would be so stressed out! 




What was he talking about? Me? Stressed out? I was bewildered. He stared at me. I stared at him. 


I suddenly remembered how crazy I get when new people are coming to my house for dinner. Everything has to be completely cleaned and organized. I even start scrubbing walls. I agonize over what to cook for dinner and I start barking orders at everybody. 


This is for new people. If you’ve been amy house a couple times then I’m going to relax. We’ll tidy up the house and I’ll still try to cook something nice, but I’m not going to be nearly as uptight about it. 


Ok. I can see where my husband was coming from. 


Funny though, in all my imaginations, I never thought about being stressed out.


Maybe, though, because Jesus isn’t NEW to my house. He’s here. He’s seen us at our very worst and at our very best. He knows how much junk I have collected under the furniture and how unorganized that closed drawer is. No secrets. 

I’ve been talking to him on a regular basis since I was five years old. 


So, maybe I wouldn’t be SUPER stressed, but I guess I would also want to be showing proper respect and honor. Yeah, I think I would want the house clean. I’d want my kids to be wearing nice clothes, not the hole-filled, stain covered play clothes. I’d probably want to pull out my real plates instead of using paper plates. (Jesus and paper plates? That seems weird.) 


I think the real problem I would have is What to cook? I am not a gourmet chef. I’m fast and efficient, but not overly creative. With that in mind, I’m thinking, Spaghetti. It’s pretty hard to mess up spaghetti, especially if you are using sauce from a jar, get some garlic bread and salad to make it fancy, and there you go. Anyone can make it, and it pretty much always tastes good. 


I admit, I am prone to flights of fancy, but this particular flight is making me happy. 🙂 


As my life gets crazier and crazier, I need to be more tuned in to Jesus’ presence in my life. Cause, even though imagining Jesus coming over for a spaghetti dinner is just that, imagination…Jesus actually being in my house is not. His spirit is here, within us. 


So, even if I can’t see him physically sitting at my table. He is here. And I think he enjoys watching my kids’ antics, and I think he’s proud of my husband, and I know he loves me.

We are having spaghetti for supper tonight (total coincidence!). I’m thinking I’ll glance up at least once, hoping to see a glimpse of him sitting there, grinning at all of us.

The Art of Mental Health

I’ve been thinking some about mental health. Our family has been going through a lot of big transitions these last couple weeks as my kids have all started back to school. My oldest son is getting ready to head off to Montana for a year, my oldest daughter is home for a quick visit after her summer in Alaska and then she heads back to Alaska for another year. 

Trying to adjust to a new schedule, new routines, new family dynamics, has been exhausting. My body’s response to lots of stress and change is to kick in the insomnia. So, lately, somewhere around 3am, I wake up and can’t go back to sleep for hours. I think I probably could go back to sleep easier if my thoughts would just stop. Racing thoughts. Anxious thoughts. Little worries that quickly turn into life-threatening tragedies. And I’m laying there just wishing my brain would shut up and go to sleep. 

I have been fighting anxiety and panic attacks since I was nineteen years old. I’ve learned some things over the years. When I’m in a full-blown panic attack I find that reciting my Creed of Beliefs out loud helps things to calm down. Writing down all the things I’m afraid of and then writing on top of those things scriptures where God has promised to take care of these particular worries is also a big thing I can do. But usually my anxiety doesn’t reach those levels. Usually I can keep it under control. 

It was only this week that I connected some dots with my behavior. I suddenly realized that some of my life-long habits are actually ways of controlling anxiety. This week I have been carrying around a book of Sudoku puzzles (very fun math puzzles!). When I’m sitting in a room with all my kids clamoring around me, telling me about their days at school, playing with each other, asking for me to watch them do a trick or look at this picture they colored, I sit there and work on my Sudoku puzzles. Whenever they want my attention I look up and give it to them, but as soon as they’ve moved on, I go back to my puzzle. So, this week, I suddenly realized that when I’m doing Sudoku all my racing thoughts go on pause. It’s like, somehow, doing Sudoku uses enough brain power that it distracts those thoughts, but I can still listen to the conversations around me. 

After this major AH-HAH moment, I started wondering what else I do that has the same effect. Playing the piano definitely does that, though it takes too much brain power to be able to still listen to other people in the room. But playing Bach is kind of like pouring soothing oil on a raw wound. It creates order out of chaos. 

Reading books is also a huge one. I have been a bookworm since I was in Second Grade. But, I can read a book in the room with my family and still hear what’s going on around me, and stop reading and engage and then go back to reading. 

Then there are the times when I can’t do these activities because I’m driving or in a meeting or some other place where those things would be frowned upon. Well, then I usually have some story that I’m creating in my head and I run the story in my mind, kind of like a movie, making it up as I go along. 

I’ve always thought I was a little weird. Why do I do these things? I have to admit, realizing that these habits are actually ways that I manage anxiety is actually a bit of a relief. I feel like instead of being a bit weird and anti-social, I have actually just stumbled on ways of being a bit more mentally healthy. And it didn’t involve any illegal substances or harmful practices. Yay! 

Of course, it would be nice if those racing thoughts would just stop. And I find that I engage less in my Habits when I’m doing well spiritually, physically, mentally. But, I’ve also discovered that I can’t control everything that happens in life. Sometimes I have lots of time and energy to focus on being healthy. But other times life starts throwing a bunch of curve balls and instead of “living victoriously” it’s more like holding on to the roller coaster with an icy grip and just waiting for those big flips and turns to be over before you hit another straight stretch. 

I thank God for his mercy and grace that helps me to soar high, living the Great Life. And I thank God for his mercy and grace that helps me to just hang on and survive when life is hard. And I’m thankful for the coping mechanisms he’s helped me to find without my even realizing it. 



Boredom is a Wonderful Thing

I read somewhere that boredom is essential to fostering children’s imaginations. It’s only when they are bored that they are then forced to come up with their own entertainment. They are forced to start using their imaginations. This past Friday I turned off the wifi at our house. I had several reasons, but one of them was to help my children foster their imagination. No more instant entertainment from a screen. Use your imagination.

So, obviously, I have set myself up for some trouble. Have you ever had a houseful of children all using their imaginations? It’s a dangerous thing. Using your imagination means taking your helium balloon (leftover from the graduation party) and letting it loose into the ceiling fan. (I just wanted to see what would happen!). It means taking a crayon and writing out a Yes/No quiz on the wall by the toilet. (I suppose so that people who are using the bathroom will have something to do?) Today one child took a bunch of our socks and gloves and made sock animals for all his siblings. (Who needs socks, after all, it’s summer.) It also means taking the hose and spraying it all over a pile of dirt so you can have a good mud hole to play in.  And while we’re at it, lets take these old bricks and stack them on the porch in a rectangle-box shape, and then try and fill it up with water, our very own swimming pool!

Of course, my kids have been doing these things all along, with or without wifi, it just seems that they now have even more time to devote their energies to these great ideas, instead of it being a once-in-a-while activity. And it makes me happy. Yeah, we’re going through a bit of an adjustment phase while we work out a new schedule. There’s been some whining because we’re not turning on some shows…but, I’m already seeing good fruit. Like the whole herd of children all running outside in the evening to catch fireflies. My teens gathering around a laptop to watch an old dvd together. (Still a screen, but at least they are doing it in community!) Little children are coming up to me with books they want me to read them. My older kids are delving into new book series. Boredom is a wonderful thing.

I myself have been experiencing boredom a bit more. It’s led me to start reading my Bible in the morning again, play the piano more, start thinking about some cleaning projects I need to tackle, pray more, listen to my kids a bit better. Boredom seems to have a roundabout way of making life feel sharper, more in focus. And yes, we do have plenty of fun things planned for this summer, there’s just going to also be lots of downtime.

So, my summer blessing…May we plenty of time to be bored and may that boredom lead us to great feats of creativity!