I agree 100% with everything Susie says here…well…except for the Michigan bit. This book is truly amazing. Well worth checking out.

Susie Finkbeiner

Have you ever read a novel that stabbed you in the heart? Convicted you for something you had no idea was an issue in your life? Left you sobbing (no, really, sobbing) at the last words?

Well. That happened to me the other day.

I was reading “Zora & Nicky” by  the gorgeous and fabulous Claudia Mair Burney.

Claudia is a Michigan native…so you KNOW I love her.

Claudia has tattoos (which is how I met her)…so you KNOW we can get along.

Claudia is a a painter….so you KNOW I want to be her when I grow up.

But, really and truly, Claudia really got to me with this novel.

She showed me beauty, hatred, racism (yes, even in the North, even in these modern times), characters using hands and feet to be Jesus to others…mercy. Claudia showed me so much grace and mercy and love in this book.

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Misty water-coloured Memories…of

I have a long memory. A REALLY long memory. This is useful for some things, like helping people find their car keys at parties (yes, I can do that. Sorry, I do actually have to see you put them down first…please don’t email me randomly), or understanding why my kids are behaving the way they are (because once upon a time I didn’t like the door left open the wrong way either). I’m just good at remembering heaps of really random stuff, okay?
So…and there is a point here, just bear with me okay…here’s a short quote from chapter 2 of my memoir, Where The Words Are (you can read it over there on the Books tab if you like…hehe…shameless self-promotion, sorry)…

When I was eight this man came to preach at our church, and he waved a little yellow booklet around and he yelled so loud I had to look up from my drawings, which is good, because he said that if you want to get into Heaven you have to read this little yellow book. I didn’t know you had to do anything to get into Heaven. I thought everyone just went there when they died. My Mum got one of the little yellow booklets and now it’s on our bookshelf in the lounge room. I haven’t read it yet though.

Nothing terribly remarkable or quote-worthy in that little section, not really…except for the fact that I had a meeting this morning at my church with the lady who looks after new Christians, and she’s taking me through this bunch of notes so that I can do it too (things like “be nice. Show them where the toilets are”…oh okay, I made that one up), and then she gives me this little bible that they give to new Christians, and a form for them to fill out, and then she gave me…

…yup…

…still haven’t read it…

The Little Yellow Book.

I should read it. I should.

But dash it all, I’d rather keep the mystery and…not.

I’m a rebel like that : )

Loving people is a stupid idea

Love is dumb.

There. I’ve said it. Surely we have better things to do, like look after ourselves and our own. Makes me kind of wish we were like cats, or lions or something, you know: had babies, grew them up, killed animals, ate them, made babies, moved on, died. You don’t see cats getting all emotional because they wanted to share their kibble with the neighbour’s cat and the neighbour’s cat said no. You don’t see cats caring about much at all, actually.

Some people are like that. We can all, if the truth be told, be like that. We’re all selfish, demanding creatures who love salty food and warm beds and someone who shares the couch and lets us do our own things. It’s considered normal, and considered The Way Things Are.

That’s the way it was for me, really. Until some crazy lady did a Rachel Stewart number on me, and helped me when I’d fallen over in the middle of the race.

Rachel Who?

I don’t know if Rachel Stewart remembers the grade five athletics carnival. I don’t know if the friend she stopped for just before the end of the 100m sprint to help back to her feet again remembers the grade five athletics carnival either, but I do know that those two women, nearly thirty years later, are still friends. She stopped. Rachel Stewart was our fastest runner, and she stopped before the end to help her friend that was down. That’s love. That’s when you know that Rachel Stewart knew what meant more than some poxy ribbon on a pin.
That’s what love is.

She didn’t need to. Nobody needs to do a Rachel. In fact, Rachel Stewart didn’t need to do a Rachel, and when she did it it was Dumb dumb de dumb dumb, and she lost the race.

And once upon a time that crazy woman who did a Rachel on me knew what it meant as well. I drove her crazy. A few times. I probably put her through hell and back a few times as well, and I even did the famous SDCU* on her and decided that I’d stuffed things up so badly I could never ever love anybody again.

We do that. We all do that. We turn to our Rachel Stewarts and give them the finger and then we beat them in the next race and not think about it till it’s too late and we can only hope to God they might forgive us, and then we swear we’re never ever going to race again, poxy ribbon or no.

Tell you what, I’m glad that once upon a time God did a Rachel Stewart number on me. He did all right. And that’s the only reason I’m back lining up for the race at the moment.I’m back there on the old New Norfolk oval staring down the white lines on the grass and eyeing off the sports teacher holding the ribbon, and just a bit worried that that starter gun is a real one.

I’m going to run.
I’m looking at the people who are racing with me. None of us are that great, or that pretty, or that cool any more. And none of us are ever going to make the Olympics.
but together we’re running this race we call life, and this time I know, because I will always remember the ones who stopped for me, that no matter which one of us falls, I’M gonna be the one this time to stop and do a Rachel.

Care to join me?

*Super-dooper cock-up. See the last blog post.

And on the subjectof mistakes…

There’s this bit in the Bible that says (basically) when we stuff up we know about it because our conscience tells us so. And if we don’t feel it in our conscience then (unless we’re loony psychopaths – okay, that’s my addition, not the Bible) we’re probably okay, and we don’t need to worry.

Easy, eh? It’s a built-in kind of self-regulator. We stuff up, we feel bad, we say sorry, we get forgiven, we move on.

Got that? Right.

Well, here’s my True Confession:

About ten years ago I made a stuff up so bad it could only be described as a Super-Dooper-Cock-Up (to be henceforth known as the SDCU). It was bad. I felt terrible, and it broke apart one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever known. Yes, it was that bad.

Ten years.

She forgave me, kind of, and I forgave myself, kind of. But the trouble with SDCUs, and especially for people with long memories (like me) is that I could never really let it go. How could I have been so dumb? Even worse, how could I have been so dumb and been so convinced of my rightness for so long? How could I have ignored what must have been thumping in my conscience?

I didn’t really tell anyone at the time. Mostly because the one person I would normally have told was the person I’d just done a SDCU number on, and I couldn’t be in the same room as her any more without crying. It was that bad. I knew what I’d done wrong, the memory of my stupidity wouldn’t leave me, and I vowed never to do it again.

The thing is though, we move on. Time heals, and even the biggest SDCUs get papered over in the rooms of our memories, till all they are is a lump in the fabric, a scar where a wound used to be, and that’s pretty normal. You learn to live with these things, and you learn not to put yourself in situations where you’ll do the same thing again. It’s okay. Even SDCUs are okay when you can learn from them.

A few months ago, however, I was praying and God dropped this thought in my spirit, this thing that I just had to do, and, like most times when God tells people to do something, it freaked me out completely, and the only thing I could think was “But God…I can’t.”

Come on God, seriously. Don’t you remember about the SDCU?

And that’s when I realized.

It wasn’t my conscience condemning me at all. It wasn’t God. It was me.

There absolutely WAS a Super-Dooper Cock-Up: but it wasn’t the dumb thing I did to my friend. That was forgivable, and should have been moved on from years ago. No. The real SDCU was not talking about it to anyone, and allowing the guilt to stop me from reaching out to anyone for ten years. For that I’m truly sorry.

That’s why I’ve made my July 2012 resolution: I’m going to keep talking about how I’m feeling, and I’m going to keep blogging. Stuff-ups happen. All the time. We’re ridiculously human. But it’s only when we start admitting our faults to others and listening to our consciences rather than our emotions that we can really stop the cycle of the SDCU. What do you think? It’s scary, but do you care to join me in this big endeavour?

Uh. Oh.

I learned a hard lesson yesterday. And, to make matters weirder, I learned it right here.

Yes, you learn things about yourself when blogging. And, unfortunately, you learn them in publc. Actually, I think learning things in public is my destiny. And no, I’m not particularly happy about that, but I’ve tried the other way and it doesn’t seem to work.

Here’s what I learned:

Just coz you can write pretty doesn’t mean that you make sense.

Sometimes you still need to WAIT before you send.

Or talk.

Or make big decisions based on what you think is true..

 

But do you know the even better bit of that lesson?

There’s forgiveness. And grace. And mercy. And favour. And love. And we can move on and forgive ourselves and not think that we’re the stupidest people that ever set foot on the planet, and we’re not sixteen any more, so instead of our friends thinking “Ewww, how on earth did she manage to do something so STUPID?” they’re thinking “Oh man. I do that too.”

And…here’s another lesson that I’m learning right here, right now, today, on my own blog:

That is WHY some of us are destined to learn and fail and grow and make mistakes in public. It helps all the people who want so much to stay private to know that they’re not alone. And that, my friend, is what it’s all about.

Making the world go round

Want to know something?

There are some people in my life who drive me absolutely, bat-poo-stinking Crazy.

There. I’ve said it. It’s so not politically correct, and it’s so not biblical, but oh boy oh BOY it’s true. Gosh. How rude. And before you ask, no it’s not you. Trust me. Well…maybe it is biblical. The bible never said we had to like everyone, just love them.

Big difference. I’m trying to teach my kids this.

I find this difficult. I’m a tolerant person. I’m not used to being driven crazy – bat-poo or otherwise – by anyone. But the thing is with that, I’ve also never got that close to some people to allow them to drive me crazy. Not really, personally-and-involved-ly close.

Do you get the difference?

It’s easy not to be racist when everyone is like you. It’s easy to want to help homeless people when they don’t sit next to you in church and smell bad. It’s easy to love people when people are distant entities that we don’t actually allow ourselves to get involved with.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’ve never loved anybody. I’ve got beautiful friends and a wonderful, wonderful husband. But they’re my friends (and he’s my husband) because they DON’T drive me crazy. It’s the other people, the ones you’ve got a choice about, that can get a bit iffy. Or whiffy, if you prefer. People that I like, most of the time; people that are around me due to circumstances beyond my control. You know the type. Yeah, you say…them.

Yes. Them. You’re with me now.

We have to love THEM.

Uh-huh.

Like I said, I’ve always been very good at tolerating them. I’ve been kind and polite and sensitive to their feelings and their needs. I’ve been, most of the time, generally understanding.

A funny thing happens though in life sometimes. Our circumstances change. The people that we hang with aren’t as close any more because of new jobs, new children, new cities, new lives, and suddenly we find ourselves lonely. Making new friends is hard, and tiring, and fraught with dangers, and all of a sudden we find ourselves calling the people that we’ve been tolerating for all this time, and we find ourselves telling them things we never thought we would, because deep down these people drive us crazy. And it’s risky, because suddenly we’re aware that we probably drive THEM crazy as well. That for all this time THEY’VE been tolerating US, and being sensitive and polite and kind, and most of the time generally understanding.

And then we realise that, in spite of ourselves, the weight of time has forged a bond that is stronger than we realise, and that, in spite of the fact that we do in fact drive each other bat-poo-stinking Crazy, there is – because of it and in spite of it – love.

Crazy, eh? Bat-poo Stinking.

And that is how, my friends, we make the world go round.

Would you do me the honour of…

I’m writing a proposal.

Noooooooo, don’t be silly! I’m already married…d’uh! I’m writing a book proposal. It’s okay. It’s not so hard. I’ve got a template, and that helps. Oh man, if everything in life had a template then wouldn’t it be awesome?

Oh okay…or not.

But it’s funny, because I’ve been living with this book for nearly seven years (yes, you heard me right), and I’m passionate about it, and yes, to be honest, I believe this is a book that God called me to write, but now some random Proposal Template is asking me HARD QUESTIONS. You know, like “what’s it about?”, or “why is it important?” and other things you can’t answer with “IT JUST IS!”

And of course the greatest irony is the whole book is about finding words to express deep feelings.

That’s not something I’m good at. At. All.

Anyone who’s ever asked me, when I’m having a really bad day, what’s happening for me, would have been met with an answer like “oh, you know. Stuff”. And a sage nod of the head, as if that explained everything. Which, of course, it does.

“Stuff” means everything. It means “I’m trapped so deep in my thoughts that I’m not sure how to find a way out”. It means “I’m really hurting please can you give me a hug or some chocolate…or preferably both”. It means “There are two completely opposing thoughts in my head right now that I can’t reconcile, and I’m not sure where God is”.

Or, of course, it also means “there’s too much washing on my kitchen table and too many dishes on my bench to even contemplate the idea of dinner and please can we eat fish and chips in front of the telly tonight”. But usually I’m okay with finding the words for that.

I can do it. I will. In fact, if I managed to write a book with 73,000 words that explain deep and complex feelings, then I’m sure I can write another 10,000 that explain why the 73,000 are so important.

Wish me luck, okay?

And next time you ask me what’s happening and I tell you “oh, you know, Stuff”, just check out the state of the kitchen. If it’s clean (ish) then I probably mean one of the other things : )