ARE WE ALL ‘GONE GIRLS’?

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I don't care. I still hate this phrase.

I don’t care. I still hate this phrase.

By Lisa Huddleston

I just finished reading the much acclaimed novel, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and all I can say is “Wow!” Not that it ended just as I would have hoped, but still, could there be a better book to represent who we are as people in this image-driven moment in time?

Don’t worry—I don’t plan to discuss the carefully twisted plot of the book and possibly ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it or seen the movie—but I would like to take a few paragraphs to consider how like that girl many of us actually are. How much time do we spend contriving our public personas, crafting our profiles, and posting pictures that flatter the image we want the world to see while all the time we feel as though we can never truly be known or at least not truly known AND still loved?

Whew! Heavy, heavy stuff.

I have to confess to being guilty of sometimes being a “Gone Girl.” I delete the ugly pictures. I omit the bad moments or thoughts or actions from my time line. I post the happy things, the cheery things, the thoughts and pictures that everyone can ‘like’ without fear.

But, of course, there is more to me than my profile, and a lot of it isn’t too likable. And, of course, those with whom I actually live know many of those unlikable traits and still manage to like and even love me. My friends, my family, even my husband are able to overlook the dark moments that sometimes break through my bright covering.

But I wonder how much darkness would be too much? I mean no one, no human being, can really love unconditionally. Sooner or later, there is a last straw that can drop—if one were to let all the straws fall.

And that’s why we can’t let all the ugly show. We need people in our lives and too much ugly is simply repellent. (Notice how I have switched to the pronoun “we”? I’m hoping you get this and that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I really do want you to like me. In a pitiable, Sally Field kind of way.)

Maybe that’s at least part of why this time of life is so difficult (the middle-age, post-children era). I don’t know what roles to play. Sure, I am still some of those people I have been in the past, but none of them feels like the real deal. And I just can’t tell you what that real deal is! So often I feel as though I, too, have “gone missing.” (What a stupid phrase!)

Just yesterday I exposed to my ever-patient husband that I feel another change in the air. I need a new wardrobe, a new set of costumes to wear, but I just don’t know what clothes fit me now. And I wasn’t just speaking metaphorically.

Well … if you haven’t read the book, do. Then we can talk without spoiling the plot, ok? Are we all “Gone Girls” in one way or another? Not sociopaths (I hope!) but people living out roles that make us acceptable to others for one reason or another and give us something we feel we need?

Let me know. It gets lonely out here waiting to be found.

DOG DAYS

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Hazy, hot, and humid week at THE Wilson County Fair.

The 2014 Wilson County Fair.

By Lisa Huddleston

1. Hazy, hot, and humid are the three most commonly used words.

2. THE County Fair ends this weekend.

3. We only need to mow the yard every other week.

4. The trees look tired of holding up dry, so-over-the-green leaves.

5. Visions of pumpkins, sweaters, and bonfires dance in our heads.

6. The public pool closes in one week.

7. The kids are already back in school. (Poor kids, poor teachers!)

8. Most of the flowers look just plain sad.

9. Cracker Barrel already has Christmas decorations on display.

10. Even the dog wants to stay inside in the air conditioning.

Making the best of dog days.

Making the best of dog days.

How do we get through the ennui? Find reasons to laugh, take it one moment at a time, and know that soon and very soon it will be autumn.

I’m thankful for the promise found in the changing seasons, for the beauty that is to come, and for the sound of the lawn mower that my son is riding to cut the grass one more time. 

Baruch HaShem!

 

BEFORE THE LAST STRAW

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Oh, my aching back!

Oh, my aching back!

By Lisa Huddleston

Some days I feel as though I just can’t take it anymore. Just one more word of bad news, of suffering due to disease or choice or pure evil, and I’m finally going to crack.

And despite all the well-intentioned (and true) articles people have written, posted, and shared about how to effectively impact issues like genocide, starvation, disease, depression, suicide, injustice and so on, I simply and honestly feel powerless.

And that powerlessness leads me to despair.

But God reminds me that He is the power in my life–and in all the other lives that are currently inhabiting this scarred and bleeding planet. When doubt, despair, and powerlessness threaten to rip me apart, this truth holds me together like gravity for my soul:

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26-28, The Message).

As He died in our place, He even prays in our place! He is the power for the powerless, the prayer for the prayerless, and the hope for the hopeless.

Oh, may thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven … before even one more straw can fall. Amen.

TIME TO WAVE THE WHITE FLAG

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Ready to surrender?

Ready to surrender?

By Lisa Huddleston

“See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; he will escape with his life” (Jeremiah 21:8-9).

I have written on this passage of scripture before; but every time I read it, I am struck anew by its counterintuitive, countercultural way of following God’s will—SURRENDER.

And not to some glorious call to service in an exotic and exciting location. Nope. God told his people to surrender to a brutal and foreign and heathen king.

How could that be God’s will for his people? To command them to serve and pray for a heathen kingdom? But that was exactly what he required.

It was shocking then, and it is shocking today. But sometimes God’s will is like that. It goes against what we and the culture around us expects—even the religious culture. (Disclaimer: God will never command us to sin!)

In Jeremiah’s day, God’s will was for his people to surrender to a heathen king. No glamour, no glory, no obvious victory.

For me today, it may be to lead a quiet, contemplative life here on Hudfarm, far away from the busyness that my world applauds both inside and outside the church.

What is God’s surprising, even countercultural will for you? He promises, “You will … find [him] when you seek [him] with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13)!

Ready to wave the white flag?

INVESTMENT RETURNS

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Who knew I was paying it forward to myself?

Who knew I was paying it forward to myself?

By Lisa Huddleston

“On what are you basing this confidence of yours? … On whom are you depending?” (Isaiah 36:4-5)

How I wish I had the confidence I once had! Confidence that led me through faith in God to step out of the mainstream, to homeschool our three children all the way to through high school, and to always feel as though there was a next “big thing” just around the corner—new goals to conquer, new dreams to dream.

Now I have so many doubts. I have seen many long-time friends struggle, and I know the struggles I have faced. I’ve seen victories as well as failures, and I admit that my confidence has taken some heavy blows.

But recently I have felt a boost, tentative and hesitant, but still a lift. And it’s coming from the faith of my children.

I see one courageously taking a risk by leaving her full time job to go back to school for a second bachelor’s degree and a new career. I see another confidently looking for a place to use his talents in a way that will empower him to make a good but unconventional living. And another working long, steady hours to support his family in every way he can. I am proud of these three, and thankful that they appear to have kept the confidence I once invested in them in safekeeping so that it is still there for me to draw from. (And I am thankful that they often remind me that it was their father and I who taught them to live this way—especially when they see me lagging.)

“On whom or what am I depending?” It’s been harder to answer this question in complete honesty over the past couple of years; however, I am passionately thankful for this surprising return on my previous investments. This “old” faith revealing itself in new ways may get me through this dry spell and be exactly what I need to move from strength to strength: a well of living water that never runs dry. Thanks, kids.

 Baruch HaShem!

“WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

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Better days before the exile.

Better days before the exile.

By Lisa Huddleston

If you’re too young to remember the quote I’ve used for this post’s title then … what are you doing reading a blog about Intentional Living in the Second Half? That’s okay. You young folks know how to Google it and learn whatever you want to, and the origins of the title aren’t really what this post’s about anyway.

Today’s topic is chickens, farm life, and getting along–or not getting along. Sort of.

I’d done the research. I’d read about pecking orders and bossy roosters and all that; but for some goofy reason, I just didn’t expect my chickens to act like that. But true to their chicken natures, they do act just like that. They act like chickens!

I know. No big surprise there. Dogs act like dogs. Cats act like cats. People act like people. Of course, even my chickens would act like chickens. But they grew up together! They shared the same box in my basement. They huddled together until the same warming light. How could they turn on each other like they have?

The trouble started when the crowing started. Yes, it turns out that three of our 12 fluffy chicks were actually roosters in disguise! Who knew? And with the crowing came the pecking. Not little love pecks but hard, “I Want to Kill YOU!” pecks.

And so, one by one, the roosters have been relocated. Goldie was lucky–he found a great home with a sweet little family and four lovely little hens. He is free ranging the good life today.

The battle field--looks so serene, doesn't it?

The battle field–looks so serene, doesn’t it?

However, two days ago, there was a cock fight of epic proportions in the hen yard and poor ol’ J.P. (short for “Jurassic Park” because he looked like one of those creepy long-legged dinosaurs in that movie when he was younger) lost. He is recuperating in a large dog crate with a load of Neosporin gobbed on top of his wounded head, and Lovie Dove, a terrible misnomer if ever there was one, has been given to a long-time resident of our rural community who “buys, sells, and trades” chickens. Let’s just say, Goldie won the prize for sure!

Now it is just the ladies until J.P. can make his return, and already I see those girls jockeying for the top spot. Speedy seems to be making a real play for it, but Henny Penny will definitely give her a run for her money. Even Liesel and Hootie were giving it a go at being Queen for the Day.

And all I can think is, “Why can’t we all just get along?” But that is not the way of chickens nor is it the way of the world.

Gladly I was reading in the book of Isaiah this morning, and that good book reminded me that the way it is is not the way it will always be. One day:

The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,

the young child will put his hand

into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the

knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

(Isaiah 11:6-9)

One day there will be peace. And a little child will lead us all. Hallelujah.

HUMP DAY ON TERRA INFIRMA

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UnknownBy Lisa Huddleston

Wednesday morning. Hump Day! Woot woot! But I’m not really feeling it. Every day is about the same for me right now so I find it hard to celebrate being halfway to nowhere.

My younger son who is living with us for a few months since graduation would chastise me for being so negative, but I try to tell him he just doesn’t understand me. He thinks he knows what’s right and solid and unchanging. He reminds me that I taught him those things. And he’s right–I did.

But now I don’t feel so firm. (And that last sentence just makes me laugh–I’m infirm in more ways than one!) I remember a dream I’ve visited many times since childhood: I am walking and then running on ground that is either spongy soft like a swamp or falling away from my feet like a landslide or a crumbling earthquake. As I run, the land dissolves or falls apart just as my feet leave it, and I am terrified of tumbling into whatever lies below. That’s how it feels today.

I was reminded lately that perhaps I should keep these dark thoughts to myself rather than sharing them and possibly spreading the darkness. But truth has its share of darkness in it, doesn’t it? And isn’t sharing a load halving it?

I heard something Sunday morning–something that I also thought last week as my daily Bible reading led me to Ecclesiastes. “God gives respect and place to everything we feel.” Pastor Jim was referring to the Bible, but I figure what’s good for God’s book has to be okay for my little blog, too.

So this is my truth today. I feel empty. I feel lost. And I really just want to be alone.

But I am trying in long obedience form to keep moving in the right direction, striving to keep my feet on something solid. And that’s how it is today.

Woot woot!