DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

By Lisa Huddleston

11710000_10207014882917226_657832549666094067_oI love living on a Century Farm here in Middle Tennessee. It is green and private and lovely, but there are occasional drawbacks. It’s hard to find a good restaurant that’s worth paying for anywhere nearby, it’s a very long drive on the Interstate to many of the events we choose to attend—including our church—but one of the worst things about living here happens when the young man who owns the cattle who share this farm with us takes away the older calves to sell.

The mommas are just pitiful. They holler all day and all night—and I can only imagine how bad the calves feel. Separation from those we love really sucks, kind of like a calf on an udder or an udder that misses its calf.

Anyway, today there was a big, black cow looking directly at me over the back fence while I drank my morning coffee on the porch. She bawled and looked. Bawled and looked. I really felt guilty as though she thought I knew where her baby was and if she just asked nicely enough I would return it. To make matters even worse, old Dottie Pigbody had to get into the act by ferociously barking at the grieving mother and running her off.

No, I don’t make a good farmer, and, yes, I cried. And that experience set my mind off and running down a sad trail.

11227401_10207349081111972_7173172355244987238_oNext, I saw the bright, red cardinal who daily frequents our bird feeders—most often with his less colorful mate. I imagined one saying to the other, “Where would you like to have brunch today?” and then flying in to light on the chosen feeder. I told Chuck that it makes me sad to see birds who are always with mates because I worry that something will happen to one of them and then the other will grieve. He laughed and said, “Well, let’s just shoot both of them now then and get it over with.”

Of course, my tender-hearted husband was just kidding, but part of me agreed with that plan. Wouldn’t it be better to take them out together? I sure don’t want to hang around if Chuck goes before me.

And that is part of my problem. (“Aha,” you say. “We definitely knew you had one!”) I see everything through a filter of impending death and separation. Sad but true. The beauty of spring inevitably leads to winter. The puppy you fall in love with turns gray before you turn around. The kids you plan and hope for grow up and move out. People leave and seasons end and everything eventually fades.

My therapist laughs when I tell her that I know I’m the one with depression, but I really think it’s everyone else who is suffering from delusions. My preoccupation with death is only realistic thinking. If you’re living, you’re dying, and vice versa.

11887989_10207341387999649_4245004405750835629_nSome days this truth helps me to appreciate the value found in moments. Beauty in a golden leaf hanging suspended on the breeze for seconds before gently floating to the ground. White clouds in blue skies. Calves skipping and playfully butting heads. Unexpected fish fries that bring the kids home. Countless millions of things for which I am truly thankful, but which also carry with them the knowledge that too soon they will be over.

No pretty bow or cherry on top of this post. Just my observations.

I see you, sad Momma Cow, as you look to me for answers, and my heart goes out to you because I have none. Hopefully new babies will be born to you soon, and I pray that you will not see what’s coming.

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LIGHT THROUGH THE TREES

By Lisa Huddleston

I know that no one cares to hear my daily complaints about my struggles with medications or lack of sleep or general sense of anxiety; however, I do think that at least a few of you would like to hear how my journey through the dark woods is going.

I am happy to report that my doctor and I feel that I may finally be on the right track regarding my medications–few side effects and a slowly improving appreciation for life. It has taken many months of starts and restarts, but we are hopeful.

BOOKS!

BOOKS!

And in what may be an even clearer assessment of my improvement, I am happy to report a recent desire to return to some of my former loves. I purchased four new books that I look forward to diving into–in fact the smallest one was consumed last night. I haven’t been able to read due to my lack of concentration so this is a wonderful sign.

Loom room.

Loom room.

Also, I have ordered a new 7-foot adjustable tri-loom and rearranged our former music room to serve as my “loom room.” I am glad to sense the urge to create catching steam and look forward to starting on a new project.

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

And, finally–and most surprising to me–I truly experienced some moments of worship in Sunday’s service. I have grown so weary of going through the motions that I was genuinely surprised to feel my hand lift in union with my voice as my heart cried, “Hallelujah!” I was reminded that the joy of the Lord is my strength and that its return represents a true healing of my soul.

No–the journey is not over. Monday was not good as I fought tears and anxiety and felt covered by the dark cloud of death. But Monday is not every day, and new books, new projects, and a new taste of joy give me a hope I have not had for some time.

Therefore, the take-away I seek to give you is that if you are still in the dark, please, do not give up. The odds are in your favor–as is our God. Keep doing what you know to do: see a good psychiatrist and follow his or her advice, continue to talk with a good therapist, exercise if you can, give yourself freedom to rest and to heal, and never give up.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep.

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

WHITE WATER

By Lisa Huddleston

6a00e55031d3a38834013487aefb3b970cTonight as I lay in bed

I fell

Out of a raft

Into white water.

Pick your feet up and float.

I remembered:

Don’t fight it;

Trying to stand

Will only catch your feet

In the rocks.

4709679_origGive up,

Let go, and

Float.

american_whitewater_overboard-600x400

The current will carry you

To stiller waters

Where surely you can

Climb in or be lifted up

Into the raft.

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And gentler waves will lull you back to sleep.

OLD FRIENDS, GOLD FRIENDS

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was in Girl Scouts, we sang a little song:

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver and the other is gold.

Well, my dear friend, Suzanne, is gold for sure. We met when both our husbands were in their respective residency trainings, and we were young wives. We were each other’s family away from family—sisters in every sense but blood. We talked daily in a time before cell phones. We were pregnant with our first children at the same time, and our babies played together. And when residency ended, we moved apart. Bob, Suzanne, and babies eventually went home to New Jersey, while Chuck and I and our little ones returned to Tennessee. It broke my heart; she said it broke hers, too. But it was unavoidable—sadly nothing lasts forever.

Together again!

Together again!

I know I am too easily attached to things, to shampoos, to television shows, to times, and to people. I try to stay aloof, apart, but I simply can’t. I’m not made that way. I feel too much too strongly and that makes me worry and dread the days that will come when the store stops carrying my favorite product, the TV series ends, the times change, and people must go. I even worry that both my counselor and doctor are slightly older than I and I know they won’t practice forever and what will I do when they retire or, God forbid, die?! After all, good people are hard to find and … pant, pant, pant. See? Too easily attached.

"Pair o' docs"

“Pair o’ docs”

Last night Chuck and I returned from a long weekend spent with Bob and Suzanne. They drove a little over 7 hours and we drove a little over 8 and we met in the middle and we talked like we used to talk and we hugged and we cried and we shared stories of our five grown children and our parents and our work and our plans for when we retire from work and the state of the nation and the states of our health and golf and hockey and good times and bad and then the time was over and each couple drove away in opposite directions once again. And now my heart hurts all over again.

But I am thankful for old friends and golden days and generous memories that forget the arrogance of youth and see old friends through the eyes of authentic love.

One is silver, and the other is gold!

 

MY IDOL, MY SELF

By Lisa Huddleston

 

We study through books of the Bible at The Village Chapel, and some Sundays those books speak to me in a separate sermon that is just in my head, and I write it in my journal while the pastor speaks: his sermon for us all and my sermon just for me. And then, on some certain Sundays, I feel as though maybe both sermons were for more than just me, and I take some time to share them here. Today is a certain Sunday kind of day.

The passage we studied today was Acts 19:20-41; “The Riot in Ephesus” is the heading my Bible gives it. You know, this is the passage where Paul threatens the big money-making business of those who crafted and sold statues of Artemis and her temple. Demetrius, one of these artisans, quotes Paul saying, “that gods made by hand are not gods!” Gasp! Really? I mean, did Demetrius even hear himself? Of course, a god made by our own hands can’t be a real god. Anyone could see that—especially the ones who crafted these “gods.”

And while Pastor Jim talked I wrote; is Self our modern-day idol? We don’t make our actual physical bodies, but don’t we definitely try to make our “selves”? Certainly I have made and remade myself many, many times. I have been a student, an editor, a teacher, a writer, a homeschooling mom, anddo-it-urself a tutor to name just a few of my former selves. And right now, a major struggle I face is in trying to answer the question of who I am as an aging, graying, wrinkling, less-than-relevant, and obviously less sharp, 54-year-old mortal woman. I mean there is no longer any way to ignore it. I am getting old, and then I am going to die. Who does that make me today? And does it even matter anymore?

The culture around me screams, “NO!” No to aging, no to losing relevance, and definitely no to death. Like Demetrius and his fellow artisans, we somehow fool even ourselves into believing that what we craft is real. Surely this anti-aging cream will preserve our youth. If not, well, there is always this hair dye or this flawless makeup or finally even the surgeon’s scalpel. We know that it will do the trick—it must. And we end up putting our faith in immovable masks of unfeeling flesh that cannot save us or even absolutely disguise the truth we can’t help seeing in our mirrors that we are mortal. Like those rioters in the city of Ephesus, we get caught up in the irrationality of the mob and rage against reason. Surely, we will never die! Not us! No, not us.

But the truth is that we will. And our idols, power, money, beauty, intelligence, relevance and so on, can never ever save us. Our identity is found in Christ alone, our Redeemer, not in our DIY desires to save ourselves.

This truth is a great and terrifying threat. We who have achieved more than any preceding generation. We like they are truly powerless, and only God—the real and true God—has the power to do whatever He desires. We fear that truth so we keep making our gods with our own hands until the sweetness of the Gospel finally (hopefully, eventually) breaks though our hand-made physical walls to set our feet on the spacious ground of the spiritual kingdom of God.

By letting go of lies, we are set free. Free from our ugliness in the face of the god of Beauty. Free from our stupidity as we bow in the temple of Intellect, our poverty in the exhausting pursuit of Riches, and our irrelevance in our unquenchable need for Importance.

Christ breaks our chains. Hallowed be His name.