iPhone Journaling: Just Write

 

For years I kept prayer journals, the only kind of journaling I’ve ever really done. I have never enjoyed handwriting, and now increasing joint pain makes it difficult. All the writing how-to books say you have to write longhand to get to the heart of things, however. Clearly, that is not working for me. So, I’ve adapted to technology just a little bit and have occasionally used the microphone system on my iPhone to get my musings written down. This is the most recent of those musings. Joining this with Heather’s JustWrite linky for the first time in months.

I watch them, has they wield their strollers past my car. Young, strong, beautiful. One stroller with two babes inside, maybe nine months separating them in age. Another with a single ten-month old.

They’re smiling at each other, laughing as they push their beautiful burdens up the hill. It’s funny how I don’t remember laughing very much as a mother to very young children. I’m sure I did. My children were delightful, smart, and funny. And much of that time in my life was, indeed, joyful.

But mostly what I remember now is the fatigue. And the doubt.  And all the questions about whether or not I was enough. I don’t remember having very many friends who had babes in strollers at the same time I did. I remember feeling alone, very alone.

We’d been gone for two years, So most of our college friends had moved on, going in other directions. I had one neighbor with young children, but she worked. I remember joining the food co-op, getting a weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables. And out of that group, a babysitting co-op grew, and there I did connect with others who were at the same stage of life.

Maybe that’s why I have a hard time relating to so many of the young moms who write in the blog-o-sphere, those who connect at a heart level with other mothers of children the same ages as their own. That kind of connection was very difficult for me to find, and if found, for a long list of reasons, very hard for me to continue.

What is it about me that resists friendship.? I have a lot of “friends” but how many know my heart? Thankfully, there are some. And at this juncture in my life story, I am finding it easier to connect via the internet than in real life. Why is that?

I’m sitting at the ocean, trying to sort through the mass of mixed feelings going on inside me right now. I carry my mom around with me most of the time. I carry my children, and my grandchildren. I’m looking at some fairly minimal, but still invasive health issues, and I always find that wearying and worrying. I need a Spiritual Director, and I’ve been looking for over a year. Pursued several different avenues, none of which have worked out thus far. Lord, whom shall I see? Who would you have me work with?

Today as I stare at the sea, this is what I see:

The ocean is relentless. It keeps coming. The waves roll, whether small or large, but they roll. The surface today is relatively calm, and the kelp beds are not moving much. Very few waterfowl today, either. I keep looking for pelicans, so far I see none.

I wonder if the dolphins will peek through the water with the tips of their fins; they always bring a sense of hope and a spirit of playfulness to my day. I think I could use a good dose of both right now.

Another day, another doctor’s visit. This one for my mother, she has a nasty bruise on her lower right calf and now, a low-grade fever. So we’ll go back to the doctor – we were just there five days ago, And two days before that. And in between her medical visits, I have my own. It’s funny how these medical events seem to come in seasons.

Make that ‘funny peculiar,’ not ‘funny ha-ha.’ There’s not a lot of ha-ha-ing going on just now. All of it together creates a sort of low-level sense of anxiety, sometimes for days in a row, and I always find that wearing.

I’m grateful for this parking space, and the sound of the waves. Now I see three pelicans, the holy trio winging their way further out to sea. No dolphins yet, but I remain hopeful.

The undulating water somehow centers my spirit, and calms my heart. I can feel my breathing slow down, and my muscles relax. This morning, everything is thick with fog, something I usually dislike intensely. But today, it suits my mood.

There’s something womblike about it, soothing, calming, Like a balm to my wounded self. Henri Nouwen talks a lot about wounded healers, and I believe him. I just don’t much enjoy the wounding part. I wait, with some sense of restlessness, for the emerging part of this process.

To emerge from the woundedness is a good and important thing. On the other side of this season of sadness, I look forward to offering words of hope and healing to others who find themselves where I am now. In the meantime, I will continue to drive down our hill, turn my car around in the middle-of-the-road, and park on the edge of the bluffs. I will roll my window down, push my seat back, and stare out at the sea.

And I will wait. I will wait for the movement of the Spirit, I will wait for the stirrings of hope. I will wait for what comes next.

 

 

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Comments

  1. I call these places my little car goes down to and turns a bit before being in the right spot my “remote offices.”

    Caregiving longterm (or just CARING longterm) is very isolating work. Knowing it as head knowledge is one thing. Living it is something else altogether. It takes a special kind of pressing on. You have captured this so very well, Diana. I’m glad you have and I’m praying you will be sustained and refreshed, even that you will be unexpectedly surprised by joy in some way!

    Marilyn

    • Amen, Marilyn! (And good morning.)

      • And good morning to you, too, Sandy. My, but you’ve been busy so far today!! I see your name popping up all over these post. Thanks for reading, friend.

    • Exactly, Marilyn. That is my office away from home -used to be my office away from work/church. Thanks for your prayers, Marilyn. This weekend actually both helped and furthered that sense of isolation. Weird how that happens. But I’ll take it any way I get it.

  2. Oh friend. I feel your fatigue. You know, I felt pretty much alone raising mine, too–and I oh how I remember the doubt. Being an older mom, I took everything so seriously and never really felt like I fit in. In fact, we figured that given the age of my daughter’s friend’s mom, I could have been her grandmother. We’ve always lived away from parents, so I never had family help. And now the heavy continues to haunt me as I remember more of what I did wrong than right. And I still feel like I’m living it in my situation that you know all about. 🙂

    And my best friends are internet based, too. Is that because we can connect at any moment of any day?

    I had to smile, though, because you are the only other one besides my mom who understands “funny ha-ha” or “funny peculiar.” She used to say/ask that all the time.

    I think I could use a spiritual director, too–though I’m not really sure what one does or where to start looking for one…

    At any rate, I wish I could come sit by the ocean with you, share a meal, spend some time with your beautiful mom. I carry you in my heart, you know. Love you so big.

    • I wish you could, too, Sandy. I did have good friends, but most of those came after my kids were really little. By the time they were all school-aged, we had changed churches to one closer to home and I had started a women’s group, ostensibly for moms younger than I. But in many ways, it was a source of connection for me, too. Glad someone remembers ‘funny ha-ha’ and ‘funny peculiar!’

  3. Okay. So that was pretty much a ramble… 😛

    • But a good and love-filled one. 🙂 You girls started my day off right. Thanks!

      • Sending love to you, too, beautiful lady.

        • I didn’t read it as a ramble at all, Sandy. I read it as a comment in kind. :>) Thanks to both of you for coming over here and starting my day off so well. It’s a day that includes getting some stitches out AND have two very-far-back wisdom teeth filled. So I’m glad to have a breather here at the beginning of it all.

  4. praying and nodding and praying again
    that what becomes to heavy to carry falls away
    as the fog smooths rough edges too sharp to look at now
    all part of His plan
    even when not a part of ours
    love to you

    • Thank you, Karin – I am always so grateful for your poetic responses. . . and just generally, for you, yourself!

  5. Waiting with you for that emerging part.

    During one of our devotional times together with Margaret Feinberg in Maine, she talked about Jesus’ feeding of the 5000, focusing on the verbs. She noted that He took, the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it–the same verbs God used in offering us Living Bread.

    And Margaret asked us to consider that those four verbs play out over and over again in stages in our lives–God takes us to Himself, blesses us, breaks us, and gives us. This stage of brokenness seems to be lasting an extraordinarily long time to my way of thinking. But how do I know how long it will take before I am ready to be given out to another?

    • Oh, but Nancy! You are being given, day after day after day. I think all those verbs are rolling around together for all of us most of the time. Henri Nouwen wrote a whole book about those 4, so I’ve thought about them a lot over the years. Thanks for coming by today, friend.

  6. I understand Diana – oh how I understand. I often think it would be a lovely thing to have a little corner of this huge blogisphere reserved for those of us of a “certain” age. I know it wouldn’t be promoting real life friendships, but I have found that the friendships here are every bit as real. We who have grown children and grandchildren, husbands who may be home now 24/7, aging parents, a season where we want more than anything to make the moments count for eternity, the feeling of being somehow overlooked in so many ways because of our age – could use a bit of encouraging as well. I love reading the blog posts written by younger women, but it is places like yours where I find true kindred spirits.
    Thank you for writing so openly and blessing so beautifully.

  7. Yesterday was my older daughter’s 50th birthday… something that I once thought would bother me, but it doesn’t. It surprises me. I have trouble keeping track of the passing years because they slip by so fast.

    I’m an only child and I’ve always been a loner (I’m much more social in cyberspace than in real life!) but I can recall finding ministry a lonely calling at times. Our personal life often seemed separate from our professional one when it came to family and emotional needs. We were constantly surrounded by people, but not in the sense that I would lean on them for reinforcement when I felt overwhelmed.

    The loneliness in retirement is of a different kind but I’ve adopted my husband’s post-heart-surgery prayer: “God grant me days for my work and work for my days.” And I find myself repeating Psalm 27:14 a lot… “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart,” because in looking back I realize that He always understood my needs better than I did, and met them with immeasurable abundance when I left them in His hands. There were and are still seasons of sadness, but I find them cyclic. “This, too, shall pass.” Joy comes again and again.

    I’m not sure this applies to anything you’ve said, Diana, but it’s what came to mind as I read your words.

    • My oldest daughter is five years behind yours and I’ll admit to a gulp or two when that 45 turned round on the calendar. I can’t quite imagine 50 – but it’ll be here before I know it! And I love the words your husband uses – and the psalm, too. Thank you for those. And for coming by and offering encouragement.

  8. I think it’s a pretty rare mother who doesn’t doubt herself. I know I have, and still do, a lot! I wonder if all the doubting has something to do with being thinkers, and whether maybe those who aren’t particularly self-aware, doubt themselves less…

    • Maybe you’re onto something here, Donna. But actually? I think EVERY mother doubts herself much of the time. That’s why writers like Lisa-Jo Baker are such gifts to this sphere. I love her words of encouragement so much. When my children were really little, my ‘baby’ (now a 41 year old doctor, husband and father) loved Mr. Rogers. And I did, too!! Because I’d just close my eyes and believe that he was talking to me, too, when he said, “You’re someone special!” That’s how hungry I was for reassurance.

  9. I’m relating to what you wrote about friends. Our church women have a retreat the end of September. We are using the DVDs from (in)courage about women in community with one another. My husband has been preaching a series on relationship and I think these dvds and the discussion will be a great compliment to what we’ve already been learning. However, as I prepare to lead the retreat I find myself realizing that I may be the neediest of all for true friendship and community. As a pastor’s wife, with the way people come and go from my life, I’ve developed walls of self-protection. We’ve recently had a family leave the church without really saying why. The woman acted like she was my friend and she walked away without a word, without closure. Going over the dvds for retreat, I realized today that I don’t deal well with people leaving me, it triggers those feelings of the little girl who’s daddy walked away. Don’t know why this comment is turning into way more about me than you could ever want to know. I just thought I read a hint of longing and loneliness in your words and I wanted to simply say, “I understand”. I should have just started out with that!

    • I love this comment – and I get it, Elizabeth. Please don’t apologize. Being the pastor or the pastor’s spouse is a tough gig as far as friendship goes. Praying this retreat will show you where there is a true friend or two, just for you.

    • I, too, love this comment and am glad you left it. From a creative standpoint, the realization that you don’t deal well with people leaving you is a huge gift. If you were in a writing workshop with me, I would likely ask “In what ways has this played out in your life?” Just go with it, wherever it takes you. No editing. It’s just for your use. See what’s there. Also, I caught sight of myself in your sentence about the family who left without saying why. Yikes! Did I really do that to someone? It may have seemed that way. Hmmm. I may need to backtrack and take care of business there. I’m glad you wrote that. Thanks for opening my eyes.

      • I love when this happens – life in the comments!!! Thanks, Marilyn, for tracking back and connecting with Elizabeth (and me, too). Love your writing advice here. . . maybe I’ll try it, too.

  10. Skimming through the comments above, I felt my spirit joined with everyone commenting above. I pictured us, circled up in Adirondack chairs, sharing our hearts. And I would be nodding my head in agreement. My heart goes out to all of the caregivers, sacrificing time and energy to provide the best quality of life possible for loved ones. I empathize with mothers who feel they haven’t done quite right or quite enough for their children. I’m there, too! And as another pastor’s wife, I know how Elizabeth feels when a family leaves the church without a word, and how difficult it can be to have close friends.

    And, you, Diana, provided this circle for this morning, where words of hope and healing have indeed been exchanged–even in the midst of your waiting. God bless you for your honesty and your sweet, humble spirit!

    • It does sometimes feel like Adirondack-time out here in the world-wide-web. Thanks for pulling your chair up along side today. Always glad to see you.

  11. from “deeper story” i found my way here. friendships – my closest friends – we are all scattered and we go to a wonderfully young church where almost everyone could be our kids and grand kids. We feel loved , but I miss my friends who have walked life with me. Like some of the women here, I too am a care giver for my dad who broke his hip only 3 weeks after i “finally retired.” it has turned my world upside down and some days i really struggle with a lot of the questions I read here. I have signed up for this blog and will follow..

    • Welcome, Carol. And thank you for the kind comments left both here and there. Looking forward to getting to know you. SO sorry about your dad!! Our moms are in a wonderful residential memory-loss unit and that has helped us to stay sane. We visit about twice a week and I talk to my mom on the phone in between. (My husband’s mom has been unable to converse sensibly for almost 2 years now.) This is a tough road, and you are welcome to commiserate here all you need to! I’ll be happy to sing in a minor key right along with you.