April 27, 2010

sitting on other people's stuff [so. many. jobs.]

We (the unemployeds) love this. Its a sure thing. A magical opportunity. "Would you like to [whatever]-sit for us?" is music to my ears. You do very little and get paid for it. Because here's the thing about sitting on stuff. Housesitting, dogsitting, babysitting, all sittings. All you really have to do is another human being's basic responsibilities for a limited amount of time. And get paid for it. I can think of few things more awesome than this.

The thing I do most these days is nanny. FYI, "nanny" is the mid-twenties version of "babysit." Whereas you babysit when you are a preteen, and maybe in high school, you nanny as a grownup. The semantics here are crucial. Nobody wants to be 25 and a babysitter. How embarrassing. So I nanny. Don't mix this up. I nanny for lots of random families and one pretty regularly these days. Let me tell you something. If nannying were my career goal, I'd be ALL SET. Do you know what a hot commodity a 25 year old, moderately responsible (at least they think so, muahaha) nanny with infant experience is? Really hot. Moms love me right now. So I hang out with a lot of babies. 

And I will tell you something else. Babies love me too. I'm like a one-woman floor show. All I do is entertain (which, lets be honest, is a win-win, because entertaining fills my heart with glee). My target audience? Children under 5. I sing a lot, I dance (I mix some pretty sweet jams on those annoying keyboards that have the pre-set beats), and I read books in awesome voices. Dr. Seuss books are my forte, I'd say, because the rhyming really allows me to stretch and challenge myself. I'm also getting really good at the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Little Bunny Foo Foo. Always crowd pleasers. Allison has told me several times that she'd like to secretly film me with babies to see what I do because I'm pretty sure she's pretty sure it borders on insane. Which is possibly true.

The only thing I really have difficulty with is the stroller. I. hate. strollers. Seriously. This is what I think happened: whoever invented the stroller then had a meeting with the 380 different people who were going to form stroller companies. In an effort to make my life miserable (I'm positive this is personal), they came up with the brilliant idea that each of the eleventy billion kinds of strollers should be just a little bit different, so that those who spend their time nannying for various families with various strollers would never, ever be able to figure them out. I have spent more minutes of my life trying to figure out how to unlock stroller wheels than I care to count. I have to really keep my potty mouth in check when it comes time to take walks, because strollers have the potential to fill me with fury. 

But I love that its getting nice and that we can go on walks and go to the park, which is my favorite. As an added bonus, there is a significant plethora of cute boys who go to the park too. Which makes it highly unfortunate that when I am there I am usually singing songs about the park that I've made up or making funny faces down into the stroller. I try to go on the weekends some too to balance it out. And I make sure I look super cute when I go either way so maybe it will override some of my innate weirdness. Probably won't, but its worth a shot. I'll keep you posted. 

So that is a little peek into another portion of the many ways I am paying my bills week to week. Really and truly, I like babies and making babies laugh, so that's lucky. I think I can handle being an occasional nanny for a while longer. Not a babysitter though. 25 and still a babysitter? Embarrassing. Social suicide. Nanny, though? Moderately respectable. I'll take it.

April 7, 2010

a friendly reminder

my sweet friend brought this (back) to my attention last night:

"if we consider the unblushing promises of reward & the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. we are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink & sex & ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. we are far too easily pleased."
-C.S. Lewis

I am thankful that there are people in my life who will remind me of the offer of a holiday at the sea when I have forgotten. I am thankful for the people who love me enough to remind me that there is infinite joy offered to us. I am thankful that there are people who will show me Jesus in my muddiest, slummiest moments - so that I can wake up on snowy mornings like this one and feel hopeful. and maybe even a little bit Easter-y.

April 4, 2010

I scarce can take it in [hope]

Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time and used a lot of words writing about things like wilderness, pain, suffering, brokenness, and heartbreak. Over the past several weeks of Lent, my church has been doing a series on the wilderness, talking specifically about the Israelites' 40 years in the wilderness before they were led into the Promised Land. For obvious reasons, I have loved this - I have learned so much about what it means to be there, why we have to stay there, and how to deal with myself there as well as walk with other people when they're there.

A lot of what I have learned about pain in the last year, I truly believe, has made me a better counselor, a more empathetic friend, and a kinder person in general. I think that God has been showing me that one of my gifts is openness, acceptance and appreciation of brokenness, and genuine empathy, and for that I am thankful. Even beyond that, I have written more in the past year than I probably have in my whole life, and that is due in large part to the topic at hand. I have come to know writing as a gift, and for that I am also thankful.

I think you will not be surprised to hear me say that I find brokenness to be one of, if not the most beautiful part(s) of a person. When I am let into that part of a friend, a client, or a person at the Well, I consider that an honor. Hearing people's stories, the places they have come from, always always always makes me love them more. It is inexorable. I think this is why I like Lent so much. I find the juxtaposition of Lent and Easter to be absolutely poetic. I love really thinking about the meaning of Lent - how it leads into the desperate sorrow of Good Friday - and how we end here, today. With Easter. With hope. If we truly experience Lent, we come to long for Easter. By going through it even today, I find myself waking on Easter morning to a world that feels new. Hopeful.

This is the part I can't let myself forget and the part I think Jesus has been trying to remind me of all week. (Do you not hate that, when you are dead set to think one thing and then everything for like an entire week points to another thing until you're finally kind of like, "ALRIGHT FINE I GET IT!"? I really, really do.) In church this morning as my pastor spoke about the resurrection, this very clear thought entered my brain.

Yes. The wilderness is beautiful in its broken, desperate way. But the thing of it is, broken (the wilderness) is only beautiful against a backdrop of hope (Easter).

Maybe that is not profound to you, but it really kicked me in the shins this morning. Because brokenness is just brokenness without the promise of wholeness on the other side. As JJ Heller sings, "but if you are never broken, you will never be made whole." The Cross, the death of Christ, is beautiful. It is also necessary. But without the resurrection, it's just suffering. It's just pain. It's just another sad story.

What is written below I wrote last year, on this blog, about Easter. Writing the words in bold was, in its way, very much a plea. It was a prayer. It was hope that things were bigger and more than what they looked like at the time. It's been a year of pain and sadness and grief and ugly, gross wilderness. And as I was reminded this morning, just because it's April 4, 2010 does not mean that we are immediately transported from the wilderness. But even in the wilderness there is hope of a Promised Land, and the hope that Easter promises is available even after the holiday is over. Our story is not complete without the empty tomb.

Because broken is nothing without hope.

"On Holy Saturday, which is a day when hope is thought to be dead, we grieve the death of Christ. But we hold out for Sunday, for Easter - with hope and anticipation - because, praise God, death isn't the end of the story. In Christ, it never is."

I think broken is overwhelmingly beautiful. But this? The old hymn says it for me. I scarce can take it in.