William Glasser, M.D. challenges my beliefs with a yesterday, today, tomorrow reality that cousins Scripture. As adverse to idols as ever, I do not assert him a deity, rather I acknowledge that his psychology of personal freedom well partners my Christian faith. We all have vinyl in our heads, a combination of feel-good songs and rank rants. Within my mind, my shiny Jesus and Glasser are happy artists that both sing from the hopeful label of Joy.

Joy pours from the fountain of the stream of life as certainly as my deep cries out to Deep, “Come Lord Jesus come.”

How does Glasser factor into my prayers this morning?

Glasser’s concept of Total Behavior helps me consider why I choose to do (and choose not to do) the things I do.

Total Behavior refers to four components in Reality Therapy: Doing, Thinking, Feeling and Physiology.

Glasser challenges us to consider two, total behavior loops and their outcomes. One path examines total behavior that leads us away from our Quality World, what we value and desire. The other looks at total behavior that drives us toward our Quality World.

Glasser created a chart to visualize these choice loop complete with color symbology. Scarlet represents the total behavior loop that leads us away from our Quality World. Yellow symbolizes total behavior in accord with our Quality World outcomes.

I tell you all this to to confess that like Dorothy in her Ruby slippers I have wandered away from the yellow brick road of home, my Quality World, especially in regard to my writing.

Instead of writing, I’ve been depressed.

Glasser would confront this sentence with the friendly assertion that I have been choosing to depress or depressing. He would remind me that people choose to depress for many reasons that include the following: to keep anger under control, to get others to help them, to excuse unwillingness to choose something more effective and to gain power or control over others.

Glasser would encourage me to make choices that focus based on what I am doing (or could choose to do instead), instead of what I am feeling.

This is the direct opposite of what I have been doing of late. My focus has leaned too heavily on feeling instead of the cornerstone of my precious Faith and doing (putting my feet to it!).

All this emphasis on feeling kept my choices in the scarlet total behavior loop of withdrawal.

Wanting to feel less or feel differently, I’ve instead chosen to withdraw.
Like the impotent scrivener, Bartleby,
“I would prefer not to.”
So I’ve stopped talking,
writing
and communicating-
especially to the people I most miss from There, our former home.

These choices haven’t made me feel better, in fact, this total behavior has deepened my choice to depress.

This post is a battle is my battle cry!

He makes everything glorius.
I prefer to!
I CHOOSE to!

I know my Redeemer lives.
I know my pen sings Him praise.
I know that I miss you because I love you so.
I know I should write.

I choose to post that my Redeemer lives!
I choose to write that my pen sings Him praise!
I choose to record here that I miss you because I love you so!
I choose to write!

“To be happy, I believe we need to be close to other happy people.” -William Glasser

To be happy, I believe I need to stay close to my dearest There-dwellers. Your portraits hang in my Quality World gallery under lights.

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given January’s blush remains pink enough to paint cheeks (and because I am still unable to comfortably wear all of my pants) I trust I am not the only one who wanders the path of resolutions. I remain uncertain the exact moment that my wisdom divorced my restraint in December that began my three week binge.

And I do mean binge.

I fell so hard off the No-gluten wagon that I sprawled on the floor in a messy paste of Cheeto grease and cutout cookie sprinkles. My self-control was so badly fractured that I am still in dietary halo traction. My portion-control button was also concussed in the incident. I also don’t know why I thought that I would be the one person on the earth spared this holiday season from the consequence of the over indulgence.

Same reason I knew I would be the mother to cure sibling rivalry, another job Eve botched, I guess.

The story I told myself seemed plausible enough and suspended my disbelief at the time like the fairy tales of my childhood when I still believed in magic spells and potent witch rage. The gossamer of fiction spun its own web as I advanced from bagels to pasta. (Do you have any idea what a plate of lasagna tastes like after two years off gluten? Better than sex, ice-cream and getting a hull of popcorn out of a back molar. Perfect, saucy, decadent ectasy.)

I wasn’t worried, mind you. The spell of the story bound me to the promises of Far Far Away, the land where a mother of four children can eat without regard self-control, portion or boundaries.

“You work out regularly,” I prided to myself.

“You’ve worked out regularly for years,” I amended after cheesecake was introduced into the rotation.

“Muscle has memory,” I reassured myself as Christmas abdicated to the New Year’s nachos with extra cheese and sour cream. Lots of sour cream.

“Gonna get back to it Monday,” I vowed as 2012 ushered in its new hope and possibilities.

Monday came and went. The kids didn’t have to go back to school until Tuesday, and The Husband had an unexpected, extra day off.

“We can’t bite the hand of the vacation fairy!” we chortled, our mouths already full of Layes Potato Chips and Deans Dip.

Tuesday morning came in a flourish. I dashed from room to room getting the family machine revved without any notice of the extra dribble in my middle. It wasn’t until I went to get dressed in pants with a real waist band instead of my virtuous workout shorts, that I realized my zipper was in pain. It quivered and moaned like an Olympic weight-lifter going for gold. I actually heard it cry out.

I believe it whispered the F-word.

Actually, I must  confess it cried out the F-word in pain.

“Gravy, woman!” It seemed to moan, what have you been eating?

On the other side of January, I’m here to tell you, zippers in pain don’t lie.

As such, been eating a lot of salad since that day.

Salads with the occasional handful of M&Ms. I’m not a sadist!

Thought you might want to take a peek at what happens when my girls help chop:

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Major Mommy was deployed to Germany about the same time my family moved Here.

Major Mommy is a passionate sister in the Word, a beautiful friend, and an eager Well drinker.

We survived the Beatitudes study together…

I still wish we had made T-shirts for the other ladies!

Across the globe, we join forces to read Annonymous together.

As if in confirmation of that effort, I was overwhelmed by the God wink that awaited me in an email this morning:

Hi Jael,

“One of the most difficult lessons to master as we struggle to create effective change is to
learn not to label something as bad just because it is different from what we want.”

–Dr. William Glasser on page 32 in Take Charge of Your Life.

I wish I’d had this quote when Sylvester and I were writing our book on diversity. It really summarizes the message about embracing difference.

This echoes Alica Britt Chole’s assertion to never mistake God’s silence for His absence.

It reminds me again that anonymous seasons nurture potential and prepare us for Spring like bare trees in the winter.

The challenge is not to mistake bare for barren.
Silence does not equal absence.
Stillness is not lifeless.

I am grateful for God winks.

He consistently shows up in my day to day,
especially when I need Him most,
like this morning.

Bare is not barren.
Silence is not absence.
In the stillness, there is dancing.

Well Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
she tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

 

Thank-you for asking.

Yes, I am absolutely crazy.

In fact, I’ve taken to describing my current cognitive condition as a non-concussive brain injury. Nothing hard or large hit me on the head, but I am nonetheless operationally impaired. My never great, short term memory is now completely shot. Like I can’t remember my children’s names shot. Never mind their birthdays, they always remind me of those anyway. Where as a recent CAT scan would prove my brain is physiologically intact, the road from the driveway There to the driveway  Here cost me at least 59 IQ points. They promise me it’s temporary. I operate like a brain injury patient who’s run away from her rehab facility. And the laundry. My physic wounding has also deleted my laundry function capacity. We live in a sea of dirty clothes piles. The children don’t even expect I’ll get their PE uniforms back to them in a timely manner. They taken to wearing them dirty and using lots of deodorant and body spray.

Some of you have seen this dysfunction in action, or should I say inaction?

It is from among that group I’ve gotten the question:

“Are you crazy?!?! Did I read that right?!?!?!?!? Tell me YOU DID NOT GET A PUPPY!!!!!!!”

Again, however testily queried, thank-you for asking, and trust I admire the emotion behind your multiple use of the exclamation point and question mark/exclamation point combo.

Very, “Really? Really!”

We did, in fact get the kids a puppy for Christmas.

Here he is:

Check out that sweetie-boy-face!

He’s of the smallest of Japanese breeds, Shiba Inu, and his name is Hoshi.

Hoshi is the Japanese word for star.

He is our widdle, shiny Christmas star.

Hoshi fulfills a pre-relocation promise The Husband made to the children. Much like Obama, The Husband vowed our babies would get a dog if we came to live in this little ,white house in Far Far Away.

Hoshi flashes us back to past years with newborns complete with nocturnal crying, potty explosions and scheduled time for tummy play.

I understand why you would ask if I was in my right mind to introduce a puppy into our transitional mix, but I already admitted that I’m really not.

Really.

And that’s OK.
It’s even good.
Not easy, but good.

It’s a time that challenges me to Trust Him more,
go deeper into The Word,
and always,
always,
always,
carry a plastic bag
when walking outside.

‘Cause poopy happens.

Well maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who’d OUT DREW YA
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen in the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

 

 

I sing along with Addison Road’s beloved Praise song, What Do I Know Of Holy this morning:

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

Our ever Patient, Holy Father ministers of me this week. As ever, He heard my plea for intercession and has bathed Light into darkness. In fact, He downloaded a treatment plan and bid me follow.

Just like the Grinch on the Christmas morning, I puzzled, How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!

Selfish, little, Burning-Bush-girl me, was admittedly disappointed in its simple, righteous stock. Nonetheless, He was as clear as a prism breaks Light into rainbows:

Foolish, Baby Girl,
You’re never gonna pull this off
on your own strength.
Aren’t you tired?
Get off the gerbil wheel,
Re-read Anonymous,
Get back into the Word,
Turn to Me,
My Will is sufficient enough plan for your life.

Fallen, broken and selfish I may be, but stupid I am not, and I AM tired.

Monday I began to Re-read Anonymous,
get back into the Word,
Turn to Him,

<Again, and again,
and again,
a combination of prayer
and thought redirection….>

And seek spiritual confirmation of His Sufficiency in my life.

It won’t surprise you, sweet fellow Sojourners, that His scandalous Grace is more abundant than the stars in the Milky Way.

Every day since, I found Him waiting for me in Alicia’s text as He used her teaching to burst open the Word to me anew.

In random moments, He’s prompted me with a thought that helped to nurture an insight.

Again,
and again,
Yesterday,
Today,
and Tomorrow,
that be how He do.

He comes without ribbons! He comes without tags!  He comes without packages, boxes or bags!

Just as He came, born in a stinky stable as lowly shepherds bore Holy surrender to His Grace, fallen into the skein of man, but entirely God.

He comes to me today as He came then, a certain presence of divine Love.

When I turn to Him,
Genuinely wide,
He shows up,
Every time.

The palpable pulse of the Living Word feeds the hungry and draws water for the thirsty from the Well of Life.

My Jesus is still too shiny to be any good at hide-and-seek,
but I do have to look for Him,
not just with my eyes,
but with an open heart
and every breath a hallelujah.

When I catch a glimpse of who He might be, the slightest hint of Him brings me down to my knees.

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

 

 

Where in the hell have I been?

I lead you on.

I tell you that I’m going to write
and I don’t.

Am I a blogger or a bad man?

Ah me, pray tell not a bad blogger!

December slapped me on the bottom so hard it was like being born again.

Not in the good, shiny Jesus kind of way.

In the bad, gooey, birth squall,
OH-GOD-IT-HURTS kind of way.

Suffice it to say the banal intersected with the tragic and fried my mother board.

Triage became the cycle set on my washer and, like the rest of you,
I just ran loads and tried to stay even:

Boxes,
Baking,
Shopping,
Wrapping,
Gingerbread Houses,
Quiche,
Wish Lasagna,
Family divided,
New roles assigned,
and the C-word,
Again.

Amid the sorts there were also:

Prayers,
Joy,
Sweet reunions,
Happy babies,
A new puppy,
Surprise glazes,
Hotmilk Cake,
Telescopes,
Sacred text,
Time together,
and
God winks plenty enough
to o’r pour my pitcher.

Because of His Strength and Grace alone, I celebrate that I came through intact.

The Husband and I gave our children their first Christmas Here well.

God be praised.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and His call upon our lives,
but in December,
that was all that I had in me.

There were days I felt like a child forced outside to play.

I sat on the teeter-totter
of depression
and
shimmied,
twisted,
squirmed,
and scooted
for purchase,
for balance.

Through His stength alone I did not fall.
In fact, He carried me.

I am so grateful.

Tired,
happy enough,
and still Here.

Thank you for praying, texting, emailing, calling and even making plane reservations!

Thank you for caring.

I missed you too.

I love you.

So.

xoxox

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

 

 

 

Instead of pictures, I extend word portraits of some of my biggest moments during my recent trip to There:

Friday, December 2

Early to rise
Drop boys
and kiss,
kiss,
kisses!

Operation Poinsettia 2011
School of There
still there.
Torches lit,
hugs and reunions,
squeezes and lifts,
hooded nods mumble,
Sweet,
sweet,
sweetest sweet!

AHS
clean stage
and load, load, load!

Starbucks and plant plots,
Tears for Trundle,
MHS…
new tears in ancient halls
Mind what you have learned, Save you it can.
Do or do not, there is no try.

Covenance renewed

McWholeFoods breaks bread
Wowo Well
“You’re forever here,
I’ll never forget you”
Mamma grief plant
’til we meet again
at TCS upper school.

Salad bar
and chunky peanut butter cookies Whole
AHS hello again to Coach Bold Sassafras
Sutherland Janey,
“You constantly make my life easier in a million ways.”
“Get outta here,You go girl!”
“This is from Louie, she says thank you and you know why…”
“Squeal…Ooooh, love her! Tell her I love her!!”

Target bracelets tied up with sparkle bling
Panther pick-up blitz
“This is from The Middle Girl,”
Places bracelets on eager open wrists
“She wants you to know your friendship still encircles her heart and she still misses you so.”
Wrist kiss vows.

“This is from The Oldest Girl,”
Places bracelet on eager open wrist
“she wants you to know your friendship still encircles her heart and she still misses you so.”
Wrist kiss vows.

“STOP!”
“Don’t go anywhere!”
“I got one for you too!”
New Covenant,
6th grade Girl’s Club,
and G tower lifts.

Dr. D’s dignified diva,
Miss V leaps,
tiny octogenarian feet dangle
from reunion bear hug
“Yes, Jesus!
….Mmm hmmm….
Yes, Jesus!”

Bodos remembers Tom’s 911
Barrett’s three,
Father, Spirit, Son.
Colonade curious
Foundations affirm
Starbucks bookend.

Happy Christmas,
Merry Holidays!

Home again.

“Really???…Really?”
“I just have questions”
“I think what the problem is…”
“…There might be a middle ground…
the people who talk too much…
they’re not in the middle…”

“Why can’t I give a poinsettia to a Jehovah’s Witness??
Why is it a Christmas Plant?”

“Really???…Really?”

Don’t belive me,
“Google it!”
Goodnight.
Sleep tight.
I will draw near to You.

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Instead of pictures, I extend word portraits of some of my biggest moments during my recent trip to There:

Thursday, December 1

French Press morning
extends Johnny
Rise and Shine.

Meet poinsettia truck
High school Louis
poinsettia skips
“It’s poinsettia day, A!”

Coffee at Mall with Princess
“It’s really you! It’s really you!”
She saves my feet
and gifts her mules.

Starbuck reunion with Mamma L and Johnny
Communion of updates,
Fellowship undergirds Praise.
Purest Benediction
excavates
unwavering Love.

Princess lays Chipotle banquet,
lime salt rocks
hot salsa’s kiss
free Diet Coke refills
flow as liquid as the laughter
and stories shared.

caffeine amps
Attitude’s poinsettias.
Cher snips side bang sass
and mirth as wide open
as a fresh eyebrow wax.

Stage 4 surprise stop.
“Who you got with you?”
“Let me give you a hint…long hair…and I clean a kitchen so hard I throw away toasters that ain’t dirty…”
“It’s not Jael is it!?”
feisty woman
cachinnation spice
Cancer cannot fade how He loves her,

Car switch
commands carryout confessions
…mumble, mumble…
“Because I’ve been doing something bad…”
“Don’t even tell me your marriage is in trouble!”
Caesar salad concert buzz.

Ruby Tuesday’s toasts
POSITIVITY.

AHS lauds director,
orchestra ovations.

Homeward bound.

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Instead of pictures, I extend word portraits of some of my biggest moments during my recent trip to There:

Wednesday, November 30

Arrival There
Cornerstone,
Solid ground.

Big hugs & Starbucks,
Vinte skinny vanilla lattes
seep joy’s tears
Reduced Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
render extremities
with extreme sweet.

Spring Q
Mall slide,
B wants, “5 more minutes Here.”
Boys nap,
Mommies pedicure,
purple gel toe-toes.

Surprise McGirls
a trio of squeals harmonize
welcome home.

San Pellegrino Sparking Natural Mineral Water
Jiff chunky peanut butter
lather tart apples,
grateful to share
daily Bread.

Church sojourn,
Sausage ball side,
wide open surprise,
“I gotta pee!”
Women at the well

Redolent Mamma L wonder
uncontainable Joy.

Indescribable Love
flies to Jesus
and Lives.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Not so long ago, I lived in There, a golden land of hills far, far away from Here.

There was more than just my home.

All of my biggest and brightest moments happened There.

I went to school There.
I found out I was smart There.
I met my husband There.
I married him in the university chapel There.
I had my babies There.

There I first began to teach.
There I was first published.
There my daughter twice beat death.
There my Jesus saved me.
There my friends found me when I wasn’t even looking at a Church that became like our second home.

We left There for new opportunities Here and nothing has been the same since. Our perceptions have become like an algorithm that instantaneously calculates and pings out more than and less than comparisons. We have more Targets and less friends Here, for example. There has more mountains and Here has less wrinkles.

They have injections for that Here.

As we closed our first quarter Here, I began to anticipate a trip There.

I purchased the ticket five weeks out and wasn’t certain I’d actually have the courage to board the plane until the morning The Husband dropped me off at the airport at 4:50 a.m.

I didn’t want to rip off the transition scab and recycle the grief ferris wheel. Rides that go round and round always make me queasy…

I flew There last week without many expectations an even smaller number of people who knew I was coming.

The only things about which I was certain was where I would sleep each night and that Operation Poinsettia would continue in earnest another year.

Time There flew in a panacea of reunion and surprises that were a certain, sudden elixir to my soul. I realized that I had gotten a bit crispy around the edges like a fried tilapia sandwich on a day old bun Here, but felt my feet back under me again There.

Travel to There comes with its own jet lag, of course, just like a hop across the pond. I had me a side of sadness and some re-entry malaise. It’s taken me an interval to appreciate in fullness my myriad of experiences.

My primary take-away?

There is Here too.
As ever, I am There
and He is Here
The Body reaches out
and Jesus is the way.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

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