Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Year of Freedom

It's only January second and already the year has challenged me. I think this is an auspicious start. Let's face it, without the challenges, there's no opportunity to grow, so I chose to see the difficulties yesterday as a good thing.

I am so over certain struggles that have dogged my heels. I am so through with some aspects of my life that they don't merit a mention by name. This is the year of freedom. Chains will be broken, I'm sure of it. That said, I leave you with the words of C.S. Lewis, which I found on Liz Gilbert's Facebook feed.

We are going to have a magnificent year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas with the King

Hi loves,

I want to tell you about a victory I've recently experienced. For three years I've had a dry spell with my writing, especially fiction. I wasn't writing stories at all, and even my nonfiction and blogging was sporadic. 

I prayed to write again, anything, and still I eked out a post now and then, only to return to aridity. Then God gave me a gift. 

I met A'ndrea Wilson and The Lord used her to gently encourage me. A'ndrea posted on Facebook that she was trying to get motivated to write a Christmas novelette. I always, always wanted to write a Christmas story, and on a wild whim offered to join her and write my own holiday tale. Immediately a title came to me, "Hark the Harold Angel." It would be a fun, lighthearted story about a wacky angel. 

I did it! I wrote it, and I think you'll like it. So if you need some Christmas cheer, you can find Christmas with the King, featuring Harold's story and A'ndrea's fantastic novelette here:

Thursday, December 05, 2013

In the Hall

I work on the adolescent behavior unit of a community hospital. These mentally ill children need a lot of help, much of which I cannot and do not provide. I'm the hallway monitor. This position requires me to sit in the hallway and make sure the kids don't enter each other's room. It is not brain surgery. 

But I do pray for these hurting babies, and maybe that's what I'm really here for. And I listen to them, and help keep them safe. It isn't much, though maybe it's more than I know. I remember when I had to leave my own child here. I'm glad someone cared for and listened to him. Glad they kept him safe.

I used to be Claudia Mair Burney, multibook contracted author! Now my name is Claudia Love Mair. That really is my name! And I mostly keep kids on a mental health ward safe. Sometimes it bothers me that I'm not the author so much now. Sometimes it doesn't.

Sr. Thea Bowman once said that the difference between her and most people was she was content to do her little bit. What a brave posture. I do my little bit, but with a gnawing hunger for more, and little contentment. But today I feel awfully small, and it seems like all I have is a little bit. And it's freeing to think that's all I've been entrusted with today: sit in the hall. Keep kids safe. Pray for them. Be content. It's doable. Maybe even heroic, in the ordinary way of people showing up for their own lives, and trying to do no harm is heroic.

I've been neglecting my year long discipline to take self portraits, but here is one today. I am in my hallway, grasping for some love of being here (notice my heart frame!). 

Being.

Here.

This hospital is where I am, much of the time, and in truth, it's not a bad place to be. I can love this moment. This really small, right now thing. And leave it at that.

I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay? And thanks for being here.


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A Little Way

Little things are humble things. Like this blog. Once thousands read it, but all that changed and I think I'm here alone. But I started this blog so that I could share my journey with Jesus, and thousands of readers or none, I still want to do that. Only I want to be more faithful. I haven't been that with writing for a long time.

I'm not young. I'm not old either, but I'm definitely not young, and I've been hearing about some lovies I know who have gotten cancer. Two are already gone to be with Jesus. It presses on me how our lives are but a vapor. None of us will be here very long. I ask myself what I want to do with my one, wild life, and the answer, with a few variations, is the same: I want to tell people, especially broken people, that Jesus loves them.

I've done this in a few big ways. Now all I have is little ways. It has to do, because it's all that's left. Sometimes I grieve my losses, and then feel ashamed because the little way has the essential component of my life well-lived: I get to tell someone about Jesus' love. When I'm gone, I'll be glad I got to say, "Jesus loves you. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. You are loved. Cherished. Desired by God, who made you." I know this is true. So be at peace. And try not to make a mess of things.

Wasn't that simple? Thanks for listening to my big, little spiel. Thanks. Whoever you are.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coming on Christmas

"It's coming on Christmas.
They're cutting down trees.
They're putting up reindeer,
and singing songs of joy and peace.
Oh I wish I had a river
to skate away on..." --Joni Mitchell

It's coming on Christmas. Already the melancholy has crept in, and it isn't even Thanksgiving. I've been thing about what I want for Christmas, what I could give. Ann Voskamp found the words that express my heart's yearing, "You don't want a Christmas you can buy. You don't want a Christmas you can make. What you want is a Christmas you can hold. A Christmas that holds you, remakes you, revives you. You want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus." 


Of course pressures come with the season, just as sure as carols and twinkling lights appear. And I feel these thoroughly worldly cares trying to crowd out the Story. Trying to make Christmas about the presents I can't afford to buy. Or the decorations I can't afford to either buy or make. And that's not what it's about.

So, this year, I'm making it a point to give only what I can, and to make sure that includes the Greatest Gift: Jesus. I want a Baby for Christmas, the mystery of the Word made flesh. I want to hold Him, because never fails to hold me.

Last night I decorated our tiny tree with dollar store ornaments. I'd rather have a huge, real tree with all the trimmimngs, ornaments from years past, full of holy sentiment. But I didn't have that.  I have what I have, my first Nativity set and a three foot tinsel tree.

I tried to make the best of it, and I did. I got heart shaped ornaments for God's love, and "joy" ornaments, and doves in flight for the work of the Holy Spirit, and I got stars, so that I'd be wise enough to seek the Lord. The tree is little but pretty, a tiny still life of grace in a ghetto life.

Isn't God good? You can make a lot of a little, and he shows up as if you had so much more. My sister and I decorated the tree, and the kids popped in and out and for a few moments, listening to Christmas music, I didn't want to skate away on a river. I wanted to be there for it all, even with lingering sadness, because after all, it's coming on Christmas. And I keep seeing joy in my decorations.

I hope we can enjoy the journey to Christmas Day together, us with our fish and loaves holy day and Jesus and each other. 

That's all we need.

Joy to the world.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The God Breathed Moment

I took a selfie of my feet in the hallway today. This is a day I hated my job. It embarrassed me.

I didn't think about the fact that I pray for the kids I watch over, these beautiful, stormy children. I did not think about how I take care of my family with the income I earn here. I did not think of how remarkably flexible this job is, and having it enables me to do a multitude of things for my own mentally ill child. I didn't think about practicing the presence of God right here in this hallway. I just felt badly, and that was all.

So I took a portrait so I would remember. Here I am, in this God breathed moment that is so utterly forgettable. But here it is, and God is in it, and I am in it, and what is there to hate, really? 

So in remembrance of the God breathed moment, and taking a stand, even in the hallway of a mental health unit, I took this picture. May I always remember where I am, God is. And that is grace.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Autumn Rain

I have been failing miserably at the spiritual discipline of taking self portraits. I simply don't like taking my picture. But it's the last day of October. It's raining, and my little world is so beautiful, that I literally stopped in my tracks to remember God. 

Thank you, Lord, for rain slick pavement and fallen leaves and for You in this perfect moment.