the little things: you choice this life… (holly mchale-larsen)

I could not be in love with this post any more than I already am …and since Holly sufficiently introduces the two of us in just a paragraph or two, I’m just going to let you continue reading.  Enjoy, for real, ENJOY.  

This is my first blog entry. Ever. From reading numerous blogs, and the Huffington Post, I know people click on entries whose authors read like David Sedaris or John Green and have lists, such as the six steps to get a child to stay in bed. (I’m currently on step three, which is to ignore them. It is not going well.) Nonetheless, I am minutes away from my deadline. Cara’s patience with me is weaning. I don’t have time to try to be charming or clever. Instead, you all get me at the end of a long weekend, where my mind has begun composing lists for the morning. (Oh, and I’m trying to get two young children to stay in bed. I am on step four: bribe them with chocolate.)

So here is my story…

Proof of friendship: Doug, Cara, Michael & Holly (2000).
Proof of friendship: Doug, Cara, Michael & Holly (2000).

Wait! I am guest on Cara’s blog, which means some of you- most of you- have no idea who I am. In less than fifty words, this is how I know Cara: We went to college together and even though we were different years we had much in common, such as we were both RA’s, curly haired, loved the Spirit, feminists and number 7’s. Is that enough? Do you feel like you know me? Moving on.

Again, here is my story…

It was a normal day. I am not even sure when or where this conversation took place. But, I was on the phone with my spiritual director, chatting about my life. I think, I only had one child at this time- who stayed in his bed at night- but I honestly cannot recall. My life was chaos. My life is chaos. Seriously, whose life isn’t chaos? I’m pretty sure I was going on and on about how exhausting it was wearing all the hats I did: mother, wife, pastor, friend and so on. Everyone demanded my attention. I was overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness; feeling I was losing myself in caring for others.

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When I paused to take a breath my spiritual director, Susan, bluntly stated, “Well, you choice this life.” Now my spiritual director is a compassionate woman. Susan is positive and empathic. She is the type of person who would never need six steps to get her kids to stay in bed. (I’m sure Susan just let them run around all night, wearing fairy tutus and listening to late 90’s Tracy Chapman.) Susan is not frank.

“You choice this life…”

I did.

“You choice this life…”

For whatever reason, Susan’s words caught me off guard. Silenced me. And, strangely, gave me a sense of responsibility. My chaos was not random nor was I a bystander in my life. Life is a mixture of freewill and fate. Since philosophy and I do not agree, even though I’m into theology, let me explain this all in the world of Gwyneth Paltrow. Life is Sliding Doors.   We have an active role in what happens to use and there is a good douse of chance thrown in too.

“You choice this life…”

Now I realize there are aspects to our lives we don’t have a choice in: cancer, abuse, death, addictions and so on. In the line of work I’m in, I often find myself saying, “We don’t know why this happened. You didn’t cause it nor did God. Life just happens.”

This is true.   And… let’s be honest… most of what consumes our daily anxiety and stress are matters we do have a say in, parts of us we choice. So… because this is my blog entry, and we are using my life as an example, here is a list of how I chose my life

Kids: I did not magically click my heals three times and find babies nursing at my breasts. No. Even though both of my kids were unplanned, both came after long deserts of trying to get pregnant. These were- are- wanted children. They are miracles I dreamed about it. I choose to have them. And I continue, even when they don’t go to sleep well, to be active in their lives.

My Job: I constantly have to remind myself I worked very hard to become a pastor. Yes, there was deep sense with in me calling me to this role. Choosing to listen to this voice, nevertheless, still meant four years of graduate school, a summer of chaplaincy, a year of internship and prayerfully jumping through many bureaucratic hops. This vocation was an active decision. It still is. As a mother I daily wrestle with my vocation. Can I honestly manage both roles? Currently, I am blessed to be able to. But, it is a choice.

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Marriage: My wedding was July 24, 2004 but I did not get married on that day. Confused. Unlike what Say Yes to the Dress tells us marriage does not happen with the exchanging of rings and signing of the license. Daily- okay not always daily- I have choose to be married, to be in this relationship. My marriage is a conscious decision.

My life is still chaos, as I’m sure yours is too. We do have, nonetheless, a choice in life. We choose 83% of what happens on to us and 100% of how we respond. We have a choice.

(In case you are wondering, step four worked! Thank you chocolate.)

SONY DSCHolly McHale-Larsen is a mother of two young children, Lutheran pastor, wife of an Episcopal priest, runner, crappy chocolate enthusiast, diehard Oakland lover -even though she hails from the Seattle area- and creative with her use of the English language.  So, seriously, what do you have to say to our fabulous friend today?  Thank her for her creative language use now!

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