Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Things To Do

I'm feeling lazy and unmotivated today (far too lazy to write something new...although I did manage to revise an old favorite of mine), which reminded me of this writing from a couple years ago.  Unfortunately, it still applies...

Lord, you have given me so many ways to fill each day.

I have a kitchen to clean: counters to wipe, a dishwasher to empty and fill (and empty and fill and empty and fill), a sink, stove and refrigerator that should be scoured, a floor that needs to be swept (or maybe mopped?). There is endless laundry to be done. Closets to be cleared out. I’m sure there are things in the bathroom that are in need of a good cleaning, although I can’t think of what, as it’s been awhile. I have a whole house that should be picked up, dusted and vacuumed. I have windows that really need to be washed, and there is cat hair on all of my furniture. There is endless laundry to be done. I have coupons to clip, grocery lists to make, and shopping trips to take. Meals to plan. Cats to brush, scratch, and feed. The bills always need to be paid. There are countless places in my house that need to be organized, but I can’t find any of them in all the clutter. There is endless laundry to be done.

Lord, You have blessed me with five children.

I have little lives to mold, and sticky little hands to hold. Mouths to feed, stories to read. Little bodies to bathe, little bottoms to wipe. Ears to clean, nails to clip, noses to blow. Hugs, kisses, and punishments to dole out. Boots to find, papers to sign. Lunches to make. Homework to check. A school in which to volunteer. I have fights to break up, and stains to fight. I have endless laundry to do. Five, actually seven, wardrobes to maintain. There are ouchies to be kissed, and tears to be dried. Appointments to make. Appointments to keep. There are values that constantly need to be taught, and lessons that need to be learned. Good behaviors to praise, bad behaviors to correct. There are cookies that should be baked, play-doh that should be played with, and puzzles that should be done. There are snacks and spankings to be given. Prayers to be said. Teeth to be brushed. Pictures to hang on the refrigerator, which needs to be cleaned.

Lord, You have given me countless ways to serve Your Kingdom.

I have a Godly husband to respect, encourage and support. A marriage to continually grow and renew. I have a church in which to use my gifts: singing Your praises, teaching Your children, praying for and serving with the body of Christ. I have friends to encourage, and neighbors to love. There are hungry people to feed, strangers to reach out to, widows and children to care for. I should be visiting the elderly, seeking out the lost, providing for the poor, loving the unlovable, and sharing Your hope with the hopeless. I need to be reading Your Word on a daily basis, and working harder to be like You. I should be proclaiming Your greatness from the rooftops, and seeking to follow Your voice into the unknown. There are far more prayers that I should be praying. There are far more ministries I should be supporting. There are far more people that need to hear about Your love from my lips, and see Your love in my actions.

Lord, You have given me so many opportunities to fill my days on this earth, so many tasks to accomplish, so many ways to proclaim Your kingdom until You return.

So how is it possible that, according to the game statistics, I have managed to play nine hundred and seventeen games of computer solitaire in the last few months?

You'll be happy to know that I kicked the computer solitaire habit some time ago.  I also kicked the subsequent Minesweeper addiction.  Currently, I'm dependent upon shooting cartoon zombies with cute little dancing peashooters...Plants vs. Zombies.  It's a very entertaining game.  You should check it out.  Or maybe you should just go scrub your refrigerator. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Blinked and It Was Gone

I blinked, and six months was gone.  He was just born, wasn't he?  Spending his entire life enveloped in the warmth and safety of my body, six months ago he screamed his way into the great big world.  Naked.  Helpless.  Looking for one thing only.  To be nourished: body, soul, heart, mind.  And now he's babbling and rolling and rocking his little body on hands and knees, ready to explore his life with drooly smiles and handfuls of whatever his little fists can gather.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and three years was gone.  My little man, my warrior.  Galloping through the hallways of life in search of the next great battle.  Daddy's shadow, venturing further from my arms now, but never out of reach.  Still needing one thing: to be nourished body, soul, heart and mind.  Has it truly been three years since I cradled you and nursed you in my arms?  Now you're vanquishing my home of dragons and bad guys, protecting me just as you've always been protected.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and four years was gone.  Nearly four years since we stood before the judge and promised to be your family forever.  Promised to tuck you both safely under our wings, providing protection from the cruel elements that had bombarded your little lives, leaving paths of anger and destruction.  Desperately needing one thing only: to be nourished body, soul, heart and mind.  And now, four years since that day, nearly five since your storms first penetrated our home, we are witnessing a transformation.  You are incredible little people, rising from the ashes and glowing with the radiance of life.  Your scars are becoming beautiful, part of who you are, but not defining who you will be.  Has it really been more than four years since you were first mine?  Such a long road.  So much change.  And yet a blur.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and five-and-a-half years was gone.  My baby girl, my first little love.  How my arms ached to hold you for the first time!  You were created in God's perfect timing, a living, growing reminder that daylight breaks after even the darkest of nights.  You float through life like a little bird, gathering up bugs and flowers and all things shiny and beautiful.  You share them with me with sunlight in your eyes, and you look to me for one thing.  To be nourished: body, soul, heart and mind.  And now I'm sending you off to kindergarten, to shine your rays of sunlight on the lives of others.  Can it really be time already?  Yesterday you were a baby, pointing at the cloud-covered moon and asking "Moon doe?"  And now you're going off to school.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and ten years was gone.  Ten years since I walked down that aisle on my Daddy's arm and gave you the rest of my life.  We were children, really, setting out to sail on uncharted waters, foolish in thinking that we didn't need a guide.  A Captain.  We very nearly drowned.  And somewhere along the way, once our Captain had pulled us from the water, we learned that a marriage is a living, breathing thing that needs to be nourished: body, soul, heart and mind.  We're sailing now; sometimes on rough waters, sometimes on smooth, into the depths of an endless sunlit horizon.  Has it really been ten years since we embarked on this journey together?  My whole life is intertwined with yours, and yet the years have been a whirlwind.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and my life on Earth was over.  My childhood, my adolescence, my school years.  The years of my marriage, one right after another, learning to give up our lives for the others' good, to love as we've been loved, to forgive as we've been forgiven.  Years of child-bearing, nursing and endless diaper-changing, of gathering children into my arms, of correcting, teaching, training, disciplining, and of watching the fruits of my labor grow in both wisdom and stature.  Years of cooking and laundry and grocery shopping, of dropping off and picking up and hurrying and waiting, of wearing second-hand clothes and living in a small house and buying everything off the clearance rack.  Years of sacrificing my own desires to give what my family needs most: to be nourished body, soul, heart and mind.

It seems forever, yet it's such a short time.  Soon my children will be graduated, married, and I'll be cradling my grandbabies.  And I'll be wondering "Where has the time gone?"

Don't waste your time on things of this world.  Money is nothing.  Big houses, the best schools, new cars, and expensive clothes only contain people, they don't nourish them.  You nourish them.  Give your children...give your marriage...yourself.  This is eternal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  

Matthew 6:19-21

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Greatest Thing I've Learned About Serving God

God doesn't need me.  He doesn't need my hands to do his work, He doesn't need my lips to speak His words.  He doesn't need my ideas or my opinions or my abilities or my talents to accomplish what He wants to accomplish.  He doesn't need me at all.

I have such a burning desire to serve the Lord - such an overwhelming desire to accomplish things for Him, that I often stand in the way of Him using me at all.  All too often, I say to Him:

"Lord, I'm going to do this thing for You!  I'm going to bring glory and honor to Your name, and people will see how great You are because of what I'm going to do!"

And then I fall flat on my face.  Sometimes I experience a measure of success before I fall flat on my face.  Sometimes I even feel like I've accomplished something great, and then down the road I realize I still fell flat on my face.  But always, when I'm doing something "for" God, my own way, using my own ideas and relying on my own strength, I eventually fall flat on my face.  Always.

Why?  Honestly?  God's got plenty of do-gooders out there.  Plenty of people ready and willing to set out and take action in His name, often with the best of intentions.  What He doesn't have, though, is an abundance of listeners.  Of people willing to do whatever He asks of them.  I, for one, get so caught up sometimes in wanting to do things for God, that I forget to talk with Him, sit back, and listen to what He has to say.  What does He want me to do?

The real question is not "What can I do for God?",
                                 but "What will God do through me...if I let Him?"

So...the greatest thing I've learned about serving God?  He doesn't need me.  Doesn't need my silly little attempts to serve Him.  But He will use me.  All I have to do is listen...and be willing...regardless of what He asks of me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Infinity and Behind

Oh summer, where have you gone?!

Could two months have flown by already?  It was just a few days ago when I made my mental "to-do" list and planned for all those great summer accomplishments...wasn't it?  And at the top of that list, in great big bold letters, the one thing I had hoped to accomplish the most, the horror of all horrors:


Oh, how I despise potty training.  How I hate the thought of setting the timer for every twenty minutes and placing an unwilling toddler on the potty.  Of being unable to leave the house for days- weeks- at a time because of a fear of public restrooms and a raging screaming phobia of "porty-potties".  Of spending nearly my every waking moment wondering if someone has to tinkle.  Of little streams of wetness running down chubby legs to the floor.

I hate potty training.

This time, I thought we had everything going for us.  I figured my three-year-old son was surely ready and able to tackle the toilet.  He's brilliant, after all...seriously, indisputably brilliant, as in talking like a six-year-old when he was two.  As in picking up vocabulary words one day and using them correctly (in paragraph form) the next.  How could the concept of underwear be beyond him? 

Besides, we had an entire summer break stretched out before us...a summer break with two parents home full-time.  We had a bag of M&Ms for rewards.  We had siblings that cheered.  We even had a brand-new package of Pixar underwear, including a couple pairs depicting a character we dubbed "Butt Lightrear".  You know...the guy who says "To infinity, and beHIND!"  We were all ready to get started.

We made progress in the first few weeks.  Mr. C learned to sit on the potty whenever he was asked, and usually performed admirably.  He figured out how to turn his undies right-side-out and put them on all by himself (the weenie-window always goes in front). He became a fairly proficient aimer.  And while I did a load of underwear every night at first, Mr. C stayed drier and drier as time went on.  Throughout this process (in typical Mr. C form), we heard many cheerful comments like:

"Buzz Lightyear is all wet!"  and

                                                  "I tinkled on Lightning McQueen!"

Eventually, though, the tinkling in the potty was going along quite nicely.  It was the other set of comments that we dreaded. 

"There's poo on the toilet!" (notice "on", not "in") and

                "Mama! I got poo on the Incredibles!"                         
Several weeks into the potty training process, it became apparent that the poopy-training was not going well at all.  Four or five times each day...almost every day...we would discover a lovely little gift inside a newly procured pair of Nemo or Wall.E briefs.  So incredibly not cool on so many levels.

We tried everything we could think of.  We switched from M&Ms to Skittles, we bribed, we praised, we scolded, we bought new undies (this time Thomas the Train), we put stars on a chart, we had him wash out his own underwear.  We attempted to keep our senses of humor, but right up to this very day, none of our potty training efforts has proven fruitful.

And so, finally, after two months of scrubbing poo out of undies, of cleaning up after a fallen-off-the-potty-training-wagon toddler at home and in public restrooms and playgrounds and restaurants, we are back exactly where we started.  In diapers.

I sincerely hope that someday Mr. C gets it and can manage to keep poo off the Incredibles.  For now, though, I'm going to eat all his Skittles.  Trust me.  I've earned them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Today is the Day

Today is the day. 

The day I tell my daughter she's not going back to school this fall.

The day I attempt to explain that healing her heart is more important than reading, writing and arithmetic.  That it's more important than computers and science and social studies.  More important than gym class and art and music and field trips and recess.

More important than friends.

Today is the day I have to tell her, and I have no idea how she'll take the news.

Could she be excited to stay home with Mom?  Will she start throwing tantrums again?  Start one of her downward cycles?  Will she be sad?  Angry?  Confused?   Thrilled?  I just don't know.

How do I get her to understand that she needs to learn to love me...she needs to learn to love her family before any other relationships can be anything but dangerous.  Grandparents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends.  They are all dangerous. 

School is dangerous.

And I need to learn to love her, too, beyond caring for her...providing for her...disciplining her...tolerating her.  She needs love that can't wait to gather her up in its arms and hold on tight forever and ever.  Love that bakes cookies and reads books and snuggles down deep under covers.  Love that giggles and tells secrets and paints toenails and has imaginary tea parties in make-believe castles.  Love that treasures her. 

She needs that kind of love.

It's time to stop escaping from her.  It's time to stop sending her off to school, turning a blind eye to the damage that is nurtured there year after year after year.  Sending her to school has been my way of staying sane for the last five years, my way of surviving the task of raising her.  But the time has come.  God has spoken, and this year Miss M comes first.  Before me, before what I want, before what I think I need.  First.  For probably the only time in her whole entire life to this point.

God has asked, I've accepted.  I've stopped bargaining...stopped looking for a way out...but the truth is, I'm terrified of homeschooling her.  Terrified of being with her all day, every day.  Of having no place to escape.  I'm mourning the loss of my time with my baby boys, who will need to share my attention.  I'm frustrated that I'm sending my baby girl off to kindergarten when I would so much rather homeschool her than her sister.  I'm sad, too, that my oldest son is going off to sixth grade, and he would love to stay home with me.  I know he'll be upset that Miss M is being homeschooled and he can't be.  He'll be jealous.  And angry.  And I'll understand completely.

But this year, Miss M comes first.  Her healing comes first.

I feel like God is asking an awful lot from me.  An awful lot from my other kids, as well.  He must really love my daughter.  When this year is over, this year of forced togetherness, I hope I can finally feel it too.

Today is the day.  Now is the moment.  I have to tell her.

God be with me.

To read about my struggle in making this decision, click here.