Monday, September 26, 2011

The Old is Passing Away

I'm paying for someone else's sin. 

My reputation, my very ability to serve God, is being scarred by the un-Christlikeness of someone else.  A nameless, unknown face...perhaps faces...within my own church.  Ungodliness in the house of God.  Someone says something without thinking, or with selfish motives, or with complete ignorance to the situation, delighting in thinking the worst about someone else.  Me.  And then someone else overreacts, overcompensates, and falls to the pressure of pleasing the masses.  And I'm hurt.  Again.

The truth is, my reputation is already scarred. my own un-Christlikeness.  I don't need the help of made-up whisperings uttered by mysterious people to know what a wretch I am.  Not a day passes in which I don't hate the sin I see in myself, will it to be gone from me.  I have more than enough real and true and ever-present sin held within me to incriminate myself without adding the imaginings of  someone else to my conscience.  I accuse myself...but not of this. 

I would accuse myself of this, too....if only it were so.

And the fact that it isn't, not even a little...the fact that I have guarded myself so carefully against this thing, this possibility...makes this accusation hurt all the more.

I feel like screaming at the blind, "Why can't you see?!"  And yet blind people admonishing blind people accomplishes nothing.  I feel like yelling in anger, "How could you possibly think this thing?!", and yet angry people admonishing angry people accomplishes nothing.  I feel like accusing and assuming and blaming and guessing, and yet ignorant people admonishing ignorant people accomplishes nothing.

To be blunt, I feel like being un-Christlike. 

And yet un-Christlike people admonishing un-Christlike people accomplishes nothing. 

So what must I do?  Love.  And live.  And serve.  And obey.  All the while knowing that God is still good, and still in control.  I have no right to admonish on my own:  I am blind, given to anger, ignorant, and un-Christlike.  The right belongs to Him.  He will accomplish what He desires to accomplish.

And still I am hurt.  And tears are flowing.  Tears of sadness, yes, and disappointment, and loss.  I'm deeply frustrated at the unfairness of it all.

But there are also tears of joy

For today I have seen evidence that God is making a new creation of me, and the old is slowly passing away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Perfect Place

I've been thinking about chickens a lot lately.  I like chickens.  I want to own some someday. 

And maybe a goat.  I really love goats.  I've been asking my husband for a goat for years.  In fact, whenever he asks me what I would like for my birthday or for Christmas, he prefaces it by saying "And don't say you want a goat!  You can't have a goat in a neighborhood.  There are ordinances against those kinds of things!"

Ordinances, shmordinances.  I think he's just happy to have a reason not to buy me a goat.  I try to tell him that my goat would help him by cutting the grass regularly, but he's not caving.  After ten years of marriage, and ten years of putting in a request at least twice annually, the closest thing I've gotten to a goat is a tiny plastic figurine and a stuffed sheep.

In my quest for a goat of my own, I do have to concede one thing: our current little corner of the world has no space for a farm animal.  In fact, our big family (which does sometimes resemble a farm animal in noise, manner and smell) is already bursting at the seams of our 1200-square-foot, single bathroom home.  We've contemplated putting an addition on the back of our house, thought of adding bedrooms and a second bathroom in the basement, and even considered simply choosing to thrive in the space we have.  Until recently, I actually thought that one of these plans could work.  Until, that is, we added a seventh person around our dinner table in our tiny little dining room. 

We don't fit anymore. 

Let's face it.  The dining room in this house is never going to get any bigger, and the people around it are never going to get any smaller (except for me, that is....eventually).  They're going to keep growing and growing and growing, bumping elbows, knocking over glasses of milk, and having to suck in their bellies just to slide behind someone else to get to their seat.  It's not the table that's the problem, but the fact that a bigger table won't fit in the room.  It really bugs me. 

I mean, the dining room table is, in my mind, the central gathering place of our home.  The heart of our family, where we come together at the end of the day to commune with one another.  To share what went on while we were apart.  To break bread together.  Pray together.  Laugh together.  Live life together.  And there simply isn't space for that kind of family togetherness when there isn't even room for the whole family at the table. 

So now that the direction of my thoughts has turned once again to moving, I find myself thinking about chickens... 

...because the kind of house I dream about raising our children in just wouldn't look right without a flock...or a herd...or whatever you call a clan of chickens....pecking around the lawn.

So many people want great, big, new, opulent houses with the finest of everything inside them, built all in a row with other great, big, opulent houses with more of the finest of everything inside them.  Now don't take this personally if you happen to live in a house like this; everyone has their own dreams and their own ideas of the perfect home.  But I hate those houses.  

For one, I'm not opulent.  At all.  I'm homey.  And since I don't enjoy cleaning even one bathroom, I can't imagine I'd enjoy cleaning a half dozen of them.  And I don't like my home to look like it popped out of a magazine.  Or was created by some interior designer that has never walked a day in my life.  I want my family's home to look like my family. 

Imperfect.                        Fun.                      Creative.
                     Crazy.                                  Musical.
Faith-filled.              Loud.               Spontaneous.
                    Joyful.                   Passionate.                 Ornery.
       Loving.                 Cluttered.             Sentimental.

 I want a place to surround the people I love with things that we love.  Books.  Pictures.  Guitars.  Souvenirs.  Childish drawings and crooked pots made of clay.  I want to plaster the walls with memories of each other, encouragement for each other, love for each other.  I want a home that holds the story of our family within its very with its own character, that lives and breathes and echoes the laughter of piles of little children that run barefoot down its creaking halls.  A home that has known love and laughter and family before, and is aching for us to give it another chance, aching for us to move in and uncover the secrets it holds within.

My dream house is an old house.  A lived-in house.  A loved house...that wants to be loved again.

Somewhere out there, I pray that God has the perfect house picked out for us.  One with a great big dining room that holds a great big table with more than enough room to hold our entire family...maybe even with a few spaces yet to be filled.  And past the dining room, past the library filled top to bottom with tattered, well-loved books, through the big front baby-fingerprinted windows, where the sun shines through in golden streaks, I hope there will be chickens clucking merrily in the yard.

And off to the corner of the yard, completely free from troublesome city ordinances, would be a perfect place to keep my goat.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Blogger's Block

I have blogger's block. 

I think it's because I have laundry to do.


I've started like a gazillion different blog posts in my head in the last few weeks; I've actually started writing several of them.  Each time, though, I get to about the third sentence and my ideas vanish.  Gone.  Poof.

Hey!  I made it past sentence three!

Yeah.  So here's my theory:  I've got a few things going on in my head right now.  I can't possibly focus.  And by "a few things", I mean the sarcastic amount of "a few things", not actually a few things.

For one, school started again.  Difficult, right?  Yeah.  My husband, a teacher, has gone back to school.  And this year, I've got a brand-new middle schooler in a new school, a brand-new kindergartner in a different new school, and a difficult third-grader in another brand-new school.  My school.  At home.  With me.  Constantly.

And then there's the taxi service.  To school.  From school.  To church.  To gymnastics.  To ballet.  To play practice.  To the dentist.  Back to school.  To the doctor.  To the store to buy things for school.  Enough to drive even the peppiest of soccer moms insane. 

Then there are the routine things to think about...the things that have to be done for family survival.  Like making meals.  Or lesson plans.  And grocery shopping.

And the things I'd like to do but can't ever seem to find time sending out birth announcements for my seven-month-old (don't laugh, I seriously have a whole stack waiting to be stamped and sent out...course they are a bit dusty now).  And writing in the baby book.  Or scrapbooking. 

And finally, there are the things that I really should be doing, but rarely have gotten around to in the last few weeks (and perhaps longer in some cases).  Like reading my book for a church group.  And cleaning the house.  And showering (just kidding mostly).  And then there's the laundry.

See?  I knew it would all come back to the laundry eventually.

So what does laundry have to do with blogger's block?

I'll tell you.  Every day, when I finally have about an hour and a half to myself during naptime, I sit down in front of my laptop with a big tossed salad and try to find my blogging zone.  I then (undoubtedly) look up and see all the piles of laundry that have taken up residence in my living room, and I think "I should really do the laundry instead of writing right now."  But I try to write anyway.  Even though the piles of laundry are taking over my mind as quickly as they are my home.  And if it's not the laundry, then it's the book I should be reading, or the dishwasher that should be emptied, or any number of those gazillions of things rattling around in my brain.  Somewhere around the third sentence into my new blog post, unable to focus, I usually give up.

And then I spend the next hour and a half
                                                      doing the laundry
                                                 killing zombies on my computer. 

One of these days, perhaps my brain will be clear enough to actually write about something worthwhile, but I have the feeling that it won't happen until I've accomplished the things that I'm supposed to.

For today, I'm content to blog about the things that are stuck in my head right the laundry.

It's the most attention it's gotten in weeks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

I feel like I'm caught somewhere in the calm before the storm.

I can see the thunderheads off in the distance, feel the winds starting to tug at my body, getting more and more forceful with each minute that passes.  The skies are getting darker, as if dawn never quite peaked its way over the horizon this morning, and I can no longer pretend that the storm isn't headed directly for me.  It's on its way.  I know it is.  And it will be upon me in a matter of days.

Okay.  Enough drama.

The truth is, every fall feels like a storm to me, as I'm sure it does to every mother preparing her family for another year of school.  Having a teacher-husband along with a houseful of children adds greatly to my back-to-school chores.  We spend hours at the store scratching items off supply lists, looking for sales, comparing fat and skinny markers, and discovering the merits of purple glue sticks versus the old-fashioned white ones.  We search for the perfect backpacks, scour clearance racks and second-hand stores for treasures, and try on dozens of pairs of shoes.  I try to get all my fall and winter clothes shopping done and out of the way in preparation for those unexpected freezing days that are just around the corner.  And I'm not done yet.  I still have a lot to do.

This is also the time of year that every summer-hibernating activity seems to start back up all at once.  Gymnastics.  Ballet.  Piano lessons.  Wednesday night church.  Kids' choir.  Bible study.  School functions.  Etc. etc. etc.  Why do they do this to us?  All at the same time?  As if we didn't have enough going already in this two-week span of time.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit, though, that this year it feels like a lot more than a typical thunderstorm headed my way.  With the decision to homeschool Miss M having been made months ago, the darkness (and yes, depression) has been creeping up on me for the entire summer, getting darker and darker as the weeks have gone by.  For the last few weeks, I've been struggling just to wrap my mind around what God has asked me to do, and there have been times when I just want to give up the idea entirely.  I feel so unprepared.  So unwilling.  So...sad.

In typical fashion, Satan has been "beating me when I'm down", pouring salt on past wounds and ripping open hurts that I thought were on the mend.  And Miss M has been throwing tantrums again (not regularly, but enough to make me cringe).  When she is behaving, she's been sickeningly obnoxious and clingy...making me want to be away from her more than ever.  I'm overwhelmed, my house is dirty, my chores are left undone, and I feel like I'm constantly being reminded of how inadequate I am to serve God. 

Which is fine, I've decided.  Because I am inadequate.  I'm weak.  I need God to homeschool Miss M.  I need His strength to bond with her, to love her and to snuggle with her even when her behavior is unbearable.  I can't do it, but He can.

And so I ask this of you, my friends, my family, and anyone that is willing:

First, as strange as it sounds, please pray that I continue to be inadequate and weak so that I'll remember to let God control this situation. 

It's only through my weaknesses that God's power is made perfect, and I can't wait to see what His perfect power does this year in my life and in the life of my daughter.

Second, if you are one of those that has expressed willingness to pray for us regularly, I have set up a new tab on this blog entitled "Mama & Miss M".  I'll be updating this page regularly to keep you informed and to give specific praises and prayer requests.  I've linked it to an e-mail account, so you can also leave me messages there to let me know you're part of my praying family.  I would love to know who you are!

And if you haven't already, check out our newest song release on the widget to the right of this page.  It's called "I Know Nothin'", and it is my theme song for this whole year....and this whole adventure called life.

Thank you all for your support and prayers.  We start school tomorrow.