All posts by Stephanie

The Young and the Reckless

It’s been an odd two months.

I’ve hardly watered a houseplant.

I’ve shared laundry duties.

I’m not the one who locks the door at night, or turns off every light, or starts the dishwasher before bed.

I haven’t written down when a single library book is due in 2 months.

I’m not always the choice for bedtime-story-reader.

I haven’t done nearly as many dishes.  (You could even say my sink doesn’t runneth over.  Dare I even write this blog anymore?!?)

Maybe I should call it a vacation.  It’s been a month of Sundays since I ran a household.  We aren’t home after all.  A man I’ve never met lives in our old home.  I haven’t been back since the day we left.

But mostly I’ve felt unraveled.  I’ve wondered.  Was this whole plan to get out of our little house wise?  Is it of God?  Is it crazy?  Was it impetuous?  Was it wrong?  When I look back at these months, will I be able to say we followed God on this crazy venture, or ran reckless in the opposite direction?  It has been a challenge.

Homeschooling is hard when you’re not “home.”

Mothering is hard when you’re in your own mother’s house.

Marriage is hard when both of you have been uprooted from your traditional head and heart roles.

Meal times are hard when someone else cooks differently than you would.

Relaxing is never quite relaxed.

Sometimes following God does look reckless.  Ask Noah, who built a boat where there was no water.  Or Moses, who told off the most powerful ruler of the world with just a staff in his hand.  Or Mary, who told everyone she was pregnant with the son of God.

But sometimes reckless is just that, reckless.

Where is my heart?

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They say hindsight is 20/20.  I’ve certainly learned things that way.  But Sarah, the wife of Abraham, didn’t have the benefit.  She couldn’t walk through the hallowed archways and see pictures of faithful who came before her, because she was one of the first listed in the hall of faith.  She must have wondered too.  A lot.

God had promised her husband he would have descendants.  But she hadn’t given him even one yet.  It was the one thing on earth Sarah wished for more than anything.  A son.  But years had passed.  Sarah’s arms remained empty.

True, with no child tugging on her skin or waking her through the night, Sarah remained youthful and beautiful.  She had no stretch marks or pregnancy weight, no hormone crashes, no sleepless exhaustion hanging under her eyes.  Far past menopause she still turned the heads of kings.  Manual labor was delegated to her servants.  Her job as trophy wife to a rich man was simply to supply an heir.  But she couldn’t.  Twice her husband allowed her to be taken into other men’s harems.  Maybe it would solve both their problems if she simply disappeared.  But God always stopped it.

Finally, in desperation, Sarah came up with the only solution she could imagine.  She would give Abraham an heir all right.  Just not from her body.  Sarah didn’t have the ability to get pregnant, but she had power.  She could force a surrogacy.  She had a servant, a nice girl, healthy and promising.  Culture dictated this was perfectly legal.

Abraham himself was 85 and getting a bit impatient.  When Sarah came to him with a thinly veiled broken heart and an open proposition, he was enticed.  He took her up on it.  And finally, Abraham had a son.

But it wasn’t the son God had promised.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait another fourteen years before God reiterated His promise again.  Finally, they believed Him.  Finally, Sarah got pregnant.  From that child of promise, she and Abraham became the parents of millions, the whole nation of Israel.

But from that other son came nations too.  Throughout the millennia since the two half-brothers were born, their descendants have fought each other.  That one time Abraham listened to his wife rather than waiting on God has cost many lives and much heartache.  It was expensive impatience.

I hope I haven’t asked my own husband to do that.

Not that we have harems around here, but…

I had wished so hard for a bigger house.  But it seemed like the one thing we never could have.  My husband was content to wait; little houses do cost less than big ones after all.  I was finding it harder.  Every morning I woke up on the pull-out sofa in the living room.  In the little house, even one thing out of place made paths wheelchair inaccessible.  Entertaining was difficult when little ones were always napping in all the rooms upstairs, and even our own family overflowed the dining room table.  It felt like a losing battle.  I wanted a new house.  I didn’t think I’d be happy till I got one.

At least it felt like it.

But I didn’t want to be reckless Sarah.

Once she ran reckless after her own heart and did the practical thing.  But it only brought sorrow.  She could have had kings for husbands.  They wanted her.  They might have given her princes for children.  She could have raised her servant’s child as her own.  He went on to have 12 princes out of his own descendants.  She could have made something of herself.

But I wanted to be righteous Sarah.

She was the one who made it into the Hebrews 11 hall of faith.  That was the Sarah who followed bravely after God when He led her husband into the wilderness.  It was that Sarah who believed God could make her pregnant with a husband as good as dead. (And you thought yours had issues!)  That was the Sarah who didn’t make something of herself.  God made Sarah.  When God singled out a nation as an example of His grace to all humanity, He chose Sarah to be its mother.  The very son of God would be her great-great-great-great (a bunch more greats) grandson.  She could have birthed princes.  But instead, from her came the King of all creation.

Sarah’s first god was too small.  It was years – decades – before she realized how big her God could be.

I look ahead as far as I can see and tremble. The mountains look huge.  Insurmountable. The responsibility of two mortgages…  A big impending tangle with Ben’s faceless insurance world…  Long demanding work hours owning my husband’s time…  I feel overwhelmed.  That’s when I forget my God is big.  He doesn’t always take us the practical, well paved route.  I still wonder if this is crazy.  But maybe, just maybe, I’m not being reckless.

So I fall again on my knees and beg God to keep me from making far-too-small plans.  He has big hands.  Big plans.  Don’t let me try to make something of myself, Lord.  I’ll only make a mess.  You Yourself make me.

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I’ll have to wait and see how He does it.  And let the houseplants rejoice that I’m not in charge.

See What I Did There?

I hate to read bad news. No matter how far removed from me, it stings to hear that someone was hurt. I would rather glide through life glibly on clouds of innocence and comfort than hear about tragedy and horror.  But I can’t.

I read about hate.  I read about sin.  Blame gets thrown.  Mud gets slung.  Mamas weep.  Children cry.  The world seems dark indeed.
Every morning in the brief interlude between staggering to the Keruig and hearing the patter of little feet, I pick up my Bible.  It’s usually only a few minutes, but it’s good.  I don’t follow a fancy reading plan or a devotional.  Maybe I’m too rebellious to follow someone else’s daily path through the Word of God.  Maybe I’m just lazy.  (There are a lot of great Bible study resources out there, I’m not knocking them, I just don’t tend to use them).
I just pick up my Bible and read.  I start at the beginning and plug on through.  It takes 2-3 years at my rate to get from one end to the other.  And then I start again.  Sometimes I’ll follow a rabbit trail for a day or two into another passage that caught my attention, sometimes I wish I read through faster, but… life.
Yes, Leviticus can be a bit tedious.  Yes, the prophets can feel a bit gloomy.  Yes, I’ve read it before and occasionally I glaze over on a familiar passage.  But the unique thing about this Book is that it is alive.  It’s the Word of God.  God Himself holds it higher than His own name, which the Jews won’t even speak or write because it is so holy.  It is heavy (not just because it’s a big book.)  So even though I’ve read it nearly every day for over 20 years, I still learn new things about God.

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But the part I really dislike reading every time is the crucifixion.  Of course it’s all through the Book, referenced for thousands of years through the Old Testament, narrated in each of the four gospels, and becomes the mantra of the rest of Christian history to date.  The actual events leading to Jesus’ killing are gruesome.  The murder itself is long and horrific.  I abhor the thought of anyone inflicting such pain on another human being, and my sense of justice revolts at the realization that they did this to an innocent Man.  To One I love.

But it’s where I go when the world seems dark.

Back to the cross.

It is the place, the only place, where love wins against a world of hate.

Acacia thorns formed the crown Jesus wore
Acacia thorns formed the crown Jesus wore

In one moment of time, the world literally shook as Jesus Himself wrenched the doors off of Hell and set the captives free.  Every single person deserved to be there.  Except Him.

But He went anyway.

And Jesus stood in the doorway between life and death, He stood there bloody and swollen, bruised, and humbled.  He reached out to the slaves to sin in the darkness.  He  reached toward me, abandoned to hopelessness, lost in a world of hate.  And Jesus offered a trade.  “My life – for yours.”  Most people rejected the red-streaked, mangled hand.  But some accepted the offer.  Some still do.

It wasn’t fair.  Death is fair.  Life is not.  That’s grace.

Every time another person dies, Jesus goes back to that moment again.  He pulls His crucifixion out of history and replays it before His Father.  He says, “See what I did there?”  And if that person who died had accepted the trade that Jesus offered, then God Himself looks at it and says, “Yes, the debt is paid.  Death has no claim on him.  Let him live.  Forever.”

Jesus knew He was going to die.  It’s why He came.  Christmas wouldn’t mean a thing if we didn’t have Easter.  BC and AD should have come together at the moment of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  (But they didn’t ask me, so we’re 33 years off, give or take.)  It is the culminating point around which time revolves.  What you decide to do about it defines your whole existence.

He knew it was coming.  A thousand days – a thousand years- before they killed Him, Jesus knew every detail of the agony to which He was headed.  A thousand times He must have gone through it in His mind.

But the death Jesus died – it only happened once.  Jesus died once.  And He came back to life because death has no right to an innocent person.  So He will never be dead again.  He doesn’t have to bring it up again.  It’s done.

But He replays it, again and again.

Paul's prison cell in Philippi, Greece
Paul’s prison cell in Philippi, Greece

Hate destroys.  It devalues life.  At best, we try to fix it by taking away the weapon.  But they killed Jesus with a hammer and nails.  They killed His disciples with rocks, with dull knives, and more hammers and nails.  Death is caused by sin.

There is only one thing stronger than sin.

When I hear about death and pain and heartache, I want to point fingers.  Mama bear wants to rear her head and demand justice.  I want to hide my cubs from a world of hate and pain.  But instead I try to do what Jesus does.  He doesn’t hide.  He doesn’t shake His fist.  He goes back to the cross.  So I must too.  Jesus pulls up the events of those horrible days that cost His own life, and plasters His gift of life across the face of all the filth and blood and terror that surrounds us, and reiterates it all again. “Love isn’t just puffy clouds and rainbows and comfort.  It isn’t Christmas.  Love is red-streaked agony.  Love is messy, and hard, and undeserved.  It isn’t weak.  It doesn’t lack.  It will not take.  It gives.”

“See what I did there?  I did it for you.”

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So Much No

We drove slowly up the tree-lined driveway.  The old farmhouse greeted us solemnly as we parked under old maples and stately pine.  a few stout tulips bloomed despite several years of neglect.  Ben spun wheelies with his chair on the cobblestones by the front door as the older boys scattered to explore the yard.  They came back with reports of tadpoles in the backyard pond.  The two year old handed me a fistful of giant dandelions – thriving in the abandoned garden bed.

I was bewitched.

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It was then our friend the realtor drove up and gave us the bad news.  Someone had already signed a contract.  The house wasn’t for sale – as of that exact moment.

It had felt like a dream too good to be true.  I guess it was.

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She still let us in to see the house.  It was empty, full only of peeling paint and unspoken memories.  The only furniture was an old piano in a back room.  Shiloh found it and tickled out a few off-key chords as the others raced through the echoey house with abandon that seemed appropriate to the setting.  I imagined a bookshelf here, a bunk bed there, bean bag chairs in a cozy corner, crayon pictures hung on the walls.  I realized it might finally be time to consider adoption because there were enough bedrooms to house a larger army – or even a pink bedroom!  I imagined my son’s wheelchair spinning smooth across the hardwood floors, a fire crackling in the old stone fireplace, the smell of cookies wafting from the welcoming kitchen.  I realized every stroller and bike and even huge family vehicles would fit in the ample three car garage.  I imagined snowy days seeing my oldest with a book, his lanky frame curled onto a window seat.  I saw homeschool supplies piled on a big plank table; a big soup pot simmering on the range.  I imagined parties in a house that could hold a crowd of boys – and their friends.  I could see Bible studies around the wood stove, music spilling from that room with the piano.  I envisioned a long rope swing hanging from high in the barn, a fire pit in the backyard for get togethers with marshmallow-sticky fingers.  It would have been a gathering place.  It could have been a home.

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But God said no.

He does that sometimes.  It hurts in the moment, the dream-shattering, like glass splintering into a thousand pieces.  Shards of what was hope get under your skin.  It stings to draw them out.  Maybe I shed a few tears.

I have been praying daily for a new house for a year.  Well, much longer really, but I committed to asking daily exactly one year ago – to the day – that I found that house for sale.  I thought that would magically mean it was the one.

God says to set landmarks (Jeremiah 31:21).  When we look back we realize how far He has taken us.  I was hoping this landmark meant the end of our house search.  Apparently He wants me to keep praying.  So I painstakingly glued the shards of hope back together and tried to place it safely where it belongs.  In Him.  Not in a house.  I love old houses.  But old houses crumble eventually.

Being a Christian sometimes gets reflected clearly in being a mom.  There are so many days filled with NO.

“No, you can’t have a cookie.”

“Don’t lick your brother.”

“You can’t go outside till you finish your math.”

“Don’t shoot the bird,” I said to the boy pointing a nerf gun at a friend’s pet parakeet last week.

“No dancing on the table.”

“Take off his underwear and get your own!”

“Do not run away from me in the parking lot!”

“No you can’t go outside without pants.”

“No, you can’t have a puppy.”

“No more tv time.”

“You should not eat the bug.”

“That is not chocolate.”

“Don’t eat applesauce with your toes.”

“Dandelions are not weapons.”

“Stop licking the bug spray.”

“Don’t hit him!”

“Don’t say that!”

“No.”

“No.”

“NO!”

A friend in the midst of single parenting her three young daughters said it once.  “There is so much NO.”  It stuck with me.  I feel like a mean mom some days.  I want to say YES to something.  Anything.  But they want so much that is wrong, so much that would hurt them or somebody else, so much that is detrimental or even dangerous.  And I have to say NO.  Again.

I realize I am often the same way with God.  I ask for so much that would be bad for me, then pout when God says NO.  I believe He has my best interests in His heart, I know He’s the one who sees the future, I realize He wants better for me than I can even comprehend.  But I don’t see it that way in the moment.  Not that I would ever be dumb enough to disagree with the Creator of the universe…

What worries me is the fact that sometimes God says YES when we should accept NO.  He did it when Israel wanted a king like the other nations (I Samuel 8:6-7).  He warned them it wasn’t good for them, He told them they were rejecting Him by asking for a human leader.  But He finally gave them a king because they asked for it.  They rejoiced in the moment, but ultimately it made them miserable – and led to their national ruin.

I fear that.  What if God said YES to my petulant whining for a big old farmhouse when I really need a smaller boring one?  I admit I’ve done it as a mother.  I’ve wrecked dinner with ice cream before.  I’ve let them overdose on Curious George or Man vs. Wild episodes when they should have been running off their God-ordained boy-sized energy outside.  I’ve let them stay up too late.  I’ve cleaned the bathroom when it was their turn.  Don’t go calling Child Protection on me.  We all bear the consequences of the overdose on sugar, the lack of sleep, the entitlement attitude, the pent up energy.  I know better, but sometimes I still allow it.  I’m lazy.  I’m human.  I’m selfish and don’t want to argue again.  I don’t like to say no.

While God doesn’t do wrong, I don’t think He likes to say no to His children either.  So sometimes He says yes to something He knows will hurt us.  Hopefully we come out the other side just a bit bruised, but also a bit wiser.  And more humble.

So I try to pray differently.  I ask for the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4).  But I ask not that He give me what I want – I ask that He put the right wants in my heart.  He loves to give.  He gave me the breath in my lungs, each beat of my heart, the food on my table, the sun to keep me warm, the precious quiet before the whirling dervishes wake up in the morning.  And I pout because He doesn’t give me the big house that would cost me far more than I know.  Because I can’t see that living there might cost me my marriage, or the soul of one of my children, or simply ridiculous expenses that would force me to choose paying for groceries or heating bills in the dead of winter.  I don’t know.  I can’t know.

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I admit my faith has been shaken in the last several years of life.  The Bible says ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will open.  And yet God has said no for five years as I’ve begged him to heal Ben’s legs or fix his brain.  He has said no repeatedly when I’ve asked Him to sell our house.  He said no when I asked that a friend’s child live through cancer.  He said no to fixing the dyslexia with which one son struggles.  No to so many big and little requests.  I wonder sometimes if God even hears me.

Jesus’ own best friends questioned it.  They hung out with God all the time, but even they asked Him, “Lord, just increase our faith.”  We must not be believing hard enough for You to hear us.  We must not be making enough faith.    He said something pivotal.  (Of course.  He’s Jesus.)  “Have faith as a mustard seed.”  Then you can tell a tree to go plant itself in the sea, and it would listen (Luke 17:6), or then you could tell a mountain to move, and it would obey (Matthew 17:20).

But mustard seeds are small, insignificant.  I think Jesus was telling them it isn’t a matter of amount.  I guess faith is more of a light switch.  It’s either off or on.  Either I trust Him – or I don’t.

My two year old does it all the time.  He takes a flying leap off the sofa and expects me to catch him.  He trusts me.  It’s not a matter of amount.  One cannot take a flying leap just a little.  If he trusts, he jumps.  If he doesn’t, he stays on the sofa.  There aren’t degrees of separation.  There aren’t levels of faith.  All that matters is what his faith is in.  Or rather, whom.

And for all the NOs I’ve said to him, even my two year old knows that I’ll say YES when I can.  It doesn’t stop him from asking for everything, all the time.  I mean constantly.  By the minute.  Without rest.  Always.  That’s why there is so much NO.  Even two year olds know there will be a YES sometimes.  So they keep asking till they get it.

So I’ll go glue some hope bits back together and keep an eye on the toddler who may jump at any minute.  And I’ll catch him.  Because that’s what I do.

But they’re still not getting a puppy.

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Between a rock and a soft, squishy mattress

I fear for my children.

Especially for the one glancing boldly at me while completely unrolling the aluminum foil to make a ball.

Truly.

But I do fear.  Some days, the future I hope for them seems bleak indeed.

I’ve learned in my old age that if I stare at my phone screen for too long I go cross eyed for a while afterwards.  I think old age and phone screens do not go together very well.

I’m 34.

You’re dying to reprimand me for saying I’m old.

But I am.  I am ever so old.  I know because when I was young it was easy to live at my parents’ house.  Now that I am old it is much more difficult.  When I was young I used to draw crayon castles and dream big.  I could ignore the news because it seemed far away, and jot down my ideas in a little pink diary.  These days, I stare at my phone screen, reading the news, searching for a new house, typing blog ideas that never get to posting,  messaging friends about difficult subjects, and wishing what I saw was more pleasant.

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I used to think the government systems would work if you just did your civic duty and voted and used your respectful indoor voice.  These days, the government wants money back that it “gave” to my disabled son.

They don’t believe he is disabled anymore.  (Wouldn’t that be nice if he could just stop being paralyzed?)

They have loopholes written into law that say we are in breach of our mortgage contract for leaving our little house.  They say we’re not “allowed” to not live there.

They say vote for the lesser of two evils, though even the lesser is ok with killing babies.  And I am not.

The world seems backwards.

It seems I cannot put my hope in any man.

I will not put my hope in a nation.

I shall not put my hope in the next generation. I must not even put my hope in my own ability to raise the next generation.  I will fail.  I am fallible.  So are they.

My country teeters on the edge of destruction by righteous judgement.  Bureaucracy, loopholes, redtape and complacency rule the day.  My tendency is to weep at the condition of the world my children are inheriting.  I fear they will come of age in a time where they will be penalized by tax, or jail, or certainly at least social disgrace if they uphold any morality.  I am afraid they could be pressed into military service against more just nations than our own.  Doing the right thing will be very uncomfortable for my young men.

But I forget what I want most for my children.

It is not their security.  (Though I crave it.)

It is not their health.  (Though I pray for it.)

It is not their comfort. (Though I would give up my own if they could have it.)

What I want most for my children is to know their God.

To love Him.  To accept His forgiveness.  To be passionate for His truth.  To be brave in hardship.  To be bold in adversity.  To be humble in the face of accusation.  To claim unity with God rather than man.

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I hate to think I may have to stand by helpless (or more likely, due to Mama bear instinct – to be held back kicking and screaming) as they face loss, condemnation, and searing pain from a heartless world.

But rather than watch them live out their days complacent and Godless while being safe and comfortable – rather – I pray they would live short, hard, painful, but meaningful lives walking with their Maker.

At least I try to pray that.

Make no mistake, I will fight for every inalienable right they should and could have.  I will pour out my own energy for their own comfort and joy.  I love to hear my kids laugh.  It is the greatest sound I’ve ever known.

But if through their tears – and my own – they learn their greatest joy is the glory of God – than I prefer that to any comfort or legal right.

It’s not my job to change the world.  We have been called to do a far harder thing.  I must live a changed life in an unchanged world.

It does seem backwards.  But I serve the God who said the poor will be rich.  The weak will be strong.  The humble made great.  The simple made wise.

And when I look at my phone screen (or any screen) I forget the backwards kingdom.  That’s when the world seems so topsy turvy.  Because it is.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:32, 34

God help me, as I find a use for crumpled aluminum foil, to fear not.

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Homemade

Ten years ago, we slept in the living room on our first night in our new house.  Just the two of us.

Last night, we slept in the living room on our last night in our old house.  Just the two of us.

The six children that were born in the past decade are all installed comfortably at the grandparents’ house while we finish madly packing.  It is the first time I have spent a night away from them (other than the grudging hospital stays I’ve taken to have babies and to be with Ben during his operations).  It feels so empty here.  I’m used to so much life.  Echo.  Echo.  Echo…

It started as some renovation projects.  Than a man approached us about renting.  Was it time?  After all these years of trying to move out of this house, was it time to leave?  We prayed and prayed and prayed and expected everything to fall through.  But doors never slammed.  So I painted the door bright red.  And walked on through.

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I can’t say I’m excited.  I’m not sure what the future holds, so there’s a measure of fear mixed with hope.  I feel a bit homeless.  It’s been a very busy week trying like crazy to finish  all those little projects that we (finally, after a decade) started.  Plus packing.  When we moved in, all we owned fit in our car.  That was before minivans and Yukons and the lifetime supply of legos.

That was before wheelchairs and high chairs.

And diapers and potty training.

And a new deck.  And fridge.  And dishwasher.  And roof.

And homeschooling.

And dandelion bouquets.

And new paint everywhere.  And a new toilet.

And living paycheck to paycheck.  Living on love.  Living on beans and rice.

And living on a budget.  And bounty.  And steak and ice cream.

And bunk beds.  And more bunk beds.

And a new chimney.  And wood stove.

And crayon pictures.  And nerf guns.

And squirrels on the roof.  And salamanders in the basement.

And chalk drawings on the road.

And cell phones with cameras.  And texting.

And weight gain.  And weight loss.

And friends gained.  And friends lost.

And the memories.

Oh, the memories.

I found the hats my children wore home from the hospital.  I found never-finished scrapbooks.  I found dozens of lost nerf gun bullets.  And Batman.  And an old bird nest.   And Ben’s first leg braces.  And power cords that go to nothing anymore.  And our stack of wedding photos.  And college notebooks.  And Legos.  Of course Legos.

And we packed it up, so many boxes that will languish in storage while we wait for whatever happens next.  It’s bittersweet to leave the only home my children have known.  But I will keep the children.  And move on with the adventure together.  I’ll miss seeing the azaleas bloom, and the perennials, which despite my brown thumb have managed to increase over the years.  I’ll miss my neighbors.  But I won’t be sleeping in the living room anymore.

On with the adventure.

The Rendering

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I pushed open the front door and felt an unnerving emptiness.  No pattering feet rushed to greet me from inside, no jostling elbows pushed me from behind.  I tried to brush away the lonely feeling.  This was, after all, a unique chance to get some cleaning done without my customary “help”.  I couldn’t ignore the opportunity.  But the quiet seemed unnatural.

It has been almost two weeks since we packed up the boys and a big mattress and a few days’ worth of clothes in laundry baskets and headed to my parents’ house for a sleepover of unknown proportions.  Call it adventure.  Call it desperation.  Our family has grown large for our quaint little two bedroom house.  I was pregnant with our first child when my husband and I accepted the terms of our mortgage.  A decade, 6 kids, a mountain of toys and clothes and diapers, a wheelchair, and thousands of Legos later – we know it is time to do something about space.  My parents graciously offered to allow us to come stay with them in their larger home while we made ours more sellable or rentable or larger with an addition.  So we took them up on it.

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We have tried to sell our little house off and on for the past 7 years.  Well over a hundred strangers have walked through it; a handful have made offers.  But for one reason or another, they each fell through.  And we stayed.  We considered renting it out, but for various reasons, we couldn’t do that either.  We half-joked about simply walking away from it.  But, albeit small, it was still a house.  Our home.  A warm shelter, decadent by the standards of most of the rest of the world – I should not thumb my nose at it.  I am blessed and I know it with a good marriage, a growing handful of boys, wonderful friends, and a great God.  Having little personal or storage or counter space are all minor details in the grand scheme.

But perspective can be hard to maintain when you’re nearsighted.  I remember about two years ago sinking low into a pity party about feeling so stuck in our circumstance.  It was Christmas Day, and it had been long.  After a busy day filled with visiting both sets of grandparents, my husband drove our car, heavy-laden with toys, sugar, and very tired children, back into the driveway.  As the tires crunched on the frozen gravel, I looked up at our home and noticed the curtains billowing from our second story window.  I questioned my sanity, wondering if I had managed to leave a window open wide all day at the end of December in New England without knowing it.  My husband (and resident hero) went in to investigate.  Apparently the window had simply decided to fall out.  How nice.  He put it back in and turned up the heat.  As we carried exhausted children to their crowded bedroom and unloaded boxes of new toys into my literally-falling-apart house, the emotions of an over-stimulated holiday season overwhelmed me.  I did NOT like that house anymore.  But like weight that refuses to shrink even after diet and exercise, it remained mine.  Last Christmas (or three days before it), the fridge died and we ripped a whole in the side of the kitchen to get it out and replaced.  There was also the time the basement flooded.  And we gave up our bedroom to the children because we couldn’t squeeze another bed into theirs.  Then a bat flew by my head as we were trying to sleep on the pull-out sofa in the living room…    It has been a daily struggle to always be thankful for my humble abode.

Now, I know that difficult doesn’t equal wrong.   Biblically, difficult is the season when God does what is most right.  So we decided it was time to step it up a notch and make life more difficult by moving the family to the in-laws’ house so we could work on ours.  I know that my children are safe and loved at my parents’ home, and have been handed the rare opportunity to build deep relationships with their grandparents.  Here is a safe and comfortable haven for my family so my husband and I have the ability to work on little house projects that prove challenging with my regularly employed spastic, eager, sticky-fingered volunteers.  Already I’ve pried army men out of radiators, vacuumed innumerable legos from between floorboards, and spent far too long debating with myself whether the discovered ninja turtle figures should go live in the guy box or the animal box of toys.  I’m getting stuff done.  My husband has spent a long week mostly being a bachelor at his own house tearing apart the kitchen and putting it back together.  I did say he was the resident hero, didn’t I?

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But it is hard.  Adding a young family of eight to an older family of three (my adult sister lives with my parents too) naturally turned routines on their heads.  My husband went from the head of the household to a shadow in someone else’s house who appears briefly in the morning and evening before bedtime.  And I lost my sink-central command post when we moved to someone else’s kitchen.  My parents’ household sleeps at different times, eats different things, and puts the toilet paper on the other way around.  I miss my husband.  Our world is askew.

I find myself missing our old normal life.  True, old normal meant no personal space, not all fitting around the dining room table, teaching math while extracting crayon wrappers from baby’s mouth, juggling doctor appointments with homeschooling, and vacuuming at 10 p.m.  But even while my normal life was breathlessly challenging, being stripped of normal rubs a raw hurt on my heart.  I miss the days of small things.  Of small house.  Never thought I’d say that.  In my current season, all my boys still come to mama with their worries and their boo boos, their joys and pet earthworms, their hopes for their future and of what they want for dinner.  I’ve always known where they were since there was no space to get away from each other (and they aren’t old enough to drive yet.)  Exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, the pulse of my whole household has always flowed through me.  A great deal of life has happened between the walls of our small house, and I have always, by necessity, been in the center of it.  To move all that life to someone else’s house really changes the flow.  Hearts depend on pressure to keep life moving, after all.  The squeeze is necessary.

But this upheaval is for a purpose.  It is cleaning time.  I thought that meant fresh coats of paint and a new kitchen ceiling.  But I’m realizing it goes deeper.  (Doesn’t it always?)  I wiped the counters around my empty crock pot a few days ago and remembered that I hadn’t rendered lard recently.  (See, I’ve grown domestic in my decade as a kitchen-owner.)   Nasty pig fat gets cooked down till the good clean lard rises to the top.  Good lard is pure white.  There’s nothing “piggy” about it.  It’s so clean you can make it into perfect flaky pie crust without even a hint of bacon.  The cooking process is called rendering.  It’s long and hot.  It separates the impurities from the pure final product.  The end result is so good, I’ve actually slathered it on my cheeks as a face cream.  (True story – but maybe for another post.)  I realize fat gets a bad rap these days, but historically the fat parts of meat are considered the better ones.  Even holy. (Leviticus 3:16 “…All the fat is the Lord’s.”)  After all, bacon.  What’s not awesome?

This is my own separation time.  The imperfections of my home for the past decade have occasionally overwhelmed me in the last couple years. (No. Closets. For. Real.)  But separated from it, I find a growing affection for my cozy humble home.  Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as I often thought.  At least I was stuffed in there with the people I like most in all the world.  And pizza delivery is quick when you live in the middle of the city…

Separated from my routine, I can see how important it was.  Everyone in my family has gotten physically sick in the transition of the past two weeks.  Routine is mundane, but how vital!  Maybe boring wasn’t such a bad plan after all.

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The separating of our family life has been hardest.  It’s neither wise nor safe to have little ones around a construction zone.  So I am torn.  I can stay with them while my industrious husband does the grunt work alone, or I can work with him while my capable parents spend time with their grandchildren who have been taking turns being sick.  I’ve done some of both.  Go… Stay… It is lonely in the middle.  I’m not accustomed to the feeling, which makes me turn introspective.  And grumpy.  That brings me to the greatest division…

This world is not my home.  I forget so easily.  What I do now impacts eternity, but it is not eternity.  I’ve been given the chance to step back from my nearsighted tunnel vision and see more clearly.  Moving to bigger walls or higher ceilings isn’t a panacea for my real homesickness.  I miss heaven.  I just haven’t been there yet.

When Jesus came to earth, I wonder how He dealt with the smallness of everything.  The lack.  He didn’t even have a place to lay His head.  At least I have a pull-out sofa.  His own family, his own country, rejected Him.  At least mine still invite me to stay a while.  He was killed to try to force Him to stay in the smallness, the insignificant, the lack.  But even in this humble place, this dirty, messy, small-minded little world, He never lost sight of the big prize.  He came for me.  For us.  He came to our little home to invite us back to His.  When He left, Jesus said He was going to get to work on a place to share with me.  Forever.

I don’t think my forever home will have closets either.  But I won’t be needing a place to store baggage when I get there – or extra toilet paper, homework folders and tax files, wheelchairs, laundry, legos, or the next size of clothing.

Maybe my current home is closer to heaven than I realized.

“Do not fear, little flock; it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32

Cold Noodles

“I hate homeschooling.”  I told my husband in a text in mid-May.

I was very serious.

I had just shooed the toddler off the dining room table where he was dancing on the English papers.  The curtain was smeared with scrambled eggs.  Every. Single. Book. from the lowest bookshelf had been macerated into a pile on the floor.  We’d collectively agonized nearly three hours over math so all the other subjects backed up behind us.  I hadn’t managed to eat breakfast yet, but leftover eggs congealing in the pan didn’t look very appetizing.  I wished the maid hadn’t taken the day off (like she does every day).  The baby was hungry, the kids needed separating, the clean tissues needed restuffing back into the box.  It was raining outside and we still had errands to run.  It was a typical day, and no one was very happy about it.

You might think I’d have this down after having six children.  You might.  But this past year, I felt as lost as a toddler under a Wal Mart clothing rack, pressed in by so many little-sized t-shirts that it felt almost suffocating. There was so much to react to every day that being proactive about things like schoolwork often seemed like a pipe dream.  People commented, “How do you do it?” I simply shrugged.  I didn’t have a good answer.  I wished I knew how to do it too.

I had an infant, a crazy busy toddler, a preschooler in a wheelchair, and three elementary boys with fidgety ants in their pants when they sat still too long.  And we were all crammed in a small house where quiet study seemed an oxymoron.  I staggered out of bed many mornings, bleary eyed from lack of sleep with a nursing infant.  Sometimes I managed to get up for a few minutes of quiet to read and pray and simply think a complete thought before the morning madness pattered down the stairs.  Many other days I was shaken awake by the four year old’s ritual patting of my eyelids and singing the song of his people, “Mo-om, I neeed chocolate milk!”  Some days I wanted to agree with the condescending naysayers who looked at me and clucked their tongues.  “You must be busy!” they’d say as if they knew better than to tread in my shuffling footsteps.  I myself didn’t question if I had enough love for my kids.  But I did question if I had enough time to enact that love through an elementary education.

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helping

Granted, there are many great things about homeschooling.   I get lots of together time with my kids.  We can incorporate chores and life skills.  We catch teachable moments.  Younger ones benefit from trickle-down learning as the older ones do their lessons.  We can work around illnesses and vacations and doctor appointments.  I can cater to my kids’ individual learning styles – honing their strengths and gently stretching the muscles of their weaknesses.  I don’t have to pack lunches every night or scramble everyone out the door on bitter early mornings all winter.  We can foster healthy socialization in multiple peer groups beyond just physical age or ability.  I can protect them from bullying and peer pressure while they are still young and in need of a champion.  I get the singular joy of being the one to see the lightbulb turn on when they realize they’re able to read.  And of course, I obey the command of God who led me and my husband to train up our children in this way in the first place.

But.

But there’s a lot that the curriculum writers and Pinterest sites and positive statistics don’t reveal about homeschooling.  There are a lot of dark days in November and February when no one, least of all the teacher, want to do school, and the house is buried under months of snow and clutter and unfinished projects.  The toddler occasionally really does get neglected and does lots of pen and ink art on your white sheets.  The four year old hides pepperoni in the hole of the guitar.  Long division blurs the lines between logic and inhumane punishment.  The baby is colicky or teething and practices pterodactyl screeching though the morning lessons.  Everyone has a different learning style.  Mom has a headache for a straight month (that was the dreary month of April).  She gives up on science completely and also vows never to allow play dough or glitter to enter the house ever ever again.  She yells and feels guilty and lets them eat sugar when they really need a simple consequence and a carrot for a snack.  She cannot seem to teach spelling.  She feels like a complete and utter and lonely failure at this simple job of motherhood-marriage-homemaking-teacher-cook-chauffeur-planner-nurse-friend-plumber-seamstress-ultra marathoner-counselor-mortician-beautician-podiatrist-bug-killer which she is sure everyone else just does naturally.  She feeds her family cold leftover lasagna for supper because she’s in such a hurry for bedtime.  And she prays Dear God give me a bigger house because I will explode if we’re all on top of each other 24-7 for another year.  And she really thinks she might.

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cold noodles

So it was with much prayer and a deep breath that I rolled out of bed on the first day of school this Fall.  I sat up – and killed a spider before my feet even hit the floor.  Great.  I hadn’t even said a word to the kids and already guts were everywhere.

“You’re sure you want me to do this?” I asked God for the thousand and eleventh time as I wiped spider legs off the baseboard.  “You remember me, the girl who hated math, who is anything but a leader, who has a baby and a crazy toddler, and who, I might add, knows some really great teachers – You’re positive that I’m the one most qualified for the job educating my precious offspring this year?”

And as He does, God gently pushed a verse into the fuzz of my morning brain.  “Follow Me, and I will make you…”

I know the context.  Jesus was talking to Peter in a heart-to-heart on the beach.  He had died and come to life again, but He wanted to hang out with His friends before He headed home for a while.  Peter had been shaken by his Friend’s death.  Peter had been so brave and strong, so outspoken, so sure of himself all his life. But he had crumbled like an October leaf when following Jesus turned out not to mean a valiant revolution ending in glory, but an unjust slide into humiliating  torture and shameful death.  When push came to shoving, Peter’s ego had fallen in the mud.  It was in this humble place, hearing Jesus’ invitation, that Peter had accepted the greatest job of his life.  It was the job he finally realized he was unqualified to do.  It was only Jesus’ call that qualified him to do it.

So I got up.  I fed my kids.  I read to them.  I cleaned chex mix off the floor and taught the four year old to hold his crayon right.  I practiced multiplication tables and phonics.  I showed them how to clean toilets and empty the dishwasher and pretend to let the 2 year old help.  I nursed the baby and studied earthworms with the four year old in the garden. And you know what?  I still yelled some.  I still felt frustrated and overwhelmed.  I still have trouble teaching spelling.  But maybe not so much.  Because He’s making me.  And that’s a process.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Neither are children.

Neither are teachers.

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The Decade

Ten years ago in July, I walked down the hall of the radiology department at the hospital where I’d gotten a job just a month before.  My friend walked with me to an open doorway.  A man sat in the low light next to a bulky ultrasound machine, paging though paperwork, but looked up with a smile as we appeared.  It was a quiet Friday afternoon, the weekend having already begun for most of the white-collar workers in the hospital.  My friend whispered a few words to the man in blue scrubs.  He looked at me, motioning toward the cot next to his machine.  “I just realized I need to test this new transducer before I use it on patients next week,” he grinned.  “Let’s see if it can find anything.”  I obediently lay down, pulling up the long hem of my own blue uniform.   He squirted warm gel around my bellybutton before placing the transducer on it.  And that was the moment my life changed.

I don’t know why it surprised me.  We’d been married four years already.  We weren’t doing anything to prevent it.  But when I saw the grainy black and white picture of that cherry-sized baby with a real honest beating heart, I caught my breath.  A month’s worth of emotions flooded me in those 60 seconds.  Awe, terror, pride, worry, exasperation, jubilation, nausea, and a dose of wonder spilled from my eyes.  This little thing was the biggest thing I’d ever done.  And I wasn’t very sure how I was supposed to do it from here.  Not at all.

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Taking a big bite out of life, nine years ago…

We bought our first house that Fall.  We bought baby books.

We got insurance.  We got a used crib.

We took childbirth classes.  We took pictures of my expanding frame.

We picked names.  We picked out little baby shoes and wipes warmers and fancy diaper bags that we didn’t yet know that we really wouldn’t need.

I learned to count contractions.  And I learned that none of that really matters when you finally hold your newborn in your arms for the first time.

Today, my firstborn is nine.  He’s sitting across from me on the sofa with too-big sunglasses on, intently creating a new language in florescent yellow highlighter.  When he gets to the end of the paper, he looks up to ask (again) if he can play a video game.  I refuse (again).  So he wanders out to the kitchen to get a banana, he says, but reappears with an orange popsicle.  Then he buries himself in the pages of The Hobbit, gangly legs draped over the sofa into the ever-present overflowing basket of laundry.  I steal his flip flops to run outside to check on his little brothers clustered around the sand box.  And I can tell you now, a decade to the day since I saw him first, I am still not very sure how I’m supposed to do it from here.  Not at all.

Now I wake up to bullets and land mines littering the floor.  Nerf bullets and legos – but it can still be disconcerting to have something whizz past your ear and something else jab your barefoot when you’re innocently making a double batch of lasagna.

Now my weight and hair color and what people think of me matters less.

Now much of my day is spent talking, moving, touching, and searching out margins of breathing space around the breathlessly full middle.

Now I try to explain fractions and long division and algebra, now I diagram sentences and try to make sense of the English language to 6 year olds even though it doesn’t, now I repeat the abc song for the upteenth time in 24 hours and listen to the latest mutilation of l-m-n-o-p by the preschooler.  Now I do things I never believed I’d have to after I passed 3rd grade myself.

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Learning to stand on their own feet

Now science is in the kitchen and history happens on car rides.  Now math is at the grocery store and reading happens at bedtime in footie pajamas.  Now I still stay up too late working on homework and research because I now know you’re never too old to learn something new.

Now I say “NO” at least every 2 minutes.

Now ice cubes and mud are fun and the world of bugs and rodents is full of wonder and cardboard and used cans offer hours of entertainment.

Now I know the unequivocally priceless laughter of a happy baby and the world-shaking moment when a child realizes he can read.

Now I am constantly challenged to be proactive rather than reactive to the many demands of my day.

Now I sit around home all day and eat Oreos and watch soap operas.  (Ok, no, I don’t.  Just throwing that in there for my husband.  Hehe.)

Now I think, and vote, and surf the internet not to change how the world is, but how I want it to be when my kids grow into it.

Now someone else always gets the last piece of pie and I get the leftover used bananas.  But now I hide the good chocolate and try to convince everyone else that kale is actually tasty.

Now I question authority more than I ever did as a teenager because what happens in the dark will be held accountable in the light at the ultimate end of the day.

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Now I try to meal plan, form chore charts, establish routines, list everything, and learn grace when it spontaneously combusts.  Every day.

Now people around me are smaller, but my car and laundry load are much bigger.

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Now I know the kind of love that would offer my own two feet if it could make someone else able to walk.  I don’t think I ever loved anyone that much 10 years ago.

Now I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to do it all from here.  We’re still squeezed into our first house, but the baby books are long gone as well as the used crib, the wipes warmers, and everything I learned in childbirth classes.  But it is still the biggest thing I’ve ever done.

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Funny, I never realized that ten years of my life would effect eternity.

They don’t seem so long after all.

Big Shoes

Some nights, Prince Charming sleeps on the sofa.

And I love him for it.

We’ve driven around the country together.  We’ve crossed the Atlantic.  We’ve jammed up against each other, close and personal, in tight train cabins across eastern Europe.  We’ve spent nights apart, wishing for the warmth of the familiar body even while relishing the chance to stretch out.  We’ve yelled at each other.  We’ve given the silent treatment.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve stayed up too late, slept in, or gotten up too early and did it all again.  I’ve dented his expensive guitar.  He’s hurt my fragile female heart.  We’ve laughed and learned and looked confused with each other’s mothers.  We’ve given both sets of in-laws grey hairs and their first grandchildren.  He’s eaten burned dinners and cold ones.  I’ve learned to live on his paycheck.  He buys the good shoes.  I’ve had to admit impulse shopping.  I’ve carried all his children.  He’s wiped the tears of all of mine.  We’ve gained weight and sympathy weight; our shapes have changed.  Our lives have changed because of how much life we’ve done together.

 

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There’s a video floating around the internet of some guys experiencing pregnancy and labor. They get hooked up to machines to simulate the pains of childbirth.  I don’t know if they make it through and get a milkshake at the end of the whole ordeal (which I consider a very necessary part of the delivery process.)  I haven’t watched the video.  There are times it’s helpful to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but I don’t believe my husband would be a better guy if he walked this one.  He can’t walk the marathon miracle race of childbirth.  He can’t mimic the days of nesting instinct that cause mothers to rearrange the sofas through Braxton Hicks contractions.  He can’t feel the unborn child kick as a big brother drapes himself across mom’s expansive belly.  He can’t experience the wash of hormones that allow mamas to take another breath and push.

But he wouldn’t be a better dad or husband if he did.

His own two feet have been imprinted with legos in the middle of the night, but he bore it silent so as not to wake mama or baby.

His own feet have grown numb in the pre-dawn winter cold when he drove to another day of work in a minivan with a sluggish heater.

His own feet have paced the emergency room floor with a sick child at night.

His own feet have come home repeatedly to a disheveled house and tired wife rather than spend the evening with friends.

His own feet have warmed his wife’s cold ones even when they went to bed not speaking to each other.

His own feet have worn mismatched socks because no one had attempted to scale laundry mountain in the living room for too long.

His own feet have been rolled over by his son in a wheelchair.

His own feet have often carried the weight of two children up and down the stairs.

His own two feet have often hit the cold floor before light so he’d have time to read and pray before spending a long day at work.

I don’t expect him to walk a mile in my shoes.  I’d rather he be man enough to go shoe shopping in the ladies’ section with his wife.

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Sometimes I have gotten upset because he wasn’t doing the dishes, or helping with the homeschooling, or scaling the side of laundry mountain.  Sometimes he doesn’t look for a honey-do list first thing on a weekend.  Sometimes he keeps the kids up past bedtime, or offers them ice cream at dinner time.  Sometimes he disciplines them differently than I would.  Sometimes he falls asleep when I want to talk.  Sometimes he forgets to touch me as much as I need him to since I’m a slow-cooker and he’s a microwave.  Sometimes he and I really don’t think the same.

And sometimes I’m patient enough to remember that is a good thing.

 

We’ve been made very different because we were both incomplete alone.  Sometimes marriage highlights the differences, and it makes for Hollywood-worthy drama.  Or comedy.  But Hollywood misses the fact that marriage, like wine or wood, or cheese, or sex, gets better with age.

Sometimes real husbands sleep on the sofa so that a sore tired mama and a new baby won’t be woken by an early alarm.

That’s love right there.

Happy Father’s Day, Prince Charming.

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Sisterhood of Yesterday’s Pants

I woke up on Saturday.  Yesterday’s jeans lay on the floor where I’d left them.  There was a dried spot of regurgitated milk on the left thigh, and a streak of garden dirt across the shins.  They were stretched out in all the places that you want jeans to stretch in.  But it was Saturday.  Of course, this doesn’t make much difference to a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of sleep-defying toddlers, whose husband generally works weekends.  So to celebrate in the only way possible, I spit on the laws of the cultural laundry gurus.  And wore yesterday’s pants.
It is true that as a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of sleep-defying toddlers, whose husband works weekends, I have the right to wear yoga pants pretty much 24-7.  If I want.  But I realized somewhere in the past decade that yoga pants are good for yoga.  And lounging.  And sleep.  And any time you’re not on the clock.  But they are not good for homeschooling, stay-at-home moms of sleep-defying toddlers, whose husbands work weekends.  Because those moms are not doing yoga.  Or lounging.  They are definitely not sleeping.  And they are, almost constantly, on the clock.   They – I – wear a lot of hats.  But more importantly, as chief cook and bottle washer in this joint – I have to wear the pants.

So I make it a point to get dressed every morning, even if I’m not stepping a foot beyond the front porch all day.  The most rebellious I get is wearing yesterday’s pants.  Don’t they say to dress for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have?  I want the job of a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom – who has it all together.
Which I don’t.
I came downstairs on Saturday morning and put some eggs in a pot to hard boil.  My husband left, coffee in hand, for a long day at the store.  He’d come home after the kids were in bed the night before, and wouldn’t be home during the children’s waking hours until the middle of the next day.  So it was my job to hold down the fort.

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The kids pattered down the stairs at exactly 7:02 a.m. (They have to stay in their beds quietly until 7 for the sanity of all humanity.)  Chocolate milk spilled at exactly 7:05.  Yet another of our old Berenstain Bears book covers was ripped off at 7:08.  The first fight of the day was broken up at 7:11 (they were late for the day.)  I nursed the baby for approximately 7 minutes until I remembered the eggs.  All the water was gone and the bottom of the pot was red hot.  So I threw away half a dozen slightly charred eggs around 7:19.  (We eventually got around to eating bananas and cold cereal an hour later.)  We dug through the laundry piles to find clothes for everyone.  I put the toddler’s pants on the 4 month old. I didn’t notice.  The toddler himself never got around to having pants until nearly lunch time.  He uses them as a napkin anyway, so it was probably for the best.

Wearing the pants doesn’t mean I do everything right.  I am tired.  I am frazzled.  Maybe it’s spring where you are, but I have been in the same season for a decade.  It’s the end of a hard school year in a really small house with a crazy toddler and a new baby and oh my the clutter.  My house was built before Americans were hoarders and there isn’t a single closet on the 1st floor and only a couple curtained off storage corners upstairs.  Stuff. Is. Everywhere.  Stuff can own you, not because it’s worth much, but because it requires so much.  Take the dishwasher, for instance.  Please.  It currently stinks because of old food buildup in its drain.  On Saturday, I had to pull on my big girl pants and clean it.  It is slimy down there.  Dark.  Mysterious.  And my almost two year old desperately wanted to join me because clearly it must be fun.  Why else would the lower half of Mommy’s five foot frame keep flailing to keep him from jumping on the dishwasher door and shaking the countertop loose?  It seemed like something out of a bad sci-fi movie where the evil alien slime robot sneaks into the house through the dishwasher drain and sucks unsuspecting homemakers out with yesterday’s congealed oatmeal.  (Which I’m not worried about here, because the drain is so full of yesterday’s oatmeal that he’d have to give up and try the neighbors instead.  We’re safe.)  It was not glamourous.  It did not seem glorious.

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But it was glorious.  It truly was.  I’m learning this.  God is most glorified when I am elbow deep in ancient bacon grease, because I am there doing the work He has given me.  The work of God is generally the dirtiest, most repugnant, least obvious.  It is the most needful.  If Jesus were walking the earth today, He would not be found in a sharp suit next to the proud CEO of a new non profit hospital on the front page.  You would be better off looking for Him holding back the ponytail of the tired single mom cleaning toilets on the old geriatric wing.

And He was there Saturday morning. With me.  Hallowing my dishwasher as I knelt before Him in yesterday’s pants.  One thing I’ve learned – you don’t need to dress up to meet your Maker.  In fact, many a conversation we’ve had as I stood too long in the shower, wishing I didn’t have to get out and face another snotty faced toddler or explain fractions or pay bills or wipe hot foreheads or stinky bottoms or watch my husband stagger as he brings home the hard-won bacon.

He is not God just at weddings and funerals and Sundays.

He is God at 2 a.m. when the whole world minus the baby wants to be sleeping.

He was God on Monday afternoon when the toddler dunked the iPhone in the muffin batter as my husband called to say he’d be working late.

He is God on the 12th round of chemo.

He is still God when good people die and bad men walk free on earth, when white is called black, when wrong is called right.

He is God who makes the sun rise again after a night when the world seems to have spun out of control.

He is God and I am not ashamed for Him to see me in yesterday’s pants because the uniform of the holy is made beautiful by stains of faithfulness.

He is God and He is good.  Even at dawn on Saturday mornings when your phone sounds muffin-y and your house smells like burned eggs and nobody else is wearing pants.  This is holy business, mamas.  This is worship.

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