Monday, February 28, 2011

Being a Caleb

When we're afraid to be vulnerable with others, are we actually afraid to be vulnerable with God?

When we build walls of protection, are we really erecting walls to keep out God, as well?

Who are we putting our trust in if we do these things? 

God has been revealing to me, that so many of my trust issues, my refusal to be vulnerable, apprehension with others, all stem out of mistrust for Him.

I say I trust Him, but how do my relationships reflect that?

What would I have to be afraid of if I really trusted God with everything?  Who could hurt me, if I was leaning wholly on the Lord and not on others? 

And also, aren't trust issues often tangled up with pride, fear of pain, need for control?

Am I missing out on the land of milk and honey because I'm afraid?  Am I lacking joy, because I'm convinced like the Israelites, that although God has promised something to me, the land he's sending me to will "devour".  Am I, rather than choosing to trust, worrying about giants and fortified walls?  The amplified Bible points out in the footnotes for Numbers 13:28 that, "those who forgot God's power to help them naturally found the situation formidable, as happens in the lives of most people. "'But God' makes all the difference between cowards and Caleb."

What is stopping me from being a Caleb? 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Examining Inclinations

I do not know how to rid my self of this grouchiness.  I know it has something to do with an unwillingness to let go of something.

 Maybe, that secret entitlement to self, so hard to release?

 "I will behave wisely in a perfect way.  Oh, when will you come to me?  I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." -Psalm 101:2

This is what I want.  Or, I want to want it.  I guess it's safe to say that in actuality, I want a lot of things that I do not need, but somewhere within me, I know that if I ceased craving, so intensely, my own way, and concentrated on perfecting my heart, life would become more manageable.

Do hermits really leave others behind because they're sick of others or rather because they're sick of themselves?  When I'm frustrated and discontent with everyone and every circumstance, could it really be that I'm frustrated with my own lack of growth, discontent in my own skin?   Maybe The Psalmist is saying, when will You do this perfecting I need?  When will you rescue me from my self-defeating striving?

When will contentment overtake me?

"...Watch every word and mood...beware of scattering and spilling; do anything - fall flat on the floor and wait till your valiant soul lifts you to your feet.  ...Your only safety is to be within the center of your kingdom."

-From Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood.  Edited by Mary Strong

God, get me out of the center of my self-made kingdom and into yours. 

Yesterday, I found my gratitude list, torn by a certain baby.  But truth be told, I had not given pen or heart to this list in a while. 

In August, while it was still warm, and while on vacation to our Bed and Breakfast, it was easy to write the words: "So, I gave up friends, yes, but God gave me so much more here.  Two more children, a studio, a happier marriage, Victoria's Vineyard.  Through the cold, the illness, pregnancies, loneliness, fatigue, sorrow and longing, the frozen places were my desert.  He showed me beauty where I thought there was none.  I endured through bitter winds, rode the waves, gave thanks and the sun beat on my back the next day and I praised Him for His warmth. His provisions."

So, praise too, I find myself missing.

God, let me praise You every day for all of this and more.  Thaw my heart as the winter now thaws, so that I may welcome spring rightly.

From The Garden

Come, my beloved,
consider the lilies.
We are of little faith.
We talk too much.
Put your mouthful of words away
and come with me to watch
the lilies open in such a field,
growing their like yachts,
slowly steering their petals
without nurses or clocks.
Let us consider the view:
a house where white clouds
decorate the muddy halls.
Oh, put away your good words
and your bad words.  Spit out
your words like stones!
Come here! Come here!
Come eat my pleasant fruits.

-Anne Sexton

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hard Lessons

I learned the lesson hard this week.  The lesson I've been working on for so long now, but still have not mastered.  The lesson of silence. 

And I cried silently to learn it again yesterday, because words cannot be taken back and sometimes it's only God you can go to forgiveness for, heart aching, knowing that I am ugly in sin.

And sometimes the tenderizing of our hearts, is like the swift blow of the kitchen tool used on a slab of meat, piercing it bloody.  I wish I'd learned my lesson before that point. 

Everything is heard by God.  I speak, thinking nothing of it, in passing, lightly, carelessly, jokingly and I think it doesn't matter.  It doesn't seem to matter to anyone else.  But God hears my words.  And I hear them again, even years later, convicted. 

And this morning, I'm reading an old journal from just a few months back, and I find that I wrote on Henri Nouwen's view of the importance of silence.  I wrote about it here too.  Why can't lessons take?

This entry written sometime in November came right after I wrote Psalm 1 to aid in memorization, "Blessed is the man who does not...sit in the seat of mockers" 

I didn't merely sit in the seat, I headed the table. 

I wrote:  "Our silences should far outweigh our words...The mouth begs to be heard but the ears want not to listen.  Why have I placed myself above God with my misuse of too many words?  Why do I worship words that travel into the air, landing nowhere?  Why do I fight retreat and the desert?  I desire to dwell with the world and be recognized and my mouth screams for attention...I refuse to practice silence...If I speak or write should it not only be to repeat the Gospel without apologies or doubt but to say it again for others because it is life giving and redemptive and the only true importance?"

Maybe I should read that every day.  Because daily I forget and it is an awful thing to find in the pages of one's journal a heart that was previously softened and recognize it not as such at current.

Staying unconfessed will ruin us.  The only hope for redemption is repentance.  Turning away.  Living in that hardness, no more. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I thought, all this week, that I was experiencing writer's block, or merely short-term lack of inspiration. 

But then, what I'd sort-of been ignoring came to the forefront of my mind; the truth.  The truth that I've actually known what I've wanted to write about for a while.  I've just been postponing
because I haven't wanted to reveal.

But I'm going to try. 

That sermon on Sunday?  Where the pastor told us that we were not promised health and wealth and perfect relationships?  These were relatively easy ideas for me to swallow.  I guess.  But when the pastor declared, "Jesus was lonely,"  it got my attention.

My brain started immediately agreeing with this statement.  It seemed highly plausible and profound. 

Jesus didn't have a home. 

He felt let down when His disciples wouldn't keep watch with Him because this meant that they didn't quite get it; this would lead to loneliness. 

And also, I know that, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses."  (Hebrews 4:16)

But still, I kind-of wanted Biblical proof of actual loneliness.   I wanted to synchronize my notions with the facts.

The NIV says that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places..."(Luke 5:16).  But that sounds more like a choice. 

So I kept looking and I found that this is obviously a subject that matters to others. Apparently others have googled the question "Was Jesus every lonely?" 

You know what else others have googled?  "How do you make a friend?"  I know this because....

Ok, deep sigh, this is the revealing part that makes me cringe.

Because I'm lonely. 

Because I'm the kind-of girl who counts on others to initiate friendships, who holds onto friendships forever, and who would rather just be lonely than go out on a limb and risk rejection. 

And I've been all over the gamut on my feelings about this loneliness.  I've given into it and wallowed in it; I've been grateful for it because it has lead me closer to God; I've denied it; I've embraced it as mine, giving it a special acceptance, and most recently, I've blamed it on Iowa, on the people who live here.  

But truth be told, I'm sure I've experienced this at all times of my life on and off, maybe just the period of living in Iowa the longest. 

I do think it can be a gift.  I do think that surrounded by others, we can lose the inward search and the search for God.  I do believe God knows this kind of pain.  And I believe He uses it for seasons, to draw us near. 

But I also think there are times, one has to cave in and google, "how to make a friend"  And I say this because we are no doubt in a new era.  An era which includes texting and Facebook and all other sorts of social networking and I think that there are ways which this is changing us (damaging us?). 

When I was brooding over Border's bankruptcy, I found myself simultaneously imagining all the other wonderful things that might someday be devoured and disappear as we continue to progress or deteriorate, depending on how you want to look at it.  And I started worrying about the phone.  I know you're thinking, "The phone?!  We'd never get rid of the phone."  But wait, how many people (young people) use the phone much anymore?  Other than for texting?  Or checking their FB, or other similar tasks? 

I realized that with the surge of facebook, the phone (as in talking on it) has taken a backseat in my life.  Five, six years ago even, if I wanted to spend time with or talk to a friend or make a friend, I called her.  And I still call my prefacebook era friends but most of the new friends I've made, well, facebook is our go to.  We facebook about when we'll get together.  And then we get together.  But we miss out on that phone friendship.  The kind of friendship where you talk almost every day and therefore don't need to bother catching up when you are together. 

And, if we don't have to break the ice anymore by picking up the phone, calling to set a date for a get together, we probably won't then break into the easy phone type friendship that can be a lifesaver when you're a mom of young kids.  But... I guess that's just the way things are going. 

As far as advice I received from google?  It said, "If you want a friend, be a friend."  So, I went out on a limb and facebooked someone new. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


On Sunday, our pastor did a sermon on what God has promised us and what He has not promised us. 

He did not promise us health, wealth or perfect relationships.

The pastor pointed out that, in fact, most believers in the world are poor.  Most believers in the world are suffering.  Most people in the world are suffering and are poor.  This is the norm. 

America is not the norm.  The wealth, the health we have access to, is not a guarantee. 

Eighteen year old, Emilda, who resides in a squatter community in the Philippines and who has the mental capacity of a three year old is a runner.  She ran in the 2009 Philippine Special Olympics and qualified to be part of the national delegation to the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens.  Obviously, her parents can not afford to send her to Greece and while her church and community has been able to support her in local and national competitions, they can't afford the cost of Athens.

If you are interested in donating or reading more about Emilda, visit Compassion bloggers  or link to

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books."

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This idea of books as friends is dear to me. Quotes abound on this comparison. For many people, and perhaps especially those inclined to loneliness, books have lent hours of comfort and company.

I, growing up as an only child, found solace in the pages of many a good book, treasuring them, reading them over and over, organizing them and looking forward to monthly trips with my schoolteacher mother to Gardner's which was a book wholesaler. She would pick out her books and buy them in bulk for her students and I could pick as many books as I wanted to call my own. I remember laying on my bed when we arrived home, my pile high, trying to choose which book I wanted to read first.

When I was old enough to work, I just knew that the best job in the world would be to work at a bookstore. I applied at Barnes and Noble and didn't get the job. I applied at Border's and did. It was the best job in the world. Especially for someone like me, who not only was a lover of books but who was (is) a bit socially awkward. I was surrounded by others who loved books. I only had to work the cash register and the info desk part of the day and the rest of the time, my job was to alphabetize the books in 'my' section. My section was the art section and then was switched to Travel. But it wouldn't have mattered. It was the quiet, alone time doing something calming and it involved these important, steadfast 'friends' of mine. Some people would hate this type of work, I know. But personally, I would go back to work there for free if I had more time in my life.

So, I was truly sad to hear that Border's has filed bankruptcy. For all the evils of certain aspects of big corporations, working at Border's was such an amazing experience and the truth is, this company is so good to their employees. I'm all for the independent bookstore and smaller mom and pop stores but I have a very soft spot in my heart for this company.

But mostly, I'm troubled about what this news means to the future of books. Real books. I hate to think that bookstores, in general, might go by the wayside. When we can buy books online and now READ books online, I don't know what's going to happen to a people. What if years down the road, there are no books to touch?

And more books are going out of print these days. And going out of print more quickly.

While, I do care about the environment and I know that we need to stay in step with the times, I just can't reconcile my mind to the notion that we will no longer be able to browse through a bookstore, reading the backs of books, skimming a chapter in this book and that book while sipping a cup of coffee.

And what about all the people who meet in bookstores?!

Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe pretty soon, I'll be rocking in a chair, musing about how it used to be. I guess I already do that, minus the chair.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Needing More of God

I'm thinking I might have to change the name of my blog to something akin to "weatheringthroughthemothering" or some other sort of play on the weather since I seem to not be able to stop myself from starting almost every post with a reference of some sort to the climate.

So, let's just get that mandatory comment out of the way, shall we? Another beautiful day!! I feel like singing, "I can see clearly now....the SNOW is gone!"

I am in such a happy mood. And I have so many ideas flowing through my head. I thought I'd write on my distress with the fact that Border's has filed bankruptcy but I might save that one for a rainy day.

What is taking priority in my mind is the comment a good friend made on yesterday's post. My friend who is Jewish - I've mentioned her before.

While I don't agree with her on many things, I love her for her goodness and her kindness and her heart that shines (like the sun!). I, too want my light to shine forth. (Matthew 5:16).

We could debate theology, her and I, you and I. We could speak on issues of adoption, creation, being born sinful, the liberty to judge versus the call to not. And on all of these subjects, I have strong beliefs. Firm beliefs. But with all of my faith and with all that God has entrusted to me, I really just want to master how to love. Because this is the greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:36-40).

I believe fully, wholly, in the Apostle's Creed. One hundred percent.

But I have also determined that I desire not to be a theologian but a saint.

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God says,
"God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election,
predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal
with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, 'O
Lord, Thou knowest.' Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of
God's omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will
never make saints."

Couldn't we add many issues to Tozer's list to take up where he left off right after 'divine sovereignty'? We could and people have.

But I know my heart just a little bit, and I know that for right now, my heart really needs to learn love and servanthood. It does not need to debate.

I believe in one Truth. But I believe that the Truth must be given in Love. (Ephesians 4:15)

My friend said in her comment that, "we need God in order to really feel love for each other."

Yes, we all need God. I need more of God.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ah, I can taste summer today. It is bright and sunny and I'm tempted to go hang my laundry outside to dry - but that might be jumping the gun a bit.

So today I bask.

I won't worry about the rest of the seven day forecast which is not promising to be as lovely, the remains of winter wanting to hold tight. I'm just going to be grateful that today spring is winning.

Grateful and open to grace.

The sun pours in the house, illuminating everything and I want to feel it and feel too, wide waves of grace, like the sea, endless.

God please, help us to see this, to accept it, to receive it and to give it.

I have been sadly touched recently by the acknowledgement that there are many Christians who intellectually understand grace but who never seem to experientially get it. Who have never intimately embraced it.

I, myself, included.

We witness to others with grace about grace but when pivoted inward in our private, off the record moments we worry that God really requires perfection.

Could this be because we keep so much secret? Because we conceal the dirtiness in our hearts sweeping it right under the rug and prefer instead to put off some air of having it all together? In our failure to unveil the true stench of our sins to others are we under the mistaken notion that we're somehow keeping them from God too?

My friend Susan is touring this spring talking about this. What we're afraid to say in Church. What would be different if we stopped being afraid.

When we are afraid to be authentic could this mean that we have fallen prey to the unsaid lie that grace is nice in theory but not something to we can put any stock in?

I don't know. But it seems plausible. And it seems like so many Christians have not been set free.

Did we forget the cross?

If we really and truly believed in God's grace would we still be so afraid of opening up to one another? Would we be afraid of admitting that we read The Shack? Because this is what I feel like it sometimes gets boiled down to. And this is so not the point.

I sometimes think that it's easier to talk to non Christians because we don't have to feel them out, have the sin convo, fish to see if they read Blue Like Jazz and gauge what they thought of it, gauge where they stand as a Christian, while they gauge where we stand.

I'm not trying to incite, I just wonder what has happened when the Baptist members of a church won't meet at the Catholic church to talk about an issue important to the community? Are the Baptists afraid a spirit of Catholicism is going to fall on them?

I am not trying to rant. It's just that there is so much in between the extremes of legalism and being soft on the truth. But we make everything fall on one side or the other as an excuse to judge others while exempting ourselves. I am as guilty as anyone.

But must we judge each other to protect ourselves? Must we protect ourselves to avoid judgment? Why is this stuff coming out of us, the body? Those of us who KNOW the truth. Those of us who know that God's message is one of grace. Why are Christians sometimes those who feel the most condemned? How can we grow up in the churches and be surprised by grace?

A pastor I had in Arizona constantly would say, "It is grace plus nothing." Have we accepted that? I feel like we haven't. I feel like we don't give it and we don't receive it.

All I know is that I want this grace. His grace. And I want to give it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Listening to the Right Voice

Every once in a while, I make a move which is thoroughly in opposition to my nature. Overtaken with excitement about something, I clean forget certain important aspects of my personality, only to be reminded after I've made such a move and I begin to hear all the reasons why I did in fact, move to fast.

Fortunately, I'm speaking of making moves based on my love for God. In which case, I then have to deliberately bring to mind this one fact: my own personality disorders - I mean, traits, really won't matter if it's God's will.

A couple of years ago, Brett and I began earnestly and prayerfully contemplating moving to Jamaica to work in an orphanage. As soon as the ball started rolling, so did my stomach. I was nauseous all the time.

We, of course, did not go and it had more to do with my medical issues than anything else but I've since realized that I'm not particularly good at discerning between fear caused by the enemy and a whisper from God to slow down.

Sometimes, I do think we suffer nervousness because it really is not God's will. Or He just wants us to wait. But then there are times when being scared out of your mind is actually a sign that you ARE in God's will. Because I do believe that God calls us to do things that we actually have no capability for or experience in. And He says, I'll lead you through it. The Bible brims with examples of this.

It's not always possible to go with the "peace rule". Because sometimes we feel anything but peaceful even when we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.

So, I don't have a clear cut answer on this one. But I am positive that if the voices playing in your head regarding an issue become more than simple reminders that it is only in Christ that all things are possible and shift instead to accusations, then the accusatory voice must be silenced to find the REAL answer.

I've opened myself up to something now that I think may be God's will. I know with certainty that it is a Godly idea. Whether I'm the one He wants to use, I'm not sure, but if God has other plans then it is not because I am not His idea of a perfect Christian. Nope, pretty sure it's satan who whispers that kind of stuff.

Wanting to puke when deliberating doing something big for God - that could be perfectly natural.

Feeling like I'm not a worthy enough Christian to do something for the Kingdom because I've have "a past" or I still struggle with certain sins (as if I'm the only Christian who is not yet sanctified) or I don't wear Gap. The, "all good Christians were, are and always will be goody-goodies, don't have one single sin left in their life and only wear clothes from Gap", line of thinking has not an ounce of Biblical backing and therefore should probably be tossed out.

Thinking about all the things I'm not is pretty much the same as listening to all the lies about who I am. This was confirmed as I read an untitled blog this morning about how we label ourselves.

God names us. We don't and satan absolutely isn't allowed to. And when God names us, it's bound to be something really beautiful. It certainly will not be an insult. It won't be mean.

So, I'm working on tossing out any sort of labeling, name calling. But I'll be sure to not toss out the baby with the bathwater. I'll have to wait. And maybe this baby of an idea I've had WAS from God and maybe God will use me. Use me as I am and make me better through it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All for God

So, I've had to take a break.

And I probably won't be posting every day anymore.

Here is my confession:

I have this crazy bent toward taking even the best of gifts from God and turning them into something they are not. I can take a blessing and put my smudgy little fingerprints of sin all over it.

This blog was not my idea. It was God's. I was opposed at first, but once I gave my heart to it, I fell in love with the process.

But then....

I plucked it right out of God's hands. I began demanding, impatiently, epiphanic, revelational truths to write.

I started pouting about my lack of readers.

Oh, this is painful to write.

In essence, I wanted possession.

And I possess nothing.

If I am to do this, then it's only as a servant. And I know when I am failing in sacrifice and abounding in self gratification.

So, I came into agreement with God, maybe not willingly, but obediently, and said that I would wait. I told Him I'd stop altogether if that's what He wanted.

"If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of
renunciation." - Tozer

"And we shall need to steel ourselves against...piteous begging, and to
recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of
the human heart." - Tozer

Maybe I'm being vague but let's just say, I had to put down my staff. And then put everything back in His hands. And today, He said, For today, 'take it by the tail'.

It's embarrassing to expose the fact that I could turn a little old blog into an idol. It's down right shameful to confide that I could use it as a means of placing expectations and demands on God. How my ego could somehow find a dwelling place in such a bitty spot in cyberspace, I don't know. Nor do I know how I could make this all about performance and desire for recognition. But, yes, I somehow managed to do all this and maybe more.

So, I may not be a daily writer anymore. If I'm feeling led by self rather than Spirit, I won't write.

All I want is to find God. If being here helps, then I will come. I don't know how many times I may have to throw down my staff or argue with God about my speech defects but today I'm on my face and humbled and grateful to know that He's called me just the same.

"Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance of faith. We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee There. In Jesus' name, Amen."

-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Misty Edwards, 'I Knew What I Was Getting Into', 2009-08-06, Prayer Room...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Remembering and Repeating

I am lacking patience today. I am wanting, badly, to complain. And then I read Ann Voskamp's blog about taking "today slow and quiet" and from there a blog on not complaining. Yes, He always does this. Brings me to where I need to be, lets me hear what I need to hear. I read these things, try to absorb, appreciate God's infinite wisdom, His uncanny ability to talk to me about just the things I need to learn. But still, I don't know if it's helping. If it's all getting through. The blog on not complaining was a challenge for Monday. Well, it's Tuesday. So, maybe that doesn't count. And isn't there a difference between complaining and venting?

But I come to this place, this brief afternoon time I allow myself, of quiet where I write, and I'm praying for these things I too easily relinquish, that patience shed before even properly worn, that long suffering spirit which eludes me often. I am praying for accordance with God's will, what he has not only challenged me to but says is possible and available. I know He left peace with us. (John 14:27) Peace for even the days I'm required to run.

It is hard to remember the gratitude and laughter of yesterday when today the grocery store looms and the kids all have activities and places to be and how will I manage to even cook dinner? Can I take a day full and make it slow and quiet? How do I find quiet when the kids are LOUD? And they all want to talk at once, rambunctious, and I can hardly think?

It's remembering and repeating. Remembering that this time is precious. Fleeting, and soon all will be too quiet. It is repeating these remembrances while I run and returning to all the memory verses about peace and long suffering and gratitude. It is listening to God and child, with new ears. God in the child.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Laughter and Gratitude

I talked the other day about how isolation chokes intimacy. I've since thought of a couple others. Guilt (I do believe, a totally useless emotion) chokes gratitude and legalism chokes laughter. Today I'm practicing gratitude and laughter.

My house is a wreck. I am not what you would call a fastidious housekeeper. But yesterday was Sunday. Superbowl Sunday, which means, though I don't care at all about sports, that there was an added defense for relaxation. And I am trying to subsume Sundays as a day of rest. So I took a four hour nap after church. And then because I am not a fan of football, I went on a father daughter date with my dad to the bookstore and out to dinner. I feel myself favored to have a father who also does not enjoy sports and who, like me, would prefer to read a good book. Not many girls have that. So we spent hours in the car reading out loud Stuff Christians Like and getting a good laugh. I didn't get home until Tenish and the kids (ALL of them) were up watching a movie with Brett, now that the game was over. Yes, husbands do things a little differently. He let them sleep on the floor atop a bunch of blankets all night. And the blankets, I'll admit stayed on the floor until quite recently. But, it's okay. It's okay that I did not prepare one meal yesterday, did not do a lick of laundry and basically, let the house go. This, I'm getting used to. For Sundays.

The rest of the week poses a bit more of a problem. Because though I clean, wash and sort laundry, and cook regularly, yes, daily, it's not entirely evident. If anyone were to pop in unannounced, I'd be mortified. And believe me, this has happened. But I'm trying to excuse myself this too. Not, excuse myself from cleaning, but rather excuse myself from the fact that one can't tell I clean. I've been consoling myself lately with the viewpoint that my untidiness is due to artistic temperament. I'm not actually artistic, but I think temperament has to count for something. A few years back, I saw a quote that I seriously thought about stenciling on the wall: "Only boring women keep immaculate homes", or something of the like but My mother-in-law didn't see the humor in it and in the end....I just tried harder to keep a nice house.

But now I'm back to giving in mode. Giving in to the idea that at least, for now, while the kids are little, cleaning house really is like shoveling snow in a snow storm. Many people actually do that, here in Iowa. That's another thing. I've also decided that Iowa women are actually better at maintaining their houses like showrooms. My friends in Arizona were a bit more like me, not quite Molly Homemakers, but here, everyone seems to keep a spotless home. Maybe the Midwesterners grew up with less to do? Thus, mastering this important craft? Maybe more stay-at-home moms here in the center of the country when women my age were growing up?

Anyhow, my disclaimer, is this: Housekeeping is not my art. It is not my area of expertise. I am quite envious of those who possess this talent. But please, don't judge me if I'm not gifted in this area. And please, too, call before you show up. It will save us both embarrassment.

By the way, 'cleanliness is next to godliness' is nowhere in the Bible. And....God does not want us to strive. So, there. For today, I will stop with this striving, I will laugh at myself and be grateful for all I do possess.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just Musings on All This Inevitablity

As I bathed the baby (will I always call her 'the baby?) this morning, and stared at her with all that mother awe, I became aware that I was living out one of those moments, those moments you really note. Those precious points in time where you are truly conscious that it's all slipping away, what seems an eternity is but really a vapor. And she beamed up at me that huge grin of hers, like so much light. And I can't help but grin back at this little tow-headed effulgence. I've never seen a smile so big. I realized, right then, that this, this is how I know her now, as a baby, a child of mine. It won't always be so. She will not be mine forever.

Things change and grow and children change and grow. Their shape shifting constantly, wriggling right out of our hands. Can we adapt as they alter? I'm sure we do, unaware, but too, at the end of the day, when they are fully grown and perhaps, we have become grandparents, will we still know this child? Or will this one be "The Baby". "The Baby" has four children of her own now. "The Baby" just earned her Masters. "The Baby" is a woman. A woman. My son will be a man. And when they visit, and I hope they do often, will I really know them? Will they still be mine?

My own mother and father, surely they love me. I know this. But I wonder, if they love me as who I am now. Or do they love the child they still see in me? Because that's all they were ever really able to see and know? I do not hold back from them. I invite them to know who I've become, but the all of me, the entirety of my adulthood, how could they ever fully grasp this? How could they understand totally that I am a woman who is loved by a man. A woman made so, by bearing children? A woman with lofty thoughts, desires, impulses so much distance between the now and the then. The little girl I was who didn't want her hair brushed, who climbed trees and played with porcelain dolls.

And maybe they can almost understand it. Maybe they can, more so than I know. I have not been yet, where they are. Maybe the cycle of life opens us up to insights I can't yet imagine.

But as I watched this writhing, wet and tiny barely two year old of mine, in all her watery glee, I came into awareness that this is not who she was. Her little baby self cannot fathom who she will someday be and nor can I.

It's bittersweet to love these beings with all you've got. Sensing that somehow someday everything will have changed. And it will happen in the mere blink of an eye.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Going Forth With the Silent Places

Intimacy and isolation.

Two words I have difficulty expanding on, exploring, or explaining. Words which seem not in union but perhaps, are?

Iowa, has provided me a terrible and great isolation. It has become my desert. And I hail from the literal desert. But I have known loneliness unlike ever before in this place.

And yet, too, I have known intimacy, cultivated despite this place of barrenness or maybe because of the desolation. My husband and I married ten years, the last five here. And here was where we have needed to be. Forsaken up to only family and each other. Without the distractions of city life and even friends, this has become a residence of reconnection.

But as I have, here, swelled with two lives, so I've been stretched with silence, so uninvolved in life outside my nest, and I have realized not only the value of quiet, but the value of voice.

Last night, as I drove my six year old daughter to gymnastics, I listened to her chatter. I mean, really worked at listening. It was a story she was telling. A long one. Children love to talk. Most people love to talk. Admittedly, I found myself coming in and out of the story and its complexities, but I did attempt to stay with her for the duration. Children feel loved when they feel heard. This creates intimacy. Connectedness. All of our heart's desire.

Intimacy and isolation. I can barely speak of either. Both flush my face but I see the danger in this, too clear. I see how in the midst of isolation, abiding in the backwoods of retreat, one might well forget how to speak, lose their voice. And then, too, would intimacy withdraw. Because isolation chokes intimacy

Silence is necessary but stuck in silence we die, friendships die, marriages die.

"God has asked you and chosen you to be the carrier of that silent place within yourself."
-Catherine de Hueck Doherty from Poustinia-Christian Spirituality of the East for the Western Man

In isolation, nothing travels, and lights burn out.

"Let your light so shine before men..." Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Invincible Summer

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

-Albert Camus

I'm working on learning this. On these freshly, fallen days to say thank you and find gladness within rather than without. Find joy while wading through endless housework. These days of winter have prompted learning. It is the quiet, the still, the mundane, the isolation, the everyday that spurs the desire for change, for training. It is the prosaic which finally has no choice but to challenge and force questions.

I wait for summer anxiously, but too, I know the Son. His light sustains.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How to Know

I can hear this storm coming in. From my bedroom, I eavesdrop on the song and dance of wind, the secrets of storms and it sounds as if the earth is settling, like a house settles.

But then there's the safety I feel here and so, though doom and gloom is forecasted, it's still hard to comprehend any crisis in these clouds. Where I sit is warm and I have everything I need.

I need to go where there is suffering. I need to know what makes God weep. I am deprived of knowing what I need to know. America is too comfortable. We are too at peace with it all, complacent. And this globe is huge. We are so small. Reading of these other continents, whose hands hold grief on a daily basis, take it as a given. What do the hands of our country hold? Hold tightly to? What do our own hands hold? Are they marked with piercings when they ought to be? I can't reconcile where I am in comparison to where so many have been and will continue to be. To where I've always been to where they've always been. Separate worlds, we inhabit. It is an illusion to think it's all the same orb. How can it be, when we here, know nothing, for all we think we know?

Just as from my haven, though I hear the racket, evidence of the weather's tantrum, the threat, it doesn't touch my skin.

Where can I go to acquaint myself to the truth I believe in, so that I might know? Would I want to, really? Would I be fearless enough to allow the grit to dirty my skin so my interior could be washed? And then what? Then what would I do with the knowledge? It could never be familiarity. So how could I ever know even a modicum of what God does? Grasp just a bit of what He does, without collapsing under the weight of it all?