Saturday, January 4, 2014

Doughnuts, Messy Counters, and Redemption

My daughter was listening to Farmer Boy this morning and, always, what stands out to us is the FOOD these people ate.  She ran downstairs claiming she wanted apple pie, doughnuts, and pancakes for breakfast.

Um, no.

BUT, I did look up a quick recipe for homemade doughnuts and I fried up some gluten for breakfast this morning.  She was in charge of the powdered sugar and, by "in charge," I mean she dumped gallons upon every doughnut hole that came out of the grease.

Exasperated, I wailed, "You are making a huge mess!"  To which she replied with a deep and powerful truth.

"Yes, but it's a gooey, delicious mess."

She didn't refute the mess or deny its presence.  She simply saw it for what it was - messy, gooey, and...delicious.

I could use some of that perspective.

Day in and day out, my life is, quite simply, a MESS.  The house gets messy, the laundry gets messy, my words get messy, the schoolwork gets messy, my attitude gets messy.

But what's the alternative?  Perfection?  Neatness?  Everything piled up nicely in a row in our quiet little ordered lives? (Yes, Tia, that's exactly how I was thinking I'd like to live.)

But...really?  I mean REALLY?

What if everything always stayed in its place and we lived a life of....of what?  Of sipping lattes?  Of freshly fried doughnuts void of sugar, or, worse yet, covered with a pre-measured portion that was...perfect?  What is our life if it doesn't get a little messy from time to time?  Boring?  Predictable?

No thanks.

Once upon a time, a Man was born in a dirty, filthy, MESSY stable.  He dined with messy people who led messy lives and He made a mess out of their rules and He reached down into the mire and arose a redeemer.  He walked up a hill carrying a mess of wood, bleeding and broken and arrived only to be nailed, thrown in a hole right beside two men - whose lives were a mess.

The cross is messy.  Redemption is messy.  LIFE is messy.

He didn't come to eradicate our mess...He came to redeem it.

He came to rescue the fallen, to hold tight to the wailing, and to whisper loudly to the world His voice of reason and righteousness.  He didn't promise a life of order.  He promised a life of carrying our own bloody cross up a messy hill and dying to the mess that is our flesh.

Will I give thanks for the morning and the counter dusted with flour and the little girl inspired by a book and the sugar all over the plate and the doughnuts piled high with snowy white? Will I see it all from the perspective of a Father who loves me enough to live the mess, give me the mess, and call it all delicious?

I like to think that the more messy things become, the more I'm being molded into the image of a Creator who used dirt to do molding and arrived incarnate in a stable.  I want to be just like a King who sat down with the thieves and whores and wasn't afraid of their mess or the men who hated it.

I'm sure He wouldn't have minded a little extra powdered sugar.

I needed today.

I needed a little girl to dump sugar merrily, call it gooey and delicious, and remind me that this life, this home, this family, this task to which we are called, this living joyfully amidst the messy, it's Kingdom work and it IS a mess.

We are all a mess.

"Yes," says the brown-eyed girl, standing tall on the black chair in the messy kitchen, sprinkling triumphantly, "but it's a gooey, delicious mess."

And her mother laughs.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Under Construction!

It's finally done!

The blog is moved, the new year is beginning, and I'm turning over a new leaf.  Or maybe an old one.

With the hard work out of the way, the easier task of writing and sharing can once again begin.  I am still in a bit of transition, so some things to watch for:

(I thought this photo was cuter than those of construction hats - it's a puzzle being put together...under construction...get it? This is why I don't typically add pictures to my posts. I choose something odd, then spend a bunch of time talking about it.)

1.  If you are an email subscriber, you may receive another confirmation email this week as I move everyone over to the new...server? host? site?  I don't know.  But it's all being MOVED, so be ready to confirm your subscription (again.)

2.  If you experience any kinks in any area of this blog, please send me an email and let me know so I can fix it ask my husband to fix it for me.

3.  If you are not yet subscribed via email, now is a great time to do so!  I am not a great Tweeter or Facebook page updater, or Instagrammer (yes, I had to double that m), so the best way to stay caught up with my posts is to simply sign up to have them delivered directly to your inbox.  Funny how email is starting to seem old-fashioned.  I don't post super often, I never share your email with anyone (no offense, but no one is exactly banging down my door begging for your email address), and I never email offers (because I don't have any) or anything else annoying.  (Well, you may be annoyed by my rants, my lamentations, and my metaphorical ramblings, but if that's the case, you probably aren't reading this in the first place.)

I use parenthesis, commas, series, run sentences, and fragments when I'm excited...can you tell? It's the cutting up and stretching out of sentences, the obsession with the English language, and the intentional refusal to conform...even to grammar rules, apparently, which are usually something about which I can be rather picky.

So I'm a hypocrite, too.

Welcome back, welcome for the first time, glad you are here, and hello 2014!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It Was Enough

I took my daughter to Target.  All by herself.

We are a homeschooling family, which means we do everything together.  Everything.  This has its perks and is one of the reasons we chose this journey in the first place.  But sometimes I think it means we get a little less one on one time...maybe we have to fight a little harder to get a child alone.

Of course, maybe with drop off, pick ups, and after school practice, it is a challenge for all of matter our choices regarding education.

Either way, this moment, for us, is somewhat of a rarity.

I had noticed my oldest was crying more than usual and seemed a little overwhelmed with life in general.  She asked if we could please go somewhere alone.

I knew what she meant.  I know a little something about overwhelmed.

So we headed to Target.  She needed stickers for an art project she wanted to complete and I, personally, think Target is a joyful place.  For whatever reason.

We purchased hot chocolate, shopped for stickers, rifled through clearance notebooks, and conversed about nothing in particular.

That trip was hard for me.

I wanted to say so many things.  I wanted to tell her how proud I was of her.  That I know it's hard being the oldest and bearing more responsibility than you feel should be yours.  I wanted to ask her if she was okay.  If I was doing anything right.  I wanted to drill her about her lessons. Does she like school?  Is it too hard?  Too easy?  What books would she like to read next  year?  I wanted to break down her ever-present walls and march straight into her heart.

But she's not that kind of girl.

She is quiet.  Contemplative.  She'll talk to you about what she wants to say...when she's ready.  And if you pry?  She clams up.  It's too much...all the asking and prying.

This is the child who, weeks after they are over, shares stories of hurt and confusion with me.  Usually in the dark.  She needs time to process life before discussing it.

She is exactly like her father.

I've had to learn, being a woman of loud and abundant speech, that souls like these are precious.  These are not hearts into which you can rush with your questions and encouragement and verbose professions of love.

You say it once.  You say it clear.  And you let them be.

So we just went.  We went for the sake of just being with no motive on my part and no expectations placed upon her.

As the trip came to an end, we marched into the open air, longing now for the comfort that is home.  There, in the descending dark, swirling swiftly and magically, the last snowstorm of the year fell upon us.  We rushed about, catching snowflakes on our tongues, looking for the car that I always lose and she always finds, and played together in the moisture-laden night.

We didn't have an earth-shattering conversation.  We didn't discuss Scripture or life or love or happiness or any matters of the heart.  I didn't pepper her with questions or gush about how wonderful she was or lay my insecurities at her ill-prepared feet.  I refused the well inside me that was bursting forth with lamentations and praise about life and about faith.

We went to Target.  We walked together.  We chased snowflakes in the dark.

And it was enough.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Joyful Change

So, I was thinking this week (here we go again...)

Something hit me.  Something I didn't see coming and didn't even know was on the horizon.  My self-righteous-all-about-me-sinful-self didn't see it.

She wasn't looking.

The ancient Spartans were do-ers.  They DID horrible things like leave weak babies to die and they esteemed brute force as the only force to be reckoned with.  Their neighbors, the Athenians...they esteemed culture.  Pictures, books, and intellect.  It was said of the Athenians that they "knew" all the right things but did not "do" them.  They were hearers and not do-ers.  Spartans?  They were just plain mean.  But no one ever accused them of not doing anything.

I do not wish to be like the barbaric Spartan.  But the hedonistic, hypocritical Athenian?  I don't want to be her either.  It's time I took myself seriously.

I began to ask myself this question: Do I believe that my attitudes and actions will impact the long-term health, growth, and spiritual well-being of my children?

Well?  Do I or don't I?

I saw a video this week about a woman who threw herself in front of an SUV.  Her children were inside and heading towards a cliff.  The car ran over her and she is now paralyzed from the waist down.  But her body slowed them down just enough that the grandfather was able to jump inside and pull the emergency brake.  Her sacrifice saved the lives of her children.

Do I believe that the sacrifices I make will save the lives of my children?

If I do...if I believe that being here, every day...washing feet and teaching grammar...if I believe these sacrifices to be life-changing, life-giving, life-saving...

Then I must stand tall and refuse the lies the enemy throws at me.  I had better stop complaining and wallowing. I must learn to take the good with the bad and gives thanks for both.

Mothers make different kinds of sacrifices every day.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Somewhere, a mother spends her days in a wheelchair because of the sacrifice she chose.  Me?  I just get to spend ample time with precious souls.  Hardly seems like sacrifice.

Why does it feel so sacrificial at times?

It has to be that I am selfish and self-absorbed.  That I care more about my day and what I need than about  those around me.  God placed me here in a state of always-giving because He knows that giving must come harder for some of us than for others.  For me?  The ever-giving is what is maturing me (slowly.)  I want to be her.  The person Jesus is trying so desperately hard to make of me.   A woman who gives.  Gives freely and abundantly.  Without reservation.  Without self-seeking desires creeping up at every turn.  I want to get out of the way and just be clay.

It's hard to be clay when you are a rock.  Albeit, a  teary, Athenian, book-loving rock.  But a rock non-the-less.

I wrote to a friend today that I want to shove my selfish endeavors under a rock and sit and bask in the sun.  Or the Son.

As another day winds down and my heart feels lightened by the words that burdened it all week, I pray for the strength and resolve to lay down my life joyfully.  That I might live abundantly.  And that I may walk in the knowledge that the sacrifices I make today will change the tomorrow of the souls with whom I've been entrusted.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I woke up, sleep deprived, to two sick kids, school to be taught, and a mess of a headache.

Maybe I should have just stayed in bed.

Malfunctioning toilets, smoothies-all-over-the-floor, math-crying (you know, the crying that accompanies math on days when everything else is already falling apart), fevers, Kleenex, a mommy-run-down, and only one lap to house it all.

I poured myself out today...completely and totally.  So much emptied that, by bedtime, I wasn't even surprised when the dog peed in her kennel.  My voice barely held inflection as I assured my six year old that the smoothie would clean out of her shirt.

I sent my nine year old upstairs to do her nighttime chores while I prepared her younger, under the weather, sisters for bed.  As I finished teeth brushing, nose blowing, and medicine giving, I climbed into bed with them, one on each side, and fell flat onto my back.


The word floated through my aching body.

When days run into nights and sleep comes in patches, squeezed between two fever-ridden bodies...this is when the mother breaks.  When she is emptied.  And just as He filled the jars of the widow, and healed the ear of the soldier, so will he mend us. Bring us back to full.  And it's  only here...when there's nothing left...that His healing seems most miraculous.

As their breathing becomes slow and they drift off to a deep slumber that I pray will soothe what ails them, I close my eyes and breathe deep.  One more day.

I help the big sister get to sleep, then head to do the only thing I know to do when I have nothing left.

I grab my pen and my Bible and start copying.  I am writing through books of the Bible right now...mostly because it's the most effective way I know to meditate on the Word of God, even when I'm too tired to do so.

My breathing slows as I write methodically, eternal truths burning into my soul as they are etched onto paper...and the filling begins.

It takes a whole lot of faith for me to admit that I can handle no more.  It's  hard for me to come to the place where I throw my hands in the air and admit that I am void of any more giving.  But this truth...that I am a broken vessel empty of anything worthy to true even on my best day.

Today is really no different...but it's always the mess, the crying, and the tired mama, that sends me running straight for the cross.

I thank God for days like today...the ones that put me in my place.  Humbled, brought low, muddling through with the sinking realization that I cannot keep going.  I love it when He shows up, picks me up and keeps right on walking.  Straight towards holiness.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

So I Had A Birthday...

On Christmas Eve, I turned thirty-three.  That's three years removed from thirty.  Three years past what I remembered to be "old."  Or at least, as old as my mom.  Or my dad.  As old as a parent.  A grown-up.  And I'm now, most definitively, three years older than that.


There's something that happens between twenty-three and thirty-three.  It's a phenomenon I think some would call, "maturing."

You see, the older I get, the less I seem to know.  The more years I put between adult motherhood and my college self, the less I know what the heck I'm doing...or which route is the correct...or which parenting guru-author is grounded in truth.  Twenty-three year old me had it all figured out.  Thirty-three year old me?  Not so much.

If this is maturity, maybe I don't want it.

I kind of liked knowing it all...or thinking I did.  There is a confidence that comes with having everything mapped out.  Black and white makes the world a little easier to navigate.

Nowadays?  There is a little more gray.  A little more uncertainty as I try, again, to find my footing on holy ground.

So I find myself going back to the basics.  Our pastor used to always say, "Do what you know and you'll know what to do."  In other words...these days?  I'm sticking to what I know.

I know God is good.  I know He has preserved His Word for this generation.  I believe in redemption and in restoration.  I know Jesus has walked on water, out of a tomb and into the hearts of all those who have called upon His name.

I know He is faithful.

I know that, at the end of it all, if the glorification of a Holy God has not been my focus, all my efforts are futile.

So right now, as years are beginning to scream by faster than I can time slips through my fingertips before I can grasp the moments and hold on...I cling to Truth.

Maybe growing up is about letting go.  Letting go of guilt...of perfectionism...of thinking I know anything about anything.

The road from twenty-three to thirty-three is paved with whole lot of failure and falling down.  And once we get here?  We've been bruised and battered, healed and restored, crushed and repaired so many times that we stare down the next ten years with a little bit of hesitation and a whole lot more faith.

Maybe it's not so bad...all this growing up and maturing.

It does seem odd to me that the wisdom I need right now, in the thick of mothering, mentoring, and muck, will not completely descend upon me until I no longer need it.

But then?  Maybe someone else will need me.  Another twenty-three year old mother will stand at the back of the church, clinging to her baby, looking for all the world both scared and solidified in her stance.

Maybe I'll have to guts to walk up to her, take her baby, bounce her on my hip and whisper, with a twinkle in my eye, "Honey, you don't know anything..."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Learning to Walk

She begged. She pleaded. She insisted. She would wear nothing else.

No matter how much I encouraged and explained, it became quite obvious...she was going to wear flip flops to the neighbor's house. Socks or no socks, one size too big, Hello Kitty embossed...they were her method of transportation this morning.

Oh I could have insisted...I could have played the mom card, picked the battle, emerged victorious amongst a myriad of tears and protests. But I chose to let it go.

As I watched her stumble across the driveway and into the grass, barely staying upright, I kind of wanted to shout, "I told you so!"

But I didn't. Instead, something clicked and I muffled a giggle.

She turned and shouted, "Do I look funny!?" I smiled and encouraged her, "No! You look great."

And she did.

She made, not the wisest choice, but the one she thought best. She'll learn...maybe next time she'll choose different shoes, remembering her difficult trek across the yard. Or maybe she'll choose the same shoes and walk it a little taller, having gained the experience.

I have to think our Father looks at us the same way occasionally. We moan and complain. We demand to have things our way, try it this way...just this one time. While our choices aren't always the wisest, they also aren't always directly in defiance of our Savior. So, occasionally, I think He chooses to let it go.

Maybe He picks His battles, too.

And as we walk through our season of life, draped in our clunky, ill-informed choices, perhaps he stifles the desire to whisper it into our souls, "I told you so."

Maybe He just lets us walk. Let's us stumble and even fall. He giggles (this I'm sure of) as we fumble along...and as we become uncertain, we turn and ask, "Do I look funny?"

"No," He says. "You look great."

Perhaps He gives us this autonomy, this freedom to stumble around in shoes that don't fit, so that we can choose more wisely next time. Or maybe He lets us muddle through, knowing that eventually we'll learn how to walk in whatever shoes present themselves.

Maybe the point is that we keep walking...keep moving forward. Refusing to stand still. No matter the less-than-ideal choices we've made.

But maybe...quite possibly...I'm taking analogies too far these days.

Perhaps it's just a four year old in flip flops...golden hair blowing as she puts one foot in front of another, learning to walk in a world unstable.