Saturday, April 30, 2011

Addressing Spirits

There's a certain "lostness" that comes with the job of stay-at-home-momma.  It's a good lostness, to be sure.  Our kids are small only once and the early years are so precious.  And it's so very good to get a little lost in your time together because the moments are fleeting. And we want so desperately to live fully in each one. 

But even good needs to be balanced with some healthy resistance.  'Cuz life is so much bigger than us. 

There's a scene from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre that I love.  After a painful childhood of neglect and unwant, Jane finds herself valued.  For the first time in her life she is treated as an equal by her employer, Mr. Rochester.  Equals become friends and hearts blossom into a love that seems impossible.  She faces an uncertain future as he entertains aloud the obligations he faces to marry another woman.  And her heart, strong now from love, writhes:
Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!

Small and obscure.  Poor and little.  Unwanted.  Uncared for.  Unloved.  Unnoticed.  Cold, harsh realities that describe life for so any people around our world.  People equal to us in every way but in opportunity.  People we forget all about as we live in the lostness of our own families, tucked in safe beds at night.

Love turns the whole thing around.

Brave, risky love steps forward to defend the weak against the strong, against those fat on power and position.  Organizations like WAR, International (Women At Risk), the International Justice Mission (IJM), and charity: water are becoming dear to my heart.  They square shoulders and dive into deep waters of pain to pull people out, to provide, to protect, to infect those broken lives with hope.  Practically meeting needs.  And I love them for it. 

How can you not?

Much, much more to come on these organizations.  I'm excited to continue to share what I discover.  In the mean time, check them out (WAR, Internationalcharity: water / The International Justice Mission.)  They'd offer some great ideas for Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, birthdays, etc.  Help them love the obscure.  Give.  Volunteer.  Help them speak for the voiceless.  Pray.  Spread the word.

I read a story last month about an American couple who adopted brothers from Russia some years back.  When they entered the orphanage, they were stunned by the silence.  Rooms of babies quietly rocking themselves in their cribs, wooden slats knocking on the walls of their loveless home.  The soon-to-be-daddy remarked that after a while of going unheard, even babies will quit crying out.  They know no one is coming for them.

Pain throws hearts to the ground.  But love?  Love turns it all around.  We are blessed to bless.  'Cuz life is bigger than us...

We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.
(Mother Teresa)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Silver Linings


It's official: except for a few odds and ends at my parents' place and the pieces of ourselves we left behind, we have moved.  Bittersweet - I've had my tearful moments.  But it is so good to have Jon home, to have dinners and even lunches together.  Looking forward to sweeter days ahead.  (And visits, rights?  Guest room is set up and waiting for you guys.  For reals.)


I don't need surgery.  Still have to stay off my foot completely for another two weeks plus time of building strength up after that...but I'm healing.  Got the x-rays to prove it.  My God is kind.  He would be even if I did need surgery, but I am so very thankful...

I don't stop to try to figure things out; to try to solve the riddles and whys and what's-the-meaning-behind-this's of life.  I don't really see the point.  It's all just adventure.  Another chapter, another part of the story.  And this story I observe unfolding, is a good one.

Our church family and my own extended family have come over every day for three weeks to help me with laundry, to help with my kids, to make sure they went down for naps, got outside to play, cut hair, painted toenails, went to the store.  And then, they sent us off with a walker, a shower chair, and a freezer full of food to help make the final move easier for our family. 

Eden, my little firecracker that first and forever made me a momma, has come alive.  The little nurturer has awakened within her  When she isn't helping me reach something or running to get something for me, she kisses the baby growing inside me.  We read stories and draw her hand on crisp white pages.  She goes out on adventures and brings me back flowers and rocks, little gifts of the outdoors.

For as long as his busy boy body will allow, my sweet Silas snuggles with me.  He showers me with sloppy wet smooches.  We mimic each other and have fake laugh contests.  (He usually wins 'cause I can't fake it for long.  Real laughter erupts from within me.  Can't help it.  His fake laugh gets me every time.)

Then there's my guy, Jonathan Simeon.  The man that I love and married, when I swore I'd never get married.  He bears all this added responsibility on strong, capable shoulders, bathing kids and getting them tucked in for the night.  He goes grocery shopping.  He stays up late to help me shower - not in the steamy honeymoon version following a day of "I dos."  It's the "Hey, I need you 'cuz I can't do it on my own and I'm gonna start stinking" version.  In sickness and in health.

And somehow the magic of need is transforming our little family.  The humility of not being able to do things for myself, requiring me to swallow pride and ask for help, is changing me.  And it's all knitting us tighter together, tucked up in love.  I'm so glad for a slower pace to be able to see.  To notice, to soak it all in.

My reading has been so very timely...

And I'm so very thankful - for a God that sends people to take good care of us.  And for people that respond as His hands and heart.  There aren't words.  And while thank you doesn't seem to quite suffice, thank you. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vision and Peace and the Return of the Fanny Pack

Remember doing this in grade school?  What object doesn't belong?

If this was grade school, if you said the boot, you'd get a big red-penned smiley face next to your answer. 

But several miles west of grade school, these objects all describe our moving weekend. Thursday night, I broke my fibula.  Wish I could tell you an amazing story at this point about para sailing or skydiving -  some activity meriting a broken ankle.  I can't.  Walking down the stairs, I stepped down wrong, rolling my foot and snapping bone.  Just like that.

Let me tell you, I'm not a-sit-around-and wait-for people-to-help-you sort of girl.  I like rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.  I like independence.  I like the freedom of loading my kids up in the car and going on some adventure.  I like being able to walk up the stairs to kiss them goodnight.  I like to sit outside on a blanket in the uneven grass with my son; kick the soccer ball around with my daughter.  I like taking care of my husband, making sure his work clothes are ready for the week, trying out new recipes he'll like.  I've been looking forward to setting up our new home, getting organized just so. 

I can't put weight on my right foot for 6-8 weeks, maybe more if surgery is needed.  I'm not sure how a pregnant momma of two little ones with spring outside survives a sentence like that.....but I know we will.

It's so easy to doggie paddle in the deep end of self pity, thinking about all the ways this inconveniences my life; going down the list of things I won't be able to do with a big yellow "why me" highlighter.  A shower becomes a production.  A trip to the grocery by myself, impossible.  Book on the floor, a major hazard.  Trust me, I've had my doggie-paddling moments already.

It'd be so easy to stay there, highlighter poised.  6-8 weeks is a long time.  But it isn't forever.  And it certainly isn't life-threatening.  I feel pain, but at least I know the pain will end.  I have a support system surrounding me, family and friends jumping in to help out.  Many suffer alone.  Above all these things, I belong to a God who sees.  A God who cares.

I hope Jon and I look back on this season and laugh as we remember the fanny pack I broke out to get things from place to place, hobbling around on crutches.  (Okay, for now the fanny pack is a joke.  I'm using my pockets.  But in a week or two, I might be pretty tempted...)  I hope we look back and remember the family and friends who showed up, not because they were obligated but because this is part of life, too, and all a part of doing life together.  I hope we remember with absolute clarity how our Good God was near us, providing all we needed along the way. 

Let's try again.  What doesn't belong?

A loving family.

Supportive friends.

A kind God.

An ungrateful heart.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

Photos by Kenna.