Monthly Archives: April 2012

Do-Over

As I rolled out of bed this morning, I felt such a relief knowing that God created today to be new.  It’s no longer yesterday (thank goodness!).  The earth is a bit farther around the sun, and the air I’m breathing is not the same air I breathed the day before.  Mercy is new, and every morning we get the chance for a do-over.

Praise the Lord for this.  Josh had his weekly coffee date early this morning, so I didn’t see him; but, undoubtedly he woke with a similar refreshment.  Yesterday beat the tar out of us.  For me, it was supposed to be a day full of unexpected accomplishment and list-checking.  I have breaking points when I just go haywire on our house.  In the Fall, I walk around the house some random night with a big bin and just start dumping every pair of sandals and flip flops scattered all over the house. I follow this by the dust-buster and an evening of sorting through the shoes that stay and the shoes that are shipped to Goodwill.  In the winter, I feel so cooped up and find myself a few times getting so *sick* of the condition of the attic that I bury myself in the mess, coming up to breathe every hour or so until I can at least walk through it.  Then I do the same thing to the basement. My closets receive the same brutal treatment, and so does every pile of junk or stack of papers. (Funny how I just got the idea to organize the pile of picture frames that’s cluttering the shelf in my front closet). You’d think because of these manic episodes, our house would be one of order and at least have the appearance of precision.  On the contrary.  I don’t know how or why, but Josh and I have the ability to be gross and messy.  To keep order in our lives takes more effort than it does for some, whether it’s a necessary routine, a checkbook, or a functional sock drawer.  We have to re-check our systems every few months, sometimes taking bombs to them and just starting–yet again–from scratch.

And every once in a while, when we’re trimming and pruning our lifestyle, we realize there are deep, ugly roots that are still present.  Really deep. Really ugly.  All this time, with the meal planning, the cleaning, the disciplining, the working, the prioritizing we’ve done the past several years to make our little life together glorious to God…it all seems to have been harvested in really rocky soil.  So rocky, in fact, that we’ve got to pull the roots out, interrupting the seemingly peaceful, put-together existence we’d been maintaining.  We got a bit of bad financial news (probably inappropriate to discuss details here) that reminded us of the foolishness behind us, the years where being irresponsible didn’t seem to have that big of a price.  It’s difficult to see our progress (much less focus on it!) when we’re shoveling deep to uproot the consequences of old habits.

Last night, we both had important commitments that we canceled to stay home, be together, and work through the pain of realizing we’re not fully grown-ups yet.  I was supposed to attend one of my 4-week sessions of Jill Tanis’ Family Food Revolution course, another effort of mine to make of our lives healthier.  Josh was supposed to attend the *amazing* Rend Collective Experiment/Francis Chan event at Central Wesleyan Church.  We would have both been in our element, searching for soul food and coming up filled up.  Instead, we were here, being responsible and sifting through paperwork while making a plan for betterment.

But before Josh got home from work and we collapsed together into this mess…I needed another project to let out my shoe-collecting, attic-combusting desire for control.  In the Spring, our yard becomes my target as I see how both winter and negligence have left the outside of our home shabby. Our to-do list for the Spring this year includes power washing, building, sanding, painting, and tilling.  I hope we get around to the big projects eventually, especially before Second Son makes his appearance in August. In the mean time, the only thing I felt I could do with the only help from my three-year-old is get out the rake, the weed spray, and two small shovels, one for each of us, to attack the should-be-covered-in-tulips curbside that had overgrown–sans tulips–with weeds.  (Our next door neighbors also missed the annual tulip plant this year. Our curbs looked like sick little gardens while our larger neighborhood had strong stems and vibrant-colored tulips blossoming. No fair.)

 

 

 

I got the sense of accomplishment I needed at the curb, especially watching my son use a shovel and get his hands into the little plot of earth God has given us.  But, of course, I didn’t stop there.  I raked other piles of leaves and sticks around the house, made my circles around the yard with the weed spray. (All the while ignoring my pregnancy-induced back pain). We dug, pulled, uprooted, and sprayed for several hours so I could step back and say, “Even if our life isn’t perfect, at least my house looks less abandoned than it did this afternoon.”  It does feel good to have gotten something done, but fixing one problem certainly doesn’t make the others go away. And oftentimes I cycle myself through overcompensation and I’m left with a hollow, shelled version of myself at the end of the day.

The truth is, Josh and I are proud of ourselves and we should be.  We’re ashamed of ourselves and we should be.    It’s so simple, so deeply theological, and yet so obvious: everyday we should be thankful for the new.  Every single day we leave behind the darkness of our yesterdays and have the opportunity to embrace the grace offered every morning.  And regardless of how ugly yesterday felt to us, we’re okay and we have the blessed gift of waking up to a do-over.

 

 

 

Motherhood Performance

I’ve been considering lately somehow getting Instagram, which by definition, is “fast, beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone”.  This, of course, would require me to pursue getting an iPhone.  My Facebook feed these days is loaded with vintage, cropped, polished Instagram pictures of peoples’ plates of food, new shoes, self-portraits, and their children who have the soft glow of light around them.  I always have loved photography, and I appreciate more than anyone a beautiful, edited picture.  Oftentimes these capture a moment more accurately than a traditional untouched image.  Still, I’m noticing more and more how obsessed we are with creating an image for ourselves.  We were obsessed with it before, and now with Facebook and the pressure of social media, we have the added stress of creating a virtual image, projecting the best, most carefully carved versions of ourselves that are very often not reflective of the lives we’re living behind the lens of the iPhone.

I don’t yet have an iPhone. In fact, I recently needed to replace my phone and intentionally kept the ‘simplicity’ of my own smart phone.  This is, in part, because of my technological illiteracy.   But as I’m observing the dangerous pressures of image-making (and the continued pressure of image-upholding), I’m more and more convicted to take a digital assessment of myself, ensuring that whatever face I publish is also the same one that looks back at me in the mirror.

These days, I’m pretty well amazed at the face that looks back at me and the life that being established beneath her.  The first component of amazement involves the swirling baby in my womb, growing ever so steadily. This little champion has already stolen my heart.  I’m surprising myself with the amounts of peaceful excitement I feel about his arrival.  I’m ready for the swings, burp cloths, late nights, full diapers, and sweet kisses.  My heart has expanded to make room for him, and I find myself thanking the Lord that I have opportunity again to put myself aside for the sake of little person entering His kingdom under my care.  I thought I’d have to work my way here, chiseling away at the selfishness that walls my life.  But, these walls are crumbling before me as I ready myself to be a mother to yet another wonderful son.

(It helps that two of the most adorable baby boys in the world happen to live in my neighborhood, and snuggling them gives me a picture of what’s in store for us…)

In addition to my growing mama heart, I’m finding myself continuing to shed the layers of insecurity that I started peeling back four years ago.  Over dinner with my parents (who love and support me in beautiful ways), I was able to say unthinkable things about my life without any guilt or instability such as, “I’m thinking about homeschooling” and “I’m probably not going back to grad school for a while” and “I’ve grown surprisingly content with God’s current purpose for me of homemaking”.  It’s not my parents’ judgement that’s really the issue: it’s my own insatiable desire to please and impress (mostly myself) which has been with me my whole life.  I’m constantly fighting this dragon and putting her fires out in my life, especially in my life as a mom.  I get into rhythms of what I call “Motherhood Performance”, which I know bleeds into other areas of life as well.

Case in point: Instagram.  Like teenagers, it’s very easy to get caught up in comparison, especially when what we’re comparing reflects such huge responsibility like raising and shaping a child. I try to challenge myself and hold myself accountable, balancing that against putting pressure and judgement on my decision-making.  It’s very tricky and, not surprisingly, pretty exhausting.

My husband brought up the excellent point last night that to fight the Motherhood Performance syndrome and the games that insecurity can play, my greatest weapon is going to be reading the Bible.  The Word of God is so powerfully alive, and entering it can only speak hard, heavy truths over the weak and weary lies that lurk in my mind and heart.  How right he is.

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I want to put peace into practice. I want to remember everyday that there is nothing in this entire world more true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable than carrying a baby–God’s greatest blessing–while cooking or making sock puppets with the child He’s already given me.

 

(pretending to use the meat tenderizer as Thor’s mighty hammer)

 

 

Perhaps these would look more precious with a vintage tint.  But, the smiling little man in these pictures gives me every reason to stop performing, stop comparing, and start bringing heaven into my life through my security in Christ.