Friday, September 30, 2011

the here and now

sun streams through disheveled blinds and i really should be cleaning now, not writing.

but the quiet, the quiet beckons and whispers that this moment belongs to words and not to dishes or counters or even bills. little lizard scampers across the screen, sun illuminating opaque body, and he pauses, barely long enough to cast his silhouette over the crumbles that rest on the obliging floors.

these floors, whose grout needs scrubbing and spots need rubbing. these floors, so pious from regular baptisms of cheerios, of kefir smoothies, of sticky banana and what's-left-of-our-art-projects. these floors, whose sweeping delays so much and i swear that twice a day is never enough. they only hold us up, these floors, and yet their state of cleanliness can manipulate my peace like no other. i fight the inward cursing when bare feet detect a foreign substance and the questions begin. what was that--the milk i only wiped up, but didn't yet mop? did baby spit up and i didn't notice?

instead of letting these floors hold us up, and nothing more than that, i let them indicate how well, or how poorly and i am in control of my life.

i can submit to the rhythm and routine, and realize that these floors will require extra attention for as long as they are hosting little ones. but wouldn't it be lovely if they were relegated to a more realistic status?

wouldn't it be freeing if these floors were just that--floors. nothing more than tiles and wood upon which we walk,

nothing more than a prop against the backdrop of the real living that goes on around here?

Monday, September 26, 2011

promises I can keep

Maybe it was that only 24 hours earlier he had broken his collar bone.

Maybe it was that we were both tired, our hearts drained from bearing the pain, one physical burden and the other, emotional.

Whatever the reason, tonight our spirits were raw, less entertained by our usual banter, slough scraped clear. Exposed.

It was late and I was driving Carter home. At an intersection we stopped and he pierced my thought-wanderings with this one:

Mommy, if you were here and you were lost and crying for me, I would come and find you. 

I looked around, black soup of night surrounding, anonymous, strange cars circling, and I absorbed the fear a little one might have of this place, of this time.

How brave, my little boy, promises of rescue to his mother. 

I thought I should reciprocate, try and channel his imagination away from fear and towards the security he deserves. 

Carter, if you were here and you were lost, Daddy and I would come and find you and bring you home, too. 

The promise did not redirect his emotions. Instead, he kept going, and I listened as the conditional turned to preterite, as the hypothetical ballooned into a vision of something that happened, that was happening even then.

Yeah, I was lost and I was crying and yelling your name and you were looking for me, and I was crying and calling for you, Mommy. 

And all the Mommy in me wanted to squelch this thing, these exhausted words slipping out from a wounded body that needed nothing more than a warm bed. But there was a caution in my spirit, a holy pause that said I should speak nothing more than the truth, even in my comfort,

that I should not make promises I cannot keep. 

So I did not tell him he would never get lost, that we would never be apart.

Carter, if you were lost, Daddy and I would search and search and search until we found you. We would not stop until we had you, baby. 

But, Carter, even if I am not with you, God is with you. Always, Carter. And he cares for you and will never leave you.

It was a tough thing, stopping to sit down in the middle of his terrible fantasy, long enough to feel the presence of every mother's nightmare. My stomach churns even as I write this. But it was important to me, establishing this difference. It was important to distinguish between the stuff of prayers and the stuff of promise.

My prayer is that my sons will never get lost in a mall or a dark place, will never rebel, will never lose faith. My prayer is that they never feel the cold winds of loneliness, the harsh stings of rejection, that they never feel insecure or unsafe.

But I know this world. And I know what's not guaranteed.

So I will declare the promises, and I will plead the prayers. 

I can promise that I will never stop searching, that I will always be on my way. My legs, my words, my heart, every spiritual and physical resource I have will always be running in the direction of my sons.

And I can promise that God is always with them. That he is the Immovable Constant, the Almighty Eagle under whose wings we are sheltered.

I know, too well, which protections we are not guaranteed. And I know, even better, what resurrection life looks like, deep inside the heart of a ransomed child, in the soul of one finally come home, rescued from her own lost wanderings, to the heart of Father God.

It was probably too deep, and most likely a result of ragged nerves, but we spoke truth tonight.

I pray he won't remember this conversation, that it'll be water under the bridge and we'll continue on our blissful journey of discovering the beauty and wonder of life.

But if ever a night draws near, if years pass and his heart loses his way, I pray he will hear the promise, that it will lead him back to Truth.

God is with you, Carter, and we are coming for you.

Always in pursuit, 

just as Love has never stopped his pursuit of us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

at day's end

You've busied yourself with your work,

 it's important stuff, these tasks you carry,

and I see you, doing your best to balance relationships and responsibilities, 

and you hide your face when attempts fall short. 

Sometimes you feel you've succeeded with it all,

and sometimes, you just want to quit.

 I see you, there, oh busy one.

But at the end of the day, come home to Me. Find your way back to My presence, rest your head against my chest, and breathe deep the rest I alone can give.

Psalm 131

 1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
   my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
   or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
   I am like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child I am content.
 3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
   both now and forevermore.

Friday, September 9, 2011

braver and bolder than this

Driving home yesterday, I thought about something that got me a little miffed.

And the more I thought about it, with the passing through each toll, the more I became comfortable in my discontent towards my husband. Strike after strike added up against him, until I had worked myself into an angry state.

By the time I got home, bless his heart, I had had an entire argument with him, in my head, and

he had no idea what was going on. 

"Are you mad at me?"

He caught on to the not-so-subtle attitude that followed every action, every inflection of my voice.


I replied.

"Care to let me in on it?"

And I knew, right there, that I had no real case to present. The minor infraction that had originally set me off was inconsequential. But by the time Neal confronted me, I had settled into the negative churning in my soul. There was no traction here--I didn't search for my anger's source to find the truth of the matter; I had simply stalled out.

And can I just be honest?

It felt good to be angry.

I can see how people stay this way--anger slips around the senses, creating a buffer between conscience and action, between self-evaluation and speech, fortified by pride in its agenda to keep you in the right, no matter what.

I felt empowered, I felt in control, and I stayed this way for longer than I'd care to admit.

The thing about settling into anger instead of working through it is that it doesn't make for a good night's sleep, it doesn't make for a good morning before work, and it sure doesn't set you up for good conversations at dinner.




I had settled that long.

Finally, I repented, only after being prompted by a patient husband. And even then, I was only half sincere. I found myself still grasping for some illusive reason, something floating out there that might, at the last second, justify my piggish state. It was a bare-bones apology, skeletal in words, with no real conviction to bulk it up. But by the time I had put the boys down and had time to relinquish my pride, I had figured out what my true apology was all about.


what I did was cheap.

If I had had a real complaint, or something genuinely wrong to bring up with you,

then I should have been braver and bolder than the tantrum I just threw.

I'm sorry."

Because that's what real marriage requires.

Two partners, braver and bolder than selfish retreats to anger, fighting hard to draw closer,

leaving behind lines drawn in the sand.