Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Oh, What a Wonderful Weight

Most mornings I wake up with it on my chest. A weight of will that is most commonly one of two things: guilt or gratitude.

On the guilty days, I find myself obsessing over the cracks in the back patio and the endless parade of water and syrup spots on the counter tops. I calculate my days to have the least amount of inconvenience and the utmost in comfort. I shy away from anything that will exhaust me. And I embrace anything that will allow me to breathe, slowly and calmly.

These speedbumps in my brain do not fit well with raising toddlers. They also don't fit well with being a Christian really. But by scandalous grace, I'm allowing God to work on those parts of me day by day. Sadly, there are days where I spent more time sweeping the floor than reading their favorite books with them; cleaning more dishes than I play dinosaurs. And my heart breaks over that.

It doesn't break because I feel like I should be spending more intentional time with them–we spend a lot of time together–it breaks because I am still a slave to the idea that I should be doing more to have purpose. In this place I am taking the gift of motherhood for granted; a gift that some ache for and cry over at night.

On the days of gratitude, I remember that this life is not about doing and that I can rest in just-being. For the first time in my life, I wake up facing the day and only the day. I don't plan out my weeks and months based on job deadlines or vacations I am dying to take. I literally can only take it one day at a time because my life is so blank.

It is blankly beautiful; I am just praying for boldness and bravery to fill it up with beautiful creative, God inspired things that tighten the laces on this family unit I've been a partner in creating. But more than that, I want to use this space to run to God. 

I am not one of those moms who always has something unique and fun for her kids to do. I don't plan trips to their favorite places or play dates everyday in succession. For some, that gives them peace of mind and is necessary for their well-being, but, for me, not always "doing" is an exercise in patience and being in this place fully and wholly. It is a discipline for me to be still. To have space. To get bored. And to be led to inventiveness alongside my kids.

And somewhere in there I am in wait for the beauty of the weight to be revealed. The gloriously weighty call of motherhood.

I have a dear friend who lost her second child at 38 weeks. She was able to hold her daughter for 12 hours before she had to let her go. We were talking about her sweet daughter this last weekend, and she described to me how one of the hardest things to process was holding the baby blanket empty; there was no weight against her chest like there should have been. And how strangely enough, the most comforting thing was feeling the one pound weight of her ashes on her lap. The small box was evidence of her daughter's existence, there was a weight to offset the immense amount of nothingness that she was left with.

And this woman, what a warrior. The way she talks about Christ it's like her first language. A portal has been opened between heaven and earth for her, and she lives between them inviting her daughter's memory and Christ's constant presence to be the bridge that connects her to a life of meaning.

And here I am: fiddling with filler when this type of unspeakable and unbearable pain is a reality.

How can I remain too scared or hard headed to reach up for the deep stuff? To let Christ permeate my being; to let the spirit speak continuously–not in spurts when I have presence of mind enough to take myself out of the equation.

I do want to know him like those who speak his language fluently do; to let him fill in those insidious cracks in my character that mirror the cracks in my patio.

The hardest thing for me as a mother hasn't been the sleepless nights or the diapers or the potty training or the tiredness, or the tantrums, or the monotony; the hardest thing has been tricking myself into thinking that there is something beyond these four walls and these two souls that I am supposed to be doing.

Being happy and present: that is one of the biggest challenges facing a Type A, do-it-yourself, creative junkie like myself. I know the answer lies in knowing Christ more and focusing less on me. But I am horrible at surrendering the need to do over to my God. To get out of my own way. To shut up. To sit down. To enjoy. To stop the spinning wheels.

Today my son, daughter and I were still enough to sit in front of the windows long enough to spy three Stellar's jays, four chickadees, and one robin. And while we were trying to name them, the oddest thing happened. A hot-pink headed hummingbird flew right in front of us and hovered for just long enough for it to feel like magic. He didn't zip by in a blur, he hovered right in front of us, face-to-our-faces and simply shimmered before he flitted off to smell the yellow flowers in our bed.

Jesus has been speaking to me in bird lately. A language that I don't fully understand, but it just feels like gift and maybe the beginnings of a dialogue that perhaps will soon flow without stopping. I heard my son whisper as we sat on the ground watching the birds peck and nibble on the seed in a nearby feeder, "Thank you God and Jesus for these birds. I love you so much."

And just like that my heart splattered into a million gooey pieces for two reasons.

1) My son does not whisper. He has two volumes. Loud and louder.
2) That's exactly what I was thinking.

For a brief second my son's heart was laid bare and beautiful. I saw Jesus speak to him the way he speaks to me and he spoke back. It was small window into the wonder that God may be knocking on his little heart already.

After that, we actually had a particularly hard day. But in the wise words of Paul Rudd in the highly spiritual film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he explains that the secret to surfing is to "Do less". And in parenting no amount of low or high tides, crashing waves or calm waters can change what I know: the less I do the more I see Christ at work.

We're in this together,

Monday, November 3, 2014

Birds on Full Blast

Last week on an oddly warm fall day I took the kids down to our little pond (an over sized puddle) to throw pebbles in. We were struggling with boots and jackets and zippers and "do it myself's" before we heard it.

At first it sounded like an ornery hum, as if we were standing under the buzz of power lines. Slowly my senses awoke and I recognized the trills, lifts and melodic runs. An army of sparrows, robins and finches filled our entire yard with a symphony.

It was so loud that at first I was frightened. Clutching the little, sticky fingers of my four-year old and one-and-a-half year old, (I promise I do wash their hands ) I was imagining a brigade of angry birds pecking our heads until we ran back inside, but quickly the feeling transformed from fear into wonder.

The volume reverberated through the trees. I kept looking up and around just in time to see little flashes of yellow and red darting from bough to bough. A few of them were ground bound, fluttering their wings in the water; bathing and singing as if there weren't three wide-eyed bystanders invading quiet time. It reminded me in an infinitesimal way of what it must have felt like to be in the garden of Eden. Sharing life with the birds and animals without the fear of death or that enmity between us all. 

I felt as if we had stepped into a portal, where peace was potent. I think it could have been what is often referred to in Celtic Christianity as the "thin places"where just for a few brief moments we experience something otherworldly; heavenly. Where God smacks a sloppy wet kiss on us when we're least expecting it. We tingle and we light up, unsure of what we are experiencing is reality or fantasy.

And then it was gone. The birds hushed just as strongly as they came on. Either taking their party up the street to cooler trees or just dispersing into the world each one carrying their part in the greater song. I am just glad that I didn't miss it. That I wasn't scrubbing the kitchen counters or lamenting over the loss of something trivial.

I felt God. I heard him. I watched him fly on the wings of his creation. To some, I'm sure this would seem like just a crap ton of birds in one place at one time, but to me, it was God. His presence thick and real surrounded by an unimpressive chain link fence and arthritic old-growth trees.

Some people experience this crossover in the middle of unspeakable pain–the death of a child or in the loss of a dream. Others experience it in the mountain top aftermath of new life or beating cancer. For me, it was random–gift. Undeserved. Strange. Obtuse. Without rhyme or reason.

Sometimes you just need to download all of the good things that God is doing to fully appreciate his grace. I am in this season of quiet, where busyness has been replaced with large chunks of time spent at home with space to think, reflect and thank.

I don't deserve this life. I deserve death. I deserve that enmity: the inconveniences and spats and the fear of losing it all. I am ridiculously ill equipped to protect and appreciate what I've been given. But I choose to respond with generosity. I don't always do it well, but my heart wants to give away–to break myself every day to become the person God is trying to mold from the dried out clay.

Today, I am in awe that my God, my Jesus, treasures my fissures and faults instead of locking me out of a life full of joy. He has taken my cup and brimmed it with serious, wake-up-in-the-morning and dance joy. (John 15:11) Not happiness. Not ease. Not perfection. Just good old fashioned gratefulness.

We haven't achieved some major goal. Our little family isn't plodding along on some fast track to financial success or traveling the world making our mark–we are just living and loving and showing up and turning in and hugging and encouraging and inviting and letting go and saying the things we know some of our friends and family need to hear. We're open. Open to seeing God doing beauty among the rubble.

I have been in seasons of life where my sin was so stickily present that it's reckless resin felt inescapable; becoming an unreliable rudder.

But not right now. I don't fuss over my jean size as much. I don't bat eyelashes or ask for more spotlight like I used to. I squeeze and kiss my kids so much more often instead of shooing them away for a deadline or to deal with personalities in a job that I was worshiping. This is my reward: God giving me eyes to see things I was blind to before (Proverbs 20:12). I still have glaring blind spots–God knows that, as does everybody else who knows me. I'm human, I'm captivated by want; by indulgences.

Joy though, I'm discovering, is the counter to the craving. And it's so full. The exchange rate. Blood for blessing. Screw ups for scandalous love. And if I had to guess what joy sounds like I would have to imagine it's something like birds on full blast.

We're in this together,

Friday, October 3, 2014

The X Factor

Moving through layers of shadow and cedar, the morning mist floated and twisted into ribbons of thick steam. The fog folded itself over an infinitesimal amount of times before disappearing into the unfolding day. I sat in awe on our back patio. A "wow" escaped my lips.

My daughter was pulling all of the toys out of the outside bin and running around with one shoe on. My son was sword fighting an imaginary bad guy–all required sound effects included. I was in a striped tunic, workout pants and flowered rain boots. Not the best outfit choice of all time. Not the most serene surroundings. Not the quietest moment. Not the perfect time. But I looked up. I took the time to see God moving in nature and it got me. It got me on the inside.

When I sit down to write, I never know what is going to come out. Whenever I am in the middle of a struggle it helps me see clearer. Whenever I am in the middle of monumental achievements–like joy and contentment–it helps me catalog. And sometimes it just feels like flying. Like doing the one thing I was made to do, clumsily, with free falls and typos and tense shifting and plain old errors. And I embrace that.

I can finally say that I don't do things perfectly and somehow the people on my home team, as Shauna Niequist would call those people who give you the space to stagger, still understand. It is amazing how far grace goes.

Lately, I have found this grace between crumpled sheets and in shreds of moonlight on the carpet. When I am tired and sick, I still pray for a longing to love. For the baby ears, let's just refer to this as the X Factor. I am getting all itchy just thinking about writing about this, but God is teaching me something in this department and so that's where the fog led me.

I don't know a lot about this. But I do know that after you are married for awhile, you can forget about how important the X factor is to the fundamental way your marriage should function. I know that it is something that needs care, attention and connects us to our spouses like bolts and hinges.

When you are waiting to get married you think it will always occur to you; that you will make yourself available in lace and longevity no matter the season. But after the ring goes on or comes off, or the kids show up and the shaving of your legs drops on the list of priorities, we can get to a place of forget or fatigue or flat out apathy. There are a hundred reasons to hang it up. The timing doesn't feel right. The outfit is wrong. The surroundings aren't serene. There's stuff in the way. Like socks.

You know the angry socks, the ones you can feel resentment towards.  

These socks right here–ugh. More like shackles. If only I could have a moment to myself then maybe I could fold these with happy hands. If this was easier than I could see the beauty in the threadbare heels, but right now? I only see tired feet and tired eyes, and my edges are frayed and fickle and dipped in Go-gurt. Oh and look, the garbage is full and the clothes are lumpy on the floor and my kids are screaming.

And just like that anger has moved in and shut you off again at the spout.

And we drip like faucets inwardly and outwardly and we want change that we don't want to have to make ourselves. (Proverbs 27:15) This isn't an ALWAYS state. But in certain seasons of life: transitions, being sick or stuck, or being sick and stuck in a transition–we may default. To anger and unhappiness. And justification. Or at least I do.

And it is here. In the place of self pity that we need to get to it. We need to connect. We need to stop making lists and keeping score and instead peel off the prescriptions and truly see the beauty of the ordinary.

The angry socks? They are actually the very same ones your husband wears while he paces at work and provides and stresses and succeeds and belly flops and comes home to you. They are the same ones that you wear at your job, sacrificing and juggling and trying to do it all as well as you possibly can.

Our feet are the vehicles for our lives. No more are these socks just a chore, they could be a catalyst. You know, for that change that is aching to take place.

And the screaming kids, maybe they are squealing or clamoring for your attention because they are still young enough to think you are a superhero and can solve all their problems. Get on your knees and try your best. That's all they want.

The X Factor is just an outpouring of ourselves into the large, vast cistern that is thankfulness for our people and thankfulness for life, and thankfulness that we have this mess to make and unmake. This last year has held so much loss for so many that I know. And if there is anything good that comes from ugly, downright, no-good bad junk, it is that they now see the world differently. The anger rises slower. The resentment morphs into reflection. And the hard stuff seems like blessing.

Not sure where you are with your love today, or the love you hope to find one day, but pour into it. Make yourself available. Turn on the spout, let your heart flow again.

For those that have and hold, let's enjoy it. Every chance it occurs to you and even when it doesn't. Amp up the outward showings: the hugs. the kisses, the kind words, which leads to the hushing of the sharp words. The prayer together. The jokes. Tell them and laugh loudly. Even if you are the worst at jokes. I would know. He will still laugh. Hold hands. Touch bare toes.

Do the work. And then reward yourself by letting yourself enjoy the fog that has lifted. It is truly magnificent when you take the time to look up, to let it in. To let yourself shift shape into a force. One that joy can not stay away from.

These last two weeks have been some of the most joyful in my recent memory, and it has nothing to do with an address change. Well maybe a little. I have more space to feel and live and breathe and think. But more so my heart has moved- ever so slightly. Like the fog that twists and turns; I'm trying to let it change me. The love that I'm the luckiest to live.

We're in this together,

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Quadrigeminal Crawl

My son turns four tomorrow.

In the words of one of my best friends, "that's not possible!"–and while it would seem that life has just flown by, I know in my heart of hearts that it has been a slow crawl. He and I are hardheaded and yet so very sensitive. We feel so much that it's too much sometimes, and we overflow into areas only suitable for dirty rainwater.

We are quick to forgive and hate the distance between the steps it takes to get there.

My son breaks and mends me. He kisses and cuts me. He and I dance a gospel dance everyday. Since the day he was born I knew things would be different, but that word doesn't even cover the miles we have traveled. We've gone to South America and back (his favorite destination) in terms of understanding one another. And I am still learning to speak toddler. A language that I am thankful is a dead language for most well-rounded adults.

My son and I, we hug tightly. We cry loudly. We laugh until tears form at the corners of our eyes. We are the type that are given a lot, and we don't exactly know how to stay inside the lines. He and I, we're buddies. As he would say. 

I remember the first week I held him in my arms. I had a photographer come over and document the entire blissful experience. In every picture my eyebrows seem furrowed and my hands unrecognizable beneath the flap of a swaddling blanket. For some women, motherhood happened upon them and their entire purpose was realized. It's almost as if they had been wearing a clown suit their entire lives and then were handed the most perfect uniform suited to their measurements. Not so for me. Some days I still swim in the deep end of this job. But others, I ride high on the wave of wonder. I see their smiles and their strides. One minute it's absolute miracle and the next, it's a broken wave on the shore.

But I get to be a witness to it all.

Four years ago tomorrow my son baptized me in the fire fall that still burns away the edges of my selfishness. The very first time I heard him say he loved me I cried in the hallway. He moves me to emotions I didn't know possible. He ignites my life.

We live in a new house, you know. One that is absolutely a dream. It's not huge. It's homey. It's not for everyone, but it fits us like a glove. We have yard to explore and a small pond to throw leaves into. We have room, but we are still close.

This is the home I knew I would live in someday. I didn't know what it would look like or where it would be, but I knew it would be full. Full of fire and feeling. Full of warmth and whimsy. This place is where I will watch my babies become adults. And while right now it doesn't seem like life is moving at the breakneck speed I know it will someday when there are moving boxes in his bedroom and a college degree in his sights, I am so ridiculously undeserving to have a front row seat to the beginning of his becoming. And I will savor these molasses moments that make my life so simple this day.

Happy birthday my dear warrior explorer. I can not wait to see how you use your gifts to teach the world about feelings that run well below the surface. I wait in anticipation to see you discover new ideas that could very well change the way we feel about classification, collections, naming, species, travel, invention, introspection, and love. You are going to change your world. I know this because you have irrefutabely changed mine.

For the rest of us, love them with fearless abandon–whoever God has entrusted to you. And thank God. For the cold nights that hang too heavy, for the warm nights that fuel memories for ages to come and for the sheer force that the human spirit holds. Above all, get on your knees every now and then and cry out in absolute awe of the divine coupling that Jesus used to pair you with your people.

Now if only I could conceive of a way to keep my son away from all sugar on the day of his birth. Fat chance.

We're in this together,

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Invisible House

While I wait for our new house to close and have already said a tearful goodbye to our little home over on 19th, it seems like a lifetime has passed. Really it's only been three weeks.

I was hoping the next time I wrote it would be an exuberant entry filled with little details about our new house, the beauty of the process, the joy in my kids' laughter and how all the puzzle pieces fell into place at the exact right time.

I'd throw in some words like "so blessed" and "God is good." It would be smug and comfortable. I would be certain we'd made the right decision, because it just went too perfectly for it not to be.

Conversely, this transition has been rough on us as a family. I've been sleeping in bed with my four year old and my husband has had to sleep on the guest house couch because of his pet allergies. However, much like my children who like to point out their invisible "ouchies" to me so that I will kiss and fawn over them, I've been collecting cuts to lay before God.

It was quite the house hunt, with a heartbreak or two along the way and we ended up buying the very first home I saw. No sparkle dust or magic moments to be had, the house just felt like home to us and it didn't to anyone else. Eventually, they lowered the price to our price.

However, we are still waiting while living with my parents in the lurch called limbo.

But now we just have two days to go.

And I've been asking myself, does the start and stall of our move make us any less blessed or does it make God any less good? Not hardly.

It seems somewhere along the way I fell back into believing the ludicrous lie that perfect and God go together. Like if he was really at the helm then things would always be easy to handle. This isn't the gospel. The gospel is gory and ugly and blood spattered and splinter ridden. The idea of easy is meant to deceive. And it does, daily.

Alas–once again–God decided to use my little ideas of perfection and twist them into sanctification. He took my storyline that I lifted from a line of Hallmark cards I saw somewhere–scrapped it and handed me a wrinkled, worn version that looks distinctly similar to the shirt that I've had to recycle over the last three weeks.

In his poetic way, I can't help but notice that the seasons are changing. I'm still dressing in remnants from my summer wardrobe that just don't suit the new bite in the air that signals the return of Autumn. Neither does my heart. It has undergone a small reshaping in these last weeks. One that has opened my eyes to my idol of self-invovled introspection.

And as we enter into the final stages of Operation Who's House Is It Anyway? my heart is beginning to cool. I'm emerging from this season flared with frustration and inconvenience, but I don't want the cool to become hard clay, I want it to glow with gratitude. I want to be softened. I want this invisible house to reveal the visible flaws in my beliefs about Christ. And it has.

He still gives good gifts to his greedy kids. Like the luxurious gift of a new Autumn. Her hot afternoons are birthed from crisp and chilly mornings and there's a quiet about late September that just doesn't occur any other time of the year. It's as if we're all just so tuckered from the summer that we sit. And talk. And live out more quiet versions of the remaining summer days.

It's true that I haven't been able to enjoy the blended days of impending Autumn like I would like–that's not the bigger issue. Sadly, I haven't been able to enjoy my husband or my children like I would like either. I have found I don't do well in transition and I don't do well out of my routine. I am like my four-year old.

And so, instead of thriving in the anticipation of our new house I've been a little loose around the corners spraying gravel in sputtered rage and wading in inconvenience with my lip in a defiant pout while watching birds circle overhead and envying their freedom.

It hasn't been that pretty. But it has caused some growth, I think. I pray it has. It has forced the envelope on a few important conversations. It has shed light on where I still need to grow and where I need to be even more scandalous with grace.

The books I've been reading during this transition has all said the same thing in one way or another: "Find the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." That is where your "post" will be, as C.S. Lewis refers to our call. I'm still trying to figure out what my call may be in specifics, but in general, my deepest gladness is found in making a house a home and making my heart an open book for those who are also trying to write their stories with intentionality.

I've always wanted greatness for my giftings, and it has blinded me to this simple truth: I am not great, nor is what I can offer. Greatness develops from the days when the gears get jammed and I have to pull off the highway to admit that I can't get myself unstuck. I am not late to some big party where my passions were supposed to play out on the world's stage. I have not missed the big picture that God had for my life.

I am in wait. I will always be in wait. In wait for the lessons. In wait for the wonder. In wait for the purpose. He created me with short circuits in my patience center, but it is only because of this defect that I am able to run to him for peace. I am absolutely nothing on my own. I run to him for reassurance like a teenage girl with acne. I'm so thin around the skin. I need a heaven-to-earth hug from his Word every day. It is a good thing I worship and love a God who embraces the forgetful and the fearful.

I don't know what it will feel like when we finally are settled into our new place. I do hope there are pockets of oh-my-slow-down-I'm-going-to-get-sick happy and overwhelming thankfulness for the gift that is called a house. But I know it will still be life when we get into the groove of living there. Four little broken people with one incredible God is the only hope we have during the hiccups of life when our heart and our breath are out of step.

I am in process. So is our life. I thank Jesus. That's all I got.

We're in this together,

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Happiness Hunter

I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." (Revelations 3:8)

That familiar saying: When God shuts a door he opens a window. Well, it bothers me today. There have been other days when those words have probably felt encouraging, but today, they ruffle my feathers. 

You see, you can't walk through a window. Instead, you have to find a chair, hoist yourself up, shimmy your behind through an opening that wasn't meant for human passage and then fall into a heap on the other side. 

To me this window business seems human-bound; like something we tried to fashion out of disappointment. It seems to say that a closed door should be an excuse for cutting a window into whatever wall we can't break through and forcing our own way in. That's just how I feel today anyway. 

Because in this moment I'm okay with standing behind a closed door. I am okay with waiting for the next green light. In any other time of my life, I would have forced a window open and hurled myself into the street. But not today.  

Ever since I recently left my job at a local magazine, I have felt more plugged into life and more content with less.

This doesn't mean that I've downsized my shoe collection or somehow stopped putting way too much dressing on my greens–it just means that I have the excess time to allow the beautiful ordinariness of dust bunnies and toddler ringlets to grab me tightly by the hand. I'm much more present.

There are of course the dog days when feeling more plugged in doesn't feel enlightening. Instead, it can feel like an ungrounded light socket that shocks and sputters–but mostly, I am provided with just enough light to truly see where I am and how I am spending my time wisely, and unwisely.

Life is more fragmented nowadays too. Yes, I have more time to wipe runny noses, appease fruit snack cravings and stray from strict nap schedules, but every hour is cross-hatched with countless interruptions. And it always has been, but before I wasn't available. I was emotionally spent somewhere else. And that's a tiny tragedy, because I would miss connections like the ones I made today.

My son has recently learned to put words to his emotions. He will come to me with crumpled shoulders, and furrowed eyebrows and thickly say, "Mommy, I'm sad." Other times, when he used to resort to solely throwing temper tantrums he will now announce through gravel and grit, "I'm mad." But the most troubling to me is when my son gets something he wants. Especially when it revolves around some kind of plastic nothingness, and he will beam, "Mommy, I'm happy now."

And again I see myself in my son. The place where the happy hurts. When the infatuation fades and we become fidgety with the very thing we were desperate to have.

One of my favorite books is The Jesus Storybook Bible, I read it to my son as I put him down for his nap today. It was the part when Jesus was putting together his team of helpers to accomplish the Great Rescue.

Who would make good helpers, do you think? Clever ones? Rich ones? Strong, important ones? Some people might think so, but I'm sure by now you don't need me to tell you they'd be wrong. Because the people God uses don't have to know a lot of things, or have a lot of things–they just have to need him a lot. 

Cue the tears.

I need him a lot right now. So much it hurts. The happy hurts. The sad hurts. The I-totally-blew-it-again hurts. The Lord, I-think-I-may-be-getting-it hurts. The fulfilling and the wasteful; they both hurt. Just like my husband's favorite karaoke song, Hurts So Good; none of us can avoid what C.S. Lewis identifies as the 'pang' of life.

Today, I am at peace with the door that is momentarily shut. I am content to live loudly inside the small spaces. Clanging pots and pans loud. Singing Mary Poppins loud. Splattering paint loud. (Washable paint of course, I'm not a masochist.)

And I've realized that until I can be satisfied without the stuff–the paycheck, the deadlines that make me feel important, the emails that I absolutely have to answer–happiness will be a flightless falcon that I keep looking to the sky to find. It will be a earthbound root that I keep trying to pluck from the top of the trees.

We don't hunt for happiness, it hunts for us. And it can warp our ideals slowly and completely, if we allow our hearts to soar on every whim of want.

All this to say, I've decided to change my job title. The Happiness Hunter has resigned. The Closed-Door Contented classes are now in session.

We're in this together,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Panic at the Disco

Mt. Adams. Photo Courtesy of Life is a Mountain, John's Hiking Blogspot
I lost it.

You know, that thing that I never had.

This house selling-and-buying business has me breathing into bags in the evening and trying to calm my wild heart beat with sweet and sour indulgences. This does not seem like something a person who has peace should be doing.

Cue the crinkle of a Salt & Vinegar chip bag. Shameless.

The dream house. That's the thing I lost. The one that would make leaving behind the house we've made a home, easier. It would have happened on my perfect time line. No overlapping, no double moving, no more breathing into bags. And here's where I struggle with quantifying this whole process through the lens of my faith: do I believe that God is good?

My husband is at the base of the second tallest peak in Washington state as this very moment getting ready to summit 12,000 feet on top of a snow-covered "potentially active" volcano–which Wikipedia was so kind to point out. He isn't climbing for the heck of it, although I do think he would climb any mountain on any day over most things. He is climbing it with a team of 26 guys who have raised almost $70,000 to rescue girls out of forced prostitution in India. In a kilt no less.

And here I am. On the edge of reason, doubting that God will rescue me from the predicament that I created. Wrongly assuming that He, the creator and orchestrator of the greatest rescue in existence, is someone who will sit back and let us move into a home that will be worse for us.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give good things to those who ask. 

He is a God of means. He isn't just a fluffy fellow in the sky. He holds us. He rocks us. He shh's us when we've gone on for far too long on something he has already taken care of.

My husband is a part of something meaningful. I think that's really what is at the heart of this ache I feel. I want this move to move me towards a deeper understanding of family, community and Christ. I want the next address to be a reflection of where we've been. I need to kill the idea that it needs to be flashy, impressive, something people will approve of. I need to kill that same thing in myself–that a house is separate from God. I am the house of God.

I need to banish the idea that God is too busy guiding the feet of the climbers on Mt. Adams to reach their incredibly noble and glorious goal, to meet me in the ash.

The ash: where I doubt God's goodness for the bajillionth time while He is literally lifting young girls out of a life of slavery on the backs of men I love and dearly respect.

There will be another house. That's what keeps being said. And in this moment of disbelief and distrust I am not entirely certain there will be. So far I've just seen homes that wither my heart, and cause me to doubt this whole crazy ridiculous Life Relocation Program thing I've begun.

These last few months for me have been a 'tearing down' era. A process of "letting it crumble", so that  something better can be built. I'm still sifting through the rubble. I'm still completely clueless as to where we are going. To some, that's called adventure. But for me, I need a script; A rough outline of what's coming next.

So I've decided to prayerfully create a list of what I want this next era of life to be like. What I want the stage to rise up for: a hammock where everyday life can sway, steady and sweet.

1. A refuge

A place that breathes us all to life, Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

2. A place big enough to gather comfortably. I will not pay more for something smaller or the same size as what we have. I am not interested in "tiny home" living. Not at this point in my life, anyway. I want to throw parties. Loud and big ones, with magic shows and wine and late talks into the night as the moon rises.

3. Close to our community and my family. I've lived in Los Angeles and Nashville. I know the longing of missing home. I don't want to make those people and places any harder to get to or to spend time with. I want to be closer to them and more available to them.

4. No old windows, doors or popcorn ceilings. (Sorry, I've been there and paid my dues.)

5. A writer's view.  This doesn't need to be mountains or ocean-though we've got both up here. It can be something like an old growth lilac tree outside my window, or a place where I can see a sliver of the sunrise from the kitchen table. It needs to be profound and simple. Something I can count on when the ideas run dry and when the heart questions everything, all over again. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. 

6. Joy. I need to feel gratitude. It needs to feel miraculous. Like I stumbled upon a bramble-covered lock. A secret garden with a lost key and God handed it to me just in time. It needs to be gift. Not something I could give to myself, only something he could provide. I have to relinquish control. (Yuck.)

As my husband's boots crunch snow and his muscles ache from his pack; I imagine the August sun toasting the places around his eyes where the squint lines will become white. He just called me for a quick check in, "This is the last time I'll be able to talk to you until we come back from the summit. I love you."

And for some reason, now I know: God doesn't lead us to the treacherous places to make our life there. He leads us up and guides us back down. And when the climb is over-we are changed and have helped instigate change. We may be in the exact same place we began, but we are different.

And that's it. That's my home right now. A man on a mountain.

I wonder what the HOA's are?

We're in this together,