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,
M


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,
M

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,
M

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,
M

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,
M

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Small Changes

There is a painting that hangs over my fireplace mantle. It reads, There is no Such Thing As Small Change.

When I first saw this piece of art I was drawn to it. And every time I read it, it speaks something new into my life. Whatever I am dealing with one thing is constant: change.

And in the middle of change we can lose our bearings. And this is when I fall prey to my heart's tendency to obsess.

Once I exited the glorious Monet of childhood and tip-toed into the abrupt edges of adolescence, I discovered a black box inside my mind that gave me the power of preoccupation.

This "gift" allows me to see things from every possible angle; to analyze and experience; to interject and often times, exaggerate. A big blob of tightly-wound worry–I am able to manipulate the shapeless matter with an artist's hand. I can twist and turn something over enough times that it spontaneously spins on it's own. It becomes alive.

When I was younger it may have been schoolwork or a boy I liked, whatever the "it" was I intensified it's place in my mind by feeding it copious amount of brain food. I over indulged. I entertained ghosts. I circled and circled.

Obsessing gives my creative mind a place to land; anywhere or any situation that needs over-thinking–I'm the girl for the job.

This has it's benefits and drawbacks.

When I want something very much, I have dogged determination. When I fear something very much, it can swallow me whole. When I have what I've been obsessing over, I cling to it with a clenched grasp. It makes me fiercely loyal, but just as fiercely flippant.

Our house sold in two days. Pending inspection and appraisal and all that fun stuff that makes me sweat behind the knees.

Answered prayer wrapped in linen layers of terrifying reality.

We are momentarily homeless. Displaced. 

God knows what He is doing. I do not. I think that is called faith. But I can't be quite sure, because it would be a lie to say I am walking in it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

I have prayed my supplication and thanksgiving prayers. I have been waiting for the peace which surpasses all understanding, but there's a road block. It's my obsession. She is standing in the middle of the road and I can't tackle her to the ground. She is determined to steal my peace. She is determined to make me crazy with distraction. She stands between me and where God wants to move us. 

These walls that used to be my home are now closing in on me, and so I comb the MLS listings for new place to lay our heads. Maybe it's the one with the yellow door, or the one with the sagging porch but glorious master, or the one that doesn't have a yard but has a dog house (wait, we don't have a dog) or the depressing discovery of a gut job in the top of our price range? All of these potential homes have now become companions.

I hold hands with these stacks of bricks promising forever and then turn my back on them, slam the door and run into the arms of another address. And this story isn't unlike my romance with Jesus.

And I realize that my fear shouldn't be that we'll never find another home: My fear should be that I will miss the peace that surpasses all understanding while on the hunt. That I will forget to drink from the river that runs underneath the foundations I am standing on.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

I am far from being in a wasteland. This is a beautiful time. This is a fruitful time. There is no reason to allow obsession to overtake me. And for anyone in the middle of a large, big, beautiful and unrealized change–don't let the Unknown overshadow the upcoming. Wrestle with her. Accept her. Invite her in.

My family and I are on the edge of something exciting. Something new that God is going to do. And so as always I look to Jesus. He was homeless. And yet He was always at home.

I've got a lot to learn. 

We're in this together,
M

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Life Relocation Program


"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it... Yet." - L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I don't deserve a fresh start. And yet I get one.

Every. Single. Sunrise. 

Every morning–I get to start over. 

That's the insane infatuation that God has with us. He forgives us before we even bite into the apple. He kisses our mouths with the juice of the forbidden fruit streaming down our chins. He pursues us while we are running in the other direction. He pulls us close when we arch our backs like infants during a midnight wail. 

His mercies are new every morning. Even when we are failures. Which if we are human, we are. We fail. All the time. And even when we've let him down time and time again, He still chooses to write us as principal players into the greatest romance of life. The only romance that fulfills. The one between the Creator and His created.

Mercy is the magic.

What a miracle. In an age of criticism and chronic opinion, Jesus is a safe place. To know that the God of the universe–the one who knitted your bones together; bent over with furrowed brows; exercising the utmost concentration–knew we would fall apart at the seams.

He created us fully knowing we would throw ourselves to the ground. Shattering the art. Breaking the beauty. And he broke himself for that very fact. 

And as I sit in my kitchen, where I've written every word since I've been a parent, I realize I will soon be saying goodbye to this place. 

We are selling our house.

Soon this home–where I saw my babies take their first steps, throw their first temper tantrums, witness a bubble for the first time, utter their first words and take their first falls–will be someone else's address. Soon, this home will be a memory. A yesterday that I can't redo. A fuzzy recollection that will keep me company when my son is off to college and my daughter is studying for her high school finals.

And as I look back on the first four years I have been a parent: It's bittersweet.

I spoke too harshly too often. And yet, I exchanged I'm sorry's and I forgive you's richly. I cried too much over things that inconvenienced me, and yet I embraced the unexpected. I complained over the stains on the carpet, but really I was just discontent with imperfection. And still, there's a side of me that loved watching my daughter eat tomato soup with gusto while splattering the walls and staining her dress. I loved having uncooked spaghetti fights in the kitchen with my baby boy even when I surveyed the damage; dozens of snapped sticks of imagination scattered to high heaven all across the floor.

I am a contradiction. My wills are at war within me. I loved chaos as much as I loathed it. 

All in all, we became a family here. In this place. The one that I wasn't sure I even wanted when we bought it. And as we prepare to plop a 'for sale' sign in the front lawn, it reminds me of early parenthood: it wasn't what I thought I was looking for but it was exactly what I needed.

As we look for a new home, I won't be looking for something perfect. I will be looking for a place big enough to invite strangers, new friends, old friends, the lost, the found, the happy and the despaired from all walks of life to drink wine and smell my favorite candles over a large table.

I want a place that will symobilize the growth we've experienced as we have become a family of four. I want a place that will be a safe haven and yet an open door for anyone who knocks. I am excited to recreate our new normal. I suspect it will be something we won't expect; but it will be place to shape the formative years; where we emerge from the thicket and begin the ascent.

This new house won't be the change we seek. Because the change has already happened. We are different. Not better. Just better at starting over. Better at admitting we need a fresh start. 

And so as we embark on the process of finding a new place to lay our heads, I am tired in the best way possible. With heart muscles sore from use and mind muscles sore from faith.

I have no idea where we are going, but we're going together-as a family. Be looking for the house warming invite. I'll be pouring Sauvignon Blanc. Naturally.

We're in this together,
M