Friday, August 15, 2014
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
|Mt. Adams. Photo Courtesy of Life is a Mountain, John's Hiking Blogspot|
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,
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
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,