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,