consistently inconsistent

i know it’s been awhile when i start typing the link to this blog and it doesn’t automatically pop up in the address bar. it seems like i’m struggling for consistency in every area of my life. diet (meaning what i eat, not a specific fad or plan), exercise, bible study, discipline – my own and for our kids. the only thing that has been consistent the past 6 and a half weeks has been swim lessons. 10 minutes a day, five days a week and i’m exhausted.

so the thought of starting an intense, 11-week bible study with our life group seemed a bit ridiculous.

that was before i started. now that we’re in it…it’s, well, it’s still kinda insane. but really, really worth it. based on colossians 2:7, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness, it is called growing strong in God’s family. and while it takes you in slowly, we’ve been warned that we are getting ready to get tossed into the deep end with no life jackets. but i do feel like if i can gain some consistency in that part of my life, it will spill over into the other areas i’m struggling in.

i guess patience and i are learning to swim at the same time.

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simplicity

i am awake. and i am pretty excited. excited enough to drag myself out of bed and blog. and as usual when writing under the introspection category, it is more to align my thoughts than anything else. i just had a serious a-ha moment and a huge spiritual first (for me).

i can’t do it alone.

i’m not meant to do it alone.

and i am elated by this.

backing up: i was talking with anastasia tonight about a parenting book, don’t make me count to three (thanks, yet again, kate). the premise of the book is to parent to reach the heart of your child, not just change their behavior. to reach their heart, you use scripture because God’s word will not return void. it isn’t about controlling, but about teaching my kids to know God’s word and allowing it to transform them as individuals under his authority. over and over again in her examples the author uses scripture to confront behavioral issues in her kids. the Type-A part of my personality gets a little panicky and short of breath thinking of all the scripture i need to cram to be able pull it out at a moment’s notice. lying in bed a few minutes ago i started thinking of the discipleship class i just started and how i will be the only one there who hasn’t done my “homework” but i’m really wanting to start memorizing the scriptures this parenting book gives and how i won’t be able to do it all and…

while thinking of this i thought how overwhelming don’t make me count to three would be for a new christian, but it really does get to the heart of parenting and i wouldn’t want anyone to discount it. so i would probably just counsel a new christian mom to ask the holy spirit to guide her when it came to remembering the scriptures she needs. because of course, that is part of why he is given to christians and i totally could visualize him showing up in this way for a young mom trying to teach her children. but as an older christian i should just know all this and not need the holy spirit to help me…?? stop. what?

and then (seriously, this is my thought process, don’t judge me!) it hit me and took my breath away: i always talk about God doing things bigger than i am and needing him, but i’ve never had a situation where i’ve believed it or absolutely had to live it. i’ve always handed it over then taken it back and dealt with it myself. until now. i can’t deal with this myself. Parenting is way bigger than i am and i cannot do it alone. and joy of joys, i’m not meant to. and for the first time in my life (seriously, now), i am up against something i k.n.o.w. i cannot do on my own.

praise God!

life in the Body

this is an excerpt of something i wrote a few months ago after a particular meeting didn’t go well. it was too raw to post at the time and was really more of a purging-of-my-feelings-so-i-can-get-some-sleep writing than anything.

this is a situation where there is no joy in my Realist Self being proved right. i really am an optimist. deep down, i think things will turn out great and i love being surprised when they turn out even better than i could have imagined or hoped. that’s what our God does, right? i hope against hope and long for the best, even when my Realist Side is saying, “but what will you do if this happens?” i know what i said earlier about being passive-aggressive and not as nice as i should be, but when my heart is right with God, i really am an optimist. because nothing is stronger than his Grace and Mercy. i believe that in my very core.

so when things don’t turn out well, it hurts. there is no satisfaction that they played it out exactly as you thought they could. or that they really were following a script that they have perfected through the years and they kept to it as their defense, like i thought they might. it just hurts. it hurts when they don’t  acknowledge my hurt, or even have a desire to mend things because they see nothing broken…even as i have laid out the pieces of my heart before them as proof. it hurts that they don’t see that i love them and want to love them better in this situation, because of this situation.

it came to mind again yesterday because a friend i hadn’t seen for a while enquired about how things are going, and if they are better. i have to say, in so many ways, yes. incredibly, amazingly, better than have could been hoped for, yes. but then i remembered the still-unresoved situation above and couldn’t help but feel that the Body of Christ is still broken in some way. it makes me ache for a resolution. of course, on the surface, things are better. the person(s) who were making things difficult no longer cross paths with me or enter my world directly which makes things more pleasant. the grain of sand no longer wears away at the oyster. but honestly, how else is a pearl to be made? part of me can’t help feeling robbed of my pearl; of the opportunity to grow and allow the broken pieces of the Body to be put back together again. i won’t lie, it is nice to not have the continual friction and denial, but on the other side, those are the very things that allow God to smooth my rough edges and keep my heart tuned to his as i’m constantly relying on his spirit to guide me. it all just reminds me that there is no perfect resolution in this world outside of Jesus and ensures that my heart continues to long for the next world and all of its perfection.

lucky student

this past weekend was really stellar. i mean, one of those times that just sparkels in your memory and you know it is a golden time that your heart will revisit again and again. or, as one friend told me, it is just like what i wanted my grown-up life to be like when i was a little girl.

of course, it involved the beach. and friends. and food. and really, just perfect weather. i know i talk alot about my friends, but i feel that i have been so blessed to have such wonderful life friends. the girls i spent time with have been my friends for years, the shortest relationship being one of my roommates from college. these are the women who have permission to walk around in my soul. the women who, when i come home to my husband, he’s glad i’ve spent time with them. the women who encourage me to be more than i am, not just with their words of encouragement, but by their very being. and the women who, whether they know it or not, make a Christ-like impression on my heart. i want to be more like each one of them, because each of them, in their own way, models Christ to me.

cara and christie have so allowed God to expand their families that when we are together, i feel like the two little ones i add are almost entirely negligible in the beautiful madness. yet they manage to have an overflowing love for each child. and their husbands are: simply. amazing. there are times when i just sit back and watch, maybe even with a little envy, as they are a seamless part of each other in corralling their families or taking care of a hurt, with very few words spoken to each other. they just know what is needed and do it. it’s holy and awesome.

anastasia is fabulous in dealing with the chaos that is family. watching her do what needs to be done and then following through with three little whirlwinds is impressive. i have learned so much about being a gracious mother from her, although she wouldn’t admit it. she is also the one who is always considering what is means to be a godly wife and implementing it in her daily life and speech. her words constantly remind me that i am jimmy’s helpmeet and lover and friend, and not his Holy Spirit. and if i am honest, there are times when her accountability keeps my mouth shut more than my desire to be holy. but maybe that is part of the way it is supposed to be.

i just know that right now, this is where i am supposed to be: learning from these beautiful teachers.

this picture of cara’s daughter, anna, sums up the day

flowers, decorations, food – check, check, and check

we had a wedding here last night. and i’m going to say that in spite of the wind and rain…and the fact that we had a week and a half to plan it…and we really didn’t know the bride, or the groom, or any of their family, it turned out pretty fantastic! shauna, the bride, works with our friend jake. her fiance (well, now her husband), oscar, just found out his work visa was not going to be renewed, thus speeding up their wedding, which was planned for later this year in manhattan, where their friends and families could attend. shauna was a little sad thinking that they would just have the papers signed at the courthouse, so jake told her he could perform the wedding and i am a notary, so i can legalize it, and would they want to have it at our house? so with a few friends, one parent, and more than a few strangers, pets, and children running around, they proclaimed their love till death do us part. it was really lovely.

the shotgun planners (more familiarly known as jen, ashley, and myself) has an open schedule for any last minute event planning needs you might have. resting after the party, we realized the last occasion we planned here together was a funeral for one of jimmy’s friends whose family lived out of town. we are getting pretty good at this eleventh-hour stuff, we just need to add births to our list. maybe our next child will be a home birth, just to complete the circle.

the wedding party: chris, kathleen, oscar, shauna, jen, jake, channing

over-thinking pollyanna

i’m sitting at the table in my best friend’s kitchen, helping myself to leftovers from her fridge while she naps upstairs with jameson. i just sent her daughter outside to play after letting her out of “time-out” and mercy is on the couch, playing her way through her naptime. why is it so much more enjoyable to clean my friend’s kitchen than my own? and so much easier to discipline her children than my own? and jameson would nev-ver (let me repeat, neeeeeeeeever) lay down for a nap with me without starting the battle of armageddon first. but did i hear a peep out of him as she carried him upstairs and put him to bed? nope, nary a sniffle or a kick.

this is the kind of overlap my heart yearns for. being able to sit down for a conversation instead of one (or both) of us holding the phone on our ear with our shoulder (which, with these ridiculously shrinking cell phones gets harder every time i get a new one), managing a whiny kid on one side, refereeing a water fight on the other, helping someone find the elmo that has disappeared in the wreckage of morning play, all while trying to drive in a straight line…the grocery cart, not the car, people!

so this past week, we have had the time to sit in her kitchen and living room and have real dialogue and i can’t remember how many cups of coffee. of course, we’re still dealing with all of the stuff above, minus the cricks in our necks, but we’re doing it together, and we’re face to face, and we aren’t having to rush through conversations so we can get it all in before someone on one side has a meltdown that has to be addressed. and we have been able to let our conversation spill out and flow where it will. so much so that we were talking about pollyanna and how dialogue-driven the movie is; she has to stop every so often and ask her kids if they understand what is going on. of course, it was made for a different generation of kids who were excited to see a movie and didn’t need the “bells and whistles” of special effects and exploding cars, buildings, airplanes. and, her kids, really, are only six and four, so she can’t expect them, necessarily, to understand everything in the movie. and then we realized that we were probably thinking about it a little too much. but it is a luxury i am glad we shared.

the Farm, anyone?

alright – i was meant to live in a commune. it’s true. i first started thinking this when our friends lived with us when i was pregnant with jameson. mindy and i shared the cooking (a side note – i’m sure community-living works better when good, or at least decent, cooks are involved) and the cleaning (ok, another side note – clean people probably work better together, too) and, when jimmy and i had a hot date, she flat-ironed my hair. this was my first thought that community-living might not be such a bad idea. i mean, i don’t have the patience to flat-iron my own hair, and what man is going to do it?

this week, jimmy and i stayed on campus at fcc for a few days and i got to spend some wonderful time with anastasia and was reminded of this idea. i mean, the men are out all day hunting and gathering while the women take care of the home and kids, and how much more fun is it to do that work together? in fact, it was pretty fabulous.

this excerpt is taken from a paper by a girl who grew up on “the Farm,” a commune in summertown, tennessee.

Within the interviews I conducted with former Farm members, similar ideals were expressed when I asked “why did you decide to reject the status quo and  join  a commune?” Here are some of the replies:

  • We wanted to see what we could do;
  • To learn how to live together as self-sufficiently as possible;
  • We wanted to work together in a caring environment;
  • We wanted to escape the capitalistic greed and hypocrisy;
  • We wanted to create a lifestyle that would be fair to raise our kids;
  • To get away from the city and take care of ones self;
  • To learn how to live together in a spirit of honesty and compassion, to raise sane healthy children, to live as self- sufficiently as possible.

so, i know my time with anastasia was a little too utopian because it was short enough to ignore some of the day-to-day business that would normally need to be taken care of, but, here is the beginning of my perfect commune

:: kids – derek is in charge of nursery (we don’t call him the baby whisperer for nothing), jen does pre-school, anastasia does elementary, i take care of high school and art. dave teaches theology and logic, jake teaches shop, jimmy teaches all the miscellaneous handy-man stuff he is so good at

:: jen oversees the garden, with ashley helping and researching new ways to grow things and keep the bugs off (my main deterrent to gardening – i’ll stick with the herbs and the canning, thank you!)

:: ashley is the financial wizard that keeps our home running smoothly, and chief baker, while i oversee the rest of the kitchen

:: i think jen and anastasia would be the shoppers…they have all that coupon madness figured out. and, all the money they save can go towards missions and adoptions.

:: the guys, of course, could stay in their respective jobs as they like.

:: the goal of our community would be to practice pure religion as outlined in james 1:27 –  pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

ok, while i’m living in my own, fantasy world, i think it would be great to run a bed and breakfast for extra income. and we could throw in a starbuck’s, too. that should make you want to join. let me know where you’d fit…