I came to the top of the stairs for the eightieth time since the clock struck eight that morning. I was greeted with the sound of rolling laughter paired with a steady stream of urine hitting the floor. There in the middle of the door frame stood my fully potty trained son, peeing on the carpet, not because he couldn't hold it, but because he decided that the sibling-composed crowd milling around him needed some top-notch entertainment and this was the best he could come up (or out) with. No one was laughing quite as hard as he was at his own fountain impersonation act, especially not his mother. I huffed and I puffed and I threw a hand towel down on the patch of urine before resuming the task of wiping dried poop off the upstairs toilet seat.
It is moments like this (which are many, not during a WEEK, but a DAY) in which I think:
Friday, March 15, 2013
"I was made for more than this".
We were driving to no where in particular, just driving as we do on days where the afternoon has no foreseeable end. From the middle seat, a question comes out of no where, directed to yours truly.
"Mom? What would have happened if Jesus would have stayed on the cross?"
Umm....well...that's a REALLY good question, I tell him as my brain is suddenly on full alert, tripping over itself to find a suitable kindergarten-level (or any level) answer. As I stumble through a disjointed answer to a insightful question, I think to myself:
"I am so not equipped to answer these questions!"
The glow from the early morning sunrise starts to light the living room where I am cuddled on the couch with a rested three year old who snuggles down deeper in the nest my legs have made. I hear his contented little sigh. I take in the new morning, fresh mercies and marvel that the vortex of insanity I get so easily swept up in the afternoon/evening before can be so quickly but a foggy memory after a decent night's sleep. As they each descend in their own unique ways to greet the day...and me, the woman they still miraculously love, I am able to see the light of the reality that is too often lost in the noise of non-stop requesting and raucous that comes from five siblings with only three years between them:
"I am not deserving of this role of raising these impressionable young souls"
On any given day, there is a smattering of "feelings" that come with the responsibilities of the jobs we have been given. The days in which I "feel" completely equipped, utterly satisfied and zealously passionate about my performance during every moment of it are rare, and perhaps SHOULD be. If I played out my part flawlessly, there would be no need to look towards stage right or stage left for Divine direction.
The fact is, feelings have a part to play in how I view my role on the stage of my life, but they are a bit part at best. The fact is also that the part I'm living out is the one that was written with me, and only me, in mind as the Divine Playwright wrote it out before time. God put the characters and the scenarios we ad-lib our way through, together on purpose, for a purpose. There is no audience approval I need to look for over my shoulder (easier typed out than done), and I can even feel like my performance deserves a crushing review on most days, but as long as I am consistently looking to the Director for my cues, I've got to trust that when the curtain closes to this season of my life, that it will have been enough.
I have been working hard on the development of the new online magazine Neighborlies, and have largely ignored this online journal. It has been made very clear to me I can barely do two things (well) at one time and I am still working to find that balance. Since we launched and are on our coming up on our fourth issue, I am seeing a little bit more room to keep up writing on the Coffee Cottage. Looking forward to darkening the doors of this online Cottage more frequently.
As always, thank you for dropping by!
Posted by Jeane` at Friday, March 15, 2013
Saturday, January 19, 2013
There may be another one out there like me this morning. Just in the event there is, and you could use a little solidarity, here is how it's going down here. I will warn you, I am going to be honest. Really, truly honest. I'm not writing from great spiritual heights, nor a deep, dark valley. I am somewhere in the middle, trying to see beyond what is right in front of me.
Without editing (gulp), here is what you could expect to see if you spent the morning in my head:
5:45AM "Johnny, no....I'm sorry, I love you, but you may not make it a habit to crawl in beside mama. I've let this go on for a week, because you are so darn adorable and secretly I know I break the rules for you because you are the baby of the group, but I must reserve this space for your papa and me." and so we stumble back to his bed, he whimpering, me feeling a little badly, but not enough to let him back in under my covers.
6:30 "Go back to bed. It's the still the middle of the night (sorta)" we tell the three boys that keep trying to edge their way into our room. "Is it seven yet, mom?" asks the oldest from our door frame, every five minutes. When they finally reassemble themselves in their room, we lay there, listening to escalating noise and commotion, which wakes up the girls. "We will miss this someday, honey" says the man who impregnated me with all the noise now coming from the south wing. I know he's right and my heart flickers a little with the warmth of it's truth...until I hear the sound of urinating and promptly hear a female voice at my ear reporting that her little twin broski completely missed the toilet and was standing in the middle of a yellow pond on the bathroom floor.
8:00 It annoys me when my husband is driving on the higher road than I. Which is often. He's a take-the-shirt-off-his-back-even-if-he-won't-get-it-back kinda guy. Truthfully, I'm not that kinda girl. Not even close. It would be lovely to subtly suggest to you that I am, but it was promised this post would remain unedited and so it shall be. This is the second Saturday this month he's helping someone move. Another weekend day where I get the full load on a day where I kinda hope for only half (and really want none) of it. Any word or motion or look from the man, unintended or otherwise, is taken as a "holier than thou" statement. The man cannot win and I am a loser for making it so. It's hard being the she-goat wife to the Candyman (Sing along! "Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two..").
Dear Jesus. Help me feel remorse for this. Help me love my job. Help. Me.
9:00 Flying around the house in my grungy robe, trying to get it in order just because it's already chaotic. If the house looks some what put together, maybe we can feel more put together. Irrational, I know, but at the very least the pee-soaked rug in the upstairs bathroom needs washing. I set my laptop up to look up that article about essential oils recommended to ward off the cold and flu, run upstairs to retrieve said mat, run downstairs and as I'm rushing back to the laundry room, notice a pool of coffee all around my brand-new, very nice laptop that the Candyman got me for Christmas. Feeling my smelly body getting even hotter, I demand "WHO did this?!?!?" as the children are fighting over a shriveled up Red Robin balloon in the middle of the kitchen floor (let me say here, there is nothing like a balloon to cause major upheaval in this house). No one admits to it as I hastily lift it up and hear coffee swishing around inside. Lifting it up and to it's side, my creamy drug of choice drips and drips and drips from the flashy red HP's inards. "IS NOTHING SACRED?!?!?!? DO I NOT EVEN GET ONE FREAKING THING that is reserved for ME????...or should I just give up now and be a personality-less slave who has no interests of her own for you all for the next 18 years!?!?!?!" It wasn't spoken aloud, but it was thought. In the spirit of honesty, it was a variation of "freaking" that I used if I remember correctly. And I do.
9:15 Still shaking with frustration and running out to the barn in my big black robe and bright red slippers, I retrieve an old cooler to put the soggy laptop in. I cover it with rice, hoping that it will work. It is then that I ask the children, somehwhat calmly, who did it. The one I least expect comes forward and I commend her honesty. I know it wasn't her fault, but mine, for having coffee so close to it on the counter. I also know that her feelings are immeasurably more important than the new gadget that I kinda liked. A lot.
It was the one space of time in this morning that I felt the force of my Father pull me back and restrain my tongue. Thank you, Jesus, for that.
10:00 More fighting. Skirmishes left and right. And I start to think about my stupid Pinterest board and how the pictures of kitchens I'm hoping to mimick will probably just collect dust because how on this big, green earth will we EVER get ANY project of that magnitude done. (And I don't mean moving walls or any structural changes) This is when my unwanted friend, Cathy Comparison slips in and she whispers stuff like "How does so-and-so paint her house?" and then moves onto "Her children must be more compliant and well-behaved or play better on their own or be more obedient or read more books or play by themselves better...." and I start to think of my children as less then. Seriously. I am really not sure I should press post at this point. I've got some of the coolest little children on the planet, and just because I can't forsee the ability to refinish my cupboards, I'm wishing them to be different? Yes. Sadly, I am.
11:00 To ensure you have lost complete regard for me, I can tell you that in the back of my mind through ALL of this morning, I am remembering the woman my age with two small girls (who I've never met) who is fighting for her very life against a disease that is posing mighty opposition. Here is a woman who would give ANYTHING to have an ordinary, frustrating Saturday morning with her girls. She would submerge 200 laptops in vats of coffee and just laugh if she could experience carefree living. I am amazed at my ability to know this, to KNOW that I should be embracing every "ordinary" second I have with my precious children and
I still feel myself getting sucked in to the mayhem of the moment, even as I plea with Jesus to spare another mama's life so she can go back to having these delightfully maddening Saturday mornings herself. This is where I think I must let myself a little off guilt's hook. It IS indeed helpful and good to keep perspective. It is also good and helpful to know that even if and when God heals her, and life moves on, she will have mornings that test her patience to it's maximum daily levels.
This is middle part of life...I am neither in the valley of the shadow of death or standing on a mountain peak looking below with breathless excitement. Even without living in an extreme environment, how I navigate the little challenges and frustrations count. Do I spend time beating myself up for failure, or do I keep on keeping on, trusting that with each new day, my "flying off the handle moments" will grow more infrequent than my "OK, God, we can DO this, You and I" ones? I do not think this is a "Mommy-with-children" thing either. If I did not have children, I am confident I would have similar challenges, just in different forms. We all struggle with selfishness, with the need to displace self-reliance with God-dependence. We all feel the need to step away, and breath in the cool, crisp air of perspective that reminds us how far bigger this Grand God Story is than what we can see with our limited vision. The scope is big, but these tiny moments in our little lives count. They do.
This is part of faithfulness, keeping Truth close, forgiving others and ourselves and choosing to be honest with our faults so we can love more as He does and less of like our instincts do.
My friend, I've got nothing else. If you've read this and are horrified, pray for me. If you've read this and know, well, then let me know and we can pray for each other.
Posted by Jeane` at Saturday, January 19, 2013
Sunday, December 16, 2012
As we do on so many evenings, with five little heads laying on their cool pillows, we visited the Castle in the Woods. The castle tucked in the woods, it's crystal clear moat, secret passageways, colorful gardens and fanciful talking forest animals are fictional. The Princes and Princesses that live in it are not. The stories my imagination makes up include happy tales of bravery, kindness and extraordinary fun in a place that any child would consider a wonderland beyond anything they've known (except maybe the children who have visited Disneyland, my offspring not among those). Thanks to the strong influences of Lewis and his Narnia and Warner's Boxcar Children in my own childhood, such stories are easily on tap wherever we are.
Yesterday, the tale was a pointed one. Bad men where headed to the castle. Bad men with dark evil in their hearts. The princes and princesses inside did not know they were outside the castle walls, but as the oldest of the royal clan pulled open the heavy wooden door and stepped onto the drawbridge, his eyes squinted in a light so brilliant it rendered him blind to anything beyond it. What he couldn't see is the bad men with dark hearts trying to take what wasn't theirs. What he felt, while unexplainable, was safe, carried, and protected.
The blinding light came from Warriors of Light whose Commander in Chief is the One who created us all. They are under strict and loving command to surround those He loves, at all times...but there is a special band of them, whose light is the brightest, who are dispatched when the darkness is thickest. I told them, my children, that these Warriors of Light are absolutely for real. I made up the castle for fun, but God has made these bright, shining creators for a purpose. He has used them throughout the broad scope of history to deliver news, scoop up His saints and shield them from danger. A few among us have felt them, seen them or know those who have. We are limited with our earthly eyes and faltering faith. The truth is, we forget that that there is a very real and present reality all around us. There is, and has always been, an epic battle between good and evil that swirls around us.
Friday was a day where it suddenly became hard for thousands of people to breath without effort and with the sense that their heart wasn't in it. It was, still is, and will always be unthinkable. The darkness we witnessed was so thick we could feel it at our doorsteps, and after we welcomed our children back through them, we considered never letting them back out again.
As I considered these things, as best as I could without laying prostrate, paralyzed with fear and heartbreak, praying to God it wasn't really true. He couldn't have allowed this. It was then He reminded me of the people group which are highlighted time and again in the scriptures. He always made time for them when His friends tried to shoo them away, always praised their pure hearts and was openly affectionate with them. Most parents would not showcase a favorite of their offspring, but with Jesus, I think He does.
Children, I believe, bring Him a measure of joy that cannot be compared. We are all His children and the far-reaching depths of His love cannot be fully grasped.
This is why, with every fiber of my being, there is no possible way that the God I know would have allowed those precious children in that kindergarten room that could have been my two kindergartner's classroom, witness the darkness they were in the very vortex of. No, with all the space in my heart I trust that God did something very, very special for those darlings of His that someday, when we see them again, they will tell us about these bright, shining Warriors of Light that suddenly filled their room, blinding them to the darkness and scooping them up in their sinewy, muscular arms to take them Home where their rooms where waiting, the playgrounds were beckoning and never, ever again would they know even the smallest measure of pain. If we could talk to these children right now, I have to think they would have no memory of what happened.
What we are left with is the terrible, horrible,awfulness of the facts we do know...and that will leave our hearts feeling like rocks in our chests for a long time. Tears spring easily, fear flaunts itself as we wonder if we are being terribly irresponsible at sending our children to school on Monday. Some rush to regulate, some wish to reassign blame. I am personally ready to dig a home-sweet-hole and stay their 'til the trumpet sounds (not my actual plan, but an instinct reach for a shovel). We all wish for and will do whatever it takes to give our most precious pint-sized citizens peace and safety.
My dad said yesterday "It's those first responders that I keep thinking of. How could one possibly ever recover from that scene?". I agreed, shuddering for the hell they will never be able to wash away from their memory. And yet, they were not the true first responders. Before darkness entered that crayon and paper filled room, the Warriors of Light were standing guard, ready to blind the innocent with their brightness to the Evil that came to steal and destroy. God in His great love for people in the middle of a world of fierce, on-going battles between dark and light, has unseen provisions. His eyes are trained tightly on my children and yours, on you and me. He knows and He is prepared, with legions of strong, shining Warriors on the ready.
For now, we only have what we see and the hope of what we do not.
I could be any one of these mothers, sisters, friends of those lost. My children could have been survivors and needing to navigate through the searing loss of innocence. Their pain is unimaginable to me. I can only carry a small sliver of their grief and continuously add to the thousands of voices reaching the Throne of Grace, whose occupant knows and acutely feels their pain. Praying for the day all wrongs are made right...and until then, praying that this little Light of mine will shine where it can.
Posted by Jeane` at Sunday, December 16, 2012