Monday, June 20, 2011

my strawberry smeard alter

 so i've been reading the life altering book one thousand gifts by ann voskamp. if you haven't heard of it please watch this clip...

   i was fortunate enough to have learned to be thankful, for both little and much, from a very young age. however, this book is teaching me to be purposefully thankful even in the difficult, hard to breath kind of life as well. to actually stop and put to practice a type of self control i have never known existed. in emotions, and weather or not i will choose to let them run me over or stop, and give thanks for the first thing i can think of, in that particular situation, to choose to find joy in the difficult places, in the every day life, in every single God gifted second that i breath.
   in this practice of thanks i have this running list. it sits where i am. on the kitchen counter, on the side tables in the living room, on the front stoop outside our house, in the dirt of our garden, under the covers while i sleep, pen in hand listing listing listing, until i list myself to sleep. in fact, that is one way i used to help myself to sleep as a child, not by counting sheep - i could never see them - but to count my blessings. to recall all the things during that day that i was thankful for, grateful for, blessed by.
   this book definitely takes it multiple steps forward in that it's not only things i am thankful for that i am counting, but that in giving thanks, i am choosing to see the joy gifted to me from the Maker of Heaven and Earth - Creator of All that is seen and unseen. i am counting the ways He loves me.
   oh how high i spiral in the thanks and joy and Love!
   if you need a way to find the joy in life, a way to refocus your eyes on what you were created for, if you need to get free from anything that weighs you down, may i suggest that you read one thousand gifts and take the dare from ann voskamp, farmers wife and mother of half a dozen.
   psalm 50:23 he who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that i may show him the salvation of God. thank offerings. in my minds eye my blank book (filling quickly) is the alter, and in it - on it, are my thank offerings,
#79) flowers that push up dirt
#81) bounce dyer bars, ready and waiting to add fluff
#99) for peace that lands in my heart when prayer is whispered to dark threatening clouds
#107) for the gurgling rumble of tractor shifting earth
#109) for the sight of sun kissed curls dancing on heaven sent breeze
#119) for toddler girl dumping every single pretzel and granule of salt out of bag with the look of purposeful work on her face
#120) for small boy dipping fingers in salt only to lick them clean and whisper "mmmmh...salt."
#153) for crumbs under the table and all around, a reminder of my children and the all important job of training them up
#155) for strawberry jam, ruby colored, seeds suspended in sweet gifted spreed
#160) for sticky honey nut cheerios spilled over in my favorite red chair
#163) for sky fire beaming down on moist air, heaven kissed vapor

   it has become a hunt. a once very simple list of "i am thankful for's" has turned into a "eyes wide open" experience and i am full of long sought after joy. my table of thank offerings is smeared with wonderful home made strawberry jam, dappled in sunlight filtered through radiance and covered in crumbs that used to make to sweep like a crazy lady, and now, at the mere sight of them, i could cry tears of joy. time has slowed to a snails pace and i can see moments happening inside moments captured and i am finding holiness in everyday life, the beautifully and the ugly - this - this is amazing! this is truely a holy experience.

you're fired!

   it's sunday morning. we're all vying for the bathroom, the iron, a quick breakfast and the coffee pot. the boys, my husband and son, finally emerge from the bathroom and the girls, myself and my daughter, finally get our turn.
oh. no. they. didn't.
the scene in the bathroom is horrific. on the counter are tooth brushes, dribbled mouth wash, smeared tooth paste, razor and shaving cream.
 i suck in a deep breath and start to clean up the mess so that i can take my turn to get ready for church. so that i can make myself presentable for the Lord on His Sabbath day. i fume having to clean up this mess before i can even start the mad rush of trying to make myself seem presentable and lady like.
i shout out the bathroom door, "you boys are fired!"
they know what i mean. they know why i say it.
momentary quiet fills the house while i start the quick job.
...then i hear, "i'm not fired in Jesus." a small boys voice calls back. it's not in defiance. it's not that nannie-nannie-boo-boo sing-song voice. it's just simply stated. for a few seconds i freeze and the house grows still.
 "what?!?" i call down the hall in a voice ready to leap. is that boy getting smart with me - while i clean up after him - while i'm in a mad rush to get cleaned up myself?
 his little voice repeats its innocent truth, "i'm not fired in Jesus."
 the breath is squeezed out of me by my own guilt. down the hall, in the opposite direction, i hear my husband chuckling under his breath, "that's right boy!" he cheers him on. "you'll never be fired in Jesus!" the husband, truth coaxing and proud of his young boy.
   i stand still in my attitude, my finger pointing and my anger. truth spoken by a four year who sounds as wise as a one hundred and four year old, reminding me how far from being presentable and lady like for the Lord on His Sabbath day i truly am.
 i exhale the deep sucked in air of tension and hang my head out the bathroom  door, " that's right buddy. you'll never be fired in Jesus," i agree with him proudly yet humbled and dressed in shame.
 i wipe blue mouth wash off white counter tops and i am seeing blood drip from splintered tree and never once do i hear from the cross about my mess that He continues to clean up. never once do i hear in my inner spirit, from an all knowing God, that i am fired. i never will.
 the wise boy with words so deep passes the bathroom and i call him in. back tracking he appears in the doorway with a fresh pressed, button down shirt and clean, sharp edged, shorts. he could have been crusted over in mud and wreck of early morning, spring air and he would have been more presentable and ready for the Lord on this Sabbath day, then i with my hair ready and dressed in my best.
 i cup his face in my hands, kiss the tip of his nose, "i love you boy."
   placing his hand on my shoulder, reassurance from a child, "i love you too mommy." and he's off down the hall to find his shoes.
 we will never be fired in Jesus. how many times a day do i fire my family? often i tell me them, "and don't even think about a letter of recommendation." this is supposed to be my funny way of dealing with life that doesn't go my way, but really? what does it say about me? what does it say about how far i have to go to grow.
 i look in the mirror and realize their is simply no need to try today. anther purposefully messy bun it is. another pulled together look reflecting the pulled together attitude i have.
   isn't this the enemy? the snare of the belly crawler? any other morning, on any other day of the week and it would have gone so much more different - better. even waking before dawn at 3:00a.m. so as to share the car with my husband, even those mornings go, by far, more smoother.
 somehow, i've been giving the enemy of my soul a hold and choosing defeat on a morning that should be the easiest to recognize it. knowing their is an evil desire to callous my heart over so as to keep me from receiving the God bread of Life that is to fed my soul. it never fails. almost every sunday morning, the rush to get ready for church is always that - a rush; a mad rush. the drive to church is silent as i whisper prayers of confession to the Almighty and the walk to Sunday school is always the conversation of my asking my children or husband for forgiveness for my bad attitude.
   i see it now. i see it in the deep words spoken by a four and half year old boy who simply stated, "i'm not fired in Jesus." and thankfully i am not ever fired in Jesus either.
   He continues to teach me and uses my children almost all the time to do it. i am so thankful that i haven't been and never will be fired in Jesus. in fact, i feel as though i have just been given a promotion. more responsibility with this knowledge of the way that i tend to be and how wrong it is. how easy it is to humbly accept correction from a God who does so through my children, who does so so lovingly, who i know, will never fire me. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

mysterious man chasing the God of Mystery

   how easy it is for me take my husband for granted. how terribly sad! how hard he works seeing to it that we are provide for. how hard he works around the house to see to it that our house is taking care of us. he plays with our children, sings with them, teaches them and encourages them. while he reminds me often that he is not superman, despite what his t-shirt says, i think, most of the time, that he is.
   you see when i met my husband he was long haired, greasy, foul mouthed and i fell hard. somehow the cheerful pomp-pomp yielding, flag twirling, bright gal of me saw in this quiet, aloof, artisy, dark, guy of him, a future husband, even though he was everything opposite of what i wanted out of a man! we grew our high school days together and gave our parents the headache of a lifetime. our senior year was, i thought, our graduation into a life apart. tired of being the one who encouraged him to do right, i broke it off.
   eight years later and much too much of life down the wrong path, for both of us, i got a phone call from him. he had dreamed of me and "everything was perfect." he was calling"to see how i was."
    having not really kept in touch and not running around in the same crowd, i didn't believe him when he said, "God is the most important thing in my life."
   i thought, 'yeah right! he must have heard that i love Jesus and am now choosing not to date anymore. not until God places a husband before me and he is asking for my hand.' having just learned of courtship and quickly tiring of the loneliness of it, and turning down seemingly "nice enough" date prospects, i told him if he wanted to take me out he could bring me to the next church service. the next church service was on Christmas eve. he did bring me! we were married that may.
  just like in his dream we do everything together but unlike in his dream, everything is not perfect. we live in this imperfect, fallen world and yet we still look, hope, for this unreachable perfection. what is perfect is that he has been surprising me ever since by showing me his trusting, obeying, seeking and growing into a man of God.
   my love for my youthful mysterious boy has bloomed into my love for this man chasing the God of Mystery. that in itself can seem pretty perfect. in all our messiness of life, our struggles to find time for one another, to remind each other how much we love each other and even remind ourselves how much we love each other, our imperfectness has found its rightful place and feels perfect for us.
  today i just wanted to take the time to stop and think on him a little extra. pray for him a little more. recommit myself to being his best friend. try harder each and every day not to take him for granted. i love you mikeyson!! XOXO

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

potatos & the local crazy lady

   when my mom was living she HATED cats. when they came into the yard she would hurl potatoes at them, in hopes to chase them away never to return. my brother and i were then expected to go retrieved them. i wonder how many were left only to sprout and grow? i wonder if people in that neighborhood question one another, "isn't it weird how potatoes grow randomly between our yards?"
   the other night while chopping sweet potatoes, my husband and his grill master skills in the twilight on the deck, he opened the sliding door and popped his head through, "theirs a bunny in your garden."
   "are you sure?" i ask. we've lived here for a little over a year and i've never seen one bunny or squirle - ever! cats on the other hand? well we've tried to make friends with them but they're not interested in us, yet. shshshshshs, don't tell my husband :)
   "yep, a big one" he replied.
   "no way!!!" i set down my knife and head for the door.
   ears perked high, he looked more like a chocolate Easter bunny on steroids in the dusk. propped at the edge of beans and broccoli i squinted, wondering if this was a trick of my husbands. "is it real?" i ask.
   "yeah. big hugh?"
    i started up the hill. hearing again the voice of my cousin and aunt tell me of their eminent destruction inside my head, i start flailing. arms wild over my head, hands flapping, "SHEW! GIT GOIN'!"
   he didn't budge.
   i reached the top of the first little hill on our slopped property and i realize this bunny is brave. i'm sure he's heard tale of neighbor farmers with guns perched and waiting. this bunny just may be laughing at me.
   'oh. no. you. dont' i think as my flailing gets more wild and my threats become louder, echoing down the valley a little. "GET!!! NOT IN MY GARDEN YOU WON'T FEAST!!! SHEW!!!" my head now shaking crazy and my feet kicking forward, he finally turns and makes a belingn threw the meadow and down the hill.
   standing at gardens edge i squint threw oncoming night to see if he got a taste. instead i realise what a show i just put on for all the quite farmers and their families swimming in the pound at the foot of our hill. i turn back toward the house, shaking my head a laughing. my husband, standing on the deck, another witness of my crazy display i say, "i should have just thrown the potato."