Wednesday, August 20, 2014

For when you REALLY don't want to listen to one more princess song...

So this day- it started off as one of THOSE days. The kind where I wake up pushing off a rising dread that today is going to be exactly like the day before it, and the day before that, and the day before that....

Actually, if I'm honest it started last night-  sweet toddler burning off her last shreds of steam, encircling me like a cracked out squirrel around a tree, whilst I stared into my exhaustion, waiting for a very late working daddy to relieve me from the endless hours of playtime I'd just endured at the hands of the dreaded No-Napper. 

And here's the mandatory mom-guilt induced disclaimer: I adore her. She makes me laugh.She brings me the craziest most satisfying joy MOST days. And I rarely find myself here. Which is exactly why I felt this intense need to pause, parse it out, process... 

What is this feeling? How did it get me? How do I make it stop?

Because suddenly I couldn't see her. It didn't matter that she's been the most tangible joy in my life for the last two years. It didn't matter that this is my calling and my challenge and my gift for this season. All I could think was: 

"I just can't. Not one more princess song. Not one more hour of drawing 500 million chalk rainbows. Not one more walk to the same place to do the same things. For goodness sake, NOT ONE MORE PRINCESS SONG."

All I could see were the things I wanted to do that I  wouldn't be able to do, the in-the-way-ness, the inconvenience. Talk about a joy killer.

Suddenly she wasn't my Sadie, she was a 2 year old.
And I was 24 years above her.
She was in my way.
And the distance between us felt unreachable.

And then I felt The Lord's reach. 

Just like that. The weight of The Creator reaching for me. 

The Holy One who makes stars dance and planets spin, who builds babies in mothers' bodies while they sleep and go about their business, the One in whose presence even angels tremble and hide their faces.

This One, "He came not to be served, but to serve others, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Matt 20:28)

This God, the One who made the stars - He speaks with me.
The One who's forming my child in my body as I sit here - if in Person with me, He'd be scrubbing my feet.
The One who makes heavenly beings knock their knees in awe -  He spent three decades breathing in dust just to take a death sentence on my behalf.

This God, the very best Daddy, whose glory is unfathomable and indescribable, is also absolutely without a doubt HOLY (meaning "completely other" - nothing at all like me) in that He's done awe-some, incredible, mysterious, things to make sure He isn't unapproachable... to reach us, to be with us (Emmanuel).

And He does it every day, in still quiet whispers designed to touch my heart, inspire my affections, move my feet. He is personal. Relational. Beautiful.

And in the light of His mercy, under the weight of this kind of Love, 24 years does not feel that far. 

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2:1-11)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Another Poop Story

"The Lord's loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail." 
Lamentations 3:22

For some reason there's always good inspiration in a poop story.

So THIS just happened:

Tubby time, check. Jammies picked out, check. Girl jumping around doing the 'nakey dance' in her birthday suit, check. Only, guess who totally forgot that nakey dancing is a tad more dangerous when the Tiny Girl has had belly troubles (of the explosive, liquidated sort) as of late? This mama.

There is a strange incongruous pause in her dance rhythm, just long enough to make my brain go "Oh....," but not nearly long enough to slap a diaper on that tush before I am graced with my first terrifying motherly visual of green liquid (that should never have been liquid), shooting like a high pressured faucet at mock speed from my child's rear. Awesome.

I know I should be horrified, but instead I see her face- the big eyes, the worried lips, and immediately do the "Oh hunny. It's totally okay! Don't touch it. Be right back.'

A quick clean-up of the shame and fear she's facing, and I race downstairs and completely lose it in laughter because WOW. Just wow.

I come back up, can't completely contain my hysterics, and I hear a tiny voice chime with a chuckle, and a "Oh! green mommy! Silly Sadie, got poop on the floor." Ha.

Now I know this isn't a perfect analogy, but this messy, ugly, stinking, OFFENSIVE pile of green poop on my carpet- even that- stirs an echo in my heart of how deeply my Father loves me.

How the parts of me that should turn The Holy One's stomach, the things I immediately wish I could hide... those awful, embarrassing, not at all pretty things that make up me, those are the very things that He chooses to love. THOSE are the things that He moved Heaven and Earth to "clean up."

It was my heart that He wanted. And He wanted it so badly that He wrapped His glory in a suit of skin; spent nine months inside the belly of a woman; was birthed soaked in blood and nastiness, stinking and uncomfortable and vulnerable into a world that would wound Him, reject Him, even kill Him; and let a woman lay Him in a feed trough.

And YES, He did it because He's awesome, and worthy of ALL glory and all honor, and just plain freaking amazing beyond words, but what grips my heart tonight is this truth that I often miss:

that He did it for me.

The Lord wanted me,
wanted to remove my shame,
wanted to get as close to me as He could,
wanted to be the One to clean up my poo on a regular basis.

Small stuff to a Good Daddy who Loves His children... more than that, IS Love Himself.
The only Daddy who brings joy and peace and comfort, and rescue from shame and fear and death to those of us who can't help but bless His name with every fiber of our being because we know how absolutely astounding it is that we get to know Him, and that He asks us to call Him "Abba" -  meaning daddy.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." 
Luke 12:6-7

Monday, February 3, 2014

Relentless Love

I'm sitting downstairs at naptime listening to my child scream as if she's actually being torn limb for limb, knowing she is unleashing her full measure of rage on the man that I love. I can hear the play by play in my head, knowing I'll find my phone later with messages containing the graphic details of her fury, messages sent from the toddler trenches where a very strong Daddy is rendered speechless by the sight of his beautiful Baby Daughter seemingly losing her mind. 

There is thrashing and screeching and biting and clawing and kicking and flailing and grunting and crying... all soundness of mind is consumed by violence because Mommy and Daddy decided that this time it wouldn't be loving, it wouldn't be safe, to give her what she wants. And I wouldn't really blame the landlord below us for calling the cops because it really does sound like we're torturing her (her poor shaken Daddy might find the irony of this amusing in the aftermath).

The trouble is that this tiny little human, the one I love dearly, the only one I've ever watched grow from a soft swaddled seedling - I know it for a fact: she is sane. Intelligent even. She is healthy and funny and clever and developing beautifully.

But it is there- a sudden outpouring of deep.  raw. unquenchable. (even) pure. violence

The truth of it is troubling. It's ugly and offensive, and there's a piece of me that doesn't want to talk about it, wants to clean it up or dress it up or make it do a little song and dance that looks like obedience and makes me feel like a good mother. A mother whose child is just "naturally" peaceful, agreeable- "easy." But that's the thing. It is true. She is human. She is like me. And I am like her. I know too well the burning that sits in my chest, the filling sense of injustice that builds slowly always threatening to choke out my joy. I know too well that when I don't get what I want my flesh throws a fit, calls my Papa God names, withholds my trust and love from Him, tries to hurt Him. WE are the violent ones. 

Bless his heart though, my daughter's Daddy, he's in that room. With her in the midst of it. Refusing to leave her alone with her demons. Fighting for her heart amid the flying fists and gritted teeth. 

So I sit a room away, and pray that his love would be truly relentless

That he would choose to pursue his girl in the face of bodily harm and heart-aimed injury. That he would keep reaching for her, keep his heart turned toward her. That he would find her in the mire.

This is Love. 
Love in Person.
The God-Man who slipped silently into this broken violent world to find his own, knowing full well that it would kill Him to do it. That they would kill him.

Relentless Love embraces the violent ones, He embraces our ugliness (as only the One who made a life can),
fearlessly, because His love is strong enough to bear the weight of ALL that we are. 

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hope all things, endures all things." 
(1 Corinthians 13:7)

Oh Abba! that I would know more of You, that I would love like You love!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

To My Great Mum-Mum Madeline

This morning I'm struck by how missing you are, Mum-mum.

How even though you and I never shared our morning coffee together, even though I never got to see you in your jammies, without your make-up on, or hear you make plans for your day,

that when I opened by eyes, and knew you weren't sharing this life with us anymore,  I had lost something.

...Something beautiful and sacred that could never be replicated or replaced.

And all I can think about today are all of the things I don't know about who you are, and how I ache to be with you so I can find them out.

How does a woman separated from me by an hour drive, by state lines, by 3 generations, and by almost a century make me feel so loved when I'm with her that it hurts to know I won't be with her again?

I've never seen you angry. I didn't know you when you were young, though your spirit never seemed to age. You didn't change my diapers or even my mother's. I don't know any of your best recipes, or even reallly what you're famous for cooking. I don't know if you would even let the girls and Aunt Shelley see you in your jammies or without make-up on.

And yet I love you and I miss you. You aren't here today, and it matters.

I'm wracking my brain to put my finger on what it was about you that got to me. How did you hand down that love without me even really noticing? How is it that your presence on this earth meant so much to so many?

We never even really talked about anything super important together. I remember one time you cornered me and were telling me about the sale at JCPenny's or something, and I was having a terrible time paying attention, but you just kept chatting away, happy to have my ear.

At your 90th birthday party we actually got to talk for quite awhile about when you were young. Somehow you ended up telling me about how you had started working at at bank when you married Pop Allen, and one day you almost fainted while driving into work. Lo and behold you were pregnant! And there I was sitting two weeks pregnant myself, but you couldn't have known.

When you met Sadie for the first time and she couldn't stop staring at you, only two-months old, but she watched you and listened to you in a way I hadn't seen before- taking you all in.

There was a moment at my sister's wedding just last month when everyone was on the dance floor, and I was standing back underneath the tents, watching you watch them. You were sitting there smiling, swaying just a little to the music, tapping your foot to daddy's band, and I remember thinking how just having you there, our Matriarch, made us all feel loved.

The drive home last night had me thinking about how much I love the family that you made, and how I wanted to thank you for them.

You've left behind a seriously stellar legacy Mum-Mum.

If I can be half the mom that you must have been, if I could raise babies who raise babies that are as honest with themselves and others, as loving and open, as easy to talk to and be with and learn from as the people who surrounded you in that room last night, wishing you could stay with us, I would consider my life a huge success.

And how many women can say that they not only knew their great-grandmother, but were changed by her love and their time with her? That their baby daughter was actually blessed by the handful of times she got to talk with her great-great grandmother?

It was so good to be with you while you were here Mum-Mum. Whatever it is that made you so special to so many of us, I hope it rubbed off on me. Thank you for being who you were.

I'll be seeing you.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eating Poo

I'm sure you can imagine in which direction this story is headed. But I'm going to tell it anyway. And just you watch, I'll even pull out some serious profoundness by the end.

So one fine morning this past week my now 9 month old Baby Muffin awoke at approximately 7:15am, and we begin the sweet morning ritual of wrestling and chasing and pinning and flailing until finally the bedtime diaper was removed, and a new one put in it's place. In the midst of the struggle I was able to identify two tiny turdlettes in the Little Pistol's dipe (this will become relevant in a moment). Because we use cloth diapers, said Peanut-y Pistol was left to fend for herself for a mere 15 seconds while Mama ran the old dipe to the bathroom.

And this is where it gets good.

Lo and behold upon returning from the bathroom I see a terrifying image: my Tiny Girl, head down, tongue of concentration peaking out, crawling full bore, and panting with excitement with the kind of glee she typically exhibits when hunting down a half-munched sweet potato fry that per chance has landed (or was tossed) beneath her highchair- only instead of eyeing up left-over food, she is headed toward a small brown object on the carpet.

It's at this point that I start screaming "AHHHHH! No, no, no, no, no, no!! Don't do it! DON'T DO IT!" and fly for her hand at mock speed, which in the interval has managed to ascertain said object (and, as I had feared, it is in fact a piece of poo).

The best part? Baby Girl stops mid-squish, fistful of poo just moments from her lips, scared stiff by the commotion I've caused (thank the good Lord it worked!), and starts crying REAL TEARS! Not oh-mommy-you-scared-me tears or even the angry tears that usually accompany Mommy saying "no," but honest to goodness HEARTBROKEN tears.

I had just taken what she had clearly (though wrongly) identified as a squishy little morsel of deliciousness, and she was so hurt that she wouldn't look at me.

The poor Bug was a tragic mess, and I'm just full of relief and choking back laughter, because seriously IT WAS A PIECE OF POOP! But she doesn't care. The facts fall on deaf Baby desires for the sneakily acquired scrumptious tidbit that could have been.

How many times have I tried to eat poo? Spiritually speaking that is (that's right, this is about to get profound).

I'm sitting there watching her cry and mourn the loss of something that never should have been, and it hits me- I try and eat poo all the freaking time.

And luckily, from time to time the Lord (in his mercy) grabs my hand, shuts a proverbial door, and I'm left shocked.
craving the crap that looked like food,
the very thing I was running toward,
the thing I just knew would make me happy.

I sulk. I think about how mean He is for taking it away, I pine for the right to run my own life outside of His guidance- to have the things I want.

And the whole time He must be looking down on His sweet daughter, confused though she be, and trying not to chuckle as He comforts me through my "loss." Thinking all the while: Trust me child, you really REALLY do not want that.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

Thank you for the hilarious object lesson, Abba. You really are the coolest.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mama Love

My Tiny Little Love has finally made it to the other side of a horrifying bout of diaper rash. I know, I know. That does not sound like such a big deal, but believe me, when your very small baby girl is wincing and crying out in a heart-sickening shriek of pain every time she tinkles it starts to feel pretty serious.

So. Many. Diapers.

I counted actually. Because we usually use cloth, but since we had to buy a 96 pack of pampers for the sad occasion, I now know that I changed exactly 30 diapers in the last day and a half. 30 very sad screaming and squirmy or EVEN WORSE whimpering and subdued (as if the nasty red broken skin on her bottom had just whipped all the fight right out of my Little Firecracker) diaper changes.

It was heartbreaking.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I didn't know I could love like this.

I was literally confused that today was Thursday because this past week has been a blur of play with the sick baby, snuggle the baby, carry the baby, comfort the baby, change the baby's diaper, baby sleeps for 20 minutes, up and crying, change diaper, more snuggling, more comforting, say hello to your husband after work, take baby to bed and pray she sleeps for real....

This kind of love, this mother-love is so big. So strange. It's not like any love I've ever felt.

Eight months ago this Sweet Baby Girl was just a bouncy bundle, a faceless shifting body floating around inside my own. A squishy mysterious Little Bugger that liked to do a dance right when I was ready to sleep, and was hungry all the time. I knew her, but I didn't know her. And now I love her?

I remember in our labor class someone saying that enduring childbirth gives you  the confidence you need to mother your baby. Like if you can handle labor, you can handle anything this kid will throw at you. But to me the whole thing just felt like oh-dear-Lord-someone-make-this-stop. When it was over, I didn't feel like a stronger more capable super-charged mom version of myself- all I felt was RELIEVED! And a teeny bit scared at the thought of ever doing it again.

And I wasn't one of those mommy's that had this instant I'm-totally-overwhelmed-with-my-love-for-you moment when I first laid eyes on the beautiful tiny human placed screaming on my chest. It was more like a "Oh hello little girl. It's you!" sort of feeling. Where was that feeling? Where was the gushy mama love I should feel.

Then those first three months were BRUTAL. I remember thinking, how am I to learn to love this Tiny Girl when she is literally sucking the very life out of me all day everyday, and refuses to let me sleep. These are real torture methods somewhere in the world. I knew that I felt something for her. Something new and strange and a little bit scary. She was precious and fragile, but whoa was she needy, and I am selfish. And Lord, can I do this? Those were desperate days, marked by moment-to-moment pleas for grace.

This is the first Valentine's Day that my Sweet Girl is here in our world, and so
it's got me thinking how this love- our love - has been a slow sweet dripping that's somehow filled my heart to the brim.
It's an impossible love.
I've been emptying.
Poured out over and over into this Child never knowing that I was yielding my heart, being drained dry, only to be filled with a kind of fullness I didn't know I could feel.

God is so good. So faithful to bless the servant even if the giving is through clenched-teeth and with the very last of what we feel we have to give. I've fought with Him over this new Mama-life, struggled with the laying down of my own wants day in and day out, whined, complained, kicked, screamed- I have not been a generous giver of my self to this Tiny Treasure entrusted to me.

And yet He has BLESSED.

Love has made me able.
And Love- He has made me full.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fight It

Eww. Today is the lamest of lame. Not because anything is severely terribly awfully wrong. Nope, it's even worse then that. It's the plain old awful sort of day where nothing is happening- nothing good, nothing bad, just loads and loads of nothingness.

I could blame the weather for my foul state of mind (because really it's been gloomy and nasty and sunless for the last week and a half!), but really it's just that funky funk of this-is-the-same-as-yesterday sort of day that I'm stuck in.

I loathe days like today.

It may have taken almost exactly 7 months, but here it is: this is the first day I can remember since the Tiny One made her debut that I've been completely and totally out of my mind with boredom. She's totally feeling the same way- hence the whining and moaning nonsense that's been happening up in here all morning- in one of those weird "is she bored because I'm bored, or are we both just bored together" ways. This blog post is boring too isn't it? OH DEAR LORD, THE BOREDOM IS STIFLING.

I'm really struggling to find someway around it, out of it, through it? and all I can come up with, the only thought that's been able to penetrate the thick black of this painful normalcy, the only real life-giving thought I've had in hours is just two words: fight it.

At the risk of sounding super intense and overly spiritual I'm going to take the time to parse this out. Because something as seemingly non-threatening as the soul-dulling normalcy of this day is just sneaky enough to do serious damage to my spirit. I know, I know. That sounds ridiculous. But I can't shake the feeling that this grey cloud of unexciting nothingness is trying to suffocate the joy right out of my home. And that is seriously uncool.

So here's my thought: (since you asked, and I know you're dying to hear where I'm headed with this after that riveting introduction). What is it about this day, this moment that the ancient stealer/murderer of my joy (and yes I mean the heckin' Day-vil!) would be after? I mean, what's in this moment that he doesn't want me to have?

And why should I fight for it? What is in it?

So I turn off the television. Tune into my daughter. Take a breath. Listen.
What is happening right HERE?

And right there- in the silence. There's the lie. Standing stark naked bold-faced, nowhere to hide.The cruel whisper: It's all nothing.

This is nothing. You're working for nothing. You're doing nothing.

Know thine enemy, right? It's ugly. This feeling, this belief I've stumbled into, that the Little Person I'm spending my life on is a waste of time. What is that?! There must be something SERIOUSLY threatening about today, this moment, this Teeny Tiny Girl that's being built/loved/grown right here and right now.

Fight for what? Truth...

Carrying this Precious Baby all over the house getting "nothing" accomplished is everything.
Taking the time to tickle her toes and make her laugh during lunchtime is everything.
Just being with her, near her (mess that I am today) is everything.

There is nothing more precious, more vital, more threatening to the Enemy, or crucial to the Kingdom then this Tiny Beautiful Life the Lord has entrusted to me just for this moment.

The truth? Today does feel sucky, and we're both in a rotten mood. But being in it together, her and I, miserable though we be, is the very opposite of nothing.

This bond we're building, the joy that I'm fighting for in this moment as her Mama, the peace that reigns in my home when Truth is allowed to come up for air- is all pretty powerful stuff, the kind of stuff I'll fight to keep.