a good day

The truth is, I don’t have many good days.

Surprising, right?

But today has been a good day so far.  I didn’t wake up to back pain, but got up at 6:30 anyway (I know, sounds late to a lot of people, but it’s early for me).  I went for a walk/run (probably more of the walk, less of the run).  I made a phone call I had been putting off, just ’cause silly things like making doctor’s appointments usually fill me with anxiety.  My heart isn’t heavy like it has been so much lately.

There’s almost…joy.

I hesitate to say that.  I hesitate to think it, even.  I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with always wanting to keep my expectations ridiculously low so that I’m less likely to be disappointed.  Yet, even in the face of my obvious push-back to biblical truth in this area, God has poured life into my soul today.

I’m thankful.

real life

Baseball has started. We have four kids signed up, which means 2 kids have practice each night, Monday-Thursday.  We’re only one week into it and I’m already exhausted.  It’s going to be a long two months.

Today I really wanted a burger for lunch, but I made myself a black bean and veggie burrito instead because the scale hasn’t been my friend lately.  This afternoon, though, I made orange-glazed cinnamon rolls for a snack.  That’s what my willpower looks like.

I told Tim yesterday that I feel like I’m shriveling up from the inside out – just empty, dry, hopeless.  This weight in my heart never goes away, and just seems to be heavier as time goes on…my spirit grieving more over hurt and loss and seeing no way back.

My kids’ cold-weather clothes got swapped for their warm-weather clothes this week, but I keep wondering if I missed something, because it was almost painless.  Bins even got put back where they go (usually this takes weeks or months).  I guess I underestimate how capable my kids are in helping with such endeavors.

We’re shrinking our vegetable garden this year.  Maybe that will mean we can keep up with weeding.

With the exception of giving birth, and one half-day I spent at jury duty, I haven’t been anywhere without children for more than three hours, or so, since Caedmon was born.  Sometimes I feel worn down.  But, I rarely wish I could be away from my kids for longer than a few hours.  I really don’t know the good or bad of any of it.  I’m tired, though.

May is coming.  May is hectic.  I always dread it, honestly.  But, for the first time ever, I am way ahead on my mom’s Mother’s Day gift.  Like, I’m ready to mail it.  Small, but it offers a small amount of relief.  Now, just three more Mother’s Day gifts, two anniversaries (PLUS ours), 7 or 8 (?) birthdays within our extended family.  And a new baby nephew due to be born.  And baseball.  And gardening.  And finishing up a school year.  And house projects.  And…maybe I’ll find a hole to crawl into until May is over.  It sounds more appealing.

 

made to be a pack-mule

So I should be folding laundry right now.  But I’m tired…like, legitimately tired (as opposed to most days, when I’m tired for no good reason at all).  It’s legitimate because we got a delivery of construction material delivered and dropped on our driveway and front sidewalk yesterday.

The exact numbers were:

30 sheets of 5/8″ plywood

24 sheets of 1/2″ plywood

72 2×6″ x 8′ boards

24 2×6″ x 10′ boards

63 2×8″ x 14′ boards

72 2×8″ x 8′ boards

12 2×8″ x 10′ boards

4 2×8″ x 12′ boards

26 5/8″ 4×10 sheets of drywall

All of it had to come in the house.  Tim brought all of the drywall and thicker plywood in by himself (one sheet of that drywall weighs 88 lbs(!)…not to mention how insanely awkward it is to carry a 4′x10′ sheet of anything by yourself).  He also pitched in with a few of the other boards here and there, single-handedly got all of the 10′ 2×6′s from the front hall into the attic (and with just a little help from me got the 14′ 2×8′s into the back of the second story), but the kids and I did the rest.  Okay, so I know it doesn’t seem like I did much compared to what Tim did (I think he, literally, did a ton more work than me, at least)…but a solid three hours of fairly heavy lifting was much more of a workout than I have been used to lately, so now I’m sitting.

To be honest, I really enjoyed the work.  I like to say that I was built to be a pack-mule, and yesterday just confirmed that.  ‘Cause I really can’t stand exercise that doesn’t have a point.  I get bored super-easily.  But yesterday…even though I was exhausted early on…I was able to push myself because it was accomplishing something.

Plus, I think the truth is that I was made for heavy-lifting.  I bemoan my size a lot (much to my husband’s annoyance).  I get frustrated that even if I were in great shape, it’s not possible for me to be smaller than a size 10 .  I get mad at God for not making me small and feminine and graceful (sounds petty, but it’s completely true).  But if I were all those things that I often wish I could be, I wouldn’t be as much the helper that my husband needs and values.  I know that my husband was thankful yesterday that he didn’t have to move all of that wood by himself.  I know that he was thankful that he didn’t have to worry about me being too fragile.  I know that he was thankful that I could lift the 40 lb boards from the first floor up to him in the second floor, fifty times over.  My husband is glad that I’m “sturdy” even if it means I’m not what the world considers feminine.

And this is a line of reasoning that plays out in a dozen different ways most days.  Who I am is not who I want to be, because who I am is not who someone else says I should be, but who I am is who God made me to be and there is a reason for me being the way I am.  It happens with homeschooling my kids.  It happens with keeping my home.  It happens with the food I make and the furniture I buy and the way I communicate and the fact that I don’t walk around with a smile on my face all day.

The world and the Church and articles I read and people I talk to can all have very definitive ideas of what is right and wrong in so many areas.  And I am susceptible to believing it all.  I really am.  I want a standard.  I think everybody wants a standard.  But we enter damaging territory when establish any absolute standard that is something other than what we find in the Word of God.  We were created to be different in so many ways, and we were created to be absolute in relatively few.  It’s not a new lesson for me, but it’s one that is constantly under attack, so I need reminders. 

I can be who He made me and trust that He can use it for His glory.

As hard as it is to walk out, there is freedom and a simplicity in that truth.

home

It’s not where I want to be.

And, honestly, I still think it’s not where we’re meant to stay.

But this is how I am seeing God’s provision these days.

In unknown songs that make it harder to enter in at first, but don’t carry with them any painful familiarity…anointed worship that helps me remember to just focus on Jesus.  In a crowd of mostly new faces, where I can be okay – for now – just being anonymous.  In so many things different that awaken long-lost conviction and raise challenges to sometimes dust-covered ideals.   In preaching that stirs passion for the Lord, and passion for His Church, and passion for the lost.

In many ways, it hurts to think of calling this home. 

But I know God is here.  And anywhere He is, I can be home.

 

life still happens

Sometimes I have days…

…when I’m burdened all day to pray for things I can’t change and wish I could ignore.

…when I actually get more than 10000 steps on my Fitbit.

…when the bacon-wrapped pork loin for dinner is so yummy and I’m reminded why these pounds don’t come off.

…when my second-smallest girl tells me at least a dozen times that her nose hurts, and I can’t get her to drink much of anything, and I feel so bad that I can’t make this rotten cold leave her alone.

…when my heart aches so much that I can’t stop doing, just because I need to have distraction to keep from falling apart.

…when I try to catch up on correcting schoolwork and wonder, again, if I’m completely messing up at this homeschooling thing.

…when I realize that my milk supply has finally stopped and I am officially neither nursing nor pregnant for the first time in almost 13 years.

…when the whole day happens to the soundtrack of worship music mingled with demolition.

…when I notice that someone has turned the page on the calendar for me, and it’s April, and for maybe the first time ever, I wish Spring hadn’t come so quickly.

clinging to the Word

Honestly?  I want to write not-nice things about not-nice people right now.  But….since I think it’s safe to conclude that is not the leading of the Holy Spirit, I will refrain.  Instead, the response I got from the Lord when I fell to me knees, sobbing and hopeless, this afternoon.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Even when my words are broken, His Word is truth.

thirty-seven

It seems like life just gets harder with each year that passes.  I honestly feel like I’ve aged ten years this past year.  I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck, and unfortunately this isn’t unusual.  I injured an elbow and a shoulder last year, on the same arm, and both still cause me pain almost daily.  My gray hairs and forehead wrinkles have multiplied exponentially.  My metabolism seems to have slowed to a frustrating rate and exercising gives me headaches.  Even on the rare occasion I don’t have a child waking me up multiple times a night, I don’t sleep well because my back and arms ache.  My brain is in a fog, my body hurts and my heart hurts.  It makes me not so very excited to celebrate another year of life.

But I know there are good things.

I have a husband who loves me and serves me and protects me and prays for me and tells me I’m beautiful.

I have children who are smart and healthy and affectionate…who love me even when I don’t deserve it.

I have a God who sees all that I am and loves me with a zeal that I can’t wrap my head around.

And as much as I wish other things were different, the truth is that I have the best of the most important things and I am thankful for that.

 

faith

Our plan today was to go to Watertown to do some special things for Bethany on her birthday.  This morning though – almost immediately upon waking up – Isabelle started throwing up.  In less than two hours she had thrown up four or five times.  She hadn’t eaten much for lunch or dinner yesterday, so we had thought maybe she needed some food in her stomach.  But she couldn’t keep down crackers, juice or toast…and she showed very little interest in any of it anyway.  Eventually, Tim and I were pretty resigned to having to change our plans for the day.  And when Bethany asked if we were still going to Watertown, we said no.

After a brief pause, Caedmon said simply She’s not going to throw up anymore.

I replied with something like She’s not, huh?

And his response was No.  We’re going to go to Watertown, she’s going to nap in the car and she’s not going to throw up anymore.  

Bethany asked How do you know that?

Because God is going to heal her.

He said it without an ounce of doubt, without a bit of hesitation.

And within a few minutes, she had eaten a plate of scrambled eggs in seconds flat and was asking for more.

We went to Watertown.  She napped on the ride there and the ride home.  There wasn’t a single moment when she seemed at all sick, which – given her susceptibility to car sickness – would have been almost unheard of anyway, and certainly seemed out of the question when she’d spent the morning throwing up.

It was convicting and challenging and faith-building all at once.  And joy to our hearts to see Caedmon’s confidence in God’s goodness and sovereignty.  I’m so thankful that God honored his faith today.  I’m so thankful that Caedmon got to witness God’s response to his faith.  I’m so thankful for the reminder that faith requires going beyond what we can see and trusting that when we “step out of the boat” he will show His limitless power.

We serve a good God.

at ten, in a nutshell

Today, we celebrate Bethany.  She has kept us on our toes for all of her ten years.  Just when I think we’ve figured her out, she surprises us.  She can struggle with writing a complete sentence, but can explain to me exactly what a direct object is.  She can be totally oblivious to something right under her nose, but can observe the small details of any number of mechanical devices and figure out how they’re working together.  She is our only child who unfailingly remembers to strip the sheets off her bed on Tuesdays to be washed, but almost daily forgets that she’s supposed to collect eggs in the morning.  We are regularly taken by surprise at her deep understanding of some things, but are just as often stunned at how some things completely escape her notice.

There seems to be very little middle ground with Bethany.  When she gets something, she gets it.  When she wants to do something right, she does it exceptionally.  Conversely, when she stumbles, she does so in big ways.  When she gives up on something, it takes an inordinate amount of persuasion to convince her to try again.  When she’s caught in a sin, she is either immediately repentant, or stands by what she’s done even when she’s faced with grave consequences.  She makes up her mind and that’s it.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, but for all that can be problematic about it, her determination to stand by her convictions no matter the cost is admirable.

She is proving to be patient and loving and gentle with her younger sisters.  She is affectionate and optimistic and joyful almost all of the time.  She loves sewing and drawing and pretty much any craft project she can find.  She’s not afraid to try new things.  She’s quick to offer encouragement and praise.  She genuinely loves Jesus.

She is a gift and a challenge and more loved than I can put into words, this oldest girl of mine.  I am so thankful for her.

 

adjustment

I’m needing a perspective adjustment this morning.  Life is pressing in, a tangible weight that slows my pace and draws my gaze from the only place it needs to be set.

We got home last night from a few days spent visiting family.  It was a good few days.  I love my parents and my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.  But the stirring up of that deep affection always brings with it twinges of heartache.  Nothing’s perfect, and it can be hardest to see the needs in the lives of those you love while feeling helpless to make anything better.

And today, everything else is crowding in.  The little things…piles of laundry, a sparse refrigerator, an interrupted routine, aches and pains that make me feel way older than I am.  And the big things…heart wounds, fears of failure, struggles with a sin nature.  It all makes me want to give up, to blame God, to be convinced that there’s nothing good in any of it.

So I ask God for help, and He reminds me – Jesus is the answer.

Because of Jesus, I can come boldly before the throne of grace when I am in need of mercy and grace.

Because of Jesus, I have confidence that there is hope for those I love, even when I feel helpless.

Because of Jesus, I can find freedom from fear, knowing that the God who defeated the grave is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.

Because of Jesus, I can trust that God sees all of me – every sin, every failure, every weakness…as well as every bit of me that is unlovely and awkward and not even close to being right…and loves me unconditionally.

Because of Jesus, I can face today knowing that God is with me.  And God is for me.

Jesus is the answer – for today and always.