9/11

Seventeen years ago, our arrogance as a nation was shaken at an egregious cost. Children who lost parents are now grown, and life seems to have moved on. My children will read about 9/11 as history. Life does go on after tragedy. It has to. But can we just take a moment to remember? We all said “never forget” and then . . . We forgot. We stopped waving flags and taking a moment of silence and sharing our grief and condolences. Take a moment today and remember. Please.

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Seasons

There’s a line in a song I listen to frequently: “Every day I’m changing, becoming more like Christ; adoring what is good, adorned with the fruits of new life.” So many times I do that swallow — you know that swallow, when someone says, “Of course you drive 50mph on Ronald Reagan,” and you aren’t going to volunteer anything otherwise but — gulp. Yeah, that swallow.

Am I becoming more like Christ every day? I feel like it’s almost bragging if I even feel as though this is true. I want to shrug off any notion that I’m becoming “better”, because I feel like that would only make me prideful. But today I am thinking about this season of parenthood, raising young children, and I don’t feel any pride at all in myself when I think — yes. Yes, I am changing every day, becoming more like Christ, adoring what is good, adorned with the fruits of new life. This is all God’s work. And in the heat of sleepless nights and battles over putting away toys, I see that God is doing some serious work in me.

This is a season of giving for Love and me. The more we resist and insist on a “break”, the harder this season will be. The more we work with it, the more rewarding it will be. I can’t afford to sleep in, trying to catch sleep that was never promised to me. I can’t afford to take a night off and watch TV. That’s not griping; that’s the beautiful life that God has given me right now.

I did not understand what it meant when people talked about “seasons” until I had children. I see now. You can’t plant in the fall or harvest in the spring. Rushing and trying to act as though every year or day were the same, getting frustrated because hours are going to nursing that used to go to housework — what sense does that make? God determines the seasons. We need wisdom to know how God wants us to put feet on the gospel in each season.

In this season, I share the gospel in waking up early and and giving of myself to my family without complaint, with great joy. I share the gospel by relying on God for wisdom in how to raise my toddler and strength in caring for my newborn. I share the gospel as I allow my husband to step up and do the housework that I’ve let go, accepting his help humbly. I share the gospel as I take a deep breath and stop the tears long enough to send a text asking for help instead of wallowing. In all of these things, I am saying God is enough, and God is good.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus (Phil 3:12).

It’s time to go start the day with my babies. Pray for me; I need so much grace.

Taking refuge

A couple days ago I wrote a private blog post. In this post I talked about how I am perpetually exhausted, and how I think this tiredness is more than physical. In this private post, I concluded that I needed to make more time for myself. Less than a full day after writing that, I was struck with a conviction that this is not the godly way of thinking. When I feel inadequate in any way, the solution is always to trust in God. Maybe trusting in God looks like journaling more frequently or doing some other “self care” thing, but maybe in this season of life I just need to accept what God has for me. Maybe I just can’t find those 15 minutes to spend doing something I purely enjoy that is not for someone else. The fact that I even think this is necessary to feel refueled just shows how I’ve bought into the lie of this culture, of this world, that says I am “number one”. It isn’t that I believe I am unimportant; I struggled with that for many years, believing that everyone else mattered more than me, was worth more than me, deserved happiness more than me. I know better now. I know my value. Not only do I know my value, I know that God is good. I know that God is good to me, not just good in theory, or to other people. And if I really believe in a good God, how am I going to then assume it’s in my own hands to make sure that I am taken care of? He will see to it that I have everything I need. My job is to be faithful. I can’t be faithful if I’m wrapped up in my own weaknesses and needs. Now, I have to acknowledge my needs before God. It is crucial that I confess that I need him at every moment. It is vital that I accept my weaknesses. I have learned and I’m still learning that I need to be honest about what I need. I can’t just ignore myself and soldier on. This, too, is pride. What I must do is come to God with my tiredness. And I must come to him at every moment of tiredness, whether physical or emotional, and at every moment that I feel needy I must go to Him and ask Him for more grace. That is what it means to take refuge in God.

Sleep Deprivation AKA Having a Newborn

They don’t warn you that there’s a cumulative effect of lack of sleep. You come home expecting that how you feel now is what it’s going to be like, and there’s a few days of relief — thinking that it might be not so bad, this getting woken up every three or four hours.

“I think my body is adapting!” I remember thinking when I woke up after a couple hours sleep feeling rested, sometime during the first week. “This is doable!”

Ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha!!!

No, it’s not doable. If you want to know what it’s like to have a newborn, I’m sorry there is no good preparation for it. Setting an alarm that goes off randomly during the night — sometimes every hour, sometimes after four hours, won’t be quiet unless you stand on your head and recite the alphabet backwards, but no not like that, a little to the left or with a different accent — that might be similar. But compound that frustration with caring about this alarm and you’ve got the perfect mix of exhaustion and anxiety. Nothing prepares you for how much you will care about your new baby. No words capture that “well shit I guess my heart now resides in this eight-pound bag of bones that can’t even hold his head up” feeling.

Don’t even get me started on nursing. I’m three weeks in and formula sounds like a vacation. If I didn’t firmly believe in the health benefits of nursing I would not do it. Period. I don’t care about the so-called “bonding” and the “nursing relationship”. If reminding myself every three hours not to shake the baby is any kind of relationship to be proud of… It’s not that bad, but it gets close. I’m more frustrated with breastfeeding than anything else. I don’t understand how anyone actually enjoys it. And did you know it takes about 20 calories to make one ounce of milk? Imagine going throughout your entire day at a light jog and then don’t get enough sleep. For weeks.

Men don’t get enough sleep with a newborn either, but their bodies aren’t literally burning an extra 500+ calories a day on top of the household planning (aka the job of making sure the jobs get done — a high paying position anywhere outside the home but totally ignored as a job within the home), work (part time but still), laundry, dishes, wrangling a toddler, shh-ing and diapering and preparing meals and meanwhile trying to behave like a decent human being when all one wants to do is SLEEP.

I’m hiding from my toddler as I write this. Twenty minutes of something I enjoy, and I feel the weight of all the things I “should have” done burdening me. The dryer buzzed. There are clean clothes to put away. Dishes to do and put away. A mess the dog made chewing up paper that I should be cleaning up. Or I should at least be playing with my toddler instead of hiding around the corner so I can listen to him and the baby at the same time.

So I’ll go and do some of those things, what I can before it’s time to nurse again. This has been fun. Until next time….

Trust & Obey

It can be confusing, this Gospel of wild grace. I think that’s why Paul goes to such great lengths to attempt to explain it in the book of Romans.

And despite all we have at our fingertips in the Bible, we still ask ourselves: but if God will still love me the same whether I sin or don’t sin, why does my sin matter?

I stopped asking this question when I had a child, because having a child answers about half as many questions as it brings up, and this is one of those questions it answers. You don’t wonder any longer how God can love us and hate our sin when your anger burns hot and sudden against your toddler deliberately doing something unsafe. You don’t wonder how God can hate our sin and yet love us completely when you see the utter helplessness of your DNA curled up against your chest, then holding his head up, then feeding himself, walking, running . . . you don’t wonder because you know what it is like to love somebody that you had a hand in making.

But even though I feel like I understand, I know that this is only a vague glimpse into how God loves us because my love for Littlefoot is limited by the amount of love I have for my own DNA. I see pieces of myself in him, pieces that aren’t sin but that I don’t like, and I have to learn to love those pieces too. When God sees His image in us, that image is utterly perfect. There is no struggle for Him to accept any part of us that reflects Him, and that is all He sees. Because of Jesus’ labor on the cross, we are born again as entirely His.

The life we now live here, in this body that’s decaying, is a process of becoming more and more transformed into the person that God already sees us to be. God is not limited by time and space; He is not ignorant of our sin, but in the eyes of God our sin has already been dealt with even as we are in the midst of sinning. And this is why it is so wildly inappropriate for us to consider “getting away” with sin.

Our obsession needs to be Christ and Him alone. Our behavior falls in line when we seek Him. And this is why I love Philippians Chapter 3, because nearly two years ago I finally understood what it was saying and things have never been the same since. The weight of guilt was eradicated; the obsession with my own goodness was turned upside down. I could finally see this for what it was: pride. For years I claimed to understand that my pity-parties were rooted in pride; I said I knew that low self-esteem was just pride dressed up in rags. Yet I continued to pursue a form of godliness while denying its power. I lived in defeat. I was seeking to be good enough for God, and in so doing was declaring that God had not already made me good enough for Him. What a lie.

I can’t say it’s easy, living by faith, but it is not complicated. Trust and obey. Put Christ first. All the rest sorts itself out.

 

Yeah, so…

I’m overdue for a post that isn’t super spiritual. Right now I’m tapping this out on my phone while Littlefoot plays, content for now. Until the next wave of pain from his ear infection. Then it’s meltdown time until he finally allows someone to hold him and comfort him. This kid is too much like his mom.

Right now I don’t feel particularly blessed or like I’m part of any holy work of God. That doesn’t make it any less the truth, but I’m learning that it doesn’t do any good to ignore how I feel.

I feel tired.  I feel like I’m the rudder of the ship for my entire family, and if I go out we just drift aimlessly.  But just because I feel that way doesn’t make it true.  But again, I’m learning not to ignore how I feel.

I’m learning not to ignore it because I’ve been conditioned by society that, as a woman, my feelings really don’t matter; my feelings are just a distraction from the feelings of others, which should dictate my every move.  I’ve had this doubly reinforced by growing up alongside a special needs child, my brother. And maybe even further reinforced by the overall family dynamics. But those facts of my past only offer some explanation of my tendency to feel like I’m not “allowed” to be tired, weak, and definitely never ever ever selfish. Understanding  why I tend towards these feelings doesn’t help me understand why feeling this way is such a morose experience for me.

I’m rambling. Over half my mind is on Littlefoot. Another part of my mind is berating myself for expecting anything from Love after his exhausting morning. And then a smaller part of my mind has the audacity to be angry that, because I don’t have the energy to do anything about the fact that the dining room table has half-chewed food sitting on it from Littlefoot’s snack, that nobody else will either. And I’m also thinking, should I post this? What stupid thing have  I said that will make everyone mad at me? Because every single time I just speak my mind it pisses somebody off. My ex used to say I was just a whiny entitled brat. And that’s how I feel right now, really, even writing this. Not even posting it. Just writing it at all.

I’m going to get off my butt and clean. Love seems to have Littlefoot entertained well enough for now.

The Story Behind the Post

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I posted that on my Facebook page with no comment, and I’m sure it will get a lot of “likes” because it’s a pretty picture and an encouraging word.

But I don’t think anyone would guess why I posted it. I found this picture because calligraphy speaks to me in a deeper way than simple text on a page; it brings a texture to the words that only enriches the meaning. I looked for a picture like this because I was thinking about this verse. I was thinking about this verse because I just read an email that brings to mind the “train wreck” phenomenon. We don’t want to see gruesome things or awful things, but when they happen they have this strange pull on us; we can’t look away.

I got a similar email a little over two years ago, from the same person, and to this day a particular sentence will catch in my mind and I have to force my attention away from it. I have to preach to myself: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8, NASB).

I did not post this pretty picture with its pretty words because I’m a pretty person with pretty little thoughts.

I posted this picture because I’m a broken person with broken thoughts who needs to be reminded that I am a new creation, that thoughts of despair are in total contradiction to the truth. The truth is that Jesus the King “for the joy set before Him endured the cross”, and that joy was fellowship with the likes of me. The truth is that only God knows hearts; my job is not to “fix” anyone or even to “fix” my relationships, but to be faithful to God’s commands to love and serve and consider others more important than myself. And the truth is that He already knows my faults and failures in this, and yet He makes a way for all things to be incorporated into His ultimately good plan. I need to trust Him.

It is both the hardest thing and the sweetest relief of my life, to trust in Jesus. And that is why I posted that picture on Facebook.