15 October 2013

mother lovin' pumpkin

I was looking absentmindedly at my son's pumpkin tonight.  The one that he got on his class trip to the pumpkin farm.  He loves it wholeheartedly, as only very young children love personally selected autumn gourds.  He wanted to decorate it, but knew he didn't want to carve it.  It's a little, "pie" pumpkin, so I thought he was on the right track with not carving it.  I suggested painting it, but that wasn't what he wanted.  He finally got a permanent marker (with permission) and went to town. After carefully drawing eyes, ears, mouth, nose, chin, hair, and dimples (dimples! ha!), he named it.  "Two Peas".  I don't know the significance of the name, but he explained to me that he meant the kind of peas that come in a pea pod, and two of them.

On the side of his pumpkin I can see in the dim light of my lamp where he wrote the name.  In black ink above and behind the left ear are the words, "Too qes." Two peas. (He wrote the "p" backwards.) It won't be seen on Pinterest- it's a pumpkin that only a mother could love.  And when I see that neat yet misguided writing, it makes my heart swell.  He is so sweet, and creative, and tries so hard.  He badgered me to tell him how to spell "two" and when I told him and he realized he'd done it wrong, he was crushed.  Crying, the whole works.  Didn't have the heart to tell him later about the backwards "p."

Isn't it funny that when I see his effort and his mistakes, it makes me love him more?  At least, (if I'm honest here) when his mistakes aren't costing me extra time, money, or energy.  His goofy, misspelled pumpkin is endearing.  I see who he is, when I look at it.  I know he's trying hard, has come a long ways, and will be a great writer- one day. So... why is it so hard for me to remember that my honest mistakes and imperfections don't make it impossible for God- and others- to love me?

And why can't I keep my heart soft when my boy makes honest mistakes of the other kind- the kind that make me late for church, or make me spend 38.9 seconds wiping up a spill, or cost me 25 cents worth of wasted colored cardstock? Like my harsh impatience is what's gonna teach him the greater life lessons of responsibility and respect? Can I wrench my eyes away from myself long enough to see that in those areas of behavior he's trying hard, has come a long ways, and will get there someday?

So, there are my deep, pumpkin-inspired thoughts. October seems to be a month for deep thinking here!  Lest you think I'm getting too serious, I will tell you that I and my older children have been laughing like hyenas about poop.  C's first explosive, nasty, diaper blow-out diarrhea, to be exact. So there's that.

08 October 2013


I feel like God is trying to teach me something, and at times it's painful.  Like, as I get fresh waves of understanding, spurred on by memories and connections, they feel like contractions.  This week I feel doubled over and gasping, spiritually speaking.  The awkward and embarrassing memories and realizations are coming faster and more frequently, and I am afraid.  Afraid that I will go back to the blur and numbness of the daily grind, and forget the aha's.  Like I wish I could spend a week thinking and praying so I can push through. Give birth to whatever this is.  It's tied to my identity- that I've continued to be a slave to others' approval in ways I thought I had outgrown long ago. That the idea that someone didn't like me, 20 years ago, someone I haven't spoken to in almost as long, still makes me tremble and feel panicked.  And I want to scream to myself that THE GOSPEL IS ALL I HAVE.  Over and over until I get it.  Right now Pandora is playing, "I need you, how I need you.  Every hour I need you. My one defense, my righteousness, My God, how I need you." Cue ugly cry.

But I don't want to just feel this.  I need to unpack it, memorize it, get it into my bones.  Think and do and breathe and BE different.

If you had told me a week ago that I'd be feeling contractions, spiritually, I'd have nodded and believed that I understood.  But I wouldn't have.  In my 38 years I haven't felt quite exactly like this, before.

It wasn't me that started this, and rushing it will get me there no faster- much like childbirth. I think I have to wait to receive the next part of this.


06 October 2013

drawing lines

I am reading Shauna Niequist's book Bittersweet, borrowed from our local library after several weeks of waiting.  It didn't take me too many pages to figure out that I was going to have to own a copy of this book and read it again and again, marking up pages and letting the truths seep in. Reminds me of Traveling Mercies by Ann Lamott.  It not only makes me want to shelf the idea of writing a book, but it makes me question why all these other women are writing- because Niequist is. that. good.  Why bother, as long as she keeps writing?

At any rate, one of the many things that struck me whilst reading Bittersweet was her idea of keeping a list of things she doesn't do.  That in this mad crazy pretend world of Pottery Barn Kids catalogs, Pinterest, and the like, we can't do it all.  So she works at being intentional and listening to the Spirit about what she's called to do, and then making it clear to herself what she CAN'T do if she wants to do those well.

After a tiny bit of thought and a huge bit of desire to drop the dross and live fully, here is where I am drawing the line.  Here is what I want to say I DON'T DO:
paint furniture
make crafts out of vintage items
have a pet.  or poultry.

This list exists so that I CAN:
Cook well
Be a photographer
Be creative/ artistic once in a while
Spend time with my kids
Read and pray
Do my basic functional adult tasks

Things on the bubble for me right now:
hosting frequently
writing more intentionally

And I think that as I live with this idea this week, more things will accumulate on the "I don't" list. At least I hope they do.  Because when I realized that I can say, "Yeah, I just don't garden," it was immediately as if a weight lifted.  It was palpable. I didn't realize that being a crummy, virtual non-gardener was making me feel a degree of guilt and shame.  Wasn't every good and perfect mom supposed to organic garden WITH their children?  And make gluten-free recipes with the produce joyfully harvested from said garden?  It just isn't happening that way.  Aside from the fact that my ability, energy, and motivation to "do my basic functional adult tasks" is so low that it's causing conflict between me and the mister.  If I get time away from the laundry hamster wheel, I need to do something with my free time that fills me up, not stresses me out.

So I'm drawing lines!  I'm going to say, "NO!" with a measure of joy and certainty.  And don't get me wrong, I know this is meant to be a fluid list.  Who knows, maybe in a couple years I'll be puttering around in my garden, all green of thumb and wearing a cute apron I sewed myself.  But for now, no. No.  NO!

(Happy sigh.)

04 October 2013

bated breath

So, tonight is Friday.  Which means movie night- especially when Craig is doing stats at an away football game, as he is tonight.  And while G was at school, the littles and I made a crash trip to the library to score some books, and the aforementioned movies.  F picked out a Barbie DVD, and I grabbed two for G: the classic How to Train Your Dragon, which we've seen (and loved) multiple times, and an exciting new pic that I was sure he'd get into: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (cartoon episode, not the full-length feature film of my youth with the foam costumes).  I almost just got the Turtles, but at the last minute grabbed both so Go could pick.  I was certain he'd be thrilled to see cartoon ninja reptiles defeated nefarious villains.  But G decided that it looked too scary, after having me read the back to him and analyzing the bad-guys involved.

And when he wasn't sure, Craig encouraged him to pray about it.  (I love that man.)  Grady became more firm in his resolved NOT to watch it, even when I said I would stay with him, I thought it was pretty harmless,

and we could watch a few minutes and stop the movie if it proved too much.  He said something to the effect, "I just don't want to grow up like that mom, watching things that will scare me.  Not even when I'm older."

I was praising him for his wisdom when he interrupted me to continue, "And that's how I feel about pop, too, Mom.  I don't want to drink pop when I'm older either. I just want to grow up to do the things that I want to, that are right.  I want to stand up and be me."

And here's the part that made my heart beat harder and made me want to hit the pause button and soak in my life and my kids.  G went on the approach F who was cuddled on the couch, and he said to her, "I don't want you to grow up like that either.  Like don't drink pop or choose bad things.  I want you to grow up and be strong, too.  Don't you want to be strong and do what's right and listen to what God says?  And if you do stuff like that, then someday when you die, when you're in heaven you'll get to be one of the important people.  Doesn't that sound good?" He said all this in the most earnest, sweet, persuasive voice.

Fin wasn't sure she was buying the idea of all he was saying, at first- specifically, I think she wasn't ready to swear off pop.  She's tasted it a time or too, and she's decided she likes it. So she was not immediately agreeing with him in a starry-eyed way; she wasn't matching his enthusiasm. And in a flash I could see how it might all go down, in the future.  I could see him growing up the consummate oldest child; obedient, high-achieving, good.  And I could see her fighting to create her own identity by defining herself as different from him- rejecting and rebelling at least a little against the areas in which he excelled- including faith.  His passion for God was going to drive her away.  And it made me shiver.  In desperation, I tried to open up a door for her, and I explained that G was talking about being herself, and making choices for God instead of being like other people.  She liked that, right?  And heaven, that sounded good, right?

And she agreed, G was satisfied, and we went on.

 But it made me realize that I just need to keep praying.  That each of my kids will have their own journey and experiences woven into their story of God's grace.  And having each other as brother and sister will be a part of that story.  In my own limited, tiny view, I will judge whether they are helping or hindering each others' faith- but actually the very things I dread are likely what God is using to shape them and draw them to himself.  And I laugh now, realizing that I (again) thought I could understand and control everything with my kids.  Classic.   I'll have to wait with bated breath to see how this all unfolds.

So we watched our movies, and I made apple crisp.  And after jammies and brushing teeth, I tucked the kids in, saying to them as I always do, "I love you bigger than a mountain.  And I always will.  And God loves you even more than that."