Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Got Me Crying 2 Weeks Ago

After I mentioned the sermon that I need to have running like a constant tape recording in my brain, I figured it was only appropriate that I link to it here so that you can all listen to it. Try this link. If that doesn't work (read: if I gave you the wrong link because I'm a computer dunce), then try this link and download May 18th's sermon entitled "The Best Long Weekend Offer You'll Ever Get".

What I thought was remarkable about the sermon was that it didn't end where I thought it might. Now don't get me wrong: I grew up in the church. I've heard the gospel too many times to count. I "know" the answers, and yet, somehow, they haven't stuck. I"ve talked about this before right? Anyway, listen to the sermon, find the link for the sermon notes if you want them, and think about me from Isaiah 1:2 all the way to verse 17. That is pretty much where I live. Especially the way Mike talked about those people with that guilt. (I still need to go back online and listen to his sermon on overactive guilty consciences from March 9, which ironically is my sister's birthday...talk about my guilt!....that has my name written all over it.) Somehow the rest promised in verse 18 has eluded me all these years. This would appear to be the root of pretty much all my issues.

Anyway, enough psycho-analysis. This is supposed to be a funny blog right!? Okay so this is funny. That same morning I was on the worship team and I was supposed to be, you know, singing. Which is painfully hard to do when a) you are crying like someone just poked you in the eye and b) you are not sure you can sing the words of the song because you feel like a big fat hypocrite, unsure of your own sincerity, and sure that the lightening bolt is on its way from Heaven for daring to pray such a line of song when in your heart you are saying, "...except" or "....yes that, but not this."

Now that was too abstract (and not nearly as funny as I'd hoped). Here is a concrete example. The song lyrics are in black. My innermost thoughts are in blue:

Father, let me dedicate, all this life to Thee or at least a very large chunk of it
In whatever worldly state Thou would have me be whatever state? well, I do have my preferences
Not from sorrow, pain, or care freedom dare I claim wow. Could I really not ask for freedom from my sorrow if it came again?
This alone shall be my prayer, glorify Thy name. Just don't glorify your name in any way that will harm my children.
So the *really great part* about being on the worship team is that you get to come 2 hours before church starts to warm up and practice etc. And then of course there was the practice on Saturday morning. Plus also all the practice in the car and at home by CD that I was doing to find my harmonies. And we do have 2 services on Sunday morning. All together I think I sang this song 452 times over the weekend. That is a lot of time for the Lord to bang a girl over the head and cut into her heart with His Word.

By the end of Sunday morning I had stopped arguing with the Lord directly and started to just say nothing (except of course for snurping and sniffling everytime we got to that song). I mean, this is surely the right attitude to have: Lord I will give you every part of me, just like you held nothing back from me on the cross. I totally get that. But I look around at my life and at others around me (I know I'm not supposed to judge) and I wonder how many of us actually do this? I don't. Maybe I used to. Maybe I never truly have. How do I set aside the fear to do what I want here? I really WANT to say WHATEVER state, HOWEVER you choose, WHEREVER you lead, WHENEVER you want...


Oh it was so much easier when I was young and stupid (as opposed to old and stubborn). Apparently child-like faith dries up when you hit 32 (or maybe it was baby number 7). Either way, I am torn between what I want to do (follow the Lord like a sold out, burn the bridges behind me, squeeze through the narrow gate and seek first his kingdom kind of gal) and what I feel I need to do to survive (make my own decisions and choose my own path because I am all *wise* and such).

So I stood there, crying like I had just cut a big old pan full of onions trying to sing these words with faith: Yes Lord whatever, whenver, however, wherever.... oh but it was hard. What struck me though as I was struggling with surrender (again and again and again) was verse 2:

Can a child presume to choose where or how to live? oh you know I'm trying to presume, Lord
Can a Father's Love refuse all the best to give? Do you really intend the best for me? Do you really love me and take into consideration my weakness and fraility and uselessness? Will you really prepare my heart to want what you want and to agree with you that what you think is best really is?
Let my glad heart, while it sings, Thee in all proclaim I do say that: that all I can rejoice about is in You
And, whate'er the future brings, glorify Thy name. Whate'er? oh yes Lord. Glorify your name. I'm coming around.
There is more to say here, but I think I will stop. Suffice it to say that I am working on surrender. All those tears were not wasted. Each one of them contains a part of my flesh that is slowly being worn away to allow me to be led by the Spirit again. This comes with a flavour of fear I have not tasted in a long time. I do believe. Help my unbelief.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Heard At My House

Setting: Another Meal with 6 children all singing and quoting Veggie Tales....seriously.

Me: Okay, so how about we stop speaking "Veggie Tales" and starting just being people who only speak english.

4yr.old Son: (nearly in tears) But Mom, I don't know how to speak English!

Me: Um....okay. Honey, that's what we speak. We all speak English. What did you think we spoke?

Son: I thought we just spoke Normal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Was Born For This

Sunday was interesting. I mean besides the fact that I cried like a baby during the worship music and then continued to cry like a baby through the worshipful sermon, it was a highly interesting day (did I mention I was one of the singers on the platform? great. A crying singer. That always sounds nice. But I digress.)

6, count them 6 people mentioned the Duggar family to me on Sunday. Do you know who they are? They are that family in Arkansas that has 17 children and just announced via the press they are expecting baby 18. And the Discovery Channel does specials on them all the time. I believe the titles are "16 and Moving In", "Wow, they are pregnant again?", and "Don't they know what causes this?"...or at least I'm assuming that's what the shows are called because that's what I hear all the time about my "overly large family" and they have more than doubled me so they must hear even worse things, or maybe no one actually speaks to them at all, face to face, for fear of being sucked into a cult, of which they must be a part, or catching the "pregnancy bug" should it truly be contagious or "in the water". (by the way, did you notice my intentional use of a run on sentence there? That was a literary device that I was hoping would mirror the largeness of the families we are talking about....cool, eh? Oh yeah. I'm a super homeschooler...insert eye rolling here.)

So anyhow, they came up in a reference to me. And I was asked, not once, but twice or thrice, if I was following their lead, intending on having 18 of my own? And could I 'catch up to her', meaning, could I get to 18 by the age of 41 like she has...


You know, I even laughed at all this because it is a bit funny to me. And I have obviously noticed that when we leave the house for a walk or a shopping trip that our gaggle does take up quite a bit of 'real estate' as we walk. So I am not oblivious to the size and even unusualness of our family. I am also fairly fascinated and challenged by the Duggars. I mean, who does have 18 kids? I saw the special on the building of their house and I was highly impressed, and pretty moved. And there is a part of me that thinks "That would be kind of cool!" But being cool isn't my goal (clearly!). Doing what the Lord lays on my heart to do for my family is the goal. And today that means having 7, not 18, children.

But what was really interesting to me were the conversations that I found myself in where people said "oh you make parenting look so easy. You must have been born for this. You take so naturally to being a mother. I can't imagine you ever having any problems at all" (okay, did they miss the talk on PPD?)

And some day I'll get brave enough to say "Well, sure, if you mean by the reality of my having a uterus and functional ovaries, then yes, I was born for this. However, if you are referring to an ability to channel June Cleaver and morph into Mr. Dress Up, all the while spouting the wisdom of Dr. Spock and simultaneously keeping my home like a regular Martha Stewart, well, then, no. You must be thinking of someone else.

It has been drawn to my attention at fairly regular intervals that the Lord equips those he calls, rather than calling the 'naturally' equiped. The Lord did not look down on His creation and say "Why look how together Barbara is. She sure would be a fantastic mother. See her diligence and ability to die to self, and to keep house spic and span and notice how she is well prepared and ready at all times. Not to mention her saintly patience and enduring wisdom. Why I think I'll just give her a whole fleet of children because she is most assuredly able to handle it.".

People see my children, who admittedly are quite fantastic, and assume that it is because I am some brilliantly gifted woman. And then they say things like "Wow. I could never do that." But that is ridiculous, because *I* could never do this expect that the Lord has grace and mercy and goodness to me, giving me the strength for the next step, and the next and the next until I somehow have arrived at this point that my children are 9, 8, 6 1/2, 5 1/2, 4, (almost)2, and 3 months and all of us relatively unscathed. And more than merely unscathed; I believe that we are thriving. Notice I did not say "perfect". We are on our way to being who the Lord intends for us to be because of His working in our lives. My goodness I am certainly learning from being a mother. Learning exactly how UNgifted I am naturally for this role. I was a great babysitter, remember? So surely I'd be a great mom. Whatever.

Saul was the most useless, ungifted apostle ever....until the Lord called him to it and enabled him for it. Gideon was the most pathetic wimpy warrior ever...until the Lord called him to it and enabled him for it. Barbara was the most lazy, reluctant, selfish, unmotherly woman ever...well okay, she is still working on that.

But do you see what I'm saying? Being the kind of mom that I want to be (and I don't get there very often), resulting in the kind of kids I want (and for the most part have) takes a LOT of prayer, a LOT of hard work, a LOT of the Lord's hand shaping all of our lives, and a SUPER LOT of me saying no to me and yes to Him. (that is the Hardest work of it all). It is a choice, not some divine anointing that some women get and some sadly don't.

So what is my point with all this? I'm not sure really, except that I want to shout from the rafters and sing from the mountain tops that I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING EITHER, except that I am listening and watching and trying really hard to obey what God shows me. And when I screw it up (and boy do I) I know to go back to Him and say, "You promise to gently lead those who are with young. That's me. And wow do I ever need some leading,....and forgiveness for my sinfulness, ....and patience,..... and a tea with my girlfriend,....and a date with my husband,....and another sermon on guilt, (because, Mike if you are reading this....wow. You should just move in with me and repeat that sermon continuously until I get it.)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Period.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The truth of where I'm at

As you may recall, just before Christmas I spoke at my church about my fight with Post partum depression 6 years ago. Preparing for the talk and doing the talk nearly put me back in the pit, to be honest. For a few weeks after I had to really pray protection over my thoughts (and my husband helped me with that) so that I didn't fall back into a new pit of lies regarding the usefulness and shamefulness of that talk.

Since then, many many people (women and men) have approached me to talk about their own experience with different forms of depression that they themselves, or loved ones, have survived. Some tell me of those loved ones who did not survive. These conversations are incredibly overwhelming to me. I find them heartwrenching, humbling, and terrifying as they almost tempt me back to that place.

Now don't get me wrong: there was NOTHING about that place that I want to revisit, nothing that I want to subject myself or my family to again. But it is such a familiar place.

Other people approach me at church and ask how I'm doing now that my baby is 3 months old...."you know, with that stuff you talked about before". And I tell them "Praise the Lord I am doing fine".

Which really is true. Except...

I feel very much like I am walking in a broad place. It is lush and green by my feet but just a wee bit off my path the landscape becomes dry, rocky and barren. And there in that barren place is a canyon. And I know what lies at the bottom. And I don't want to see it. And yet it calls to me. Somehow it has found me and is wooing me over.

But I won't go. The journey is too hard to come home and I don't want to leave this good place: it is there, though. And it isn't going away. Always at the borders of my mind. Always just darting across my horizon. Threatening to engulf me when my defenses are down. Readying itself to laugh and remind me that I really do belong there after all.

But I won't go. He who is in me is stronger than he that is in that hell of a pit. With my eyes fixed on Christ I cannot fall. It is for freedom that Christ set me free, and I will remain free indeed.

So when you ask me how I am doing, I will tell you the truth. I am doing just fine. But only by the Grace of God. I see the alternative off in the distance, waiting for me, and I say "not today".

Not today.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Crazy, but in a wonderful kind of way.

Today my house saw 17 children and 4 women eating, playing, and fellowshiping all at the same time.


Yes, I invited Kristina and Joy over and our good friend Blogless Karen. Sadly Karen couldn't come for lunch but she did come for tea and playtime afterwards. Thank goodness for a warm, dry day where the kids could play outside. From the reports my kids have given it was a raving success and all parties are eager for the next time.

But about that....we had the great idea last summer to put in a sandbox. And you know, it is a BIG hit with kids of all ages. I'm thrilled it gets used and appreciated as much as it does.

Still, it is a bit unnerving to me that after I swept and swiffered and used a wet cloth (while on my hands and knees) and then my husband swiffered and hands and knees again, my dining room chairs still make a real horrible noise when they are pushed in or pulled out. How do I describe the noise? Kind of like sandpaper....oh wait IT IS LIKE SANDPAPER!!!


We had already scratched our laminate floor last summer because of said chairs and said sandpaper. I didn't examine the floor too closely today because I just don't want to know. And I kind of don't care. It is all just stuff.

All in all it was a fabulous time and we need to do it again. But next time I'll remember not to put up the white towels in the bathroom when I tell my kids to wash up before supper :-) Hurray for Bleach!

P.S. I am reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss right now, and it is WONDERFUL. Yet, it has slightly paralized me in my blogging. What to do with commas? I always thought I over used them (particularly the Oxford Comma) but now I KNOW I do, and am crippled with the fear of disappointing some of you punctuation sticklers (Mike, Kristina and Jeremy....see that time I did NOT use an Oxford Comma, but perhaps I should have. Free prize to someone who knows what I'm talking about without googling it.)

Have a wonderful night! I'm sure after a day like today we will all sleep soundly here (except for the odd teaspoon of sand that materializes in the kids' beds out of odd and unexpected crevices).