The Child God Gave You

The offspring (can you call your adopted children, offspring?) were trying to look busier than their siblings, so I wouldn’t hand them a task.   I was distracted by the unanswerable questions that 16 year-old girls ask. If I answered straight up, they’d see my responsibility to minister to those I’m in relationship with. I get enough of that from Jesus, as it is.

Then, somebody did something awesome.

I’d like to give credit, but time passed.  I wouldn’t be able to remember 15 years of pop music if I made brain space for things like who did this one thing. The fact is, whoever did, whatever it was, is lost in the mists of time, but it stopped me in my tracks.

“It all boils down to loving the child God gave you.”

About 10 years ago, Robyn, told me to, “Enjoy your kids.”

I ignored her, because I was more concerned with fitting them into my idea of “what life should look like”, than who they were designed to be.

Today. I can’t not enjoy them.

My vision for homeschooling?  I had to let that go.

We’re dreadfully undisciplined. We don’t invite our germaphobe friends here. It’s like the zoo. I don’t give them all organic foods. We fight. They talk back. They have bad habits that need to be broken; they call them sociological imperatives. Their table manners and their conversation make me want to lay down in a darkened room and remain until God takes me home.

But.

Maybe we’re making up for lost time.

Maybe we did the rebellion thing when they were acting like mental patients as 10, 11, and 12 year-olds. One shares, as part of her Christian testimony, that her behavior toward me was deliberately destructive before she believed.

Maybe I’m an utter failure.

A long time ago, I told a counselor about my relationship with my dad, “He loves me, but he’s like that Eagles’ song, ‘Desperado’.  He just doesn’t always express himself.”

He looked at me for a long second and said, “You are telling me about your relationship with the picture in your head of who your dad is.”  He was saying, you have to deal with the dad God gave you.

I have to deal with the kids God gave me.

There was a moment last year that put every thought I had under the microscope:  :

“Why am I wasting time on this?”

“Is this important enough to dedicate the energy to?”

“I am holding on too tight.”

“It’s okay for her to pout, as long as she does the task.”

“Is that the worst thing that can happen?”

Those thoughts drove to the heart of living for my mental picture of the perfect child, the incredible mother, the ideal public image.

Of course, I’m back to majoring on the minors– Who didn’t put the freaking toilet paper on the holder?  Whose cups are all these in the living room?  Why can’t we follow the towel guidelines?

Back to saddling up and riding behinds.

Back to deciding if it’s a cross to bear or a broom to ride.

Enjoying them when they need their butts kicked.  It’s a complex art.

Someone has to do it.

Loving the kids God gave me.

Making up for lost time.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Weren’t Hypocrites When They Got Here

A common objection to the Gospel of Christ is:

CHURCH IS FULL OF HYPOCRITES.

I wish there were another word, because this one makes me thing of Cockroaches.  Don’t ask me why. It has since I was little.

I digress.

Cockroaches.  I mean, hypocrites.

Yes, the church is full of them.  Because, as with every place you go, your business there is not necessarily about your “business”.  Meaning, say, you are a hiker.  And your dry cleaner is a hiker. When you go into the dry cleaners, he knows you’re there to pick up your pants.  You do business for years without ever finding out that you have the interest in common.  Unless you see him on the trail. Because you aren’t there to discuss your hobbies, you are there to do business.

When you are in church, you are there to worship, God, fellowship with others, be equipped to live out your faith.

Not air your dirty laundry.

We are ordinary human beings, no more able to attain to our ideals, than to leap off the roof and fly.

When someone objects to consorting with people who are not living what they believe, they are rejecting the man in the mirror.

Who does Jesus love more?  The guy who never makes a mistake?  Or the guy who can own his @#$%?  The sinner?  Or the guy who thinks he isn’t one?

The Bible is conclusive.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  He died for our sins.  Not our excuses, not our rationalizations,or good reasons.  My children will put me in an early grave telling me the ‘good reasons’ they don’t need to do what I say, the way I say to freaking do it. How God must feel when we do the same to Him?

The church is called the Body of Christ.  The body, at least where I live, is sick.  It’s members are plagued.  Living lives of pain and degradation, while showing up every Sunday and making fashionable, interesting, competitive, Christian chatter.

We’re shaving, showing up, and shmiling.  Sitting the pew.  Dying on the inside.

I’m an oddball.  My business is usually out there.  I’m constitutionally unable to act fine when I’m crumbling. Dealing with stuff head on.    People don’t like that.

2013 sucked. I found out about a lot of hurting people.

A.  Lot.

Not just the messy public ones.

Lots of men.  Who are supposed to be initiators, protectors, leaders.

Lots of kids.  Who we’re supposed to be loving and teaching the way to go.

We didn’t start out as hypocrites, but somewhere along the line, we forgot Jesus, like Billy Joel, preferred the sinners for dinner companions.*

That the prodigal’s dad was waiting for him to come home.  To party.

That the prodigal guy was sick of his sin.  A real hypocrite isn’t.

At our house, we don’t act like it didn’t happen.  If I yelled at Mickey, I yelled.  If I threw a book, I threw it.  If they told me they hated me, I said, “I know, but we’re talking about chores, right now.”

I get the impression that isn’t what’s going on around the community.

Kids are feeling like it’s burdensome and uncool to do what Jesus did.  Act out of love for the Father and others.  All the time.

Hypocrite?  That’s God’s call.

Sinner.  Yeah.*

The fault line is under pressure.  The tremors are coming.

We are about to get shook.

Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What To Do About Anger

Like I would know.

Very complex life experiences.

I need a mom to lean on, too.

God didn’t give me that mom.

In His beautiful, holy, grace; he made me that mom.

But I am helpless, hopeless, hurt and hobbling.

I have no good answers.

No timeline.

No authority to speak into the lives of people around me.

Who would listen anyway?

It’s only Maggie.

I can only get out half the thought.

Because I’m trying to condense, I cut out volume.  Miss meaning.

Only a few understand, yet it’s not their situation.

I am empty.

Falling.

Need a word, that isn’t forthcoming.

It’s said, that God trusts us in His silence.

He must be about to speak, because there isn’t anything left of me to go on.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Not Gonna Lie

I’m offended.

Those are really hard words to say.  I don’t know why, but I realized day before yesterday, that I had been trying to fight it out with myself.  Taking both sides (I don’t know the other person’s side).  I think it’s been so long, since I was able to admit I had been treated disrespectfully by someone I cared about, that I don’t know how to approach it.  Call it what it is.  Deal with it appropriately.

Move on.

I am a doofus.  Incredibly awkward.  Probably an acquired taste.  In my usual style, I thought, “This is not a big deal.  All I have to do is quick state my position. And be done.” In my haste, and because I wasn’t more judicious in my behavior, this person proceeded to shut me down.

Only I didn’t even realize it.

At first.

I could make a lot of excuses here.

There’s a 99.9% chance that I said something other than I meant.

But the other person said some things that were illogical to the most simple mind.  Some unbiblical things.  Some legalistic things.  Some shockingly insulting-by-implication things.

Pleasantly, to be sure.  Not like a friend.  Like a person who knows they are talking to someone with less understanding.

There are a lot of things I’d like to say back. But it wouldn’t do any good.

I mean, it might.  But based on the way it was handled, I don’t think I would be heard.

If I had waited on God before, it would have mattered.

But I went against the still, small voice and with an audible one.

So now, I am retreating.  Letting the wound wait.  Seeing if it will heal on its own.  Struggling with the idea that when you mess a beautiful thing up, rushing in to cover it may not be the best idea.  Maybe, you need to step back and see if it can become part of the work.  Intervening only in the least measure.  Using a delicate touch.

I get to do the hurting.  I hope the other party isn’t hurt.

!@#$%

I don’t have a right to be acknowledged.  I don’t have a right to be understood or to have my agenda be met.  Those are privileges.  Luxuries even.

I want to see great things from God.  And that always means to “seek peace and pursue it.”  To seek healthy relationships.

I have no idea what to do.  Letting go doesn’t always mean walking away.  Sometimes it means walking back into the line of fire.

 

 

Being Still

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Not really very easy in this age of distraction.

Be still…

Until you can smile at the mess.

Until you can say, “It’s beautiful.”

Until you can say, “I have no need.”

Until your mind is changed.

Until you are okay without the answer.

Until you let go of what you want in favor of what is given.

Until you let someone stronger lift the load, someone wiser solve the problem, someone more loving fill the cup.

Be still…

Be quiet.

Be satisfied.

Know.

And be known.

The dork.  The cowgirl.

The patient.  The impatient.

The loner.  The liar. The lover.

The mind. The body. The soul.

Be still.

Until you know.

 

 

 

 

 

The Heartbreak Imperative

I imagine Adam and Eve must have discussed  news, weather, and sports, before they began hiding from God and each other and speaking in vaguenesses and riddles.  No cooking or cleaning or who’s going to take the kids to practice.  Just how many goats were born and how many peaches in a pie.

*yawn*

I can’t imagine a world without conflict.  A job to do; no problems to solve.  How would that even work?

It’s immaterial.

Adam ate the fruit.  (Eve was deceived.  Adam went willingly.  No Buick necessary.)  The world and the human race were altered forever.

What we have now is a broken world full of people who, while created in the image of God, hunger and thirst and grasp for things that are not offered. Refusing the bounty before them, they seek more.  More power. More pleasure. More promise.  Just more.

It isn’t ugly most of the time.  Often it’s pitiful.  Sometimes it’s poetic. Mainly, it is a pedestrian pursuit of equality or “fairness”in comparison with our peers.  Ick.

Once we were broken.  Once we were ashamed.  Once we were isolated from God and each other, life became a battle to reclaim the unbroken and unashamed.  To know and be fully known.  To rest satisfied and to trust intimately.

More frightening and thrilling than extreme sports or stalking celebrities, is the practice of some odd souls to seek a deeply satisfying everyday existence.  Working to live…not living to work.  Being present for their kids.  Teaching those kids what they believe.  Telling them what’s right and wrong.  Trying to set an example of living graciously and by grace.  Loving their spouses–dare I say, sacrificially.

The risk is not, typically, being dashed on the rocks below or a felony conviction.

The risk is heartbreak.

From the cradle to the grave.  There are those who seem always to be doing it right and getting handed both ends of a too short stick.

Too much pain.  Too much loss.  Too much grief.

Too much.

There are those who are fearlessly, bravely, recklessly, deliberately, obediently walking onto the battlefield.

We look at them and wonder if we could handle that kind of heartbreak.

There have been times in my life, I’ve wondered if God creates certain people to be vessels to carry pain.  They grieve on behalf of many. They are to feel the pain, so that those who couldn’t handle it can pass by unscathed.

It’s been clear to me for many years, that God also trusts some of us with trials that would crush another.

He trusts me with these trials.  No need to be jealous of another’s…I couldn’t handle them.  In reality, there isn’t anyone else’s I know well enough to make that kind of call anyway.

Rambling?  Sorry.

We have hearts.

Before the fall, no biggie. Unbroken fellowship.  Nekkid intimacy.

After the fall, an eternal quest to plug into an ever-craving heart, anything and everything that doesn’t satisfy. It feels good and slowly kills us (like me and a nice Rx).  When we do figure out it’s only relational intimacy that will do, we then face the challenge of behaving for the other’s best without getting hurt.  A version of football’s “Prevent Defense”.

Eventually, we find that doesn’t work.

We have hearts.  If we are to be obedient stewards of them, we must step into life without our armor.  In order to fully live, we must have our eyes open.  Follow the rules of the game, no matter how hard it gets.  When we suffer a break, we know we are moving towards victory.

Yes, you heard me.

When we do right and get hurt, it’s a sign we’re using this heart, created in God’s image, the way it was designed to be used.

God doesn’t let on much about His heartbreaks.  His kids are a continual source of pain.  We throw his gifts in His face.  We disobey and get hurt.   He wants more for us. He wants unbroken intimacy with us and gets foolishness from us instead. He doesn’t put the focus on His desire, but on our safety, quite frankly. Even, more, on the security and satisfaction of our souls.

There is not a heartbreak we bear that doesn’t display His image on us.  His plan from the beginning has been for us to illustrate Him to those around us.

Remember photo negatives?  When you held them to the light, you could see a distorted vision of the actual.  After the developing process, the real picture was revealed.

One moment in time held up to the light.  Still, indistinct until the process is complete.

Ugly, until then.

Potentially exquisite.

What do they call it then?

Proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Was Bound to Happen

You know.

When you start having serious talks with your kids about sex and relationships, a big clock starts to tick.

The clock that is counting down the moments until someone in their actual real life does something we hope they won’t decide to do.

Yep.  Barber Shop.  Shave.

Several weeks ago, they bellowed,”Mooooom! [Jane] is pregnant.”

Thank you Facebook.

The next day, we were going through their clothes throwing out, storing Summer, reviewing Winter.  You know the drill.

Someone got up the boldness to say, “Do you think [Jane] was pregnant before she got engaged?”

Two pairs of widely innocent sincerely searching eyes, waited to hear my answer.

I was honest.  I told them that had been my first thought, but I’d disregarded it, because it was judgemental and that’s not how I wanted to be.

Then I said, “Look, some of the best people you know were conceived…without deliberate planning.”

Suffice to say, we made a “Short but Jim Dandy List of People We Can’t Imagine the World Without, Who Were Conceived Pre-Ring“.

And when I say short, I mean quite long.  And including our own selves.

We talked about the fact that [Jane] is an adult, though a young one, and responsible for her choices.

The fact that, though we don’t really know each other, we are pro-[Them].  There will be no participation in gossip.

What’s done is done.  Now, we move forward in joy, because a baby is coming.

Overall, I thought the household discussion of this thing, that was entirely none of our business, went well.  They now know that all girls bodies work roughly the same way.  Homeschooling really doesn’t change you into some life form that doesn’t get pregnant the same way as everyone else.  Jesus isn’t a lucky charm that keeps the ordinary biological functions from taking place because you tithe.  Denim jumpers and crew socks with canvas shoes have no contraceptive value.  Don’t believe the hype.

As if they had any chance to labor under such misconceptions.

Excuse the expression .

The questions kept coming.

There are no easy answers anymore.  It’s a good sign.  It means they’re growing up.

Time to go wind the clock.

 

 

 

When It’s Legit. Holiday Stress.

After all that lovely, well-intended, self-effort the other day about looking towards the positive, I began to realize I’m going around like a Xanax ad.

The anxiety is just present.

But let’s review. Shall we?

2011 — Christmas was provided by angels. While we feared the firm was going under*. January 3, we found out a  merger had been in the works for months.

2010 — My total expenditure for gifts for the kids was a hundred dollars.  Yes, your memory serves.  We’d just welcomed a new person into the family.  We were dealing with the standard emotional upheaval AND what was beginning to be a real material need on the part of the girls.  January that year was the year of the two weeks with a “broken” furnace.  Which just needed the re-set button hit, but no one we called was willing to tell us that without a service call and we couldn’t pay for a service call.  That was also the year I shopped ALDI, to the tune of $100 something and didn’t get in a grocery in any appreciable way until the income tax return came.

2009 — The first year of reduced salary.  Still believing, next month we’ll go back on full.  In view of the “temporary” nature of the thing, we thought we’d just charge it.

2008 — Mickey’s mom died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

2007 — Christmas holiday went fine.  In January, my grandfather died within minutes of the pastor emeritus of our church.  They were also born within days of each other.

2006 — Christmas holiday went fine; in January, my cousin died of an overdose.  On my birthday.

2005 — My Grandmother (Dad’s mom) and my Great Grandmother (Mom’s Grandmother) died within the same 24 hour period.  In the week of Christmas.  That was the same year we traveled to see Mickey’s mom, at his stepdad’s request, because he felt she was extremely ill and he needed her kids to see and know what was up.  He’d told the doc she was taking too much medicine, and she asked him, “Between the two of us, which one’s a physician?”

I could go on, but I’m already back to Kansas City.  Or I could start at the other end of my life and work forward.

This December has already got enough trouble of its own…

Minor crap.

Mickey got hit in the blue car.  He’s fine, but it’s a mess.  So we’re on one car.

One of the girls is pleasantly standing in my face with no intention of doing what she’s told.

The other one threw down over decorating the tree.  Ultimately, they apologize, but I’m not Caillou’s mother.  It’s not okay.

I’ve slacked on Li’l Dude’s speech interventions.  Now.  I gotta hustle up or the speech therapist I met with will retire and we’ll have to re-evaluate with someone who didn’t do the initial evaluation.

Financially, I don’t have peace.  I don’t feel like the events of the last several years are any excuse.  I should have tried harder.  Worked to teach the children more about how to be better than our circumstances.  “Attacked the fear and let it become my claim to fame.”**  Now it seems like a big pile.

No pony.

And last but not least.

A man has begun behaving inappropriately toward me.  I’ve kept Mickey apprised of the situation. Now, he’s gone so far as to act like this in front of Mickey and others. I’m insulted.  This person thinks I’m so morally low that I’d entertain that kind of attention from a man who isn’t my husband. Or that I have so little going for me that I’d think it was just dandy for someone to pay attention to me at all.  He also has so little respect for Mickey. It’s a slap in the face.

Happy Freaking Holidays.

Holiday stress is supposed to be that you don’t think you are having as good a time as everyone else. You aren’t loving the parties and the busyness and the meeeeeeaning.  It’s supposed to be that you put too much on the credit card and are dreading the bill coming in the mail.  It’s supposed to be that your family is going to have the same old miserable time. It’s supposed to be that the kids want ham, but Grandad wants turkey.  At least, your weird aunt just wants her Camels that brought the Wise Men and O Holy Night Train.

Or that there are fewer hours of daylight.

I’m calling bullroar.

At least in my own case.  This is a time of year crammed with memories I didn’t ask for and have no control over.

I am deciding that I will reach past the anxiety for the truth.  No one  ever said the holidays had to go off like a rehearsed performance.  What if we carry on with the act of celebration objectively?  Singing the truth over the noise of anxiety and the cultural pressure for the holiday to look like a photo in a magazine.

Months ago, I got a strong impression that God said, “Abide.  Obey.  Lay down your life.”

I think His birthday is a great time to meditate on that.  His banquet is set out.

I just have to figure out how to get to the table.  And sit down.

Clearly knows how Christmas fun is done.

 

 

*2011 was the first year since 2006 they didn’t let people go between Thanksgiving and New Year’s; once firing a single mom in the week after Christmas.  We don’t know if they did it before that.

**I don’t know who said this originally, but I heard it from a MK director who disappeared the next week and was thought to have gone to South America to elude the authorities. So take it with a grain of salt.

 

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