Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Cross

I have a votive candler holder next to my kitchen sink. It's a large metal cross. When you light the candle the shadow of the cross falls long and dramatic across my white kitchen counters.

Earlier this week I happened to glance at it and what I saw stopped me short.

It no longer resembled a cross. You see, I had started hanging my cotton tea bags on it to dry them out. The candle had burnt out and instead of replacing it, I had started putting random clutter in the votive holder. The cross had become convenient.

The cross was never meant to be convenient.

The cross is the ultimate symbol of sacrifice and triumph and love.

I demean it by hanging tea bags on it. I demean it by hanging opinions on it and thinking that because I displayed them on the cross they are intrinsically christian. And when I take away my light, my witness, and fill my life with clutter and activities, I am misusing the cross of Christ.

And what will eventually happen is that as I continue to layer the cross with my "stuff" I will cover the shape of grace. It will all be about me and not about Him.

So I take off the damp tea bags and the ring that Rowan crocheted me and any other accumulatory junk. And I let the cross be what it is.


It's the light of Hope in this dark world. May I never forget it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When Words Fail

I wake up to an alarm and the only thought in my brain is this,
The treadmill and devotions beckon,
beckon me right to the head of a waterfall.
I know that when I get out of bed, step into the current,
I'll be a goner, whisked over the precipice of responsibilities and stuff.
My thoughts border on rebellion and then,
I feel a pair of arms, strong and loving, encircle me.
A whisper warm in my ear, "Oh God thank you for my faithful wife."
He prays over my day then, prays God's blessing and strength.
I get out of bed and blink back the tears,
a different waterfall than the one I was anticipating.

I have no words to thank him. No words to define the life he speaks into me.

So I make him eggs for breakfast. Even though I only made the kids oatmeal and I don't really have time to make eggs on piano day. And I serve them with a big smile.

Hours later, the treadmill's off but I'm still running.
All the kids are at the school table when I remember something I need upstairs.
I bolt and barely see my mom in the kitchen as I'm rushing past.
Barely, but I do see, and I slow.
She hunched over my sink, washing the dishes.
My family's dirty dishes.
She's doing my work without a word of complaint.
Mom, in all her generosity of spirit and grace, overwhelms me.

I have no words to say to her. No words thankful enough to utter my appreciation of her life and love and service.

So I listen to her talk about God TV and drinking lemon water to clean her kidneys and I read Bonhoeffer because she loves it. And I kiss her soft warm cheek.

At night, when the waterfall has dimmed to a faint roar and the current slows, I check my babies.
I pray blessings and peace over them, kiss soft warm cheeks, touch damp hair.

And once again, there are no words. There is nothing I can say to thank my God who has dealt so graciously with me, who has drawn my boundary lines so pleasantly. My Lord whose love is air and food and shelter all in one.

So I go to bed. In the morning I will get out of it with a heart of praise. I will seek His face before I do anything else. I will care for my husband. I will disciple my children. I will love my mom. I will seek to show, what I can't articulate, to everyone I come in contact with.
And I will do it with a big smile.
By His Grace.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Family That Laughs

Rosy woke in the night crying.
Dave went in to her, to soothe.
The resulting screams led me to believe he was unsuccessful.
His voice, "Annie, you might want to come here."
I went.
Rosy was sitting up in bed sobbing. Dave was kneeling on the ground by her. She had her hand over his nose.
Now, Dave's nose is interesting, but I wouldn't call it frightening.
I got her calmed down after I removed Dave's snoozle. (Dave went with it).

The next morning the mystery was resolved when Rose explained that she was having a nightmare after watching "The Shaggy Dog" and she thought her Daddy's nose looked big and shiny and dogish.

This started my Friday.
I proceeded to get ready for the day as Mom and I had promised to take the kids to the mall for an outing.
Grant came in the room after I was ready and gave me his loving smile.
"You look pretty Mom."
He tilted his head to one side in contemplation and then countered, "Well, nice anyway."
Apparently, pretty was an exaggeration and he didn't want to lie.

The day continued in this strain.
At the mall I heard a man talking to the kids while I was browsing.
He first got the confirmation that they were home schooled, then asked the feared, "So what is your mom teaching you?"
"Ummm I can't remember."
I started browsing farther away. I didn't really want to hear the answers to any more questions.

After we got home and had dinner Grant managed to get a long splinter in his foot.
Dave got a glass of alcohol and dug it out to the sound of Grant's yells.
I tried to reason with him, "Grant, don't you trust your daddy?"
"I trust him, but it still hurts."
The surgery over, I went in the parlor and the kids started to play with the dog in the living room.
Twenty minutes or so later, Rowan came into the parlor choking.
His mouth was gaping and he was drooling worse than a Saint Bernard.
"What was in my cup?"
I looked at him like he was crazy and replied, "Water."
He ran out and put his open mouth under the running spout.
I thought for a moment and then called, "Dave did you throw out that glass of rubbing alcohol?"
"Ummm. No."

If I've taught my children nothing else, (at least that they can remember) I've taught them to laugh.
Our laughter over shaggy dog dads, and looking nice but not pretty, and drinking rubbing alcohol rang out loud on Friday night.
I'm so thankful I have a family that laughs.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Plump New Year.

Christmas was slow this year. Actually calm and gradual. One lovely day slipping into another. Late nights and later mornings and bananas for breakfast at 11am. My mind was quiet and my heart beat soft.

And after Christmas, the cottage. The magic of 2 feet of snow. Dave sledding down the roof with the kids. "Haven't you always wanted to do this?!" he shouted to me. No. No. My childhood fantasies never included roof sledding.

Days of snowshoeing and sledding and skiing. Nights of charades and cocoa and cuddles.

Good, good, memories. Grant telling me he just wants to hug me because I'm so plump. Okay, maybe that wasn't one of the best memories. But his Christmas present to me was. A letter. Just little boy chicken-scratch on half a piece of paper, but oh, the gift of it.

"....Overall, pretty much what I am saying is that your a faithful woman that loves God so much and you are loving, kind, etc. as God taught you to be....Keep it up!"

As God taught me to be. Yes. None of us exit the womb Christ-like. We have to be born again for that to happen. And it's a process. Sometimes a painfully slow one. But I have a good teacher. A God who walked this road before me, felt the needs in the squalor around Him, tasted the ecstasy of beauty, loves and laughs and lives.
Yes, I celebrate the present tense, I celebrate the God that always is.

The God that is with me this week as I forge into school and lessons and life with many little people (my mother included).
I'll keep the course faithfully, spurred by a 10 year-olds' encouragement to....
Keep it Up!


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