Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Submission and stupidity

My husband recently informed me that I need to blog at least once a week, preferably twice. Because that way there will be more people getting exposure to me, and when my book gets published (if it gets published) I will have a better marketing platform...or something like that. All I heard was that I need to blog more often...and then my brain got fuzzy with overwhelmed-ness. (I do know that is not a word, by the way.)

There is so much pressure attached to blogging that often. What if I don't have anything interesting to say? What if nothing funny, or spiritually enriching, or even remotely entertaining happened recently? How can the man just expect blog posts to magically get written? And is he willing to sacrifice clean underwear, and home-cooked meals, and a family that smells like they know what soap is, just for the sake of a marketing platform?

On top of that, I was ranting to him over the weekend about a subject I found terribly appalling, (and he was staring at me without interrupting or offering any thoughts whatsoever (something he does when he knows I am on my soap box and anything he says will only inflame me further)) and after a while I said "Maybe I will blog about this."(and I was already writing the blog in my head, and feeling relieved that I did in fact have something to write about) and then he said: "That's probably not a good idea."

What?

Seriously?

Son of a gun. That's what I get for giving him insight into my intended posts. Someone remind me not to do that again. Because I don't really like being told what to do. And he almost never tells me not to do something that I actually want to do. He's just not that way. He rarely cares one way or the other. He often tells me I'm being ridiculous, (which is often true) but in our 13 1/2 years of marriage, he has rarely expressed his desire for me NOT to do something.

The first time it happened we were newlyweds. I had just spent my first year living in Indiana, and as I had formerly been a Carolina girl, I was feeling REALLY sun deprived. "I need a tan!" I lamented. "I may go to a tanning bed tomorrow."

His response..."No, I really don't want you to do that."

I sputtered. I laughed. I coughed. I shook my head. I blinked. And finally I managed "Seriously?"

Seriously?

Yes, he was in fact serious, and I was stunned. All the years I spent growing up (with parents bossing me around) I dreamed of what it would be like when I got married and could do whatever I wanted to do. I would be in charge of myself. Except I forgot that there may be something I wanted to do that my husband wouldn't want me to do...

Oh, the internal dilemma.

Are all the feminists howling yet? Trust me, I howled too. I won't go into the details of that particular disagreement, because they aren't important. It boiled down to one very simple thing. I wanted to do something. He didn't want me to.

And so I was very pale when the summer came that year...and every year since.

This particular issue is a rather gigantic hot topic in marriages and in the Christian community. Trust me (trust me) when I say that I have absolutely no intentions of touching the word "submission" (mutual or otherwise) with any length of pole imaginable.

In fact, if I may briefly reclaim the soap box I was recently asked to store in the garage, I think the word submission should be banned from use in marriage discussions. It should be right up there with "courting" in the dating world. They are just two words that cause people to cringe. Like "potty training" and "root canal" and "Calculus."

(Please don't misunderstand. This soap box does not mean I don't think courting and submission are good things. I just think the words are really, really worthy of a few other choice words...)

The thing is, I love that man. Like, I am CRAZY in love with him. And I want him to think everything I do is wonderful. I want him to respect me, and listen when I talk, and be proud of me, and think I'm smart, and funny, and beautiful, and all the rest. And (lucky me) I am pretty sure he does.

But what if I did something I knew he didn't agree with? Or that I knew he wished I wouldn't do?

He would still love me, and he would still think I was wonderful...and all the rest.

But I would feel like I had let him down. Like I hadn't respected the opinion of the one person in the world who I love the most. By my actions, I would be saying "I love you and respect you, but not as much as I desire to do this thing."

So, for me, its not about submission versus feminine rights. Its about a person I love and respect, and my desire to SHOW him that through my actions, by respecting his feelings on a particular issue, even when I sometimes feel like his feelings are silly, or illogical, or just plain grumpy.

And now that I have said what I think on that, I need to stop for a second and laugh. Because that makes it sound like I am a good little wife.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

When my sister died, I told Heath I wanted to get a tattoo of her name (which is Joy) on my arm. And he really wasn't a fan of the idea. After several months I told him "I AM planning to do it. So, I'm going to need you to tell me what I can do to make you agree...because I don't want to do it without your agreement, but I am doing it."

 Just throwing that in there so no one reading this rolls their eyes and writes me off for preaching how perfect my submission skills are.

Not. Even. Close.

I think, for us, its about balance. Its about knowing when he just needs a while to warm up to an idea, or when he is really trying to get me to see how NOT OKAY WIT HIM an idea actually is. And sometimes its about not doing something just because I love him, even though I REALLY want to do it. Sometimes its about him choosing to be okay with something because he loves me, and he knows how important that thing is to me. Its give. And take. And making mistakes. And trying hard not to make the same ones again the next time.

And sometimes, its about being smart/sneaky/deceitful enough to not tell him what I plan to do before I do it...so he doesn't have a chance to say "That's probably not a good idea."

Which is possibly what he would have said about this blog post as well.

Oops.

In closing, I will say this. You may disagree with me about any or all of the above opinions. Let me save you some time climbing on your own soap box to tell me so.

I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about anything. I'm trying to say that I love my husband, and I sometimes choose to love him more than I love something else, and sometimes I don't...and he still loves me and I still love him.

Today I chose not to blog the thing I was ranting about (because he didn't really want me to), and instead to rant about something that I am positive is more controversial than the other thing...

I must be feeling brave...or stupid...or ambivalent...or stupid...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Puzzles, ice sledding, and growing up

You know how there are things from your childhood that you want more than anything to replicate in your own family? And how there are things you want more than anything to do differently?
I’m pretty lucky, because there are a LOT more things I’d like to do the same than things I want to do different. I just had that great of a childhood. And the funny thing about the stuff I vowed to do differently is…now that I’m actually a parent, the way my parents handled things when I was a kid seems a lot less extreme and unbending and strict than it did when I was 13, or 15, or 17.
But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about the things that make me smile, the things that I have long said “I will do that with my kids someday” about.
When I was growing up, my dad worked puzzles with us. BIG puzzles. One thousand piece puzzles. My mom would let us totally take over the dining room table and no matter how many evenings after work it took, Daddy would keep working it with us until we finished it. A lot of times he would hide one piece until the very end so that he could be the one to put in the last piece, but we never minded. We actually came to expect it. I can remember searching for one specific piece for a really long time, and finally deciding, “That’s probably the one Daddy hid, so I should quit looking for it.” When we finally put in the last pieces, and the giant puzzle was complete, you would think we would immediately tear it apart and put it away. (If I was my mom that’s what I would want to happen.) But that’s not what Daddy did. Instead, he would call in the little girls, Sarah and Rachel, and have them sit down at the table. Then he would take apart one corner of the puzzle, probably 20 pieces or so, and he would help them put that part back together, showing them how to line up the colors and edges and pictures, until the puzzle had been completed for a second time that evening. He taught us all how to work big puzzles that way. And to this day I LOVE a good puzzle. It brings back very fond childhood memories.
My mom always read to us out loud, usually during lunch, and usually from a book pertaining to whatever subject we were studying in school. She would make sandwiches, cut up fruit, and pour juice, and then, when we were all sitting down at the table, she would pick up “King of the Wind” or “Ben Hur” or “The Hiding Place” and she would read while we ate. I remember crying, my mouth full of peanut butter and jelly, when the horse died, and when Corrie and Betsy got shipped to the concentration camp, and when Judah Ben Hur met Jesus in the desert. I remember once when I was a teenager and she had laryngitis I got to read aloud in her place. I can’t remember another time I felt so grown up.
My dad told the best stories. They were all about him as a kid, and OH MY GOSH were they great. He’s had stitches a million times. I can’t even remember how many, but I have heard the story of each and every scar on his face and head at least a dozen times. There was one incident with a bathtub and his chin, another with the back of his head a giant pipe that was being used as a bazooka, and several more that all run together somehow. There was also the story about him running naked in the snow when he was three or four, and getting pneumonia as a result. I don’t remember all the details of that story either, but I DO remember I have never laughed so hard as I did the first time, and all the following times, I heard him tell it. The most memorable story, though, is probably the one where his parents told him not to go in the basement, because there was a pile of wood down there with nails in it, and it was dangerous, but his football fell down the stairs, and he went to get it, and it was dark…you can guess the rest. He stepped right on a nail, barefooted, and when he jumped back off of it, his other foot landed on a nail as well. And, the story goes, he had to sit on a blanket all during his 6th birthday party (which was the day after the puncturing of both feet) while all his friends played games and had fun. Man, if that story doesn’t set up parents for a “this is why it’s important for you to obey what your mom and dad tell you” speech, nothing will. My feet hurt just thinking about those nails.
When Rachel was a baby (so in 1988) we were living in Amarillo, TX, and we went camping at Paulo Duero Canyon. It was so cool. My grandmother came with us to help, since there were 5 kids ages 8 (me) 6, 4, 2, and a 6 week old baby, and we were TENT camping in a canyon with no electricity. It’s one of my favorite camping memories, and we went camping a LOT, because it’s a relatively cheap family getaway. We had two tents. One slept 3 people and one slept 6. My mom, grandma, and baby sister shared the small tent, and Daddy shared a tent with the other four of us kids. At night when we were all tucked in listening to the crickets and the wind, he retold us all our favorite stories from his childhood. And we laughed as if we’d never heard them before, and our toes curled up just thinking about those nails, and our chins ached just a little imagining how it must have hurt to have stitches, and the image of him running naked through the snow became funnier still…and I am smiling now, thinking about it.
I remember as a kid thinking “I have the coolest, funniest, toughest dad in the world.” And I decided that someday I would tell my kids stories from my childhood, because I wanted them to feel about me the way I felt about my dad on those long, cold camping trip nights in TX. And I decided I would read out loud to my kids, because some of my favorite book memories happened at our kitchen table during lunch when I was a kid.
A shocking realization occurred to me a wile back. When we went camping in 1988, my dad was 30 years old. He was younger than I am now!!!! How is it that I am suddenly an adult? The momentary panic that followed this realization was quickly replaced by another thought: I have been saying “someday I want to do that with my kids” about stuff I should already be doing!!! CRAP!
Then I calmed down a little, and reminded myself that I’m not dead yet, and my kids aren’t grown yet, and I do some of those things already. I often hide the last piece of the puzzle we are working. I help the 5 year old and 2 year old re-work one corner after we’ve finished the rest. I read out loud to the kids, though it’s not during lunch time, it’s usually in the afternoon. But I haven’t told them any stories!!!!
So, a month or so ago, I started doing just that. We climb into my bed, and I say “You want to hear a story?” and they all say “YES!” and then I have to rack my brain for something from my childhood to entertain them. There is the one about our chicken coop, and the hens that weren’t producing eggs, and we thought it might be that a black snake was eating them, and so we went searching, and sure enough we found a big black snake, and my cousin Andrew killed is by swinging it over his head and smacking it against our big oak tree. Then we cut open its stomach to see if there were chicken eggs inside, but all we found were some Blue Jay feathers.
And there’s the one about my brother getting lost at the fair when he was 3, and how he saw an angel, and the angel told him to go the other way, and when he turned around my dad was there, and then some nice people gave us a bunch of tickets so we could ride some rides, which was a blessing because we were too poor to afford tickets ourselves.
And the one where we decided to take a hike through the swamp on the back corner of our property, and we killed 4 water moccasins, and one of them was as big around as my wrist, and it chased my cousin Andrew (all of our snake stories seem to include him…remind me not to let me kids hang out with his kids) and then my brother hit it with his stick, and we cut off its head…and we brought all 4 snakes back to the house and for some reason my dad DIDN’T kill us, and he stopped my mom from killing us too. My husband listened to me telling the kids that one, and promptly informed me that he didn’t think it happened, or that at the very least the story had been “Bausumized.” (which is his way of saying REALLY exaggerated) So last week when my brother and his family came to visit, and my parents were there too, I asked them to retell the story…and what do you know, I was not making it up! J My husband kept shaking his head, horrified (he is not a big fan of snakes…even little green ones) and I reminded him that he LIKES that I’m a country girl with cool snake stories. He looked skeptical.
The other night, in a pinch, I told them the story about my dad running naked in the snow when he was three. Except I couldn’t remember all the details, so I improvised a little, and suddenly my daughter said “I thought he was…” and filled in some parts I hadn’t said. “How do you know that story?” I asked. “Papa told it to us,” she responded.
Oh, how full my heart suddenly became. I almost cried. Because the best things about my childhood had seeped into my own children’s lives. My mom reads books to them. My dad tells them his crazy stories.
And last night when there was ice but no snow, and they were super bummed that we couldn’t try out the new sleds we bought…I got a bright idea. So we bundled up, and we went out into the street in front of our house, which is on a moderate hill…and we went ice sledding. I gave them a push, and my hubby stood at the other end to stop them from crashing into mailboxes, and we laughed and screamed and grinned until our body parts were frozen. Then we came inside and my daughter heated water and scooped hot chocolate mix into mugs, and the boys said “that was the greatest thing ever!” and when they sipped their hot chocolate, one of them said “I’m glad we made this hot chocolate mix this year. Homemade hot chocolate is the best!!” And as I stood peeling potatoes for soup, my fingers barely thawed, I could almost see into the future, when my children are grown, and how this story will get retold over and over as a childhood memory. Clay will remember that his snow pants were too big and kept falling down when he was walking, and Faith will remember how she hit the mailbox and spun around backwards and kept going, and Nate will remember that when he and I went down together we couldn’t stay facing forward because I was terrible at steering, and Gabe will tell parts of the story he’s heard from the other kids because he was too young to remember it, but it’s part of his childhood too.
And I almost cried again. Because even though I still feel 17 sometimes, I’m not. I’m living a life I love, filled with memories that I retell and memories we are making every day. And my heart is filled to bursting with family, and laughter, and crazy, crazy, crazy moments. I am not doing everything perfect. God knows I’m not. But hopefully someday my kids will have more things they want to do the same than things they want to do different. And all of it will make a great bedtime story that they tell my grandchildren. I  bet, in a pinch, they will even retell the water moccasin story, and their spouses will be amazed, or disbelieving, and their kids will correct them on some detail, because their grandma (me) had already told them that story.
And when that happens, I will smile, and I will remember that camping trip to Paulo Duero Canyon, and how I laughed till I cried over a story I’d heard a million times before, and how it still makes me smile even though I’m a grandmother…and my parents will have stepped into their great-grandchildren’s lives in the form of wonderful traditions, and perfect memories, and full-to-bursting stories of love.
I’m 32 years old, and I still think my dad tells the best stories. I still like listening to my mom read more than anyone else in the world. I will feel that way forever. And I want my kids to say that about me someday.
Every single moment is a memory being made. Let’s make the memories our children will hold in their hearts for their whole lives. And let’s hope and pray that there will be more things they want to do the same than there are things they want to do different.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Brothers and Sisters

***One of my favorite people in the whole world is guest appearing on my blog today!!! If you don't know my sister, Sarah, you are one of the most unlucky people out there, because she is WORTH knowing!***




I don't really have a lot of "claims to fame", I don't even really have enough excitement in my life to regularly supply interesting subject matter to a blog of my very own.  But that's okay, because my sister's life is VERY interesting (hello, she houses 4 CRAZY blonde BOYS!), and because she just happens to be my BFF, she is allowing me to "guest post" on her blog today.  (AND because I promised I would say nice things about her)  Even though, the subject is more on brothers than sister, we all know she is awesome, right? xoxo

My brother has always been the "big brother" type.  He annoyed the heck out of us girls when we were younger (mostly by telling mom and dad that I was IMing boys again), and talked the whole brotherly "big talk"  (like "ARE YOU GOING TO MARRY MY SISTER?!?!" when a boy couple-skated with my sister (Charity) at the skating rink.... at the age of 14), and did his fair share of bossing us, but for the most part I wouldn't say that I have had a very deep, heart to heart relationship with him like I have had with my sisters. We talk on the phone for a few minutes here and there, occasionally plan a surprise date for him to take his wife on, and one time we had lunch together before his wife and kids moved up here (in a small town, this was risking some serious smack talk since nobody knew I had a brother... like I cared)  He lives 3 miles down the road from me now, and his kids are best friends with my kids, and we get together as families where he talks to my husband about boring man stuff (sports, jobs, hunting, etc) and I talk to his wife about VERY interesting stuff (baby butt rash, wreathes, love handles, etc), and the 8 kids run around like wild animals in my 1600 square foot house.  It's fun.

   But this week my big brother stopped by one evening to help Matthew and I move a HUGE piece of furniture down the stairs. Except, in a strange turn of events Matthew wasn't here.  My kids were distracted watching a movie, and for the first time in many years, if not for the first time ever, my brother sat down at the table... just he and I.... and T A L K E D. Not talk about other people, or events or our families.  We talked about us.  I peeled an orange and passed him slices.  We were brother and sister.  We are so alike.  And though he's only 4 years older than me, in my mind he will always be SO much older and wiser.  He told me about his "quarter-life crisis" at the age of 25.... which I totally had last year!  He brought up a song one split second before I was going to ask him about the same artist. He told me about significant dreams that have come to pass before his eyes, and I told him one time I dreamed a man in our church had a black eye, and the next Sunday he HAD one.  And then we laughed our butts off. 

He shared his struggles with believing God is everything we have always "known" He was... and I cried... because my mind struggles with believing those very same things.  

After almost two hours he left, and I thought about our visit.  I thought how many years I have had this same brother, and never had these conversations.  I thought about HOW MANY people have brothers that they don't talk to, or even LIKE, and how heartbreaking it is.  Now, given, maybe those peoples' brothers really are jerks... not just the tattling about lame IM conversations with boys.... but maybe those brothers are mean and hateful, or short tempered and greedy.  But maybe not.  Maybe all these people who have brothers that they don't talk to have just forgotten that brothers grow up and change, just like we do.  And maybe the opportunity has never been there to get to know them again.  I don't know, all I know is that now, even a week after our visit, I still get tears in my eyes from how much it meant to talk with my brother, my only brother in the whole wide world... and be his friend.   Yes, I have missed a lot of years just living side by side, but I have a lot of years left to be real friends with him too.  And I think I may go to lunch with him again, just to stir things up in this little town.   :)

I daily give my kids the lecture about "What is more important, your juice cup, or your brother?"  and "Who do you love more, Buzz Lightyear or your sister?"  Because I know that my children will be miserable for MANY years in this house if they don't learn to love, and LIKE, their siblings. Because it's really our annoying siblings that teach us how to be good neighbors when we grow up.  And the sister you shared a room with teaches you how to NOT freak out when your kids (and spouse) leave their stuff all over your once clean house (but I have definitely never called them pigs!).  And by learning that you have to take turns pulling each other in the wagon down the driveway, you really learn that other people matter just as much as you do... even though you aren't them.

Your siblings know you the best. They've seen you pick your nose. They know that you used to sneak vitamin C's out of the cupboard and eat them like candy.  Or that you played Barbies until you were 14.  You hate them, they're your best friend.  You tear up their favorite Lisa Frank notebook, you buy them that pair of shoes they've been wanting. They're the best, they're the worst.

But sometimes they're just the best.


And because I am feeling particularly blessed this week by discovering this diamond that I have allowed to stay hidden from myself, I want to encourage you to take that step.  Go to lunch with your estranged brother. Call your sister that you always argue with for coffee.  Or maybe, if you still live under your parents roof with them, just talk for a while without saying you hate them.  ;)   Because one day, they may be your only friend in the whole world, and you will be so glad they're on YOUR side.

It's never too late to befriend your brother.    

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bible Story Confessions


You know the story in the Bible where God talks to Moses in the burning bush?

 You know how when Moses realizes its God talking to him, and after he takes off his shoes, and after he hears what God wants him to do…he asks a question of the burning bush that is actually God?
‘What if the people ask me who sent me?’
And God replies: “’I am’ has sent you.”
Confession: That sentence has always bothered me. It’s not grammatically correct, for one thing. (And yes, I realize that I often write and/or say things that aren’t grammatically sound, but I’m not GOD!)

And imagine when the people actually do ask Moses who sent him. “Oh,” he says uncomfortably, “well, I was talking to this bush that was burning but not being consumed, and the bush said His name is “I am.”” 

‘There you have it, people! A bushed named ‘I am’ said for Moses to come free us…and that name is enough for us. Let’s go, honey. Pack up the slave hut, we’re getting set free!’
Yes, I am being sarcastic…but this statement has long been a source of lip-pursing ire for me. Of all the names of God listed in Scripture, of all the things He could have told Moses to give him comfort and assurance, of all the things He could have passed on to the Israelites to give them comfort and assurance…why these two words that don’t grammatically work in the sentence?
What was He trying to say to His chosen people? What is He trying to say to us?
He was the God of their ancestors.

He was God who gave an old couple a son. 

He wrestled all night with a man. 

He promised them a land of their own and freedom to worship Him.

He saved them from famine when they were a small band of 80 people and led them to a country where they grew into millions. 

He was the God who was getting ready to reign down the most terrible and awesome string of natural disasters ever visited on a single country. 

He was prepping the pillar of cloud and fire. 

He was gearing up to part the Red Sea. 

And more than all that, He was preparing to give the Israelites a very clear picture of His coming Son; His planned redemption from sin. He was about to say to them “Take the blood of the lamb and smear your doorpost with it. And when the angel of death sees the blood covering your door, he will pass by and you will live.” I mean, if I was God, I would be excited about that! The very first REALLY CLEAR picture of the plan to send Jesus was getting ready to take place!!! He could have mentioned that to Moses! Or at least the Red Sea parting thing!
Why ‘I AM?”
I wonder if it is because the Red Sea declaration is so overwhelming? Not that it wouldn’t be amazing to hear God telling me He was about to part it (side note confession: it’s my favorite Old Testament miracle) but I’m not sure I would instantly be calmed by the news of what lay ahead.

“Charity, I’m getting ready to take you from the only place you’ve ever known, and we are going to the Red Sea, which will be parted so you can walk through it.”

Yep…as much as I love that story, if I’m facing something as scary as transplant from the familiar to WHO KNOWS what, the Red Sea thing doesn’t really do it for me in the way of calming me down.
BUT…
I AM WITH YOU.
That helps.
I AM A STRONG TOWER.
Oh yeah, tell me more.
I AM THE GOD OF HEAVEN’S ARMIES.
Now we’re talking.
I AM WITH YOU IN TROUBLE.
I AM PEACE.
I AM HOPE.
I AM LOVE.
I AM PROVISION.
I AM ABLE.
I AM MIGHTY.
I AM HOLY.
I AM HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whew…I’m getting a little teary eyed, and I’m suddenly very grateful that God didn’t have grammar check on Mt. Sinai when He inhabited a burning bush.
Because ‘I AM’ speaks to every single situation any of us will ever face in our lives…ever. Whatever your struggle, whatever my mountain, whatever the questionable, uncertain, unknown thing being faced by any of us…if we ask God where He is in it…His reply starts out…
I AM…
The rest is a journey of choosing to follow Him, of believing Him in the desert when we are afraid, of doubting and then repenting, of whining and then being proved idiots for whining, of trusting, forgetting to trust, being reminded again…and on and on, until we reach the promise land- heaven.
And God, in all of His grammatically incorrect wisdom, knew that the promise of Red Sea partings (and frogs and locusts and blood) wouldn’t be enough to keep His people assured. Even witnessing those miracles wasn’t enough. 

It’s not enough for me sometimes either. I quickly forget that He has done great things for me. In the face of my new challenge, the heroic rescue He performed on the last one fades away.
Because I’m stupid.
Because I’m blind.
Because I’m human.
And because He knew all those things…He said to Moses, and He says to me, the single most important thing He can say…it’s just the START of a sentence, but He fills in the rest with every single beat of His all consuming heart.
I…
AM…


"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life..." John 14:6

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wonderful Love


Last night my husband and I were sitting on our bed (because the 2 year old wanted to watch a cartoon in our room, but only if we sat with him…he’s the baby, what can I say?) The other kids were playing a game, so we took advantage of a few semi-quiet moments to catch up on each other’s day. He told me about the major budget crisis he’d had at work, and then I told him about the time I’d spent writing. I had just finished recounting a story of some crazy thing one of the kids had done…

And all of a sudden he got teary eyed.

“What?” I asked in alarm.

“You,” he responded, “are wonderful. How did I get so lucky?”

Well, I know this would melt almost any heart, and I admit mine sighed out a nearly audible “awww” for a split second…but then my reaction was not what he expected. I laughed out loud.

Seriously? This man sees me when I get up in the morning…BEFORE I apply concealer under my eyes and blush to my cheeks. He witnesses my baggy “Your butt looks as big as Kansas in those” sweat pants on a daily basis. He eats the food I make that turns out slightly less than edible. He intervenes when I am nearing the point of murdering one child or another, and he witnesses the terrifying face of PMS.

The man sitting across from me, who sees my UGLIEST crap…He thinks I’m wonderful???

It’s ludicrous, I tell you.

But that’s how the Lord sees us!!! He sees everything, even the stuff I sometimes manage to hide from my husband. He hears all the words I say in my head but manage to keep from coming out of my mouth, and He hears all the ones that accidently do slip out. (because, let’s face it, when you drop a can of coke on your toe…there are only a few things you can say, and all of them involve one curse word or another) He knows me, intimately, even more than my wonderful man does…and He still loves me, and He still cherishes me, and He still sent His Son to die for me, and He still answers me when I call to Him, and comforts me when I am sad, and corrects me when I am an idiot. HE THINKS I’M WONDERFUL!!!!!

And sitting across from me was a man who was the very model a husband was exhorted to be in Ephesians 5 “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church…”

And it was my turn to have eyes filled with tears. I curled up next to him on our bed (after scooting the zoned out 2 year old over a few inches) and laid my head on his chest.

“You’re so crazy,” I told him. “I don’t know why you think I’m wonderful…but I’ll take it. And I think you are pretty great too, by the way.”

And then I kissed him, and the 2 year old, who had previously been ignoring us completely, screamed “EWWW!!!” and jumped up from the bed, running down the hall to tell his siblings we were kissing.

We were alone…and I was feeling very in love. Hmm…it’s possible the whole thing was a set up.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

An ordinary biography


Have you ever been asked to write a brief biography of yourself? You know what I mean: a list of all the relevant and impressive info on your life, a compilation of achievements and experiences that make up the well rounded person you are today…
I’m here to tell you, it’s enough to drive a person to eat a KING SIZE Snickers bar. (I mean that hypothetically, of course. I have never done that…)
On most days I wish my life would be slightly less interesting. I am almost always on the verge of losing my voice completely…not from a cough or strep throat, but from all the EXCITEMENT my kids add to my day.
                “That’s a ‘b’ not a ‘d’.
                “Don’t fuss at your brother.”
                “Don’t use that tone of voice with me.”
                “Put your shoes in your closet, not in the floor.”
                “Please feed the cat.”
                “Please feed the fish.”
                “Please go pee instead of jumping from one foot to the other holding yourself.”
                “Don’t hit.”
                “Don’t whine.”
                “Stop crying.”
                “DO NOT blow your nose without a tissue.”
                “WHY DO YOU THINK ITS OKAY TO TELL YOUR BROTHER TO BITE ME ON THE BUTT?”
                “You need to go to your room and pray that the Lord gives you a better attitude. If he doesn't soften your heart, I have something equally un-soft that you will be having a meeting with.”
ALL DAY LONG I am talking, doing, going, going, going. So HOW is it that my life is so DANG BORING????
I sat down today to work on a publishing proposal for the book I wrote about my sister’s life. I've been putting off working on the proposal for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I KNOW I’M JUST A REGULAR GIRL, and lots of regular people want to publish a book…so who am I to even think I can do such a thing? But my hubby keeps pressing me, and if for no other reason than to get a grin and a ‘good job’ out of him, I opened the document saved on my desktop (downloaded and saved by said hubby, since I was too wimpy to even find one) and scrolled down to a section I thought would be easy enough to knock out.
The. Author. Bio.
I sat and stared at it, wrote something, erased it, wrote a few more things, erased them, swallowed the lump in my throat…and got up from the computer. This is where the hypothetical king size Snickers bar may or may not have entered the picture.
It turns out I am terribly boring. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t have a job history to speak of. I have never done anything amazing. I speak only one language. I don’t even know the names of most of the people living on my street.
What would I say to them, anyway? “Hi, I’m Charity. Tell me your name, but I won’t remember it because I have four kids who are always into stuff, so I’m sorry about all the crazy screaming water gun fights and the crazy frantically yelling ME than you may see running around from time to time. Glad we’re neighbors…what was your name again?”
Post hypothetical king size Snickers bar (which we will refer to as HKSSB from now on) I may have been on a sugar high, and I came up with what I consider to be some very clever thoughts on myself.
“Author bio: At the age of 18, while on the mission field (which is code for sweaty and nasty and chubby and growing out a very unfortunate haircut) Charity managed to rope a wonderful man who also turned out to be a very talented musician. She somehow conned this math genius into marrying her and allowing her to stay at home full time while he worked. The couple has 4 children. The children are seldom seen in public fully clothed, and occasionally resemble a herd of wild animals. Charity and her family are the proud owners of thousands of Legos, hundreds of movies, and dozens of games. In her spare time Charity likes to drink coffee…and eat twizzlers and HKSSB’s…and watch reruns of her favorite sitcoms while folding laundry and cooking supper. She loves Star Wars, old Carmen music, and Chick-Fil-A sauce. A few of her talents include reciting the books of the Bible without taking a breath, and falling down flat on her face in wide open spaces for absolutely no reason.”
Oh yes, please publish my book, people. I have a very diverse life.
Half the time my kids don’t listen to anything I say (which is why I am always hoarse, because I then have to REPEAT what I just said at a slightly higher decibel) so why in the world do I think that anyone else will want to read what I say?
If only there was more than one HKSSB in the house.
But then, as it always does, the Voice seeped into my CRAZY. It’s always different, the way He speaks, but today it was a flashback to a conversation between my 8 year old and me 2 nights ago.
He came into my room with tears in his eyes. I was already half asleep, laying in my bed, but something about his voice made me force my eyes open and my brain into high alert. “Mom, I’m sad.” I pulled him close to my side and asked him why. His response? “Because I chose to play by myself today, and I got mad at Nate and Gabe when they wouldn't leave me alone, and I was mean to Faith when she wouldn't let me have a turn on the computer. And Mom, you told me that I should always try and think about my brothers and sister, and to remember how much I love them, because I might not always have them in my life, kind of like how Aunt Joy died, and you said you were sad that you didn't get to tell her a million times that you love her and that you’re glad she’s your sister. Remember when you said that, Mom?” And I did remember, but I didn't know that anyone had heard me saying it. But here sat my sweet son, broken to the point of tears because he had realized, if only for a moment, that his everyday life mattered, and his words and his actions were important in the lives of the people around him. The tears made puddles in his eyes and spilled down his cheeks, and he said “What if they die before I get to be nice to them tomorrow?”
I thought of my sister in heaven, and of all the years I tortured her as only an older sister can torture her younger sister, and I thought of the last time I told her I loved her, and my heart hurt, and tears pooled in my eyes too. And then I smiled at him. “I have really good news, Clay. There is no last time when you know Jesus. Yes, it’s going to be a LONG time before I get to tell your Aunt Joy again that I love her and I’m glad she’s my sister…but I WILL GET TO TELL HER AGAIN. And you will too, buddy. Because Jesus lives in your heart, so there is no end. You see what I mean? And by the way, I’m super proud of you for thinking about your brothers and your sister. You’re becoming a wonderful man of God, Clay Isaac.” And he smiled, and he nodded, and he went back to bed, and I smiled, and I sent a prayer of thanks to heaven for such a sweet kid, and I went to bed.
But now I am remembering that conversation, because the Holy Spirit has dropped it into my heart. That boy may not always listen when I tell him to walk instead of run, or wipe his nose on a tissue instead of his shirt sleeve, or that it’s not funny to say “ass” when the word is “as” and I know he knows the difference, but he remembered when I told him that his words were important so he should choose them carefully. And he remembered when I told him that he should cherish every minute with his siblings, because every minute was precious. MY LIFE and MY WORDS made an impact on his.
So I am adding this to my bio, right after the talent of falling down for absolutely no reason: Has a son who listens, sometimes, to what his mom says, and who has a tender heart toward the Holy Spirit, and a deep love for his siblings.
It probably won’t mean anything to the publishing companies, but I KNOW it means something to his little brothers, and his big sister, and to me, and to his dad that I am still conning into working all day so I can stay home.
And now that I have decided to embrace my boring life, I am being informed that my youngest has taken apart an entire package of post-it notes and POSTED them throughout the house.
I’m probably going to ignore the post-it decor in favor of a tickling match and a game of hide and seek. Because they don’t think I’m boring, and they listen when I speak, and my life actually does have meaning, because I am raising men and women of God every day.