Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Word

I'm a word person.

I enjoy learning new words and inserting them into my daily life.

I teach a creative writing class to a group of home school kids, and I truly love reading the words they put into their papers for extra credit.

Lately, I've had this one word circling around in my heart. It keeps coming back to the surface, and playing like a recording in my head...and then it will get quiet, lost in the commotion and cacophony of my every day life...and then, it will spring back to my mind again, begging to be thought on.

And because I'm such a word person, when a single word won't leave me alone, I know it's the voice of the Lord. He, being so clever, knows exactly how I am (duh, He is my Creator) and speaks to me exactly the way I need to hear Him.

And so I've been pondering this word, knowing it is coming from Him, and just waiting, marinating, wondering what He is trying to say to me.

It's been almost two weeks, and the word remains in my spirit. I've spent a lot of time letting it roll around inside me, and listening for the whispers of what He is saying.

And now, I feel pressed, by that same Spirit, to write the word down, and to try and put a voice to all the echoes it is making in my heart. Maybe as I put words down, this one will start to take root.

It isn't a new word.

You've heard it before.

I've spoken it dozens of times.

I'm sure it's even been said to you by the Lord, the same way He's been saying it to me for the last 13 days.

But...try something for me...

Try and keep yourself from hearing it the way you've heard it before.

Approach this word as if it's new to your vocabulary, because that's how I feel like He is asking me to see it. There's something new here. Let's stop and see if we can find it.

Faithful.

Faithful.

Faithful.

Faithful.

Faithful.

I do a lot of things in my life faithfully. I make coffee every morning, without fail. I put on deodorant. I brush my teeth. I bite my fingernails. I snort when I laugh. I make inappropriate remarks. I talk about poop at the dinner table. I am faithful in these things.

Reading my Bible, feeding my kids breakfast, exercising, talking to people on the phone, dusting, cleaning my shower...I don't do them with a regularity that earns confidence. I am not faithful in these things.

Faithful.

I am faithful in my desire to be a good friend, but I am not always faithful in carrying out my desire.
I am faithful in my longing to be a good wife and mother, but I am often a failure in my execution of it.

Over and over I prove that if there is one thing I am faithful to do, its fall short of being faithful.

As the word pings around inside me, I am constantly reminded of my inability to master it, and I have cried, and I have thrown up my hands in frustration, and I have sighed in despair, and I have grumbled at the unfairness of this one word that won't leave me alone and constantly sheds light on my faults.

Faithful.
Faithful.
Faithful.
Faithful.
Faithful.

And each time I think I want to fill my head with as many other words as possible in an attempt to drown out this one that won't be silent, and each time I cry and ask the Lord to forgive my failures, and each time I stomp my foot and say "Just tell me what You are trying to tell me. I can't take this anymore..." Every time, it comes again...

FAITHFUL.

It echoes, it resonates, it moves through me like a tidal wave.

FAITHFUL.

It's Him. It's His voice, His presence, His strength, His Word, His character, His love.

HIM.
FAITHFUL.

Over and over He resounds in my soul.

I forget. And He is faithful.

I fail. And He is faithful.

I am ashamed. He is faithful.

I am angry. He is faithful.

I am afraid. He is faithful.

He SEES all the times I am faithless.

AND. HE. IS. STILL. FAITHFUL.

And now I am breathless, as a sound joins the word.

Its the sound of a hammer.

It's striking metal.

The metal is piercing flesh and wood.

Blood is flowing down.

The pain is unbearable.

And each strike echoes across the landscape.

It sounds like a word.

Faithful.
Faithful.
Faithful.
Faithful.

And each strike pounds through me.

And the blood flows over me.

And the fear is no match for the sound.

And the shame is not able to stand against the flow.

And anything I could ever do or think or feel or say cannot measure up to the hammer striking metal and resonating through all of time and space.

FAITHFUL.



"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us..." (John 1:14)

Faithfulness became flesh. And He fills my heart with who He is. Over and over. One word. The only thing I need Him to say.

Faithful.
Faithful.
Faithful.

"I will proclaim it to the world. I will declare it to my heart. I'll sing it when the sun is shining. I will scream it in the dark. YOU ARE FAITHFUL." (lyrics from "Faithful" by Steven Curtis Chapman.)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Good, the Grumpy, and the God of it all

I haven't blogged much since the start of the new year.

Why?

Because I'm grumpy.

Because the level of grumpy I'm experiencing rivals that of the dwarf who bears the name.

Because all the things I can think of to blog about will either a) get me in big trouble with my husband b) get me a phone call and/or house visit from Social Services c) get me a horrified/disappointed look from one or both of my parents or d) all of the above.

It has NOT been a happy new year thus far in the Martin household.

It's mostly my fault, obviously, because grouchiness breeds grouchiness and BOY have I been grouchy. The kids are struggling getting back into their school routine, and I am struggling getting my head on straight and gearing up for another semester of teaching them. Every day is a bit of a battle, and inevitably someone ends up in tears. More than once that someone has been me.

Plus I'm constantly sore because my New Year's resolution workout is kicking my butt...
And there is a weird smell in my kitchen which I cannot find the cause of...
And the overhead light in my bathroom randomly stopped working. (no, its not a bulb issue, I checked)
And...

Sigh.

Insert my Uncle Paul's voice and face here(with eyebrows raised and no-nonsense look on his face) "Suck it up and go, kid."

I do not have a hard life. I have a BUSY, FULL, sometimes CRAZY life. But not a hard life. And despite my best intentions and all my rememberings of January 2nd...I have forgotten, or, more accurately, re-forgotten, to focus on the good.

And there is so much good.

I have a mom who will make a trip to the library for me, to check out school books for my kids when I can't, and then bring them to my house and sit down to discuss them with me.

I have a dad who doesn't mind that I still call him "Daddy," or that it earns both of us some pretty serious ribbing from the people in our lives.

I have siblings who know the ugliest things about me and still choose to be on my side, who understand all the crazy things I do and would pretend to understand even if they didn't.

I have friends...lots of friends...who love me, who laugh in all the right places, who don't judge my grouchiness, even when they are the recipients of it, who stand beside me, and stand up for me, and stand in the gap for me, and stand in front of me to block me from stupidity...

I have kids who make me crazy, who make my house a disaster, who make my hair turn gray, who make me laugh and cry, who nearly burst my heart with their hugs and kisses, who nearly make me lose my voice intervening in their arguments, who fill my life to the fullness of all insanity and joy.

I have a husband who forgives me when I spend money despite the mandatory spending freeze he orders, who doesn't wrinkle up his nose if supper is barely edible, who tells me I'm beautiful even when I have a bandaid on my face, who still goes with me to the movie theatre despite his knowledge that I will embarrass him there, and who calms me down just with the sound of his voice or the touch of his hand on my hair.

I have a good life.

And sometimes I need to list out the good in order to remember it. This is that kind of day for me.

The God who remembers all, who holds my every moment and breath and worry and failure and pain, He also reminds me of all, and HE is the ultimate GOOD in my life.

And even if He was the ONLY good...my life would still be good.

Thank you, Lord, for the good things. Thank you for the hard things. Thank you for everything...everything that comes from Your hand. May all my moments make me more like you, so that I can further Your Kingdom, for Your glory, until the whole world hears.

Amen.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January Remembering

January 2nd, 2014.

Its a bit of a letdown, isn't it?

Every year I feel this way.

Yesterday was still part of the holidays. People were off from work, they were watching movies in the middle of the day, eating sweets and not worrying about how many calories were in them, playing games with family members, the Christmas tree was still an acceptable feature in living rooms, and no mothers were fussing at their kids to put away their toys.

And now its today.

The calories are back in all the food. The employed are back to work. The Christmas tree is mocking us with it's impending hours of packing and storing. The toys that were fun and new and allowed to be strewn everywhere just yesterday are now making us crazy with their presence. And so a new home for new toys must be made and filled before another day passes.

Time marches on.
Life never stops happening.
Blink and you'll miss something.

Its hard to imagine in the middle of the every day, in the monotony of too many toys and too many calories and not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done...its hard to remember that things change, that your current state won't always be your current state, that one day in the not-to-distant future you will be saying sentences like "Remember back when..." and "Did I ever tell you about the time..." or "When you were little you used to..."

Its hard to recall that the January 2nds will keep on coming faster and faster, and so we should slow down a little and enjoy them, instead of feeling let down by them.

I have had the amazing pleasure/mind-boggling craziness of living with a little boy (and by 'little' I mean a current resident of the "terrible two's" (and by that I mean anywhere from the age of 18 months to 4 years old, which is how long the terrible twos last)) for the better part of a decade. It seems like once I graduate one from that stage, I have another just waiting to take over the madness that accompanies the title.

When Clay was 18 months old, he ate dog poop.

But several January 2nds have come and gone, and thankfully he doesn't do that any more.

When Nate was 3, he used toys as toilet paper.

Three January 2nds have come and gone since then, and THANK THE LORD he quit doing that.

And then there is Gabe. When we found out we were having our third boy in a row, I said to my husband "We are naming him Gabriel, because it means 'God is my strength' and I am going to need to be reminded of that for the next 18 years." And I was SOOOOOO right.

Yesterday he made me a lovely art project. He used an entire tube of yellow craft paint, and a red tube, and an orange, and a green, and a black, to fill my bathroom sink with an abstract painting. And he topped off his masterpiece with a complete tube of Neosporin. Just because it needed it.

After that he emptied a full can of hair mousse in the closet floor, followed by a brand new bottle of hand soap and a half full bottle of lotion. All while chewing an entire pack of his father's gum.

His very life flashed before my eyes, let me tell you.

But as I lay in bed last night, inhaling the paint fumes mixed with the soap and lotion scents, I remembered when Nate used his toys as toilet paper, and when Clay used dog poop as a snack, and how their lives flashed before my eyes in  those moments, and how many Januarys have come and gone since then...and how they are growing up.

And I took a deep, calming, breath.

And maybe it was the high I got from all the fumes, or maybe it was the remnants of the holiday grace and peace and joy still lingering, or maybe it was the 4 blond heads resting as close to my face as they could get...

I remembered. I reminded myself.

This doesn't last. Time marches on. Everything changes, faster than we expect, quicker than we want.

I laugh about the dog-poop-eating incident now. I shake my head and smile about the toys/toilet paper habit. I didn't kill them, and their antics didn't drive me permanently crazy.

Not too many January 2nds from now I am sure I will chuckle about the paint and the soap and the Neosporin.

Because GOD IS MY STRENGTH.

And He never changes, no matter how many New Years we face, no matter how many messes, no matter how many tears, laughs, letdowns, successes, failures, triumphs, loves, losses...

We change. He doesn't.

I remember to rest in Him.
And I forget to take down my tree today.
And I ignore the toys and the calories and the responsibilities.

Not forever. Just for one more day.

I am blessed, overwhelmingly.
I am loved, unconditionally.
I am held, eternally.
I am strengthened, daily.

January 2nd is a new holiday for me. It is "Remembrance Day." The day when I remind myself of the truths that will always be truths, even when the terrible twos finally end, even while they remain, even when I forget all year long...

He remains. He is all we need, all year, all our moments, our whole life long...or short.

I hope you'll take a moment today in the midst of the tree un-decorating, cleaning, working out, crazy letdown of the day AFTER the holidays end...and celebrate.

It's Remembrance Day, after all.

Happy Remembrance Day to you.