Redemption Story

I think perhaps some backstory to the house building is due. Because if you don’t know the sordid details of this house journey, my epitomes and ponderings might seem melodramatic and self-absorbed. (Maybe they are?!)

We are not building because we want a new and better house. It’s not because we are adventurous. And it isn’t on a life list, a bucket list or even a “yeah, that’d be cool” list for either of us. No, we are building a house because we have to. Because, 10 years ago, in our 24 year-old haste, we bought a house we never should of bought. Single-pane windows, uninsulated floor (no sub-floor either), water pipes that always freeze and shatter. Not to mention too the cosmetic issues. And, yet, these complaints are like free chocolate when compared to the real issue: this house is on a determined trek for the river bottom.

Here, you see the retaining wall and the south-east post of our back deck. Both, clearly, are determined to leave the bank they’re perched on and, instead, reside in the river. This is not desirable for houses. And those single-pane windows that I’ve sealed with plastic every winter, they’re going to shatter one of these years, because of the twisting house frame. This, friends, is why we’re building a house.

When I think about how much stress this place has caused my beloved and I, how many fights and accusations and cutting words have been born of it, how much anger and anxiety and panic and irrationality have swirled around its rooms, how many tears have wet its floors…when I think on these things, there is no shred of joy left in the building process. Only resentment and frustration and a strange wishing for the walls to apologize for all the heartache they’ve caused. But walls don’t talk. And they certainly don’t apologize. And, in some ways, I think this took us by surprise.

Years ago, during a particularly manic time in our journey, a wise friend prayed over us. Not for answers or for signs (though we’ve got those stories too) but simply for “the property to be redeemed.” I remember having grandiose fantasies about how this would look. Truly outrageous ideas.

But it didn’t happen that way.

Instead, quietly, unassumingly, He has paved a way for this new place. At the expense of our time and money and energy and muscle? Yes.

But that’s okay. Because, it is far better to take part in a redemption story than to simply have one happen to you.

And in the meantime, my very mindset is being redeemed. With each course of logs that our new house gains, this house slips further away from me (literally and figuratively). And, in the losing, comes a heightened sense of what has been: two beautiful children, born and raised, more friends and neighbors for meals than we could ever count. Music, laughter, authenticity, hope. So many beautiful things have happened here. These mute walls could attest to it.

Yes, this house has been our home and, even as I write this, I realize this place didn’t need any redemption, my heart did.

And, in His mercy, He has done both.

 

Posted in homesteading, House, love, Truth | 1 Comment

One Timber At A Time

HEY!!  Remember how I said we were building a house?

Well, we still are and finally, FINALLY, it’s happening.

As of this moment, we’ve got a slab (with in-floor heat and plumbing, thanks to the wizardry and know-how of my husband and our generous friend)!

Andy will start stacking timbers next week.  A house!  We are BUILDING A HOUSE!!

Now, I know that the internet is chock-full of blog entries about house building. It seems like everyone’s doing it, doing it. Building their house and blogging it, blogging it. People thinks it’s clever but it’s not. (My mom used to sing a song to me when I was little and it went like this: “Everyone’s doing it, doing it.  Picking their nose and chewing it, chewing it. People think it’s funny but it’s snot.“) Sorry, couldn’t resist.

But seriously, it seems like everyone who has built their own house has blogged about it. So why am I joining the masses?

To be honest, I don’t really know.  Most days I think I should save my time and energy (and yours, dear, kind-hearted reader) and keep my pictures and ramblings to myself.  Do I really have anything new or worthwhile to say?

No.  I don’t think I do.

But I think God does.  I think God has commissioned this project and I think He has profound things to say to me through it.

And if I know anything about the Yahweh, it’s that His truths are worth sharing.

As a point of reference, Andy and I are leaning hard into Psalm 127 as we go about this exciting (insane?) project.

Psalm 127
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

A few thoughts on this: I am so comforted by these words.  So often, especially in a county where a great number of people have chosen to build their own homes, we are confronted with comments like “Our marriage barely survived the house we built.” or “Good luck.  A few months in you’ll wish you’d never started.” or “So, you’ve decided to join the ranks of people who decorate with pink insulation?”   We refuse to have these stories be our story. Because of this house building, our marriage will be stronger, our relationships with our neighbors will be more authentic and beautiful.  And all points in time, we will be glad we started.  And when we are finished, even if there is some pink insulation showing, we will rejoice and we will give thanks to God

because we aren’t building the house.  He is.

In that first blog post, I called it “the house that Schmidt built” and while this is true…because, guys, Andy’s the one who has spent hours (read: days and days) at the mill cutting timbers and has poured over hand-sketched blue prints with more fervor than I do a bowl of ice cream…when it all comes down to it, we are fools if don’t let God do the building.  What does that mean?  Praying. Listening. Obeying. Even if it doesn’t make sense to us.

I could talk about this for hours.  About how I know I need to learn this.  Like really learn it. And not just for house building but for life.

I won’t expound much more now.  Just know that it will creep up as the process proceeds. It feels like the first word He’s given us and we are anxious to hear Him out.

And, as for those verses about children and quivers full of them?  Well, we aren’t planning to have anymore children.  So, we shall see what that means for the Schmidt’s.  Yikes.

Stay tuned, friends.  And to God be the glory.  Forever and ever.  Amen.

Posted in Community, homesteading, House, Truth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Yahweh

Remember this, o heart: He is a fierce promise-keeper.

And His promises are
astounding,
radical,
miraculous,
unjustified
& very, very, very good.

And because He keeps His promises (without fail, every time, always, until the end of even time itself), He is to be trusted.

With your very life.

Remember this, o heart.

 

 

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Storm

I can barely finish a sentence these days.  Oh thief of motherhood!  When will you return my brain to me?

But, I did manage a short poem this evening.  Not a title though.  (That would just be too much to ask!)

As I parent my littles, I become more aware of myself.  Of the good, the bad and the really bad.  Recently, I’ve become acutely aware of how easily I believe lies and how easily those lies cause me to fear.  Everything.  You name it, I’ve feared it.

Sparrow is just tiptoeing into this realm.  And it breaks my heart. Every night, I pray a prayer of brave fearlessness in Christ’s name over her.   I didn’t have to do this a month ago.

And, one day, I will have to do it for Caleb.

Never did I realize that mothering is a form of battle.  A battle against everything that threatens to steal Truth from those that we desperately love.  Lord, grant me the strength to fight.

Beside a picture window, I nurse my child
while outside, summer’s first storm pummels
tree and grass and all brave wildflowers.
Near, two miles by my rudimentary count,
the storm wields a glinting axe blade
against a wooden sky.  With each reckless
swing, I startle, expecting
this frail human at my breast
to do the same.  But he’s asleep,
his small flinches from dream
not fear.  Like Jesus
on the sea-tossed ship.  How long
does it take the mind to deceive
the heart? How long until Hell
has chased Heaven from his memory
and he wakes, crying out?

 

 

Posted in love, Truth | 4 Comments

River-Like

Our river, the rambling one below the house, has finally broken free of winter’s tight hold.
We wait months for this moment and when it finally takes place, all the world rejoices. Or so it seems.

So long has the reign of ice and snow kept our woods starkly silent, that the river’s sound is almost deafening.  Outside, inside, all the ear hears is the rapid movement of water from there to here and onward.  A constant flow, purposeful and without ceasing.  See how rocks don’t snare it?  See how fallen tree limbs are either swept along or carelessly passed by?  See how it follows a course without question or fret?  Never does the river say, maybe life would be better if my bend went the other way. 

And for all these reasons, I could never be a river.  Even if I desired it, and I often do, I am in no way river-like.

Over tea and books the other night, Andy and I’s talk fell to one of the many decisions that looms over our family.  I can’t remember now what it was.  Maybe whether or not to continue homeschooling Sparrow.  Maybe whether or not to raise pigs this year.  Maybe whether or not to build a slab foundation for our new house or have

And of course, I started eddying around and around (my only similarity to a river) whatever the question was, making up my mind and promptly talking myself out of it.  I’m sorry, I said, I ruminate on things way too much.

Ruminate is just a kinder way of saying worry.  This, my husband’s stinging reply.

He didn’t mean to sting.  He was just being honest.  He was just being right.

Because I worry about everything.  Correction, I fret.  Correction again, I agonize.

I am not river-like.  I trip over rocks and break bones or worse, catch my ankle between two stones and render myself unmovable.  And never in my life (with the exception of my decision to marry Andy) have I ever been on a course and not, over and over, questioned the direction.

My husband is a river.  Somedays, I am washed away in his current and it is good.  In those moments, I don’t worry.  Instead, I am free to notice my surroundings: the sky, the trees and grass, the birds, my children, my friends.  I am capable of seeing the abundance that is my life.

But then some stone.

And I am stuck.

We named our son Caleb River.  Caleb because his biblical namesake was fearless. Regarding the occupying enemy of the promised land, Caleb quieted the raging worry of God’s people and spoke bold encouragement to them.  Because he had a ‘different spirit’, one that trusted the Lord wholly, one that wasn’t given to fits of fear.

And River because we want him to be river-like.

Luci Shaw, in her poem States of Being, wrote:

Better to be soft as water,
easily troubled, with
at least three modes
of being, able to shape-
shift, to mirror, to cleanse,
to drift downstream,
To roar when he encounters
the rock.

Oh, how I long to roar when I encounter the rock!  Instead, I whimper and succumb to its impossible strength.

If I were a river, I would know my Source and I would know my End.  And I would delight in the journey my waters took to get there.

And those stones would become my Ebenezer.  My remembrance.  My monument to God’s faithfulness along the way.

Oh, Lord, grant me a river’s heart.

 

 

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Flame-Maker

We have officially welcomed March into our midst.  Hello, dear friend, we said. I trust you’ve brought the promise of spring with you? 

Yes, said she.  But cold remains.  Winter, like a bell that rings from the steeple, echoes yet.

And so it does.  And so we wait and pull our stocking caps down over our ears and shove our feet into forlorn boots and mumble idly about how we miss the sun.

I admit, even though the UV index of said sun is higher than it was in February, its rays still feel painfully far away and unaffecting.  I struggle to find enough gumption to go outdoors, except to feed the chickens (who are also irritated at winter’s persistence) and to gather firewood from the shed.  Sparrow, too, loathes being told she ‘has to go outside because it’s good for you’ and will often beg to eat a carrot as an alternative because, in her mind, healthy things are interchangeable.

Once coaxed outside, though, she usually has fun.  I will hear her singing to herself or looking toward the river and doing random curtsies, as if the river were her dance partner and the forest, her ever-attentive audience.

On this particular day, she delighted herself in a game of collecting sticks.  Snapped off twigs, birch bark and balsam bows, gathered in abundance to make a pretend fire.  She was so busy and after an hour, had amassed quite a pile.  Clarence, hound dog extraordinaire, had lengthened the process by intermittently stealing sticks from the pile and carting them off to unknown locations.

I watched her, amazed as usual, at how exacting and full her imagination is.  Huddled over the pile (singing, of course), she rubbed her hands together and held them over the invisible flames.  And if my rational adult brain didn’t know better, I’d say she actually warmed herself.

It was beautiful to witness.  And I could have marveled all day at her, her flawless skin glowing in the brilliant light of thin air.

But then I remembered I had a lighter in my pocket.  An actual flame-maker.  And maybe I should’ve left her to her imagination.  Maybe I should have let her alone, let the spark of her mind keep the fire kindled.

But then again.  So I sat down next to her and, without a word, let the lighter’s tiny flame ignite a gnarled strip of birch bark.  And she gasped.  A gasp of genuine delight and together, we sat in the snow and watched the real fire blaze.

I have no doubt the fire in her mind was vivid.  But in her imagination, was there a symphony of intriguing sights and sounds?  Crackle and hiss of dried balsam needles burning. Twig tips shimmering like gold.  Ashy ribbons of smoke rising from the rubble like song.  Sharp, stinging taste that catches first in the nose and then in the throat. Heat that reaches out and finds your skin like a kind word finds an anguished heart.

Sentimental, maybe but oh, how good it is to experience the real thing! How much more, the flesh and the bone, over aberrations of the mind.

We sat with the fire until it was gone.  And then we went inside.  Flinging her coat and snow pants off, she clambered up on the counter and retrieved her poetry journal (yes, she has one) from the cupboard and found a pencil.  And this is what she wrote:

A Fire

We were once cold.  So we collected
and collected, sticks and bark
and ideas and soon, it was done.
My mama, with her hands, started
the flames and they burst, orange
on orange and we were very warm.

How I love her.  And how I love that, in her mind, I am the fire-maker.  Buttoner of buttons, braider of hair, scratcher of itches and maker of flames.

It is good to be viewed through the mind of a child.  It is humbling and very, very good. Because truth be told, I’m really not that great. But she sees me through her mind, through her beautiful child-like eyes, the one’s wearing impenetrable lenses of love.

And I’ll tell you what, I know these feeble, erring hands could never coax flames forth, but her love for me makes me feel like maybe I could.

Love is good like that.  Love makes spring in all the places winter threatens to reign. 

And because we’re a poem writing family, here’s mine:

Warmth

Slowly, the flames start, tiny tongues
speaking in a hundred languages
of love. How quickly then, until everything
is engulfed. A bright, emotive fire
with heat enough
to cut even the bleakest cold.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Posted in love, Truth, winter | Leave a comment

Which Word Are You Standing On?

I’ve had a poem mulling around in my mind for a few weeks.  I started it back in the middle of January, when our little hamlet had a cold snap and we all walked around the house like zombies, sniffling and complaining about cold feet.  (At least that’s what I did. Andy rarely lets the cold get to him like I do.  In fact, he rarely let’s weather get to him at all.  He’s is the less fickle member of the family.)

The cold does get to me though and, while beautiful, tends to make me feel melancholy and blue.  So it was -20 and I was melancholy and I wrote a draft of this poem.

But I wasn’t happy with it.  It seemed too surface-level and trite.  So, I set it aside and let it percolate.  I came back to it today and saw that the cold was a catalyst for me to address a deeper issue, one that goes beyond temperatures.

It dawned on me, that each morning (pun intended), when I wake up, I have a choice. What to wear, yes.  And then, what to eat for breakfast.  (Coffee, of course, is not a choice but a necessity!)   And then I can choose whether I will complain about the weather or not.

But, before all of that, I get to choose what word will describe my day.  Is my day going to be described in terms of Love?  Gentleness?  Hopefulness?  Or am I going to move about my day with fear coloring everything I do?  (I struggle with fear, I admit.)  Or impatience? Or hate?

 

So, this poem turned into a sort of pep-talk to myself.  A call to action, the action being a dogged determination to claim joy and hope and love when, let’s face it, there’s 101 reasons to despair.

To stubbornly stand, unmoving, on words like Joy and Hope and Love (especially when the whole world seems to be operating with adjectives like fearful and hateful) is to engage in a small-scale revolution.  And I’m all about revolutions.

January, -18 F

I woke today
with hesitation, some unnamable fear
snagging again the thread-bear remnant
I’ve somehow become. Once malleable
and able to bend
in the shifting moments, my mind
feels brittle as branches
snapping in wind’s brisk hand. I want to blame
something: so, maybe
it’s winter, the way it crushes
everything with dark and ice.  Only the birds
rise above and even they
flit slower, pausing at the feeder
to shake cold’s heaviness
from their feathers. Or maybe
it’s the state of affairs: the radio
broadcasting only one story, Cain and Abel.
But instead of stone
there’s guns and words. Hate, reinvented.
Yes, maybe that’s what makes
the sun on my kitchen counter
seem more like shadow then light.
Maybe that’s the snag.  But then, the infant,
my son, who hasn’t learned yet, smiles
gleefully, tiny bubbles of spit
forming on his pursed lips. And his big sister
leans over a notebook, pencil perched
in her hand.  She’s learning
to write and read and she’s so proud.
I watch them, bewildered. What’s happened
to me?  So wise I’ve forgotten.
So knowledgeable, and for what?
I want to go back
to the book I learned from. Unlearn it,
page by page.  Linger on the lessons
of joy (so much easier to spell
than mourning) and hope (one simple
syllable to despondency’s complicated four).

 

 

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Sacred Dust

Last night, Miss S., Caleb River and I went to our town’s production of Beauty & the Beast.

Sparrow, always looking for a reason to dress-up, picked out her favorite ‘gown’ for the occasion.  As she came down the stairs from her bedroom, my heart stopped a little, as it often does when it catches a future glimpse of this woman I’m attempting to raise.  She’s five, soon to be six, and she’s all little girl and skinned knees and spilled milk and crocodile tears over things that don’t really matter.  Day to day, I am so immersed in the five-ness of her that sometimes, it makes me feel crazy.  She is so five.  So, so, so five.

And yet, there is this sense of who she is becoming that I detect from time to time.  And it takes my breath away.  Not necessarily because she’s becoming something wonderful (though I pray and trust that she is) but simply because she’s becoming, right in front of me.   In the midst of every mundane moment that happens during our days together, she is becoming.

When she asks to pour the milk into her own cereal and then spills the entire gallon into her bowl, she is becoming.  And when she builds a house with Lincoln Logs and then the dog runs by and knocks it over, she is becoming.  And when she asks me for the two-hundredth time how to spell birthday and then still leaves the i out, you guessed it, she is becoming.  And when we read the same Winnie the Pooh tale over and over, and she laughs at all the predictable parts like they are brand new.  And when she falls on the floor, hysterical, because I won’t let her have a piece of gum.  And when she beats me at Candy Land and Memory and Sequence and Guess Who, all in one day.

She’s a patch-work quilt and there are a hundred different needles and a hundred different threads and a hundred different hands, some of them mine, some of them not, and furiously, we are stitching together this person, this human, this eternal soul.

And, oh friends, I am working so hard to trust that God sees every stitch and won’t let even one slip outside His intention.

Because I know that some of the stitches will hurt.  Really bad.  And some will seem poorly placed, to my eye or to hers.  There will be unstitched parts that she or I will want to stitch up before the appropriate time has come.  There will be rips that need restitching and worn parts that need patching.

And it’s all happening, has been happening, since the day she was born and sometimes, in the midst of spilled milk and booster seats and repetitive (boring!) games of I Spy, I forget that she’s becoming.

And then, she’ll walk down the stairs in a sparkly red dress and as my heart skips a beat or two, I’ll remember.

And I will be humbled to my very core.

In his essay, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote (among other fantastic, profound things): “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”  And he is right.  This child in front of me, the one with the blueberry stains around her mouth and dirt in her nails, is, as my friend Emily wisely wrote, “a most precious, immortal soul.”

She is not just my daughter, not just a person I’m obligated to do life with.

And she’s not the only one. There’s Caleb too.  And everyone else in the wide world.

Every day, we are walking around, talking and eating and losing our tempers and hugging and driving and laughing and, let’s face it, passing gas (!) in the presence of other immortal souls who are in the process of becoming.  What a dichotomy, this life.  This doing the laundry and buying groceries in the presence of souls who bear the image of God himself!

What a wildly, wildly important dichotomy.

Friends, as we prepared to go to Beauty and the Beast, I bent over Sparrow’s little head and braided her hair.  I braided the hair of an immortal soul.  I tried to let that reality soak into me but I couldn’t do it, at least not entirely and definitely not sufficiently.  If I was capable of fully understanding it, fully realizing it, I think I would find that my day to day conduct would be very different.

But, my inability to fully realize it doesn’t make it any less true.  Does it?

Because writing a poem helps me to process, I wrote this one.

I Braid My Daughter’s Hair

while she draws a picture. And maybe
I should be thinking
about smooth strands, even tension, symmetrical sides
but my mind is too overwhelmed
with the radical task
of raising a child, a soul,
a Godly image-bearer. She is so much
flesh and blood and basic need
and yet immortal, untouchably
precious.  And so it is with all of us,
milling around the planet, aging
while preparing for rebirth.
Sacred dust, these bodies
of ours.  Perhaps to be human
is to do what I am doing right now.
Gathering a strand
of the eternal and intertwining it
with a strand of here, a strand of now,
a strand of the ever-fleeting moment.
Over and over, with every breath
we take, this braiding
of heaven together with earth.

It’s weighty, isn’t it?  The reality that we aren’t just dealing with mortals and meaningless interactions and mundane tasks and inane details.

So now what?,  you ask.  And I ask it too.  Now what?

I’m not sure, entirely.  But I think it has something to do with going about our days with
slowness and intention and with minds tuned to the eternal.  I think it’s about trying to see beyond what our limited eyes can see.  I think it’s about remembering that, while dust, we are sacred and precious and ought to treat each other accordingly.  I think it’s about asking for the grace to help each other along, in this arduous process of becoming.  

I will leave you (and myself) with these words, written by my dear friend, for her daughter:

Your blithe spirit rises up and fills
Every space you enter.
You grow. For you are a most precious
Immortal soul.
Emily Austin Dennison

Posted in life, love, Truth | 1 Comment

The House That Schmidt Built

We’re building a house.  Did you know that?

Because our current house is falling into the river.  No joke.

Andy is milling all the logs himself.  And then he’s going to build it.  And then we’re going to live in it.  And it’s going to be that easy.  Right?

Right.

Today, our friend Lucien came over to help Andy run the sawmill. He took this rad time-lapse video of Andy sawing one of the logs.

I am amazed that perhaps, someday, eventually, hopefully, those logs will become a house. For us.  A house that isn’t sliding into the river.  A house that will welcome many guests, with walls that will hear many stories and songs and outbursts of laughter.

Instead of Jack, this will be the house that Schmidt built.  Complete with hound and rooster and cat.  But, in this house, Andy will wear Carhartts and his tattered, old sweatshirt with the Richard Brautigan patch.  And, instead of a high-waisted dress, I’ll be wearing the same gray sweater I wear every day and the only pair of jeans I own.  There will be no red-flowered hat on my head because I have dreadlocks and can’t get any hats to fit on my head as a result.  Sparrow & Caleb, hand in hand, will not look prim or proper but will be wearing something stained. Because everything they own is stained.  Because I’m really bad at laundry.

And, in The House That Schmidt Built, the rat won’t eat the malt, as the poem goes. Because we don’t keep malt around (who does??) and because we don’t have rats this far north.  We’ve got mice, though. And pigs that get out of their pen, ransacking the neighborhood and scaring the horses.  We’ve got water pipes that freeze.  And banjos made out of cookie tins.  And a deer carcass nailed to our tree to keep all the woodpeckers and chickadees fed over the winter.

In short, we’ve got shenanigans.  Shenanigans crazy enough to write a nursery rhyme about.  Hmmm…I think I’ll do that.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, stop by and visit.  Help Andy mill a log.  And later, help us raise some walls.  Come be a part of the shenanigans.  If you’re lucky, you just might find yourself in a verse of The House the Schmidt Built.

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Keyboard Confessional

If I had gotten what I deserved from my family tonight, it would have been this:

Sparrow would have packed a small bag of her most precious belongings (pink blankie, sequined skirt, crayons, sketch pad, Walkman [yes, our daughter has a Sony Walkman] and her cassette tapes, the most critical being Jack Pearson’s Fax Yourself to Jesus and the Mary Poppins Soundtrack) and announced, meekly, that she would be moving in with the neighbors.  Because, according to my actions and words, her presence was no longer desired in our household.

Andy would have looked right at me and told me to ‘shut up.’  Then, he would have drug me off to the bathroom, thrown me in the shower and turned it on full-cold, full-blast. League of Their Own style.  And I would have deserved it.

Because I was raging around the house, yelling at Sparrow to be quiet and stop being annoying.  And I was raging around the house, yelling at Andy because you just don’t understand what its like and you get to extol wisdom then escape to the garage, leaving me to deal with this, said emphatically and with a gesture of my hand that indicated everything and everyone in our house.

Then I chopped the carrots really, really hard and really, really fast.  And I had irrational thoughts like ‘if I cut off a finger doing this, Andy will feel pity for me and he’ll take the blame for making me so mad.  He’ll rush me to the hospital and tell the ER doc that it’s all his fault…he could’ve been a better husband.’

Then I slammed cupboard doors and silverware drawers and toaster levers.  I barked at Sparrow to set the table now and I scowled at Andy and kicked the dog because he was in between me and the fridge and…

I could go on. For a long time.  And it wouldn’t be pretty.  Because I was acting really, really ugly.

And here’s the ugliest part.

I was acting like this because Caleb River, sweetest 3-month old to ever grace the planet, had taken a short nap.  And because I’d felt compelled to wash the dishes first, hadn’t gotten to take a shower before he woke up.

Give a girl a real reason to rage and she’ll rage.

Friends, if you’ve ever wondered how wretched I am, let me help you wonder no more: I am among the most wretched of the wretched.

So you see now why I would’ve deserved the afore mentioned responses.

Instead, my family, in the aftermath of my earthquake, did this:

After setting the table, Sparrow asked for two pieces of orange paper (which I gave to her with scorn in my voice and anger in my movements).  While I  pulverized garlic, she made a crown with little red construction paper diamonds.  She covered my chair with a beautiful cloth and transformed pink blankie into a robe.  All the while, she kept saying “Don’t look at what I’m doing Mama.  It’s a surprise to make you feel better.”

While bowls of chicken dumpling soup sat on the table, steaming like the woman who’d made them, my daughter crowned me queen.

And when dinner was finished, my husband retro-fitted the bathroom with calm lighting and drew me a bath.  While I soaked in a wildly undeserved tub of hot, bubble-filled water, he read to Sparrow and put her to bed.

And what did Caleb do? He slept because, like Andy had (wisely) said earlier “I’m sure our son will sleep again.”

Here’s to grace, lavishly displayed and peace, passed without judgement.  Here’s to Christ, even in my midst.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:10-12

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