February’s Word

I hate waiting.  Well, hate may be a strong term, but it’s pretty close to the truth.  I am sure I’m not alone in this sentiment.  Waiting is part of life we all dislike to some degree, but it is a necessity that pops up everywhere.  Waiting….to be old enough to play outside by myself, to do my own hair, to find a best friend, to get married, to have children, to have more money, or a bigger house…..the list goes on.  We wait for so many things in life, and often – at least in my case! – with not the best of attitudes.  But waiting is actually a precious time.  Especially when you are waiting for a sweet little one to arrive, while surrounded by two other sweet little ones who are about to learn and adopt new roles 🙂

So, my word for the month is:  Content.  I thought about maybe using the word “patience” but I want to do more than just wait.  I want to be content. at peace, fully accepting of the moment I am in, whether that moment by one of cuddles and story time, or one of pregnancy discomforts combined with fussy sick littles and an approaching lunch time dead line.

I’ll be honest, I do struggle with being content.  This strikes me as odd, since I have SO MUCH in my life that makes me happy, and so few complaints.  But, I am the kind of person who craves perfection, and I have a hard time appreciating the process.  I want my dishes clean, my cupboards organized, my laundry folded, my toddler spotless, my schedule on the dot, my hair brushed and looking good.  I get impatient when we eat and…wow, there are so many dirty dishes.  They irritate me.  I can’t rest until they’re done.  Laundry day?  It is stressful because…there are three baskets of unfolded laundry sitting in my living room. Thanks to toddlers, I am learning to relax, and realize that perfection in housework/scheduling only lasts a precious few seconds, but the bulk of life is made up of tackling those dirty dishes and laundry piles, and that I will never have inner peace without learning to enjoy the process, not just the destination.

I hope to never reach a point where I accept dirt and mayhem and don’t try to fix it.  But I do hope to reach the point where I can laugh at the mess, while digging in, and not feel irritated if my efforts are interrupted half way.

On Living the Dream

“Living the Dream” … Exactly what I’m doing, right?  One would think.

With Jordan working 12 hour days for the next two weeks, I’ve had a lot of time alone, at home, on the brink of boredom because the house work and such takes too little of my time, and because the oppressive afternoon heat saps the energy and desire to indulge in any of my hobbies.  So, while my body sits in a green recliner (and a new green room  – hurray!), my hands moving over a crochet hook, and my eyes taking in the sight of a creamy-painted crib, my mind has plenty of opportunity to sort through random thoughts and makes sense of it all.  My life.  Who I was, who I am and who I will be.  The people who most matter to me.  The husband I am missing, and the baby whose frequent kicks keep me smiling.  The fragility of it all. The fact that life moves on, stage by stage, and there is no bringing back the “old days” to blend with the new, but rather there must be the bittersweet sensation of moving on, not regretting the transition, and yet….regretting it.  Wishing there were some way to freeze moments, and preserve their happiness to be enjoyed at a later date.

So this morning, after getting the “hot” work done – cooking, dishes, a walk – I sat at my kitchen table, thinking happy thoughts of my plans for the day, and suddenly “woke up” to the fact that I am indeed “living the dream”.  Living MY dream, and the dream I know so many girls share.  I have a man who loves me and cares for me, a healthy little one on the way, a home to call my own, and which requires my care… all of those things that used to make up my happy day-dreams.  All those things are mine now, and they are such a part of my every-day-life that I sometimes don’t even notice them.  Further than that…I sometimes get dissatisfied with them (reference  paragraph above 🙂 )!  Already, less than a year into my “dream” I look at the dirty dishes and wish they would just clean themselves for once – or go away.  Already, I fret when life makes demands, and I am left alone for the day, when I would rather be with Jordan.  Already, I feel how delicate it all is, and how easily it could be lost or destroyed, and a panic sometimes seizes my heart at the thought of losing any of it.  Why all these mixed feelings of insecurity and boredom?

Part of the problem, I think, lies in the fact that, dream or no dream, I carry my flesh into every part of my life, and it is always going to put up a fight.  Flesh will always want something “new” and “exciting”, will always demand more and better, will always shirk the dirty dishes.  That’s just reality on this earth. And after 23 years of dealing with it… it’s come to be pretty normal to me.

But another part of the problem – maybe a bigger part – is that sometimes I am not just “living the dream”.  I am living FOR the dream.  As in, the fulfillment of my mind’s idea of happiness is LIFE to me, and if things don’t go according to plan I feel empty and at a loss to know what to do with myself.  My life has no meaning apart from the dream.  And that is wrong.  Dreams come and go.  Homes and family and loved ones come and go, and at the end of the day, while I still love and can rejoice in my family, my husband, my baby, my home I must be living for something more, something bigger than all of those things.  And that brings me back to God, the One who gave me the dream, and fulfilled it.  He alone is the Eternal One, who will never change and never fail.  If I am living for Him, I can lose everything that now shapes my life and still live with a purpose.

Why is it that I forget this?  I should know by now that every time I elevate the gifts above the Giver, there is distortion, and disillusionment, for the gifts can never provide the fulfillment that Christ does.  But every time I bring my heart to a place of worship and dependence on God, I am enabled to enjoy His gifts to the very fullest extent – even in the dirty dishes of every day life.

God’s Blessing in Sickness

So, I was sick last week.  By way of skirting the gory details I will only say that three days of stomach flu is not pleasant, pregnant or not, and I don’t know that being pregnant really made it worse – although there were tearful moments when I began wondering, “Is the baby sick too?  Is he in there, all sad with his little bones aching and I can’t even comfort him???”  But, we won’t linger on that thought.

What occurred to me, during the last, long, boring day of recovery, while I was awake enough to have an active mind, but sick enough to have an uncooperative body, was this thought: God had been good to me, even in the sickness.  Now, I understand that God’s blessings aren’t always in the guise of ‘good’ things.  Health would have seemed like the real ‘blessing’, and yet God allowed me to be sick, and He is still a good God, even though He allowed something I didn’t perceive as good.  Sometimes, however, He likes to show Himself good above and beyond the normal or expected, and He really did that for me last week.

For instance, I had just finished all the cleaning and decorating and organizing on Tuesday, right before Jordan came home from work.  I felt so happy to have it done, and was looking forward to moving on to other things.  “Other things” didn’t happen, obviously, but think of how much more stressed I would have felt, laying in bed sick and looking in despair at a messy house?

Also, the meals I cooked on Monday and Tuesday were so large – probably the outcome of my over-active cooking urges which had been suppressed for a whole WEEK during the painting process – that I joked with Jordan Tuesday night, “I’m not going to have to cook for three days, there’s so much food in this house!”  And what do you know… I was sick for three days. The food lasted exactly that long.

It gets better.  I had just finished washing, folding and putting away that last load of laundry – guess when?  Tuesday.  That’s right.  So in spite of the fact that being sick came as a complete surprise, I couldn’t have been more prepared if I had planned for it!  How awesome is that?  The Lord timed it all so that my house was clean, Jordan didn’t starve and we both had plenty of clean clothes to wear.  All I can say is, “Thank you Lord!!!!”

Taste the Ordinary

Some days are busy, some days are slow…. today is a really weird blend of both of those.  Busy morning, lazy afternoon.  Not that there aren’t things to do, it’s just none of them absolutely have to be done right now.

Some days are smooth-sailing, some days are rough seas….again,today is a weird blend of both.  The morning was stressful, and I burst into a fit of tears for almost an hour (I know, I know.  It’s pathetic.  But sometimes, when  a girl hasn’t cried in a while she just needs to let it all out).  And now?  All is sunny and well, not a care in the world.

I have the rest of the week off work, and am making plans – plans which include graduation invitations for Jordan, a trip to the garden department of WalMart  armed with a gift card and an eye for beautiful flowers, menu planning, marathon sewing, knitting, long walks and more.  Ah, time is such a precious thing!

Baby Hobble has been making his presence known for so long, I’ve almost gotten used to being punched in the gut!  Funny how even the most amazing, incredible, unusual things become normal in a short time.  I had expected perhaps a little more of that feeling of awe to accompany this pregnancy, and while there are such moments, I’ve come to the conclusion that pregnancy can be a little…well….boring.  Some days it feels as though time is standing still.  Nothing unusual is happening.  The 40 weeks tick by so slowly, and my belly grows so gradually that I wonder if August will ever get here????  Every time we hang out with married friends who already have little ones, Jordan comes home and says, “It’s not fair that we still have to wait four months while their’s are crawling around being cute!”  OF course, he’s kidding.

But seriously.  Nine months is a long time to wait.

I feel far, far too blessed!   God is so extra good, it blows me away.

Life is Good

I’m sitting here in the Karate Dojo where my husband and I work.  Just holding down the front desk, ready to greet people with a smile, answer their questions and do the random little things our office manager doesn’t have to time to accomplish.

It’s weird to think that Jordan and I just experienced our first Christmas together, and that next year (Lord willing), and for every year after that, it will no longer be just the two of us (well, considering my entire family was there for the event, we weren’t exactly ‘alone’, but for us, our new little family, it was just two).  That makes me feel that these are precious times.  I will never get them back.  I don’t want to be so impatient with not feeling well, so busy with plans for the future, or so apathetic to the ordinary moments that I reach some point in the future and find I have no memory of these days, that they are a blank.

Pregnancy is becoming so much more of a ‘real’ thing in our minds these days.  We had the extreme pleasure of announcing the good news to all of our family over Christmas, which automatically brought some reality to the situation.  And, for reasons best known to the Lord, my belly decided to pop out two days before Christmas.  Not noticeably, to most people, but to a girl who has always had a flat stomach, it now looks huge!  And a few of my skirts are either uncomfortable, or simply not wearable.  That, and there have been sporadic moments of sickness that I assume is morning sickness… at least, it feels better if I eat a little something, though never a lot, and sometimes food looks and smells like the worst thing in the world to me!  But, I haven’t noticed much of a pattern to these spells, so I don’t feel distinctly in the throes of official morning sickness.

The day after Christmas, Jordan and I decided to go ahead and rearrange the rooms to accommodate a baby crib and various baby paraphenilia.  We’re crazy, I know.  But it is so exciting to know there is a living human being inside of me, a combination of Jordan and I, and exclusively ours.  August seems interminably far away  At the same time, there is so much to do and become before then, that I feel there couldn’t possibly be enough time in which to accomplish it all!  Funny how you immediately want to be a better person when a baby or young child enters the picture.

It is hard not to feel like a failure on a day like today, when I didn’t get out of bed when I’d planned to, didn’t exercise nearly as long as I’d planned to (and for that matter, hadn’t exercised for almost a week), didn’t go ‘above and beyond’ the basics of keeping my bed made, my dishes washed and my laundry under control.  Jordan says I need patience with myself, which is definitely true, but I am also acquainted with an ugly side of myself called “laziness” that likes to maximize on those moments when I don’t feel the best, and turn them into an excuse to simply ‘clock out’ of life for awhile and do nothing, when in my heart, I know I could do better.  The trouble is, there ARE those moments when I can’t do better, and the difficulty for me is discerning between the real thing and the fake thing.  Too often, I err on the side of weakness and self-indulgence.

I read in my Bible today that Jesus was sent to ‘finish the work His Father had given Him” and “not to leave it unfinished” (not exact quotations).  These seem to have special meaning to me today.  If I could narrow my life and my expectations down to the ‘work’ I know my Father wishes me to accomplish, then I could focus on the finish line.  Leaving nothing undone.  No more of these ‘half-efforts’ and hanging goals (translate: the walls in my living room will actually GET WASHED instead of always being on my ‘List of Things To Do”).

On a happier note, I was able to spend some of the money my dear family gave me on some expensive yarn for an adorable baby blanket.  Which is coming along nicely. 🙂 Also, a New Year’s Eve party that Jordan and I hosted at the Karate school gave us a nice lump of money to spend on maternity clothes and baby stuff.  Life is good.

Timer, Anyone???

Did you know there was a day when I wore a little timer clipped to my waist?  And that every half hour that little timer ding-donged, reminding me of it’s presence?  Talk about organized!  Until the battery died, I held myself to a (mostly) rigid schedule of half-hour increments, forcing myself to give a written account of the minutes I had lived, and exploring the meaning of ‘redeeming the time’.  It surprised me to discover how much I could accomplish in a five minute span of time.  It also amazed me how many little slots of time I had wasted in absolute mindlessness, when they might have been productive.  I took up projects that were conducive to those scraps of time.  Quilting, for instance.  With enough planning (and an evening spent cutting out the pieces and organizing them into their separate bags), I could pick up my little sewing box, open the lid and begin sewing where I left off.  The ease of this procedure tickled me.  I applied the idea of using ‘little minutes’ to EVERYTHING, for a while.  Crocheting projects sprung to life in my hands – so long as they were a repetitive-enough pattern – knitting, tatting.  Embroidery didn’t work so well, but that’s ok ’cause I didn’t have time for it anyway.  For about a year of my life, you could find me neck deep in one of these projects at almost any time of the day or night.  At home, during family devotions, while waiting for the meal to begin (my mother quickly put as top to this one), sometimes while babysitting, if the kids were watching a movie, and on the road.  Oh! Yes!  On the road!  Many drives to church or the grocery store were spent this way.  I crocheted and knitted until my hands developed a daily ache, and it was at that point that I began to slow down.

Waaaaay down.

By the time Jordan came into my life, I was losing the skill (and the urge) to use up all those spare minutes, and then of course, it was so distracting to have a young man in my life.  Relationship led to engagement led to marriage, in a surge of happenings, and my mental energy was consumed by it.  The months (well, all two-and-a-half of them) before my wedding were honestly the busiest months of my entire life.  The Time Machine gobbled them up in one bite, I think, not bothering to chew them into their little increments of days and weeks.

Then came the reality of married life.  Little, little apartment an hour from civilization.  Spiders, dark corners, damp walls and a heater that didn’t work consistently.  Many days I opted to take the long ride to work with Jordan, and hang out there, bored to tears, rather than spend those quiet hours at home, cut off from everything I knew and loved.

One move and a few weeks later, I am stopping to breath, and think, and absorb the residue of the moments gone, and I suddenly wake up to the realization that THERE IS NO ORGANIZATION TO MY LIFE!!!  Granted, events had been changing so quickly for a time that there was no opportunity to create a schedule before all the important factors had once again changed.  And yet, I miss it.  I miss the meaning in all those little moments, the constant progress of one project or another, the sweet and satisfying sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, and the realization the my time is my own.  I have not given any of it to that which I do not prize and pursue.  I am longing for a timer to clip to my belt, and remind me of the fleeting minutes and the golden opportunities.

In my heart, I know it is a not a timer I need.  It is the discipline of mind to count the hours, to plan ahead, to live with purpose, rather than just let the minutes happen.  It is the inner strength to overcome all my good ‘intentions’ and turn them into actions.  And this discipline, this strength – which I once had, and lost – I must recover now, while I have the chance, before life throws me another curve ball, and I have to bend myself a different way.  Does anybody else feel this way?