Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Friday, May 31, 2013

On Becoming

I was watching my two younger boys in the gray twilight hours of early morning. They had each chosen a puzzle to work--or, more accurately, the 4yo had chosen a puzzle, & the 1yo had requisitioned it for himself, & the 4yo had moved to the floor with a different puzzle.

The 4yo was doing an alphabet puzzle, singing a song about the letters and their sounds as he made it up. The 1yo was standing in a chair, leaning over the table, taking a car puzzle piece & driving it along the top edge of the puzzle lid with "vrooms" & bumps. Each was so intent, so focused, they were oblivious to me there watching.

As I watched, I thought of all that raising children entails--the feeding, diapering, kissing ouches, math lessons and reading lessons...

But here they are, *doing* things without me, in spite of me, oblivious to me.

And I saw a new thing that mothers do: step back, give space. Let our children become.

It's so much more than a flower, but it reminds me of the process--of planting, watering, waiting for the seed that grows in the darkness. Watching the green sprouts curl upward toward the light. And for all we do with watering cans and dirt, there is a point at which you can see the Hand of God, the Not You of it all, when you can see the bud break open and blossom.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Undignified Than This

After the birth of my last baby, I said something like, "Whew. Now to return to some level of dignity."

The L&D nurse (who was amazing, by the way) got this look on her face that I'll never forget. She started lecturing me about how dignified childbirth is, how honored she is to attend women during that time, etc. I don't remember her exact words, but the look on her face was: "THIS. THIS is dignity."

I hadn't meant to insult her, but let's face it. No matter how beautiful or spiritual the advent of new life, it's not exactly a state in which you want to interview. There are no photographs that come out of that that you'd want on a business card. My feelings afterward? "Pardon me for that."

The indignity of birth has been on my mind lately, as I look toward another labor & delivery. It's all very shocking & inappropriate, & I do wish somehow it didn't have to involve an entourage.

Besides the birth itself, there's the indignity of the number that this one represents. (It's number 6.) Culturally, I have passed from unusual to insane. When they're all clean, their clothes match, & their behavior is great, it's not too bad. I mean, people gawk, but trying to turn in the grocery store IS like waiting behind a duck crossing.

On the other hand. Well...they're NOT always on their best behavior, & sometimes they pick out crazy clothes or I overlook a hole, stain, dirty face. Oops. I usually notice all of this at once, while standing in the check-out line, the checker's goggle eyes lacking any sympathy. He's likely wondering why I brought a circus to the grocery store and not because he wants to buy tickets. *sigh*

There's indignity to motherhood. We almost never look like those Victorian pictures or Hallmark cards or even Other People's Christmas Cards. You get puked on, pooped on, assumed to be a walking tissue/burp cloth. And I don't mean at home.

So, yeah, given all that, here comes number six. Whee!

But this morning, in the middle of anticipating the "dignity" of L&D, I heard the words of David to Michal when she criticized his worship of the Lord:

"And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight." (2 Sam 6:22)

Before that, David clarifies--it was before the Lord--that he danced and played his music. It was not FOR Michal or anyone else watching.

And that's how I see this whole motherhood gig: it's an act of worship, offered to the Lord, not to the checker at the grocery store or anyone else observing--for good or ill.

To the goggle-eyed, I say: I will become even more undignified than this. But in my heart? I'm praying, "Lord, help me." Because I'm not really quite as brave or vocal as David.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Children are a Burden

There was a blog post circulating around FB--last month, I think--about Society's idea that children are a burden. The blogger was a mother of a large family, & point by point, she refuted this idea that children are a burden, arguing instead that they are a blessing.

We hear this refrain so often--CHILDREN ARE A BLESSING! But unlike other "blessings," we work to control the *ahem* "flow" of divine generosity to some extent. Unlike other "blessings," we have support groups to talk about these wonderful bundles of joy. Unlike other "blessings," we hire help, send to school, or hide in the bathroom from these.

I think we've stretched the word 'blessing' a little.

So let me say it: children are a burden. They cost their parents time, money, sleep, sanity, and to some extent, health. They are not "blessings" in the traditional sense of the word--bits of manna to be gathered up like Mario points on a video game & then enjoyed without footnote.

There are footnotes. Like the first time you have to take care of a baby despite a Really Bad Cold. The first time you sit in the waiting room of the ER or in the NICU. The first time that Blessing stares you down with your own perfected GLARE & defies you.

I admit it: children are a burden. MY children are a burden. But WHY have we as a society become so averse to bearing burdens?

I had a philosophy class once that talked about the maturation of the soul. There was something about starting out seeing things from the perspective of the good of SELF. And ending up seeing things from the perspective of the good of SOCIETY. There was other stuff in between, & I wish I could tell you better, but I was toting a newborn to class, & some of it gets a little fuzzy.

My point, then--let's stop pretzeling parenting around into something that's all sunshine & kisses & tell the truth: it's hard work. It will make you sweat, cry, curse. It breaks you.

But that's not bad. Hard work & pain are not things to be Avoided At All Cost. When the end goal is *worth* it, we should have the strength of character to know how to make sacrifices, to back our ideals up with our blood.

Well-loved children WILL make the world a better place, WILL make their parents better people. These children ARE a blessing, but the blessing is not just the Child-In-the-Raw: it's the product of decades of family life, of the quiet love and sacrifice of parents, being reflected back to them through their children, of this love and sacrifice acting upon the souls of the individuals to create Human Beings, members of society, in which families reflect love and sacrifice to other families, communities to communities, nations to nations.

And that's okay. You might even call it a blessing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Great Physician

I've been thinking about the redemptive power of suffering, when experienced under the loving care of the Great Physician.

To our first parents, after their first physical, He declared them to be "very good." The certificate of good health was followed by a simple prescription: abstain from one fruit. A human doctor might tell us to abstain from saturated fats or cigarettes.

He has been writing prescriptions ever since. Adam was prescribed hard work, back-breaking labor. Abraham was prescribed fresh air--a new location. David's prescription was first a harp and a sheepfold, then a throne.

My prescription right now is an extended visit with my in-laws, a few weeks away from my husband, five kids to myself--to feed, change, bathe, discipline, and take to the grocery store!

But rarely do God's people take the pills He prescribes the way He prescribes them. Sometimes we take a topical cream and try to eat it. Sometimes we exchange the pain of chemotherapy for pain-killers He did not prescribe.

We try to fix things ourselves, run away from where He wants us. And the disease that the Good Doctor is trying to cure eats away at us a little more.

Now the baby is pulling the cat's tail, so I must go embrace some suffering, for it is through suffering that He  redeems us, makes us holy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

American Heroes

Rosa Parks became an American hero for refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Thanks to the HHS mandate, we are about to have a whole new generation of American heroes. If you get your face on a postage stamp for not giving up your seat on a bus, imagine how future generations will honor those who refuse to help pay for the mass-slaughter of our babies?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ancient Christian Documents

I'm reading through the early Christian writings right now and trying to simplify them for my kids--and busy moms like me. The experience is at first daunting, trying to put together a timeline, figure out who's who, finding copies of the ancient texts, being forced to choose between paying $200+ for printed copies or being tied to the computer to read.

I started reading some on the kindle, and that was a good jump start, but for simplifying, it's much easier to be able to copy-paste, so I've chosen to be tied to the computer for now.

So far, I've read The Didache, Clement's letter to the Corinthians, and Ignatius' letter to the Ephesians. The first was written by the apostles and is the oldest Christian document to be discluded from the Bible. Clement was a student of Peter, & Ignatius was a student of John. These were among the first men to follow Christ without personally knowing him.

I guess I expected to find hard-to-read documents, filled with ancient passion and hardly relevant today. I expected, I think, to become quickly bored with them and set aside the project like so many other things when life gets busy, and you realize that you not only need to feed the kids, but you'd actually rather be in the kitchen than hunched over documents that begin like this:

The Church of God which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth, to them which are called and sanctified by the will of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace from Almighty God through Jesus Christ be multiplied.

Or if not bored with it, then overwhelmed. It's not the kind of thing you can really read while a baby is climbing on you and littles are asking for MORE FOOD.

Instead, though, I have found incredible life and depth and transformation in the writings of these men who died for their faith, who died clinging to the faith so that they might deliver it to me.

When the apostles urge us in the Didache to refuse no one, to give whatever is's hard to get around the implications of that, the way one manages to wiggle around the same command in Scripture. At church recently, we were all told to *at least* sign up for the prayer chain. I did, but only because I'd just read the Didache.

I get emails now about people with cancer, people needing hope, peace, people dying, losing loved ones. It's painful sometimes to pray for these needs, but it's true: it's the least I can do, and I've been glad to do it. 

A week or two ago, a line was added to the daily email I get: Please pray for all the needs of the people who are praying. That's me. As an unintended consequence of praying for others, over 900 people are praying daily for me. If you know how the last year or so has gone for my family, you'll understand when I say how incredibly grateful I am for each one of those prayers.

I'm going to post highlights from each of the documents I'm reading, and I'd love for you to read with me!