Wednesday, January 25, 2012

God Didn't Make Me a Farmer's Wife

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Sometimes when I read a book, I discover myself trying to be like the author. It’s probably some kind of disorder, but I choose to live in denial. Right now, I’m reading a book called A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Wonderful book about living in a state of gratitude to God. Ann is a farmer’s wife in Ontario who home schools six children. She writes prose that smells like sweet-smelling poetry. Just beautiful.

So, due to my disorder, I decided that I need to be like the farmer’s wife from Ontario.

My first foray into her world was to have a nice sit down dinner with my family, something we don’t do enough and a practice I honestly want to do more. I don’t live on a farm with organic everything, but I decided having homemade soup at my dining room table was good enough. I dug through the closet and found three placemats that matched. I made the table look picture perfect with candles. Just like the farmer’s wife.

When Noah and John saw my offering, they both remarked, “Why are we eating at the table?”

I was undeterred. I didn’t tell them about the farmer’s wife, but I said this is a goal for us in 2012. Noah.“Us?” Me. “YES, us.”

We sat and talked a bit about our lives and our upcoming dream vacation. Everything was wonderful.

Then I announced. “I want us to go around and say one thing we are thankful for.”

Noah sighed. “Really? Why?”

This reaction didn’t fit into my fantasy. I glared at him. “Because I want us to have a family moment.”

“John, why don’t you go first?”

John said, “Give me a moment.”

We pause in silence. Except for the loud and obnoxious sighing of the almost-teen.

John apparently was about to speak when I said, “Okay I’ll go first.

Noah jumped in with, “You cut Dad off.”

I glared again. “You, boy, shut up.”

Yes, I said this. No, I’m not proud of it. The Ontario farmer’s wife would never do this.

Sweetly I continued and said what I was thankful for. John followed. I looked at Noah.

“Noah, what are you thankful for?”

“Shut up Boy.” He said this, mocking me and pointing out my obvious failure as a mother.

I did what every Godly mother (and I’m sure the farmer’s wife) would do in this situation. I felt my blood boiling and I said, “Well, you should shut up, boy! You are being disrespectful and I am just trying to make a nice moment. Now TELL US WHAT YOU ARE THANKFUL FOR!”

Silence. Noah began retreating into his cave. John and I can tell when this happens. John tried to help.

“Noah, remember Saturday? You got a gift?”

“NO, JOHN, don’t help him!” Once again I stared at Noah. The absurdity of the situation was not lost on me. I envisioned myself on the floor beating up my son while telling him to say what he is thankful for. But my pride wouldn’t let me back down. (I wouldn’t ever actually hit him, of course.)

“Noah, either say one thing you are thankful for or you are going to take a bath and go to bed immediately.” It was 6 p.m.

Noah shrugged. I told him to leave the table, take a bath and go to bed.

John said, “Robbie, Noah’s 12 and his natural language is not gratitude, but he does say thank you all the time and every night when we pray he says thank you to God for something. Why was it so important to do it now and here?”

I stared at this man who obviously hasn’t read the book. “Because!” I changed the subject.

After his bath and before bed, Noah called out to us and told us what he was thankful for.

Last night was one of the many times I’ve made mistakes as a mom. Last night’s mistake was obvious to me now. I tried to be someone I’m not and I tried to make my family something they aren’t. Nothing wrong with gratitude and cultivating it. I still adore Ann’s book. But I am not Ann. I am not a farmer’s wife in Ontario and I don’t home school six kids.

I am a system’s analyst’s wife living in Denver. And I do have the privilege of raising one boy. A magnificent, chocolate-eyed boy. This morning, God’s mercies were brand new and I arose to forgiveness for my many sins. When I apologized to Noah he said, “Mom, I’m sorry. I was more in the wrong than you.” Yep, God’s compassions came to me through the morning light and through my son’s words.

Noah said thank you for breakfast as he usually does. When he walked out the door to the bus, his last words were, “I love you, Mom.”

God’s compassions never fail and His forgiveness is never late. And He made each of us exactly who we were meant to be. For that, I am truly THANKFUL!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Happened Today after our Words for the Journey Christian Writers Meeting

We came, a group of word-loving women, we came to lower our buckets into a well of inspiration and insight. We came to drink of strength and perseverance. We came, as writers, we came to discover how it is we can take another step.

Kay taught us. Today’s lesson was rich and we each lowered our pails, grasping for more, wanting our thirst quenched and discovering even more desire for water.

After the meeting end, conversations.

How is your book?

Have you heard yet?

Did you submit?

More words. Greetings. Blessings.

Women writers strike out to conquer the world of errands and family and projects on laptops. They leave refreshed.

A group of us lag behind and sit around a table. It’s not just a conversation; it is a sacred gathering . A holy place.

One of our friends has come today with her now constant companion. Grief has pulled up a chair behind her. His presence is palpable.

Several of us sit with her. We exchange words and talk about mourning. Tears of loss for her granddaughter’s death, a tragedy none of us understand, spring up from each of us.

No solving occurs.

Attempts to solve are useless.

Grief isn’t a problem to be fixed.

It’s a presence to be felt.

So we, her friends, give her the only thing we can give her. Our presence. She does not sit alone with him. We draw up beside her with tears and laughter. We take our buckets and pour what we can into hers.

And God sits with us. His arms embrace our friend with no commands and no expectations. His Spirit roams about and we all experience the miracle of community.

Of love that is mysterious and relentless and contagious and difficult.

We get up to leave and walk out to the lot to get into our cars and strike out to conquer the world of errands and family and projects on laptops.

As I get into Subaru, I glance over to the other women. Their buckets are full. Grief continues keeping pace with our friend, but she leaves with an extra pail of strength.

I look down and my own in brimming over.

God does mystery and miracle well.

His well.

Monday, January 09, 2012

My Adventure Across the US with JoJo and John!

We drove from California through AZ, NM, TX, LA, MS,
AL,FL,GA,SC,NC,VA,MD,to Delaware!

Five weeks ago we were over-the-moon blessed by a generous gift from my husband’s mother, JoJo. We got to go with her to California and see her 1st great granddaughter (our first granddaughter) Lucy Ophelia. What a wonderful time! We flew back and she decided to stay a while longer. The day after we left JoJo fell in her hotel room and broke her kneecap and a bone in her face near her eye. The doctors declared that she couldn’t fly back to her home in Delaware. She stayed with my husband’s ex-wife and her husband (and our good friends) to recuperate. A couple weeks later, the doctor said she still couldn’t fly.

SO, last Tuesday John and I flew to California and drove JoJo back to Delaware. Talk about an adventure! We didn’t know what to expect in the way of weather, how JoJo would do in such a long trip or how long it would really take. But we made a plan and off we went.

God, in His mercy and goodness, decided to part the Red Sea for us, as far as weather went. It was as if we were on a summer trip. Sunshine was everywhere. Only hint of bad weather was when we drove through Mississippi at night with heavy fog. Thank you GOD! :0)

I think I’ll probably be processing the trip for a while (I flew back last night) but I have realized some moments we experienced are ones I won’t forget. So for now, here are some highlights from an incredible adventure across the United States with John and JoJo!

  • Nicest Hotel – Country Inn and Suites in Tucson, AZ

  • Worst Hotel – La Quinta in San Antonio

  • Ugliest scenery – Lousiana Swamps

  • Most Beautiful Scenery – Tie between sunrise in South Carolina or Sunset over Chesapeake Bay in Maryland

  • Best Discovery – 5 Hour drink – WOW! Kept us alert but no jitters and no sugar. :0)

  • Most Disappointing simply because of High Expectations – Enterprise Rental Car – The service was horrible and Los Taquitos restaurant. Guy Fieri recommended it on his show Drive Ins, Diners and Dives. It was okay, but nothing to put on a TV show. :0)

  • Worst Meal – Jack in the Box, San Antonio. We are Jack fans, so we called the home office. It was that bad.

  • Best Meal – The Red Lion Pub in Houston. Guy Fieri recommended this too and it was FANTASTIC!

  • Best Surprise – We got to have lunch with a former student of mine in Texas. Woot!

  • Worst Traffic – Washington D.C.

  • Most Monotonous Drive – Tie between the endless desert in New Mexico or the tunnel of trees in the panhandle of Florida.

  • Best moment of driving for me – When I came upon the Speed Limit 80 – in West Texas! YES!

  • Best moment of nostalgia and gratitude – Showing my hubby and mom-in-law around my hometown of Van Horn, Texas.

  • Hardest moment for me as a Mom – I called Noah once and he was having a horrible day and I couldn’t rescue him.

  • Best moment on the trip for Noah’s growth – I called Noah and he was having a horrible day and his mom couldn’t rescue him. :0)

  • Funniest moment (There were MANY) – We were driving through Louisiana at night and we just knew that serial murderers had gotten rid of bodies in the swamps we drove by. All three of us are fans of that show “Criminal Minds” which is creepy. So we wrote an episode based in Louisiana about an Evangelist who gives an invitation at the end of his sermons, then kills whoever held their hand up first. He then gets rid of the bodies in the swamps, leaving one hand above ground. We would call the episode “I See That Hand!” :0)

  • Best Name of a Town – Coosiwatchie, South Carolina. I would love to live there just for the shirt.

  • Weirdest names of a place - Tangipahoa Parish – What?

  • Rudest employee – Glenda at La Quinta – she was having a bad night. :0)

  • Nicest employee – Larry at the Holiday Inn in Mobile Alabama – Southern hospitality at its finest!

  • Sweetest Moment for Me – Watching my husband take care of his Mom.

  • Best Conversation for me – Talking to JoJo about her life and listening to her tell John stories.

  • Two moments I add ONLY because JoJo told me I HAD to:

  • Worst Moment for JoJo – She locked herself in toilet in Van Horn Texas and couldn’t get up to get out.

  • Best Moment for Robbie – Discovering I was thin and agile enough to crawl underneath stall door and help out JoJo! :0)

Moments I will never, ever forget – Seems that everywhere we stopped – gas stations, hotels, drive through joints – John would look at me and grab my hand and we’d dance. Just a few seconds, but enough to communicate that we are best friends on an adventure. Some may not see driving a mom-in-law across 14 states in 5 days as an adventure. But my best friend and I decided to give it all to God and enjoy the journey. And JoJo, one of the sweetest women on the planet, made it easy.

I’m home now and I love, love, love being home. But I wouldn’t trade the last week for the world! :0)