Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Identity Crisis

2 months into the year, and I can say definitively that the theme of it has been: change.
I guess I always thought that by the time I was in my early thirties, I would at least kind of have things figured out. I always heard that the thirties were a stable time. Careers established, identities intact. That time between the tumultuous twenties and the mid-life crisis.
But to be honest, I don't have anything figured out. And as soon as I think I do, everything changes.
I've come to the conclusion that this is exactly where God wants me to be.
I remember my early twenties, thinking: "what if I'm single for the rest of my life? How will I handle it? What am I going to do?" And then thinking: "I don't have to worry about being single for the rest of my life. All I have to worry about is today. And today, it's not so bad."
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
-Matthew 6:34
So far, the only thing I have succeeded in doing is discovering who I am NOT.
I'm not a hospital nurse. I hate 12 hour shifts, and blood squirting everywhere, and cafeteria food.
I'm not a supermom. I cannot even fathom the idea of having 6 children in a row. I mostly hate arts and crafts, and I abide thoroughly by the 5 second rule.
I'm not one of those Babywise people. I don't think the sole purpose of breastfeeding is to provide nutrition, and I don't think babies are meant to fit neatly into our own selfish schedules.
But I don't swing completely the other way, either. I prefer my kids to have their own beds, and to wean before they think they're ready.
I've learned that I'm not one to do anything halfway. I don't see the point, and, like lately, when I have felt up to my neck in responsibilities, after a while it all starts to feel pointless.
So it's best that I stick to a few things, and do them as well as possible.
I've learned that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." doesn't mean that I can do all the things I want to do, or that make me feel good. It means that I can do all the things God has called me to do, with His strength. And that even doing really good things, when they are not the particular things He wants for me, will only find me floundering in my flesh.
Because of my "all or nothing" personality, life is a series of very intense changes and phases. I am not one to mantain a balance of consistency throughout, because my life seems to be constantly adjusting to the highest priority. Therefore, parts of myself are often left behind and the pieces must be reassembled later, when things settle down a bit.
In my childhood, I was obsessed with dogs. From the moment, on my 8th birthday, that my older sister put that rascally beagle in my arms.
In high school and even through college, it was music. Living and breathing and wallowing in it and learning from it. 
After that, I went from living to surf and work out pre-kids, to being able to count on two hands how many times I've surfed or been to the gym in the past 4.5 years.
I am now emerging from one of the most intense phases in my life: the infancy of my children.
The Dude, my baby, turns 2 years old in less than a week, and though my time has been incredibly limited, and  my mind has been spinning in a thousand directions due to the complexity of my schedule: every time life slows down for a moment: on a windy summery walk: I feel those winds of change blowing through my body. And at 85 degrees, I get a little bit of a chill. But it's a hopeful one. It's a new phase coming. Day weaning is complete, and night weaning was set to commence this past week until both boys came down with the plague. I think The Dude planned it.
He's sleeping in a big boy bed: with a crib on one side and a crib mattress on the other, so if he falls off, like he did last night, he lands on it.
I have been pregnant or nursing for over 5 years. Which means I have had a fetus/infant/toddler pressed against my body almost every night for over 5 years. It means, I have had a baby or toddler in my arms almost constantly when I am home for 4.5 years. It means I have barely slept, and barely had time to think for a long time.
I've had way more than my share of baby hugs and kisses and smiles, and adorable temper tantrums.
I've decided to only put Aquaman in school 3 days a week next year, which means I have one more year to spend Thursdays and Fridays together with my boys.
And in all this, I've discovered that I STILL don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Don't know what I'll be doing with my time 5 years from now. Don't know what JT will be doing.
We haven't figured it out yet.
And maybe it's better that way.
Maybe it leaves more room for adventure, and more room for growth.
Maybe, it's leaves more room for God.
Because today, God has called me to be a mom. Staying home from work with her sick boys in the morning. Taking a walk to the park, watching Charlie Brown, snuggling pre-nap, and sitting down for a moment to put my thoughts into words. This afternoon, he's called me to some Assisted Living Facilities to meet with some elderly people, and help them live out their last days in the way that all people deserve.
He's called me to be His sheep. To not know where I'm going tomorrow, but to know that wherever it is, I don't have to be afraid of it. Because I'm probably too dumb to understand where we're going anyway. And I'd probably be too scared to keep going, if I really knew what tomorrow would hold.
It's struggling that makes me stronger.
And it's love that keeps me struggling. Love for my family, for the least of these, and for the Shepherd who "makes my cup runneth over".

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Don't Lose Heart

My words have been sifting a little slower through my head lately. God's plans are unfolding, but lay scrambled. And I wait for eloquence. For meaning, even in my peace.

The pace of life has left little room for meaning. I'm looking for a quiet room in my thoughts. An organization. But it seems to be only a certainty. A vague knowing.
"Where else would I go?"

I read that word yesterday, and realized that this is the way I feel.
At first, that made me feel guilty, until I decided that there is really nothing wrong with being weary.
It is not a symptom of faithlessness. It is a symptom of my humanity.

But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me."

I am struck by the fact that even Jesus was drained by His ministry.
When a woman touched Him, and was healed, He felt power go out of Him.

I can relate.

I think I've decided to just be ok with this stage of weariness in my life right now. There is no lack of hope. No lack of faith in God's provision for my daily needs. Only a slowing in my continued movement.

My house is a little dirtier, but my children are a little happier. There is something about my own weariness that increases my compassion. Maybe it's just easier to sit down in a chair and cuddle the baby with the runny nose who doesn't feel good, when you are also tired down to your very bones. Or maybe it's just easier to understand another's weakness, when you are so close to your own.

I'm not sad or depressed, though I am often close to tears.
Only frail, and waiting for the sudden burst of energy.
I know it will come.

"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:31-32


For now, I'm waiting in the silence. Knowing that He's there, and that He wants me to want Him. To seek Him. To know Him more.

He loves us too much to leave us as we are, and so we change. So life changes. We don't try to keep up or figure out where we're going, we just try to keep going.

It's hard to struggle, and it's hard to watch people we love struggle. It has been very difficult watching JT adjust to the changes in his life since his injury...even though this is likely such a temporary change. It brings up so many questions. Questions that will probably never have their answer here in this world, and thus are not worth dwelling on.

A few nights ago, I woke up to go to the bathroom, and looked down at my youngest son...sleeping peacefully, full of his warm milk. I asked God: "why? Why did you bring him here to struggle?"

I knew, even as I was asking it, that it was a pointless question. But somehow, asking it, brought me closer to Him, and to the comfort of His heart. That's where I am today.
Asking "where are You?" Knowing that He is there. Right in the middle of it, in the dirt, and the grime and the things we don't understand.

He may be silent today.
But He cares. He knows. And He's working.
I believe.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's been a long 10 days.

It's been cool enough  to wear long sleeves occasionally, and warm enough for grape juice popsicles and truck ramming in the courtyard.
There's been a lot of crying this past 10 days. A lot of wondering and reaching, and laying around, and scurrying around.
There's been a lot of effort put into wearing clothes that don't exactly fit.

Life is angled. Bent. But always upward.

We like to hold each other's hands
Look around with a hopeful smile.

We haven't felt as strong as usual. Maybe a little more thoughtful.
But we've managed to keep a decent sense of humor.

Last Saturday, JT hit a sandbar, shoulder first and separated his AC joint.
To a lot of people, it would be a pain, but it wouldn't be quite so life altering. If you're an engineer sitting at a computer all day, yes, it would be annoying to use only your left hand for a few weeks. But taking JT's shoulder: a lifeguard, swimmer, surfer, and prospective firefighter:
well it changed our lives a little bit.
I had a sense that 2013 would test us in new ways. It has not let me down.
First the challenge to surrender my children.
And this week, God showed me the shakiness of my own faith by altering the health of the only human being I possibly love even more than them.

Two hours before his injury, as I was putting The Dude down for his nap, I happened upon Malachi 4:2:
"But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall."
Malachi 4:2

I remember thinking...well, none of us needs healing. Why does this verse mean so much to me right now? I posted it as my facebook status anyhow. Thanks J.L. for reminding me how God was preparing my heart.

We all need healing, in some form or another today. Be it for a wounded shoulder, or self-image, or the realization that your faith has drifted back to outside circumstances and the power of your own hand to provide for yourself.
I'm ready to be released from this stall of uncertainty. I'm watching the sun rise in new ways this morning. I love that each day offers a new opportunity for forever change. Each new challenge going 3 steps forward and 1 step back...but leaving us 2 steps ahead. 2 steps closer to the eternal Peace that is offered by the Prince of Peace.
It's a long climb sometimes...especially when we're one-armed.
But it's always worth it.