Sleepy Hollow

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fragile Grey

Fragile Grey
When the gray descends I feel the victim, a status most times I refuse.  But the fog robs me of my fight and all that is left is the fragile.  Only a thin veneer keep me from the unflattering sobs.  This facade is so easily pierced and I am left exposed. 

My thin veneer

The skill of camouflage never properly learned, I leave others uncomfortable with my unconcealed need.  I hate the tears, yet they flow unable to be checked, they come and I attempt to mask the deepness with a Mona Lisa smile. 

I don't understand the source, this unintelligent, illogical, untruthful pain that whispers lies of unworthiness, yet no intellectual argument lifts me.  The intensity is beyond logic.  I watch the static come, praying it will be a brief visitor, a reminder of my need, hopeful it won't rob me of days or even months like the one summer. The summer where I surrendered to its haze, unable to get out of beds with a pile of books, dirtied dishes, and unwashed laundry creating walls against the exposure of fellowship. 

Job's cries and David's tears serve as my expression.  Nothing "bad" need happen for my visitor; in fact, I am blessed beyond measure.  This too feels condemning, I should have no need for tears.  Many others suffer so much.  I don't see these warrior Pollyannas with tears streaming down their faces.  Those who rejoice when starving or feel God's presence in their child's terminal illness seem so much more deserving of moments of self-pity.  But even still my enemy, depression, comes and causes me to sink.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Gift of New Eyes

The farmer's field behind our house that we pretend is ours
It has taken me some time to learn to love the unique beauty of West Tennessee's Delta Plains.  Not too long ago, I would be struck for a deep longing to return to the gentle slopes and heavily rural area of Murray, Ky.  I was used to being within walking distance of wooded parks, reserves, and just a few minutes away from LBL.  I was used to being able to walk among tree covered streets and feel relatively safe.   Then I moved to Jackson.  One of the biggest statistics floating around about Jackson at the time was that Jackson was the fifth most violent city per capita in the nation.  Not exactly a place that a country girl of 18 would feel safe to explore alone.  I like many people who attend Union felt a little trapped by "the bubble" and one of the biggest areas I felt trapped was the disconnection I felt from the land.  Let me explain, .when I lived in Murray and I would need to be alone, I would drive to LBL (much to the chagriane of my mother), find a random access road, and then hike sometimes on a trail, sometimes not.  What's so funny about this longing was just across the street from Union, in some land rumored to be owned by Union, was a wild field, with developed trees, and a little pond.  I would walk by that forest daily and completely ignore it's possibilities because I didn't have the eyes to see it.  I was so homesick that I didn't see it until God gave me the eyes to see it.
   Once I was gifted with eyes, I could walk with quiet step to the waist high grass, push briars back, and sit quietly at the small pond.  In the middle of Jackson, there was a refuge for me.  I began to remember that when I realized that I had viewed my neighborhood in a similiar way.  I love my home, but my neighborhood has a cookie cutter feel to it.  The mailboxes are all identical due to a home owner's agreement.  They have the same size yard, the same size house, and the same fences.  It is so nice, but it's not exactly wild.  Or so I thought until God gave me new eyes: Isaiah and Eli.  All the sudden my blah backyard has become a wild jungle, and the field behind us, only appreciated as eye candy before is a place of adventure and exploration.
   It started when my husband, hiked home from work one day, coming in excited, he told me that there were paths cut by four wheeler's in the fields behind me.  We could walk to a pond, to a little woods, and through puddles.  I don't have to drive 45 minutes to hike (which is something I always felt compelled to do) I can find a wilderness in my backyard.  Tuesday after naps, we decided to appreciate the January day by going to the mud pile of Romie, past the jungle of trivet, and to the marsh lands along side the woods.  There is a slight element of fear that the long forgetful farmer will demand we leave his land that he left to the wild, but in a way that makes it more fun.  As I watch Isaiah jump from "mountain to mountain," Eli look for the grasshoppers and squish the clay soil in his hands, and have to pull my shoes out of the bog I realize that for 6 years this wilderness was behind me and I never had the eyes to see it.  I never had the curiosity to explore it and now that I can see what a wonderland.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wonder what other blessings I've closed my eyes to.  I wonder what other ways my grumbling spirit has kept me from joy.

Not for the Squeamish

Sick Day at the Carlsons
It was a Mount Vesuvius eruption.  The vomit streaming from Isaiah's mouth served as a chastisement.  Just before that moment, Isaiah in tears and defiance had told me that he wasn't "going anywhere," the repetitious three year old petition eventually irritating me sufficiently for a stopped car and a swift spanking.

Oh, the horror!!!

On the one hand my heart is humbled at my deficiencies as a mother, particularly my lack of listening. All my bad mom moments flood to my mind and I have to live in my need for forgiveness. This event is filed along with a food battle with then 15 month old Isaiah. My pride at stake, my usually ravenous and non-picky eater has expressed he will not eat his green beans...Or so I thought. Determined to win, I ignore his epic fit to wait to acknowledge him until he is not throwing his head into high chair and screaming. This takes about twenty minutes of heart wrenching cries and my inward speeches of how this is for the greater good. Then he folds into exhaustion and I respond only to find a trapped pinched finger. Floods of condemnation come and I find once again that I am too busy responding, not listening. Shouldn't it be the reverse?
It was bad for me too!

Still sick, but feeling better

On the other hand, I am amazed at myself in this moment.  I hold his little body, rubbing his back, and in between the heaves place my cheek on his cheek.  The whit carpet turned orange, my hair and clothes soiled, and as my stomach turns I pray.  Clarity comes and I am able to love.  To just sit with him and love him unworried about the mess.  Me, who used to gag at the smell of dogs and nursing homes.  Me, who wouldn't want to visit certain homes because they smelled different from my home.  Me, who used to view cleaning the toilet as a task that I wasn't sure I could survive.  And I realize that this isn't me.  That it is God in me.  I couldn't love enough to sit and cuddle still dirty.  I am incapable.  But I am encouraged because if he can make me overcome my aversion to the gross, he can help remove the wax buildup around my ears and help me listen.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

God why can't I just have ice cream to eat?

I've come to realize that God gives perfect gifts, not just fun gifts.  I know this seems like a no-brainer to many Christians, but I believe that I've lived my life with the expectation that God's plan in my life would be a marvelous Cinderella story.  After brief uncomfort, everything in life would align for my pleasure.  If you had asked me if this is what I believed I would have never had said this.  It wasn't a philosophy fully defined, but rather a philosophy expressed through my disappointment that life doesn't always fall into my dreamscape.  As those close to me know, Chad lost his job just previous to my first pregnancy and after a year of unemployment took a job as a car salesman during the most severe part of the recession.  I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and this experience had to be delayed because of the reality of our situation.  Times were tough and I was angry.  I was angry because I felt like surely God wanted me to be happy.  I might have spiritualized the situation in my head and words, but in my heart I was resentful.  I prayed and prayed to be rescued from our situation.  God was silent.  At least he was silent to providing opportunities to be at-home.  He wasn't silent about his will that I glorify him, that I grow in maturity and love, and that I be obedient.  He was silent about if we should move, if we should sell our home, if we should live on government assistance.  One day I was reading and arguing with God and as I read, God reminded me that his plan doesn't revolve around me.  I couldn't find a place that included my staying with my boys as a unalienable right.  When I was reading thru Isaiah it talked of weeping mothers whose children were taken from them in upcoming battles.  I thought of the faithful Christians overseas who have watched their children die from starvation.  I know that many have begged God, pleaded, and been denied.  Yet scripture tells us that God is the Father of Lights, who delights in his children.  Every good and perfect gift comes from God.  James 1:2 Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance, perseverance must finish its work so we may be mature and complete NOT LACKING ANYTHING.  Could it be that God let me feel the anxiety and the separation to help me?  I've come to realize that my prayers are often childish and if their spirit could be revealed it would be something like this, "Pleeeeaaaaassse don't make me eat broccoli.  I WANT A CUPCAKE...AND CHOCOLATE SAUCE, AND ICE CREAM..."  Punctuated with kicks and me knocking my head against the floor.  Instead of giving me what I've asked, he gives me better and hopefully with time I will enjoy its taste.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Joyful Stumbling

I've had the privilege of watching two small souls learn how to walk.  The ginger steps, hands searching space, and cowboy stance are all accompanied by eyes lit up with both joy and wonder.  Eli has been practicing his skills since Thanksgiving and still he delights in his new found mobility.  He used to be content to cuddle (at least for short moments), but even these short times are shrunk to short hugs and then away he goes.  He is a child on the move, ready to explore even when his explorations result in pain.  He bounds into walls, cries briefly and is compelled to run almost immediately.  There have been so many times I've watched this child face plant into corners, tile, and Isaiah.  Yet he always insists there is more to explore as he wriggles from my comforting arms.  For him the joy far outweighs the pain.

How I wish that I had more of his joyful persistence.  How many times have I given up because I've allowed the pain to make me forget the joy?  How many friendships have I allowed to slowly dissolve?  How many opportunities have I missed because of fear of pain?  Lord make me more like Eli, help me find the joy in the stumbles of this life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Seven or eleven babies

"When I'm big like Papa, I'm going to be a daddy," my three year old proclaims at the table.  "Oh how many kids will you have?" I smile at my innocent one.  "Eleven" (I'm not sure if he means seven or eleven because they sound almost identical), he confidently responds.  "What will you name them?"  "Abby, Joshua, Jude (which sounds like Dude), and Eli."  "And the rest of them, what are their names?"  "I don't know yet."  Part of me feels like this day will never come: the potty training that has already taken a year and a half, the fits, the monotonous buckles of the carseat.  Yet the other part cringes knowing that all too soon, he will leave.  Hopefully he will leave a man of valior, love, and faith, but no longer my innocent joyful child who runs into my room in the morning to tell me the sun is up.  Already the thought makes my heart ache and leaves me praying that God will give me the grace to let him go.  Will he be ready to be a daddy of eleven?  Will he be ready to be a husband?

I was only eighteen when I first meet my love; he was only twenty-one.  Eight months later we danced our first dance as a couple.  From our first date until our first day as a married couple was only eleven months.  We certainly didn't give anyone much time to adjust to us, to the letting go.  We were so young.  Yet I can't imagine my life any other way.  This journey with Chad has been so exciting and filled with love.  I can only imagine the feelings our parents had when they first realized that I was going to marry Chad.  I've already imagined what it will be like to see my men leave and become husbands and fathers.  I pray that I'll have the grace that was given to me by my parents to love me and let me go.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Garbage Day Parade

Christmas with the Carlson's  (to fuel our obsession)

The definition of white trash: barefoot, sleeveless dress in December, baby standing in doorway with just a diaper, watching the garbage truck and sanitation workers with a wet haired toddler.  We almost missed them.  Mid-diaper change we started to hear the grinding and moving mechanisms of the rolling viridian vehicle.  We almost forgot to applaud one of our favorite happenings of the week...Garbage day.  STOP EVERYTHING!!!  They will not wait.  We offer them our very own weekly ticker-tape parade.  Isaiah jumps up and down, yelling "the garbage truck, Mom."  Eli growls out his own excited car noises.  The friendly men pause briefly to wave and smile.  They don't seem to care if we look unprepared for this morning; they are just happy to be recognized and appreciated even if that appreciation comes from a three year old.  

It's hard for me not to see the resemblance to following Christ.  He calls and we must leave everything.  No time to carry around our pride, hate, or regrets.  There is only time to come.  In my heart, I hear God's shout, STOP EVERYTHING!!!  I don't have time to make myself pretty--to put on a veneer.  I only have time to follow.