Category Archives: redeeming

All the Books

I am grateful that my kids are readers. I remember when the final child learned to read. It was as if I could let out a giant sigh.

Mission Accomplished!

I have always loved books. As a little girl, I remember being excited about trips to the library or school book club fliers. Caddie Woodlawn came from a school book club flier in fourth grade, I think.

I needed a reminder of the goodness, and my love, of books tonight when I walked up to tuck my youngest in bed and found her digging around underneath it. Just looking for Pony-wa. That was fine until I decided to actually look at what she was doing and realized there were tons of books stuffed under there, too.

What?! I like to read!

Fishing book after book out from under the stuffed animals piled in the crack of her bed, I tried loosely sorting them into stacks in the hall to reshelve. You can see just a few of her very favorites still on the bed.

I’ve read ALL of them, too.

A redeeming factor maybe is that the lost library book that I finally broke down and paid for yesterday was not among the stacks. Also, I found something else in the process.

Those of you who follow the blog know this significance, and I smiled inside while tucking it into my pocket and proceeding to shelve the books in the hall.

Committed Spirit

Last week started with a lofty goals post and ended with sex. Both were big draws to the blog. I knew about the goals link-up and had planned on it. It felt good to get some goals down on paper and out there for others to see.

I had not planned the timing of my Red Tent post. A backstory was written to go live whenever it ran, which happened to be Thursday. That was a day full of cyber and real-life engagement.

It started with texts full of kind encouragement. There were questions about how I was feeling. There were likes and comments and shares on Facebook. I was in my classroom, as usual, all day, so I wasn’t following the cyberspace chatter. After work I checked in to find several alerts and comments and even some new Composting the Heart page likes!

Yes, there is a Composting the Heart Facebook page that you can like if you haven’t already!

Far from going viral, it was still my farthest-reaching post, confirming what we already know. Sex sells.

So here I sit at the beginning of a new week, reflecting on all that has happened and all that might come. Big feelings stir inside, and I wonder, Is it worth it? Sharing my goals and hopes and dreams? Risking and writing and opening my heart?

Last Monday morning while reading in Psalm 31, verse 5 gave me pause.

Into your hand I commit my spirit, you have redeemed me O Lord, faithful God.

Often I think of these words in connection with death, not life, because in Luke 23:46, Jesus commits his spirit into his Father’s hands and breathes his last.

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

In David’s context, however, he commits his spirit while he is living. Reading this early Monday morning, caused me to fill with questions that I began to journal.

How do I commit my spirit into your hands, Father?
What is it to trust in your work on my behalf?
How do I rest in the space of un-ease? Unknown?
This looking ahead to dreams and goals and plans feels too big, yet I commit my spirit to your hands. Please show me the way!

I was given a new perspective and visual of handing my spirit to God for safe-keeping, not just in death, but in life. It gave me a renewed sense of peace that God already knows his plans for me and is working them out. Looking back over last week, I was grateful for the reminder when the stirring of unrest began to fill me.

I am still pondering this committing of spirit. Still practicing the trusting. Still learning to rest in the unknown and in the Father’s redemption of my life.

I am still learning to Bless the moments that we feel you nearer.

 

Friendship Friday ~ Cheesy Edition

I love my kids. All of them. They overwhelm me. Every one.

They are my greatest gifts. They are what God knew I needed, and I cling to that reminder when I’m not so sure.

They are some of my issues. I have helped to create many of theirs.

Five remain at home, one with his foot out the door, but still very much present. It takes many deep breaths and much fortitude to brace for the second half of this parenting journey with the ones who remain.

This.

family

This is a bag of cheese pulled from the freezer for Friday night pizza.

Several weeks ago, adult child three stopped in unexpectedly. She helped make the Friday night pizza. She also offered to divide the giant bag of mozzarella cheese into smaller, freezer-sized portions, a task not my favorite.

In the weeks following, as I pulled cheese from the freezer, I found hand-written notes on the bags. I love my mama. It’s Friday! and other sweet messages adorned them, written in trademark black Sharpie.

This bag makes me smile so much that I’m keeping it to refill. I love the picture she drew and her handwriting for the words and just everything that reminds me of the huge, undeserved gift I’ve been given to be the mom in the picture.

I’m thankful for moments like this where I am reminded of the redemptive good birthed from the very hard. Many years of pizza making, lots of Fridays, lots of freezing of cheese and sauce and dough, lots of misunderstandings about plans and movie choices and curfews come together in a moment of beauty written on a bag of cheese.

Friendship Friday ~ Making it Happen

I planned a date night.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for me it is. For me it is saying, I really care about spending time together, I know Steve will enjoy this, I know I will enjoy this. Even though there are 1,001 reasons to not make it happen and then feel disappointed, I am going to TRY.

When I saw that Second City was returning to JMU, I wanted to go again with Steve. We attended a show a few years ago with No Strings Attached, and it was fun. I participated in a Second City workshop in Chicago while chaperoning a school trip for my son and learned a lot.

I desired to do this together.

Several weeks ago, I checked out the tickets and pricing. Seats were going fast. There were a few left scattered here and there, mostly in the balcony. Asking Steve what he thought about going, and not hearing clear Let’s do it! in his voice, I let it go.

Several weeks ago there was also great letdown as a failed communication between us resulted in an anticipated longing falling by the wayside, unmet. I struggled through deep disappointment and wrestled with how to let go of past hurts while communicating present ones honestly.

It was difficult to admit to myself and my husband that I stuff pain and quickly say, It’s okay, or It’s no big deal, when it’s not and it is. I had to acknowledge my hurt, disappointment, and true feelings without accusing, blaming, and attacking. It was a difficult time. We are still learning to communicate honestly and to hear one another in a safe space.

Steve can’t read my mind.

I minimize desire. I long for more together time but don’t take action. I wish for connection but grow busy with distraction.

It was time to make something happen.

Last night, out of curiosity, I logged onto the theater website to see what, if any, seats were left.

The seat map showed two yellow squares at the edge of a sea of x‘s. And by sea, I mean every other seat was marked taken.

Two seats at the end of a row! A countdown timer at the top of the laptop screen ticked away the minutes I had to make a decision while Steve was out walking Dewey. Two seats. At the end of a row! (Can you tell that part in itself was HUGE for me?) The last two seats. My favorite spot in any row.

I took them.

Almost immediately, contempt and sabotage began to creep in.

What did you just do? That was stupid. You don’t even know if you can get a babysitter at this late notice. Steve didn’t act as if he wanted to go when you mentioned it before. You just spent money on something that you don’t know will work out.

And on and on.

I began my usual pattern of faux-not-caring. He can always take a friend if we don’t get a sitter. I can be here with the kids. It doesn’t matter if I go or not.

It mattered.

I tried.

I told Steve when he returned and was met with a positive response. He helped me begin looking for a sitter, which in the end I secured.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So tonight is a real date night, not that popcorn and Parenthood at 9:30pm doesn’t count. It’s the fighting forward for fun together that doesn’t just magically happen because I wish it would. It’s being in the moment in our marriage, knowing that it is worth it.

We are worth making it happen!

Functional Wife, Functional Mother

As part of my theme of returning this year, I am taking this incredibly vulnerable (for me) post from my private blog today as an example of grace and change, and God’s work in my life, though not on my timetable. It was and is and continues to be a process of hope and trust and choosing to keep going, even when I can’t see or understand why. Read through the comments, as well, as they are telling. 

Back in July, 1996, I was a 25 year old wife, married 4 1/2 years, and a mom of 3 little ones aged 3,2,1.  Every area of life was full and overwhelming. That was all I knew. I had to keep going and going and going because there were no other options. It was a lonely time full of disappointment, disillusion, despair, and depression (which would not be acknowledged and dealt with for 12 more years after I had 5 additional kids).

I know it was all grace that kept me functioning when I didn’t think I could. It was mercy that Steve and I not only loved each other but LIKED each other enough to keep trying to push through and make sense of the senseless. It was writing that moved the clutter inside from my head to paper and it was Jesus who heard my cries and never let  me go.

I wrote Functional Wife, Functional Mother during this time. It’s one of those mantras that would get stuck in my head, and I had to get it out. That’s how I felt. Like I was barely functioning. At 25.

Thank God for His redeeming love. He has made and continues to make all things new, but it has been a long, at times, lonely process. Here I am over 17 years later to testify that things do get better. Just not always on our time table!

From deep within the bin of my 25 year old heart….

Functional wife, functional mother.

When I’m not doing one thing, I’m doing another.

I’m feeling let down, I’m starting to smother

As functional wife, functional mother.

I get out of bed, there’s a baby to hold.

I look in the mirror, my face looks so old.

I go down the stairs, there’s a pile of clothes to fold.

And the bread in the cupboard is starting to grow mold.

And I’m a

Functional wife, functional mother.

When I’m not doing one thing, I’m doing another.

I’m feeling let down, I’m starting to smother

As functional wife, functional mother.

My husband comes home, he kisses my cheek.

We’re both so tired, it’s been a long week.

What’s in our hearts, we can’t even speak.

What would we find, if we dared to peek?

He’d find a

Functional wife, functional mother.

When I’m not doing one thing, I’m doing another.

I’m feeling let down, I’m starting to smother

As functional wife, functional mother.

Please do not say it will all go away,

and that what I am feeling is not here to stay.

I’ve heard it before, I still feel the same way.

It may soon get better but for today

I’m just a

Functional wife, functional mother.

When I’m not doing one thing, I’m doing another.

I’m feeling let down, I’m starting to smother

As functional wife, functional mother.

Seeds of Hope

These may be buried deep. Lying dormant. Hidden away in a dry, dark place.

Refuse of the heart, mixed with words of truth, can be sprinkled on those seeds and help hope begin to sprout. To grow.

I found a new favorite Dan Allender quote in his book Sabbath. 

The truest fruit of repentance is always hope, even in the face of overwhelming and unrelenting dour circumstances. Hope is not mere optimism; rather it is moving forward in anticipation of redemption in spite of the improbability of rescue. (185)

Those overwhelming and unrelenting dour circumstances look different for everyone. Whatever you feel a need to be rescued from is your overwhelming circumstance.

What does it look like to move forward, anticipating redemption, in the midst of the dour? We were given a beautiful model of this in Kara Tippetts and her story.

Not all of us are called to cancer. To physical illness. Some of us have emotional cancer. Mental pain. Some have parenting struggles or relational issues. Some can’t remember what hope feels like. Some never knew.

Whatever your circumstance, I pray this for you tonight.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

Lament

My head was hung in shame

for as long as I can remember

 but especially at 16, when my heart began to break.

I cried out in agony

begging

pleading

Tears poured from my eyes

’til I could cry no more.

My heart wound was so deep.

Could it ever be healed?

It seemed impossible.

I begged for relief and received only answers that gave me false hope.

solutions

formulas

Until God intervened.

He revealed to me a plan

That he made long ago

To turn disaster into

delightful

And questions to peace.

And as I poured out my heart like water to the Lord

And as godly friends rescued me by speaking truth to my lies

And as I lifted my hands in prayer

Pleading for my children to be spared from what evil has tried to steal

God came.

And healed me.

And bound up my wounds.

And through terror and kindness

He granted relief.