Thursday, November 30, 2017

The More Perfect Truth

Last Christmas Hansie wasn’t here.


There was just . . . ceaseless analyzing of symptoms, speculation over the how and when of his impending arrival, kicking and nudging from inside me, trouble breathing, lots of backaches, a hospital packing list, a constant grasping for some concrete idea of who this boy would be, and a belly that made unbearable the usually thoughtless task of picking small items up from the floor.

Photo Nov 07, 3 31 52 PMPhoto Nov 07, 3 32 36 PMPhoto Nov 07, 3 32 38 PM

There wasn’t even a single bit of anyone crawling madly to unplug the vacuum every time we used it; or of anyone sticking an index finger in the corner of their mouth and smiling shyly each time they were spoken to; or even of anyone bursting to wake, flipping over in their crib and desperately trying to pull themselves to a standing position every time their mom tried to sneak in to wake their brothers for school.


Although, there was a one-year-old and a two-year-old, so maybe there was a bit of that type of thing going on. But, there is nothing like an annual holiday or tradition to make me hyper-aware of all the change a year has brought.

Photo Nov 22, 3 53 54 AMPhoto Nov 22, 3 53 57 AM

It was at Christmas time four years ago (2013) that I’d just discovered we were expecting Summer. At the time I was fairly confident she would be our last child. But there hasn’t been a Christmas since that I haven’t been either expecting a baby, holding a baby . . . or both.

Photo Nov 22, 3 52 27 AM

So at this time of year, all filled with sentiment and reminiscing as it naturally is anyway, I am extra contemplative about what has opened up to me and the major shifts in my existence that have occurred in this never-to-be-forgotten span of years. I have this quiet and shifting little visual of my spiritual self during this time. Sometimes she is reaching up and pleading for the burdens and blessings of these years. Other times they are being offered and she is choosing them. And occasionally they are being asked of her . . . and she is humbly and fearfully submitting – a meager attempt to mirror one of the most amazing women to exist on this earth: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”


I don’t know that life has ever been more overwhelming or more of a challenge than it has been for me these past years. I rely constantly on the words of a hymn that The Spirit whispered directly to my heart – personally; God reassuring me – during a major moment of fear on the night after I found I was expecting Hans.

Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
’Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell --
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tale --
All is well! All is well!

I’ve acknowledged often, particularly when sharing cheery and bright pictures, that those pictures aren’t the whole truth. That they are only frozen moments of beauty amidst exhaustion and worries and messes and stress.

Photo Nov 22, 3 52 07 AMPhoto Nov 22, 3 52 09 AMPhoto Nov 22, 3 52 15 AMIMG_0245IMG_0267IMG_0504IMG_0505

But I’m not sure I really believe that. It’s an apology of course – a recognition that I haven’t shared all of the difficult and imperfect. There are no dirty dishes or projects hanging over us. There are no tantrums, no tears, no failures, losses of temper, or fears over the physical, spiritual and mental well-being of our children. And yet, . . . looking at those pictures I often sense the most distilled and complete truth of this entire business. The dross and insignificant, and the parts that don’t really matter all sifted out. Only the stripped down, beautiful, and most whole eternal truths left: the hope that through all of the unknowns and fears and impossible hards my Savior has already paved a way and that all any of this truly is . . . is unbelievable, gracious mercy; and kindness; and eventually-perfected love and joy.

Photo Nov 22, 3 51 21 AMIMG_0362IMG_0374IMG_0384IMG_0426-2IMG_0518IMG_0465IMG_0436-2IMG_0445-2IMG_0479IMG_0488IMG_0494Photo Nov 11, 3 45 57 PMIMG_0503Photo Nov 08, 6 51 35 AMPhoto Nov 28, 11 01 43 AM

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Carhartts, Poetry, and . . . Loving SO Much

Yesterday Mike took a little time off work. In the hours between picking up Anders from morning Kindergarten and the rest of the kids from regular old all-day school, we stuck socks and shoes on the four youngest, packed diapers and a bottle, and went off exploring a bit. It was gray and raining off and on. We drove and drove – talking about our future and things we might or might not want in it: some of it actual possibilities; some of it only dreams; some of it logistics and worries and what ifs. We spotted a rainbow then pulled over to tromp around a bit. The sun filtered through the clouds – sending down a big, triangle of celestial streaks in the distance. It was much colder than I’d realized. Mike bundled Hans in his arms. Anders, Summer and Mette cried that it was too cold, lost the use of their legs, and begged to be held. And, glad that he’d thought to bring it for me, I threw on Mike’s old Carhartt coat (like I used to always do when going out to feed the chickens and horses at our old Fruitland Drive house) and tried to take a few pictures (between lifting babies, holding little hands, and rescuing kids from falls into little mucky ditches).

(It also happened to be “crazy hair day” for the elementary kids.)

Mike bought that old Carhartt coat back when he worked construction before we were married (we still always point out to the kids the columns he put in at our local grocery store).

I wrote a poem once about the way Mike says “construction”. I don’t remember much of it. Maybe it was sentimental. Or maybe simple and seemingly void. There was something about him speaking Spanish and it sounding like a song. And something about seeing that word – construction – on a truck door. I do remember this part:

“Carson’s Construction” it read.
And I thought of you
and saw that you
say it differently.

I invited him to come carve pumpkins once – early in our dating. It was raining as he drove to my house. He swerved to miss a raccoon. Ended up smashed against a tree and unsure of his name. Days later I went with him to retrieve his Carhartt from the remains of his beloved Bronco. It had been sitting on the passenger seat and was wedged between upholstery and crushed metal. He’d had batteries in the coat’s pocket and their acid burnt holes through it.

Maybe I should write a poem about that? And about wearing that same coat now? In a cold, grassy field with the eighth of our nine children in my arms. Hm. It doesn’t seem like an easy thing to make into a poem. But the feeling. It’s a sort of poetry.


I have felt so stretched lately. Pulled thin. A hundred mountains a day to climb and – even with all my ability and focus – only ever able to crest the hill of one or two. I ponder so much over the meaning and purpose in us always having more than we can actually do . . . that does need done; about things that should be “poetry” and beauty – that truly ARE poetry and beauty – playing out in such muddled and messy ways. I sense some design in it. It’s there. It’s there. The beauty and purpose in the exhausting and ordinary and ceaseless demands. It’s hidden a bit. I often feel like I’m just about to catch a thought about it – a light in my mind as to the necessity of life being this way. Sometimes I do catch it. For a moment. And all the frustration, and undoneness, and feelings of failure vanish. I see it. And feel breathless. We’re all a bunch of Gideons . . . our armies reduced impossibly small –- fighting our own daily host of Midianites. Sometimes so caught up in the details of the battle that we hardly realize that we are, in fact, winning. Gloriously. Our tiny armies aided by someone who makes them far far more than enough.


Mette has been so full of demands of late. So much crying. So much she wants now that her tiny two-year-old self can’t yet do. Such a big spirit and such tremendously large hopes and emotions trying to fit in such a tiny, little body that has to patiently grow into the capabilities she so much wants to be ready for. But yesterday, not long after a 40 minute bout of tears and tantruming  over her car seat not having been buckled in the exact manner she would have most preferred, Mette sat with me -- looking at these pictures from our afternoon adventure. She pointed happily to the both of us and said, “Mama and Mettee!” And then, speaking to herself as she looked at them closer she added with such utter, doubtless certainty: “She loves me. Sooo much.”


And there it was again. All the hard replaced with one overarching moment of complete light and truth. Somehow, in that comment, was the whole entire meaning of everything.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...