Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Of Seasons & Sign-Offs

I've been dwelling on the notion of seasons lately, especially as I long for a change in our physical season.  We all seem to be holding our breath here in Texas, waiting, hoping, longing for the drought to lift and rain to come, bringing with it cooler temperatures and the shift into fall.

As I long for that seasonal turn, I look to my own life and see a shift happening there as well.  I have experienced one, full, glorious year of full-time stay-at-home mommyhood.  Now, while I am still primarily a stay-at-home mom, thank God, I am also a part-time worker bee, a writer, and one who is still trying to find balance and healing (in my body, specifically).  The addition of working at night and on the weekends is wearing me down, so something has to give.  It's like a tree that has to shed its leaves in order to experience new growth come spring: I cannot continue producing right now; I must shed some things.

So, I'm signing off for a while.  The blog is being put on hold.  I might throw up some posts every now and again, but it will be even less regularly than it currently is.  I'm doing this to make room for my novel and for rest.  I'm getting much stronger physically, but I still have a ways to go.  Your prayers are always appreciated for that part of my journey (or, heck, any part of it!).

Thank you for a wonderful year of bloggy-hood.  I pray grace and peace over you, my readers and friends.  In Him, Jenny

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quick Hello

This is a quick note to my Soli Deo Gloria friends.  I'm sitting in a quiet house while Lily sleeps and Gunnar tries to unwind.  Today was a preschool day.  He was line leader and had a blast.  As we walked to pick up his sister he said, "Mom, aren't you so proud of me that I was the line leader today?"  I assured him that I was, beaming as I spoke affirmation over him. 

He did a great job today: modeling how to line up for the other kids; delighting the teacher with his pretend play (fireman head to toe, including the princess gloves he put on because they were the only gloves available and, "firemen have to have gloves", or so he told his teachers); playing well with the other kids; and generally having a great attitude.  I am really, really proud of him.  He is learning to love others outside of the little world we call home.

How much more must our Father in Heaven feel when he looks down at us and sees us choosing well, acting well?  Most of you know what I'm talking about: that indescribable feeling of pride a mother has when she observes a moment of her child 'getting it'.  I can't imagine how His heart must swell if mine feels like it might burst out of my chest in that small, human moment.

All of this leads me to this juxtaposition: last week I had two very different experiences, both of which keep coming back to the forefront of my thought life.

One: I witnessed a young woman parking in a handicapped spot.  She had no sticker and was obviously quite healthy.  Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I asked her if she had realized she parked in a handicapped spot.  "Maybe she just missed the sign," I thought.  She brusquely turned a go-to-you-know-where look on me and said with a very mean tone of voice, "I'm quite aware."  Then she continued to stalk toward her destination.  In a sweet tone of voice, trying to control my temper, I replied: "okay, well I'll just call the police then."  I did and that was that.  She saw me - as my children did - photographing her license plate and calling it into the cops.

I later explained to my children why I had done that.  I told them that, particularly because of their grandmother (who is in a wheelchair) and grandfather (who is a lung transplant recipient), it offends me when people choose to break that particular law.  I also told them that, if they believe in something strongly, they need to do something about it.  Last but not least I said, "it's not our job to enforce all laws, but I happen to believe strongly in that one, so I did something about it."

The woman's response deeply upset me.  Why in the world would she choose to dig in her heels over something so insignificant (for her anyway, not insignificant to someone who actually needs a handicapped spot)?  She could have simply humbled herself and moved her car.  Instead she chose anger, rudeness, pride, stubbornness.  It was a real bummer.  As I told my husband later that night, it upset me so much that it actually made me lose hope in all people in general.  "People are so cruel," I said to him.

Two: I recently started working in the cafe at Barnes & Noble, part-time at night.  Although I would rather not be working (instead I want to give all of my energy to my kids and home), I am very grateful for the job.  I'm particularly grateful to be around books and people who love books, since I'm working on a novel of my own.  One night as I was working I struck up a conversation with a stranger, a regular who comes in to read books in the genre my novel is in.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I asked him if he would recommend some authors for me to read.  He said sure.  I only half believed that he would.

The next night he showed up and wrote me out a list of twenty or so authors and novels.  He explained where I should begin and what he liked about each of them.  There was nothing creepy about this - it was simply one stranger doing something nice for another. 

Because I so deeply love books I felt like this was a little tap of encouragement from the Father, a little angel He sent my way to affirm my likes and desires.  And this man had let the Lord use him to encourage me simply by being willing to be nice to another human being.  This small act was so completely opposite from the handicap parking woman's actions and attitude that it restored my hope, my belief that we as humans can choose rightly after all.

I have a feeling God was as proud of my new friend in the bookstore as I was of Gunnar today.  I thank Him for the gift of the kindness of strangers.

(On a side note: I'm published!  I just had a short article printed in this month's issue of Austin Monthly magazine.  Woo-hoo!!!  Another thing to be very grateful for....)

Linking up with Jen and the ladies at Soli Deo Gloria today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Way the Wind Blows

The power just came back on.

It's been off for a whole 24 minutes, yet I've been squealing like a stuck pig, thinking about my new friends in Spanish Wells, Bahamas.  They dealt with their power outages like champs.  Me?  I'm a wimp.

Maybe it's because I know just how uncomfortable life can get when the power goes out.

Not minutes before this whole debacle, I had been singing God's praises, rheuminating on what a fantastic day today had been.  I was having visions of blog posts depicting all the goodness that has come my way today.  I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, running through the hills, breathing in all of the beauty surrounding me.  (I'm serious - that's really how I felt, cheese and all.)

It only took 24 minutes for my mood to go from soaring to sour.

It only took one spot fire in my zipcode (I'm in Austin, Texas, where the fires are raging) to alter the direction of my day, thwarting my plans for a calm afternoon.

It might only take one gust of wind to bring that spot fire right to my door.

I became less perky, I admit, but I didn't become overwraught with fear.  I had merely a healthy level of concern.  As I waited to get more information on exactly where the fire was, I sat down to write a list of the things I would grab if the firefighters told us to evacuate. 

I was happy to find that my list was short.  As I looked around our house, I found that there really is very little here that I can't live without. 

I'm glad for that, thankful that the state of my heart is such.  I worked hard for a good, long season to let go of lots of attachments, actively engaging the process of repenting from any idols I bowed to, and this mini, 24-minute test reminded me of that work.  Work that has born fruit. 

(I don't say that in pride, nor do I say it without compassion in my heart for those who have lost their homes.  I know I would grieve if that happened to us.  I am grieving with my neighbors who are walking through loss right now.  I'm just trying to acknowledge God's goodness to me, how He has set me free, something He highlighted by bringing the threat of devastation close enough to remind me, to cause me to search my heart anew...the gift of release He gave me through the process of repentance.  When we empty our hands of that which we cling to, we really are able to live more peacefully, more open to whatever He has for us next.)

Now, when the wind blows, I won't be swayed by the deceit of fear and worry.  I'll simply know which way to bend.

Linking up with the lovely ladies at Soli Deo Gloria today.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I am not at church today.  No, between the hurricane trip and starting a part-time job, I am totally beat.  The kids are with one of their grandmothers, so Justin and I are sleeping in.  (Side note: I often think sleep is as holy as anything else we could do.)

I guess I need to be completely honest: by "sleeping in" I mean waking up naturally (no kids yelling my name, no alarm blaring) at 8 a.m. (late for me); doing a mountain of dishes; starting the 8-hour long process of cooking a brisket; and then, finally, sitting down to quiet time.  An hour later I think I've finally rested.  A little.

Sometimes I'm compulsive like that.  It normally happens when there's clutter.  I can't stand clutter, and yet, I'm always surrounded by it.  I don't know if I just don't have enough storage space or what, but there's never enough room for the records we need to keep, the scrapbook stuff that's piling up, the information sent home from the kids' school.  It's always paper, isn't it?  Do you have this problem as well?

On Friday the kids and I cleaned out their toys, clothes and shoes.  We purged ourselves of a mountain of items.  It felt so good.  At least that part of our house is no longer overflowing.  I think I'll do the pantry/adult closets next.

Why am I blogging about this?  I'm not exactly sure; I'm kind of rambling.  (This is how I almost always write, by the way...intuitively, letting the idea take shape as the words flow.)

I think this might have something to do with half-formed thoughts beginning to coagulate in my head.  Thoughts about emptying and letting go and making room.  We often hold on to too much, don't we?  I want to make space for Him, for whatever He has for me.  I want to clear away the clutter so that He and I can sit down at an empty table, one at which we can actually see across from eachother, reach out and hold hands.

Linking up with Michelle at Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday