Tag Archives: worrying

panic mode.

We have a 3-to-6 week window in which to have a baby.

And to put together a garage sale, and organize/clean/prettify our house and also sell it. And finish construction enough to move into the new house. And I just gave myself a heart attack thinking about all of it.

P.S. I am out of brown paper bags.

Here’s what’s been done to our middle-of-nowhere farmhouse this past week:

IMG_0082

Door knobs, and locks! This is a big deal.

IMG_0055

Actual garage doors. Also big.

It doesn’t seem like much. I am overwhelmed whenever I am out there. Piles of scrap lumber everywhere. Red dirt everywhere. Wood shavings–everywhere. I know it’s all coming together and it just takes time, but I’m losing the vision and I’m getting discouraged. There’s just so much to finish, and so many other things to do in our current house, in our church, and in our community.

Here’s what I don’t get to watch: Caleb, busting his rear end at his job during the day, and out at the property in the early morning and late night hours–mowing, drilling, wiring, hammering, sweeping, sweating…he comes home, picks the stickers out of his shoes, and rinses the sawdust out of his hair. I watch him sleeping comatose beside me, and I know how hard he is working just for us. His dedication is unreal and his energy is almost inhuman. I go back and forth between feeling incredibly grateful to distressingly guilty on a minute-to-minute basis.

This is where we knew it would get hard.

Y’all, this is soooo just…life. At times it’s tiring, overwhelming, and discouraging, especially when we don’t physically see any progress being made–but God cares about us. He is always working behind the scenes.

We sign on the dotted line, in theory knowing full good and well what it should take to actually follow Him–but the experience turns out to be more trying than we imagine. We question His techniques and His time frame, and we get impatient.

God is faithful. He stays working.

Exhaustion sets in. Our feet are sore, and it’s unbearably hot outside, and there are freaking wasps everywhere. We have so many other things on our to-do lists. People around us question. We worry. We doubt. Are we done yet, God? This is not turning out like I thought it would. Will things get any easier? Aren’t you going to help us? Are you sure this is what we were supposed to be doing?


I’ve been teaching my Sunday school class about the part of the Bible where the Israelites keep being unfaithful to God–which if you’ve read the whole Old Testament (I hadn’t), you would know that this is an ongoing theme that pretty much describes the case 97% of the time.

In preparing for the lessons I would ask this question over and over again: “Israelites, REALLY, for the love of GOD, you have your marching orders. How do you keep getting into these predicaments? How is this hard? Has God not told you? Has God not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. No, strong. And courageous. I said COURAGEOUS! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT worship other–DOH!”

After almost a year of studying this sort of business in the ancient land of God, the Israelites developed a reputation with me for sucking majorly.

But after a small season of stress in my own life, I get it.

Bad kings dictated. Invaders invaded. Wars raged. It got hot and food got scarce and there were undoubtedly wasps everywhere. (Because wasps are inherently evil and should be eradicated from the face of this planet.)

God’s people had heard. Some had even seen. They all knew.

But fragile human minds can only take so much–especially when we are not fully leaning on and listening to God during times of trial and uncertainty. We invite temptation in our attempts to do things out of our own power. We forget the basics and make things way more complicated than they need to be. We quickly become spiritually discouraged and tired, and then lazy and weak.

This part of our nature is not anything to be proud of. It’s not anything to coolly accept–but if we’re at least aware of it, we can take steps to fight it.

A wise man once said: “Knowing is half the battle.”

the battle

 

But an even wiser man said this:

philippians ch1vs6

 

 

God is working. He works in the wee small hours of the morning, and well into the scary darkness of the night. When we’re tired, He is energized and moving, sweating, and covered in sawdust, and fighting off wasps. He won’t stop–and NOT so that our little selves can have the house of our dreams for a few measly years here on Earth.

God is constantly working in us, so that many people can have an eternity of Heaven with Him. He is loving. He is faithful. He keeps His promises.

Advertisements

Claiming it.

Here are somethings that make me want to throw up: The flu. The anxiety. Winter. House-building. Sick children. Seeing the trash can roll around in the wind at the end of the driveway. Watching Flicka 3 (kill me now). Cooking spaghetti when it turns out I wasn’t really in the mood for spaghetti after all.

January always gets me down, you guys.

Here’s what all the popular kids do lately:

Work out. Eat paleo. Volunteer. Read real books. Be awesome at your job. Be awesome at your home. Be all things to all people at all times. And don’t get sick.

I’m only barely scraping the surface of our already ridiculous to-do lists. We have an awful lot of responsibilities and it’s the most important ones that make me feel like I am failing at life:

Read the Bible at 5:30 a.m. Memorize scripture. Watch out for the devil because he’s prowling like a lion, but don’t worry about anything because God takes care of birds. Be joyful about everything and have faith because God does miracles all the time. Don’t be selfish. Love everyone but don’t tolerate what is evil. Fight the good fight. Tell everyone about Jesus. Act like Jesus. Talk like Jesus. Think like Jesus. Be like Jesus.

That whole be like Jesus thing is giving me fits. If I had read that requirement in the Bible before signing on to be a Christian, I would have given up before I even started. No one can do that ever in their own power, and not even with the help of the Holy Spirit can they do it perfectly and all the time. I cannot even comprehend Jesus’s patience with all the knuckleheads he encountered on a daily basis, and in my wildest dreams I cannot imagine even attempting to do the same thing, especially on days when I am crying out to God myself for peace and understanding. That doesn’t mean I will just give up on trying to do the things that God wants of me, but I’m human and TRUESTORY: it’s hard.

And I gotta say: I don’t get the prosperity gospel. According to my facebook feed, a good quarter of my friends are planning on 2014 being super-duper in every way, “claiming” everything from houses and cars to scholarships and lottery winnings just falling into their laps by the end of December.

If claiming it worked in such a way, starving people in third-world countries would have food in their bellies. Homeless veterans would have a roof over their heads. Childless couples would have babies pouring out of every room. People dying from cancer wouldn’t be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for healthcare because they could be cured overnight by drinking organic pomegranate tea or some junk.

I know miracles happen. And I know that the world is not perfect and it’s just not our home. But I also know that there are certain things we most certainly can claim: God promises us peace in this life when we follow him. He does not, howeverpromise us nice cars and expensive watches and dream-houses in which to watch “Good Burger” over and over on Netflix.

He also doesn’t promise that we’ll be the picture of perfect health. He doesn’t even guarantee us that we’ll have food and shelter and physical safety at all times. In fact, Jesus said kind of the opposite:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” –Luke 9:57-58

And then again here:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.…” –Matthew 16:24-25

There’s a cost associated with following Jesus and it really should be so much more than the measly sacrifices most of us don’t even make.

If Jesus was undercover among us right now, do you think he’d be hanging out with all the people driving BMWs and wearing blingy jewelry because they “clearly” have the most faith?

Forget comfort. Forget everything that the rest of the world deems important. I can picture a modern-day version of that bible excerpt:

“But Jesus,” said the lady, “Let me first have my own babies and then I will adopt all the orphans like you said,” And Jesus said to her, “Giada has marble counter-tops and her own line of kitchen knives, but the Son of Man has no good place to chop fresh garlic, because I’m too busy sharing a meal out of the trash with this homeless child, yo.”

I may not own a fancy car but there’s a crap ton of stuff I think Jesus would totally call me out on.

For now I think I will focus on this: pointing to and praising God through all my failures and successes;  through sickness and health, and through my victories and disappointments. Whatever happens to me and my family, let it all go to glorify God. And I will go ahead and claim a little something while I’m at it: God will give us the courage and the strength and the calmness to make it through whatever He has planned for us this year.


Religion, Politics, and also The Walking Dead.

Ah, The Walking Dead.

No, really–hear me out.

People–including myself–flipping love this show. It’s not really about zombies.

Okay, it is a little about zombies.

But seriously, here’s the synopsis: junk has hit the proverbial fan. Life, as everyone knew it, changes overnight. Disgusting zombies are shuffling all over God’s green earth and the world has gone to pot. Random people are thrown together–and they take care of each other. They fight against a very tangible evil, one they can quite satisfyingly kill. They get stuff done and stay alive against all odds. (Well, some do, anyway.)

It’s practically the feel-good show of the century.

Oh, that real life were as carefree as surviving a zombie apocalypse! Bad guys would be easy to identify and annihilate. People would have honor. Friends would die for you.

Unfortunately for the show’s characters, things don’t stay simple. After about a year of that zombie mess, there’s still a crudton of “walkers”, as the zombies are called. There are also groups of people who go around bullying and looting and killing, and the good guys have to be on guard 24/7, because the living are just as dangerous as the dead, if not more so.

There’s no zombie apocalypse going on right now that I know of. But I am a little scared for our country. What’s with Washington? Why aren’t those chuckleheads fixing all our problems and doling out the free stuff? Why can’t they see eye to eye on any stinking thing?

Oh, P.S. I had a three-hour intense political debate with my dad the other day. The only thing I’m sure he got from it was a heart attack because my point was a hard one to make.

People, I have no faith in the government. None. I voted for what I truly felt was the lesser of two evils in that last election, knowing that I wouldn’t be happy with either outcome. I hope in the years to come, a noble someone (preferably with common sense) will emerge and run for office…though I am doubtful.

But here’s the thing of it: God’s on the job. He sees everything coming. He takes kings out of power and puts new kings in power. He sometimes also gives people what they want so that they can see what they need–which is Him.

I’m not saying that we should all just call it a day just because God’s gonna do what He’s gonna do. We still have to stand up for what we believe to be right. Healthcare needs an overhaul. Sick people should be able to go to a doctor, right? Surely the army of wealthy, educated, grown men and women in Washington should be able to think up–and agree on–a more logical and more mathematically sound solution than the one currently on the table. Surely.

The system needs an overhaul. Governments should not shut down because they can’t agree on how to spend money they don’t even have. Both parties need to pull the sticks out of their booties because this mess is straight disheartening.

The American way needs an overhaul. Less is definitely more, and bigger is not always better. We have (collectively) become greedy, gluttonous. Lazy. Lustful. We accept welfare instead of working two jobs. We eagerly apply for loans that will take us our whole lives to pay back. We are so swollen with pride over our own successes and accomplishments, and we judge fellow humans who are on different journeys. We lose touch with the One who gives us air to breathe and strength to stand.

Life as we know it is changing, whether we like it or not. We may not be chopping down zombies, but there is a very real battle going on.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

–Ephesians 6:10-18

We are not guaranteed a life of happiness and ease.  In twenty years, Mexico might own us, there will be no gas for anybody and we’ll all ride bicycles, and the government will be trying to brain wash us with mandatory TV programming and Cherry coke laced with mind-controlling drugs that comes out of our faucets instead of water. I will still love God and God will still love me. I will take care of others and I will fight for what’s good. That’s called some peace, right there.

We are not owed anything, no matter how hard we worked, or how thoughtfully we planned ahead. No matter how good we were, what we did or did not do. Nothing here is ours.

But Jesus knows His sheep, and we are not alone, no matter what happens.


welcome to the suck.

I had the *best* week ever.

It started off right with a baby-less due date. Things did take a very promising turn when my friends snagged me away for a morning of pedicures, lunch, coffee, and window shopping.

And then.

Then.

Then I pissed off my husband in such a way that it’s a wonder he acknowledges my presence.

I don’t say that because I want sympathy or I want to talk about why our fight started. I say that because married people mess up. They hurt each other sometimes. And they argue. And they don’t always see eye to eye. And they make mistakes–or in my case, failures. And they lose their tempers. And they get annoyed and upset and sad, and every other emotion that you can think of.

Being married is not always fun or romantic. It’s really, really hard to be a godly wife or husband when you’re seething mad at one another. It’s even harder when you have to put on a smiley face and go out into the world and be around people together, or worse–out into the living room and be in front of your kids together.

We’re going on day 6 of crankiness, snappy-attitudes, frowny-faces, and crossed arms. But God has a wicked sense of humor–I know for a fact that He has fun jacking with me and Caleb. Case in point: yesterday afternoon we discovered that we had lice all up in my house–specifically on me and one of my children. And also the dogs got sprayed by a skunk. Again.

Awesome.

So guess who stayed up until 2:30 a.m. greasing and de-licing my head? Through his anger, straight through his disappointment and irritation–Caleb tenderly and patiently picked nits and bugs out of my slimy hair for 3 hours. You know–kind of how Christ loves the church and stuff.

Pretty sure God is laughing so hard He shot Cherry Coke out of his nose. I’m also pretty sure God drinks Cherry Coke.

It is purely by His grace that the two of us are still married. The short version of our life together so far? 5 horrible years of an alcohol-fueled hell, followed by weight gain and weight loss, anxiety and depression, craniosynostosis and skull surgeries, medical bills and layoffs, 2 lost babies and several royal screw-ups by yours truly.

We are here.

Sometimes it feels like we are out in the deep, deep ocean and the waves are slamming us down under the surface and we’re getting saltwater shoved up our noses and our eyes sting, and whenever we’re able to come up for air, rain is coming down as hard as it can, and we can barely breathe or stay afloat.

Sometimes the waves are just choppy enough to be adventurous and fun.

And sometimes the ocean is calm and glass-like and we can see our toes underwater and enjoy the sunset.

Our marriage is always changing. We are always changing. I can’t say I don’t hope the worst is behind us. Hard times suck. But we don’t call it quits when we’re in a storm–we hold onto each other tighter.

For better or for worse.

….

So to recap, my husband is aggravated with me, my parents will be here in a week, I have lice, and my house smells like skunk. This is real life. One day, when the water is calm again, I’ll laugh my head off about it.


picking stupid weeds

We got these awful stickers in the yard–the kind that are more painful than a thousand poisoned darts made out of jagged razor blades, if you get stuck by one. They’re the worst things in the entire world and there are approximately 3 million lining our back porch.

If you’re fancy, you can get a weed hacker and slice those puppies down. The only problem with that is, they’ll go all over the place and just spread the problem of the stickers.

Or, if you’re like me, you’ll try to tackle each and every sticker–pulling them up one, by one, by one, until after 4 hours of hunching over a tiny clump of weeds, you look up to see that you still have 17 more feet of sticker-pulling to go, and you cry out to the Lord because good gravy it will take a decade to pull them all. And even then, you won’t get the ones that are way down in there, deep.

You could try to ignore them; but you’ll have to wear shoes, all the time, in your own backyard. And you’ll have to jump over the weed patches and you’ll probably still get stuck. And so will your kids. And that makes them cry. And your dogs will try to eat them and they’ll sit there and drool and schlomp and schlack their tongues on the roof of their mouths because they’ve got stickers in their gums. And then the stickers spread and get thicker and thicker, and become highly visable, until there’s just no avoiding them at all ever.

Or: you can take those patches of stickers and face them, head on. You can cut them down and dig them up–all the way up–leaving nothing but dirt where all those green weeds once stood. And it will be bare and ugly for a while, but you’ve cleared them completely and you can start fresh and maybe even plant some flowers or some nice soft grass.

And even though it took a long time and even though it was hard work, you can finally enjoy your backyard again, to the fullest. And life is better with a sticker-less backyard.

Obviously, stickers are sin. Sin sucks and hurts. You can try to cover it up, but eventually it wears on you and everyone else around you. And it sucks the joy out of everything. And you can’t just trim them here and there, and you can’t pick out tiny little ones all on your own. Deal with the sin, because you’re better off in the long run. Even if it’s gotten seemingly out of control. Even if it’s more than what you think you can handle. God helps us with these things if we go to Him. He might recommend a painful course of action. And you’ll get pricked and poked and it take more time than you originally expected, and you might cry in the process. Grab hold of the sin and yank that mess out by the roots. He will see you through it.

Incidentally, we do have a crud ton of stickers in our backyard that hurt like the mother freaking dickens.


(More) Uncertain Times

As wars rage in faraway countries and U.S. battleships line up in foreign seas, let’s try doing something a little outside the box, a little crazy: Let’s….say…a prayer…for our president.

Take a deep breath, because that really did come out of my mouth just now.

And all I know is that, like so many other points in history, this moment in time is meaningful. The government’s decision on whether or not to step into a situation that may or may not be our business absolutely requires our most fervent prayers.

It scares me that we live in a world filled with such ridiculous violence. I hate that I can sound off my half-informed opinion of it all from the comfort of this uncomfortable office chair, while real people–young, old, male, female–are literally ducking for cover from gunfire in dilapidated buildings. Gunfire, people.

I’ve never been shot at. The only times I’ve ever even heard gun shots were at my high school track meets. I’m beyond sheltered. And probably also beyond naive.

A part of me says, “No. Let’s not go to war; let’s not invade yet another country. Let’s not start this.” But another part of me says, “This is wrong. What they’re doing to their own people is wrong.” And still another part of me questions, “Was it really us that gave them the ability to hurt their own country like this?” And most of all, I think “What about our country? What about my children? What about gas prices? Food prices? What about my comfortability? When are we ever going to get a twirly cushioned office chair?”

It’s not all about the United States. It’s just not. We live in the world. The world has 99 unending problems. We can’t ignore them, and even if we try, it’ll all eventually come crashing through our front door.

I don’t say this because I think we should obliterate other countries off the face of the planet.

I don’t say this because I think the U.S. is morally and ethically superior to any other place.

I don’t know what the right answer is.

But I know who does. And I know that His plans are unstoppable. And I want on the side of Him. Because–*spoiler alert!*–Jesus wins.

Would God be on the side of our country? Let’s just say I’m hesitant to believe it. Shall we take a short look at pop culture, perhaps? Music that glorifies violence, alcohol, and drug use. Men who objectify women. Women who completely degrade themselves by grinding on teddy bears in front of a world-wide audience. Parents who let their kids get away with any fool thing at any hour of any day. Teenagers who go on random killing sprees because they’re bored. This is the stuff that scares me far more than the possibility of war on foreign soil.

But let’s keep in mind that none of this is taking God by surprise. This is not the first war in the history of mankind. Obama is not the first leader to mess up. (Can we agree that King David’s whole love-child/arranged murder scandal would’ve had Americans calling for his actual head on a stick?) Miley Cyrus is not the first girl to lose her damn mind. And this is not the first economic disaster we’ve endured (The Great Depression/Dustbowl days seemed pretty freaking bleak.)

I will admit, that although nothing is new under the sun, our current problems don’t exactly point us in a promising direction.

So now that I think about it, let’s pray for our president and our country. Let’s pray for the poor souls overseas who are in the midst of battle today. Let’s pray for the women and children who are powerless and scared to death. Let’s pray for ruined countries and countries headed toward ruin.

Let’s pray for the people across the world that don’t know Jesus. Let’s pray for those who can only think of hate and fear. Let’s pray for the people who don’t know love and kindness.

And pray for your neighbor. Pray for your neighbor’s marriage, and their children. Pray for the single mom walking in the hot sun to pick her kids up from school. Pray for the single mom at work, worrying about how her kids are getting home from school. Pray for the family in the car in front of you in rush hour traffic. Because guess what? If it’s not your problem now, it will be soon. And if it’s Jesus’s business, then it is your business.

And spread the word: You don’t have to be a slave of the world. You don’t have to give in to evil. You don’t have to be sexually depraved and addicted to drugs. You don’t have to seek negative attention. You don’t have to kill. You don’t have to fight.

There’s something so much better, and you are loved.

john 16


Dealing.

I am running again, and it feels awesome. Except for in the morning like before 7:00 p.m., or whenever the temperature is above 80 degrees, and also I don’t like to drip sweat. A little sweat is okay, but leaving a trail is just unattractive, as is the heavy breathing associated with this type of physical exertion. But I do love running.

I’ve cut down on coffee. For instance: instead of drinking an entire pot, I would have only, say, 8 cups. But then Caleb caught on to my little game, and now I’m down to 1 measly cup and excuse me but that’s bogus.

Painting has been somewhat therapeutic, although, to be honest, when I start painting, what I really want to do is just drop everything and everyone else in the world and just focus all my energy and attention to the canvas. And when I can’t do that–simply take 24 solid hours to devote to one painting–my mind obsesses over every little detail that I DIDN’T get to finish. Kids? They can open their own Capri Suns if they’re still up at midnight.

Of course that hasn’t been the way of it. I’m putting my kids to bed semi-on-time. I’m making them drink milk and read books. We go to swimming lessons in the morning and ride bikes in the evening. No one is neglected, and no one is becoming a tortured manic artist who forgets to shower or eat.

Because I certainly remember to eat.

I wish I could explain anxiety. My mind thinks rationally for the most part, but my skin crawls and my blood tingles and my head pounds. And I feel like I have to yawn but I can’t–and then the thought of not being able to take a deep breath makes me try even harder to breathe, and then I really do start to panic because–holy crap–I can’t breathe.

And sometimes I can’t get my words out. And sometimes I forget what I was saying or doing. And I can’t focus and I feel jumpy. And also loud noises and crowded hallways and traffic jams and people I don’t know freak me out, because what if I can’t breathe?

Caleb says that this is the thing that he hates the most: “What do you mean you can’t breathe? That’s ridiculous. Yes, you can breathe. Just breathe. Just do it. Breathe.”

Sometimes my husband knows just the right thing to say. But a lot of times, no. Just…no.

I kid.

No I don’t.

But out of all the people who deal with me on a regular basis, Caleb gets the brunt of my funky moods. He gets the shrill, worked-up rant over the scuff marks on my church shoes. He gets the tossing and the turning at 4:00 in the morning, and the “What part of ‘I’ve got a freaking headache‘ didn’t you understand?” He comes home after a long day to a strung-out, unkempt wife, who cooked burnt pancakes for dinner, and who forgot to buy syrup.

Bless his precious, patient heart.

My friends are awesome. My folks are awesome. And God is awesome, because of course during this past week’s Sunday School lesson, we studied David and Goliath: a little boy, fighting for God, and overcoming a seemingly undefeatable giant. Goliath was big, ugly, and mean. Anxiety is scary. Life is scary. I have to face these things. But God will see me through it, and He will use these experiences of mine for good.


%d bloggers like this: