Wednesday, August 31, 2005
“Be that one, Momma,” he orders, in his high, clipped, “I’m getting wound up” tone, pointing to the two-foot tall rocking-spring horse he apparently wants me to ride. “I’m goin’ faster!” he proclaims, convulsing ridiculously back and forth in his effort to bring his steed to a gallop. He grins at me madly. With orneriness in his wide, dark eyes, he then pronounces his desire for my horse, which he of course just commanded me to sit on. He charges at me, insisting I can take “his” horse. “I wanna be that one! Get off! Get off!” He comes at me yet again, no sooner than I sit down—“You be that one—I be this one.” Cajoling at least a half-hearted “please” out of him this time, I allow him, for at least the next half hour, to have complete control of his life. He exploits the opportunity to its fullest.
We switch again. “Ready, set, go! No! We’re not ready yet! Now! Let’s go NOW!” Back to my horse, over to the whale (two horses and a whale—what kind of stable is this?), now squeaking down the metal slide with his damp, sticky, non-skid body. We stop to remove an ant from his sandal, pausing to let it crawl around ticklishly on my index finger, flitting about as erratically as my toddler. Again I am relegated to a different post, only to have him immediately leave the one I just vacated to take off once more for the misplaced aquatic mammal.
We look so funny. Ants. Toddlers. Mothers. Bouncing around from thing to thing, space to space, activity to activity, our paths erratic and seemingly purposeless, attempting valiantly to assert what little control we can over the world around us.
God is so gracious to allow me to switch horses.
Monday, August 29, 2005
The cast has been assembled since July, but parts were not assigned until the players arrived. The Funny One, The Pretty One, The Loud One, and The Fast One were all cast by the end of the two-and-a-half day week. I’m waiting to get my playbill to determine how my daughter has been cast. There is anxiety in the waiting. There may not be another casting call this year—I hope the role suits her.
The Pretty One will be played this year by Madeleine. Golden-skinned with long, sandy hair and soft, heather-green, gold-ringed eyes, she has already smitten Kyle, The Funny One, who has pledged her his undying love by proclaiming to six or so children in hushed, dramatic tones on the playground that she is his “girlfriend.” He will have to take this up with Pak, who has already similarly pledged to marry her, as that could get complicated. The Tough One will by played by Alyssa, who the Director has placed next to my daughter in the classroom scene. I’m hoping this scene will be reblocked very soon. The Quiet One sits catty-cornered from my daughter, next to Taylor, The Rambunctious One. The one that ran over and picked my daughter up around the knees on the first day of school, nearly sending them both to the black-top in their freshly-pressed uniforms and squeaky-clean Mary Janes. The One That She Doesn’t Talk About sits catty-cornered in the other direction, making for an even six when you count The Funny One. (Who probably should not have been sat next to my daughter, The Giggling One.)
I suspect my daughter is in the running for The Fast One, or at least the alternate or understudy. After soundly beating Dominic—her race-running arch-rival—last year at field day not once but twice, she seems like a shoe-in for the role. It is one I would be much more comfortable with—so much better than The Talking One or The ADHD One, or The Difficult One, to name but a few that have crossed my mind. If I were directing, and I am reminded daily that I am NOT, I would cast her as The Enthusiastic One. Lots of jumping and woohoo-ing and smiling—but The Fast One would be okay.
The twelve-year-old cast as her Teacher appeared tentative of her role, but is growing more confident with each very, very long day. Her smile is infectious, and is especially cute when coupled with the deer-in-the-headlights look she wears from time to time. Warm and engaging, you can’t help but like her, once you get past the fact that a twelve-year-old is teaching your daughter’s most important year of school. But I’m assured that she is a very competent twelve-year-old, and I remind myself that everyone starts from the same place and we all had to have our first role to receive our second. I will try to let the Director do his job and I’ll do mine.
And so, I find myself a Stage Mom. Fifteen years removed from high school and college theater, and it is still, apparently, in my blood. I am uncertain what this role is supposed to look like, but so far, I mostly just hang out with the other Stage Moms and do things like go out for breakfast and volunteer in the cafeteria, trying to keep my mind on opening packages and wiping tables instead of the contents of my daughter’s lunch box or whether or not she’s bleeding yet on the playground. I hope the role will become clearer in time, and that I will have the opportunity to grow into it, making it more uniquely mine. I’ve never been one to be in the chorus or back stage—I’d love to work out a little cameo role here and there. Something short and sweet and a bit of a scene-stealer, if only to share the stage with my daughter for a scene or two.
Unfortunately, though, I’m still having difficulty taking direction. That will undoubtedly work against me. On her first full day, for example, my daughter asked to be dropped off out front. Dropped off, out front. After some quick thinking, I complied with her request, then, feigning calm, pulled around to the back of the building, parked my car, carted out my two-and-a-half-year-old, and stood wiping tears at the edge of the play-ground with all of the other first grade Stage Moms. I tried to do my part, to drop her off and go. But I don’t like my part. I don’t want to be Stage Mom. I want to be the Director. I want to call the shots and block the scenes and arrange the fresnels so that my daughter is always seen in the very best of lighting.
It’s funny, isn’t it? I used to want to be the leading lady. Now my daughter is center stage, and I’d be content if I could only direct.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
This has been a week of misplaced things. I am pooped. My first child started first grade, which, I might add, makes six-and-a-half-year-old-girls EXTREMELY emotional. Oh my God, help me. This week she goes all day, every day. Bedtime will be early. Very early.
On top of that, our church has a quarterly worship service called Mosaic, which is put on by the Arts Ministry. We had one this Friday. Guess who coordinated it? If you guessed the-insane-woman-with-the-child-starting-first-grade-the-same-week, you were correct. The writer’s group I lead was featured, and it was a wonderful evening, although the preparations got a bit stressful. What was even more stressful was that, in addition to coordinating the evening, I worked on a project with my husband that put music and images to the Bearing Fruit poem I wrote. We’ve wanted to do something like this again for quite some time, but I have to be honest, as much as I adore my husband, I can kind of see why we don’t do it more often. Suffice it to say, it did not get started until Monday, and the service was on Friday. Pile on the fact that I worked extra hours this week (like as in 10 hours in one day, back to back), and you’re beginning to get a picture of my week. Finish it off with having to have a heart-breakingly difficult discussion tonight with some very good friends, and I’m pretty much done.
I’m a little fried. And a lot weary.
So I open up God Calling for August 25th, because I’m that far behind in my "daily" quiet time, and I read:
A breath of desire and My spirit is there—to replenish and renew. Sometimes weariness and exhaustion are not signs of lack of spirit but of the guiding of the Spirit.
Many wonderful things would not have happened but for the physical weariness, the mind-weariness of My servants, which made the resting apart, the giving up of work, a necessity…
Though My Way may seem a narrow way it yet leads to Life, abundant Life. Follow it. It is not so narrow but that I can tread it beside you.
I will follow the Spirit…
I just hope He leaves me some time to write about it.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I got a B+. Was fine until the bell rang and they all lined up... Only stayed an hour today--tomorrow is the BIG DAY!!!
Keira got an A. She was awesome! But she can't stop asking "What are you going to pack for my lunch, Momma?" Driving me NUTS!!!
Tomorrow morning, I drop her off, then go to breakfast with all the other pathetic, crying mothers of first-graders. Better be sure to take tissues...
Wish us both luck!
Monday, August 22, 2005
So, about the end of December of 2004 I went out and plunked down entirely too much money at some ridiculously large bookstore chain to buy each of us attractive little blank-books within which to chronicle our love for one another, because said love was not good enough for ordinary spiral-bound, cardboard-covered notebooks. We found places for them on our nightstands, a small feat within itself, and we began to chronicle the aforementioned love. Fuzziness abounded and we were very cute and sweet, secretly writing letters to one another and placing them on each other’s pillows before bed. Good feelings exuded from us both, and it was all just very precious.
My last entry is dated 03.29.05. Today is 08.22.05. In case your math isn’t real good, that equals “I suck.”
I don’t know what happened. I could lie and tell you the attractive little blank-book fell under the bed and was swallowed by a gigantic hair ball, which has actually been true once or twice, but you would see through my excuses and tell me to get my little fanny under the bed and dig it out. Which is fine except I’m afraid to crawl under my bed because it used to collapse sporadically and despite the fact that it has been fixed for over twenty years I still just don’t trust it. So you could tell me to send my spry six-and-a-half-year-old to her probable death under the bed, but the truth is that, once retrieved, the book would still be sitting in its same perfectly positioned place on the nightstand, unopened, and her heroics would have been in vain. Which is a shame. It really is a very attractive book.
What particularly rubs salt in the wound is that I’ve recently been sorting out some papers and setting aside letters we’ve written to one another to put in the large box I keep labeled “letters we’ve written to one another.” It is another very precious thing, and is bursting to the seams with old letters. Old letters. You would not believe the number of letters we used to write to one another. We had matching notebooks in college, spiral, I might add, that we would write to one another in and pass back and forth. Five-subject notebooks. Full. Apparently, blank-books were not a hot item in the late 1980’s.
Hundreds, literally, of letters. They read to me almost like fiction, now. We used to believe we were so different. Were we? We were so in love, so connected, so open. People would comment on our relationship—we weren’t the only ones who thought our love to be idyllic. We thought we were invulnerable, immune, inpenetratable. Three years of marriage therapy in the mid-1990’s shot that belief to hell. What happened? Were we really any different? Are we now?
I hate this. I hate that I suck. I hate not being who we were in college. I hate being a statistic. I hate that I have pride and resentment and unforgiveness and fear. I hate that I resist being vulnerable. I hate that time is a commodity that seems to balance constantly in the red. I hate that I procrastinate, that I seek my own comfort above all else, that I just don’t feel like it. I hate that I am paving the road to hell with this attractive little blank-book and all its good intentions.
And so, now what? A new goal? A redoubling of my efforts? More guilt and less fuzzies? Or more fuzzies and less guilt? It was such a good goal. I was going to be such a good wife. And the blank-books, well, I just can’t tell you how nice they look on our nightstands. It would be a shame to move them.
Being different. A very noble goal, would that I could attain it.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Ellen Goodman, American journalist (1941- )
Four days until first grade, and my scale is tipping back and forth violently.
The matching Hello Kitty lunchbox and backpack now both bear her name and wait eagerly by the front door to fulfill their destiny. The school supplies wait less patiently in the plastic bag from within which they first entered my home over a week ago, urging me to likewise label them so that they may finally rendezvous with the backpack and proceed on to their final destination. The folder that contains as many questions as answers sits on the dining room table waiting for instructions to be read and forms to be filled out and commitments to be made. The first-grader-to-be is in her bed—which is an improvement from last night—playing quietly with her stuffed animals and deluding herself into thinking I can’t tell she is still awake at 10:30 PM. The mother of the first-grader-to-be wrestles with her emotions, trying to sort them out enough to put them into words, hoping that peace will come with full sentences and punctuation.
Hope versus fear—it is, indeed, my central struggle. Fear just seems to be naturally heavier—hope appears too light and airy to hold it’s own and tip the scale in its favor. More questions fill my mind than there is room to write or than you would ever care to hear without thinking me completely neurotic, should you miraculously not already. Will the teacher like her? I mean really like her? Will she appreciate her energy and enthusiasm? Will she encourage it or disapprove of it? Or worse yet, disdain it or squelch it? Will my daughter learn easily, or will school be a struggle for her? Will she maintain her joy for life and learning? Will they be quick to slap a life-altering label on her impulsive nature and energy-filled body? Will her classmates like her, or will relationships be difficult? Will she survive the playground, the locker room, the cafeteria? Will she learn the pain of rejection early? Can she handle the lesson? Can I?
Perhaps my fear is so intense because I am aware that the overwhelming love and pride I feel when I regard my daughter has been, in some ways, incredibly hard-earned. For nearly five years I struggled, as her mother, to not only accept her as she is but to embrace her as she is—the strong, passionate, creative, independent daughter I asked for and then was completely overwhelmed by. I adore my daughter. I always have, but now, I am able, for greater and greater periods of time, to enjoy her as well. This place was not arrived at easily—what if her teacher is not willing to make the journey? Or her classmates? Or their parents?
It occurs to me, in my wrestling, that my hopes and fears for my daughter are two sides of the same coin—there is, within her loud, dramatic, energetic package a child of immense promise and potential. Her capacity for joy, her zest for life, her passion and enthusiasm—they amaze me sometimes. Others may not be as enamored. I hope that people will see the good in her. I pray that people will see the good in her. I fear that many will not. And despite the fact that I would lay down my life to spare her the pain of that, there is not a darn thing I can do about it.
The mother of the first-grader-to-be wrestles with her emotions, wiping a tear from her cheek and preparing to shut down her computer for the evening. Nothing will be solved tonight. Four days to go, but at least the scale is balanced for now. Nothing more I can do but commit the outcome to the Lord who was a perfect plan for the soon-to-be-first-grader He loves even more than I do.
I wait for her teacher to flip the coin.
From If...Then by Kathy Gabler, taken from SEEC magazine
Thursday, August 18, 2005
You know the difference between taking a glad, loving, joy-springing child with you along a way, when the child anticipates each direction, accepts naturally each decision as to each turning—and the child who resists, and, rebellious, has to be forced, even though in its quieter moments it may say, “Yes. I do want to go with you. I cannot be left alone, but I hate this way.”
It is not the way, but the loving rejoicing in the way and the guidance, that matters with my disciples.
God regularly shows me my heart through the actions of my children—my son, sprawled on the floor, kicking both feet in unison, tears of frustration and rebellion flowing down over the “NO! I don’t WANT to!” spewing from his lips. My daughter, questioning every command, every request, every directive. My son, again in tears, repeatedly throwing his body against the offensive door closed before him, sobbing, “I want! I want! I want!” My daughter, sighing, pouting, rolling her eyes, talking back to me in her whiney “But MOM!” tone, half obeying, half rebelling in her final response.
I am no different. I am just more quiet about it, tending to avoid the floor.
When will I finally become more mature than my children?
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The unrestrained excitement of a fourteen-month-old placed in front of a living picture window full of colorful marine life and a lady in an odd suit blowing bubbles and making the funny floaty-things go crazy.
The joyful tenacity of a two-and-a-half-year-old climbing on and off your lap and on and off your leg and on and off the ledge and on and off your foot at least 50 or 60 times in a ten-minute span.
The silent, seething irritation that grows as your two-and-a-half-year-old climbs on and off your lap and on and off your leg and on and off the ledge and on and off your foot at least 50 or 60 times in a ten-minute span.
The thrill, for young and old alike, of waving at everyone from the carousel and feeling as if the whole world is watching and waving and smiling back at you and you alone.
The simple joys of life—watching your daughter sink or swim, going to the zoo with Grandad, hearing your children make music, sharing moments with family—and the privilege of being granted them for yet another day.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
It weighed on her like fresh, wet snow—the kind that comes freakishly out of nowhere in the middle of October and completely shocks your system before allowing one more week or so of Indian summer to ease your internal thermometer into winter. She could feel the tension—her boughs bending under the weight, poised to snap back upward in rebellion should gravity (or warmth) finally relieve her of her load. Seasons all out of whack—weather running amuck—life in chaos. Where was the comfortable predictability of winter-spring-summer-fall? But nothing was comfortable now. Nothing was predictable. Like snow in October, life could dump on you whenever it darn well felt like it…
It was the shock of it more than anything—waking up to find herself six inches deep in cold, wet, slushy life. Not what she’d expected. Then again, little was as she’d expected. Life, seasons, weather—was there nothing she could count on anymore?
This was to be the autumn of her life. Golden twilight against crisp apple reds, jack-o-lantern oranges, goldenrod yellows—casting long shadows against the warm honey glow of the day’s final moments. A time of refreshing after a long, hot, laborious summer season, and a time for one last fling in the amber sun and the crisp breeze before winter charged through like the hounds of hell on the tail of Satan himself. She knew. She knew the snow was coming. Life in Ohio had a certain inevitability about it—the snow would be coming. But oh, for one more fair fall weekend…
Big thick flakes dropped one by one onto her branches, each one sticking, clumping together in their not-quite-cold-enough-but-not-quite-warm-enough state, adding their weight to her already bent over frame. If only she’d paid attention to the forecast. But seeing as she’d never trusted the weatherman before, the diagnosis would still have caught her completely off guard.
And what good are snow boots, really, when the prognosis is terminal?
Might as well lob a few snowballs at the sky and let her feet get good and cold and wet…
Sunday, August 14, 2005
A collection of essays by some awesome Christian writers, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L'Engle, Flannery O'Connor, Annie Dillard, Frederick Buechner, and more! Saw it at our bookstore and HAD to have it--I'll let you know how it is!
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Maybe it's because yesterday IS a wrinkle on my forehead. Maybe it's because I feel the tension between "who you are and who you could be." Maybe it's because when they first asked, "this is your life: are you who you wanna be?" it came at the first time in my life that I could honestly and resoundingly answer YES. Whatever the reason, I love this band. I have all four albums so far (fifth comes out a month from today), and there is not a song on them I don't LOVE.
I know I'm not in their typical demographic, although I was not the only thirty-something-mother-of-two there (the other one was with me), and I know some of my more musically elitist and snobby friends (I say that in love) will think their music is too mainstream. But they speak so much of what is on my heart that I swear I could write songs for them were I a lyricist (and not a thirty-something mother of two).
Maybe it's just angst. Maybe it's a passion for life too long ignored. Maybe it's that I know in my soul that we were meant to live for so much more...
Awesome show. If I can figure out how to email the pix from my new camera phone gizmo, I'll post one. Check the group out- they're awesome.
Friday, August 12, 2005
A toast to Dan and Annie on their wedding night. The evening was beautiful.
May goodness and mercy follow you
all the days of your lives,
and may you dwell in the house of the Lord
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Yet I tried for years to please him. I bit my tongue. I restrained myself. I held it in. I tuned it out. I gutted it up. I toned it down. I nearly exploded. I endured his rude comments. I tolerated his arrogant, holier-than-thou critiques. I ignored his rejection and exclusion. I smiled through clenched teeth and I played nice when I didn’t want to play nice. I tried to be the better man. I tried to talk to him about it. He told me he “loved” me, but he didn’t really like me. I tried to forgive him.
He thought I was too much. Too loud, too moody. Too enthusiastic, too flighty. Too sensitive, too dramatic. Too emotional, too excitable. Too assertive, too honest. I believed him.
I spent eight years of my adult life serving along side him in my former congregation. Eight years of increasing tension, hurt, and resentment. Eight years of trying to appease him, trying to work it out, trying to figure out what was wrong with ME. Eight years of trying to be less.
I did not succeed.
I left five years ago, to my great relief, and neither of us has ever looked back. Twenty years of friendship and my best efforts at being something I’m not could not keep alive that which was killing me. I wish I could say I was sorry. But truthfully, I wish I’d left much sooner.
Because I am not too much. I am, in all my imperfect and quirky effusiveness, just as God created me to be. Perhaps that is why the Captivating quote struck a chord for me—I was so very tired of living in the land of disapproving glances and sideways comments. I have refused to wear shame any longer—it is much too heavy for my current climate. But the coat still hangs in my closet…
I must get rid of it all together, and soon. Because, you see, I have a daughter. She, like me, is “too much.” I fear for her. Too loud. Too excited. Too energetic. Too passionate. Too sensitive. Too enthusiastic. She starts first grade two weeks from today. I want to wrap her little spirit in bubble wrap. A double layer. I fear for her. Did I say that already? I cannot underscore it enough. I fear for her.
I fear she will meet boys like this boy, girls like this boy, teachers like this boy. I fear her “too much” will be lost or stolen or hidden or buried—gone for good like the missing puzzle pieces or the box to her crayons or a third of Barbie’s shoes. “Where did the other half of my spirit go, Momma?” “I don’t know—did you look under your bed? Try the floor of your closet…”
Not succeeding at not being myself was the greatest failure I’ve ever achieved. But it was a failure not easily attained. I pray that I can teach my daughter to fail with greater ease—to shrug her shoulders at life and retort, “You know what, I LIKE me. So what if you don’t.” And to really mean it.
There are many things I hope to hand down to my daughter. Shame and insecurity will not be among them.
Mrs. Hillix was the one constant adult in my life outside of my parents or family members—from her unique vantage point, she has watched me grow from a distracted little six-year-old to the parent of one. She nurtured my love of music as if she parented it herself, even when my love for singing began to eclipse my love for the piano. And she poured encouragement into my life in more ways than I could describe in one sitting, were I even able to put those ways into words. I am forever indebted to her.
My own distracted little six-year-old had her first piano lesson yesterday. “I already know how to play the piano,” she announced as she sat down, enthusiasm in her squeaky little voice. “Want to hear me make some music?” And out it flowed, through her tiny, grimy little fingers. Music. My child was making music. I could hardly contain myself.
“Two black ants,” she played on the black keys, her eyes lighting up to be told by “Miss Candy” that she’d just sight-read her first song. Such excitement packed in two little black keys. She carries the book around with her, and she’s practiced four times already in two days—she doesn’t get that from me. And next week, we begin duets.
I get to make music with my daughter.
I can’t wait to tell Mrs. Hillix.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Unseen, Unsought, and Uncertain
I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I've ever met feels it - something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
From Captivating, by Stasi and John Eldridge, 2005
Monday, August 08, 2005
...more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 die every single day, most of hunger and preventable diseases. They die for lack of medicine or doctors. They die suffering and neglected. They die from simple things like diarrhea, respiratory infections, and measles, and they die of diseases virtually unheard of in America: malaria, whooping cough, or Chagas...
What these children really die from is apathy and neglect. The developed world has the knowledge, medicines, and treatments, and enough money to save most of these children. What is lacking is the moral outrage to do something about it. [From The
We sponsor a child from Haiti. Roselor was born the same day as my own daughter, who, to brag for just a moment on her tender little heart, prays for her unprompted EVERY DAY, sometimes many times. It convicts the snot out of me. Where is my head? Where is my heart? Why is it not broken for Roselor and the billions like her?
In case that does of conviction isn't enough for ya, here's another: Global Rich List. Guaranteed to make even ME stop whining about the size of my house and car.
When you ask Me to save you from the sea of poverty and difficulty you must trust wholly to Me. If you do not, and your prayer and faith are genuine, then I must first answer your prayer for help as a rescuer does that of a drowning man who is struggling to save himself.
He renders him still more helpless and powerless until he is wholly at the will and mercy of the rescuer. So understand My leading. Trust wholly. Trust completely.
Depend on Me.
Today’s reading from God Calling, in case you need something to throw, as well.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I look at him across the room, his features virtually unchanged in the seventeen years since we first met. One year away from having known one another as long as we hadn’t known one another. There are mere steps between us, yet we are miles apart. When did the once well-worn path between us become so drawn out and difficult to traverse? When did we start creating alternate routes?
It is not a distance marked with hostility—there is, for the most part, no enemy fire or rebel insurgency. No barbed wire, no gates barred and locked, no armed boarder patrol. Nothing there but orange barrels and detour signs, as far as the eye can see…
One barrel flashes pride, another faintly blinks ambivalence, the battery running low. Another flashes unforgiveness, another self-righteousness. Lack of trust. Self-protectiveness. Nursing of wounds. Justification. Laziness. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of intimacy. Fear of rejection. Fear.
He looks up at me, his eyes still the same soft heather-green that once made me, to borrow a phrase from a client, “all twitterpated.” They crinkle around the edges as he smiles at me—a new development in the last few years. Oh, for him to look at me that way all the time again. To get out the ATV and buckle up tight and off-road it the straight line between our two points, kicking up dust and leaving tracks that cause people to wonder what idiots drove through that field…
Lord, help me to measure distance as you would have me to. Repave the way, sweeping away the sea of orange and blacktopping the express lane between us.
Help us embrace the open road.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Monday, August 01, 2005
George Bernard Shaw
A fresh wind is blowing through my home. Maybe it is the breeze, finally allowed in through windows opened wide after weeks of stifling heat and humidity, causing the curtains to dance with their new-found freedom. Maybe it is the smell of green and the symphony of crickets drifting through that cause my heart to stir from its slumber—to yawn wide-mouthed with an expansive stretch and consider, for the first time since I don’t know when, getting up and getting dressed. I am awakened by the current. Stirred. Refreshed, even. Maybe it is a cool front moving through.
Maybe it is something more.
There is a peace that both stirs and settles—a passionate peace as Eugene Peterson refers to in The Message. It is new to me. Is this what contentment feels like? I must confess I have not been very intimate with contentment. Not yet. But I have introduced myself, and I hope he may stay with me sometime soon. “Nothing will steal your contentment like self-absorption.” Perhaps that is why he and I are not better acquainted.
“Debilitating self-interest” I have unfortunately known much more intimately. At his bidding, I have thrown myself on the floor of life kicking and screaming to get my own way. I have believed that it was, indeed, all about me. I have disengaged from life when life would not devote itself to making me happy. I have bought full-price the lie that my faith entitles me to a get-out-of-suffering-free card. I have complained and whined and pouted and moped and, quite frankly, put my two-year-old to shame.
Yet somehow, things are shifting. In a world of MORE, I am finally moving toward less. Spending less. Eating less. Wanting less. Complaining less. More of you and less of me we sing sometimes in our worship. It is happening in my life.
Stirred, yet settled. I know enough to know this is not of my doing. Just as certainly as I cannot make the breeze blow through my window, I am incapable of such change on my own. God works within me with an all-surpassing power to will and to act according to his good purpose. (2 Cor 4:7, Phil 2:13) There is a greater power at work here. And for once, it is okay to want more.
A fresh wind is blowing through my home. The Holy Spirit has blown the windows open wide, coursing full-blown through my life—giving purpose where I am purposeless and giving power where I am powerless. Changing my heart. Using me up. Enabling me to live beyond myself.
A new front is, indeed, coming through.
 Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself, Introductory Audio Session, 2004