Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rearview Mirror

Today, Sadie and I dropped Abigail off at preschool and then Mama had a hankerin' for an Egg McMuffin, so we drove to Mickey D's. As we were driving, I looked in the rearview mirror at my sweet, chubby-cheeked seven (!!!)-month-old baby girl. She was mellow, watching the morning raindrops hit the rear windshield. She has one of those handy little mirrors on the backseat so I can gaze at her while she is still rear-facing in her carseat. We love that little mirror. We glance back to see her sleep, look out the window, chew on a toy, laugh like crazy at her big sis in the seat next to her. It is precious to watch her.

Funny thing is, she doesn't know we are watching her. Since she is facing the back seat, all she knows is what she can see in front of her or to each side. She doesn't know that she is always in our gaze because she can't see us. According to normal infant development, she hasn't even yet reached the age where object permanence has set in....she doesn't see us, so we simply aren't there.

Most days, some times several times a day, we strap her into that carseat and she looks up at us with a big grin, now sporting two tiny pearly teeth. We close the car door and hop in the front seat to drive, and we are out of her gaze, so she doesn't realize we are still there.

Today as we drove, I turned off the radio and said something that makes her smile every single time she hears it (it's really the silly way I say it that does it). "Mama. Loooooooooves. Sadie." I could see her little head in the mirror, looking all over for me. She grinned. She heard my voice and knew I was there....somewhere. She just wasn't sure where.

It made me realize that we are always in the gaze of our Father God, even when we may not be able to see Him. We go about our day, too often not realizing that He is right there with us the whole time, watching us, delighting in us. And then sometimes, the noise of the world is turned off for a moment, and we hear Him say to our souls "I love you." We smile...we look for Him...and He never left.

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
Genesis 16:13

Monday, September 20, 2010

Making Home

I have been mulling over the phrase "homemaker" lately. I was talking with an older, wiser friend last week about my role as a stay-at-home mama, and I realized how I really resonate with the old-fashioned label of "homemaker." I have often thought about how the mama sets the tone of the home, an emotional thermostat, if you will.

In that conversation, I also realized that I put far too much pressure on myself. The friend had asked me what being a stay-at-home mom meant to me, and I told her how I feel it is my role to hold things together in the home, to be the peace, to keep things organized. And as soon as I verbalized something I'm not sure I had spoken aloud before, I said, "Wow. That's a pretty high standard, isn't it?"

She said, "And if you don't reach this standard you've set for yourself? What then? Have you failed?"

I was really for the first time having to string together thoughts that had only been scattered about in my subconscious before this conversation. Hesitating, trying to choose my words carefully, I said, "Well....no. I've never (ever) thought of myself as a failure or that I would be a failure if all of those things didn't come together. But I do, probably, mentally look back at the end of the day, and if those things didn't happen....if the home wasn't peaceful, if it looked a mess, if I yelled that day.....I would probably think somehow that the home was not any better off that day for me being there." I don't mean that in a woe-is-me-nobody-needs-me way, but in a a-monkey-probably-could-have-done-this-job-today way.

We talked about the difference between organizing the home and parenting, that Abigail and Sadie could probably give two flips whether the load of laundry on my bed is folded or not. That parenting them is what will remain in their memories. Because here is what can come from a memory....it may sound idealistic, but hey, it's my memory....

One of my very favorite memories as a child was coming home from school one day. The weather was just warming up enough to open up the windows. The breeze was swaying the curtains in the living room, and my mom was ironing. The smell of fresh air and freshly-cleaned laundry filled the room. And there were chocolate chip cookies waiting on the table. And it felt perfect.

This really happened. I promise. And in some crazy way, I have made that perfect, peaceful moment the standard for my entire role as a homemaker...wife...mother.

My friend listened to this memory and pointed out something....it is a good memory. A great memory. But it is only a memory....not a standard. She also pointed out that it is MY memory, from my elementary-minded perspective. It is quite possible that if my mom could have a memory of that day, from her perspective, it could be that she had burned the first batch of cookies, was frustrated with the checkbook, and hated the fact that she was inside ironing when it was so beautiful outside. Perspective matters.

And somehow, mentally, it is all changing now. I am working on realizing that a beautiful childhood memory does not set a standard for me to live up to. I have also realized that I should not take on the responsibility of something that is solely that of Jesus to do....such as be the Peace in our home. Because that is a standard I can surely not live up to. But being a wife and mama who prays at the beginning of the day for Jesus to be my Peace, our Peace...that is something I can do. Working on seeing the laundry and the toys a little bit less, and my daughters a little bit more....that is something I can do. Seeing my husband as my teammate, my coach, my encourager, my best friend, my life partner, and not just my "roommate"....that is something I can do. Telling myself that Jesus is working in me to make me a better Amy, not looking back on my day thinking anybody could have done my job that day....that is something I can do. Or at least, these are all things I can work on.

And that, to me.....for this season of life.....is making Home.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Forgotten Baskets

God is so good at reminders. A couple of nights ago, Paul and I re-worked our budget. That is something you can picture me saying with rolling eyes and maybe a little bit of sarcastic glee inflected in my voice. It was due to be done for some time, as bills and such have a way of changing from time to time. So, at 11:00 p.m., when I desperately wanted to go to bed, I sat down on the couch next to my hubby and the computer with my worst attitude in tow.

We re-worked. It looks decent on paper. Commitments were re-made. Doors of communication that had been shut were opened again. I reminded myself several times that a budget is not shackles on our hands, but rather smart boundaries that create freedom. Freedom to know what we have to work with. Freedom to not have that "uh-oh" feeling of spending more than we meant to or should have.

Last night (again with the bad attitude!!), I waved a handful of cash in front of Paul, saying "THIS is what I'm supposed to get a week's worth of groceries on???" It seemed measly. But we HAD already bought a few groceries with it, so it wasn't the full amount of grocery budget for the week. But the amount made me angry. I wasn't even paying attention to the food that we had not yet used from last week's groceries.

I was frustrated. I went to bed and opened my Bible. And, ha ha ha, wouldn't you know it...I was ready for Mark, chapter 8. Jesus fed 4,000 men with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Four. Thousand. Men. (not even including women and children). Seven loaves of bread. Four-thousand men. Repeat it over and over and let that sink in just a smidge.

But that isn't even the best part. In my opinion, anyway.

They had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then he commanded them: "Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod."

16 They were discussing among themselves that they did not have any bread. 17 Aware of this, He said to them, "Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Is your heart hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?"

"Twelve," they told Him.

20 "When I broke the seven loaves for the 4,000, how many large baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?"

"Seven," they said.

21 And He said to them, "Don't you understand yet?"

So. First of all, the disciples had seen Jesus provide for thousands of people with a few measly loaves of bread not just once, but TWICE. Thousands of people! With baskets full of food left over!! And then they get on the boat, just the small lot of them, with one loaf of bread, and start complaining and worrying about how they aren't going to have anything to eat. But Jesus was still with them!!

They had forgotten what they had seen Him do in the past. They were short-sighted, focused more on their grumbling stomachs than on their faith in the One who provides in abundance.

They are me. I am the disciples. Short-sighted. Looking at the little. Forgetting about the "much"...ALL of the abundance He has shown us in the past, time and time again. I can almost hear Him, His voice tired, yet gentle, saying to me, "Don't you understand yet?"

God is so good at reminders. That is a Word that is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. And it reminded me of what I had been missing.