fickled expectation

expectations are funny things. fickle things. falling-short things, really.

and boy howdy do we have much too many of them all at once.

i know i do. did. will have again. unfortunately.

yes, i was one of the many who thought marriage would be something i would be good at.

my perception of wife-hood was one of which i totally thought i would rock. like i rocked those wrangler jeans in the barn days of my youth.

being a wife was something i totally thought i had covered. and yes, this is where i pause to laugh because i honestly thought: 

how could it not be?

how could i not have this covered? i paid attention. every compliment. every seeming act of virtuous wife. i studied it. i mimicked it. craved it. grasped for it. fell short of it. and kept on again.

that is, until i got married myself. and realized expectation doesn’t come in terms of “one,” it comes as a whole flock.

it’s not about having an expectation.

it’s about having expectationssssss. times infinity.

because sure there’s the expectation of the condition of the marital relationship. of how fights will go. or not go.

but there’s also the house.

the city.

the lifestyle.

a thousand little expectations all culminating and merging into one whole expectation of what marriage will be like.

you may not have any expectations for your spouse. at least not unrealistic ones. but what about the environment of living it all.

and in the midst of the reality of my fickle little friend, Expectations, i was affronted with the fact that being a mother would be another time of me falling so much shorter than i ever imagined.

motherhood and wifehood. and all the whimsical dreams of youth now brought to light.

how do we turn that stark brightness off? dim it down a little bit… a little less harsh… a little more dream-like.

Halmark-Card-me… there should be an app for that…

or at least an oil.

oh naive, simpleton, me.

children are the mirrors of ourselves. and our spouses. and you thought communicating with another adult was hard. or trying to understand your own self at times was exhausting enough… *laugh* *cough*

and then you try to lead a child version- understand the child, speak with the child. listen to the child. have patience with the child. and don’t lose your-self to your-selfishness along the way.

don’t take the frustrations of the child-learning into the husband-endearing, and don’t take the trials of the husband-loving into the child-growing.

going from tiny humans to grown human, and back again.

the meter running out all the while on that little introvert battery of yours…

for how do you really truly fill an introverted heart in an overflowing house. city all abuzz and never a moment to breath?

the rush of it all collides against and collapses into you, and all the while trying to catch, and rear, teach and love…

it could overwhelm a person entirely.

too entirely.

but all is grace.

all is gift.

i always wanted to be a mother. i just never wanted to be a city-mother. an errand-running-mother. a life lived everywhere but here, mother. 

i am not the mother i wanted to be. 

i wanted that life of sitting on palettes in front of fire place… reading books, snuggled close. pajama day? every day.

play outside on mountain knoll… climb the rocks… explore the untamed woods… do it all with the nose in a book.

you all can have the city… i’ll take the farm… the mountain ranges… the anywhere that herds of people are not. 

oh, the fickled expectations… if only life always fit like the pair of jeans from childhood. the ragamuffin days. the lay on the hillside, watch the clouds play, days. 

the scramble to the woods. the build a fort from fallen Aspen trees. the days of black and white, and everything fell just right. 

but you see what i’ve done, don’t you? equating the circumstance to the occupation of motherhood. that the mothering comes easy when the life comes easy. and when the winds of life blow hard, the air gets knocked right out of me and i lay down not knowing what to do.

expectations locked up in circumstance.

and everything begins to crumbled right dust.

so i name the grace gift of motherhood.

of wifehood.

of Him being All Good.

of chilled days.

and warm teas.

of log piles.

and Christmas trees.

of fort climbing.

and slide racing.

swing giggles.

wild and crazy.

i name the grace and pray that finds the Joy He gave in this life of mine.

to let it go and let it be… and maybe find a peace for me.

to give up on this grating desire for everything to lay perfect. quiet.

to live the upside down motherhood life- of mothering in the life.

and not letting the living control the mother i am going to be.

to name the grace even when everything seems to not be… as it should be.

 

 

 

 

entry twenty seven

every. single. thing. in this house needs to be put back in its place. and it is all chaos. for all time. For even if it gets cleaned today, by sunup tomorrow it will need to all be done again.

and this time is this gift wasted on cleaning only what has been undone. to redo.

the monotony of motherhood.

and each day it is  bountifully full of wonders.

the girl child of mine seems to learn five new words every day, as she dwells in her world of blissful beauty and incandescent laughter. this bubble life of hers is glorious. and joy.

and boy-child-growing-to-school-age? well, he’s just right racket-balled-smacking against anything solid. all disheveled merriment. and who can keep up with a boy turned wild where those things are?

In this midst of all of this… and I feel weight-of-solid-too-heavy-to-take-full-breath   b e a r i n g   down and   c r u s h i n g   bone. into. dust.

choking on dust.

drowning in the dust.

and the dry of the soul.

The dawn breaks.

It whispers into sleeping child heads of tasseled blondness.

And then hear them come, together, hand in hand, beaming the brightest –  before the daylight even has a chance to break the horizon of this fast in slumber world.

a n d   t h e   w e i g h t   p r e s s e s .

the whole body drags and drops down stairs, one still-half-asleep foot after the other, to nurse a babe. and the mental fortress behind the drooped lids gird up for the fresh brutality of toddler forces. and the day.

Image

and, most every day, I have left Him waiting.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”  (John 14:16) emphasis added

And Jesus, the Son, said that God, the Father, would send another– “another that is just. like. the. FIRST.”

Here He is, the Holy Spirit– one in the same as the Father and the Son- and what do I do?

I quench Him.

The very thing God commands not to do, and I do it.

I find myself drowning in the dust of my own efforts as I refuse to fully submit my life to the Spirit of the Living God.

I am child holding tightened fist and refusing to let my Father fill me up with all the good and the help He has for me. As I cry like the overgrown tiny human I am.

Atheist, Spirit-quenching, child.

oh how blind can you possibly get before you will finally. be. able. to. see ?

To unclench that child-like hand of yours.

to relinquish.

to cup hands closely open

 to drink deeply of the grace gift so. inordinately. good. 

entry twenty one

It filled the empty space and then moved as if it would push through the very trees and barns themselves.

Fog.

And not the eerily, creepy, fallen at dusk and full moon type… No, this was a heavy blanket of woolen mist. And it settled deep amongst the all of nature.

Still. Inviting.

The kind of kindness to light a morning fire and stay all day immersed within it. And there I was speeding my car down the grayed highway- when suddenly 75 miles an hour was 75 miles too fast. 

The pull started strong. And it grew ever stronger. This startling desire to park a vehicle and just race to the center of autumn woods that lined the empty road. To stand in the midst of that thickened air and breathe it deep… into. my. very. existence.

I needed a calming – one to rush forth and hold me fiercely. For my heart was racing ahead of my chest and my head was only slow to understanding.

My thoughts? Those all fog too.

And God does not just give you what you can handle, for what would the point of that be? And how would that be for His glory? So he gives you much and then gives you more and then stands there for you to place it all back at His very feet. And there, sitting prostrate at the throne of the cross, can you begin to see it?

Breathe in.

Sigh deep.

It. Is. Good.

And how the everything can be ever-good, and how He does not waste one single thing? Even the smallest, most insignificant and inconsequential of things?

When the ever-pouring of the day gets relinquished from my hands, poured out at His feet- when the clinging to the cross so tightly sends splinters to the very core of my soul. and His overflowing of all grace-joy rushes through my entirety.

And I can rest in the truth that God is always here. And He is always good.

And the fog, it will always lift up.

Image

“We won’t stop confessing He is good and we won’t stop thanking Him for grace and we won’t stop holding out our hands — and taking His hand. We won’t stop believing that “God is good” is not some trite quip for the good days but a radical defiant cry for the terrible days.

That “God is good” is not a stale one-liner when all’s  happy but a saving lifeline when all’s hard.

And we will keep giving thanks, yada, yada, yada, because giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.”- Ann Voskamp 

entry nineteen

A small step towards healing a huge hurt… and it starts with this. And being able to listen to events take place at a school – and hearing a story that bears similar wounds as my own.

And being able to respond with these words.

And my heart.

And to those who have been here, or are here, or heaven forbid will find themselves here…

This, for the parent. This, to help you.

This, for you.

 

Your world has been turned on its axis. The ground has slipped away into a black hole beneath your feet and you aren’t sure if solid ground is ever really coming back. Every cog in your brain is turning at full speed to try to make sense out of something, to try to put reason into this situation, and to most likely attempt to justify by denial that this is actually happening.

And yeah, I’ve been there. And those worse case scenarios that your parent mind plays out, one of those may have come about in your own household, and every single fiber of your love-strong-sacrifice-ridden-bleeding heart is being torn into one. thousand. million. pieces.

And I try to imagine what that must be like. And you are trying to wrap your understanding around this, and trying to see how a man who earned your trust (and dare I say your love) so easily- effortlessly even- could be capable of doing harm to one of your own…. It is inconceivable.

Oh, dear friend, my heart aches- because, true as that may be, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

And so as you sit and read this, or listen to this, you may be trying to take the next step in this horrendous ordeal, and you may very well be asking yourself, “What do I say to my child? How do I talk to them? How do they talk to me?” And I get it. It’s uncomfortable. It may make your stomach knot, your hands shake, and your mind turn to blank slate status.

(And that’s why I’m sitting at my table amidst chaos of child crazy to write this to you.)

Because at this point you most likely know the statistics, and you are probably going through all the “would’ve,” “should’ve,” and “could haves” that go Speed Racer through your thoughts. As it becomes more real you’ll look for blame and you’ll feel white hot anger that seers your blood and scares your soul.

And what about your child?

And, like I’ve said, I’ve been there.

Not where you are.

But where they are…

And maybe you need this tonight…

 

Dear mom, dear dad, dear guardian,

I’m confused.

A surge of emotions is coursing through this hormonal crazed body of mine – and adding to all of the thoughts and doubts and uncertainties that this world is already hurtling at me faster than I can sort through and swallow.

Shame flushes my cheeks and quiets my voice, and trust is something so broken within me I can’t speak a word even if I could somehow make sense of it all.

So here I am looking to you.

And you may go meet with a counselor and urge me to do the same- because suddenly so much has started to make some sort of sense to you- and I’m glad you are taking this seriously.

and it means so much to this battered and bruised heart of mine that you care enough to pursue all out the best way to handle my brokenness.

but going to see a stranger scares me right to hollow depths, because I can’t trust a single new face right now.

But I trust you.

The embarrassment brings shame, and there are things this child-growing-into-adult body of mine should still be ignorant of. And now I wish it was. But I can’t tell you that– I see the fear written plain across your face, and I know you feel hurt by a man you welcomed into your heart (and possibly our home.)

I wish you knew, despite whatever words are in my mouth, that I don’t blame you.

I need you to know that I am scared right to my core that you blame me. – And that this weighs elephant-heavy on my chest and crushes me right through.

Can you tell me honestly that the fault here is not mine? Not in any part?

Can you just hold me close when words fail you?

Don’t act like nothing has happened and that this is something to sweep under the rug- because I need to know that when I’m ready, whenever that may be, that I can talk to you.

That you aren’t afraid to hear me.

That you want to talk to me.- yeah, that. I need to know that.

Will you listen to me when I don’t speak a sound?

Invest in time with me and give me the opportunity to come to you?

Will you let me know that however much you may have cared for him, you care for me infinitely and un-matchedly more?

I’m sorry I can’t say everything right now. There’s too much I can’t put into words, and the flush in my cheeks and the fire in my veins (those flames of hate), makes it so I can’t say everything I need to.

Not now.

But sometime…. Sometime I want to talk to you about all of this.

But I see you are hurting. And I know your confusion. And I am child born from your flesh and the whole of my being aches right raw to think of causing you pain by telling you all there is to tell.

I am the child you bounced on your knee.

You curled my hair. And read me stories. We sang songs and laughed and we have caused each other hurts.

But this?  This is hard to tell. For this will be deep sorrow that will stain profound.

This will cause you pain, and I can’t say sorry at the end of it. There’s nothing for me to apologize for. I’m not used to sharing a pain with you and for there to be no fix.

But maybe we could walk through this together?

And don’t allow me to be complacent and victimize myself, but help me to move past this time. And make sure you continue to move through this time as well.

But don’t forget that this is now a part of my story, and this will shape who I become. And don’t worry, it will be good.

And yes, I will need counseling. A lot of it. And you can help. My certificate of birth you were given by the nurse the day you labored hard and bore me into this world licenses you to do just that. You can help counsel my heart and mind and bring me to a place where I can trust.

But here’s the most important thing, and it will be so hard for you to do.

Abandon yourself at the Cross. And open yourself entirely to Him. He has a plan in all of this. Point me to Him, while kneeling right alongside of me…

And let us find Peace,

Receive Grace,

And Seek Joy

Together and for each other.

sixteen

cancer.

the word reverberates throughout my entire being. shakes me to the core. like a toxic waste turned skipping stone. like an ocean with an oil leak that stretches vast, and stretches thin those that go to clean the waters.

one word, and it’s a battle.

one diagnosis. and it’s time to fight.

he is the epitome of health. he never gets sick. not really.

doesn’t smoke. doesn’t drink copiously. he even stopped drinking sodas when he was a teenager. (seriously, who does that?) my dad.

he pays attention to what he eats. and, yes, sometimes that means a slice of cheesecake and an egg for breakfast. (but really, what’s wrong with that?)

he exercises. he drinks water. (and he’ll tell you to drink until you have to pee… and then drink some more.) he considers it the best medicine for most anything. – if it doesn’t work, try Windex.

he has taken dance lessons with my mom. and pilot lessons (for flying planes) with me.

he taught me to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Houston. and kept at it as i continued to fall over the uprooted and horridly cracked surface of the concrete.

and i learned. eventually.

he never used shame as punishment. because a look of hurt would hit harder than any form of reprimand- and its affects would last the longest.

he rides horses and bikes (but we all know which is better).

climbs fourteen thousand foot peaks.

sails oceans.

and loves toyota land cruisers.

a part of him is at home on the oceans and another part lives in the mountain ranges.

he sings. jimmy buffet and gary p. nunn. but he loves to abandon himself in worship before the footstool of the King. and who wouldn’t love that in a man?

he knows humility, and understands the folly of pride.

he’ll wake early to steep his soul deep in the Scriptures.

spends intentional time in prayer.

he doesn’t raise his voice in anger. not in all the twenty-four short years I have known him.

and, i could go on.

give me hours, and i could put down attribute after attribute describing the man God has blessed me with as my earthly father.

but how does child take care of parent? and what words of comfort or guidance can be offered from the offspring? and what is my place in all of this?

i am daughter. and sister. but also wife. and mother.

and what is my place in each of these roles?

and how do i trust?

and what do i pray?

cancer. 

so it’s time to fight. to arm the sentries.

let’s,

“hop to it johnny hewitt.”

this chapter is just beginning.

entry fourteen

sweet smell of cinnamon.

And the ripping right raw, the tearing of the muscles, and the kicking out of little feet against the too tight space of uterine walls- it eases. Smell does that. The right scent breathed in deep through the nose can calm even the most anxious of heartbeats.

Painting the children’s rooms these past few weeks has given me a large dose of nostalgia  almost overwhelmingly so. Sent me back to childhood. To family working side by side in restoring mountain cabin. To the walls of fresh color, those fumes overpowering, and thankfulness for how they seemed to finally mask the smell of the rodent urine that littered the log sides.

We were wilderness family embodied during that time- that time when everything in the world seemed like it was at the brink of perfection– the time before I knew much of anything in regards to how great the sin is in this world. Innocence still clung to every part of me, and I was only a year away from being in high-school.

The talk that I hear now sends shivers down my spine. Panic almost suffocates me. Lungs tighten. Heart races. It’s the Preakness Stakes here in my blood. And fear runs me right through. And I want to go back to my childhood home in the valley of mountains. To raise my kids in innocence. To shield them from a world where there is no protection for their ears and their eyes. To hold them close and place my worn body before theirs in this fray of warfare- this battling for something greater. Why can they not just have the greater? Why must this world be allowed to nip and tear and rip away their innocence?

And, it’s cinnamon. This smell that calms the nerves and soaks seemingly into my very skin. And that’s all I am. This flesh and bone and blood. I’m wrapped in a skin and I can’t do spiritual battle on my own.

And then there’s trust. 

To trust in Him who created these children in the depths of my womb and who has guarded them and who has promised His best. And do I not trust His best? Have I not seen His ways unfold and His provision in the lives of so many around me? In me?

To rest in that. To rest in Him.

To rest.

I look at the frozen chai, now melting. And the pure white of the whipped cream flaked in brown pungent spice. cinnamon. 

 

entry eight

The blur of the storm full of thoughts and chores and children. The craving for organization- the pull my flesh feels towards preparing and cleaning and painting and creating a home space where I feel more at ease. A place where I feel as though I am the best equipped to provide and care for my ever-growing family. An environment that encourages entertaining company and stimulates creative learning. A restful and joyous home. A place that doesn’t add to the stress of the everyday…

Every year gets easier. This is what I tell myself. On repeat. Daily. I look back to the start of it all and force myself to see how far our family has truly come. But the knowledge of knowing there is no certainty of what the future holds- that yes, a year from now we could be doing quite well… or my husband could be out of work again.

But don’t you see? I tell myself, Your Father in Heaven has provided through these times exactly what you need. Yes, I know. But I want a guarantee. Something in writing, signed, sealed, and tangible- something that reassures me that these comforts will come in time- that the sanity of mind will be restored, and that it will be possible for me to fully care, clean, cook, and be the model of what I want my children to see.

And there it is, in the midst of paragraph and ink- comfort. How much comfort do I need to feel I can be an adequate wife and mother and friend and sister?

I don’t have a guarantee when it comes to materialistic and worldly standards. But the guarantee I do have is so much greater, beyond this world, and it is one in which absolute joy can be found in its absolute.