Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dancing in the Storm

Having lived, for many years, in Savannah, Georgia, I know my way around hurricanes.  I've weathered tropical storms, heard the stories of tragic storms of the past, and evacuated for hurricanes that ended up hitting South Carolina or Florida instead.

Being hit with Irene's fingers, here in south-central Pennsylvania. . . it was a different perspective.

A mild earthquake a couple days before caught my attention.  The rumbling under the chair, moving me about like a small boat on a rough sea was hard to ignore.  Not tragic, but hard to ignore.

And then, just a few short days later, we sat outside and watched her wave.

My husband led us in clearing the yard and securing our outdoor toys and furniture.  Then we stood and watched.  Having always been busy helping to board up windows or pack treasured goods and sit in a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic in past hurricane experiences, I was amazed when I finally got to see what the storm looked like.

Dark clouds, so many you could hardly see sky, quickly spinning in a south-west arc.  It was amazingly beautiful.  And when my three year old daughter looked up at me, so concerned, wondering what my response to these scary clouds and rough winds would be. . . I picked her up and danced.  We danced with the trees. 

God is awesome, His creation is awesome; and in the midst of natural disaster - earthquakes and storms - it is impossible to turn a blind eye to His power and sovereignty.

So, why live in anxiety and worry that the ground will open up and swallow me whole or that the wind will wreck our home or floods destroy our belongings?  God's creation belongs to Him; I belong to Him.  He will do as He pleases, and I can sit in anxiety and panic or I can sit in holy fear as I watch the beauty of it all.

* Watching Irene's farthest reaches.
* Dancing with 3yo and the trees.
* Cold windy wetness reminding me of years of coastal living.
* Family - staying in touch, letting eachother know all is well.
* A night spent in prayer.
* Church the day after the storm.
* A sermon I needed to hear.
* Precious baby smile and talk.
* Garden in shambles. . . but nothing worse.
* A chance to help a friend with a sick child.
* Every north east family member safe and accounted for.
* "Mom, I like you."
* 3yo morning giggles.
* Garden time - picking up the pieces.
* Sunflower heads hanging with grape vines.
* Lots of hot peppers. .  . to do what with?
* Father-son outing after a tough 8yo day.
* The color of grape jam on toast.
* Seed catalogues - eye candy.
* Big sister reading aloud to little sister in bed.
* The way they look when sleeping so peacefully.
* Playful teasing with husband.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Post-In-Law Slump

They came.

And you just never know what to expect when they come.

I always expect the worst and occasionally enjoy the surprise of a fun visit with no confrontational letters later.

But I knew this time; I could tell.  Just two days in and she was frazzled, and he was rescuing her as well he should.  The next day political spats began and came to a teary climax the next morning.  And that afternoon the daggers shot from eyes and words began to me murmered under breath and "going home early" was overheard.

I stayed buried the whole time in the protection of a good book.  But I knew. . .  They were leaving and the letter would come - the letter that would trip me up and land me on my backside, hard on the ground, sore and shaken.

They left early on Sunday morning.  We spent the day relaxing, recovering. 

And then it came that night, after promises of no hate or anger or drama - the note.  She must have written it as soon as she got home and then pushed the "send" button before we could even get in bed for the night and sleep peaceful.

A tyrade of anger and rage, it questioned my parenting, my faith, my homemaking, my integrity.  Everything from false accusations pointed at my children to criticism of my reading all week. . .  I knew in my heart that it was all wrong - all an attempt to make me cry, make me grovel, make me apologize for nothing I did wrong. 

But my head kept telling me there was something to it.  And, as always, I gave into the guilt.  My stomach knotted and my eyes burned in secret moments over laundry, in the shower, in the dark in my bed.  I didn't want anyone to know; didn't want to make the situation any more horrible.

How do you recover from that?  How do you pull yourself out of the pit made for you by someone close?

You look to God for the lesson in it all:  Be content with what you have, where you are, who you spend the moments with.  Because lack of contentment and joy-in-the-moment lead only to bitterness and a biting tongue.

And then you sit back contented in the place He's placed you.  You look around and find the joy-moments, the love notes from God worth oh so much more than the hate mail in your in-box.  You let Him hold you with each moment and rest in His grace which is greater than every real and imagined short-coming.

* 3yo in a cowboy vest hand-stitched by my Mother-in-Law.
* Seed shopping with my kids at a local farm store.
* Bees on smiling sunflowers.  Resident monarch on the zinnias.
* Laughing with my chidren.  Laughing with my husband.
* 3yo gripping a lollipop in a tight fist - eating slowly, one lick at a time.
* Slurping noodles - big smiles and laughs.
* Bright striped pants and polka-dotted shirt with blue Mary Janes - a look only a kid could pull off.
* Blanket forts in a tree.
* Small, sweet tomatoes from the garden.
* Easing a younger mom's mind.
* 3yo:  "I want you. . . mom. . ."  and  "Is that the cross God died on?"
* The serene scent of a book.
* Sweaty bare toes in sand.
* That I always have a choice in how I react.
* A purple pepper found in the garden.
* Cherry tomatoes:  "These tomatoes are making me happy, mom!"
* A second small crop of tomatoes.
* Falling asleep to cricket-chirp and waking to bird-song.
* The sound of the wind.
* Watching 7yo create, thought to paper.  And coming to understand her a little better.
* Warm, moist kiss on my forehead.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Remember He Provides

The Lord provides!  Rest in the midst of pain. . .  Friends in the loss of family. . .  A quiet place in a crowded yard. . .  A reminder of how much He's blessed and continues to bless - lest we ever forget.

* Health through the night. . . why do I fear?
* Psalm 91 - memorized - and such a help to my anxious soul.
* Hummingbird in my garden!
* Sun-speckled leaves.
* Cool shadowed spots on the asphalt - relief to summer feet.
* Shady spots under bushes and trees, just perfect for hot puppies and cats.
* Every individual mother - each one different in some way, many ways.  I see that finally.  Lord, help me to show this lovely, liberating reality to other young moms. . .
* Open windows, if only for one day.
* Knowing I'm a newbie gardener and not the first to make these newbie mistakes.
* A possible solution and plan.
* Headache relief.
* Feeling decent after not falling asleep till after 3am.
* A good morning after a rough night.
* A broken possession: reminder of what's really important.
* The crunch of walnuts.
* Eebee
* Butterflies on zinnias. . . the big monarch that lingers.
* Mom on the phone.
* A better day - much better.
* Kids excited, counting down days, hours.
* 3yo smiles.
* An exhuberant 5yo Happy Birthday!. . . a day early.
* A great friend who loves my kids - their pseudo-grandma.
* A BBQ full of strangers that wasn't so bad. . . quiet corner found.
* Time alone to dig for book treasures at a thrift store.
* Baby grass.