Saturday, May 26, 2012

a mess

I am on chapter four of this book and it's messing me up.

I've cried at least three times.  I'm not often moved by literacy, people.

My husband has, from the day we moved to Peoria and even some time before, desired for us to not be confined by our "stuff."  With the spirit prompting him, we sold nearly everything we owned to start our residency journey here in Peoria bare bones.  In so many ways this was a rebirth for us, a chance to start a chapter of living that took all the learning of the previous four years and applied it whole heartedly.  We moved into an empty house with a pledge to buy nothing new except a mattress for our bed (back issues *ugh*).  We found a dining table for $10 at Salvation Army, painted it and made it perfect.  A very new friend GAVE us her sofa.  God provided and for that first year we bought used.  We were even given a CAR for Corey to drive to work by our sweet neighbor.  It was an amazing year.

Then desire crept in.  I started wishing my kids could "dress better", wishing for a more "put together" home and I felt my heart creeping away from this desire to live intentionally, to give away and forget about getting.  I forgot.

And now here enter 7.  This book, ironically enough written by a woman leading a new church in Austin, TX, my home of homes, is a "mutiny against excess."  It makes me feel ashamed for all the things I've wanted.  For all the ways I've dreamed of a "better" future when Corey is done with his training.  I mean, when is it enough?  When I've exchanged my stained, hand-me-down couch for something pretty, will I be done?  Will I be happy?  There is ALWAYS one more thing to change, to better, to want. The best is NOW, how easy it is to let that slip away.  Jen Hatmaker writes, "Money is the most frequent theme in Scripture; perhaps the secret to happiness is right under our noses.  Maybe we don't recognize satisfaction because it is disguised as radical generosity, a strange misnomer in a consumer culture."  I read it and all at once I wonder, if my life was looked upon with the volume off, what would be seen?  Would it be evident that I live to please God, imitate Jesus?  So many of us talk a good Christ talk, but without the sound, would it be known where our hearts lie?  It matters little what other people see when they look in on me, but God sees it too.  Clearly.

So.  A recommitment.  My children will know that I am a passionate Christ follower not because I go to church and read the Bible in addition to a slew of other religious material.  They will know it because we live it together.  I will stop making them an excuse for not having my heart wrapped up in the poor, the marginalized, the hurting and hungry.  There are little things we can do together.  Little things I haven't done out of fear.

Now it starts.  This summer, I will invite the lost children of our neighborhood, the ones who wonder around aimlessly outside, I will invite them into our world.  We will have neighborhood slip'n'slide parties, show movies at dusk on our garage, feed popcorn to kids who may eat little now that school is not in session.  Oh spirit, help me know how to begin.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Today is my mother's 65th birthday. She can officially claim social security and medicaid and cash in on all the "great" perks our country has to offer to those who have managed to survive the perils of the standard American diet. I called her today as I drove away from sleeping babies, husband internet searching for camping gear. I wished her happy birthday and we chatted mostly about her abundant garden and what a great father my children have. I love that she loves that. She respects him and our life together and that matters to me. I hope that in a few years we will be in a place where I can take my mom on a great nature-filled vacation. That we can see sights she's always yearned for and that we can walk trails and admire wild life and just be. I've wanted to be able to do that for her for a long time. It being just within reach makes me ache for it every May 11th. Each year makes time seem more fleeting. Parents don't live forever, a fact that is both natural and painful to admit. In June she will drive the infinite roads of Texas to reach us in our little Illinois space. My children will love her and beg for her time and after a day or two she will grow tired from it. Their energy will both bring her joy and make her weary and she will move on to visit others for a day or two. She doesn't land long, but I'm glad she carves time, makes memories, drinks coffee and is content to just be. She is a woman of no pretense, little needs, content to simply be in the same room. Togetherness is simple with her, her silence is silence, no undercurrent. It has taken me thirty years to learn that, to not shrink inside my own insecurity. I am proud of who this woman is. I am proud of who she is able to become in her retired years, the woman she likely always wanted to be but couldn't manage the time, the energy. I love telling friends that she likes her solo life, that her garden is her new family and she grows it beautifully. Unlike some mother-daughter relationships I don't call her for parenting advice or tips on marriage. I "facebook" her random questions about gardening, growing seedlings, collecting rain water. I like this, it suits us. We don't have to talk often, we know the other is there. We know we need each other is different ways, we know things will always be familiar and pick up where they left off. We keep up with the ins and outs of daily life through photojournalistic social media posts and it is sweet and more than enough. Our relationship is quirky and different and not fitting into any mold I may have had and I am just fine with that. Just fine.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I can't stop thinking about stuff. Not wanting more stuff but instead, desiring to not care about stuff, and what that looks like. How far does one go in either direction and still justify selflessness, righteousness, living as a good steward?

When I talk about life, our situation, with most people there is an immediate jump to "but it will be great in a few years!" or "the pay off for all this hard work will be so worth it!" I agree with these things yet when I think of our future, of the change in our earnings, I feel fear, I feel anxiety, I feel the weight of what it means to be good with very little and to be great with very much. Right now, I feel rich. I live in a home, drive a newish car, have clothes to wear and bags to pack and children who have luxury in addition to satisfied needs. I have extra to give to others with needs, desires. This is enough for me and in this life I love that I am able to relate to others, there is no jealously, no pretension between hearts. We are all struggling together, we are all looking to fill our lives with love and goodness and deeds that bring those things to others. The people that matter most to me don't live their lives to acquire the best stuff, even if they can "afford it."

I never want to be that person who cares about the best stuff.
I used to be that person.
It was empty.

So where, in the circle of the Jesus followers, is this line to be drawn? For those who have an abundance is it a sin of the heart to keep buying, to keep filling up your home with pretty things, to clothe in trends, to purchase new vehicles or electronics or things that are not needs but rather just modern conveniences that make a strenuous life a little less so? Does feeling peace about a big purchase make it right? How much of our blessings should be shared? Saved? Invested? These thoughts are so fast and furious and covered in emotion for me and our 3 year prospects that I am overwhelmed.

I just want to live well.

I never want stuff to come between hearts. To change a person's respect for me, my husband, to garner disappointment, to be looked upon by all glaring eyes of disparagement. I want every choice we make to be a living sacrifice, I want to give more than I take, share more than I get. I want to use old, and give new. I burn for the Jesus way.

So for me, right now, it comes down to this.

What will I allow to fill me up?