Sunday, November 21, 2010

where it begins

I awake and the morning is November-crisp new. Pockets of sunlight are patched to the floors, sewn to this first scene of day by a low-slung sun.

I am content, rested, in the peace of untouched glory, for this is glory, His fragrence in me and a sweet chance to spread it anew. I will open this package soon, and the box will spill on its side, top-heavy with the weight of laughter and conversations and scooped-up servings of warm soup around a hefty table. But, for now, the day is a baby, and it is not yet time.

I look around at this still-life. Quiet, and nothing to trumpet in but the steady tick of our wedding clock and my sneeze. The first winter cold has come. There is a mug and acucer and a love note on the corner of the table. I read the note and smile back to him, still sprawled on the bed, claiming over the empty lot my body has left.

Finger slips through the mug's circle handle; I pad to the kitchen and pour in the coffee and a scootch of whipping cream. Joy and gratitude lap their warm waves to my edges, and I stand in the undulating calm. Gifts all round. I am unexpectedly overwhelmed by the kitchen appliances of all things. There is a fridge, and it runs and keeps our food cold, and there is a dishwasher, and though it croaks a scary rumble some nights, it works! And a stove! In the space of 9 feet by 13 feet, how much there is to sing for! Glass jars of flour and oatmeal and brown sugar.

Green plants that stretch over lips of clay pots.

Windows of free light and a lemon apron on a single hook.

The symphony is in concert, and oddly, in the quiet, I hear it best.

I want to see the Conductor in every moment.

The man in the other room, the one whom my heart loves for reasons told and untold, asks me now and then how I am remembering Him. "Do you abide in Him all day, not just in that morning hour? Do you lay upon your bed at night and recount what He has done?"

This sacred space is where I start, but I pray it is not where I end. I yearn for this wonder and praise to last, to see the Unseen Hand behind all the hours that I tred.

"Oh Lord my God, You are very great.
You are clothed in splendor and majesty.
He wraps Himself in light,
He set the earth on its foundations,
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers,
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
brings forth food from the earth,
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that will sustain his heart.
I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."

-Excerpts from Psalm 104

Friday, November 19, 2010

Late Nights

So it's late. As many of you know, Lara is not a late night kind of gal. She'd prefer waking up as the sky starts to blush in the morning (do you like how I am trying to be poetic?). I, however, enjoy a long evening and ease into the mid morning. We've come to a consensus that we both do better if I go to bed with her, even when I'm not tired, and she gives me some space in the morning. Tonight's a different night.

Fondue Date with the Hamann's & Eilert's
Tonight, I played a round of Cities & Knights (Settlers of Catan on steroids... ok, a nerd game but I'm fine with that) with some guys. Lara graciously made some koolaid which was quickly named red drink (we work with high school kids, that should explain most things), and baked some cookies. While the guys devour most of it, Lara finishes up a load of dishes and slips behind us to bed. Our lives are not glamorous. A lot of dirty work, behind the scenes. There couldn't be a better woman than Lara who I would want to live this kind of life with.

Date Night in Springfield

Lara has supported and served me in so many ways. From putting up with a house of guys most evenings, to encouraging me and pushing me toward the cross, to being on her knees for me and with me, to her visionary eyes for decorating and for loving people. She has been a woman who has respected and honored me while I feebly try to lead our home in Christ. I truly am way out of my league.
Hillbilly/Western Klub

I have been overwhelmed by her beauty, her grace, her love. I adore you Lara Elise. May God grace us with His divine love for many more days that we may bring His kingdom into this world together.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cleaning on a Wednesday

At the beginning of our married life, I decided that to be a good housewife I was going to have to get a few things straight. I wanted to be a good housewife; I still do. I don't find it degrading, nor boring, nor restricting. I guess I am not a liberated 21st century woman. I am not only a housewife, and Aaron does not insist that I be one. Yet, I like my home, and I like keeping it well. It is a challenge to me. But that can be another post.

Back to the beginning, when I decided to divide my days up by task. Monday would be my baking and laundry day, Tuesday my cleaning day, and after those two days I can't recall what I designated the rest of the week for. I think I wrote it down somewhere? Monday and Tuesday, though. I have been really, really good about keeping my Monday and Tuesday tasks.

Today is Wednesday. And we cleaned. I know! I know! Today is not Tuesday! We had a lot of great people time yesterday, and I am glad for it. I can't say that I didn't have the itch to sweep the floor when we were sitting down to dinner with our friends, but I didn't. I didn't sweep in the middle of dinner. With company.

Today, (Wednesday, remember?), being that I am married to The Most Incredible Man, he helped me clean. He did the dishes while I dusted and swept. Then he vacuumed.

It was rainy and cold outside, but our little house was warm, the heat buzzing out the vents and an autumn candle burning its last few inches. When the dustrag and I got to the living room corner, I recognized how beautiful it all was. There was frost in-between the inner and outer panes of glass, and the trees stood naked, which I do like better than full coats of summer. There was Pandora playing from the computer, a perfect playlist of mellow, lyrical music, JJ Heller and Sufjan and Jon Foreman. My husband gets to work from home, and we get to work together, whether that be in the lives of teenagers or in piles of dishes and dustbunnies. My heart was full.

P.S. I completely endorse the use of Method Wood for Good cleaner. It's natural, and it smells nice.

Monday, November 15, 2010

dreams that will last

It is the quiet night that I dread but so desperately need. Aaron off to watch some KU basketball, and I, invited but certain it will not be the salve that this scraped up heart calls for, stay behind.

Set Copco the Kettle on the burner and wait for the whistle. Lock the back door, lock the front, try to not listen to the irrational fears that beg a hearing when there's a bump and thump. "Is that the house settling or the crazy guy that lives a street over?"

A wafting-steam cup of spearmint tea, and I am here, on the couch. In the solitude. In the quiet. In the space where miracles happen, where God's voice is heard when other sounds are not. My pastor said on Sunday that we are afraid to be alone. Am I?

After dinner I went to a concert at the college here in town. A girl with a low, beautiful voice sang songs of light and dark and coming home to hope. I felt like I could see the sky, and my insides were like preserves of stored-up dreams, canned in Ball jars on damp basement shelves. Things long forgotten. "Can I open them up again?" I thought. "What do I have to clear the table of to make room for those potent dreams and visions?

All day today I have been wondering if I picked the right color for my dining room buffet. It was a four dollar garage sale find, gifted to us by my parents, and I have been wanting to paint it for months. The fall was warm, uncannily so, and I took the weather as a sign that the time was ripe to paint that darn buffet. I picked green. Dry Basil, and as soon as that basil was dry, I told Aaron, "I think this is not what I envisioned."

Was it wrong to paint my buffet? I hope not. Is it wrong to buy new oil-rubbed bronze drawer pulls to snaz it up a bit? Maybe. Is there a problem when items of this small magnitude overwhelm my energy and devotion in a day? I think so. There are a finite number of thoughts I can think in a day, a finite number of minutes that I can fill with thoughts. I think I used to fill them with more substance. Those sealed up jars.

Tonight, in a dim room, I ask again. God, give me your heart. Fill me with your dreams and visions. Pour out your Spirit. Show me the things that matter, the things You want me to give my life to, the things that will advance Your Kingdom and make You famous.

I can only do this life-gift once. And I won't be taking the buffet into the next one...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

many small treasures

As I write this, Aaron is asleep on the couch next to me. It's almost midnight in Central Standard Time, and this scenario is an odd one for us. I'm usually the one begging to go to bed. At 9:30. But tonight I had a project to work on, and now I'm on a staying-awake roll, so why not just capitalize on a very rare feeling and churn out a blog post?

Life has been full of many small treasures lately. Perhaps I am rounding a corner on the contentment path, finding a new leveling-out after jaunting off to Colorado and returning to normal life. It is good. I am filled with joy at the simplest things. Praise God who has put this joy in my heart and given me a growth-spurt of the thanksgiving list.

In no certain order, a few of the treasures of this season:

Packing this many people (and a few more you can't see behind me) into our dining room for a pumpkin-carving extravaganza. The fun night happened to correspond nicely with our timing to strip, sand, and refinish our dining room furniture. See, hon? There is a silver lining. So much empty space for pumpkin guts and seeds to fly and for creative minds to let loose.

A selection of the great pumpkin faces that came out of that creative shell of a dining room.

Playing in the leaves with this beautiful girl. I believe she told Aaron that she would hide under the leaves, and he would sit on her because she was an egg. Aaron (gender disregarded), would be the hen that would bring her cracking out. To which Aaron replied, "I think that would hurt you." To which she scrunched up her nose and said, "Yeah, but I'm berry brave."

Don't forget playing in the leaves with this little booger. Who does not quite claim the bravery of his older sis yet and finds being thrown in the pile a little disconcerting. But you wouldn't know it from this face.

Mini pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins. Is one allowed to eat these for breakfast? Just call it a muffin and it's got to be okay. And I'm 26, so I should be able to decide what I'm going to eat for breakfast. I want these. They taste amazing. They taste like fall. How does a muffin exceeding no more than 1 1/4" in diameter encapsulate all of fall, you ask? I don't know. But believe me, and then go google a recipe and make some of your own.

Gerbera daisies that are STILL blooming! Thank you, mild fall. I like this arrangement we have. Warm enough that my flowers don't freeze and I can run in shorts, but chilly in the mornings and nippy at night.

Dates with this blue-eyed cutie. We are okay with most of our dates ending up at Chick-fil-a. We always try to explore our other options, but the waffle fries and tender chicken patties lure us back every time. The Chick-fil-a sauce is a draw too. And the nice cashiers that always say, "My pleasure." Makes me feel good about eating so many waffle fries. Yes, you're right, Mr. Cashier Man. It is a pleasure!

What treasures are you collecting in your days?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Light and Dark

The image of light and dark as a metaphor for life has always intrigued me. My mind's illustration of this metaphor never fails to thrill me: a dark, dark, dark room. Black in the blackest way possible, so that you cannot find your way to the door. Perhaps there is a door, but you do not know. There is no way to know. You have been in the dark for so long, and it is familiar. Comfortable, even, because you have grown used to the maddening shroud. But for all its comfort and familiarity, it is not right. And you feel in your heart that there is something more than all the dark. Suddenly light! Blazing is this light, and all the corners that you knew only from bumping around are clear. The light has overcome the darkness, and there is no cranny left blind.

Jesus loved this metaphor too. He was and is and will forever be the metaphor, the light that makes sense of all the insensible darkness. Nicodemus came to Jesus during night, in curiosity muffled by secrecy, and Jesus told him:

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light..." -John 3:19-21

There it is. The wrestle that will endure til world's end. Light has come, yet the shadows are comfortable. Light illuminates. Darkness hides. Light means change. Darkness means we can do whatever we well please.

How desperately I want the light for those I love. I am not a saint. I do not live in the light every moment of every day. The struggle rears and thrashes in me too -- retreat to the dark or come out into the light. But I have seen the light. Caught the heart-rending glimpse of the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Christ, the image of the invisible One, the radiance of God's glory.

He is the only Light I have found as Hope for the darkest hollows of this Earth.

In the slums of Kolkata, where women must sell their bodies and children beg for pennies.

In the anguish of a wife whose husband has left her for another.

In the slumped shoulders of a sixth-grade boy, whose heart is a chocked-full pot of hurt and rejection and bitterness.

And now, in the life of my young friend, who was born into a poverty I have never known, whose daily rhythm is the beat of fighting and discord and anger and lies.

I ache for her to find the Light. I pray that she will grow sick of the Dark. That she will realize she can move out of that neighborhood and into the place of Christ's presence. I do not know the depth of the dark wells she inhabits, but I imagine from the patchwork pieces of her story she spreads out before me. I want that blaze to break over her black room, and I want her to never be the same.

There is so much darkness, it is true. But oh! Is there not so much light, more than we have dared to believe?