Monday, May 20, 2013

Thoughts from a quiet afternoon

Last night the tornado sirens started wailing around 1 am.  I'm thankful for Aaron, because I tend to sleep through things like that.  In fact, I stirred a little when they began, and then asked him, "Are you okay?"  When he answered yes, I rolled over.  Great.

But he, being more awake than I, drug Maggie and me down to the basement.  It was Maggie's first time in the basement - no way will she venture down those scary open steps herself.  (And, no, Dad, we are not going to let Maggie stay upstairs and get carried off by the tornado.  Even though I know that's what you think we should do.)

Today is an afterglow of last night's storms.  A day wrapped in the kind of dim light that, at 3 in the afternoon, makes a day feel long folded into dusk.  Thunder is rumbling low, and I have a candle burning.  Candles + thunderstorms = match made in heaven.

On the job, we still wait.  A couple of good interviews have come and gone, so perhaps we will know soon.

In complete honesty, let me say I am grateful for this season we are in.  (Is there a way for you to hear that without the tinniness of corny notes?)   I was reading from Thomas a Kempis the other morning.  My flesh wants the discomfort of this season to pass - and quickly please!  These ancient words burrowed into me:
                Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.
                He has many seekers of consolation, but few of suffering.
                He finds many companions at His feasting, but few at His fasting.
                All desire to rejoice with Him; few are willing to endure anything for Him.
                ...those who love Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not for any comforts they receive, bless
                Him as readily in temptation and anguish of heart as in the state of highest consolation.

Goodness, it feels weird to call this season suffering, because it is slight.  Regardless of how full the cup of sorrow is, it always tastes bitter to the one holding it.  In this present "anguish of heart" I see a face of Jesus forgotten in the blithe seasons.  The Jesus who sweats blood and cries over Jerusalem.  The Jesus who walked lonely and was forsaken totally.  The Jesus who sees every orphan, every injustice, every pain.

Jesus could have given us that job that pays $10,000 more than any other job currently on the table.  Bam.  He could have.  And I would have praised Him, and then likely picked out new curtains, a new rug, and some new maternity tops.

Please know that as I write this, I'm afraid you will hear a false holiness, a sham of humility, or a guilt-trip because you like material comforts, you awful person.  Please believe that is not my heart.  Sheesh, I wanted that job desperately.  If they called back and offered it to Aaron today, I would do a jig.

What I want you to hear is that there is value in suffering.  Whatever your cup, whatever your cross.  Our God doesn't take pleasure in hurting us.  No.  Could it be that the hurt is a kind wounding, a "severe mercy" as Sheldon Vanauken called it?  Because in suffering, we see Jesus more clearly.  We see the treasure He is compared to the other sticks propping us up.  In suffering, we see the world more compassionately.  There is someone whose heart is hurting worse than mine.  What Paul said was true:  our God comforts us "so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Sometimes, He empties out the house.  We sit in the echoing rooms, and we find that they are filled with Him.  And then...

then we cannot even remember what we loved that once sat in that space.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

He's always been faithful

It's raining today, a light drizzle, but I am glad for it because it's not snow.  It's warm enough again to have the windows cracked, and the screens seem to pull in all that is fresh and lush and full of hope. Aaron is asleep on the couch, Les Miserables on his lap.  (He's almost 3/4 through the unabridged version!)  Magsters, aka Maggie Moo, aka Schmuppy is asleep on her cushion.  It's our day off.  The sacred Wednesdays are about to abort - we only have one left after this, and then our K-Life rhythm is done.  We'll find a new day to rest, but I am a little sad to see Wednesdays go.

So much change up ahead.  Uncertainty.  Open doors, shut doors.  Second-guessing.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.

God has been drawing my heart to Him in such graciousness.  Aaron found out last week that he didn't get a much hoped for job - you probably guessed as much from the last post.  We were crushed for several days.  Our good God allows us to cry out to Him from those places of anguish and doubt.  And now He is gathering our hearts in close, teaching us once again to love the Giver more than the gift.

I'm realizing that how I respond in this situation is setting the standard for how I will respond in other life crises - and I'm sure there will be plenty more if I live a long life.  If I have banked everything on this Jesus, if I have set down the stake that He is all that I have, then how I respond to hard stuff matters.  Not to say that we aren't allowed to grieve or question.  I think we are.  I think He holds us in those days, weeks, years.  But for me, in this place in this story, the nudge has come.  It's time to proclaim His goodness and trust His faithfulness.

And sometimes it is good to realize that the worst case scenario is really not the worst.  We dove to the bottom this morning as we lounged in bed and talked.  Say Aaron gets a job that pays hourly, and we are, by the middle-class standards of our milieu, poor.  We will still have money for rent, food, insurance, utilities, and gas.  We will be rich in love - our baby is coming; my sister and her family are moving in with us for three months in the fall; we are near to my parents and not that far from Aaron's.  And when you compare our annual income to that of most of the world, we will still likely be earning 20 times more.  That is humbling to consider.

He has been so good to us.  Materially, emotionally, relationally, He has truly given us everything we need for life and godliness.  That is nothing to scoff at.  His goodness goes even further: when my heart is stiff and cold, He bends it, shapes it, stirs up dying embers, and He gives me a desire for Him.  To know Him, to love Him, to run hard toward Him.

Whatever He wants to do with these three little Weaver lives, let Him.  We go back to the stake, and we affirm again.  "Yes, Jesus, You are worth it all.  Here we are."

Amen and amen.

Friday, May 3, 2013

When it snows in May

I reach behind the bed to pull up the blinds.  Open my eyes, open blinds higher.  There is snow on our two neat rows of lettuce and snow on Ernie's truck next door, and the ground is a patchwork of brightest green and whitest white.

It is May 3.  The trees have leafed out, and the tulips have come and gone, and was it just two days ago that the house felt so warm we turned on the ceiling fan and Maggie lay right underneath, panting as if she'd never been that hot?

I watch from the kitchen window as the flakes slide big and fat.  Our flat of seedlings straddles the sink.  They're ready for the ground.  This is incongruous, these baby plants outgrowing their small pots while winter rages outside.  Last year this time, we could have grown tomatoes for a month.  This year we wait.

Was it just two days ago that we laughed on our walk and played make-believe?  "If you get this job, what will we save for?"  They felt a little risky, those words, but who can halt the dreams when a heart hopes big?

Yesterday the call came, and we went to bed with sad questions and awoke to snow.

We wait.

What was it that T.S. Eliot wrote? That we hear God in hints and guesses?  The tiny leaves trembling and the falling snow, the baby coming and no job, and we don't speak this language, God.  Foreign sound, this is, this winter in May and a future unknown and void.

David, he knew it too, the mystery of the language God speaks and our struggle to translate.

"How long, O Lord?
Will you forget me forever?"

How long will we slip an extra sweater on when the calendar reads late spring, and how long will provision last, and how long will we wait with no good news?

At the window I gape, as the white blankets thicker and the purple iris by the shed stand shivering straight.

The seedlings stretch toward the light, and I stretch and touch cold pane, the improbable happening before my eyes.  I want the probable, the predictable, the safe rotation of seasons, a plan laid out.   I want to weed the flowerbeds in shorts, to kneel in warm dirt, to smile at Aaron as he comes home from the job for which we prayed.

In May, it snows, and I hold nothing in my hands save 26 words of an Israelite king who wondered what God was doing too.

"But I trust in Your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Among things that shouldn't happen at night

I'm popping in tonight to share an update with you.  It's been a while since we had to broach the following subject, but I'm keeping you in the know because

a) sympathy is always nice

b) the blog has been super serious lately and I think levity would add a good touch

Last night, I was abruptly awakened by none other than...a squeaking sound.  I gasped.  I laid in bed quiet as a mouse.  (Haha, do you see where this is going?)  Then, as if the squeaking wasn't horrifying enough, I heard a little rustling, dragging sound.

I grabbed Aaron's arm with a death hold.  "Aaron!"  I tried to whisper because we had an overnight guest sleeping in the next room over.

"Huh?"  He groggily batted my arm away.

"I think there's a MOUSE in here!"

On perfect cue, more squeaking.  This got his attention.  He sat up.

"Don't look."  He flipped on the lamp.  (Of course I looked!)

(At this point in the narrative, you need to know that in January, we had another unfortunate episode of the R.O.U.S. which first visited in August.  A mouse actually LEPT out of the silverware drawer as my friend Brittany opened it.  We did what every family with a mouse-fearing woman would do: bought poison and old-fashioned traps and sticky traps.  Hence, a few sticky traps are still lying around.)

There, upon a dusty and forgotten sticky trap, with half of its nasty little body on and half of its nasty little body off, was a mouse.  Loudly sounding the alarm for anyone to save its poor soul.

This is the part where I imagine what dire straights I would be in if I lived by myself.  I could never, never, never pick up a mouse trap with a live mouse on it and carry it outside.  You can guess who took up that task.  (Go Aaron!)

"Make sure you kill it!"  I yelled after him as he galloped off into the midnight air.

Of course, for a storybook ending, today I found our dog eating the mouse corpse in the back yard.  Perfect.

Come one, come all, share your middle-of-the-night moments of terror.  Have you ever been awakened by a mouse?  Maybe a snake?  (That would make me feel better...)