Thursday, August 8, 2013


I've been using the analogy of a garden. 

But I was just reminded this looks a whole lot more like a fight.

The highlight reel plays before my eyes, except this one doesn't depict all the good memories.  Lights flash and I remember horns hocking and glass shattering.  I remember sitting in parking lots and praying for courage to go inside.  Of being shaken.  Of standing toe to toe, quite literally, praying I didn't blink.  Of walking in and finding confusion and bewilderment and not being brave enough to say out loud what needed to be said.

I am reminded of this, this afternoon, as Satan tries to have a field day with mine and Judah's future.

And I am overwhelmed with the sound and impression of heavy doors slamming shut, bolts locking.  Claustrophobia kicks in as I can't imagine my way out.  I can't fabricate an escape route.


Good stories always have a "but".

I've mentioned this before, I'm not sure it's a wildly popular concept.  But lots of you are in love with the crucified Jesus.  The battered, beaten, sacrificed Jesus. 

But I've always said, from the moment I met Him, that was not the Jesus I knew.  Today I'm reminded of this as I sit down and pray that Jesus would do what I cannot.  I count on, love, trust, expect a Jesus who's really dirty, who loves little children, and who fights like hell.

So I've asked for doors to be thrown open and for room to be made and for provision, protection.  The whole freaking gamut. 

Then I saw Him.  As soon as I took the time to ask.

And don't you know He kicked the damn door down.

I don't really know what happens from here.  But I'm holding onto that image for dear life. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

new locks

Yesterday was one of those bad days.  The sad days, when the road you're taking makes a sharp left and you're left staring at the brick wall ahead... or the plummeting cliff.  Unaware the path has changed direction.  It feels like a dead end.  Like an immovable obstruction, obstacle, perilous fall.  All in your way. 

But in time, you always realize, you just have to move your feet.  It's still winding and confusing and it's still not so hopeful.  But it's not the brick wall, not the cliff anymore.  It looks a little bit more like cooking dinner and messy applesauce and damn if it doesn't look like one hundred body weight squats at the gym and $4.99 drapes from Ikea. 

I guess I don't really know what happened.  Actually.  No wait.  I do.

Judah and I were sitting in the funny doctor's office waiting room.  And he was snuggled up in my lap playing with a dinosaur I know had yucky germs on it.  We were one of funny doctor's first patients, almost a year ago now.  They know us by name.  They love my little, brown boy.  So when we walked in, they asked about his ears, and they squeezed his cheeks.  Then.  I let him walk.  He toddled around the office and I just beamed with pride.  Funny nurse kept looking at his chart, marveling at how this ten month old was moving so quickly.  He got to stand on the big boy scale to get weighed. 

And when we went into the examination room, I took his little shirt off and there he sat in my lap.  All 26.6 pounds of him.  Each time a stranger came in the room, he would tuck his shoulder in my armpit and rest his cheek on my collarbone.  This is new.  My boy isn't shy, I didn't think.  But here we are, and he's being bashful.  I am his safe place.

Also.  I was right. 

He has an ear infection. 

Good call, mom, Funny doctor said. 

Of course, this morning I woke up with a cold too.  After wrestling with Judah to take his pink medicine and falling asleep to Shark Week and wishing he would walk through the door. 

But you know the other thing that happened was I got a quick faith check.  A gut check, if you will.  It doesn't happen often because I'm surrounded by people who are at a higher caliber of righteousness than I am.  And that doesn't challenge me.  Not a bit.  What challenges me, what measures my faith, is when someone else doubts. 

I may live in a gray world where sometimes I haven't a single clue what's going on.  Is it right or wrong?  Good or bad?  (Usually the only definitive question is whether or not something is wise or foolish, but then again...)

When I hear someone say, out of the hurt and confusion they feel, they don't know who He is anymore... I get a little bit antsy.  Popping up out of my seat, trying not to blurt out the answer.  My answer isn't your answer... but I do have one. 

I have a pretty good idea of who He is, after all this.  Maybe I would question Him if my life looked a little different.  If I had experienced more loss.  I write this and laugh a little to myself, realizing that I have claimed to have no hope and yet here I am.  But I do know who He is.  And when I take a second to acknowledge, and wonder how I might describe Him... the answers come faster. 

Yesterday still sucked though.  And I'm still really lonely.

Today I have a cold, so today sucks a little bit too.  But forgetting who Jesus is... is not something I want to happen.  Not to you, not to me.  Even when we're tired of it all.  Even when we're tired of Jesus.

But part of what redeemed yesterday was a gentle acceptance.  Not of loneliness, not of singleness, not of forever-aloneness (although, I looked in the mirror today and I look really old today and I thought, ah shit).  But I thought about what's about to happen. 

What building looks like. 

Part of what redeemed yesterday was Jesus heard me say I didn't believe in miracles anymore and that pissed Him off.  Oh please, Anna.  Yes, you do.  And then he reminded me. 

A few weeks ago I signed a really ridiculous contract, which flirts with the wise/foolish property line.  I'm dancing on it.  E came out to do my inspection on this purchase, with his cigarettes and his wandering eyes and his attention to detail and his off color sense of humor.  And when E came out to do my inspection he left a dishwasher door open.

Now I have new locks on my doors. 

Because a few days ago, Jesus must have heard my muttered whisper about not knowing how much new locks cost.  Not knowing if I'd have the money for new locks, because I didn't know. 

Now there are new locks on my doors and a contract set for three weeks from now.  A move out date.  A move in date. 

He reminded me those miracles I decided not to look for anymore, are bred in those decisions we're not really sure are wise or foolish.  Miracles happen when we trust, when all those eggs go in one basket, when we're willing to change our minds.  And live anyway, even when it doesn't make sense.

Miracles happen where there are new faces and names and $5 pizzas and basketball in the court.  Cookies in the oven.  Where we plant seeds and hope.  Trusting not only that they will grow but did we plant where we should have, that the birds won't take off with them, that if we're going to put down roots... we chose the right spot. 

Miracles happen when we ask the ridiculous questions.  Trusting looks like, for me, when I turn to God and say angrily "Hey! You heard me!" 

Miracles look a lot like the prayer I prayed years ago, that all my thoughts would be considered prayers.  A prayer asking the Spirit to pray for me when I hadn't a clue what to pray for, or the right words to use. 

And to this day, my thoughts are recycled into prayers. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

the way we do

Weed pulling is hard work.  And my hands are dirty and my nails short and my back sore. 

I feel guilty for wanting more, for wanting different.  Because the small person who runs around my house is also my favorite.  He is sticky and he is loud and he is funny.  His eyes smile bright and his snuggles sink deep.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around his love for me.  He doesn't show it often.  He loves many -- favors many, reaches for many.  My heart hurts that he often doesn't prefer me.  But when it is just he and I, together at home, he runs down the hall after me.  He throws back the shower curtain.  He rests with his hand on my knee. 

I don't want him to get big, but in the same breath, I cannot wait for the day when I can answer his questions.  When I explain things, and he understands.  When I get to hear his thoughts and his laughter, because he understood what was said.  When I can teach him things and buy him movie theater popcorn and show him real lions.

But I am tired.  From all the weed pulling and from the load carrying.  And I sit here now, welling, as Liv would say.  Because I'm just doing such a poor job at it all. 

I am irritable and I am tired and I am impatient.  My hair is a mess.  My car is a mess.  My apartment is a mess.  My eyelashes are falling out.  Judah went to daycare sticky this morning because on the way out the door he stuck his hand in my cereal bowl, dumping milk and soggy cereal on the floor.  And I forgot to wash his hands off, because I had to mop up the milk on the floor. 

We will go see the funny doctor this afternoon, because Judah's nose is running and he's not sleepy.  But I bet the funny doctor tells me "welcome to parenthood".  I have a toddler now.  All by myself.  And I just have this feeling my will won't match his.

We've experienced so much loss.  Life, daily, often feels like a precarious balancing act.  Teetering.  I am not as brave as my boy, who falls and claps for himself.  He knows no failure or embarrassment.  Just picks himself back up and tries again.  I sit on the floor longer.  Mope longer.  I wallow longer, bemoaning anyone saw me fall and getting up and all that is so much work.  He's braver than I am and I hope, with everything I have, he holds onto the bravery. 

I watched him last night in Noni's sink.  He's almost too big to get bathed this way, but his feet were dirty and we knew he'd fall asleep in the car.  So we stripped him down and into the sink he went.  Lathered and soapy and I watched him as he grabbed for the water coming out of the faucet.  He could feel it, but couldn't hold it. 

I feel like that today. 

I just can't get a hold of it.  Of the thoughts I know will lead to some congruency.  Maybe even to a harvest.  Thoughts that will lead to a place of hope I haven't visited in a long time.

Everyone wants to reassure us.  Women, mostly.  Of how beautiful we are and how lucky any man would be to call us home.  Of how young I am and how I have all the time in the world...

Tears well again, mostly because I don't believe it.  Not because I'm stubborn, but just because it's not true.  I am not young, I have never been young.  I do not live a young life or have a young mind.  I am not beautiful, I am just surviving.  Honestly.  But I know it's hard to be alone, whatever your circumstances.  I know it's hard to be married.  I know it's hard to be barren, and I have my small person, which so many would die to be able to call their own.  I know.  I know that's what people are trying to say, when they say don't worry.  That I'm not alone, others have it worse, to stop complaining.  All while looking at me and my little, brown boy and seeing just what I'm talking about. 

For this reason, I stopped believing in miracles a long time ago.  I picked up my shovel and started doing work for us, on our own.  And stopped looking for dots to connect and stopped asking for blessings.  Because of all the quietness.  Because you can only ask for something for so long, before you're weary of it. 

Before you feel like it falls on deaf ears.

And you can only hope for something for so long before it hurts too much to keep on. 

Regardless, I'm trying to make it work.  With that shovel and this gumption and with a lot of coffee.  So much of crouching and pushing and barreling through the hurt and the mess: leave my family alone, I feel like I say most days.  Back up.  We've been through too much already, all I want is...

But the tiredness drains the joy.  Who am I, though, without the joy? 

The struggle is, also, who am I if I am not a good mama?  So the other gets sacrificed, because it was never promised anyway.  And I take a deep breath and grapple.  Trying to grab the water flowing from the faucet, and have a good attitude because I know it will help. 

I try to make good food and go to the park so he can swing and make myself stay awake until it's dark out.  All in an attempts to find some normalcy.  To defeat, and say we made a good life despite it all, we built a tiny, strong family. 

Because he's my favorite.  He's my priority.  Someone would have to come in and love us both, unconditionally, without a second thought... anyway. 

So how do you make a family and save yourself from the splintered pieces? 

Close your mouth and keep the well-intentioned friends from criticizing, making it worse.  Save them the irritation.  Buy a plain house just big enough and hope this is where the harvest is.  Hope this, now, all this cloudiness and heaviness is the rain that makes the seeds grow.

Keep brushing your hair and washing your face and practice smiling... and understand life never works out like we thought it would anyway.  So you shouldn't be surprised. 

And hold the back of his curly head and whisper in his ear, the way we do.  I love you, I love you, I love you.  Feel the leaning in he does, until he knows it's true. 

Deep breath, and muster the courage to make it beautiful yourself. 

I was hoping the story would be told differently, though.