Around here we have lots of heart-to-hearts about "the most important thing." In this house, the most important thing is that everyone feels included. It is the most concrete way that I can describe to my children what it means to love God and neighbor. Making someone feel included goes beyond being friendly or funding their needs, it is a true expression of love. For a three year old it is a tangible way to live into God's call to love. It means sharing, inviting, helping and noticing. Not easy for your average egocentric preschooler.
Not easy for your average egocentric church-goer. Jesus always knew what someone's most important thing was. He made no allowances for most important THINGS. The most important thing is to make others feel included. That meant seeing the person behind the prostitute's cloy. It meant not only not judging her, but going home with her to share a meal. ON HER DISHES. That's putting on your big person panties.
Every night the kids pray for us to be good servants. Every lunch (read on good days when we are more or less together) we engage in confession, repentance, and forgiveness. (Eye-rollers know that this practice is for me mostly as my grouchy voice was a way too frequent visitor) I pointedly ask each of us what we have done well and if there is anything we need to say sorry for. I am shocked by the positive effect this has had on me. Confession is a vital part of discipleship and we disregard it totally in the mainline protestant church.
I have a confession to make: I do not make the most important thing in my life that everyone feels included. I want to. I am making my prayer that I will begin to love others with a love that compels me to eat AT THEIR HOUSE. Vulnerable. Loving. Inclusive.
Also, if we eat there I don't have to clean up here.
Eating one and a half hamburgers at Etowah UMC's cook-out.
Freaking out one and a half times because a cook-out means it's the end of the year as we know it...(and I feel fine...some of you might not get that reference. I am saddened by this)
Saying yes to a great many things because it is raining for the third day in a row.
Saying no to paint because I am mean and terrible and tired.
Coming up with an awesome story about a robin who needs to tidy his nest. It needed retelling at least once.
Needing to tidy my nest.
Insisting that Laine did indeed fly at least 10 feet before hitting that box with his face. Truly he was flying. Until he wasn't. Poor guy, he did brighten up quite a bit when I reported his "air." Boys.
Emptying and filling the dishwasher multiple times a day. Marshmallow making is messy.
Answering "why" 239 times without losing my cool. Although I was informed that I am omniscient and therefore should have a decent answer each and every time. There were 6 whys about grating soap into a box. I used words like gravity and perpendicular and felt awesome.
Reading my Bible standing up in the middle of the kitchen while answering why and wiping a nose because I am a contemplative.
Hearing a happy song I made up echoed back to me with my name filled in. Bliss.
Apparently I am a bundle of emotions right now. Luke commented that he just simply does not have as many emotions as I do. I laughed then cried. Haha...just kidding...sniff. So, I am never really sure if what is circulating through my brain is reasonable or emotional.
We are under contract on an adorable little house in a neighborhood that is much, much, much cooler than I am. It isn't the charming (remodeled) bungalow (tiny, tiny house) that I was dreaming of, but it is solid, happy, will feature my henny pennies (Yay for chickens) house with a garage.
Can I even describe the angst we have just waded/are wading through? Jesus commanded: sell all you have and give the money to the poor. Crap. Jesus said: foxes have holes, but he Son of Man has no where to lay his head. Well, shoot. Jesus said: a whole lot of really hard stuff that does not really jive with (oh my goodness...just got up to mess with my rising bread (I know...hate me) and I sat back down on Sophie...will let you know when I am breathing again) buying a cute house in a popular neighborhood. (Heart is still jumping) So, I am praying and searching and asking and looking and realizing that there are not formulae for serving and loving God. When Jesus healed the blind, sometimes he spoke their healing and sometimes he made spit mud pies. Jesus is calling me and my family to serve the people in and around Asheville, NC. I still dream of feeding 5000 from my yard, but now it will just be more of a miracle. I am praying that God will heal my blindness to those in need and give me the strength to go eat with prostitutes. You know, like Jesus did.
Maybe I will even invite them over to my (barring a major problem) super cute, trendy, happy, clean (empty) house.
But, I have such a fullness in my heart that I can hardly be troubled with my bleary reflection.
Because Annabel is talking! I have to do a lot of translation and she certainly isn't an orator yet, but she has definitely turned a corner. She is about 6 months behind, but since she has a 6 month old brother, one has to wonder...
But, she has the sweetest little voice on this green earth. Joyful and honest. A thick, happy slice of honesty in that girl's voice. And her words.
But she says "dan-tou" every time I bring her "wah-wah," and this makes Mama very, very proud. Because you wouldn't want to smooth off every rough edge...a girl needs her voice to carry.
I have a toy store in my basement. Really. Last week I went bonkers and scooped up every last toy we have and cleared out a conveniently stored shelf in the basement and created a store. Laine may get new toys to play with whenever he wants, but he may only have one bin at a time. No rotation, no schedule, no fuss. I am a fan, Laine thinks it is a special treat to go down in the basement to shop for "new" toys, and, bonus, we aren't stepping on so many toys.
Result after a week: Laine is playing so much more, BUT not really with toys. He is finding things in his environment to play with. Today it was string and a bowl of uncracked pecans. He was making people out of the pecans. I have always been a big believer in simple toys, but I didn't realize that even an overabundance of simple toys (even wooden ones...gasp...even WOODEN BLOCKS) could overstimulate a child. I am not going to say that we are eating rainbows and pooping butterflies (thanks Horton), but things are just a little freer.
We still have the toys, and on rainy days it is pretty nifty to be able to say let's go find a new toy to play with, so all in all it was a win.
To prepare bread, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool.
To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over bread.
Today I am broken. I pretty much stunk it up as a mom. I was grouchy, snappy, gruff and unlovely. I wanted nothing more than for my kids to just go to sleep for lots of hours. I don't like admitting it, but sometimes I just have to be honest.
Because if I am not, someone might get hurt. My kids might think I am disappointed in them. But I am not. I am overwhelmed. My whole person is cluttered and scattered. I am trying to hold my heart together with glue made of tears. I am tired, self-absorbed, and prone to blather on about my heavy load.
But that isn't all of it. I am also finding that my ears, eyes and hands are always full. Audiobooks, texting, blogs, house-hunting, even Bible reading make sure that I am never left alone, quiet. I love all that stuff. But I am NEVER quiet.
Because if I am quiet, I have to face to questions I have been assigned.
How to love these children? Who are the least of these? What can I do to share the love of Christ? How can I follow a Jesus who commanded us to love God and neighbor and still called a woman a dog? Every time I get my mind around this guy, I lose my focus and my schema falls apart again. I want Jesus to be one guy all the time. A feed the hungry, love the lonely, clothe the naked (although this last one is quite a challenge at my house) fella who never tells confusing stories or tells someone they don't have a place at the table.
I hate that story. But it gives me hope. Maybe the writer of the story was simply illustrating something that made more sense to the writer's audience. Maybe Jesus never really meant that. I don't know, but the woman looked persisted and was healed. Sometimes I feel gruff and I fear that I am no longer reflecting the love of the Father, but, heck, even Jesus Christ lost it in the face of constant whining. But, he was humble and honest and I can see him close his eyes, take a deep breath, and murmur, "start over" to himself, and he healed that whiny, fussy, unlovely woman.
Tomorrow I will start again. Tomorrow I have another chance to love these little miracles. Tomorrow I have another chance to work in a quiet moment. Maybe two.
BTW...I only have one basket of clothes to put away.
Ok, so I know I told you all about my laundry system. And it helps, but eventually I drown. So, today I declared war on laundry, and right now we are pretty much entrenched. The clothes thought they had me when I ran out of laundry soap, but I laughed and just made some more from this speedy recipe.
Also, a stray cat has arrived and apparently plans to stay even with the small children.
But, my thoughts are on homes today. We are looking for a new house you know, and that makes me worry. I am concerned that my children will lose their center. Heck, I am a little worried about Luke and me. A house is not a home you say. Oh, but it is part of it. The scribbles on the walls, the dents on the floor, the growing seeds we poke in the dirt all coalesce to create a place for home to be. I know we will take our family and we will be happy, but I still will miss this happy, crazy, tiny house.
And today when I put my babies to bed (with their drawers bursting with clean laundry), I will thank God earnestly for this house in which we have made a home.