Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nesting: Apparently NOT just for pregnant women

     What would possess someone to wake up one morning and decide she must have the most organized attic and basement storage area in all the land?!?  I can remember a general need, when expecting our children, to have everything in order and also remember reading in some books that this was somewhat normal...but aside from that, where does this compulsion for everything to be "just so" come from?  And in the areas where no one sees no less?!
     Now, I'm not talking shuffling a few boxes here and there or putting away summer clothes in exchange for cooler weather clothes...I'm talking total reorganization of all the things we don't use on a daily basis...and at the risk of great peril I might add.  Which brings me to ask...just who, pray tell, ever decided that those pull down attic ladders that come down from the ceiling are up to any kind of safety code or standard?!  I was hoisting boxes and random cumbersome items (that I had no business even lifting to move from one side of the room to the other) and hauling them out of the basement, up two flights of stairs and then up this rickety, folding ladder that's barely wider than one of my feet nevermind both of them.  I don't want to put all the blame on the ladder though, it of course has to be narrow because the hole in the ceiling is narrow, which means I couldn't lift these boxes and such in any kind of normal way and support them with the whole of my body.  Instead, I was having to balance them on my head or hold them over my head, if they were light enough, while leaning forward so as not to fall backwards off the ladder, while twisting them in every kind of manner to try to maneuver them thru the hole in the ceiling.  If that weren't tricky enough, every once in a while my big toe would get caught in the leg of my sweatpants and I'd have to somehow try to extricate my toe while balancing the box and my body on the ladder.  It was in one of those moments when I had to ask myself just how I thought I'd make any new friends if my face was split from forehead to chin in a headfirst fall off an attic ladder...
     I have noticed in myself the tendancy that when I feel unsettled internally to try to settle things externally.  At times it seems easier to unpack another box or to organize another closet than to really reflect on why I'm feeling so emotionally unsettled and to then ask God and also trust Him to "organize my insides".  I'm not sure where the idea comes from that if we're put together on the outside, it doesn't matter how we're falling apart on the inside. 
     My compulsive reorganizing has been a good reminder to me this week about the importance of transparency, whether you're the new person or the one who has been in a place for years and feels at home where you are.  Afterall, it is the heart which God looks at and not how we appear on the outside. (or how organized your basement is) :-)  "...for God sees not as man sees, for the man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  (I Samuel 16:7)  Shouldn't we also then wear our hearts on our sleeves so to speak?  So that others can know how to come alongside us and to feel as well the freedom and safety of being their own true selves?  I cannot extend that freedom to someone by telling them how so and so struggles with this or that.  I need to let them know how I personally struggle, what makes me feel unsettled on the inside.  Then maybe, they will feel secure in letting the unsettledness within make it's way out and to know that their struggles aren't just a prayer request that I'll share with someone else or a reason to be judged by another, but a way to find something in common, together...because really, if we're honest, aren't we all a little unsettled and disorganized within?
     Those who know me well probaly also know that I will always have some sort of obsessive compulsion or other when it comes to organizing or keeping things don't call me on it if you see me remaking the bed after my husband has already made it (even though it may make me late in the mornings...and yes, I DO feel the need to make the bed before I leave the house in the a.m.) because I like the pillows to be just so, or if you're here for dinner and the food is getting cold because I have to clean the kitchen before I can sit down to eat. :-)  However, I do resolve, in those moments when the need to have order around me is so distracting that I miss the joy in the day to day, to take the time to figure out what's really going on instead of risking life and limb on an attic ladder. :-)

"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."  II Corinthians 4:17-18

"And let not your adornment be merely external...but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight  of God."  I Peter 3:4

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One person CAN make a difference

     So there I was, at the orientation for the kid's new school looking lost as ever, if I had passed a mirror I probably would have seen a sign on my forehead attesting to the fact that I was new and had no clue about what I was doing or where I should go.  There were a few who pointed me in this direction or that direction and plenty who offered a welcome or kind word...but there was one who sought me out even after orientation was over and extended an invitation...

     Since that first invitation there have been many others as this one continued to extend herself in order to make me feel welcome and less overwhelmed with all that was new and sometimes confusing.  From practical things like how to find places and where to park, to more personal things like a cook-out at her home and lunch out, she was a known face in a sea of many who sought me out and made me feel like I didn't have to figure out everthing on my own.

    Her sacrifice, and I do believe she made a sacrifice of her own comfort for the chance of making me more comfortable, will be one in which is first and foremost on my mind when I find myself at orientation next year.  Hopefully, not so lost and not so clueless, I'll be able to reach out to another with the same "sign" on her forehead as this one did for me and help her to see that feeling at "home" in a new place is closer than she thinks.  Thank you Sondra. :-)

     There is One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Laying down His own comfort, His own life even, so that we could spend eternity at "home" with Him.  He too extends an invitation to us.  I was blessed with the reminder, on a human level, of just how big a difference ONE can make. 

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."  Ephesians 2:4-7

Unknown...or am I?

- 9/15/10
     I love it here.  I love everything about being here.  I love our house, the kid's school, the church we've been going to, the community, the fact that people on the highway actually move over for you when you're trying to merge. :-)  I love it here, but some days I feel very alone.  I've cried on 3 out of a total of 8 Sundays that we've been here because those are the days that seem to remind me the most that this doesn't always feel like "home" yet.  I long for the beginning of just one dear friendship with a woman here, and sometimes let my fear that there won't be one person who needs or desires a friendship as much as I do get the best of me.  I rationally know that this kind of friendship takes time, and it took time before, but I also know the blessing of true, deep friendship with other women and it makes me miss it all the more not having it here yet.  Maybe, if I'm honest, it's not the "beginning" of that friendship that I long for...because in truth, maybe the beginnng of the friendship I'm speaking of has already, well, begun. :-) If I'm really honest, what I long for is that already established friendship.  The one where your past is known and accepted, your dreams for the future are shared and supported.  After being in one place for a number of years it's almost overwhelming to think of where to begin in friendships.  I'm so used to being around people who know everything about me and there's no need for explaining when you're known so well, you're just understood.  My impatience in this area definitely tells me I was maybe too comfortable where I was...too comfortable to notice someone who might be in the place where I am today...

      Unfortunately, it is many times my husband who bears the brunt of this fear of loneliness.  I look to him to know me perfectly because I feel so "unknown" everywhere else.  There are days when I overlook the blessing of getting to live with my best friend everyday and expect him instead to fill the role that only God was meant to fill.  Only God can ever know me so perfectly inside and out that He can know my every need, hurt and desire intimately and completely before I've even formed a concise thought about it.  There is a blessing though, even in this loneliness.  I definitely feel myself more drawn to Christ and His word as a way to be reminded that He does know me perfectly and intimately.  It was easy in the midst of great friends and community to not depend on Christ as  much and to grow lazy in my own getting to know Him as He knows me.  Maybe he wants to use this time to remind me how well He knows me and that it can be enough in this season...

     The position I find myself in these days is one of great vulnerability and it's not always a very "safe" feeling kind of place.  I definitely desire to continue to put myself out there and feel like I might as well put "all of me" out there because how else will I ever be known?  And when I am known, I want it to be the real me, not a cleaned up, "in-public" version...but it definitely leaves me then to wonder, uh-oh...that was the real me I just put out there, what if they don't like me?  Maybe I've felt this way before and it's just been so long since I've been the new person that I've forgotten what's completely normal.  It's a deep longing that I have that wonders when and if we'll ever make it past the feeling "welcome" stage to feeling like we belong...

     It's interesting contrasting the "high" of planning for a transition for so long and being so sure and excited about it with the "low" of the natural time it takes to really feel at home somewhere.  It's with this thought that I am reminded how before the move God gave us such a peace about it that it seemed the usual stresses and sadness of a move were muted in a way, because it was easy to trust where He was leading.  That same peace on this side of the move is available to me when I stop stressing over the timing and details of everything and just live each day as He gives it, taking each opportunity as He gives it...

     I will FOREVER be mindful of how grateful I am for God's timing in all of this...when I think of how long ago God planted the desire in Matt's heart for the move here and how opposed I was to it for so many years, I am so thankful that I can honestly love everything about being HERE, now.  Even amidst the loneliness that sometimes sneaks in around me when I am focused on the ways God blessed me in friendship in the past, I can't even imagine what it would feel like to be despairing about one's geographical location while also feeling alone.  I am reminded anew of how God cares for me and knows me perfectly, the God of the universe has inscribed me on the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:16) How could I for too long wallow in the despair of being unknown when I belong to Him?  He is a faithful and true friend and has Himself longed for me to recognize Him as such.  "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)


"Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him." (Isaiah 30:18)

   ...May my longing be to first seek the One who longs for me...

(This picture was taken 1 year ago...we had stopped in Lynchburg on our way back from vacationing in Tennessee and hiked up to the LU monogram to watch the sunset.  While up there we looked down on Lynchburg and tried to imagine what it would be like if we lived here...who could have imagined it would only be one year later when we would call this place home?  Be careful what you imagine...:-))

Friday, September 17, 2010

One Thing

(from my journal- July 20, 2010)

     Well, I find myself amidst boxes again. :-)  Surely I forget each time the specific stresses involved with moving or there'd be a lot more kicking and screaming on my part when Matt suggests it each time, ha!  Seven months ago, just a couple days before Christmas, the "bomb" was dropped when Matt informed me that he really didn't see himself signing a contract for another 5 years as CEO of Social Solutions.  I shed a few tears but felt ultimately at peace with it and was able to tell him that my place was with him where ever that might be and that I'd support whatever he decided. 
     A plan was born to finally get us to Lynchburg. :-)  All the pieces seemed to fall fairly easily into place (except the sale of our house so far...we're set to move in 8 days and still no contract).  I know Your timing is always best God, but it really has felt like this has been the bulk of the stress for us...of course maybe that's the point.  The other day Matt says..."Isn't it reassuring to know that 5 years from now we'll look back on this period of extreme stress and laugh at how stressed we were?"...Um, I'm kinda hoping it doesn't take us 5 YEARS to get to the point of laughter over our folly of lack of faith, but yeah, reassuring I guess you could say. :-) Actually, how could I NOT be reassured when I think back 6 or 7 years ago when Matt first told me he felt drawn to move to Lynchburg?  Talk about kicking and screaming!  I actually even showed up on a dear friend's doorstep sobbing that surely God hadn't intended me to marry a man who couldn't cool his heels in one place for more than a couple years. :-) (thank God for friends who can listen to my rantings and then lovingly remind me that God knows exactly what He's doing...even when I don't)  And now today, God has me at the point of being just as excited about the move as Matt fact, my biggest fear NOW being that we'll end up having to stay in Maryland after having our hearts set on Lynchburg!  Craziness!  Yeah, I'm definitely looking back at myself then and laughing...but all in God's perfect timing, right?  Right.
     The sadness over the move has yet to really hit me, save for a few shed tears here and there over the friends we're leaving.  For the most part, whether it's by God's grace or my avoidance (hopefully the former and not the latter!) I've been able to focus on what we're gaining and not what we're losing.  Is that what happens when you feel as if God has you headed right where He wants you?  Or have we totally misjudged?  How do you ever TRULY know what He wants until you succeed or fail at it?  And, am I eternally destined to always question His leading unless the process comes easily?  Will I forever squander the learning and molding that comes with the testing?  Being tempted to think instead, "We must have heard wrong."?
     I do know ONE THING, although I dread the end of summer because I love everything about summer, I don't dread the beginning of the school year...I'm so excited about this new place for Hannah and Sam, that's a blessing!  I don't understand what all that foster care business was about, but I know ONE THING, if God had allowed a child to be placed with us long-term, and that child was with us when Matt approached me about a move, I'm not so sure I could have supported him at the risk of losing a child.  So, I guess just knowing ONE THING, as long as it's the important thing, is all you need to know.  I may not know when or if our house will ever sell, I may not know if the end of all this stress is 8 days away or if this is just the tip of the iceberg, I may not fully grasp the true sense of loss I'll feel when we finally do leave our dear friends here...but I do know ONE THING.  I know my Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself and is working everything for my good and not my harm.  (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11) His plan is perfect and better suited for me than anything I could ever come up with on my own. (Isaiah 55:8-9, Ephesians 3:20) I thank God for the ONE THING.

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time."  -Oswald Chambers