Monday, October 27, 2008

Officially freaked out

i am officially freaked out by children. not my own. other kids...out the world. the ones that aren’t my kids.

i had been all excited about the new third floor kids’ play area at bellevue square mall. that was not the disappointment of the day, by the way. that part was actually a perfect discovery and costs nothing and i will be there all the time. mom and i brought the girls there in the late afternoon and jason met us on his way from work. we rounded the corner to a large, circular play area with benches for the parents around the perimeter. the play area had about six or eight little thingamajiggers for the kids to crawl on and slide on and crawl through, etc. (i just stared at the screen for like thirty seconds searching for what to say besides thingamajiggers, but that’s all i’ve got). the only examples i can remember were a ferry boat and an iceberg. go wild with imagination. anyhow it was definitely worth more than a free pass. i would have paid for a season’s pass if it required one. seattle parents have got to stay on top of what’s out there, well “in” there, because of the rain.

so i’m getting to the freaked out part.

we kicked off our shoes and i’m sweating before i’ve taken three steps. the girls got quickly obsessed with this iceberg thing that had steps and a slide. it was swarming with kids. jason and i assigned ourselves to one of the girls. my initial euphoria began to wear off a little when i started swirling in the insanity of kids running and flying and tumbling over each other. the height limit was 42 inches and clearly there was no security enforcing any rules. i’m only 62 inches so i was easily gaging the rule breaking. we just had to stick close and make ourselves the girls’ little body guards.

when grace plays she is really focused on one of two things. she either is focused on her task of conquering a challenge. or else she is staring at someone. she isn’t super friendly, which is fine with me at these places. her stares aren’t admiration. she’s sizing them up to see if she should run to us or if she can keep exploring in peace.

kanah, on the other hand, is only about 10% explorer and 90% friend maker. she spends a lot of time sitting in this awkward position with her knees bent under her and feet angled out in a way that my legs would have to be broken to imitate. she stares too but then smiles and laughs and really wants to interact.

so eventually of course our little “most likely to have 1000 friends by second grade” made a friend. i have been calling her miranda ever since. just worked for me. she had to be like seven or eight. i literally don’t even know how she found us. in all the chaos who knows. but she kind of cozied up to kanah and smiled a lot and then would dart away, kind of skipping off to another thingamajigger. kanah would laugh and reach out her arms and then get distracted and go about her way. and then miranda would come back and cozy up close to kanah’s face and laugh with her and maybe follow her up the stairs. eventually they were both crawling around the floor, kind of chasing each other through this tunnel.

it wouldn’t have been so weird if miranda was near kanah’s age. but it kind of felt like kanah had a stalker. i’m serious, it felt weird and you’ll just have to believe me. at this point jason and i have gone from smiling and playing around to giving each other a look like, “who is this little girl and what do we do?” playtime at bellsquare for us went from playful time with our kids to full on kick some booty bodyguarding of our precious little daughters.

her behavior was just strange. she had some little charm in her hand and she’d show it to kanah, kind of prompting her to want to take it and then as kanah would finally reach for it, she’d laugh and snatch it away and crawl off for a minute before coming back. at this point i’m thinking, um, did someone drop off a demon...or is there actually a parent wanting to claim this little chump. jason and i actually did spot the mama at one point. she had a baby in a carriage and had her head buried in a book. i stared at her a long time as miranda ran all around, getting into all kinds of things, and getting mixed up in all the crowds of people. the mama didn’t look up once the whole time i stared at her. i started to understand miranda a little better but that didn’t make it easy for her to be around kanah.

miranda was very unusual. she didn’t like me. at first i tried to be nice but then got all bodyguard on her when she’d come up too close to kanah’s face. at one point she actually kissed kanah on the cheek after i’d already told her that she could play with kanah but would have to give her some space. after the kiss i gave her a direct order to not touch my daughter and that i knew who her mama was if i needed to speak with her. she scowled at me and crawled away kind of crazily.

she came back up to me, mom and kanah when we found a toy on one of the perimeter walls. she came running up and got about one foot away from my mom and shouted “no!” with an ugly look on her face. it was actually a slightly insane moment. my mom had just been sitting there. i thought maybe she was jealous about kanah but then realized my mom wasn’t even playing with kanah, i was. miranda shouted it twice and ran off again and at this point i was convinced she had similar issues as some of the foster children i’ve worked with: likes to play with children in a much younger age bracket, has wild eyes, doesn’t like discipline, has experienced much neglect, cannot focus on a task, is seemingly attached one minute and devisive the next, has wild abusive type behaviors towards children and adults alike, doesn't know how to give or receive love, etc.

so you can kind of see why i officially got freaked out by other kids that day. miranda made me look around at all the kids. some of them seemed like my girls, normal and playful, and didn’t have any of those odd behaviors listed above. but you never know who the mirandas are. there are many kids who behave oddly. and there are also many weird adults. i mean, if i had decided to read a book like miranda’s mom, there could be any number of kidnappers just walk into that insane play area and scoop one of my daughters up and walk off and no one would have any idea.

i think i’m freaked out in a good way. but i hate it. when i am at home with my girls they are so peaceful, so wonderful. i'm not saying they are perfect or not naughty or selfish, but their spirits are sweet. i know they have a sin nature, but there is a purity and goodness in them that has not been fully tainted by life yet. and i guess i just felt a little weirded out that day because it felt like one of the first times i felt the need to shelter them from the world or something. so we’ve decided to stay away from classes and pre-school and playgrounds and homeschool the girls when they’re ready. just kidding, that’s not where i am headed here. but let me just say for a moment...i hate the world and i am ready for what heaven will be like for all of us. i hate feeling freaked out for good reason. i want a good life for my girls but i know the world is gross and run by sick motives all around them. and i know that they need jesus too, so that they don’t pollute the world as well. i guess i just felt the icky-ness of humanity that day and how a seemingly carefree environment could feel like a place to be on guard. i’m just glad, i guess i’m saying, that we’ll eventually live in a place that won’t feel like that. and i can read a book on the sidelines without watching the doors or putting a sign in the street saying “slow down, children playing” or setting our alarm at night. and the mirandas out there need jesus. and it’s quite tricky as a parent to know how to love them and also be wise about our children. i love my daughters. i want to be a good mama. i want to see them as they really are too, including all of their sins and tendencies too. and that’s why i’ll be praying much more now. because i got a little more feel for the world the other day. and i'm freaked out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Joys

I went to Target with my baby girls. You both sat in the shopping cart in the back since you both can’t fit in the front together anymore without your legs getting squished. You can’t stay sitting down in the back though; it’s too exciting rolling through all the aisles. Your little arms reach straight out to feel along the racks as we pass by. If I dare to stop I turn to find about eight blue t-shirts pulled down in a pile, one of them triumphantly waving over your head. You get mad when I put them back without leaving one in the cart. We headed to your section of the store. We no longer find the littlest clothes. We have moved on to the little girl clothes. I found you some new jeans, about six months smaller than you are but they look perfect. A little purple and blue owl print shirt and a green and white polka dot shirt catch my eye. But we’re headed for the mountains today and you’re out of clothes so I’ve got to keep looking for warmer clothes. I have never bought you jackets. They looked like something for school age kids. I didn’t think I would be able to find your size but when I did it seemed like both of you could climb into it. But again it was six months younger than you little munchkins and yes it was going to fit. You were going to look like twin marshmellows...but they were going to fit. Both had little furry hoods. I had also found the sweetest plum purple peacoats, but decided daddy would think the heavier winter coats more practical. Maybe the peacoats for another day. You also needed shoes. After another pile pickup and a small tantrum over a mess of some kind of glittery white tutu skirts, we found the most perfect little white tennis shoes. These felt like your first official shoes even though you’ve been wearing them for months. Size fours. A little big but with the velcro we could make these last until summer I think.

On your first day in Whistler when we decided to go on a hike your outfits all came together and I nearly cried. You wore white turtlenecks with jeans and your new tennis shoes. Both of you really were interested in getting them on and sporting them around the living room like big girls, all proud. You would kick up the heel, step back, looking down to admire your new gear. Then we put your new jackets on and the hit of the new attire was the furry hood. Isn’t it for all women? Miss Glory began to press her lips against it like it was a new stuffed animal, kind of wrapping her lips around it and then sitting up to look at it again before she nose-dived to nuzzle it again. But when I thought I couldn’t stare any more motherly at you, your aunt asked if she could do your hair. I went and got the tiny little hair ties and watched as she brushed your hair, parted it down the middle, and made you the cutest little baby girl hairdo’s I’ve ever seen. Glory girl had bushy pigtails high up on the back of your head, one tail frizzy and full while the other one was sticking out straight in every direction. And little Beauty had low lying little pigtails since most of your hair falls straight at the bottom and is sparse on top.

I felt like a seasoned mother, the way I sat still on that sofa looking you both up and down while all gawked around you. You looked so tall, even though you are only in the 3rd percentile compared to other kids. I never knew one and a half year olds could look this big. Your new outfit might as well have been a cap and gown. I’m sure I’ll sit still, glowingly, at your first day at a class, and your first day at preschool, and your first day at a sports game, and the first time you make a real friend, and the first time you ride a bike and bring home an art project and on and on. You are eighteen months and that same stillness will rise up in me so many times to come and I really don’t know if I can bear it. It is both an awe at who you have become and what you are able to do. And also a small sadness that, I suppose without my knowing, I have passed into being the mother of an older child. But it isn’t only sadness. It is also a great joy in getting to be a part of the best thing I can imagine – watching my children grow.

When you were younger I wrote in your journals something that you can find in the Bible later. Paul, a great man you will read more about, loved this group of people that Jesus gave him a big heart for. And when he talked about them, it reminds me of how I feel about you when I sat there on that couch, pigtails flying and little furry hoods flopping about. This is what he said about them and what I say about you, my little loves, “You are my joy and my crown, my glorious ones in whom is all my delight.” Getting to be your mama, to get the pleasure of knowing you, is my joy and my crown. This means that God has bestowed on me the beauty of mothering you and because he made you as beautiful and wonderful as you are in his image, you are a crown on my head. Don’t you see, loves, the honor you have in my life? I have no greater honor than being around you. Than being home with you and playing with you and hugging you when you are sad and serving all your needs, even the smelly ones. You are my joy and my crown. And you are my glorious ones in whom is all my delight. Because God created you and formed our relationship, he tells me to take joy and delight in the role he has given me in your life. And as I love you and enjoy you to pieces, he is honored because I am being the woman I was designed to be. So this is my joy and today as I delighted in who you have become, my little lady babies turned lady girls, I rejoice and praise God for you.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I saw a goat on a farm today, off of Issaquah Fall City Road. His noggin was pressed under the fence with his heiny awkwardly perched up in the air and front limbs bent underneath themselves. He was eating some grass from under the gate. But he looked so strange, in such an unusual position and all.

I don't know why it got me thinking about my hang up on "calling" lately. I think some people really live by calling and some people make up their own callings. I feel like when we try to make up our own calling we're like that goat, getting ourselves in the most silly of positions just so we can get what we want out of life. I mean, it’s so easy to make our own callings, right? Tired of where you live? Move. Hate your job? Quit. Relationships are hard? Don’t deal with them. I think the goat in me wants to live that way. But yuck. Who wants to be a goat. I want to live a life worthy of the calling I have received. That is the heart Jesus put in me when he carved out my goat’s heart eighteen years ago.

But how do we recognize a calling as being different from what we are just choosing? When should we beware of speaking for God? What if we feel called in general, like something is supposed to be in our lives, but the timing hasn’t come along yet? Does that make the calling seem less valid?

I haven't read Oswald Chambers in years. It used to be my favorite devotional, well my only devotional. I don't love them. I happened upon his September 29th entree. Here are some selections:

"We are apt to forget the mystical, supernatural touch of God. If you can tell me where you got the call of God and all about it, I question whether you have ever had a call. The call of God does not come like that, it is much more supernatural. The realization of it in a man’s life may come w/ a sudden thunder clap or with a gradual dawning, but in whatever way it comes, it comes with the undercurrent of the supernatural, something that cannot be put into words; it is always accompanied with a glow. At any given moment there may break the sudden consiousness of this incalculable, supernatural, surprising call that has taken hold of your life – “I have chosen you.” If a man or woman is called of God, it does not matter how untoward circumstances are, every force that has been at work will tell for God’s purpose in the end. If you agree with God’s purpose He will bring not only your conscious life, but all the deeper regions of your life which you cannot get at, into harmony.”

Missing home. That's what started this month or two long journey of thoughts through what our calling is right now. I felt myself caring more about the missing than the calling. I felt my rebellion. I was pushing something out of my mind, outside the sphere things I nurture in my life. Like I was loosely allowing some disorder so I could let myself taste what it would be like to think about leaving. I allowed, even welcomed, any agreement to confirm my distaste for staying. The missing felt like it fed something in me that I hadn’t allowed to eat in a while. So I gorged myself on it. I felt the tray being taken away a couple of times and I clamored for it back. I ate the missing and got sick on it. For one month. I don’t think it’s wrong to miss. Or even wrong to hope my calling changes one day and to wonder what God has. As long as I can be all here as long as he has me here. Paul prayed and hoped he would get to return places to people he loved. But in the obsession of missing I felt like that goat on the fence. Not wanting to sit upright. Stubbornly crouched, awkwardly munching on a patch underneath the other side of the fence.

The staying was too hard. Staying. Isn't the idea of "staying" sometimes the most difficult idea we can think of? Staying in a job that is so boring. Staying at home when the world seems so alluring. Staying in a marriage because God is asking you to be faithful. Staying in a city because God loves it even though you don't, like Jonah. Staying...right where you are. I see many people who can't stay. They know somewhere inside that they are running. And the staying is just the most painful thing they would have to do because...they might have to grow. They might have to learn what it means to persevere. They might have to be humble. They might have to learn patience. And that all feels painful. This is true. God told us in Hebrews that his discipline might feel painful but in the end it brings a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. But in staying these places in you that make you wonder about moving about and wondering about your calling seem hard to satisfy.

I like that Oswald described places “you cannot get at.” I have places like that. But isn’t it funny that these places can get at me. They come out of the deep and visit me and remind me of parts of me that are not yet understood and discovered. They find me and sit at my roots and have little chats with me and I wonder and wonder. How is it then that I cannot get at them? I can’t seem to ask these places questions or visit them. I can’t make them go away. There is one passage of Scripture that gets at these places in me. I can’t believe how directly it addresses this unknowing I constantly feel. This wondering about life and answers and calling and purpose.

1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

I cannot get at my whole heart. I cannot get at all the confusion in my heart sometimes. I cannot get the fullness of God. I see and know in part. The faithful Holy Spirit illuminates as needed. And I trust, fully, for the seen and unseen, for the parts I know and the parts I do not. I am fully known though I do not know fully. Being fully known, do I understand this? If I am fully known then what I am reading says I am not capable of getting it but there is someone who does. And it's God my Father. He wove my calling. I see it in part. I can't quite get at it. But instead of being a goat, Scripture gives me another way to be. John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."

In the mix of places in me that I can't get at and longings to do different things and the missing of familiar places, there is much confusion about this whole calling thing. But I believe Jesus. He speaks. I may not know all of me. But he knows me. I may not hear well. But his voice speaks to me and he makes me hear him. He is who I need to follow. And if I listen and walk, I cannot be snatched away. Or stay in confusion. Or get lost. Or find myself in a selfish game of calling myself. All these places I can't get at, will be in harmony.

That sounds right to me. So for now I'm going to stay.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wet Cuffs

i wasn't so sure about it
was even a little angry about it
i was ready to trade it all in for roaches and mosquitos
and heat meant only for steam rooms
and just leave without my bags
i could get all new stuff and
some scavenger would move into our abandoned abode
it kept me bitter and mentally estranged
for about four weeks,
coming before it's welcome and all
poor august wasn't so appreciative
to have it's studly reputation ruined
i mean, did it have to be such a little mouch
when it had so much attention every year already?
reminds me of my girls swooping in on each other's toys
and dashing off, gleefully holding their victory
up over their heads
just as this weather has held it's victory clouds up over
our summer clothes and laughed a little at us
i guess it's fall
because elias and i stomped the crunch out of fallen leaves today
with his smiling green smiling rainboots
while my girls toddled about in pink sweaters and
wispy curls tossed by the wind
i looked out on wavering evergreens today,
rustling in the feel of the new season
the hastas were bowing down
in submission to a damp earth
and i felt cold
from the wet cuffs of my jeans sticking to my bare ankles
which won't dry now until july
i knew i was going to be okay with it though
a couple of weeks ago
in one single day it was decided for me by two blessings
i had lost my favorite sweater
losing things - not strange for me
i've lost many things, the most recent one being
my birth certificate
along with my entire
"important documents folder"
the silly beloved little thing popped out from under
a pile of scrapbooking supplies one day
imagine that
(i claim to be organized by the way)
and later that day i found myself ordering at starbucks
a sign in orange announced the return of the glorious pumpkin spice latte
my heart was changed
i knew i could do it
wet cuffs and all i felt a renewed okay-ness
maybe it was bribery
maybe i had been outwitted by fall's finest gameplay
but by my choice or manipulation
here i am actually looking forward to what comes down to
really really bad weather for a really really long time ;)
i can almost feel the mush of pumpkin seeds on my fingertips
and the fireplace blazing a burn onto my back
and our huddled bodies keeping warm as we walk streets together
fall is here
and after quite a relational battle,
i think we're reconciled with our differences and
i have somehow, miraculously, come to feel that i like it again