Saturday, August 27, 2011

I have become my mother

Yesterday I was my mom, all day long. I got up, and started cleaning. I cleaned my room and the laundry room relentlessly, all day long. I never went downstairs, never ate, never made it out of my nightgown until the job was done.

I worked until I was within a half hour of time to leave. I packed at the last minute, using no less than 3 bags. What I didn't have time to put away I stashed in out-of-the-way places (a pet peeve of mine).

All of these things are CLASSIC Anita moves. Unbelievable. It was like something triggered my OCD ancestry, and the need-to-clean trait was activated and that energy sustained me throughout the live long day.

What became of your children? you may ask. Not to worry, they took care of each other. And I had babies helping me, to be sure. Plus, I'm using the power of electronic addiction to fuel keeping the rest of the house in order. "Can I have a turn on the computer/Ipad/Wii?". Certainly. Just unload a dishwasher, vacuum a room, paint a fence, and harvest the back 40 and you can turn your brains to mush to your little heart's content. Oh and put your laundry away. Again. "But mom, this is the third time today."

I have energy. I attribute this rare condition to a few factors: 1) I'm not pregnant and not recently postpartem. 2)I'm off sugar and white flour, for almost 2 weeks, and down about 23 lbs, and so I feel Grrrreat! 3) I have an insatiable desire to get my house under control. I have no idea where this came from. I've not really felt this way before. My husband is almost giddy.

Enjoy it while it lasts, I say.

I suppose I would attribute my complete personality change in part, also, to another Anita-like recent activity that I hesitate to speak of, but at risk of sounding cocky, will let you in on.

I've joined a secret club of lunatics who set their alarms to take turns getting up and praying in the middle of the night. I started off doing the night-owl shifts, 10 or 11 o'clock. That wasn't too bad. Then one week those slots were all full, and I got 2:00 a.m. We pray every other week, but one week there were some people on vacation, and I asked if I could sub, so I'm three weeks running, and I'm hooked.

Not only that, we have a once-a-week prayer meeting all together at 4:00 Monday morning. Can you imagine? Every Monday morning, me and Dozer get in the WhoopT and drive across town to pray.

In order to pray in the middle of the night, I have to be active, eyes open, none of this bowed head stuff. I pray while I mop (VERY Anita-like), while I do laundry, while I exercise ever-so-quietly, or if not so quietly, while I nurse the baby I woke up. Sometimes I do my entire watch in the shower.

The truly cool thing about praying while doing mundane tasks is that later, while doing that same mundane task, I find myself praying AGAIN. And it's not even the middle of the night.

I'm thriving spiritually and physically, which is to say I'm moving forward, not stagnant, not regressing. My spirit and my body are saying yes to Him Who my soul loves. He must increase, I must decrease. Literally. And it's happening.

So I'm glad to say that at the age of 40 I am becoming just like my mother in all the best possible ways. A Proverbs 31 kind of chick. And having a marvelous time!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils

There is something incredibly exciting about the beginning of school.

I go to Walmart and buy a couple of cases of 32 college ruled spiral bound notebooks, used to be 10 cents each, now 15.

I get online and order Horizons math, Handwriting without tears, Teaching textbooks, and Apologia physics (No, I really am not making money here - that is the stuff we use.) I even finally bit the bullet and bought the Rosetta Stone (it will only be worth it if 14 people are all eventually fluent in Spanish!).

And I plan. Boy do I ever. I'm planning grocery lists, weekly schedules, chores, mentoring, music practicing. I've got plans for my planning.

Funny, for someone with such a short attention span to plan so much, when I'm so very lousy at following through with plans. But somehow it makes me feel ready.

And nervous. Nervous about how to get everybody to do everything every single day of the year. Especially since, right now, with their brains practically turned to mush since I've been letting them live on an electronic overload while I'm making all my plans, and I can barely get them to walk from here to there without a sigh from the eldest, a growl from the second, an eye roll and an argument from the third, weeping from the fourth, a nod and sudden disappearance from the fifth, a suicide threat from the sixth, bargaining from the seventh, complaining from the eighth, incompetence from the ninth and shameless disobedience from the tenth. (I'm exaggerating. They are all still wonderful and helpful and the delight of my eyes.)

And it is really incredible to me that I am excited at all about the next school year, since we only finished the last one YESTERDAY!

Who am I kidding?

I don't know. But there's a spring in my step, a mounting credit card bill, lists on my clipboards, and a brainstorm brewing in my gray matter . . . how can we do it better this year?!

It's a journey. I'm not there yet. I'm better than I was, on my way to what I will be. I'm pressing forward, toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.

I'm not giving up. I'm getting up. And if I fall down tomorrow as I reach for the stars, I'll get back up again.

To quote my favorite old writer/speaker Ann Keimel, "I am just a small ordinary person, but I've got a giant of a God in me, and together, He and I, we're out to change our world." Holler back. (Ann didn't say that last part, by the way.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adjusted Review of the Super 8 Motel in Muskegon, Michigan

If you google "review of super 8 motel in muskegon michigan" you will find that the hotel rated one star in the opinion of more than one guest. But I believe it is a matter of perspective, so I thought I'd share mine.

Me, the hubsand and the G12 stayed a pleasant 4 nights in two tents at the campground, but when the forecast called for nearly 2 inches of gully-washing, we opted to pack up our dry tents and dry gear and spend the last night in the above mentioned establishment.

So here are the highlights of the hotel as I saw it, having come from the campground:

Beds. In each room there were two queen sized beds, both with sheets and blankets and pillows that were not damp or musty smelling.

Floor complete with carpet rather than sand, dirt, and pine needles, relatively safe for little crawlers to practice their newly acquired mobility.

Bug-free. No bees, mosquitoes, flies, daddy-long-legs, or other unidentified critters.

Lights everywhere, outlets everywhere, sand-free shower right in the room! Holler back.

Toilet that I got to flush myself.

The benefit that comes with doors of knowing exactly where each of my darlings was.

No smell of smoke, bug spray, or me.

Having said all that, would I rather have been back at the campground, around the fire, on a lawn chair, eating s'mores, wearing bug spray and damp clothes and dirty kids, walking half a block to the john and with crud in my shoes? Oh yeah. You better believe it.

But in context, the Super 8 was a sweet change, and way better than being washed away in the Little Black Creek.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


i have this sort of horrible, sort of wonderful thing going through my head. i think it might be sort of scriptural, but not sure i could argue it with a theologian. it goes something like this:

i suspect my Father limits my success, or something like that, because He is protecting me from the pride i would develop, and related problems, if i were to be today all that i can be.

i think He'd rather have my CDs in a box on a corner shelf in the local house of prayer, and mostly in boxes in my basement and have me still have a relatively humble heart than be distributed in Family Bookstores nationwide and have me think i'm "something".

i think He'd rather see me overweight and acne faced than petite, pretty and having an affair.

i think He likes me singing at the least attended session of a small local conference and able to really sing to Him, more than being a "headliner" at a major national event, but just putting on a show because my heart is more aware of me than Him.

i think He'd just much rather have me writing this blog with my 22 friends reading it when they get the chance than having me have a book selling big at, if that's what it takes for me to stay near to Him.

in short, He knows my weakness. He knows how very quickly i turn, stumble, stray. He knows how quickly i would try to steal His glory, given the opportunity.

and i'm not saying i'm worthy of any of that other stuff anyway. there are many writers, many singers, many leaders. but my husband only has one wife (thankfully!) and my children only have one mom. my neighborhood only has one me.

the Word i heard this weekend at a conference at our church was (from Elisha and the widow who he helped by filling all the empty jars with oil): stay home, shut the door and pour yourself into the empty pots that you have there.

i am content. i am content to be home. i will write little songs for my kids to memorize verses for Awanas and for the children at church to learn scriptures in Sunday school (what an honor) and for the kids at camp to sing. if children learn my silly little songs and hide God's Word in their hearts, who knows what fruit those little seeds will produce??

i am content to pursue the Lordship of Christ in my little domain, His dominion over the smell in my bathrooms, over the dishes in my sink, over the laundry in the hallway, over the hearts and attitudes of my children, over the number of shoes and jackets lining the floor of the van, over my faithfulness to get allergy shots and dog poop (my eldest has a job picking up dog poop for a friend, something we are supposed to do weekly, and, well, you know).

i am content to pray in secret about secret things, to be a little hidden warrior for my King, fighting for my marriage, my family, my neighborhood, my church, my city, my nation.

hiddenness is my gift from my Father Who sees in secret. it is where i can bloom safely. and should He see fit to someday shine light on His masterpiece, me, may i be found mature enough to do the right thing and give Him all the glory.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

You're not the boss of me!

I am standing in the hallway at my church and a young lad, happens to be the pastor's son, is walking a few steps ahead of me, doing something he shouldn't do. I don't remember what it was, maybe just that he wasn't in the service, maybe he was picking at the corner of a bulletin board. Let's just say, he was not in danger and neither was anyone else. He was not doing any major destruction of property or person. He was just a kid, being a kid. If I had been his mother, I might have said something. But I was not in authority over him, didn't have a relationship with him, so I didn't say anything.

However, also in the hallway was another adult, who was no more connected to him than I, but who took it upon himself to correct him, with these words, "Zach (not his real name), I don't think your dad would want you to do that." Because he knew his dad, our pastor, he felt it was appropriate for him to correct his son. And I don't know that he knew the pastor beyond his being the pastor. Like, not to get together with his family socially, outside church.

I think this sort of thing happens a lot, and may be part of what makes it so rough to be a pastor's kid. It happens to my children also, partly because I was a worship leader for a long time, very visible, and also because I have so many children and they are easy to spot, as they look a lot alike. At camp a couple weeks ago, an adult who was trying to herd a bunch of children, calling them all "camper" not knowing their names, saw one of mine whose name she knew and addressed her by her name. Being singled out from all the other children who were just named "camper" made her feel like she was in trouble more than all the others.

Authority is a touchy subject. We don't have authority over someone just because we know their name or their dad's name. We don't have authority because we are bigger or older or more familiar than someone.

Authority comes from God. It is like electricity, there has to be a connection. You have to get authority from someone who has the authority to give authority. God gives authority to my husband, he shares it with me. When I am leaving the house, I give my authority to whoever I put in charge. My 12 year old son has no authority over my 9 year old daughter UNLESS I GIVE IT TO HIM. When he tries to exert it inappropriately, he gets this response: You're not the boss of me!

I do teach my children to respect adults, to honor them. But just because someone is an adult doesn't mean I want my children to do whatever they say. Not all adults have authority over my children. Only if I give it to them do they have it.

I want my children to understand authority because it has a direct impact on how they relate to God. We live in a church culture that sees God more as a Daddy/Lover/Friend, all of which are right and true, but we neglect to acknowledge Him, sometimes, as King and Lord. But He is that.

At this point in American society, there aren't really any absolutes - everything is negotiable. We do not respect those in authority. We've heard enough stories of corruption in government, police brutality, teachers having inappropriate relationships with students, pastors stumbling, even abusive parents, so we think all of those positions of authority are conditional on whether the leader merits our submission. We have forgotten how to submit to authority.

Because of this, we really don't know how to relate to a God who is King and Lord. It doesn't fit our grid. But we need a new grid. We need a paradigm shift. We need a new mindset. We need REVELATION.

God is God. There is no other. He made us. He made all things. He is in charge of all He made. He brought us into this world, He can take us out and make another to look just like us. He is the Boss of us.

Not only is does He have rights to lordship as Creator, He is something else that makes Him worthy of our submission. Holy. He is holy. That is a concept that is so very foreign to us. We use the word holy all the time, but have very little revelation of it.

It means other than. It means there is nothing like God. It means there is no wickedness, no blemish, no sin, no wrong-ness in Him. Ever. It is beyond our scope.

And it is this holiness that we have lost sight of that leads us to another idea about which we have no comprehension: The Fear of the Lord. What in the world does that mean? Our Bibles have started to translate that word "reverence". Because we don't relate to "fear". At all.

How do you fear Someone Who is the Essence of Goodness? How do you love Someone and fear Him at the same time? If He is a scary, fearsome God, why do we follow Him? How can He be merciful and loving and also be a judge?

But He is both. He is love, He is loving, His lovingkindness endures forever. His mercies are new every morning. And He is holy, and just, and righteous altogether.

The whole Bible is true, not just the parts we like or relate to are agree with. He is that Guy that wiped out Ananias and Sapphira for lying about their offering. He is that Guy who sent the Israelites to massacre various people groups living in the land He gave them. He is a righteous Judge. He is right to judge and all His judgements are right. He is holy, He is love.

And He is the boss of us.