Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hurrying and Redemption

Heart races, muscles tighten, mind tenses; “I must finish this so I can get on to the next thing!” Hurrying- it’s one of the biggest problems I see in myself, that is when I slow down enough to see it. I don’t know when or how it started in me. Probably it’s prompted by my desire to please, my drive to excel, my fear that life will pass me by and I’ll miss the best parts. The irony is that no one is pleased with an uptight woman, excellence without peace isn’t excellent, and life lived in a rush isn’t lived fully.

Last Tuesday I left the boys with Geryll and hurried through the rain to Big Lots for paper clips. I hate that cluttered store, but it's nearby and has clips. As I grabbed a box it's flimsy packaging immediately gave way. Clips flew everywhere. Wanting to kick them aside, I instead bent and picked them up, figuring this is what a Christian lady should do: care about the person who has to clean them up rather than her own hurry.

Clips back in package I reached for another box. The same thing happened. Again, this Christian lady quickly gathered them.

At the front of the store I dashed to an open register. Three cashiers stood by talking. One turned to me snapping, “Go over there, there isn’t anyone at this register. It’s not open.”

My disgusted response came before I could bite my tongue, “It sure looks like it is.”

Seething in the long line, I vowed, "This is the last time I’m shopping here. If they want customers they need to be nicer than all that. This only confirms my dislike of this store.”

So much for that nice Christian lady.

When I reached the checkout the cashier said, “You don’t look impressed.”

Embarrassed, I muttered something about being in a hurry.

At home I begged my God forgiveness. What if the cashier was the mom of a Kid’s Club student? What if she showed up at my church and recognized me?

I scolded myself realizing my thoughts toward the store personnel applied to me too. If I want people to "shop at my store" and love the Jesus I love I need to be return evil with good. My actions may have only confirmed that woman's bad opinion of Mennonites.

God is a God of redemption but I couldn’t see how He could redeem this. My head knew He forgave me, but my heart didn’t feel it. I know better than to kick myself –after all, no one is perfect- but I still did.

In Sunday School on Sunday my friends shared beautiful testimonies of things they did because of the life of Jesus in them. My mouth stayed shut while my heart pounded. Finally the last five minutes of class I admitted the truth about Big Lots.

With confession came redemption. One woman said, “Don’t go to shame. Things like this remind us that we need to do good out of the life of Jesus in us, not on our own strength.” Still more sisters hugged and affirmed me.

I’d still take back my harsh words to the cashier, but I’d never take back that experience of love and mercy. I still hurry. A half hour ago I had to force myself to sit and journal because I’d rather be working. But, I sit in reflection because I am begging God to help me be calm at the core, always aware of His life in me. So, if you meet me and I’m rushing, just say, “Jesus is in you Carla. He can handle everything. Operate out of His life in you.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Boys

These days my life centers on two small people. The baby smiles and coos, convincing me to hold him rather than do my work, teaching me that holding him is an essential part of my work. The big boy talks loudly in his excitement over little things, convincing me to stop what I'm doing and read him a book, teaching me to delight in the simple things.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Home from Vacation

We're back in cold, rainy Meadville after a vacation to the Outer Banks. Hurricane Earl sent us home two days early. Hurricanes and vacation go together for us. Hurricane Frances sent us home a week early on our honeymoon.

Vacationing with a five week old baby and a two year old definitely stretches me as a mom. Some experiences are so much sweeter others are so much more trying. Thursday morning was that way. Both boys were awake at 5:45. Since I'd been hoping to slip out to the beach and watch the sunrise I decided to take them with me.

In the dim calm of the morning, pushing Tristan in the stroller and carrying Alex in the sling I felt so happy to be a mama sharing this special morning with my boys. We got to the beach and waited and waited and waited for the sun to rise. Any thoughts of meditation for me where vain since Tristan begged to go back to the house. We sang songs and said verses and counted the pelicans flying overhead. Finally I realized the sun had risen behind the clouds. So much for Tristan being excited about watching the orange ball of sun rise for the first time.

I remind myself that all too soon my boys will be older and I'll be able to go watch the sunrise in peace. Probably then I'll be begging one of them to wake up and see it with me. 
The sling is a lifesaver! Alex and I both love it. When I'm outside he can ride in here protected from the sun and wind. It's been great at picnics, enabling me to help Tristan or get my own food while holding Alex. I made the sling, following the tutorial found here. Usually he inside the sling further than he is on the picture. He's getting too big for this one.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Celebrating Six Years

August 28 Geryll and I celebrated our sixth anniversary. I remember the first time I met Geryll, in the summer of 2001. He walked up to me in the Faith Builders gym where I was playing basketball. Conscious of my sweaty body and red face I stuck out a damp hand and said "hi", flattered that such a hot guy would be interested in me enough to introduce himself. Little did we know. . .

I returned to Faith Builders as a full time student the fall of 2002, determined not to fall in love. Well, there are some things you can't control. Eight years later we've gone from one adventure after the other together.

For those of you who know our extended family, check out those little girls. Six years later they are beautiful young women!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Precious Little One

For him we've been waiting. As Geryll wrote several weeks ago:

Within the bounds of the universe
Grows a seed of its own the first
Out of ecstasy life takes root
Unknown yet received as the silent dew.

Within the bounds but unbound within
A soul awakes where none has been
Unfolds a world which, unconstrained
Changes the place herein contained.

Love is a seed which sheds its fruit
Upon hard earth or indifferent brute
Yet sweetens the place where grace has passed
And wakes the smiles like blades of grass

Precious little one, who might you be
Wringing the heart of its tears and glee
Now for the present we wait and see
Wait for the flower escaping the seed

On July 25 at 5:55 p.m. Geryll, the midwife, and I saw for the first time the person no one had yet seen- little Alex Samuel, weighing 7 lbs. 8 oz. 20 1/2 inches long. We delight in his wholeness and sweet disposition. So far he has been very contented, sleeping and eating well.

Tristan has had an emotional week of missing Mama's attention. If only he could talk more about what he's feeling! He loves Alex, often wanting to hold him. The trouble now is that Tristan has a cold, making me anxious about him touching the baby.

As I sat in the clinic, cuddling my newborn son, these words played through my mind for him, "God has given you all that you need in the package of your life to be an overcomer". I don't know what Alex will have to overcome. I do know that life is a battle. My mama heart wants to shield him as much as possible. In all this goodness I can still fear many things, realizing that as I embrace life I must also embrace death. I can't imagine living without Jesus' sustaining presence.

It has been a week of one blessing after the next. We would never have made it without the help of the grandmas. Our friends blessed us with phone calls, emails, gifts, cards, and food. I could go crazy trying to absorb it all, feeling so unworthy and so grateful.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankful for Song

Last Saturday morning as I cleaned my kitchen my mind churned out grouchy thoughts. All morning I'd been an emotional mess, perhaps partly due to the naughty donut I'd eaten first thing. I forced myself to sing words I didn't feel like singing but still wanted to be true, "Spirit of God, descend upon my heart." To my surprise, the grouchy went away immediately. The song changed my morning.

I married a man with a beautiful singing voice. He sings while he works. He sings our boy to sleep at night. Together we have a son who loves singing. Tristan often gets the pitch pipe (he calls it the "wa wa"), blows it, hums "do-so" and walks around singing in his mostly monotone voice. When Daddy is home Tristan loves to bring him the songbook and pitch pipe so they can sing together. I believe Geryll's songs nurture Tristan's spirit in ways nothing else could.

Today I thank God for the life giving, reality changing power of words set to song.