Sunday, May 23, 2010

You Can Have All this World...

The wind blew sharp and cold against my cheeks and neck. I pulled my coat tighter around me, wrapped my arms around my body, and hunched my shoulders against to shivering breeze. The clouds above me moved with the wind and the sun was no longer hidden. It began warming up again and I closed my eyes against the brightness and took a deep, contented breath of fresh air.

It had taken several minutes, after climbing the path to the top of the hill, to realize what that mysterious sound was that I had heard. It was the wind as it flowed through trees, around hills, up valleys and down mountainsides, reaching past, jostling from behind, swirling about, reminding me of what it feels like to be away from the rest of the world. I took another deep breath in and blew it out again as tears made pathways down the makeup I applied earlier that morning. It seemed as if the tears were melting away parts of a mask, revealing my true face and with it my real and exhausted emotions. On this mountain, in front of three giant crosses, I was at the end of who I thought I was. I was at the end of who I had become.

For the last several years I believed I was a city girl. I don't like camping, I don't like sleeping on the ground, and I don't like getting dirty. I like electricity, I like indoor plumbing, and I like to go places and not take all day to get there. From a very young age I loved the excitement of being in large cities, going to gigantic shopping malls and being surrounded by beauty and glamour. I was captivated by that shining and shimmering world, that alluring universe of enchantment. I wanted that life and the one I had paled in comparison.

Until now...

For the last two years my life turned upside down and inside out on me. Life as I knew it was forever changed and, for the first time in years, I was forced to view life with fresh perspective. With my foundation shaken to it's core, all the things I had been excited by in the past no longer look so grand. Instead of being full, I am empty. Instead of excited, I am bored. Instead of enchanted, I am discontented. It has all been fluff, no substance. The make-up, hairstyling, and clothes all seem like a waste of time and energy and a chore.

These things aren't bad to do and I will most likely keep doing them, but what my heart was concerned with was ugly. The things of this world that I've been preoccupied with leave nothing to be desired. It's like eating marshmallows for dinner. They may taste good at first, but they won't last long and you'll eventually get sick on them. My concentrating on the things of this world was making me sick and I had no idea until I got away from it all for the weekend.

The first day we drove into those mountains I felt withdrawals. I was nervous from being so far away from civilization, but after a day I began to relax. Instead of hearing honking horns and reving engines, I heard the rustling of leaves and the scurrying of squirrels. Instead of being surrounded by hundreds of homes and people, I was surrounded by swaying trees and whistling birds. And instead of feeling lost and alone, I felt found again and more full then I ever have in a mall.

As I sat on that mountain top, feeling the wind brush away my tears, I found a peace I had long forgotten. The peace of simply coming before the Lord and laying all of me-my sins, insecurities, mistakes, triumphs and gifts-at the foot of the cross. I have been so caught up in the 'bells and whistles' of Christian living that I have forgotten the simple wonder of sitting at his feet and praying. Like my distraction with the world, I had become distracted with church music sounding the 'right' way in order to worship Jesus and concerned with who delivered a sermon than the sermon itself. Shame on me.

But the baggage I had carried on my back as I drove those switch-back roads to the ranch, fell away at the top of that hill. What my heart longed for was the exquisite beauty of simplicity. Simply coming before the Lord with the Word of God opened and a voice to sing praises to Him. Nothing else is needed, only ears to hear and a heart bowed before His throne.

"You can have all this world, just give me Jesus." ~ Fernando Ortega

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Breakfast at Dutch Brothers

Have you every spent $2.50 just to talk to another adult? I remember a few years ago, when my children were all under the age of five, I would haul them into the van, buckle them up, insert ear plugs to drown out whining and/or crying, and drive down to Dutch Bros. for coffee.

Sure, I needed the energy, and the children enjoyed getting out of the house for the most part, but what I really needed was to talk to someone about something other than diapers, nursing vs. formula, and nap times. As soon as I spotted the sign for the kiosk my whole day brightened up and even the children would squeal with delight. I would be getting my daily dose of energy and interaction and my children would each get a sucker. It was a great way to start the day!

It never failed that when I pulled up to the window there would be a young guy asking me what he could get for me and he always called me "honey". It wasn't the "honey" that warmed the cockles of my heart as much as it was that he talked to me nicely and he wanted to do something for me instead of me doing it for everybody else. All I had to do was sit there while he expertly made my drink, oh, and pay him money to do so. It was money, I thought, well spent.

I had long forgotten those random trips to Dutch Bros. until this last week. A sweet friend invited me to the church for a mom's group she and some friends had started in September. I wasn't going to go but my day opened up and I felt the Lord's urging to try it out. So, Ellianna, my five-year-old 'baby', and I ventured off to the mom's group. We left the peace of the parking lot and stepped into the chaos of baby land.

About twenty women, babies and children filled the great room. I stood planted to one spot, shocked by the noise and the fact that I had forgotten the constant sounds small children make. Over the next hour and a half I watched the women as they conversed, laughed, planned for a luncheon, ate, passed babies to each other, and generally enjoy each other's company. I had a wonderful time as I caught up with some of the girls and what they were up to nowadays. It went quickly and before I knew it I was on my way home, both Elli and I enjoying the silence of the van.

As I drove home my mind played a mental video of years past when I would drive home with just two small children after a morning at the Ladies Bible Study or some function or other. Logan would be babbling about wanting lunch and Garrett would be either babbling as well or screaming his head off. I would drive home, sometimes turn up the radio in hopes of drowning out the angry screams from the back seat, and plan what to make for lunch for the children. After eating the children would take a nap and sometimes I would too. My days were simple. They revolved around meals, nap times, and bedtimes. At the time life felt difficult and monotonous. I was elbow deep in diapers and knee deep in laundry with no end in sight.

Fast forward to the present. We decreased our monthly expenses on diapers only to have it increase in the amount of food we eat. I stand hip-deep in laundry since the clothes are no longer sweet and small, but instead long and bulky. My daily schedule no longer revolves around nap times, but around school bells and soccer practices. Conversations no longer involve them learning new words to say, but new words to not repeat ever again...And my prayers are no longer just "Lord, get me through this day," but also, "Lord, help my children to make it through this day safely."

When I pulled into my driveway I felt like I had taken a five year jaunt instead of a ten minute drive. I missed my boys, I missed the simplicity of life, but I didn't miss the crying. What I was surprised to miss was the getting together of moms. I hadn't realized how long it had been since I had gathered with other young mothers and discussed baby things, laugh about the cute things children do, and swap ideas on how to make motherhood a little more bearable.

Yes, my life has changed dramatically in just five years, but there are some things that remain the same. I still need to gather with other moms and discuss issues we have with our children, I still need the friends that the Lord has blessed me with over the years, and I still very much need coffee...