Honeysuckle in the Thicket

Let’s just start up again, casual-like, and talk about the garden this summer, and how the gnats are just so awful they’ll make a person mad, and let’s mention once more that the kids are growing up so fast (like weeds!) and we never saw it coming.

Because it’s all true, and sometimes the gnats really are all I can think about, when they’re swarming thickly in my face while I’m pulling thistles from garden boxes with a gloved hand. But in an unclouded moment, my mind wanders to where we’ve been these last 18 months, (the last four years spent moving into this place, really) and I finally come to rest on the right word: transition. I look forward and wonder what settled looks like, if it really exists. We can talk about that too, if there’s time. 

For now, the strawberries are putting out runners that promise even more plants next year, and my sunflower seeds have sprouted. There is a garage and workshop that’s taking shape next to the house, and a new bedroom and a second bathroom coming soon inside. (We give special thanks for this and hope it reduces much yelling and pounding on doors.) This week we’re stepping out into uncharted territory with two adults working away from home while O spends a couple of days with his grandmothers, and we look ahead to the fall when he will be learning in the home of wonderful friends four days a week. 

Between now and then, though, that boy turns 10, the new ceilings get painted, we read Harry Potter aloud at night together, we pack lunch boxes for work. We also begin a cancer journey with a dear sister, which lends a heaviness to the summer that no one could have anticipated and brings into sharp focus the preciousness of all of these normal things and the moments we have together. 

We have this one brief lifetime, made up of little snippets strung together into something bizarrely beautiful, unique and unrepeatable; a gift from God that we offer back to Him. As much as I’ve tried to writhe and punch my way out of the suffering bit, it’s there that I encounter Him best; it’s in my pain and disease that He comes close and changes me with his touch and words, with healing ointment made of spit and dirt.

To you and to everyone I say keep going--we'll make it through. Life is honeysuckle in the thicket, and it is so hard and so good and so beautiful and so wrong all at once and everywhere. But He is also everywhere, and He is with us. Take heart.  

With my Wednesday Breakfast

I left work at 2pm yesterday and when I arrived home I took Oliver down to the creek and I remembered who I have always been and always will be: the girl who walks at the creek with her head down, looking for interesting rocks and marveling at the way the water moves (laughingly, loudly, swirlingly) on its course. 

Working full time has knocked the wind out of me (all three of us, really) and filled me up in a new way all at once. I didn't intend to be in my office at 6:20 or 7:30 in the morning many days, but there has been work to do, and I am Responsible, if nothing else. I started in this administrative assistant position during the busy season, "jumping in with both feet" as my coworkers keep remarking.  Yes, I smile weakly. 

I will say truthfully that I love the work. It is both relational and detailed, split neatly down both sides of my brain.  Every morning, I flip on the lights in my office, hang my coat and bag on the back of the door, turn on my computer, fill my water jar at the dispenser down the hall, then sit at my desk and ask myself: Which will it be first today? Eat the frog, or pick the low-hanging fruit?

But being gone like this for the first time in nine years has its costs. Even our UPS delivery man, learning from my granny that I was working full time in town, made the thoughtful comment that it must be hard for me to be away from home so much. 

Aside from the logistics of dog hair and a dirty bathroom, groceries and well-rounded meals (I was never good at meals to begin with), I am still uncovering what all of this means for my identity: am I less or more, same or different? After only two months, I understand "no time" from a working wife and mother's perspective more than I ever did before. I understand piles of mail and a full inbox and not responding to messages from friends; I understand measuring every expenditure against how many hours it took me away from my home and family.  (Forgive me, Chad, for not doing this all the years you worked outside the home for us.)

And my Oliver-- he misses his mama, though he tells me in different (and very non-endearing) ways. Being home with his daddy all day is good-- he is nine, he is a boy, he needs to work and play and learn with his dad. But he needs a woman's soft presence too. It is not natural for me to be soft when I am hard pressed and tired. This is a challenge; I fail often.

My husband is a miracle-- he is getting up at 5am to work (web design), homeschooling Oliver, starting supper, doing dishes, keeping the house tidy for my sanity's sake, and being available to help absorb and hold all that I am processing. 

We are all three learning this dance and there are a lot of missteps right now, cracked heads and tread-upon toes. Pray for us.  

I had time to write this while finishing up my avocado and feta on toast and my morning mug of earl grey, going into work a little later today, because--I force myself to acknowledge this--it's really okay. I don't have to get back on the merry-go-round of perfectionism and burnout that I have ridden before, just because That's Who I Am. I'm older now, wiser, with a lot more at stake. 

Whole, true, free...Figuring out what that looks like in this new territory.  

Blessed Wednesday, friend.