Details, details, details

Today is a detail day — schedule the oil change, get the groceries,  call the university, fold the laundry, etc.  I have lots to do…actually lots to do all week long. 

These details were a bit overwhelming last night when we had just returned from dropping off the baby at college eight hours away.  And, I’m a little irritated at the moment that I can’t just lie around and mope.  Already I am laughing at myself. 

It’s all by God’s design isn’t it?  He knew in advance that I would be a little torn up today — worrying, grieving, overthinking — so he made sure my plate was full for a bit.  It’s all good stuff — family visiting tonight through Friday, an appointment with a specialist, some cooking, some cleaning, and definitely some writing.  

I will find some time in the midst of the details to grieve a little, to wallow a little, to mope a little.  But, I will have to wipe the tears and drag myself out of bed to get a few things done.  

After all, one daughter is still here!  In fact, she greeted us last night when we returned from our trip with a warm dinner and lots of energy!  I couldn’t bring myself to write a grocery list, but she could.  I was overwhelmed at the thought of laundry, but she had it started!  God’s design.  He knew that if they were all gone at once, I would be overcome by loneliness.  He’s easing me into the empty nest.  

My niece is coming to visit tonight, bringing more energy into our home.  Two twenty-one year olds full of possibility and promise — they will take a road trip tomorrow!  What fun! They will leave me here to write, think, rest, and grieve for a couple of days, then they will bring their energy back.  

Do you see that detail?  God was setting up the details ahead of time, taking care of me, knowing exactly what I needed.  He knew I needed to do for a little while and then be for a little while.  He knew I needed people in my house for a while.  He knew what I needed before I even asked.  He’s got August taken care of, so that I can face September.  He’s always looking out for me, and for you. 

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer;  

my god is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 

Psalm 18:2

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, revisit

On Monday (August 26, 2019) I wrote that Change is Constant. Since then, even more change has happened in my everyday life. I’ve unearthed this post first written in August 2014 to remind myself of all the changes we’ve lived through and been changed by as a family — to remind myself that change brings the potential for transformation.

On December 21, 1989, when my husband proposed to me, he said, “Things are going to get busy for a while.”  He wasn’t kidding.  

In the last 25 years we have lived in eleven different homes, parented four children (giving birth to three within three years!), earned three Master’s degrees, taught hundreds of students, driven thousands of miles, and attended dozens of churches. Things have indeed been busy! 

We have experienced lots of change–as individuals, and as a family. At first, I braced myself for change and tried to ‘get through’ it, but I’ve come to realize that change is our constant and bracing myself all the time just leaves me exhausted. 

Although steeling myself against change is still my initial reaction, I’ve learned that when I lean in, change goes more smoothly. It can even be pleasant — invigorating.

In fact, early in our marriage, my husband really enjoyed reorganizing all the furniture in the house. He would get an idea to rotate all the bedrooms — all in one day!  The master bedroom would become the kids’ dorm.  The girls’ room would become the den.  It would be an all-day project. I know it sounds like lots of work, but we always liked the outcome — a fresh start, a new perspective. 

When the kids were in elementary school, we spent many hours investigating and discussing before we decided to move them from a parochial to a public school. One school was not better than the other, but they were very different. It was a huge change. My husband and I felt it was the right decision, so we acted. It was a huge transition for the kids; you’d have to ask them how they feel about that choice now. Each would probably answer differently, especially since the very next year, we not only switched their schools again, we moved them to an entirely different state! A different time zone!  A different — sweatier –climate! 

That move meant not only a change in school, but a change from the only church they had ever known — where they were all born, rocked, sung to, cuddled. We all looked shell-shocked for a couple of years. It was a lot of change.  

While there, in Missouri, we made so many deep friendships. I would not trade that time for anything. But, at times, it was like living through a deployment. We encountered a new culture, we soldiered through difficulties, we sustained some injuries, and we’ve never been the same.

Change changes us.  

I am not the person I was on December 21, 1989. Thank goodness!!  Neither is my husband.  Thank goodness!! All of this busy-ness, all of these changes, have transformed us.  

When we were at one of our first congregations, with all our babies, a dear friend said, “I see you guys as a diamond in the rough–the outside is being chiseled away to reveal that beautiful inside.”  I may have been a little offended at the moment, but I now treasure the fact that she saw some potential under the rough exterior that we wore back in our twenties.  

I’d like to think that the changes we have endured have chiseled away some stubbornness, some judgmental attitudes, some close-mindedness, but we aren’t done yet. Change is our constant. And, even today, as I find myself in the midst of great change, I lean in. I know that these changes, too, will be transformative, and I am not afraid.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

2 Cor 4:16

Fairy-tale life

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a young mother, looking frazzled and exhausted from caring for her brood of small children walked into church carrying an infant and being trailed by two toddlers.  A wise, older woman smiled at her tenderly and said, “Treasure this time, dearie, the years will just fly by.”

The young mother, being polite, smiled and nodded, but on the inside she thought to herself, “The years may fly by, but these minutes are exhausting!”

Indeed they were exhausting, and lovely.  Many years have passed, and that infant in the mother’s arms is packed and loaded for college…five hundred miles away. The toddlers?  One is a soldier, seven hundred miles away, the other a college-grad, launching a life six hundred miles away. Their older brother?  A soon-to-be father, dedicated husband, and businessman two hundred and fifty miles away.  

And the mother is remembering that smiling older woman, thinking “she was so right.”  The years have flown by.  The babies are grown.  They are leaving the nest. 

And as I sit in this soon-to-be-empty nest, I am filled with thankfulness for these loud, crazy, brilliant, beautiful children that God has loaned to me for a while.  It hasn’t all been hearts and flowers, but it has been rich and life-changing.  And it’s just beginning!  

We are all starting our next chapter — college, career, service, parenthood, and whatever else the Lord has planned.  It is a very exciting time, filled with so much emotion.  We are excited, anxious, sad, happy, exhilarated….

Last night we had a rare moment where five of us were connected by Skype, laughing and smiling.  I drank it in.  I have been so blessed to have these amazing humans inhabit my nest.  I know they will periodically land here.  I look forward to it. 

Children are a heritage from the Lord. 

Psalm 127:3