Monday, March 8, 2010

Mommies, Children, Puppy, Sermon

I've missed being here.

But the week I've had has been worth the sacrifice.  It was a hard week, busy and full and exhausting with a lot of hope and expectation and uncertainty hanging in the balance, but those kinds of days and weeks often offer the very best rewards for our efforts.

The climax of the last seven days occurred Friday, when I was given the opportunity to share my heart with some remarkable women and fellow moms at the church we call home.  I spent most of the week preparing, which largely amounted to a lot of head-spinning and swirling reflection: so many thoughts and ideas about this impossible job, so many stories of failure and redemption, so much to share about coming to the end of myself as a mother and having to step into faith and hope and love in Jesus--and in my kids.  I eventually found some kind of direction through the ocean of possible approaches.  The waters finally parted in my mind to make way for a coherent story, and--as is the case anytime we dare to reveal our heart in its deepest, truest sense within a community that embraces rather than judges frailty--it was good.  For me.  And I think for them.  There is a collective relief in confession and in an acknowledgement of what is true.  It begins to crack open our heart and mind to something greater than our confines of fear.  This is fellowship, communion, the proverbial village at its best.  If only we had more of it...

Then Saturday, after the first long, full night of sleep I'd had since Monday, Ben and I had a lunch date after my spin class at the rec center.  We sat next to each other at the table eating our vegetables and then our pizza, talking about the basketball game on the t.v. nearby.  Our time together was simple but sweet.  He asked if he could get Mike & Ikes from the candy machine after our lunch, and I agreed.  It's a date, after all.  To my surprise, he turned down honey on his crust (a tradition specific to BeauJo's pizza here in Colorado), noting that his body probably didn't need two sweets.  I was so proud of his budding awareness of nutrition, of his ability to take care of himself with such discipline.  I think I smiled all the way home at this evidence of his developing decision-making skills, this small confirmation that the work of handing over decisions and responsibility does, indeed, pay off eventually.  We don't always get to see the fruits of our parenting labors so clearly, so I accepted this glimpse as a gift.

The highlight of the weekend came Saturday afternoon, when we trekked to Loveland--over an hour and a half drive from our house--to see the puppy that will soon be ours.  We hadn't known which puppy would be ours when we visited the litter a week ago, so we hadn't paid particular attention to their personalities.  After spending the afternoon observing and playing, any reservation I had about this puppy endeavor vanished.  There will be hard work and frustrating moments without question, but I am convinced Merlot will be the perfect addition to our family: warm, affectionate, drawn to people and to us, playful but also the first to lay down on the sidelines and watch the others in their puppy play.  Abby, who acts much like a puppy herself, excited the pups in her exuberance, often resulting in a barrage of jumping up and barking.  Merlot found her interesting but responded with the least excitability, attracted to our bouncing, shrieking, giggling girl without losing herself.  If she can handle Abby, she can handle anything, I'm sure.  Now to potty train a two-year-old and house train a puppy at the same time--let the chocolate chips and doggy treats roll!

I think what made this week so sweet for me was several small fruitions of hope (which our pastor, in the midst of yet another profound sermon, pointed out is by definition a hole, a longing, a desire as yet unfulfilled).  Hope hurts at times, aches.  But I realize it also keeps us alive.  This week represented a small taste of hope fulfilled: in being received and understood by a community of women, in witnessing Ben's self-discipline, in seeing a hint that we have, in fact, found the right dog for our family.  All these holes of uncertainty that represent my hopes, big and small, profound and mundane--for a community of moms who can speak truth into each other and their children, for a child who will learn to make his way in the world, for a pup that will bring more joy than trouble to our home--they all filled in a little bit, making it easier to have faith in what is to come, increasing my willingness to hope even more.

Abby has a lovely book called All the World which surveys the simple, ordinary, everyday elements of life and then speaks to their great significance.  It begins, "Rock, stone, pebble, sand.  Body, shoulder, arm, hand.  A moat to dig, a shell to keep.  All the world is wide and deep."  It continues this way throughout the book before ending, "Hope and peace and love and trust.  All the world is all of us." I love this story, made especially precious by the little voices next to me who recite it from start to finish.

For me, this week was "Think, write, speak, listen.  Mommies, children, puppy, sermon.  A life to share at home, out there.  Hope and faith grow everywhere."

It was an eventful week for me, and it was good.   But it's nice to be back here sharing it with you.


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