walk.

I have two puppies.  This was a brilliant idea when, on the first day of school, all six of my babies climbed on busses and drove away and I, brimming with hormones and completely lost, decided that another puppy was the most logical course of action. They spend their days needing stuff, just like the 6 kids I put on the bus every morning.  See how smart this was? And I’m more tied to the house than ever before because New Guy has to pee every four minutes.  So smart.  There will be a day when this is so great, but it prolly won’t be this day.

This is the tale of walking two puppies.  Winston pulls and wants to lead.  He is like me.  Baxter (New Guy) walks so closely to my heels that I often step on him.  Baxter is how I need to be.  Because here’s what I know about myself: I love to be in the lead, love to be in charge.  Even when following the God of the universe (the actual God of the actual universe), I often pull and pull and try to get him to go where I want to go.  This way is where I’ve always envisioned myself going, I say.  And as I pull, I get all gaspy and I choke and it’s miserable.  I’m miserable.

I wasn’t made to lead. I was created to follow. So closely to my Father that I trip over his feet.  That his very steps become my own.  And so closely that wherever he goes, I can’t help but go too because I’m tethered to him That’s just exactly what it takes to make stubborn, ridiculous me follow: a strong rope and a worthy leader.  And the promise that if I continue to pull and demand my own way, I’ll be given it.  He might loose the leash for a time and let me run and it’ll hurt eventually, it always does when we think we can run free of our Creator.  We think it’s going to be so great to be given over and it ends up just hurting. Your kids, you can teach them and teach them to stay away from the hot stove, but one touch and they’ll be taught it in a way that gets through. My high school and college years were filled with this untethered freedom and I bear scars from it.  Scars that taught me that it’s best for my own safety to be tethered to the Master.  That learning to follow is precious work.  We say often to our Smalls, “You need to obey us so that you can obey the Holy Spirit when he speaks to you.  We are your practice.  Hear our voices and learn to obey them and it will go easier for you when your Father speaks.” It’s the only commandment in the Bible with a rule and a promise: Obey your mothers and fathers that your life may be long.  Childhood is practice for spiritual maturity.  The young pups who pull will, we pray, become the patient dogs who follow. Lord, let them become the patient dogs who follow.  If we don’t screw them up in one area, let it be this one.  So that we can raise a generation of people who know that being tethered to the master is the safest and holiest place to be.

Lest you think that I want my kids to be meek in the world, let me tell you no.  Be meek with their savior, but warriors in the world, that’s what I pray.  But that stretches the analogy too much and makes it feel contrived, so we’ll leave it.  Just know this: that how you choose to walk it, wether pulling or following, has repercussions in the spiritual realm and in your own family.  They will watch you struggle with authority and question their own or they will wonder at your obedience and hope to emulate it someday themselves.  How we walk this out affects generations of people.  I sometimes feel weighted down by this realization, but it’s truth and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you.  Be a Baxter.

This is me being real.

 

repeat.

Lessons you will learn this week:

~Your mom on Versed is like maggie every day.  Tell it, wait four minutes, tell it again.  It’s Groundhog Day, only neither of them looks like Bill Murray, thankfully.

~Your kids teacher will send a group email saying that many parents have contacted her with concerns for their child and she is wanting to give each one due process, so please be patient.  You will smile because you live in a district rife with helicopter parents and your concerns are prolly the only valid ones.  She will validate your validity in her response to you.  She is new to district, so she will tiptoe around you, verbally.  You will respond with solid truth without embellishment and a realistic assessment of your kid’s abilities in the hopes that we can move on and get this figured out.  You will smile harder thinking of her relief.

~Your girls have their last horse show of the season.  It’s western themed and because your man barn moms so hard and has nothing western themed to wear, you will drive out to the boonies and pick that man up a cowboy hat and the biggest best buckle money can buy.  It’ll require a special belt that people who wear big buckles just call “belt” and it’ll be carved with the words, “Protect our Second Amendment Rights”.  He will refuse to wear it, but you will be glad you bought it anyway.  Everyone needs a belt buckle like that, you are certain.

~You will think the pups are chewing on a bone.  Together.  So cute.  Until you realize they’ve chewed through the trim in your family room and you will feel a little sick to your stomach at the sight of sawdust on their muzzles.  You will remind yourself that nothing is precious but people and Jesus but you won’t really believe it.  You’re savvy like that.

~You will ride the waves of emotion that control teens and exhausted kids, both.  Ride them like a cowboy.  Your daughter, having just returned from 2 nights at 6th grade camp will alternate between laughing and crying no fewer than 5 times in the 8 miles between school and home.  You will stop trying to pick the right response and will just pray silently.  This is what it means to be tired.  Your teens will do the same and they are getting plenty of sleep.  This is a mystery whose only clues are hormones and a knife in the library with Colonel Mustard.  None of it makes sense.

~You will splurge on a pair of kickin’ boots, only to be actually wearing them when you see a refugee mother holding a dead baby.  The guilt will nearly drive you to your knees, which is where you ought to be anyway, instead of shopping online.  How can there be such discrepancies in this world?  And how did you end up on this side of them, you will wonder.

~Sometime this week, all the get-to-know-you-activities your children (and by children I mean you) did this month will come home.  You will gather them up and put them in a bin because if you ever in your life have to put 5 objects that describe your child in a brown paper bag again, you will drop your soul and walk away.  Your babies will wonder how they can possibly use those same things next year?  What if they develop new talents or have a radical life experience in the intervening 365 days?  Just see that you don’t, you will tell them.  You will not feel an ounce of guilt over this pronouncement.

~You will develop a zit in your arm pit and convince yourself that it is more painful that recovering from a c-section.  Your husband will propose that maybe it isn’t and you will only glare at him.  He has no idea.

~You will take the time several afternoons to lay by the pool and chat with Father.  If you don’t have a pool, any place quiet and without tv will do.  You will lay, body in an exclamation mark, and worship in the sun he created and surrounded by the beauty you get to live in.  It’s ridiculously lavish and you deserve not a bit of it.  You should tell him that.  You will remind yourself that prayer is work, that it calls into battle beings in the heavenly realm and that is work.  Keep doing it; it is precious and vital.

Happy Weekend.

This is me being real.

 

refuge.

“Arms, sheltering Arms, express the loving tenderness of you Father (My Father) in Heaven.  Man, in his trouble and difficulty, needs nothing so much as a refuge.  a place to hide in. A place where none and nothing can touch him.

Say to yourself, “He is our Refuge.” Say it until it’s truth sinks into your very soul.  Say it until you know it-are so sure of it, that nothing can make you afraid.

Feel this, not only until fear goes, but until Joy ripples through in its place.  Refuge.  Everlasting Arms-so untiring-so safe-so secure.”

~God Calling

This was my reading this morning while the house slept and the world raged outside my peaceful home.  While Hurricane Harvey, continued to wreak havoc on the lives of Texans and Hurricane Irma barreled through the Caribbean and while a shipload of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar sank.  While 800,000 Dreamers wondered what their future holds, while we all wonder what our future holds as North Korea has its finger on the trigger and everything feels like it’s falling apart.  I’m adopting this as my battle cry: “He is our refuge!” “He is our refuge!”

This truth, that Father comes and calms the storm and holds us while we rebuild, it is bread to a hungry world.  To Texans and Floridians and Rohingyans and to me.  It is a promise that no matter how desperate things become there is a Place.  And the Church needs to be the bridge.  You and me, we’d better be the bridge between a displaced people and The Refuge.  We start by opening our homes, donating money, praying.  It is our vow that if you are displaced, we will find you a bed, a meal, clothes, even if we have to take them off our very backs.  We will show up and we will love the socks off you because we are the proxy for the King.  And even though we just totally suck at it most days, we will keep trying because this life is just a bad afternoon compared to an eternity with The Refuge and we are longing to go there.  So, come.  Make it your anthem, this commitment to Father as Refuge.  “Say it until you know it-are so sure of it, that nothing can make you afraid.”

I’ll be real, sort of pigeon-holed myself into that one, and say that I seek refuge from fear of Abe’s heart condition, which is changing and scaring us, refuge from this new phase in which all my babies are at school and I’m unsure where my place is, refuge from the certainty that things in this world are going to get far, far worse before they show any signs of letting up. I seek refuge from the voices in my head telling me I’m not busy/smart/thin/talented/patient enough.  You hear them too, I know you do.  Father is your Refuge.  He is.  He, alone, can still the voices and the storm.  He created them both and they know his voice.  They listen and they will obey.  And you may lay on your bed for a time, your body curled into a question mark as you wonder about the falling apartness around you, but there will be a day, I promise there will, when your body will straighten into an exclamation mark, arms stretched to your Refuge and you will be not afraid anymore.  Friend, I am praying you into that posture.  I’ve spent hours and days in both the dark and light places and you will too.  If all is dark to you right now, hold on…light is coming.  If all is light to you right now, hold on…dark is coming.  And in both you will hold out your hand and it will be met by The Refuge.  Thank God it will be met, always met, by The Refuge.

This is me being real.  And actually sitting down to tell you how great my new slippers are and how much I’m coveting the stunning marriage of Anthro and Liberty (move over chocolate and peanut butter), but then feeling like maybe this day was crying out for a little more meat to chew on, so there you go.  Nom nom.

first.

Because I’ve committed to September, at least.  Committed to praying and resting and asking Father what is next for me in this new season when all the Smalls are in school and I find myself with days of my own.  Which is a bit misleading, actually, as there is still laundry and errands and the million minutia that make up a family.  But for 15 lovely, long years I’ve thrown myself into being home and it’s been such a gift.  Much as I’ve complained at times, it’s been such a gift.  But now they are all in school.  All blessed six of them and so I spent the first week doing what every exhausted and newly alone mother does: running errands and buying a new puppy.  But there is a plan.  To settle in here, in this my favorite of places and write and read and clean up puppy accidents and have women in to share a cuppa and pray circles around our families and ourselves.  A plan to press in when my natural bent is to head out.  Because the perfectionist in me buys so easily into the lie that my worth is tied up in what I produce and when that was evidenced by Smalls hanging off my legs, it all made sense and now that they’re gone during the day it doesn’t.  So instead of filling my hours with things that will make me busy, I’m determined to find solace in being home and pouring into people from this beautiful place.  Pouring into myself from this beautiful place with a new blog I know absolutely nothing about running.  Join me?

This is me being real.