Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The air has been fresh and clean, the dandelions have been growing like...weeds, and things have finally started to slow down.

Not that things are ever truly slow around here. And if they are, there's usually a bad reason for it. me just pull this out of the air here...six kids gathered around a dead blackbird. In the living room.

But as things have whirled around me, occasionally slowing to remind me that, "Mama? You have a huge nose!" (the 2-yr. old), I have done my own whirling. And finally, yes, even slowing.

So much of my day is urgent stuff. The cats "went" outside their litter box. The dog threw up orange curry. The babies are stinky and one of them has pulled his own diaper off. No one can go into the laundry room, because everyone's eyes are watering from the smell of rabbit pee. And also, what's for dinner? (And please don't say spaghetti.)

But a lot of my day is also urgent stuff of my own doing. There must be no dirty clothes! All dishes must be put away! No loose papers should be on the floor! WHO KEEPS SPREADING BLANKETS AND PIANO BOOKS ALL OVER THE SITTING ROOM? THIS IS NOT YOUR PLAYROOM! We must have fine cuisine at every meal! (And if we don't, it must be because I spent all day searching for the perfect recipe.)

I revisit these thoughts of my own self-imposed regulations often. Sometimes I remember that these are emergencies of my own making; sometimes Ethan reminds me. And I'm glad.

It helps me to remember that this is NOT the person I want to be. I don't want to be the mother that never had time for anything fun because anything fun was messy. I don't want to spend hours fuming over misplaced shoes and slimy sippy cups (so THAT'S where those have been for the past three weeks!) and melted crayons.

It's time to unsubscribe from all those pretty blogs that congratulate the aproned mother with dinner ready and the newly crafted table runner freshly pressed. I don't need any more pressure to be a Stepford wife with Christian music playing in the background. My husband is no more fulfilled at the end of a day when he sits down to a full dinner and a martyred wife. He'd much rather stumble over crayons and Cheerios to fall into my happy arms than walk briskly into a sterile room where I glare at him for leaving his shoes on in the house.

The point for me to remember is that I so easily trade the important things of this life for the unimportant distractions. And really? Bathrooms, kitchen floors, refrigerator doors, and hampers are all distractions. So are curtains, slipcovers, and wall hangings.

"But Ozzie, underneath that organic cotton tea towel are freshly-formed loaves of whole wheat bread from flour I ground myself!"
"So what, Harriet? So what?"

I'm not saying slobs are holy. I'm just saying they are not by definition unholy.

And I'm saying I'm glad God doesn't look at any of that when He looks at me. I've been memorizing Colossians with six other women in our church, and I'm so struck by the gifts God has given us. Funny --clean baseboards, level curtain rods, and creative menus are not mentioned (although, granted, we're only in chapter 2. But I'm willing to wager they're not going to come up in chapters 3 or 4, either). Endurance, patience with joy, inheritance of the saints in light, hope of the gospel. That's the language of the Scriptures.

I'm glad most of my emergencies are self-imposed. I can self-dispose of them. My husband doesn't ask me to do anything further than love God and love him. He wants me to smile and look him in the eyes and be wholehearted.

And what does God want from me? To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:7-9, ESV).

And even that, even that, He empowers me to do. I can't do it. So He does it through me.

There are no emergencies in God's kingdom. It doesn't suffer from the tyranny of the urgent.

And THAT truly leaves me whirling.

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