Monday, June 1, 2009

Joy, Tomatos, Trellises

I talk to God a whole lot during the day. I have to nowadays. It's a blessing that things are hard right now. It really is. I'm not just regurgitating the "consider it all joy when you face trials of many kinds" verse when I say that. We learn and make leaps when things are hard. Leaps are good. Ease and stagnation are not.

I sit here--sometimes at night, sometimes during naps or when Daddy has the kids outside--and I regurgitate what the Lord brings to my mind during the day. It comes out piecemeal here, but that's okay. When the children are old enough to be interested in reading about their early days (when they are parents themselves probably), maybe the piecemeal fashion will ILLUSTRATE the story of a flawed mother who loved Jesus and her family, rather than just TELL it. Maybe they'll see their own human condition, and their own desperate need for Jesus, through my flaws.

A short time ago, Katie, from the 9ndHouse blog, told me to "Hang in there! It's all good if it's coated in joy". I loved that comment, and I needed it. But at that time, it didn't penetrate my heart deeply enough. I didn't start "coating everything in joy" after that.

That comment has come back to mind to reinforce what God is teaching me this week. He wants me to have the tools of organization and planning, but not as an end in themselves. Joy, over at the Memoria Arts blog, described it in today's post as the "trellis and the tomato". The tomato is our goal and the organization and planning are just the trellis--a tool to help us get there. Joy has been doing a series on the simple, one-piece life she arrived at, via her own personal journey. She is many years my junior, and it's humbling to learn from someone so young, yet so wise. As I wrote before, she has had a hard year. Now God has her teaching others. Her words are carefully chosen, carefully laid out, and I can see God right through them. What a blessing!

Easier times are not on the horizon right now. The list of things that are broken around here keeps growing; today, the lawnmower stopped working. It's springtime and that's just not good, anyway you slice it. It was purchased four years ago, used. The unemployment check and part-time work just aren't going to pay for a new one. The second car is grounded due to an exhaust problem, which we can't afford to fix properly. We paid for a jury-rig fix a year ago, and were told then that it probably wouldn't last. The computer still has an ugly, green-colored screen. The kiddy pool now has a hole in it, necessitating the purchasing of another one, to help the kiddos deal with the heat and humidity this summer. That isn't all, but I'll stop there.

How bad do things have to get before I finally grasp the ONE THING God wants from me--from us? As I listened to God this week, and remembered Katie's comment, and read Joy's one-piece posts, I grasped it! It's joy! That's the one thing. Joy! It has finally gone from my head, down into my heart. "Coat everything in joy" Katie told me.

My obsession with housekeeping skills is me mistaking the trellis for the tomato. My goal is joy in all things, and while organization and planning might help me get there, they aren't the end. God doesn't much care how neat my house is! He was on Mary's side, remember? Not on Martha's side. My hands are tied with vomit, pee, mud, crumbs, sticky floors, silent e's and other first-grade skills, dirty diapers, and stray toys. Room rescues and hot-spot checks? Yeah, they are a valuable tool to have, for those five minutes of peace I sometimes get between messes.

My children will not remember what my house looked like on this 1st day of June, 2009. But they will remember how often I smiled, laughed, hugged and twirled around with them. And how often I turned up the radio and raised my hands to praise my Savior. They will remember joy! Thank you, Katie! I can love Jesus with all my heart, soul, and mind, but without a coating of joy, my feelings for my Savior won't translate to my children, to my family, to the world.

I have been measuring myself by a standard set by others, rather than by God himself. For some reason, I felt I would never be any good at what I do, unless I could manage a clean house in the midst of caring for a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, and a first grader. Cleanliness and orderliness seemed like Godliness to me.

I'll still at least STRIVE for a neat house, but hereafter I'll remember that the tomato is what I'm after, not the trellis.

No comments: