I get too comfortable…

Especially with DH on Shore Duty, I forget….

I forget  the reality of the war going on.  That the consequences of that are real.  That people are dying.  That those people are husbands and fathers and sons.  That they are real and substantial like my husband.  That their families are robbed of them. 

I forget.  Until I read things like this and this.  And I am undone.  I cannot afford to forget.  I cannot dishonor these men and women and the people who loved them that way.  Pray for this Marine Wife, this first time mother who is slapped in the face with the unfairness of her husband being taken away.  And pray for the family of this beautiful girl who overcame so much.

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Mary Heart in a Martha World

I’m doing a little local drama this Easter.  I’m  Mary Magdalene in a little Maunday Thursday pageant about the “Other Twelve Disciples,” those being the women who followed Jesus and were there until the end. 

This week during the read through I was struck by another Mary:  Mary the sister of Lazarus.  Mary the sister of Martha.  Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, soaking Him in, while Martha bustled about worried and anxious about many things.  I’ve always identified more with Martha, as I often feel worried and anxious about many things, myself.  It hit me though, as we were reading our parts that I might have a little Mary in me, afterall. 

The description offered in this little play categorizes Mary as “One who seemed to be busier internally than she appeared to be externally.”   That’s me.  That’s me all over.  “Bustling around the house was not one of her higher priorities” when Jesus was around, the script says. 

(It strikes me a day after first writing all this, that I’m basing all this thinking not on scripture so much, but on the words in this play.  However, as I look at the bits and pieces that we have written about Mary in the Bible, I think the play’s description might have been accurate.)

The thing is, while I’ve been aware of this constant internal chatter presenting itself more often than, “Busy hands,” I’ve had a hard time seeing this as a positive thing.  I have a hard time cleaning my house.  I know we all do, but I put it off, and put it off.  The things I want to do engage my mind and my relational muscle more than any industrial inclination.  I’m involved with many things, but I get into them by being a ‘think tank,’ an ‘idea girl.’  I love theories of math and science, but I can’t do the nuts and bolts of an equation to save my life.  I live in my head and sometimes…  often…  that gets in the way of my getting things done.  When company comes, I bustle and clean–at the last-minute–to try to make my home presentable.  Always though, I get to a point where I say, “They’re coming to see ME.  The rest of the clutter will have to stay put.”  While company is visiting, I have a hard time maintaining any semblance of cleanliness that I created because I pour my energy into spending time with my guests, and I can never figure out how the ‘cleaning maintenance stuff’ is supposed to get done with people around.  OR alternatively, I put so much effort into trying to be Martha-like against my nature with perfect meals and perfect home presentation that I  make everyone more stressed out.  That’s me.

It drives some people crazy.  It drives my husband crazy.  He’s a busy guy.  He’s always putzing, tinkering, cleaning, creating, doing.  He doesn’t have much patience when I don’t get things done because I’m so busy in idea-realm.  It drove my parents nuts.  My mother had at least learned to be a Martha after being shamed by key people in her life in regards to housework.  She implored me to learn the skills involved too…  the importance of it those skills though always did get lost with the stuff in my head or in my relationships that seemed to me to take precedence. 

I’ve labeled myself with words like ‘lazy,’ and ‘sloth,’ and maybe at times it really is a spirit of laziness that keeps me from getting things done.  I have a constant, nagging, internal mantra of, ‘Why can’t I get it together,” when I look at the chores that haven’t gotten done in a given day, or my kids’ dirty faces in public.  I often enhance this mantra with the butt-kicker of comparison:  “Why can’t I get it together like her?  Her kids are always neat and tidy.  Her house is always clutter-free and smells like vanilla and apple-cinnamon.  She’s able to juggle so much!” 

But Jesus didn’t do that to Mary.  He didn’t shame Mary for inactivity or mention the dust bunnies  left on her side of the cottage.  He didn’t shake her by the shoulders and tell her to snap out of her internal thought reverie.  He didn’t implore her to do FlyLady so that by unearthing the discipline to do housework and de-cluttering her world she could, “Finally Love Your(Her)self (though I really DO love FlyLady).”  Instead, he held her up as an example.  He exalted  her for choosing the ‘better thing,’ for soaking in His presence.  He recognized her for valuing those present even if that meant they had to order from Bethany’s local pizza joint instead of having a four-course meal.

And this gives me hope.  If Jesus valued Mary’s internal churning and presence to those present, maybe he values mine too.  Maybe he even delights in those parts of me.  I’m sure he equally delighted in Martha’s service to him.  He knew that her work came form a  heart of love–a love that wanted to honor him in her work, but he would not let her devalue Mary’s path of honoring him just becuase it was different than hers. 

So rather than beat myself up for the messes that pile up while the internal hum drones on, I’m going to try to see God’s delight in me.  I’ll continue to try to better myself and clean my home, don’t get me wrong.  But, hopefully I’ll give myself a little more grace. 

I have seen the book, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World,” in  bookstores many times.  I’ve never read it.  I always thought the idea was that we supposedly wanted to BE Martha when we SHOULD be Mary.  That in my head is a double should.  But maybe some of my day-to-day frustration comes from the fact that it really *is* hard when you ARE a Mary in a Martha world.  I don’t fit in to the achievement and activity oriented world of women.  I’m a thinker.  I’m a listener.  And that isn’t something to should myself out of.  Even when I have a sink full of dishes.

Need a little Brennan

It was obvious from the second I woke up this morning that I needed a little Brennan Manning in my life. 

At 5:30 a.m. my eyes slammed open and started a catalogue of the day and the weekend and the week and the month.  That was ok.

And then it started a catalogue on the myriad of ways I would be defeated for the day the weekend the week and the month.  That wasn’t so ok. 

It was like I was a little bubble riding along with the soap scum down the drain…  I mean just filthy, disgusting talk about myself to myself.  The words went around and around and around and sucked me in.  It wouldn’t stop.  I told my friend, Jesus about it and he hung in there with me, but it didn’t stop.

So I stopped by the bookstore on the way home from a meeting I had to attend and picked up a Brennan Manning book.  Because if there’s anyone who can convince me that God not only loves me (which, is after all, a theological imperative), that he also LIKES me, it’s Brennan Manning. 

So I’m reading…  And I’m trying to let this stuff sink down deep.  Brennan’s words are good, but these were the ones that captured me: 

Come then my Beloved, My lovely one, Come.

For see, the winter is over, the rains are over and gone.

Flowers are appearing on the earth.  The season of glad songs has come,

The cooing of the turtle dove is heard in our land.

The fig tree is forming its first figs

And the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.

Come then, my beloved, my lovely one, come.  Song of Songs 2:10-13

Those words are much better than the soap-scummy ones being slung around and around the drain in my brain.  And what’s more?  Those words are the truth.

Lady Redundant Woman and Bilbo

“I feel…thin. Sort of stretched, like…butter scraped over too much bread.” -Bilbo Baggins

I was going to blog about how I feel like this quote (I love you LOTR trilogy).  So I googled it.  And found out that’s been done and the t-shirts issued.  Shall I be redundant?

Which reminds me…  You know what I love?  I love Lady Redundant Woman on Word Girl (thank you PBS Kids).  That name causes me to chuckle each time I hear it.

So anyway.  I’m stealing ten minutes to write here today before I go throw my hair in a pony tail and put on a clean shirt to go to work.  I AM feeling rather scraped over too much bread these days.  I LOVE my  job, but it keeps me away from my family in the evenings.  I get to be with the kidlets all day long, and Husband after bedtime, but I miss that beautiful family time with ALL of them during dinner and after.  When I get home Husband’s eyes are inevitably bugging out of his head from the kiddos being nuts too which makes me feel…  Well, rather yucky for making him rush home from work only to stress him out with his own kids as well.  I love my  job.  I do.  I walk a little taller when I leave it in the evenings.  I love the kids I work with and the work I do.  But…  I miss my family.  The last few weeks have been heavy on work and evening commitments.  Hopefully after next week, I’ll feel a little more on-kilter (can you be on-kilter, or just off?).

Is it normal for me to feel like I’m flying apart most days?  Does everybody else?  Does anybody else?  I do.  The sunshine is helping me to stabilize, but part of the scraped thin feeling is depression-related, I believe.  I feel like I have to dig deep into my reserves most days.  I guess the good news is it pushing me towards God.  I find myself consulting him regularly for mercy and grace and help and…  not flying-apartness. 

Living in the midst of fighting the flying apartness doesn’t make for great blogging either.  I sit down to write.  And I backspace.  And try again.  And backspace.   I think I’ll just hit publish today.  Give you all a little 10-minute snibbet of my current nuttiness.

So I’ll finish and tell you that I love this totally unrelated quote by Pete Gall:  “My Passion in a Nutshell Enough of this cutesy “we’re better because they’re worse” Christianity – from old guard political platforms to young believers who think torn jeans, a tall coffee, and some bitter complaints spewed through spotty facial hair somehow represents a better way. How about actually searching for, and standing upon, a better way? And the better way isn’t found in new places. The better way is exactly where – and with whom – it has always been. Enough revolution. Enough feeding frenzy on the dead horse of a worn out approach to church. Enough fighting fire with fire. Bring water. Rediscover passion. Experience adventure. Pay a price. See what happens when you replace “principles” with “virtues” – see if there isn’t enough of “home” left in you for some homesickness for a better way, a way breathed to life by God, to still stir passions in your life. Prodigals don’t thrive in the far away land. Elder brothers are slaves until they summon the courage to speak honestly to their fathers. Let us meet there – on our Father’s land – and ask him, together, how we might live and turn this life into a tour of princes and princesses who bring justice and comfort and meaning to a world that is dying for it, and will only hear it if we make it our passion first. This is why I do what I do. And it’s bringing me back to life.”