Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dirt and Water Spots

Truth be told, my heart broke a little when I burnt the bottom of my dutch oven. I had lost my sense of smell due to a cold that day, and by the time I opened the lid -- my Bah Kut Teh (Chinese herbal pork-rib soup) was unsalvageable. I nearly wept, seeing the state of my beloved pot.

While the pot was soaking, Hans kept reminding me that it was "only a pot".
Never mind that it was his present for the fourth anniversary of our engagement. Never mind that I cried when he surprised me by hiding it in my kitchen cabinet. Never mind that I had imagined for years a dutch oven of my own -- in heaven.

But he is right. It is just a pot, not some antique porcelain vase in a museum. It wants to be used.

Today, thankfully, it sits prettily on my stove top. Useful for everything -- soups, sauces, roasts, stews, and savory pies. It survived the worst, bearing only a few scratches -- marks of a well-used, well-loved utensil.

Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped. -Augustine
The girls in my high school Sunday School class have each chosen one outfit to wear every Sunday until Easter. Some will refrain from shopping; all will be purging. An act of remembrance -- of Christ who is our perfect covering. An act of voluntary poverty -- remembering those who (involuntarily) have only the clothes on their back.

Perhaps by thinking while we put our clothes on, we simplify and purge the clutter of our hearts. A small gesture for such a mighty task, I know. But, sometimes we need signposts, however small, to remind us the direction we ought to turn.

Clothes are utensils. They are to be used responsibly. We are not to be mastered by our desire for beauty, slaves of our love for attention. Clothing functions to cover our nakedness; they are reminders that we are not who we were created to be. We put on clothes as a declaration -- Christ's death is sufficient for me.

Today, I was a spoon, a chair, a trampoline.
I was too many pieces of tissues, a pillow.
I was bread and water.

When we were walking to the playground, I stepped into mud. My poor shoes. During bath time, my shirt and pants were soaked, as always. Dirt and water spots -- the marks of motherhood. I am well-loved. 

Lord, please use me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stars and Dust

{In remembrance of Japan}

Somehow during the course of our OPT (Operation Potty Training), we came to call Operation Number Two -- "making a moon."

Don't ask.

For the sake of his dignity, I must be brief. Let's just say that it has been a scary process for him. During one of our coaching sessions, I told him again the story of David and Goliath, with emphasis on how God helped David to be so very brave.

After a full day of struggle, he was finally able to go. With tears still in his eyes and a big sigh of relief, he exclaimed: "Woohooo! Emeth made a moon! Just like David made a moon!"

"Um... yes, darling, David did make moons...
And he also killed Goliath, and saved his nation, and...." (but I guess that's not important)

As far as Emeth was concerned, Goliath and the entire Philistine army?
Not so scary.
David was brave for other, more important things.

He is teaching me about compassion these days, this little guy of mine.

Emeth loves to invite daddy to hide with him. Sometimes this requires daddy to crawl into low, narrow, confined spaces. Like the (very compacted) closet. Or under the dining room table. Or cardboard boxes.

The reason he asks daddy is because mommy usually refuses to subject herself to that kind of torture. Daddy, on the other hand, would kindly oblige. Always. (Well, he would at least give it a try.)

Let me tell you, it takes work for a grown man to fit into these small places.

Compassion requires me to crawl under the table and see the world from here. Compassion is so much more than this, yes, but it begins by sitting with him.

This is the one thing that keeps me sane.

To have compassion, as I'm slowly learning,
is to sit on the potty with him (metaphorically speaking),
to acknowledge that this is a painful and terrifying thing.
to relive fears I would rather not remember,
and live the fears that I would rather not imagine.

Compassion takes work.
Some days, it is hard work.

When I think of
a wife holding her dying husband,
mothers of young children without shelter,
pregnant women and nursing mothers without water,
I just want to crawl away.
Please let me not be in small, confined places;
I don't want to imagine painful and terrifying things.

A woman cries at the remaining steps of her home in Watari, Miyagi prefecture.
Teach me to be compassionate
as you first had compassion on me.
You confine yourself in a mother's womb,
a small, narrow space for the Maker of Stars. 
You became dust, for dust's sake,
a lowly thing for the King of Glory.
Teach me to sit. Teach me to pray.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And then it dawned on me...

When I drop Emeth off at Sunday School every week, I would walk by the nursery and usually, the kind ladies there would offer to take Yohanan for the hour while I am in service.

Here would be my Top 3 responses, in no particular order, and always with a smile:

1. Oh! Thank you, but he is asleep right now, and I don't want to take him out of the sling.
(which would be true)

2. Oh! Thank you, but he was sick this week; I think it would be better if I keep him.
(which would be unfortunate, but also true)

3. *Dashing in and out of that hallway really fast before anyone could offer help*
This likely happens most frequently. And until yesterday, I haven't given much thought to my "rush." I am mainly avoiding having to turn down people's kindness, something I loathe doing.

Before you start thinking that I am the kind of mom who can't "let go," I just want to say that I have I handed Yohanan over to them. Once.

But yesterday! Yesterday, I had a glorious moment of truth. The reason for my inner-turmoil-in-the-hallway finally dawned on me. I don't know why I hadn't realized this before. 

Ladies: Hi! Let us take him today and you can relax during the service.
Me: Oh! Thank you! 
(thinking) Uh-oh, he is awake. And he is not sick.
(out loud) That's OK, I don't want to trouble you! (always with a smile) 
Ladies: No trouble at all! Please let us take him! (holding out their hands) 
Me: No, that's OK. (and then I said) If I leave him here, I will miss him!!! 
Ladies: You'll miss him? But... aren't you with him... all the time?
*confused stare* (they had nothing left to say to this crazy mom)

I will miss him! So simple!
I was laughing inside for the first half of the service.
What a relief it was for me to say it out loud. To finally understand myself.

Before motherhood, I was never one who thought children were adorable. I liked them, and thought they were interesting, but they were like any other interesting people. When I was pregnant with Emeth, I had the most difficult time mustering up any kind of noble thoughts about becoming a mom.This did not change when he was finally born.

"Mother" was definitely not among the professions I was looking into when I was dreaming about growing up. It was not that I didn't want to be a mom, but it wasn't among my youthful considerations. This seems like a huge oversight now.

So you can imagine what a happy thing this was for me. To realize how much I love being with my children. To realize that I love being a mom. These are pleasant surprises for me.

Emeth is at the age now (almost 3) that I enjoy sending him out into the world (yes, even if it is just Sunday school) to explore and learn about others. And I know that Yohanan will soon follow. It makes me smile to think about the two brothers going off to explore the world together.

For now, let me just hold my baby.
Apparently, I would miss him when he is not with me.