Mom, Interrupted

mom interrupted photo

Sometimes I try to find some privacy in the bathroom. But then the door bursts open like a saloon and my daughter stands there like the Texas Outlaw about to put the rectal thermometer in her mouth. “Noooooo!!!” I leap off the commode.

I get interrupted. A lot. It’s the reason my hair is never quite straightened in the back. And why the laundry sits around the house in baskets. And why I have far more drafted posts than published ones. (I can’t finish a post, let alone a TEXT message without getting interrupted!)

No one told me about this before I became a mom. That your life will be full of interruptions from now to forever. I had this crazy notion that “staying home” meant my house could look like the pages of an Ikea catalogue and I’d be structured and disciplined and have these great routines for cleaning, and cooking, and writing and working out. But as it turns out: I’m a mess.

This sweet and fiesty almost-2-year-old is able to completely disarm me. Disarm my agenda. With whining, and crying, and throwing her food on the floor, and taking all the Kleenexes out of the box…and coloring on the leather couch with a permanent Sharpie. (Seriously?!)

I try to wake up early…but then she gets up earlier that day. I try to make dinner…but she wants to “help.” I try to write…but there she is…on my lap again, pushing buttons, touching the screen, and making me: the slowest blogger in history. She needs playtime and stories, and kisses, and cuddles, and me. All of me. So dinner is late again, the grocery trip gets postponed, the workout gets shortened or nixed, the post goes unpublished another day. And I get frustrated because: I want to do more. I want to be more.

Sometimes I marvel as I scroll through Pinterest and click on the pretty ideals that could only ever happen in a galaxy, far, far away. Who has time to make this? I read blogs so much better than mine, and cringe that it’s been..16?..Really? 16 days since I last posted? There go all my followers.

I feel the crumbs under my feet on the kitchen floor, and see the diaper pail overflowing, and that there are still dishes in the sink, and there will probably always be.

I look around and see that my life…is not a high-resolution photo. It is a blur. Because nothing holds still enough. Or comes into focus. Everything just seems to be slipping, falling through my hands. And spilling onto the already sticky floor.

And just when that voice starts to tell me that I need to, “Do more. Be more,” and I’m determined to really buckle down and start being more militant about my time and schedule and accomplishments—I stop and remember:

Jesus was interrupted.

Constantly.

He could not walk through a town without beggars calling out to him, women tugging on his coat, crowds pressing in on Him, and even…little kids climbing onto his lap.

But what did He do? Did He brush off their hands? Give them something to go occupy themselves with? Lock Himself in the bathroom saying, “I just need a break!”

No. Because Jesus never saw interruptions as “interruptions.” He just saw moments. He just saw God-directed opportunities. And He just saw people. In need of love.

And it seems, the moments of “interruption,” were Jesus’ deepest moments of ministry, the moment God came through. “Let the little children come,” He said. And when he looked at them, and pulled them close, I wonder if He might have whispered in their ears, so quiet that no one else could hear, “You. You are the reason I’m here.”

They were not keeping Jesus (the King of the World) from accomplishing some superior goal: they were the goal. They were the mission.

He gave himself—freely. Not begrudgingly. Consider the interruption of the woman who wept at His feet and dried them with her hair, and the father that plead that his daughter was going to die, and the centurion whose servant was sick, and the blind man who so desperately wanted to see. They all “interrupted.” And they all found grace.

Do I respond to interruptions with…grace?

Real hearts were healed. Real tears were dried. Real skin was touched. The moment of interruption…became the moment for ministry.

Is it any different as a mom?

What if I saw the biggest accomplishment as my time interacting with her while she is awake? And not as the psycho cleaning lady, while she is asleep? What if I lived embracing the “interruptions?” Instead of despising them? What if I saw the interruptions as an opportunity to show love? To show God? A God who is not too busy to be interrupted.

Because that’s what Jesus did.

Is this not the reason I was sent? Is this not the mission? My ambition?

This morning, there’s a little girl in pink monkey pajamas, with wild blonde bed head, and oatmeal on her cheeks just waiting to burst onto the scene with all her interruptions.

And maybe, just maybe, the “interruptions,” aren’t really interruptions.

Maybe the interruptions are the most important moments of all.

The moments God comes through.

The moment I pull her onto my lap and whisper in her ear, “You. You are the reason I’m home. The reason I’m here.”

26C194FD-AECE-46B7-912E-67B17C3557C7

How to Love Your Friends

Selah and Friends

Selah loves her friends. (Both living and non.) And anytime my husband or I try to pray before a meal, she interjects with a long list of her every friend, cousin, neighbor, uncle, and inanimate object within eyeshot. It’s cute at first, and then we kind of look at each other and try to get her to a good stopping point. She simply can’t help herself.

The other night, when I was rocking her in my arms before bed and praying out loud for her to be safe, and strong, and the angels to protect her, she just kept whispering the names of others:  Rory.  Blakely.  Grandma.  Pap Pap.  Baby Ben.  Baby Bo.

I stopped mid-prayer and was moved with wonder: She just keeps naming everyone she loves. That’s what prayer is for her. 

For me…prayer is often a long list of my wants, my needs, my goals. How often do I really pray for my friends?

The next night, before I could even verbalize this to my husband, we got into bed and shut out the light and he said, there in the dark, “Let’s pray for our friends.”

And he started doing just that: praying for our friends, and their needs. And as we prayed, their heartaches became our heartaches. And their cries, became our cries. And the more we prayed, the more I loved them. Every single one. Our friends. The people God has planted in our lives. And by the time we were finished, I felt like a root in my soul was extended out further. Like arms reaching. In friendship, toward them. Because I loved them, and I loved their cries. And they were all precious to me.

And to my friends, I have not loved you nearly enough, nor cherished you as I ought. And Selah has taught me this. To love deeply. To hug tightly. And to name out before God the people you love. She has shown me quite simply that, “A friend loves at all times.” Even meal times. Even bed time. For, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

It just looks different than I thought. It’s not always a bloody martyr walk. Sometimes it’s just making their cries your own, through a simple prayer. And opening your heart to love them, the way God does. And I know that loving people isn’t about “just” praying for them. (I know that it’s meeting actual needs like making meals, and helping out, and physically doing things for them.) But…I think when it comes down to how to love our friends—it’s a good place to start. To simply: start praying for them. Truly. Sincerely. Because something mystical happens when we pray for people, we just supernaturally…love them more. And if we can love them more when we’re not with them, how much more when we are together, will we be prepared to listen well, and love well, and lay down life, the way Christ did for us.

Because He is our example in all things, even friendship. And He really loved, and really liked His disciples, His friends. And not only did he feed them, and wash their feet, and break His body for them…but He prayed for them. (John 17) And in doing so, He loved them.

Is There Ebola On My Shopping Cart?

P1010542Whose sweaty hands might have pushed this shopping cart before me? Someone with Ebola?  This was me: the face of normal suburban woman. With the mind of a panic-stricken psycho. That’s why I passed up the shopping carts that day, with my child on my hip, determined to carry all my groceries in my arms.

Hello. I’m one of “those” people with what’s been called “fear-bola.” And this is the very reason I was at the grocery store. I was  preparing for what my husband likes to call “the Zombie Apocalypse.” And by preparing I mean storing away some non-perishables and bottled water. Shampoo. Supplies. Etc. And by “Zombie Apocalypse,” I mean…well, use your imagination.

I’ve seen the movies people! I’ve seen Outbreak, and Contagion, and World War Z.  And if Ebola catches fire in America, the next thing you know is that everyone will start freaking out and looting grocery stores, and there won’t be anything left on the shelf, but a bottle of ketchup. My family can’t live on a bottle of ketchup.

This is why I was at the store: in case we have to bunker down. But because I was too freaked out about Ebola to even use a shopping cart this is what happened: I was carrying Selah on my hip, and stockpiling containers of oatmeal in my arms, like a real lunatic. But as she squirmed in my one arm, and I tried to load the oatmeal in the other—one by one, the oatmeal containers kept slipping out of my arms, and dropping onto the floor, and rolling down the aisle, picking up [I’m sure] even more viruses. Ugh!!

That’s when I realized: I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold both my daughter and my fear—without dropping something.

So…I abandoned my “plan” and marched to the front of the store. And I should have left right then, but I didn’t. I stopped at the front of the store and stared at the carts. This is crazy. You are acting like a crazy person, I told myself. But in my jumbled reasoning, I kept quoting from Proverb’s, “Look to the ant.” I needed to be smart. I needed to be ready. I needed to get food for my family. So, after a giant leap of faith, and a fist full of sanitary wipes, I wiped down a cart, snapped Selah in and reverted to my mission with more Mama Bear zeal than ever. ROAR!

Now with a cart, I could carry more. So, instead of going back to the oatmeal, I went for the “dog food” size bag of rice instead. More efficient, I told myself. Then I went to the water aisle. But as I’m plopping jug after jug of water into my cart, I see that Selah is licking the cart handle. Licking it, ya’ll! 

Ahh!!!??? “What are you thinking???!!!  

“Selah!” I looked in her eyes. Blue and wild with wonder. “Selah, don’t do that! Okay!?”

And at this point, I’m mad. I’m mad because I can’t control it. I can’t control her. I can’t protect her from anything..really. And there is no sanitizer for tongues. Yet.

When I got to the register, all that filled my cart was: rice and water. I awkwardly loaded my giant bag of rice and tried not to make eye contact with the cashier, or anyone around us.

Once we arrived home, I carried Selah’s tired little body in my arms and laid her down in her crib for her nap. And, just like that, she fell asleep. So peaceful. Without a care in the world.

And the memory came back then, of them both slipping out of my arms. Her and the oatmeal. And the oatmeal dropping on the floor and rolling. And of not physically being able to do it. Of not being what I wanted to be for her. As her protector. As her mom.

And I felt angry and sad and helpless. Because she licks shopping carts. And because I can’t protect her. And if it’s not Ebola, it’s terrorists, or school shootings, or a rare disease, or a car accident, or bacteria in baby wipes.

And I’m wrestling with all these fears, and all these emotions, and all these questions. And I feel pushed down by them all.  I just want her to be safe. I just want her fragile little girl life to be beautiful and safe and not interrupted or broken by the evil in this world. Is that so much to ask?

And suddenly I’m not just wrestling with fear. I’m wrestling with God.

Himself.

I’m wrestling, and wrangling, and sweating. God, I hate it here. Why is it like this? Why is it so dangerous and ugly and risky?

And why can’t I just be her savior? 

And I’m pushing all my force, and all my anger, and all my questions into Him. Where? Where God? Where can I go to get a life that is just…safe? And without pain? Or heartache? Just give me that life God! Just give her that life! Because I don’t want her to bruise, or bleed, or die..

And after too many words, and tears, I hear Him say in a voice so still and quiet, that it hushes me completely:

“Who do you say that I am?”

And it’s moments like these where I feel like Christ comes and presses my squirming, fighting body up against the wall, like a lover would, and whispers gently in my ear.

“Who do you say that I am?”

“Do you trust Me?”

“Do you know Me?”

And I’m held like this, in breathless stillness. No longer wrangling. But still. And small. And I feel His strength locking my weak frame in his arms and all I can do is weep…because I want to be held like this forever. 

And here in the weakest place, He wants the places of my heart that I most fiercely protect. And I just…let Him hold me. And I let Him hold her. My sweet girl. For her life is in His hands. For she was always His first, and mine second. And I can entrust her to Him, the very One who made her, and calls her His own, to watch over her soul. The part of her that will live forever.

Our world is full of risk at every turn. John Piper says, “We cannot avoid risk even if we want to..whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways. You don’t know if your heart will stop before you finish reading this page. You don’t know if some oncoming driver will swerve out of his lane and hit you head-on in the next week, or if the food in the restaurant may have some deadly virus in it, or if some man with a rifle will shoot you at the shopping center. We are not God. We do not know about tomorrow.” —Don’t Waste Your Life, pg. 80-81

I do not say this trouble you, but to give you hope. To help you see that God holds the power of life and death. And He may not always do what is best for our physical bodies (which are temporary), but He will always do what is best for our souls (which are eternal). Whether by life, or by death. He will care for us…forever. With perfect love. In this life and the life to come.

So we don’t have to be afraid, and we can say, “Even if the earth quakes and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea; I shall not fear. (Psalm 46) And if an army besiege me, even then I shall be confident. (Psalm 27) And I will not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness. (Psalm 91) And if I perish, I perish with hope…in the Lord.”

But no matter what happens, nothing, I say this with tears, nothing shall separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. Not angels or demons. Not the present or the future. Not hunger or famine. Not ISIS or Ebola. Not fatal car accidents or cancer. Not heart failure or anthrax. Not bombs or bullets. (Romans 8) Nothing shall separate us from His love.

And whether by living, or dying, I want to know Christ. I want to proclaim Christ, for He is the treasure in this life, and the life to come. I want to say, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord is my strength, and my song, and He has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

For soon, and very soon,

I will stand before Him. Face to face. My own eyes will see Him. I and not another.

And He shall ask me one simple question:

 

Who do you say that I am?