Monday, August 15, 2011

"just have a little faeth"

You know what?  I’m letting it go.  I am letting. It. Go.  
The need for it to be perfect.  The need for it to be perfectly planned, perfectly executed, the frantic grasping after every detail to fall perfectly into place.
I’m letting it go.
I have to, you see: I’m driving everybody nuts.  Including myself.
The fact is, I saw this movie Friday night, by myself - I actually can’t remember the last time I did that.  This time I was babysitting for our teammates’ anniversary, and I had a whole quiet evening all to myself, with a new batch of movies to pick from.  I clicked on one called “Leap Year”, and opened up a story.  A story of a girl, not very different from me, who also loved control - even a bit more than I do, if that’s possible.  Through a series of events she ends up in Ireland, and meets this guy who couldn’t be more different from her…. And they have a series of adventures together, unwillingly at first, and then more willingly because each realizes the other has something they need, something that’s changing them.  For the better.  
My favorite line in the movie?  The scene I actually re-played on my computer the next day when I laid down to rest at naptime (can’t remember the last time I did that either)?
They agree to make dinner for the folks at their bed and breakfast, and they’re out in the garden picking vegetables.  Anna is consulting a recipe book, and trying to find three medium carrots; she decides one of her three is definitely larger than medium.  So the guy, Declan, takes the carrots from her, snaps a chunk off the end of the bigger one, and says, “There.  Three medium carrots.”  
And then he pushes the recipe book closed and says to Anna, in his soft Irish brogue: 

“It’s dinnuh!  Why dontcha stop tryin’ to control everythin’ in the known universe?  Just have a little faeth, that it will all work out!”  
Just have a little faith.  It will all work out.  I smile every time I remember him saying that.  Anna’s response?  The reason she doesn’t listen to advice like that is because her dad always said that, and all his money kept going after “the next big nothing” that came along.  Cut to Anna working two part-time jobs after school, and their house getting repossessed on Christmas Eve - Ho, ho, ho.  “So you’ll forgive me,” she says quietly, “if I don’t listen.”  
For Anna, it was an unreliable father that made the floor fall out of her world and shoved her into a life of trying to control every tiny detail.  What is it for me?  What is that makes me yearn to control every detail of my life, to straighten every space, de-clutter every surface?  What drives me?  You could say it’s because of our lifestyle, that when you move as much as we do, it’s natural to try to keep my surroundings as much in order as possible.  You could say when we live in countries where so many things are completely out of our control, it’s natural to want to control the little things I can reach.  
You know what it really is?
It’s really that I just don’t “have a little faith.”  Deep down, if I’m honest with myself, even though I do trust Jesus to do the big things - like, save me and get me to heaven - I’m not really trusting Him that He knows me well enough to take care of the little things too.  
Things like having a plumber actually show up when he says he will, so we can dismantle our water tanks from this house and hook them up in our new house all in one day, so I don’t have to go without running water for hours on end (like everybody in the rest of our town does every day - I know, I’m so spoiled).  
Things like what color curtains to have made, how to arrange our new living room, where to buy plastic storage containers for winter clothes, what meals to make while packing and shifting my kitchen.  
Things like fixing the window in the bathroom so the dust doesn’t get in.  Hot water in my next kitchen sink.  How to hammer nails for pictures into concrete walls without making craters in the plaster.
Things like that.  
Does Jesus really care about things like that?
The thing is, He does.  He actually does.  That movie taught me, in some way that I haven’t quite figured out yet, that Jesus actually cares about the little quirky bits of me - the bit that yearns to make pretty, ordered spaces around me, the bit that feels alone and abandoned and like a little lost child, the bit that hates being a floating speck of dust with nowhere to land, the bit that aches to own some earth somewhere in the world to plant a tree…  He cares about those bits too.  He really does.
If Jesus was Irish, I could just hear him saying to my heart: 
“Just have a little faeth, lass.  I’ll work it all out.”  


“Be happy in him, O my heart, and in nothing but God,

for whatever a man trusts in,

from that he expects happiness.”

{From the Valley of Vision prayer “A Colloquy on Rejoicing”}

Sunday, August 7, 2011

loosening the moorings

{Ben blowing bubbles with the boys' Russian tutor, 
sitting on our future front steps}

Every time we approach another transition, there is one prayer that floats uppermost in my heart: “Lord, please get me ready.”   All my reluctance to leave the known, my dread of the inconveniences of the unknown, and the ache of saying more goodbyes press down together in the pit of my stomach.  But each time, He does get me ready.  Often He’s still shifting things around in my heart down to the final hours before lift-off, but I am always ready when we come right to the edge.    
Remember that grief I was feeling a month ago towards leaving this house?  It subsided, gradually, as grief does.  It faded away as I said my early goodbyes to our back yard, to our garden, to our light, airy rooms.  It faded away as I threw myself into loving this place afresh, enjoying each of the things that make it home to us.  
In its place came peace.  Peace!  And even the first flutterings of excitement.  Now we are ten days deep into cleaning and painting and scrubbing and de-cluttering our new house, and as we physically loosen our moorings, about to push off again and float toward our next tethering place, I can feel my heart lifting too.  
There’s something immensely satisfying about taking a dusty, moldy, grease-spattered space and making it bright and shiny clean.  It’s deeply comforting to fill a space with praise music, preparing the atmosphere as well as the walls for God’s presence to be present.  It’s invigorating to invite the Holy Spirit to come wash my heart and make me ready to be mistress of these new spaces, this new house, on this new street, next to these new neighbors.  

You know something?  This will be the first time in six years of marriage and eight years of living overseas that I will have a color scheme in my kitchen.  It was partly chosen for me (the shiny red cabinets were already there), but I chose the yellow paint.  Red for apples and cherries and happiness, yellow for sunshine and the warmth of God’s favor.  And I am happy, basking in red love and yellow grace, soaking up the warmth of God’s generosity.  To me, this will be the best house we’ve been given yet in Asia.  The best house.  And even if our days here are numbered (aren’t they always numbered?), every time I enter my red and yellow kitchen I’ll remember not to take a single day in it for granted.

{one of several treasures found in our new house}

Monday, August 1, 2011

Multitudes on Monday: Peace

#403-425 of God’s shower of blessings:

403. Finding wonder here, in grains of sand.

404. An unexpected 10-minute walk this morning, after sleeping in late (and thinking I’d missed my chance)... a gift from my gracious husband.

405. The freshness of the morning air.

406. This view of “quiet waters” in the green river at the edge of our village:

407. The way the view breathed fresh air into my soul.

408. My boys playing peacefully together after breakfast. (Amazing!)

409. Listening to this music: Sovereign Grace Music: Valley of Vision 

410. Praying the prayers that inspired the music, three times a day with this schedule, laying down my task-oriented tunnel vision to worship, confess and connect.

411. The “re-perspective-izing” and peace this discipline is producing in my mind - every time!

412. Cleaning our new house, starting to paint, moving forward into newness… (Lord willing, we hope to move August 20...)

413. Talking about this music with my house helper, while scrubbing my new kitchen together: why I’m listening to praise music, what the words are saying, my heart for God-glorifying hospitality in our home, Whose beautiful Spirit I want to fill each room… more than washing the walls with bleach, how much more important it is to wash the atmosphere with His Spirit.

414. The promise of a new nest, better in many ways than our old one…

415. Meeting some kids on our new street.

416. Entering our last two days with our short-term teammate, exchanging photos / music / memories, saying “thank you, goodbye, we love you”; closure.  

417. All in all, thanks and praise for a really good summer so far - full of learning and growing.

418. Finding treasures behind the couch - long-lost matchbox cars that produce elation and shouts of triumph from my eldest son!  (And new hours of happy playing - without spending any money!)

419. Wonderful grace.
420. Perfect peace.
421. Sufficient strength.
422. Stunning salvation.
423. The gracious presence of Jesus in me, around me, going before me and coming behind me - the Rock under my feet, the Morning Star, the Air I breathe.
424. God’s grace sufficient for the demands of each day.

425. These words from the prayer I stopped to read just now, in the midst of writing this post:  

“Mould me wholly into the image of Jesus,  
as a potter forms clay;  
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound thy praise.”