Saturday, August 29, 2009

Drops of Rain Roses

My son loves music. And at some point, when I was trying to think in vain of another song to sing in response to his protests of "no, mommy, a different song!", I started singing songs from the Sound of Music. Now, daily, one of the first things out of his mouth is "Can we sing "Drops of Rain Roses" and "A Female Deer" and the "Goat Song"? And so, we select a scene, grab our pots and chopsticks(drums and drumsticks, of course) and proceed to march around the house gleefully singing about our favorite things, needles pulling thread and goats. We can never forget the goats. We do this multiple times a day. It is the answer to boredom, to a spectacular fall that scrapes his poor little chin raw and, I'm beginning to think, a reflection of his current philosophy of life: laugh a lot, sing a lot and make sure you're near Mom and Dad while you're doing it.

When I was a kid I loved this movie. I loved the songs. I always wanted a chance to play one of the characters in a school musical. When I visited Salzburg in college with Norah, we spent a whole day on the Sound of Music tour, singing with a bus-full of Americans and Canadians at the top of our lungs and experiencing the settings from the movie up close. It has always brought me great joy and it certainly didn't hurt the the socio-political backdrop to the movie was the impending Anschluss in the late 1930's.

So as I've been working through these different books, examining my soul and delving into my first go at stay-at-home motherhood, what a fitting soundtrack for this period of my life. I'm finding I look forward to the request and am getting just as much joy as Josh is from marching around the house and making such a racket that Zeke has taken to hiding under the piano. They have become more than fun songs to me, but as I think about the words to "Drops of Rain Roses", I'm thinking of it alongside who God has made me to be. What and who really defines me? Where do I run when the storm bites? As I was singing this song to Josh during his nap the other day, he improvised during the chorus and as I was singing "I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad" he sang "I go to my mommy and then I don't feel so bad".

Man. What a sweet but stark reminder to me that this little person is looking to me and his daddy to heal him. To define him. And unless I really let the Lord change me and secure me and define me, I could royally screw him up because I could attempt to mold him into my image rather than encourage him to discover his unique identity in God. Don't get me wrong. I know God is in control and helping me to parent him but now I'm praying for humility as I approach my son and that alongside all the chaos of raising an almost-3-year-old, I would be able to step back and really see him for who God has created him to be and cheer him on in that journey. If that means we'll have to listen to the Sound of Music songs 6 times a day, well, then I'll just be grateful to God that he created him with the same taste in music and breathe a sigh of relief that we are not dancing around to Barney.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No Crying in Baseball

At some point in my life, I decided to believe the lie that crying is a sign of weakness. Who first taught me this, I don't know, but I do know that I have worshipped unashamedly at the altar of this falsehood for too many years.

Yesterday, like we've done for the past month, we visited a new church. I usually enter these churches with a vague mixture of apprehension, curiosity and skepticism, an unfortunate result of loving my home church too much to see the possibility in other places of worship. However, something different happened yesterday. I found myself with tears streaming down my face in the middle of one of the most well-performed live gospel songs I've ever experienced. If you asked me what the words were today, I couldn't tell you. But in the hymn leading up to the song that broke me, I began to feel that fearful, painful twinge of pain behind my eyes that means I'm going to have to try my hardest not to cry. For some reason, instead of giving in to suppressing it, I thought, "Well, God, I don't know why I'd be crying right now, but no one here knows me(the silver lining of church hunting yesterday, at least) so do what you will and we'll see what happens." Enter tears. Many of them.

For those of you who grew up in the late 80's and 90's, you've probably seen A League of Their Own, a movie that takes place during WWII when women had to keep professional baseball going in the absence of men. A quote that always stuck with me, and I'm sure with many others, is when frustrated coach Tom Hanks reprimands one of the players by saying "There's no crying in baseball!" For some reason, as I've struggled through the confusing world of what it means to be a woman, and a Christian woman with a mind at that, I've attributed strength to stoicism. I've reveled in my "T" diagnosis in the Myers-Briggs, proud that I can keep it together and somewhat judgmental of those around me who cry often. I've attributed any emotion to the negative side of femininity, wrongly, and let myself deny who I really am too many times.

So what happened yesterday? I don't know. I do know that it was good and right and very definitely from God. For one of the first times in my life, I felt no shame at my tears, even felt that they were cathartic, something God was using and may continue to use to open me up in new places to what He is doing. The exciting thing yesterday was that right after that tearful encounter with the Lord, I heard a sermon that literally penetrated my heart and mind to a point where I saw myself and God so clearly that I finally became excited about this sabbatical, about the total vulnerability that I'll need to have before Him and the ways in which He could be about to challenge things I have held as idols for a long time. Game on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why the Ardennes?

I've always been fascinated by the applicability of events in World War II to my daily life. To me, the Ardennes symbolize an unwinnable campaign, a time when men who were outnumbered, outgunned and undersupplied refused surrender and prevailed, learning who they were and why they were fighting.

If you've seen Band of Brothers, you've seen the episodes that take place where men are largely stuck in bomb craters with artillery firing above their heads, trees shattering, deafening noise and vast, gut-wrenching times of frozen waiting. Waiting to see if the Germans will advance, waiting to see who will live, who will die, waiting to hear from the command if winter clothes will be available, wondering if some officer somewhere will surrender or make the call to charge out of the woods into certain death. Weeks of living in the snow and slowly, one-by-one, losing the people you've come to trust to an unseen but deadly enemy.

I've never wanted to blog. I've never really felt like I'd have much to say, but as I've begun to plan for this sabbatical I've felt very clearly from the Lord that this was a step of faith I need to take. That I need to trust those around me enough put my thoughts out there and let people love me through the messy process. And so, the natural name for my blog, for this intentional effort to process in a way unnatural to me, to fight my way through all the muck in my life, will be "Through the Ardennes".

Why? As I think through what I hope God will do in me during this sabbatical, I feel as though I've been in a bit of an Ardennes myself. The historians call what happened in the Ardennes the Battle of the Bulge but I'll call mine the Battle of the Soul. Amidst many changes, losses, transitions and, now, the uncertainty of 4 months of the "stay-at-home life" and the "freedom" of sabbatical, I'm faced with the true situation of my soul. Fatigued, sad, confused, unsure of what's next...My blog is, in a sense, my own personal bomb crater. The place where I will sit, waiting to hear the voice of the Lord, wondering what will next come in this uncertain life and hoping to hear from the "Command" about what next move will advance the grand campaign.

The men in those holes emerged from weeks of darkness only to encounter an even more unspeakable horror- the reality of liberating a concentration camp. They were faced with what they really believed, why they believed it and who they were becoming as a result. I hope to do the same.