Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Ice

I woke up this morning to a glittering, ice-encrusted world. The sun is bright and reflecting, the air is brisk. It's Good Friday.


Much of yesterday as the snow and sleet and ice came down I was mired in bitterness. Bitterness over a winter that is hanging on in full ferocity, bitter that my toddler spends most of his time angry at the world, bitter that a particular recurring ailment of mine seems to have returned to add physical discomfort to my emotional frustrations, bitter that my whole life is currently spent cleaning up, bitter that soon our life will be filled with goodbyes again.

Bitter.

And on this day, one of the most sacred in the Christian calendar, the day that marks when the cross changed from the instrument of common criminal death to the symbol of God's greatest act of love and humility, His creation is encased in ice. Frozen.

My tulips that had such promise will have to fight for life.

The lilac buds that were set to bloom in just a few weeks may now have to wait longer to burst forth in their lavendar glory.

I can't help but see the similarities between this storm and my heart. For what else is bitterness but a layer of ice built around the heart preventing one from reveling in gratefulness? Preventing me from seeing the gifts that overwhelm my life?

What else, indeed.

This morning as I stole 5 quiet, lovely minutes to creep outside in my pajamas with my camera before the sun began to melt the ice, I was reminded of why the bitterness cannot define me. Of how Good Friday isn't the end of the story.

Because even as I gazed dolefully at my poor, pathetic tulips, I saw the stark beauty that surrounded me. The beauty in the ice that just moments ago had angered me because I wanted the beauty of spring. The way it made the colors of green and brown and red pop out in the landscape. Of how the world just seemed clearer, somehow.

I thought back to the confusion of Jesus' followers on this day so many years ago. To see their hopes, their dreams, the very life they had longed for slipping from their grasp. Their fear, their own bitterness at what they thought was the end of life as they knew it. Of how they didn't know the end of the story like we do.

Friends, it is clear to me that my biggest struggle in this phase of my life is the tendency towards discontent. Towards bitterness. In seeing in my life what is lacking, rather than what is Good.

And since I often tend to rush through Holy Week to get to the joy of Easter rather than engage the emotions that came before the morning that changed the world forever, I was suddenly thankful for the ice storm. Thankful for the way it revealed to me, once again, the ways my heart stays frozen even in the midst of so much light, so much warmth, so many gifts I've been given in my life.

The ways that I let what I think SHOULD BE crowd out the beauty that IS.

Today, on this Good Friday, I am asking God once again to help me let go of all that seeks to steal my joy so that in two days from now, when I stand with my community on Easter morning, I will truly be able to see anew the astounding glory of the resurrection, of the world made new, of death conquered and promises fulfilled. Of life in all it's messy goodness.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sprucing Up

Just a few short days ago, we met with our realtor. Some people wait until then to figure out which projects need to happen around here. As this is the third home we'll be selling, I've learned at least a little over the years about what needed to happen before he even came.

Hence, the massive decluttering exercise I've been working on for months.

Hence, painting the outside trim last fall to get that out of the way.

Hence, powerwashing all the outdoor surfaces so they'll only need a quick once-over this spring.

Hence...and on and on...

You get the idea. I've been working hard.

And now it's time for some of the fun stuff. I need to make the house look a little updated, a little cheerful...and I need to do it cheaply. If there's on DIY I love, it's finding old things to make new. So, I picked a color palette that goes with our main living space and am boldly moving forward.

Project 1: Color Accents

When we moved in, the entire main floor was boring old white. And while I know it's trendy to have white walls and lots of colorful amazing artwork, I still love a little color on the walls myself. So, I painted most of the main room a pale grey with blue undertones and the kitchen and accent wall a smoke blue. Then I opened up a magazine just yesterday and saw that smoke blue is a very IN color. Well. I am rarely ahead of the game in that department. So, yippee. They had some fun suggestions on accents to go with smoke blue: mint, coral/orange, pale pink and grey. Since the walls and kitchen have lots of grey, I thought it'd be fun to pull out the spray paint.

1a: Lamp

Ok, so there isn't anything wrong with this lamp except for it's just...blah. So, I figured a coat of paint and a patterned shade could spice things up a bit. Except I can't find a patterned shade I like. So, I just painted the base so far and I'll keep my eyes peeled for a nicer shade.

BEFORE

AFTER
1b: Vases

Two old vases, scuffed and cloudy meet fresh coats of paint.

BEFORE 


AFTER
AFTER

1c: Canisters

These used to be a beigy color with rusty and green leaves so I understandably updated them when we moved here. Just a plain old white. But I thought it was time for something that would pop just a smidge more.

BEFORE

AFTER

1d: Fruit Bowl

We've had this plastic bowl for years and it's fuzzy and scuffed up now. Not exactly good for making the fruit look more appetizing. Again, a fresh coat of paint. I only painted the outside on this so the fruit wouldn't rest on the paint when I was done.

BEFORE
AFTER
Project 2: Desk Chair

We've always had this sad little corner of the kitchen without a chair. Partially I didn't want one because that area becomes even more accessible to my toddler if he can climb on to a chair, but I also just didn't feel like spending money on a chair we might only need for a few years.

Then I found a chair for $2 last week. And figured, what the heck?!

Stained, dirty and scuffed with a horrible, musty, vinyl covering.


BEFORE 




BEFORE




AFTER
AFTER



Project 3: Icky Blinds

The moment we moved in I knew our vertical blinds had to go. Dated, ugly, blah. And now, thanks to our exuberant eater, covered in food stains that won't come out. So, one quick weekend pulling them down, putting up rods and curtains and, voila!


OK, they are cute, but check out the hideous blinds in the background.

AFTER
AFTER


Man, I love curtains. What a difference.

Once done with the projects, I cleaned from top to bottom and put everything back.















At least this floor is show-ready!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Enemy Thing

Every day I wake up, flip on the computer and wait.

Wait to see post after post, memes, articles..all begging us to run as far from Trump as possible, to denounce him, to make fun of him. Wondering WHO really supports him. Questioning why Christians might be behind him. Mocking him.

I, myself, have offered my fair share of semi-humorous commentary on the subject. I, myself, have mocked him.

But the bottom line is...I have not once prayed for this man.

As a Christian, a woman and a mother to two black boys, I think it would be fair to consider Trump and his followers the "enemy." I have heard what he has to say about minorities (both religious and ethnic), I have watched my black friends post about leaving the country if he gets elected and I do not blame them or believe they are kidding. I have witnessed his misogyny. I truly believe he is a fascist of the first order and his rise is eerily reminiscent of what went on in Germany in the 1930's. The "othering', the fierce nationalism...the fear mongering, the pledges to exact revenge on those who disagree.

But, the bible tells me to pray for my enemies. To love them. And I have not done that. I have bought into the fear, the hysteria, the mocking. And let's be honest...being able to find ways to laugh at him makes the fear disappear for at least a few minutes a day. What's the harm, right?

From now on, though, I am going to pray for this man. That God would meet him where he is and show him that God is bigger than he is. That he would turn his heart from hate and fear. That he would value women instead of objectifying them. And on and on and on.

But while I will stop mocking him and I will pray that God will help release me from the fear of what he can do, I will not stay silent about what he says and does. To be silent, to not speak up for the oppressed, the persecuted...is to be complicit in that oppression, that hatred.

I saw a quote this morning:


And, as a student of World War II history, I was immediately reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoller, who said something eerily similar as he saw hate and tyranny swirl around him when Europe descended into war and holocaust in the 1930's and 40's.


You think I am exaggerating in comparing these two?

That's fine. But humanity has not progressed. What happened then could happen again. Easily. And there are thousands of people who are following and agreeing with the hatred that is spewing forth. He is not one lone voice.

So while I will no longer choose to mock and moan, I will choose to find the truth, speak it as often and as loudly as I am able, go to the polls and vote against him and move boldly forward trusting that God is bigger than this election, more powerful than Trump can ever hope to be and that he is a God of mercy, love and justice.

Who is with me?