Friday, March 30, 2012

Wiaiting to be Pursued

My best friend and I headed to Jr. Prom.
Some of you knew me in high school, so for me to blog 20 years later and say I was popular would definitely catch me in a lie.  As opposed to playing sports, I was in band.  In fact, I was the leader of the band, which one might think would earn me some cool points, but strangely works quite the opposite in high school.  However, among my circle of band, drama, and speech cohorts, I suppose I had some amount of popularity.  Looking back at scrapbooks and photo albums, it seems that I dated quite a few different guys.  If you knew me in high school you also know that may be somewhat of a lie.  I dated a lot.

It was the same in my first year of college, although attending one of the top music schools in the country, knowing how to wield a sax was more of a draw than a setback.  

What I can see now that I couldn't see so much at the time was the thing that I enjoyed so much about dating was that I was actively being pursued.  In fact, I dated people that I knew I had no future with just because I enjoyed the feeling of being wanted.  This was true from the boy who pursued my first kiss right up to the boy who followed me to my car every day after class in college and eventually pursued my hand in marriage.

Recently, I was going through one of those boxes, you know the kind you stuff with little what-nots from high school that you will never use again, but just like to have so you can prove to your kids that you actually know a little something about being 16.  I came across something that flooded me with memories of how good it felt to be pursued by someone who loved me unconditionally - even at 15, which believe me, defies all reason.  As I looked at it, I realized it was time to let it go.  Literally. Not just because I'm married and the only man that I should want to want me is the man I sleep with every night (who coincidentally is my husband).

But more-so because I realized I shouldn't find my worth from any man pursuing me, even the one I sleep with every night.

My worth should be settled solely on being pursued by the God who made the universe.  And His pursuit is relentless.  Even when I turn my back on Him, yell and scream at Him, or ignore Him completely, still He pursues.  I am worth something because He made me.  I am worth something because He is willing to pursue me to the ends of the earth, or the end of myself.  Like the parable in Luke 15 where the shepherd is willing to leave the 99 sheep to find the one who wandered, my God will never give up His pursuit.  And it is not because I'm perfect.  All of the boys who have ever pursued me, including my husband, will attest to that.   

It is because I am His child.

And so are you.

You may not know it yet. Or you may not believe it, but God is pursuing you.  And like a lovesick teenager, He won't stop until you notice Him.  Maybe in a sunrise. Maybe in a storm.  Maybe in the sparkle of your baby's eyes. Maybe not until you hit rock bottom and have no where else to look.  But once you notice Him, He will keep pursuing you to the ends of the earth, or the end of yourself.

And when you really let that set in, that the God who made the universe takes the time to chase little old you,  it doesn't matter if you give the high school letter jacket back to your first boyfriend.  It doesn't matter if your husband doesn't always look at you like he did when you were first dating.  It only matters that the One who rules the universe, who rises and sets the sun, who gave you breath, who is all powerful and all good . . . it matters that He knows you to the very core and despite that, He will never give up His pursuit.  He will never stop wanting you.

Now that's a love story I can live with.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Waiting for 7 a.m.

My week started great. A little girls' trip with my mom to not just one, but two outlet malls. No worries about calorie counts, just good food, conversation, and country music blaring on the radio.

On our way home we decided to stop at IKEA. Neither of us had even been, and since we didn't have the boys or kids with us, we figured we could just wander for a few hours. Which is exactly what we did. For those of you who have never been to an IKEA, it is like Pottery Barn, Garden Ridge, Lowes, Rooms to Go, and Crate and Barrel had a baby. And then that baby grew into a giant.  The highlight was a restaurant right in the middle of the store. Not only this, but they sold giant Swedish dark chocolate bars.

Of course I bought 3, which not only saved me $.50, but insured we had dessert and snacks for our journey home.

We devoured the first bar and I put the other two in my purse for safe keeping. At some point, probably when I was trying to find my keys in the endless abyss that is my purse, I moved the chocolate from my purse to my overnight bag.

This morning mom joined me at the grocery store, since our pb&j sandwiches no longer had the pb or the bread, so we were reduced to eating jelly straight out of the jar.

When we unloaded the car, I thought I would be a sweet mommy and let our ten year old beagle Rocky back in the house. We were leaving for a few hours, and as they say on Phineas and Ferb, he doesn't do much.

That is unless he sniffs out the chocolate bars in your overnight bag. Then he magically grows temporary thumbs with which he open the packages and eats both. Then he decides there may be other treats stashed around the house as well. This leads to pulling the coat rack off the wall, taking Anna's backpack and dragging it to her room, where, using his magic thumbs, he opens the zipper takes out her daily folder and opens it. Clearly he didn't think much of the spring break homework, because that is the first place he decided to throw up. 

While trying to calm a daughter who now has dog vomit in her homework folder, I step in the second pile. In bare feet. On the kitchen floor. Richie's dog (which is what I call him when I am angry) gets banished to the back yard where he howls, whines, whimpers, and I'm sure throws up more for two hours. At some point I have to let him in, because we have neighbors, and they aren't incredibly fond of a beagle bay that can be heard for five blocks. Once inside he immediately throws up on the carpet I just cleaned.

Bed time comes and I cover the bottom of my bed and the floor in my room with old towels and blankets, which I figure will be much easier to clean than carpet. But now, Richie's dog has decided he needs to go outside, urgently, every time I drift off to sleep which sums up about 17 times. Finally I give up and move to the couch, because it is closer to the back door. While waiting for him to come back in at around 4 a.m. I Google chocolate+dogs. You may already know this but all the top links have an equation something like this; chocolate+dogs=death. Death chances are increased when the chocolate is semi sweet (mine was) and European. I'm horrible at geography, but I'm guessing Swedish chocolate falls somewhere in that category.

So now I panic. Richie is on a mission trip in Spain (where they probably also sell lethal chocolate) and I'm sitting here on the couch praying that God won't let anything happen to our family's first baby while I anxiously await 7 a.m., the time our vet opens.

I already feel the tears of embarrassment welling in my eyes as I have to explain to the vet why my dog (who is allergic to everything, including dog food) just ate two jumbo sized IKEA dark chocolate bars.

I've literally been up all night, and I see no sense in trying to sleep for the next 31 minutes so I blog.

I have no profound wisdom from this post, and I realize, other than Anna being able to tell her teacher "the dog threw up on my homework" this post lacks the humor and wit I usually bring. But I just needed someone else out there to feel my pain, stupidity, and exhaustion, and if you read this far, I'm guessing you either love animals or me, so say a little prayer that Richie's dog and I both make it to 7 a.m. and that in some miraculous way, IKEA chocolate is beagle friendly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waiting to Be Still

My three year old has decided to give up naps.  To some of you, this may not seem like a big deal.  To those of us work from home parents, you realize that naps are like the Ark of the Covenant.  They are rare, precious, and contain in them all of the makings for a peaceful world with direction, forgiveness and patience.  You also know that to lose this precious artifact is akin to losing your best friend.  

So I was not going down without a fight.  Unfortunately, neither was he. 

My compromise was to let him nap in my bed with me.  He got to lie down. I got to lie down.  Win-win.  Well, no laundry got done, but I still call it a win.

You know those mattress commercials where one person is jumping on the bed and the glass of wine doesn't spill?  Have you ever noticed they don't use children in those commercials, and it isn't just because a toddler in bed with a glass of wine is kind of inappropriate.  It is because no matter how little the child, when they move in bed, you are going to feel it.  Every fidget, kick, roll, taking off their socks, putting their hands over their eyes, their ears, your eyes, your ears. You feel it all. 

This is the case for our recent nap times.  The number of times I've uttered the words "Be still," must be somewhere in the thousands. When I'm really serious, I gently place my hand on his chest and whisper softly in his ear, because for some reason my kids know if I'm whispering, I'm not messing around.

Turns out, I'm way more like my three year old than I desire to admit. For years Psalms 46:10 has been my favorite verse.  ""Be still, and know that I am God;"  Unfortunately, knowing a verse and applying the verse are two very different things.  

I was recently in the hospital for several days.  By day two I was feeling physically better and was more than ready to go home.  The doctors didn't share my enthusiasm.  They told me it would be at least two more days before I could be discharged.  

I'm not a huge fan of hospitals to begin with, but when you are feeling good they start to seem more like a prison.  A prison where nobody wants you to sleep.  Every two hours, all day and all night, someone is coming in your room to check something, administer something, or just to wake you up and make sure you are still breathing. For a gal who has trouble sleeping in the best of circumstances, sleeping in a hospital was impossible. So I moved the bed up and down, fluffed up pillows, flattened pillows, paced around the room, listened to music, watched re-runs of Seinfeld (it is on at 2 a.m. in case you are looking for it).  My patience waned and my frustration increased.  

Finally, on night three as I once more lamented the fact I was still trapped, it was as if I literally felt God gently put His hand on my chest and say, "Kristen, it is time to be still."  

I still didn't want to be in the hospital, the bed was still uncomfortable, and the nurses still woke me up every time I drifted off.  But something changed.  My heart softened and I felt at peace. Given how I feel about hospitals, finding peace inside one is sort of like my three year old volunteering to nap.  It doesn't happen. 

Or rather, it doesn't happen without God.

I don't know what you is making your restless today. Maybe it is health challenges, marital strife, or your three year old giving up nap, but it is a safe bet that if you aren't facing a storm right now you either just emerged from one or are on your way to one. I want to encourage you not just to read the verse, but to claim it as a promise. God is God. He is bigger, stronger, and smarter that you are.  He feels ever toss, turn, kick, and fidget you make and He is right there next to you with his hand on your chest whispering, "Be still."

Because we all need a rest sometimes.