Weathering

Wild

(Photo credit to Kiana – Easter morning)

My husband celebrated his April 15th birthday with a record-breaking blizzard. Or rather, he celebrated with news of a blizzard, while we endured our own frigid temps watching soccer in Kansas – 80 and delightful the day we arrived, and 30’s and horrid the day we left, and I guess it’s the way of things when you live in the Midwest. Last week’s melee faded already to the status of a bad dream in light of real SPRING finally arriving, and we’re a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Day.

My mom emotions this week are a bit like the weather, which is to say, all over the place. I’m blaming Aaron. Our worship pastor, dearly loved, out of the blue announcing he’s moving back home to Alabama, claiming it’s not the fault of the weather. Claiming it’s God calling him back, and who can argue with THAT?

It happened on Tuesday. Our staff gathered for an all-day meeting, breaking for lunch. Me, not surprised, when during dessert Greg gets up to talk about Luke. How Luke’s served so well these past two years, and now he’s heading back to Colorado, and then moving to Iowa, and the whole time I’m thinking, I’m handling this nicely. I’ve been here and done this – this letting go and sending off. It’s part of adulting, and the boy is ready. My second-born kid, with all his fast-talking, and deep-thinking, and soul-rooted love. And it’s time. Time for the boy to fly wild and free, the way the Lord made him, a beautiful future, adventures awaiting. And I know I can do this. I’m handling this fine.

Fine until Aaron. Fine until they say there are others leaving, and then the tears take over and I tell my friends at the table – I don’t like surprises – but what I really don’t like is saying good-bye. Three years past, saying good-bye to Mike, another pastor, who was called to go home to Iowa, taking my firstborn, and this feels like that. Like bookends of this family story, even though I know it’s not even close to the final chapter. And yet. They’re part of us, too. Part of the stories we tell over dinner. Part of the reason our boys go to church. Felipe, especially. How many times has he talked about Aaron, could do play-by-play of Sunday mornings, and Rachel, too. Aaron’s wife who sings like an angel. And how are we supposed to say good-bye to that?

And then, yesterday, we’re mingling after church, and three different times somebody suggests it. Maybe Grant could come back. Come back home to Minnesota to lead worship back here. But I tell them – No way. No way would he do it, and no way would I want it. (Did I really say that?) Yes. I said it and meant it. He’s right where God wants him, at that church in Des Moines. Baby coming, and nursery ready, and five friends who are pregnant at just the same time – all of them raising their littles together, and what could be better than that?

Do you see what I mean about emotions and weather?

It’s part of the story. God calls and they leave and it hurts for a season. We’ll always miss them, but after a while you can see how it’s better, how it’s part of His plan. And you wouldn’t change it.

And who knows? Maybe someday. One day, in the future. God might call them back home.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart… 

God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-8

I Quit

Spring Snow

Complaining.

Guilty as charged. I confess. Last weekend Pastor Randy’s sermon, telling us to quit. I Quit. Quit complaining.

All this long winter, and it’s time for me to admit, it’s over. That season. And I’m not just talking about snow in Minnesota. No. Spring came a while back, a year or so ago, and if I’m optimistic I might even say we’re turning toward summer. Why not?

Easter weekend made us all a bit angsty, and looking at it now, of course I know it’s no wonder. When else would that battle rage, earthquakes rumbling and graves emptying and all manner of people down on their knees? And so Kyle and I drove to our Good Friday service moaning and griping about boys mocking and defying parents. And it’s Good Friday, for pete’s sake, and how is it I missed the most obvious thing? The thing about this being a day for a battle.

Easter Sunday we stood in a row, raising hands together. My boy raising his, too; later someone pointing it out. But by that time we’d listened to enough of his sass on the short drive to Grammy’s for Easter lunch, we no longer believed it. Not sure we believed in the raised hands and soft heart. Forgetting this. A stone rolled away doesn’t move back quiet, and there’s bound to be rumbling. We just forget sometimes.

Forget like those Israelites in their desert, that place of testing. Testing to see if they really meant it when they said We trust Him. And we’ve said it, too. Time and again. We trust You, we do. Until things start to rumble. Or the snow keeps on falling.

The seminary teacher at the District Conference said as much, too. Tuesday morning, teaching from 1 Peter.* (Being from Australia, he said it like that. One Peter.) Talking about our new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and I have to admit, I feel a bit like new life since saying “I Quit.” Those first century believers, Chosen Exiles, for a little while suffering grief in all kinds of trials. Coming out of the fire looking like gold. I wrote Dr. Campbell’s quote in my notes. “It’s God’s vindication when His chosen trust Him.” His Glory and ours, too, when we hold on to our hope.

Yesterday, the conference over, and my friend, Cindy is back from her Sabbatical, sharing with the MOMs about her Liturgy of the Ordinary** – and it’s in that, too. Finding God in our grumbling moments. Taking thoughts captive to worship when we’d opt for complaining. Providing food for ungrateful children, and I’m the one receiving the manna, and will I be complaining when He’s done as He said?

Last night, all evening long, all I can see are my liturgy moments. God in the laundry, and God in the cleaning. Feeding boys, and a season changing, all manner of praise. I go to bed, happy. Gladness. The word Dr. Campbell uses for Joy. And I REST. All night. Good-night to my husband, and nothing until morning, and when was the last time I slept through like that? Now, here, reading His Word, and it’s alive with His Presence like it used to be in that season I’ve longed for, and dare I hope even for THIS?

I could make a list until tomorrow of all the reasons the sun is shining, and winter behind us. A list about boys who are thriving and growing and today I Believe. I believe in hands raised and hearts opening like graves toward a resurrection. I was blind with complaining, but now I can see, and I quit.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

*1 Peter 1:3 & 6
**Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Future Dreaming

Uffda!

They tell me there is no snow on the ground in Iowa. And in Illinois, our former home, a friend posts pictures on social media of new life budding on trees and ground. But here. Here in Minnesota it’s the first week of April and we’re breaking records for cold and snow, no end in sight. And I wonder out loud if we’ve ever cancelled an entire baseball season.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? This winter, giving my loyalty to this home state. All caught up in Super Bowl passion, and Bold North devotion. Tempted beyond reason by coffee mugs and printed tees, professing allegiance to our land of lakes. Oh, and it gets even better. This winter signing papers, staking our claim on Minnesota’s finest, a whole stretch of shoreline on a frozen lake.

Last week Jimmy compared Minnesota weather to a girl with her period, and I couldn’t disagree. Also couldn’t keep from thinking how such a comment was a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, so to speak. Let’s just say the boy knows a thing or two about mood swings. And then there’s me, menopausal and surrounded by snow. And so.

Yesterday we took the boy on his first college visit, and the whole day was nothing but sweet. Sweetly chatting on the longish drive over, and all day dreaming about future plans. Sitting at lunch with a soccer coach, and Jimmy’s asking all the right questions, and you can see in his eyes, this could be a good fit. If not here, someplace better, and the future looks bright.

Felipe’s back to washing windows, even though today is 20’s, winds gusting. Last night at dinner he asked about a school in Arizona, and who could blame him? Later he sat at the piano, trying to make sense of his music lesson, playing a song he’d learned by memory. Next thing you know he’s talking his dad into a game of Duel and a round of chess. I’m watching him laugh, noticing for the first time he’s got a dimple. And I think how handsome he is with his long curly hair.

Father and son playfully banter at the coffee table, and I cozy up in a blanket in a chair nearby. I’m paging through a picture book about Family Cabins, a birthday gift for Kyle I’ve given him early, last week on a date. Next weekend’s celebration is sharing space with a soccer road trip to Kansas City, and Kyle’s saying he’s not interested in birthdays anyway. But I believe in commemorating my favorite people, and we’re not old, not yet, and so I tell him. Our future is bright.

So I sit by the fireplace on a snowy spring evening, my boys competing, and me dreaming. Reading this book about generations of families making cabin memories, and wondering what it will be like to be Pops and Nana. Amazon packages arriving daily to shower a baby, and July will be here before you know it. Summer arriving, it always does, even if we skip spring altogether. And we’ll spend our free days on trips to Iowa and trips to a lake lot, winter forgotten.

Our prayers this morning were full of the future. My husband and I, side-by-side in a chair by our bedroom window, and he talks to God about boys and college and jobs in Iowa. He prays for my book; prays, too, for boys making music together. And that’s when I hear it – my chickadee singing its song outside. All winter long, God speaks in this way, a whisper of promise.

It’s my turn to pray, and I thank Him. I thank Him for birdsong, for days growing longer, and hearts growing sweeter. For a baby growing and a family expanding and a place on lake. A family cabin, a holy future, making memories, shaping faith.

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs 24:3-4