Thursday, July 31, 2014

worrier or warrior: what kind of woman am i?

confession: lately, i am a middle-of-the-night worrier.

2 am and you'll find me and my touch of insomnia camped out with a couple of concerns.


most people who know me, would be surprised. maybe even tell you, "but she seems to take things in stride ... she appears to be pretty easy going ... she's not at all the anxious type ..."

and i'm not.
not in daylight, at least.

mother of five or just the way i'm wired, but in the middle of the day, i'm pretty good. i'm pretty low key. in fact, it is possible that i might worry less than the average mama.  my older kids have even questioned me about my low level of concern on certain matters: "mom aren't you going to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT? mom, are you really OKAY WITH THAT?"
(because let's be clear: teenagers know so much more than we do).

and, for some reason, usually, i am.
i am OKAY. WITH. THAT. usually.

but 2 am ... 3 am ... 4 am ... and, friends, it's a different story.

it's the availability of my mind.
it's the absence of busy-ness.
it's the attack of the evil one.

and too often, i fall prey.
and too often, i fail to pray.

in the dark of the night, under the covers of my controlling-self, i wallow in the what-ifs and the what-thens and the what-nows. i try to solve problems and fix issues and process the pieces of painful issues. of life. of sin. of failure. of fear. of the future.

i worry about big things like the hardness of a child's heart.
and ... i worry about ridiculous things like is that the right color beige on the family room wall.

all of it ... fair game.
all of it ... creeping into the corners of this mother's mind.
                                                            -----  in the middle of her night.

and, i'll admit, when this happens and these thoughts try to overtake me, my faith feels kinda small.
weak. wimpy. wanting.
heck, it seems almost un-christian.
what kind of woman of God is she if she worries like this at the 2am hour?

i mean, where is the cool-facade from my daylight?
where is the complete confidence in my Deliverer?
i know the scripture and i know the Savior, but what happens when the day ends and the sleep eludes and the worries evolve?

what then?

"for though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..." ~ 2 corinthians 10:3-5


without the escape of an errand or the distraction of a daily chore, the chinks in our armor become more obvious, more out of control. glaring.
and, let's be honest, it's easy to feel vulnerable and afraid in the stillness of ourselves.

i don't care if you're 14 or 40, it's in those dark hours that our faith can falter.

what keeps you awake at night?
what seeps into your sleepless hours?
what doubts and concerns and worries are wild within you?

many years ago, when our oldest, emily, struggled with sleep and anxious thoughts, i was desperate to help her. i did what any crazy mother would do: i modge-podged a bible verse onto a plaque and hung it over her little girl bed.

it wasn't a magical fix, but it was a reminder that God doesn't expect us to just muddle through our midnights.
no, He has something better for us --- sweet sleep.

"when you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." ~ proverbs  3:24

so, now this mama is struggling. and what should i do? go make myself a plaque ... hang it over my bed? rub my hand over it three times before hitting the pillow? chant? dance? drink warm milk?

we know it's not about the plaque ... but it is about the promise.

and as much as i want to, i just can't give you (or me!) a neatly packaged 10 perfect steps ...

i can't pretend there's an easy fix ... except fixing our eyes hard on Him.
because as long as we wrestle there in the middle of the night and believe it's all about us and our problems and our pain ... we remain captive to our concerns.

c a p t i v e

{i speak from experience}.

are you shaking your head like i am?

are you also a dark-hour doubter?

then friend, if you, like me, find yourself in this camp, maybe it's time we turn our worrier selves into warriors. it's time we turn our worry-camp into a campaign. it's time we TAKE CAPTIVE every thought. we FIGHT with the weapons of our faith. we don't continue to cower beneath the blankets of our burdens, but we SECURE sweet sleep and CLAIM His power and His promises.

you know, Jesus is pretty clear about how this is all going down. He didn't bring up the "full armor of God" because He thought it a clever costume. it wasn't a nice suggestion, but necessary for survival.

"put on the full armor of Christ..." there's no might or maybe.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." ~  ephesians 6:10-18
so, i may have started this post with a confession, but i am ending with a campaign:

worrier or warrior: what kind of woman am i?

join me in this august for daily scripture and encouragement -- friends, join me for battle!

note:  i usually try to include some photography in these series, but i'll need a little wiggle room this time around. there's no telling what kind of photos i'll include -- my arsenal of weapons is a little lacking (and for that matter, it's not like i really want to photograph weapons -- just not my thing). i'll work on that!

i'm not sure what this will look like, but when i finish pounding out this post, i'm going to begin asking the Lord to speak into this campaign. and, you know what? He's got everything it takes to succeed.

"the LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”  ~ exodus 14:14

are you in?

in the shouting of the day ...
in the silence of the night ...

the Lord will fight for you.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

if these walls could talk

while pounding my 189th nail in the wall yesterday, i found myself humming amy grant's, "if these walls could speak."

i suppose when a woman begins to personify the walls of her home, it's officially {high} time to take a break.

but after two solid weeks of figuring out corners and closets and cupboards and paint colors ... let me tell you ... it could be a whole lot worse. 

if these walls could speak ... "if hallowed halls could talk these would have a tale to tell ... "

what these walls would tell you is that this woman is frantically trying to set up her home.

like, FRAN-TIC-LLY, people.

with the oldest girl heading off to college next month and the other four beginning school and sports and crazy schedules in exactly one month from last friday (OH.MY.GOSH) this woman is desperate to make sure we can locate lunch boxes, laundry hampers and every little last thing! 

a rush.

a race against time.

a reality tv show in the making.

confession: i've even found myself pretending (just a little bit, mind you, and at very late hours) that i was a designer in one of those HGTV home shows. 24 hours. 24 dollars. GOOOOOOOOO!

maybe not 100% socially acceptable to pretend like this, but i'm game for anything that helps hold me from the edges of homemaking insanity.

yesterday, as i was putting the finishing touches on emily's room, she said, "mom, you know you really missed your calling." i mean, seriously, how many rooms has my daughter watched me flip ... furnish ...  fuss-over and finish?

oh yes, if these walls could talk ...

but, here's the deal:  they can't. 

i know talking walls is a (kinda) romantic notion ... and i'm a (kinda) romantic woman ... 
but seriously, even beyond the incredibly creepy factor, talking walls would be (kinda) annoying. right?

and IF these walls COULD talk in these past couple of weeks i'm pretty certain i wouldn't want to hear the tale they had to tell.

no, i need no one -- not even talking walls -- to converse with me about our most recent case of crazy.

we bought this house from the nicest people -- empty-nesters who were ready to down-size. they were barely out the door when our super-sized family came rifling right through. a semi-truck followed and the serene, empty nest began to bulge ... the walls began to shake, the floors to quake and the roof, well i'm sure, it just shrugged its shoulders and sighed. 

here. we. go.

empty-nesters out. obscene-nesters in.

and as is the case with any home we have lived in, we cover it well. we fill all the rooms. we invade the corners. we seize the square footage. we occupy the space.
c o m p l e t e l y.
there is no unused air in our home (homes). there is nothing which escapes unruffled by my ruffly, riotous kind of crew.
n o t h i n g.

it's not a relocation, but an invasion.
and even though i'm pretty sure the walls don't talk, i wonder if my new neighbors might. there's a tiny piece of me which wonders what the neighbors are thinking as they peer out from behind their blinds.
in between spackling and sprucing, i'll be honest, i've been feeling sort of compelled to go and apologize to anyone within earshot.

because ... here. we. are.

and because ... we are THAT family. 

we are the cacophonous circus which showed up on this sleepy southern street with one cat, two dog-horses, three teens, four cars, five children, six bikes, seven people and eight thousand pounds of garbage each week.

did i mention my almost 17 year old son now drives a pickup truck. it's red. and  it's big. and it's everything nice, neat neighbor-people shake their heads and sigh over. 

and when he drives that big-red-thing up the driveway, these walls which don't really talk sure do shake. they do. and, i'll be honest, this mother kinda shakes, too. i wasn't all that sure about adding a truck to our automotive arsenal, but rick persuaded me it was a purely practical thing. "honey, think how easy it will be to haul things ... pine straw and mulch and costco stuff. honey, think about the FURNITURE you can fit in it." 
did someone say FURNITURE?
smart man.

so, i now have a big red truck parked in my driveway. and ... (if you'll allow me to whine for one minute more) the shade of red clashes horrifically with my shutter color. the sacrifices we make as mothers ... 
just sayin ...

anyway, here we are. pounding on walls and doors and floors. arrived and arranging our new life in this new space. feeling a little bit like a tetris junkie as i fit old things into fresh facades. organizing cabinets and orchestrating projects. hanging pictures and clothing and curtains. hanging on to the brink of sanity while trying to set up and fix up and cover up. 

holding on, that is, with paint covered hands. i've been busy not only pounding nails in our walls, but also painting like a mad woman. i'm telling you, it's therapeutic for my kind of madness. we've knocked out the dining room, the laundry room, and emily's bedroom and bath.

"aloof gray" - sherwin williams
"palladian blue" - benjamin moore
also "aloof gray." we started with a color called "pensive sky," but it looked a little too um ... pensive periwinkle ...
and so we grabbed the leftover dining room paint and gave that a try! and it worked!
it looks gray in em's room and more blue in the dining room light. color is so very strange. 
emily tackled this old blue bookshelf her first week in the house.
changing it from her brother's navy blue to gray.
i assure you, the bulletin board won't remain empty for long!
painting and pounding ...
refining, recreating and repurposing ...

speaking of repurposing ... i have to share with you the story of the wine cellar. see, the previous owners did a bang up job creating a lovely wine room in the basement. like, i'm serious, four walls with floor to ceiling wine racks ... teak stained and climate controlled. it's like SO BEAU-TI-FUL. but even though this woman can appreciate a good bottle of wine (especially when she's pretending to star in her own HGTV show), i've got to tell you, i'll never fill an entire cellar with fine bottles. BUT ... i DO happen to have two furry beasts trying to acclimate from cool minnesota to the horrific-heat of georgia AND SO ... it just seemed too obvious a match.
wine bottles out and big dogs in.
cooper and minne now have their own refrigerated room to cool off in.  cheers!

oh, yes, if these walls could talk ...

they'd tell you a bunch of crazy loons have moved in on whitney valley walk (what a name, huh? just like a lot of southern children get multiple names -- so do southern streets). 
they'd tell you this family is loud and that they leave their bikes in the front yard and that a bunch of extra kids come and go. i'm sure the neighbors would like to know if we have five or fifteen kids living in this home.
they'd tell you the dog is often wet from the river and the children sometimes run wild.
they might tell you about how one morning they met the woman of the house when she - clad in strangely mismatching and rather raggedy pajamas - had to retrieve one of her big beastly dogs from their garage.

and if the walls were really being honest, they would tell you that sometimes the pictures hang crooked, the color is wrong, the furniture doesn't quite fit and the people aren't always patient or polite or even very kind.

because ... real life will be lived on whitney valley walk.

they might tell you the front door, even in the hot georgia heat, is often left wide open.
they might tell you there's sometimes some odd hooting and hollering, but hopefully even more laughter.
they might tell you there's plenty to watch and wonder about.
that there's some loose-screws ... some loud-living ...  and some life.

but, what i hope these walls would tell most of all is that in the middle of this lunacy, what there really is ... is some love.

if these walls could talk ... 

"If These Walls Could Speak"
~ amy grant

If these old walls
If these old walls could speak
Of things that they remembered well
Stories and faces dearly held
A couple in love
Livin' week to week
Rooms full of laughter
If these walls could speak

If these old halls
If hallowed halls could talk
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin' down and dinner bell
And children playing at hide and seek
From floor to rafter
If these halls could speak

They would tell you that I'm sorry
For bein' cold and blind and weak
They would tell you that it's only
That I have a stubborn streak
If these walls could speak

If these old fashioned window panes were eyes
I guess they would have seen it all
Each little tear and sigh and footfall
And every dream that we came to seek
Or followed after
If these walls could speak

They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here's someone who really loves you
Don't ever go away
That's what these walls would say

They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here's someone who really loves you
Don't ever go away
That's what these walls would say
That's what these walls would say
That's what these walls would say

one last thing, i'd like to give a quick shout out to my minnesota flowers for making the trek to georgia and surviving! i won't tell you my family didn't grumble about sharing vehicle space with the foliage ... but, grumbles or not, i am SO GLAD i insisted on fitting them in!

and while we're on the subject of flowers ... here's my deal of the week: i found these urn/planters at goodwill. five dollars, baby! gotta love the goodwill. they were a light shade of gray and looking a little rough around the edges, but spray paint works wonders and now i have two matching planters at my garage. (which also probably clash a little with the big red truck).