How youth sports expose my sin–even I was surprised!

I have several friends who won’t even go to sporting events with me because I am a little intense.  I am not sure what comes out in me but it is a total focus and desire to see my players do well.  I have never been a “win at all cost” person. I am a “I want everyone to feel like they did well and feel proud of themselves,” person.  However there for sure is there for sure is a winner and a loser in my book.  When my kids started to play sports of course I jumped in and coached every thing they played.  There is a huge shortage of people who feel enough confidence in themselves to stand in front of a group of 4 year olds and lead them to victory–I AM YOUR GIRL!!  Jesse was always a little worried about my intensity.  I believe he may have googled “defense attorney” from the side lines a time or two.  Not because I was in danger of getting arrested for child abuse but because I was in danger of murdering an adult.  If you and I are at the same sporting event and you are critically critiquing your child from the sidelines and possibly hurting their self esteem…watch your back as you leave said sporting event because I will probably be trying to run you over.  (side note from my soap box: Your kid needs to hear that you think they are the best one on the field, that they are great, and that you are proud of them.  The end.  Don’t coach from the sideline–go be a coach if that is your bent–or you might get run over by me.  Just trying to keep you safe.) Listen, I am fully aware that a command from Jesus is “Do not run people over with your car,” and I fully want to follow Jesus but I would not test my resolve in this area just yet.  Now, do I occasionally have to remind Brock to stop dancing and focus on the game, yes, but I alway compliment his groove thing afterward.

I am fully aware of my tendencies.  So when I go to sporting events I pray to the Lord that He will keep my mouth shut for me and that I will reflect Christ to those around me.  And not the table flipping Jesus, but the sermon on the mount Jesus.  My kids are older now so I don’t coach anymore because once you get past 6 years old you actually need a coach that has some training.  So, I have my fan chair and my spirit wear and I kill it from the cheering section.  Sometimes my kids tell me I cheer too loud, sometimes my friends stop sitting with me, but I am there as the morale booster and I approach that job with Lara Croft, tomb raider skills!

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Oh my heart, look at his cuteness.  This was in 2011.  

So that is why I was so shocked at myself this weekend when I sat contemplating how much jail time I would get if I throat punched someone.  For sure this is not about the other person at all.  This is not a tell all about how bad they are, because in reality this dude is not bad at all, probably.  This is about how shocked I was at how quickly I gave up the Lord and wanted to take justice into my own hands.  My husband is an assistant coach on Brock’s team.  He is one of many coaches.  This guy, whom I wanted to throat punch was being very critical of the coaching of a game.  I would like to say that I walked up to this dude calmly and gently to discuss the matter, but I did not.  Something snapped in me when he was critical of my husband.  I went full on warrior mode, and “Oh, no you didn’t, HOLD MY WEAVE!”  And I don’t even have a weave.  The irony in all this I am so super critical of Jesse all the time that you would think someone being critical of him would not faze me in the slightest.  For some reason I want the job alone, and no one else gets to do it.  Now, I did not actually say anything to this guy at all.  This war was fought in my mind and then played out passive aggressively.

And so, the fall out.  I feel like this is one of those movies that we watched in middle school about how to handle situations we would face.  You remember those.  It went like this:

Narrator:  Now lets see how Sally will handle the situation when someone offers her drugs….

Bad drug person: “Hey kid, you want some drugs?”

Sally: I just say NO to drugs.

Narrator:  Good job Sally!  She will go on to do great things with her life, and be president.  Now lets see how Sarah will handle this situation.

Bad drug person:  “Hey kid, you want some drugs?”

Sarah:  “Hell yeah, and give me all your money too.  Oh, and I am taking all your drug inventory and your car.  Thank you bad drug person.”

Narrator:  Well, this is an example of what happens when you don’t say no to drugs.  Sarah will go on to live a life of crime.  She will be in and out of jail and she will never be president.  She will always be used as a bad example.

So the correct response for me in this situation would be to butt out and mind my own business and let my husband and the other coaches handle the situation.  And I probably could have prayed for the guy and in that God would have changed my heart toward him and maybe even made it possible for me to share my faith with him someday.  But NOOOOOOO……

No, I sat there fuming, plotting revenge.  I thought up ways to chew this guy out and condemn him in front of everyone.  I judged him to be someone in total rejection of the Lord and I would take him out for the Lord.  I quit the team 4 times in my mind.  I cursed the day we ever joined and I cursed the day that Jesse agreed to help the team.  I crucified this dude for daring to critique my husband who so selflessly gives his time to the team while his wife complains every time he has to leave for practice or a game.  I was not in control of my mind at all, it was a free for all.

But wait there’s more!  Not content with fighting this battle by myself I texted my BFF’s to let them know of the possibility of me going to jail, and could they come get me.  I rallied their support of my plight.  In effect, including them in my sin.  And when that did not quench my lust for revenge, I moved in on the other team moms.  I went and sat in the stands and told them what I had heard.  They were of course out raged and rallied around me too.  Now, my sin was not just my own, but I had a posse to join me.  I had defamed this guy, because of what he had done to my husband, to all the people around me.  Now to be sure, these bystanders did not know what I was doing, mostly because I did not know what I was doing at the time.  I just felt really mad and angry and sought relief in others agreeing with me.  I did not know the extent of my sin until this morning when the Lord made this the reading for April 16th in my One Year bible.  Check in out:

Luke 18: 9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

In essence when I read this today my heart broke for the fact that I identified as the Pharisee.  I thanked God this weekend that I was not “as bad” as that guy, when in actuality my sin was worse.  My sin of putting myself above this guy caused me to rally support of my superiority.  I lead others into sin with me.  I got a committee together that made me feel right and better than him and the whole time God was saying, “You might think you are justified in your actions but you stand before me unjustified in this particular sin.”  And in the end, in His kindness, God humbled me.

It is so good to be humbled, pruned and corrected even thought it hurts.  The restoration that will come and the opportunity for me to stand before those people and say I was wrong will reflect God to them.  To humble myself and put them before me will break down my pride a little more.  The shock I feel at my sin will point me to stop being a pharisee and be the tax collector, begging God for mercy.  At least those last four sentences will be what I am preaching to myself today, because in all honestly my mind knows its true but my flesh wants nothing to do with any of that.  And that is all I can do right now is believe God, believe I sinned and trust Him to change my heart in it all.  Even as I write this the guilt and the shame dissipate and I become more free.  The anger and the need for revenge is placed in the hands of the one who can actually do something about it and not make it worse.  Jesus, Thank You for always restoring me.  Thank you that you are not surprised by my sin, but that you know its coming.  Jesus thank you for loving me right where I am and that my failures don’t change the way you love me.

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Anybody else relieve that I did not become a dance mom?  I think Sydney could see the writing on the wall and she wanted no part of having a crazy dance mom.

God’s Sovereignty–a housewife’s perspective.

Do you see what I did there?!?  I willingly called myself a housewife!!!  #GROWTH #IMGONNABESOHOLY #SUPERHUMBLE  Anyway,  if you remember a few weeks back I set out to write this post and then got waylaid by the whole, “Wait, being a housewife is not good enough,” thing.  Isn’t it funny how God works?  And by funny I mean not funny because He makes me look myself square in the eye and He asks me, “If you write about this I need you to really understand that your reluctance to step into being a housewife shows me that you actually do not understand my sovereignty.  So why don’t we have a rap session about that and then you can tell people what you learned.  PS.  It will hurt me more than it hurts you, but its going to hurt, remember the cross? PSS.  Remember how pruning is good?  PSSS.  I love you.”   Got it Lord, thanks.  Then in the unfolding I learned how the God of the universe is sovereign over everything from housewives to weather to galaxies to everything in betwixt.

First, I want to define God’s sovereignty.  I find that when you are talking about words in the bible people get really weird and think that normal grammatical rules don’t apply.  Really?  Our God is the God of order.  He for sure is going to apply proper grammar rules to his ALL POWERFUL WORD!!!!  Anyway, I used my super fancy Logos software and did a search for the word sovereign or sovereignty in the bible.  The word, or version of it is used 294 times in the bible.  When a word is used that much in the bible it is easy to define because you just see how it is used and what the context is and wham bam, you know what the definition is.  So collectively the definition is as follows:

sovereignty. The possession of ultimate authority and power. In political theory the state is often regarded as sovereign, while in theology, sovereignty is a characteristic of the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator, who governs the universe for his own purposes.

Evans, C. Stephen. Pocket dictionary of apologetics & philosophy of religion 2002 : 110. Print.

My understanding of His sovereignty comes from the fact that I believe God is the ultimate authority and power over the universe.  I believe that everything is under His control.  I don’t believe in chance, or karma.  If I have a flat tire, God is in control of that.  He decided I needed a flat tire.  If I hit every green light and arrive 5 minutes early to something, God is in control of that.  He decided I need to be early.  To believe this requires me to believe in a BIG GOD!  And He is a BIG GOD.  He tells us that all through the bible.

I realize this topic strikes up debates between differing groups of christians.  I take no part in that.  You can ask me all day long if I am a TULIP Calvinist, Arminian, a Three Pointer, or an Augustinian.  I will answer, “I love Jesus, and I am whatever He is so lets ask Him when we get there.”  I am pretty sure that is how Jesus will decide what softball team we are on in Heaven.  “Oh you are tulip, and also a 3rd baseman? Great, head over to field 3, your team is playing the 3 Pointers today.”  For now, He is clear in His word.  He is the sovereign authority over everything and His parting command was to love Him first, and love our neighbor as I love myself.  His parting commission was to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey the Lords commands.  I don’t know about you, but I am going to focus on that.

When I first became a Christian I did not understand God’s sovereignty at all.  I wanted to be on the path He made for me, I just didn’t know anything about God yet so I had no direction.  When I don’t know what to do I am really good at making stuff up.  I formulated in my mind an idea about Gods’ sovereignty that looked like this…..

I thought it was something you had to divine from the Lord.  I thought you had  one chance to get on the path and if you screwed up and made a wrong turn you were off the path.  I started to become hyper vigilant for a sign from the Lord.  I went so far as to ask other people, whom I thought were very holy, to pray about me joining a ministry to see if they “saw” me in the ministry or not.  Does anyone else get their theology from pop culture?  Sometimes I think my syncretism of pop culture and following the Lord is such a deficit then I remember, “Oh wait, I can always be used as a bad example.”

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The problem with trying to follow a path laid down by someone you don’t really know is that you have no idea what they are going to do or how they roll.  So the more vigilant I got about looking for signs and trying to stay on the path of God’s sovereignty the more I was convinced that I was off the path and not capable of seeing the signs.  It left me feeling like I had missed out and that I was lost.  I knew God was good, and I saw Him leading friends of mine to amazing things, but I was never sure enough to take a step because I could not see the yellow brick road.

So then, in His kindness, He saw me drowning in this and rescued me.  I was sitting in class one day and our Professor, Scot Keen, drew a long line across the dry erase board.  He said, “This is not how God’s Sovereignty works, you are not on tight rope, trying to keep your balance so you don’t fall off.”  I fully tuned in at this point because I was sure He was about to tell us where the yellow brick road started!  He said, “God’s sovereignty is like an ocean that you can never get out of.  You are in a boat and you can steer where you want to go, but you are always in the water no matter what.”  Does your brain hurt like mine does right now?  These are deep thoughts and our human brains have a hard time understanding this amazing idea.

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God’s sovereignty is not a path or tight rope that I have to worry about staying on.  I am never ever out of sovereignty because He is in absolute control over everything.  I have the freedom to make choices.  I can go left, I can go right and I am always in God’s sovereignty because there is nothing out of His control.  He made it all (from galaxies to ants) and he controls it all (from seasons to traffic).  I can make a choice that doesn’t reflect my belief in God and I am still in the sovereignty of God.  I can make a choice that does reflect my belief in God and I am still in the sovereignty of God.  Good things happen to me because of His sovereignty and bad things happen to me because of his sovereignty.  I am never ever out of His sovereign control.  This is important and I want to come back to it later.

The problem with me thinking it was a path is that anytime I thought I was off the path I felt like God was not happy with me, and that I was lost.  Anytime something bad happened to me I thought it was God telling me I was not on the path.  Suddenly, I couldn’t move forward or backward or left or right for fear of being off the path.  This is not how it works, praise the Lord.  I was confusing sanctification (a $5 word for learning to walk with the Lord) with God’s sovereignty.  Nothing, no wrong decision, or wrong step can take you out of God’s sovereignty.  Also, who wants to believe in a God that can accidentally lose us?  “Where did Sarah go? She was right here on her way to the homeless shelter and then she went the wrong way and I lost her!  She must have seen a sale at Nordstrom’s.  Well, she was a cool chick, that’s too bad! She reminded me so much of Lara Croft Tomb Raider.  I wish I hadn’t lost her.”  That is not a very powerful God.

That is not the God I believe in.  The God I believe in is in control of all life.  There is no one who is so far gone that He can’t see them and work in their life.  This is so important because our bad decisions and bad things that happen make us believe that God has deserted us or is no longer with us.  The truth is that all the bad stuff is meant to drive you into His ever open arms.  It’s meant to show you that you are not in control but that God is in control.  Understanding that you can never get out of God’s sovereignty, no matter what you have done, no matter how unloveable you think you are, no matter how many drugs you have taken, no matter how many people you have hurt makes you finally take His offering of salvation.  And in his sovereignty He will never force you to love Him.  He wants you to love Him, He will use all your circumstances to show you how much you need him.  Through His son he made the way for us to not just be in the ocean of His sovereignty but be in His family and know Him personally.

Now as I walk through my day it is no longer a matter of divining His path for me,  it is living out my belief that He is in total control over everything that happens.  I believe that if I get a flat tire, God allowed it to happen and that He is still Good.  I believe that if plans change, God allowed it to happen and that He is still Good.  And so on, and so on.  Now, acting like I believe these things falls into that category of sanctification–and that is a story for another blog post.

 

Tillamoo, the faux unicorn.

If you have ever pushed a dog around in a doggie stroller you will not want to read this post.  This post is not for people who carry dogs in their purses.  If you understand that humans have dominion over animals and that sometimes things have to happen to keep the animals as healthy as possible, keep reading.  Don’t get me wrong I love animals.  If reincarnation was a thing I would love to come back as an animal of mine.

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Look at that sweet face.  This is Tillamoo.  We call her Tilla.  She is our most reasonable goat by far.  She is steady and no-nonsense.  She will straight head butt the other girls if they get squirrelly.  But she has an issue.

tilla'shorn – Version 2

Now listen I am not here for body shaming anyone.  But if she was going for the unicorn look she missed the mark!  This is called a scur.  It happens when a goat is disbudded as baby and it doesn’t quit get all the horn.  So this funky little horn grows all jacked up and was about the grow right into her eye.  So it had to come off.  I called the lady we bought them from and asked for help.  She said we had three options.  I could wait until she knocked if off on the fence, I could take her to the vet to have them sedate her and cut if off or I could use our hoof shears and cut it off myself.  I picked the last one.  I could tell you why the last one felt like the best decision, but that is an entire post of its own.  I’m sure the fact that I made that decision makes you thankful that I am in therapy.

So I put her in the milking stantion.  She already was wary because let us all remember that a few weeks ago was our first goat show and I had to body clip them.  Goats have to be body clipped to be shown, did you know that? Yeah, me neither.  Guess who has school everyday(Sydney), and guess who is home(Me).  So I got to do the body clipping.  We now know that you should use a 7.5mm blade.  We know that now because we clipped them with a 10mm blade and they looked like hairless goats.  Seriously picture a hairless cat, then imagine a goat looking like that.  So I don’t blame this sweet girl for wondering what was about to happen.

I surveyed this weird horn. I picked up the shears and made a little cut.  It bled like I had just slit her neck.  Plus she was highly offended by it.  They say these scurs have very little feeling and blood supply.  That is a LIE.  To make peace we both took a moment.  I gave her more food, she ate it.  I re-grouped and thought that maybe, to make it as quick as possible, I should use my tree trimmers.  I went and got them and as I was walking back to her something in me said that if she died from what I was about to do I did not want the explanation to Sydney to include, “I used the tree trimmers.”  So I went back to the hoof shears.

I’m gonna describe the next 5 minutes as this:

(talking to myself and Tilla)

“Ok, girl, 1..2..3…oh gosh I can’t do it.”

“Ok, 1….2…ugggh I feel sick, I’m so sorry Tilla.”

“Ok, 1…2…maybe I should just take you to the vet.  How much could it cost really?”

“OK, seriously, this is going to hurt for a second but it is for your own good, I promise, I’m so sorry.”

Then, I got my nerve.  1….2….3…..BBBAAAAAAAAHHHHH!  She let out one long BAH that broke my heart into a million pieces.  And of course it was bleeding.  It looked like a bad horror film.  I had a clean towel and I just held it there, applying pressure because I have 1st Aide training and I know you have to apply pressure.  I was also becoming more sick to my stomach.  She was becoming less and less impressed with me.

It did finally stop bleeding.  I put medicine on it and got ready to put her back in her stall.  I was not prepared for how she was going to RUN AWAY when I let her out of the milking stanchion.  These goats are like dogs, they never run from us because they know we are food dispensers.  Well as soon as she took off, the horn hole started bleeding again.  You know how that is, heart rate goes up,  wound starts bleeding again.  To get her back I had to let her sisters out and then round them all up.  Since she wanted to be with her sisters and her sisters were not mad at me, I was able to get them all back in the stall.

It took me 4 days to become friends with her again.  I had to spend a lot of time coaxing and wooing.  I had to pet her and sit with her.  I had to be a safe person that didn’t hurt her over and over again for her to trust me again. In those quiet times of trying to make this goat love me again, Jesus spoke to my heart.  He said, “How many times have you and I been here Sarah.”

Scripture says that Jesus is the vine and God the father is the gardener.  Check it out:

John 15: 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

What I see here is the parallel of God pruning me and me having to “prune” Tilla’s horn.  That horn was eventually going to affect her eye and vision and would be bad for her.  Even though it was good for her, it hurt! There are things that God as my Father has to prune from my life so that I can better follow Him.  When a pruning comes it hurts.  Tilla and I both run when the pain comes, even though the pain was for our own good.

If you think for one second walking with the Lord is going to be all butterflies and rainbows you are dead wrong.  There is pain.  When God prunes something it hurts. The cool thing is that when he prunes some thing and you get over the pain and see that he has ultimately made it possible for the to produce more fruit and be more free you are thankful for the pruning.  There are pruning that I have thought would kill me dead, and I ran from God.  Every time He woos me back to Him.

In the same way that I had to be close to Tilla while she was bleeding and applying pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding, God is so close to me in the pain.  When I am metaphorically bleeding He is so near to me, holding me keeping the pressure on the wound.  As the bleeding slows down He turns to wooing me back to himself.  He gives me space to question and be hurt and scared.  Ultimately He loves me back to life (as my friend Celine Dion says).  He holds my hand while I take my first steps to trust His goodness again.

I trimmed Tilla’s horn because I love her and I wanted her to be able to see for her whole life. And this is how I know that God can prune and love me at the same time.  Pruning comes because He loves me.  He is not uninvolved in my life, He is in me.  He sees when something in my life will ultimately cause me problems.  He intervenes and cuts it out before it cause me to be fruitless.  As I saw that goat run from me I saw how ridiculous I am for running from God.  With Tilla I was like, “How can you run from me?  I built you a barn, I buy you food, I bought you a really nice trailer to take you to shows, and I gave you half of the property to roam on!  How do you not get that I am just taking care of you?”  And as I thought those things I heard God say, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!!!”

My prayer is that I grow to trust God more and more.  That the pain of pruning drives me to the Lord and not away from Him.  That I grow to never question His goodness, but trust His goodness.  He is in this to grow me to be a beautiful fruit producer, not a goat with a faux unicorn horn.

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Sydney and the girls. (L-R Pepper, Bree and Tilla)

How do I get my ducks in a row?

I am not my best self right now.  I have tried to write an up beat, happy and fun story about how much I love my ducks.  Every time I sat down to write it, anger and complaining came out of my typing fingers.  I was like, “Girl, what is the deal, you have nothing to complain about!  Your cleaning ladies started this week!”  After some contemplation I realized it was because I was hungry.  We started a diet this week.  We totally cut out refined sugar and I realized that lack of refined sugar makes it hard for me to be a nice human.  I also should warn you that if you see me in public and you come up to me to offer your advice on dieting I will probably throat punch you.  That would not be a good thing to do on this weekend that we get to celebrate the fact that our sins have been paid for and our Savior has RISEN!  So lets agree not to go there.  Jesse and I decided to try Nutri System (you know, Marie Osmond advertises it.)  They send you all this miniature food and snacks and tell you it is a “meal.”  Jesse will probably lose 40 lbs and I will gain 12, but whatever, I’m super excited about it.  Let me get over the diet and tell you about my ducks.

My ducks.  We had no plans of raising ducks.  When we went to buy our chicks, there was one duck in the duck brooder.  His friends had been sold.  They tried to put him in with the chicks but they did not get along.  I looked at the sweet little duckling all alone peeping and I swear I could hear him singing:

“But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for me
For I am glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me!”
Because The Greatest Showman in my new favorite movie of all time, I had to take him. We named him Downton after my favorite TV show and the pun…(Downton, He is a duck covered in down, get it?)   He couldn’t help that he was a duck surrounded by chicks.  My plan was to just raise him with the chicks, I figured they would eventually get along.
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Look at him.  Oh my heart.  And so for a few weeks everybody was happy and I don’t think Downton knew he was any different from the chicks.  But as he grew the differences became bigger.  Like for instance how he loved the waterer.  The chicks got so offended by the fact that Downton would go in for a sip and end up splashing around in the water.  You have heard the saying, “mad as a wet hen.”  Well it is true, wet hens are not happy hens.  He was also a lot bigger!  I started to realize that duck and chickens are actually quite different and we needed to so something different for him.  So that is when this happened….

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This is Downton and “company” because at the time we did not know what he or she was.  Do you see Company there hiding behind Downton.  They were fast friends.  Sydney and I took dog crates, a water trough and some wood and made a duck habitat in my garage.  We had to make a ramp into the water trough so they could waddle in and out.  This is what the garage looked like…

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Am I a crazy person? Yes.  I love these little chicks we are raising.  The chickens and the ducks!  Once the ducks moved out the chickens became happy again.  Before I knew it they were ready to move to their awesome coop in the goat barn.  To say the ducks loved their habitat would be an understatement.  I don’t think there were happier ducklings ever!  They love to swim.  Sooner than I was ready for however, they were getting too big for the garage.  Our house has a cute little pond area in the back yard.  We turned it off during the winter but it occurred to me that this would be a perfect place for the ducks to grow up a little more.  So we put our thinking caps on and engineered a new area for them using the dog crates, some metal gate panels we had and dog igloo.  Check it out…

Also, Chip Gaines the corgi has decided that he ducks are his.  He loves them and keeps the other dogs away from them.  He sleeps by them, it is really cute.  Will he eventually eat them? I am not sure….

I will say ducks are not clean animals.  Their poop literally comes shooting out of their tail ends.  They have no decorum at all.  They “go” everywhere.  In the water, in the food, on the rocks.  I thought maybe they could stay right up here by the house forever, but that’s a no.  They are going to have to move down to the pond at some point.

In the last week we have realized that we have a boy and a girl.  We are calling them Downton and Cora.  I realize Grantham and Cora would be more true to the show but Downton is Downton now and we can’t change it.  I live in constant terror of them growing up and leaving, getting eaten by the giant alligator snapping turtle that lurks in the bottom of our pond or one of dogs getting them when Chip is not looking.  Putting that fear aside it is my joy in the morning to go out and see them swimming.  They quack at me when they see me.  They are the only ones on this property who will eat kale besides me.  They also love grapes.  They love eating in general, which is how this happened…

They have grown so much in just a month!  It is so fun to watch them, and interact with them.  Now we are getting ready for them to move down to pond.  I realize they may leave.  I realize I am not a mommy duck able to “get her ducks in a row.”  I think I have pretty thoroughly documented how I don’t have any ducks in a row in my life.  I have so enjoyed them for the last month.  I had no idea how fun they would be.  I really hope they stay.

Now going forward Jesse and I have decided we will probably get ducks every year.  Don’t for one second think he is not a party to this chaos.  Have we hired Tropical John from our church to build us a new and improved duck pond complete with a sloped entrance? YES!  Have we researched how to get rid of alligator snapping turtles? YES!  Are we insane? YES!  I really hope in a few weeks I can report that our sweet Downton and Cora are safe and living the good life in our pond (and that I have lost weight and have not murdered anyone due to hunger).  If not, I will need more therapy.

I’ll leave you with this sweet picture of them sleeping…

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Q: What do you call a housewife who doesn’t clean her own house? A: Sarah Griffith, Tomb Raider

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Well it has come to this.  After weeks of mulling over this pace of life stuff, begging God to write my schedule out for me so I know what He wants me to be doing, processing with my counselor, and talking Jesse’s ear off, I have had to make some decisions that have made me scared to death to write about it and put it out in the world.  But the point of all this is to record what Jesus is doing in my life.  And so I have to admit that I have hired a cleaning lady and Jesus still loves me anyway.  The biggest thing He is teaching me right now is I am more scared about people thinking I am worthless, than I am willing to be obedient to Him and what He is asking me to do.  That is why this is coming out on a Saturday instead of a Tuesday.  I have been trying to avoid writing about this all week, trying other topics, but this topic is the only one that has words right now.

You see, I found when my therapist said “I want you to write out your schedule, your real schedule, in real-time,” I started to see that what I was expecting of myself was not a realistic pace of life.  I have always thought of myself as Lara Croft Tomb Raider.  Not that new imposter Lara Croft, but the OG Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie).  Guns strapped to her legs, cheeky, smart, takes no crap, will straight up shoot you in the head, and can DO ALL THINGS.  Lara Croft does not worry about writing her schedule out because all her schedule would say everyday is:

Monday:  Kick Ass

Tuesday: Kick Ass

Wednesday:  Kick Ass

Thursday:  Kick Ass

Friday: Kick Ass

Saturday: Kick Ass

Sunday:  Go to Church and then Kick Ass

In my world, the real world, this kind of pace of life does not lead to good things.  This blasted anxiety cripples me when the pace of life reaches an unrealistic pace.  I become mean, I yell, I get paranoid, and I hurt the people I love when I am running at “kick ass” pace.  That’s how I know it is an unrealistic pace, because I can’t do the things that Jesus asks me to do.  More than anything I don’t want to be that ungentle, mean, impatient person anymore.  So, things have to change.  I had to prioritize what can get done by someone who is not Lara Croft in a normal week.  When I say I had to prioritize I mean I had to take every one of those priorities to the Lord in prayer.  I had to submit to what came up in that meditation with Him.  I had to talk to Jesse, admit how much I am struggling and ask him (gulp) how he thought I needed to prioritize things.  I had to ask all this and then I had to listen.  Which is good because people always say I am a really good listener, when I shut up long enough to hear them talk.

Here is what I came up with.  I’m hiring a cleaning lady.  I am scared to death to write that down and put it out in the world because I am terrified of people thinking I am worthless.  I am so scared you will think that I am lazy and just a well to do white woman with nothing to worry about except what to wear.  But Jesus is asking me to be patient and gentle and I can’t be patient and gentle with the pace of life I use to live.  Things have to change.  I have things that Jesus has put things on my heart to write, to study, and bible studies to teach.  I want to devote my time to that and not to my ridiculous cleaning schedule.  I will constantly deal with the guilt of not doing it myself.  I will have to remind myself that I am not worthless for hiring a cleaning lady.  I don’t know why God has blessed us with the resources to hire a cleaning lady, I just want to be thankful for it.  It would be so much easier to justify it if I worked outside of the house full-time.  If I had a full time job I would not hesitate to hire a cleaning lady.  I don’t and so I am a housewife who is hiring a cleaning lady, and I have to deal with it.

Guess who had a cleaning lady, Lara Croft.  Actually it was a guy, but you get the point.  People of the world, hear me now.  I am trying to stop living my life based on what you think of me.  I am going to try to live my life based on what God thinks of me.  I am almost 100% sure that God does not care if I hire a cleaning lady as long as I am not going into debt over it.  He is especially ok with it since my husband says he wants me to.  If I hire a cleaning lady and I tell you and you think that I am somehow less worthy because of it I don’t have to carry that around with me.  This is one of the crutches my anxiety leans on, “Do this because of what people think.”  I can’t live like that, its crushing me.  I have to become me, follower of Christ.  More worried about pleasing Him than the world.

I set out to write this post to tell you the following story, but of course it took 1000 words of back story to get here.

I called a cleaning company to get an estimate.  The lady on the phone told me she would like go over what they do during a cleaning before she scheduled the in home estimate.  Here is how the conversation went.  Her name is Linda.

Linda:  Mrs. Griffith the maids who work for us have all been trained and our cleaning comes with a guarantee, so if you are unhappy for any reason you call me and we will make it right.  We want you to be a long time customer.

Me:  Linda, that is so great.

Linda:  The ladies will come in and dust from ceiling to floor including the base boards.

Me: Really?

Linda: Yes ma’am.  They will be sure there are no cobwebs and they will vacuum out the window sills.

Me: Ok, (thinking to myself, shoot, I need to vacuum out the window sills before they come because I never do that.)

Linda:  They will vacuum your furniture, and all the floors.  Do you have dogs?

Me: (Shoot? Do I lie?  I don’t think I can hide them when the come over…..) Um, yes we have 3? Is that ok?

Linda: Oh yes!  We love dogs, and I just wanted to tell you that we will make sure and get all the dog hair from under your furniture too.

Me: Under the furniture?

Linda: Yes, except for things the ladies can’t move themselves.  Is that ok?

Me: Um, yes.  (Cuss word, now I have to vacuum under the furniture before they come)

Linda: The ladies will mop the tile and they will use Bona on the hardwoods.  Is that ok?

Me:  That is great.

Linda:  They will wipe down and polish all your appliances.

Me:  (lump forming in my throat)

Linda:  They will disinfect all bathrooms, and wash with soap and water all your counter tops.  (Hears sniffling on the other end of the line)  Are you there, Mrs. Griffith?

Me: (small) Yes

Linda:  Ok, great.  Well I wanted to let you know that they will also change your sheets for you if you leave the clean ones out on in your rooms.  They will also dust and clean all the ceiling fans and light……….(hears sobbing)  Ma’am are you ok?

Me: I-I-I’m fine.  (sob-sob) I-I’m so sorry Linda. (sob-sob) I have just been so stressed out about this. (sob-sob) Just to know that it will get done and I don’t have to do it, (sob-sob) is just so great.

Linda: Um, ok.  So do you want to set up the in home estimate?

Me: Yes, absolutely, when can you come. (sniff, sniff)

Linda:  We could have our estimator come tomorrow (pauses, talking to someone with the phone receiver covered) Actually Mrs. Griffith, my manager says he could come right now if you really need someone so urgently.

Me: (Laughing) Oh, no Linda, tomorrow is fine, I’m ok, I promise.  I swear I am not a crazy person.  I promise I am not weird, I’m just so relieved.

Linda:  Ok, I will schedule you for tomorrow.  I’m glad you called, sounds like you need some help.

Me:  Yes, Linda I need help.  (Girl, you have no idea how much help I need!)

 

 

I am the most patient person I know.

Seriously, I am so patient.  I love sitting in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru that is 100 cars long.  I love patiently sitting in my car waiting for my people to get all their stuff together and get in the car.  I love saying we are leaving at a certain time only to be delayed for some magical reason.  I love stopping to smell the roses.  I refuse to feel rushed or get flustered in an attempt to get something done quickly.  I have no ill will towards someone who delays me because they are doing something so charmingly ineptly.  Patiently sitting in traffic is one of my favorite pass times.  Lines, waiting rooms and ill-made plans are also favorites.  I am the most patient with my husband.  I love the pace at which he moves, and the pace at which he makes decisions.  Patience is my strong suit for sure.  It is my default and my go to.

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Oh wait, did I say patience, I meant hurrying.  I am cracking myself up!  Just in case you are reading this and don’t actually know me, I could barely type all that above without laughing hysterically.  “Patient,” would not be a word used to describe me.

This weekend at church Pastor Doug taught on Ephesians 4: 1-6.  Check it out:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

My friend Ashley was sitting behind me and as soon as Pastor Doug read this passage I turned to her and said “We should go, let’s go get breakfast!”  I knew it would be one of those days in church when it feels like Pastor is talking directly to me and I wanted to escape with my friend who shares my affinity to avoid talking about words like “gentle, humble and patience.” Of course it is Jesus talking directly to me, not actually Pastor Doug.  This is how God’s word works.  It goes right to the heart and says “Oh, its Demo Day baby!”

You see in the passage above where it says “Always be humble and gentle.”  I read this and feel the impossibility of this command.  I didn’t use to.  In my baby christian days I read stuff like this and was like, “Oh ok, I can do that.”  I would be the most humble and gentle person you have ever seen for like 30 seconds, and then something would irritate me and all bets were off.  I have realized by now when these little gems where being handed out by the Lord, I was in the bathroom or something.  I did not get those particular gifts, I bring other things to the table like cuss words and yelling.

Now I read these words and realize my need for the Lord.  He is the one that exposes these parts of me that are not like Christ, and asks me to let His power loose to change me.  He says to me, “Sarah, you are not humble and gentle, but I AM.  If you will deny yourself and seek Me, I can live through you and you will start to reflect humbleness and gentleness to others.”  It takes me putting my own desires, my flesh, aside and choosing to live by the spirit.  The next part of the passage is “be patient with each other.”  Being patient comes after learning to be humble and gentle.

Patient, patient, patient.  Maybe if I type it enough I will understand it.  Here is what I do know.  I am not patient.  Unless you are using it in refer to someone being in a hospital.  Then I am very much a “patient.”  But something tells me that is not what God is talking about here.  Do you know how I know I am not patient?  Because my favorite word is “HURRY UP!”  Here are some of my favorite ways to use this word grouping.

HURRY UP, GET IN THE CAR!

HURRY UP, AND TELL ME WHAT WE ARE DOING!

HURRY UP!  WE ARE LATE!

HURRY UP AND MAKE THIS DECISION!

HURRY UP, COME ON, WE HAVE TO GO!

HURRY UP AND GET US A TABLE!

HURRY UP AND GET YOUR HOMEWORK DONE!

HURRY!

HURRY!

So let me tell you something really funny.  Guess what word my husband hates most in the world?  You guessed it, “hurry.”  This word is a cuss word in his book.  Nothing makes him shut down faster than someone hurrying him.  So as you can imagine this is a hot mess of me hurrying him and him freaking out on me to stop hurrying him.  It goes really well.  The more I walk with Jesus the more I see my hurried approach to life.  The more I become brave enough to look at myself in light of who Jesus is, the more empowered I become to say, “Sarah, where are you going in such a hurry?”

If I hurry my husband, guess who else I hurry?  Well, yes my kids, but I’m not talking about them.  (I’m not ready to talk about the fact that both of my kids had stutters because they felt so rushed to get a thought out.  Literally, the speech therapist said to me, “you have to slow down and look them in the face when they are trying to tell you something. Ouch.)  I am talking about the fact that I hurry God.  I am impatient with God.  I say things like, “God, hurry up and change Jesse so we can get things done faster.”  “God, hurry up and change me so I look like you.”  Guess who is not in a hurry because time does not bother Him?  That’s right God.

Pastor Doug defined patience as, “Gracious and loving waiting.”  Ashley and I should probably not sit by each other in church because we both laughed so loud at this.  Then Jesse looked over at me all smug and self-righteous and smiled at me.  Jerk.  Just kidding, I love him.

Gracious and loving waiting.  Gracious and loving waiting.  Gracious and loving waiting.  Does anyone else read that definition and start to look for a paper bag to breath in? This is just one more way God is going to teach me to stop trying to be patient and to start trusting Him to change me into someone who reflects His patience.  Yes it will hurt, yes it will be a challenge, yes I will try to do it in my own strength and fail.  The thrill of hope is that what if I could become patient.  What if I could be free of the frustration of a hurried life.  What if I could stop hurrying the people I love.  What if I could get off this hamster wheel that is “hurry?”  What if I could look myself in the face and say, “Why are you in such a hurry anyway? Where are you trying to get to so fast?” Well my friends, that sounds like a glorious way of living to me.  I love you Jesus, thank you for being humble and gentle, and thank you for promising to transform me into someone who relfects you.

Mommy Issues.

There is a lot of things happening around here!  Jesse and I went out-of-town together last Wednesday through Saturday.  This was the same week that our new chicks, and ducks came to the farm.  Ten inches of rain, muddy dog prints on the wood floor, possible flooding of my bedroom and worrying about where all this water was going to go was more than I could handle the last week.  Also this is a particularly hard time for me because of the whole “my therapist is trying to kill me thing” with the having to sit down and really look at what I have committed myself to and my “pace of life.” Incidentally,  the phrase “pace of life” in now considered a cuss word in my book, and anyone who knows me knows how careful I am to never use cuss words–said no one about me ever.  Check out this new shirt my friend Stacy made for me:

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Want this shirt?  Email Stacy at 2birdspartydecorandmore@gmail.com

I love this shirt.  It feels true of my feelings right now.  Sitting, thinking, and waiting for a problem or situation to sort its self out the way God wants it sorted out is way harder than just springing in to action and fixing something yourself.  All that to say, Jesus has not revealed to me what my “pace of life” looks like yet.  Not knowing this makes me a little, shall we say, on edge.  In the midst of all this, Jesse and I went out-of-town.  I didn’t feel like going anywhere, but we went.

 

My mom came in to help with the kids.  Y’all there are no words.  When I say she stepped up and made it happen, I mean it.  I was literally stumbling out-of-town.  Normally I would have flow charts, important numbers, directions, everything on lock.  Well I left her with 11 chicks, 2 ducks, 3 dogs (2 of which are puppies), 3 goats, a teenager and a pre-teen.  I basically said, “Here is what I think is happening, just keep everything alive, love you, bye!”  I’m not sure if I told the world yet but my mom is super human.  She is beast when it comes to getting stuff done.  For years we have called her the energizer bunny.  She never complains, she never says no, she just does it.  I have learned all my grit from her.  That is the only reason I could go out of town, because I knew she would just make it happen.

Having a mom like that is awesome.  It is also a really tough act to follow.  Her and I have talked for years about how I feel like I don’t live up to her.  I don’t work full-time, and keep house, and make dinner and do all the kid things like she did.  That is probably where a lot of my “housewife” issues come from.  Again, I get into trouble when I look to someone else to see if I am enough or doing enough.  Not from her making me feel bad, but just knowing what this woman has done in her lifetime.  When I say she just made stuff happen, I mean it.  She just did it.  If there was something I wanted to do, she made sure I did it.  I don’t know how.  It is her magic.

She reads my blog, of course, because I am her kid and she has too.  She knows I have been struggling with my schedule and my “pace of life”–there is that cuss word again. We talked about it when she was here.  It is hard to talk to her about “pace of life” because her “pace of life” is something I cannot adopt for my life.  I just mean that when I tell her things like, “I have to not do so much,” I think she must think, “You pansy, do you know what I have had to deal with in my life, do you know how much I had to do in one day just so our family would stay afloat?” You know what they say when you assume something–you make an ass out of u and me.  In reality when we talked about my “pace of life” she told me that she didn’t think I was being realistic about my cleaning schedule.  In my mind I heard what she said but I thought “Well you kept a clean house and worked full-time so why can I not keep a clean house.  You must think I can’t do it because I am not good enough.”  I didn’t say that of course but, I thought it.  So then this morning I found this on my desk:

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I looked at this and had to sit down.  This super mom, this woman I can’t live up to, REVISED MY CLEANING SCHEDULE.  She took stuff off, and moved stuff around.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am not cleaning my house like this because God wants me to.  I am killing myself cleaning because I am trying to impress my mom.  I know this is true because when I saw that she thinks I am doing “enough” it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.  Hear me on this.  I PUT THAT WEIGHT THERE, NOT MY MOM.  I decided that I was going to live up to a fake standard I had set in my mind.  No one, mainly NOT God, told me to do this to myself.  Jesus used this to set me free of another thing I was trying to live up to.  Jesus, thank you.  I love you so much.  Thank you for always telling me the truth about things because where there is YOUR TRUTH there is freedom.  My fake truth brings bondage.

This is my weakness.  To be enough, to do enough to live up to a standard becomes my god.  This example is living up to my perception of my mom.  There are so many others and there will be so many more.  God is faithful to set me free of these.  He is the only reason I even know I am killing myself to live up to fake standards.  He shows me.  I have to respond.  Living my life trying to “be enough” is where this stupid schedule and “pace of life” came from.  Well, no more.  My prayer for myself is as follows:

Jesus, I can’t look to anyone else but you when I am looking for an example to live by.  Lord you are the one who says I am enough.  You say that I am everything I need to be because I believe in you.  Jesus continue to reveal to me the places where I have set up standards to make myself feel like I am enough.  Lord teach me that my “enough-ness” comes from you alone.  Help me remember that there is nothing I can do to impress you.  You only ask that I humble myself and follow you.  Lord help me to stop trying to impress humans.  Help me point them to You and not to me.  To your Name be all the glory, not to me.  Help me remember what Pastor Doug said this weekend, “You get 100% of the Glory Jesus, I have to practice throwing my trophies at your feet.”

Mom, I can’t express to you how much I love you.  Mainly because you don’t like that emotional stuff.  I love more than you can ever know.  I learn everyday how lucky I am that God gave me a mom like you.  God knew I would have to learn grit and faithfulness and how to finish strong.  Thank you for bailing me out over and over, not from real jail but from trouble I got myself into.  Mom, I want to stop competing with you and start being thankful for you.  I want to stop trying to live up to you and fill your shoes and just be thankful for how God made you, and be thankful for how God made me.  I am so thankful God gave me you.  I love you.