Hello Instagram, Meet my Dirty Dishes.

You know those pictures I post of food and of when the house feels warm and cozy and clean?  Those pictures of when I’ve been cooking our favorite meals? carnitas

Pictures like this

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Pictures of when things fall into place and there is a peace that settles on the home. When the home feels more like a sanctuary…when it feels like I hope for it to feel and like I desire.  A home that is inspired by articles like I find at Art House America.

I have to admit, though.  There are times when things simply do not mesh.

There are times when I feel like I am running to stay ahead of the day, and I am just barely keeping up pace. I don’t have the lessons planned far enough ahead. I don’t have the groceries bought. I don’t have the meals planned. I don’t have on hand what I need. The kids are just enough more energetic than I am and it is keeping me on edge because it is highlighting the fact that I am falling short.

That is when the house looks more like this:

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Yep.  Not a lot of healthy, home cooked, green wonderful veggie-type food there. Meds. Flung to and fro, mixed in with all kinds of snacky type food.

Oh, and the sink…well…we’re really keeping up on the dishes today as well:

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It actually looks much worse in person.

I would have taken a picture of the laundry room, but I had to stop and clean up the cat vomit and got distracted.

Here’s the thing.  In the middle of this we have accomplished math lessons and reading, we have learned about Hittites and Canaanites, about the battle of Troy and about the Judges of Israel.

We have laughed heartily.

We’ve been to the grocery and the orthodontist and on the way sang loudly to TobyMac and Taylor Swift.

I rocked Maddie, after stepping over her toys that were scattered on the floor, and I sat for a few minutes holding her and just breathing her in. Just being with her…even though I didn’t have a few minutes. Because, even though I am far behind on duties; on lesson plans and menus and laundry, I am still in the middle of a life full of promise and hope and love.

We’ve been doing life and sometimes the chores get a bit sloppy because life gets backed up. I have the tendency to get edgy and grouchy when I know I am behind on the duties that I am responsible for, and I can take that out on the kids…because I know I am falling short. I desperately need a pause button so I can get caught up.

Those pause buttons are hard to find and the duties and the stress can continue to pile up. But we have to find those pauses…when we are rocking the babies, or listening to the laughter of the older kids…or looking at our kids sleep.

And then everyone else is still posting pictures of great meals and clean houses and clean smiling kids on Pinterest and Instagram and FaceBook. We’ve all seen the posts, and we’ve all read the blog articles telling us not to stress over them…but sometimes we need another reminder.

So here is another reminder.

Don’t stress.

Everyone has the back-up of dishes in their sink sometimes. Everyone’s cat, or dog, or kid, pukes on the floor at some point 😉

Everyone feels the need to hit the pause button…we just don’t always post that on Pinterest or FaceBook or Instagram all the time. We like to post the good side of us. And sometimes that makes it really tough for all the rest of us to say that we struggling and that we are hurting and that we are lonely…or disappointed…or …. whatever.

But we need to say it and we need to not swallow it down and try to just ignore it and shoulder on, because it just becomes bigger and harder to swallow down.

So…go ahead…post pictures of your dirty sink on Instagram and tell the world you need a day to pause! Recognize your limits!! Before they become something larger than they need to be.

Because we have an enemy that will take something small and twist it and turn it and poke at it and fester it until it becomes something it never needed to be. He will take a silly picture of someone enjoying life, posted on a social media, and make you feel less about yourself.

Listen…the successes and the joys of our friends do not diminish who we are…they simply are the joys of our friends. Let them be that, and rejoice with them. That’s all.

I promise to post some unflattering pictures of our life in the coming months 😉

For now…remember that the One who cares for us cares for us in the midst of the life we are in, right now. Not the life we hope for, or the life we wish we had. Not the life we hope to create.

Right now…with the promise that He is the One who is Faithful to bring about the life we hope to create. He is the One who can bring us to the place where we are loved and whole and well…and where we have peace even with dirty dishes and cats who vomit.

Callouses on the Soul

When I was 24 I spent a short time in Amsterdam as a missionary. The city is beautiful, and I loved walking along the canals and sightseeing. As I would walk back to the YWAM base in the evenings I would look in the homes that faced the canal. Almost all would have their drapes drawn back and the lights on and I could see the activities of dinners being made and families going about their business.

 

There was something comforting about watching these little pictures of life as I walked along, and I always enjoyed the changing scenery.

 

Facebook seems to be a virtual walk, looking in on the lives of friends, and even of strangers, as they draw back their drapes and live life in front of us. Status updates paint the picture of dinners being and families going about their activities.

The struggle for me is that mixed in with the mundane and the humorous are the many stories of deep suffering.

Stories of babies who are struggling to live when their bodies are not cooperating. Babies who do not survive just after birth. Marriages that are struggling. People who are filled with fear in the face of job losses and struggle. Deaths of acquaintances. Deep griefs and struggles posted in snippets.

 

I watch from the street, as it were, and wait to see how the story will unfold. I watched along with thousands the story of Lane Goodwin unfold, praying for God’s mercy and grieving with this family I have never met for the loss of a child I never saw in person.

 

There is enough grief in our “real” life to weigh us down. As I watch my mother continue to lose more of her mind to dementia I am sometimes overwhelmed with grief that she is not able to rejoice in the amazing life of Madeleine…even though she is physically present. I think it is actually more painful that she is physically here…I can hear her voice and talk with her and see her hold my little girl, and yet she is not here. The mourning is not given over to the comfort that comes after because she is not healed or at peace yet.

 

We live in a broken world, and broken things hurt. 

Sometimes I feel the need to have callouses on my soul to protect from the pain of suffering around me. I cannot fathom the depth of grief in losing a child…so I watch and pray, but I strengthen the callous that keeps it at arms length. I invest myself in the pain of those I will never rub shoulders with because I can grieve with restraint, while keeping the grief over those close to me in check with these callouses. 

A friend posted this the other day on her Facebook status:

“i am just sick of users. i often want to say to the people that see the beautiful things that God does for me, and want to steal those things: ” do you want to pay the price? it is extremely high. did you have parents, safety? have you been spared the rage of others? have you been Loved deeply? do you have a little child? have you been hugged lately? do you know what it is to feel safe? do you walk without trouble? great. i’ll trade places with you. you can have my life.”

 

and yet, i say this only to make a point: everything beautiful has a cost. the beauty comes through fire” Gianna Jessen

If we give in to being calloused, we miss the beauty in ourselves and in others. There is beauty in the pain, but oh it hurts to find it sometimes. There is not beauty in callouses. We have to be willing to allow ourselves the freedom to embrace the suffering of others and allow it to impact us because we are on this journey together. God works through our suffering to change us, to soften us and to give us wisdom. Suffering slows us down and filters the inconsequential things out of the way so we can hear differently and we can feel differently and we can see differently.

 

The wonders of life…the laughter of children, the sound of music, the colors of art and nature…are more vibrant when we’ve been through suffering and grief. I say this knowing that I have suffered very little and my pain is far less than most. I watch through the windows and am drawn into the lives of those around me who walk through great suffering and find that God is in the midst of it and has not forgotten them. That He hears and that our pain and our brokenness hurts because we know that we will be made whole and we long for that day.

 

We are not made to carry the pain and the suffering alone. We are made to rely on the strength of another:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls aroundlike a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 5:6-11

We are  able to remain vital and present in suffering because we know that God is present and he will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. We will be changed by the suffering…either we will build up callouses to protect ourselves and in the end become hardened, or we will be changed into something more through the suffering…a beauty that can only come through pain. Amen?