IMG_3249There’s a thought that’s been circling around in my head the last few weeks, perhaps longer, about dependence.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess this is an especially big problem in America.  I think it’s rooted in the idea of charity or welfare, and our destain for it.  We don’t mind giving charity as long as it’s temporary, with measurable improvement.  We don’t mind welfare as long as we are certain that the recipients are worthy, and it’s temporary.  (Emphasis on “temporary.”)  We want them to be working to get out of welfare.

And yet, this post isn’t about welfare or charity.  Though I could easily follow this rabbit trail for a few thousand words.  This post is about how we let our view of them effect our view of dependence on a very, very personal level.

I was sitting on my porch the other day, looking out over our yard and watching the kids ride bike and chase the dogs.  I was thinking about how I’ve needed God so much these last few years since my car accident.  I’ve been so very dependent.  I haven’t always been able to get food on the table, and God provided.  I didn’t always have childcare for my doctor appointments.  God provided.  Sometimes I would walk into an appointment, not knowing what my kids would do in the waiting room by themselves but I was literally left with no other choice, and one of my friends would be waiting for me there at the office, saying she just felt I needed her that day.

My work ethic, patience, pain tolerance, teaching ability has essentially been broken and I’ve been left with no other choice to depend on God for very, very practical needs.  As my strength has been improving these last months with some physical therapy, and continued treatment, I finally see light at the end of the tunnel that it won’t always be this way.  I will be myself again.

I won’t need God so much.

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I’m Blessed

Good Morning, Friends.

We had such a good weekend.  Knut and his family finished planting the corn, and they are onto the soy beans.  The weather could not be any more obliging for planting season.  This means we see very little of Knut.  Of course, I didn’t get my garden in last week like I had planned, but the garden prep is going well.  It feels late because of this glorious weather, but in fact I’m still early.  I’m trying hard to not let it mess with my head.  It’s that time of year where there is massive amounts of work all around me that will likely take all summer to mostly complete.  It can either be exciting and inspiring, like a blank slate, or overwhelming like an army of grass invading on every side.

Speaking of armies of grass, the kids and I have named our gardens.  I told David as he was helping me prep the “old garden” that this area was actually the country of “Gardentopia” and it was being invaded in a brutal war from the country of the grasslands.  We were soldiers sent to fight for the territory of Gardentopia.  The kids liked that.

The kids really liked this story, so we had to come up with a name for “the new garden” which are the French style beds that we added near the chicken coop last year.  I named that country “Versailles” after the famous palace just outside of Paris with it’s vast gardens.  Elias really wanted to name a garden “Bloom” so that is the name of our front flower bed.  The country of Bloom is in really bad shape in it’s war against the grasslands.  However, we must fight for Gardentopia first, because we have a vested interest in that country because of it’s export of vegetables which takes priority over Bloom which has an expert of flowers, though I plan on putting all my herbs there this year, so it’s not like it’s just completely frivolous.  Once martial law has a firm hold of Gardentopia and Versailles, we will turn our forces to Bloom.

As you can tell, we’ve been having some fun.  But I’m totally not showing you pictures of the garden yet.  I can’t bear to.  It’s too depressing.  I do not want to record and remember how slow it is going.

I am so relieved to be done with April.  It was far too busy, and I feel so ragged from it.  May promises to be extremely busy, but just a hair less.  At least I hope.  Those are famous last words.

This last weekend we got to grill hot dogs and vegetables.  I had a playdate with one of my best friends who I never get to see because she’s even busier than even me, but she’s one of those people who you feel is just like balm for your soul.  I don’t have to carefully word my conversation around her, or wonder if she is secretly judging me.  And every time I meet with her, I feel like she pushed me more towards Christ.  I feel uplifted, and full of hope.  I know she’s probably not aware that she even does this for me, but she is the definition of a kindred spirit.

Sigh.  I haven’t always had a friend like this, with so many years of feeling completely lonely, it makes me feel the weight of the blessing of having even one friend like this.

I’m Blessed (Affirmations)

The weather is simply gorgeous.  Knut’s parents invited us over last night to their house overlooking this lake, and the kids got to go canoeing and kayaking on the fine, fine day.  I stayed home on Saturday and got as many things done for this week as I could, but then I realized yesterday when I looked at the forecast that we have a gorgeous week ahead of us, and you know what that means…
I’m going to be in the garden this week.
There’s already weeds growing in my garden folks.  Already.  
I haven’t even…  
I just can’t…
This is so not fair.
Just give me a chance, this year alright?  I’m trying to move towards a no-till, mulching type garden, similar to “Back to Eden” gardening as it’s being termed.  My garden is so obviously in desperate need of it.  I’m honestly a little afraid.  I’m afraid of physical labor.  Last year was my best gardening year ever, but I’m still nervous.  My injury is like a shadow standing over me saying, “If you do that, you will hurt.  You won’t be able to move for days.  You will be stuck just putting on the t.v. for your kids and snapping at them for 2 weeks.  Go ahead.  Put in seeds.  Move some mulch.  Wield that wheelbarrow.  You’ll regret it.”
Having experienced chronic pain from a car accident, even though it’s slowly getting to a place of being managed now… it leaves an impression of fear.  I’m not sure what is more crippling some days: the pain, or the fear of pain.  
I could give up.  I don’t have to garden.  There are grocery stores near us.  But I love it.  I love the fresh food for my family.  Our whole budget revolves around it.  Our health is managed through it.  I could list 1,000 reasons I press on.
Mostly, though, I press on because I refuse to live in fear.  Well, I can’t say that.  Sometimes I’m just afraid and I can’t control that.  I refuse to let fear make decisions for me.  I refuse to live by fear.  I don’t want to run my life according to fear.  This pain will not steal my life.
I’m an overcomer.  I am not a victim.
(Hear the need to pump myself up in my words?  I’m saying this to myself people.)
I’ll start small.  I’ll prune back the raspberries, and make space for the asparagus to come in.  I’ll weed and mulch the cutting flowers in the old garden, and…maybe we’ll just start there today.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll be ready to put some seeds in the ground.  We’ll see.  I’ll bring my kids alongside to help.  I’ll be wise and listen to my body. I have worked up to a mile on the elliptical at the YMCA and I’m doing my physical therapy.  I can feel my muscles getting stronger.  
This is going to be the best gardening year ever. 
I’m blessed.

Easter Blessings

I had a great Easter.  Did you?  The church service hit my heart so deeply.  The music, the songs…everything.  I didn’t do any “Lent activities” this year besides an occasional sermon, and I really didn’t feel prepared for Easter Sunday.  And yet, the message “He is risen” just hit so close to home that I found myself welling up in tears over it at random times during the service.

He is risen.  He is risen indeed.  And that makes all the difference.  I have heard this message so many times I couldn’t count.  And yet, it hits me hard every time anyway.  
The afternoon had one downside.  Knut’s youngest brother and his wife had their 1st child just a month ago.  I have not seen her yet.  I have not held her little body, or smelled her fuzzy head, or heard her little baby grunts except via electronic devices.  My sweet new niece was supposed to ride a few hours with her parents to the family Easter celebration yesterday, but her mother, this brand new mommy, had the audacity to go to the emergency room with intense pain last week and went home on Saturday, weighing one gallbladder lighter.  I know.  How dare her?  Didn’t she new I’m aching to hold this girl?
So I had to settle with hanging out with my own 5 children, and 9 of my other nieces and nephews.  (Well, actually 1 niece and 8 nephews were there.  Silje and David are the oldest of the cousins on both sides.  The rest are about 2nd grade on down, and mostly boys.  It’s a bit loud.  And active.  Just a bit.)  So if you do the math, that’s 14 small children/toddlers/babies, and we were missing the newborn.

I also learned after nearly 13 years of marriage, something new about my husband.  I always start eating a chocolate bunny starting with the ears, and he always starts with the tail.  I cannot believe I never knew that before.

Moving on…

I had a moment of frustration last week, as I was stomping through the house in some sort of tizzy because everywhere I looked there was messes.  I was stepping over messes, sweeping up messes, bumping into messes.  It was interfering with the flow of the day, and the food I was trying to cook.

I can think about a thousand ways to handle the situation better than I did.  It was basically handled through very loud grumbling and complaining.  “Why am I the only one to see this mess?  Do you guys not have eyes?  Don’t you see this bookshelf is dumped out?  Do you not see your sweatshirt that has been laying here for days?  Does this table look like a trashcan to you?  This isn’t where trash goes.  Don’t just set it on the table.  Guys!!  I’m not going to wash these socks if they never make it into the hamper!!  You have to see your messes.  Why am I the only one who sees this?”

Ahem.  I’ll be honest, messes make me rant when they build up.  My kids hate when I rant.  I hate it too.

I tried to settle myself down and be honest with them.  “Guys, I am really trying to get ahold of my stress, and I get really stressed out when this house gets this messy.  I don’t like having people over when it’s like this, and I just don’t like living like this.”

Silje was trying to comfort me, and said, “Don’t worry mom.  We don’t even notice the mess.  It’s not as bad as you say.”

Let’s just say I didn’t feel comforted.

In fact, I may have ranted a bit more.

Don’t worry Mom, we don’t even notice this mess you are trying to train us to clean.  It’s invisible.  What mess?

I actually stopped the ranting before I went further, and just stewed.

They don’t notice the mess.

It doesn’t bother them.

Don’t get me wrong, I want my kids to grow up to be one of those people who just dives into helping.  I want them to pick up trash that isn’t theirs.  Just because they see it.  One of my first jobs at a summer camp had a saying, “If you see it, you own it.”  That was in reference to jobs, not stuff.  If you see a job, it’s your job.  Don’t leave it for the person behind you.  What resulted is one of the most well-run camps I have ever encountered.

I know that I’m on the right side of wanting to train them in life skills.  I know it is good to teach them how to clean.  I know it’s not fun for either of us sometimes, but it’s good training.  It’s good.

And yet, the more I simmered (aka ranted inside my head), the more I saw the beauty in Silje’s words.

They don’t notice.

It doesn’t bother them.

Their joy is not wrapped up in how clean this house is.  

There it is.  I think that’s what she meant.  It’s something that I’ve been repeating to myself over and over.  My kids’ joy isn’t wrapped up in a pristine house.  They just like hanging out with me.  I’m getting through to them about so many other, way more important things.  They love playing board games.  They like looking at bugs.  They enjoy the moment.  They get excited over pretty much everything.

I am not ruining them, or their childhood with my messy house.  Life will go on if the floor isn’t swept.  That’s why we got a dog, anyway.  She can clean up the food the toddler threw on the floor.  She does a pretty decent job on the oatmeal on the chairs too.

I will continue to train them, but I also need to remember where a clean house needs to be on my priority list.  It surely needs to be on the list.  But not at the expense of trampling things higher on the list to get it.  And joy shouldn’t be wrapped up in a clean house.  A clean house is a sterile house.  Sterile means no life.

In fact one of the definitions of sterile is: producing little or no vegetation.  Unfruitful.  We have a house full of life.

In fact, there was this bacteria we were growing that…

Never mind.  You get the drift.

I’m blessed.