Tuesday, April 14, 2015

beauty among the brown.

Today was an early Michigan Spring that begged us all outside.

For me, springtime absolutely takes the cake when it comes to the 4 seasons we experience here in the midwest and I take special delight in its arrival signs.   The first weed in the garden,  my first robin sighting,  and oh, the rejoicing when I first lay eyes on a blooming daffodil!

Last week, as a family we journeyed to spend a week in Florida.  I marveled the whole trip down.  Each state greener than the last as the temperatures rose and the clouds cleared.   Usually, about Virginia I find my daffodils.
I squeal, "there they are!" and my family teases me for the rest of the trip.
It's not quite the same on the trek back home.  Not so much marveling as mourning as we cross state lines back to Michigan. It's remarkable, really. The closer we get to the Mitten the cloudier and browner it gets.  Last year,  and I am not kidding -- the moment we passed the border to our home state,  it started raining.   5 years ago when we returned from a Spring Break trip a storm would come to pass in our lives.

Today I was neck deep in post vacation laundry chaos but finally made it out of my robe at noon to go outside to hang a couple of white shirts on the clothesline. I glanced around looking for emerging signs of life and suddenly remembered the special daffs that grew rogue amongst the brush and tangle behind the shed.   I couldn't find them at first and felt a bit desperate.  So special these daffodils because of the year my daughter Joy discovered them and came running into the house to gift them to me.
"They just have to be here" I thought.
And then I spotted them.
I was filled with gratitude.  As long as the earth endures!
Life bursting up through last year's death.
For me, among many things in the last 5 years, daffodils have been a symbol of God's goodness.
His sovereignty.
His grace.
His love.

5 years ago this night I was quietly admitted to the hospital and we numbly waited on my delivery of our 5th baby who was still, who had passed in my womb. We named her April. I don't think my typed words can rightly express how wonderful and beautifully made she was, how loved she is, and how painful it was. I speak of the pain in somewhat past tense as 5 years has given us much healing and hindsight. It's all I wanted back then, you know... to rush to the future, to restoration, back to the normal. But time does not speed nor slow. In this life we are given sorrow but promised that good will come from it. Friends,  so much good has come, I have been taught so much.  We are grateful.  Let's go out for coffee and I will tell you all about it.

That day, much like today Spring had sprung all around but I couldn't see it through my swollen eyes and broken heart.  Today I see. I trusted through the hurt that each new Spring, when the daffodils blossomed -  I'd know God's grace in greater measure.  The only way to move forward after you've handed over your lifeless baby to a nurse only to go home empty 5 minutes later, is to continue to lay it all down at the feet of Christ. The months and years went by and He is faithful.
My challenge, my lifeline during these times of trial is to see the gifts God gives,  trust His sufficiency, and rest in His love.

God can bring New Life to the hopeless heart.
His Grace is certain and His Salvation sure.
He will display beauty among the brown.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Life Lessons From First Grade

A couple of Fridays back my tender-hearted second born daughter had a meltdown.   A Friday morning-pressure-cooker-getting-ready-for-school-in-a-cramped-bathroom-end-of-the-week-fatigued-meltdown.

This sweetie was made for school.  Loves it.  Can't wait to get there.  So, when at 7:25am I heard her wail,  I knew something wasn't right.   I (wrongly) assumed her older sister was pestering her.   I shrugged,  poured my black coffee into my initialed mug,  placed it on the counter and went to investigate the issue.

When I entered the bathroom I learned the bawling was due to the frustration she felt about a 2-layered shirt she just couldn't figure out how to don correctly.    

Why all of this drama over a shirt?
She had picked out her own clothes this day and per usual when she does so, she chooses this shirt.  It's her favorite.   I wondered, "Does is even matter what a first grader wears to school?"   "FOR THE LOVE,  just choose from the plethora of tops you have!  Any one will do!  We can't miss the bus!!!!"

During this year long challenge,  I've thought a lot about my particular attachment to clothing.   Like any good introspector,  I've dialed it back.
Way back.

In First Grade I desired Lee Jeans.
Pin Striped Lee Jeans.
With a leather patch.

I don't remember when, or how or why, but I obtained them.   Thanks, Mom!

I was proud as a peacock the day I wore them to school and helped my teacher rearrange the bulletin board.  I needed to stand on a chair to reach the top and thankfully my green shirt was tucked in so everyone could see the leather "Lee" patch.

Did I just say thankfully?  Yeah, this clothing thing runs deep.

As the years went by it was one thing or another.  Reebok shoes,  stirrup pants, silk shirts, Guess jeans,  Polo shirts, Tight Rolled Levi's Silvertab Jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch oversized anything.  In adulthood my brand attraction continued --Gap, Express, J.Crew, Banana Republic, Free People, The North Face.   Something changed though.  When I was younger I wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing.   As I aged,  I desired uniqueness.  Bring me to a boutique where everything is nearly one of a kind and I am a happy gal.

Back to my unhappy gal.   That Friday morning,  I was annoyed and tired but needed to meet her where she was at.  I assisted her with the shirt and out the door they skee-daddled just in time for the bus.   I was left thinking that I was really not that different than a First Grader.
I may not have difficulty with the literal task of dressing,  but what kind of scene do I create when I am getting ready to go to church, or a night out,  or even just figuring out what activewear to choose for a run?

Well, I'll tell you.   At times,  it's a mess.   A pile of cast-offs that make me look pale, or heavy, or old, or (GASP) boring!  I may not be crying about it like my little one was, but if I what I wear has to be just right... just the right brand, or style or whatever ---What's that about?

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Matthew 6:25

I'm not here to say that wearing quality clothing that fits well and looks attractive is wrong.  Not at all.  In fact most of the brand name items I buy outlast the discount store must-haves that shrink and fade and pill.   Clothing is a necessity,  I get that.  What continues to impress upon me is how much of my identity, my branding do I find in my apparel?   When I just can't seem to get the right outfit together leaving a tornado of floral dresses in my wake, it's time for a change.

My frustrated thoughts at my daughter's clothing predicament come back to me, to teach me...

"Does is even matter what a first grader wears to school?"  
Michelle,  it really doesn't matter what you wear to Costco.

"FOR THE LOVE,  just choose from the plethora of tops you have!  Any one will do!
Michelle,  just pick a scarf, any scarf.

We can't miss the bus!!!!"
Michelle, don't miss out on the life that is truly life.

Other Posts:
To Be Clothed In Contentment
Blue Light Special