Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Worship

One day, I will feel the joy of keys under my fingertips again.  I like buttons; touch screens are overrated.  But here goes, week 5 of FMF kindle style.


The lights flicker to signal for people to find seats.  The amps get turned on, the electric guitar straps are hung over shoulders, microphones are checked.  And we worship.

Across the country, a few hours earlier, a piano plays a classical piece with strains of a hymn strung across the complex chords.  An ancient tune and even more ancient words rings beneath the steeple.  And they worship.

In the time zone in between, a piano plays, but its tune is a little newer.  An acoustic guitar accompanies, and ancient words echo through the gym to a tune written by some college students a few years ago.  And they worship.

Worship.  Nothing to do with the building.  Nothing to do with the musical instruments.  All to do with the heart attitude of the people, who gather to worship together.  Young moms learning to worship in 30 second spurts in between settling sibling squabbles and retrieving rolling pacifiers.  Elderly learning that it's okay to sing sitting down.  Middle aged folks putting the battle of the teenage years to the back of their mind and hoping some bit of the beauty sinks into the heart of the slouching and pouting walking hormone beside them.

Rejuvenating our spirits for the week ahead, when our moments of worship are interrupted by screams and leaks and requests for a certain book to be read for the fifth time today.  Or does the moment of worship simply change direction, change focus?  Caretakers of giant eternal souls in little messy toddling tornado bodies.  What greater act of worship is there, than giving a cup of water to the least of these?  I'm pretty sure Jesus is okay with us substituting milk or juice. =)


Written as part of a community of bloggers who gather at Lisa Jo's blog every Friday to write without obsessing over perfection and the "not good enough" bug.  Then we read, get encouraged, and pass along encouragement.  Come join us!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Streams of Water

I felt it again.  The squeezing, pressing weight in my chest.  The spiraling of my mind to an ever growing list of needs and wants.  I felt the fog of anxiety creep around me like the dampness found near the Tennessee River in the early morning.  It penetrates to my soul and grasps it in its clutches.

This battle starts before my feet ever touch the floor.  I stumble into the kitchen and make a cup of coffee, in hopes that the warmth will drive away those icey fingers that are digging their nails into my mind.  And yet the onslaught continues.  As I wake up, the list grows longer.  Driver's licenses. Vehicle registration and tags. UHaul to get our stuff.  Brake problems. Transmission problems. Deposits and rent.  Shoes. Winter clothes.  Engine blankets.  Credit card bills. Medical bills. On and on.

I see the chicken carcass on the stove. The bottle cap on the counter.  The food that was supposed to be refrigerated that is still in the sink.  The missing coffee mug that appears from the bedroom.  And my blood boils.  And I struggle to hold my tongue.  At least I succeed more in that than I do restraining my mind.

Stress cleaning would be easy right now.  Returning to bed, pulling the covers over my head and blocking the world out is tempting.  But neither will help my heart.  Tomorrow, there will be other things to grate my nerves.  The bills will be more numerous since I need to call the post office to inquire where my two weeks worth of bills are and why they haven't been forwarded.

Instead, I open the leather bound pages and beg for relief.  For my soul to be stilled.  For the peace beyond understanding to flood my mind.  On my own, I whither, shrivel, rot.  Only when I return to the root, the life giving stream, can I even hope to love, trust, and serve.

Stay quiet a few more moments sweet babies.  For your mommy to feed and care for you, she must first be fed and cared for herself.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Picture in Words

Since I still have no way of posting pictures from my camera, and therefore haven't bothered taking them, I finally decided to record in words what our new town looks like.

If you've never been west, it's foreign.  I'd never even seen the Mississippi River, so this was all completely new to me.  (Btw, I drove over the Mississippi. It wasn't impressive. Of course, it was also no bigger than a creek.)  And I'm told Western Montana is very different from here, but since I've only seen pictures I'll just have to take their word that there really is a reason this state's name means mountain.

The two main words to describe it are flat, and brown.

Now, I must admit, it's not as flat as I thought it would be.  There are these strange, round knobs all pushed together on the northern side of town.  They wouldn't even count as hills in Tennessee, but surrounded by flat they seem like hills.  The National Weather Service has a station up there, the church we're attending is up there, and there are some really expensive houses along this strange ridge-like cluster just west of town.  More on those houses later.

But with the exception of those, it's flat.  When you look towards the horizon, it's a long way away.  There are no tall buildings to obstruct the view. Very few trees unless you're on the riverbank.  You can see for miles and miles... and there's not much in those miles.  That's why the speed limit on the roads outside of town is 70mph; there is nothing to limit visibility so if you're willing to shake your vehicle to death from the bumpy roads it's safe to go fast.  And if you don't believe in giving your vehicle Shaken SUV Syndrome you can be passed on the extremely long dotted line stretches.
It is just as brown as I imagined.  Oh, there are some green yards, but only if the owners water them.  And if you have a well, you can't water, so there's a lot of brown grass.  But a lot of the brown doesn't come from dead grass.  A lot of it is very much alive; around here, brown often means money.  The majority of land is farm land, and I'm guessing what is grown is wheat and hay.  It's definitely not corn and tobacco and soybeans.  There are many varieties of brown, but... it's still brown.

Even the river is brown.  The Milk River runs just south of town, but it's not your typical river, nor is it white like the name implies.  I don't recall if it was Lewis and Clark, (who came right through here; the main street through town is the Lewis and Clark Trail) or some other explorers, but whoever it was called it the Milk River because it looked like tea with a little milk in it.  It's really rather nasty looking, especially having just come from the shores of Lake Superior, with the bluest water I've ever seen.

And then there are the roads.  Which are also brown, for the most part.  See, in Montana, "road" has a broad definition. It may mean a smooth paved road.  It may mean a road full of holes, I guess because of the salt during the winter.  It may mean a gravel road, or a dirt road.  It may mean a washboard.

Here are two examples: just after we crossed the border from North Dakota into Montana, I saw a sign on Highway 2.  "Pavement ends"  There are quite a few of those signs here.  That sign didn't begin to describe what was ahead.  We came to a dead stop a mile or so after the pavement ended. Now, keep in mind that I don't drive on unpaved roads.  I have never had reason to drive on an unpaved road.  The South is not as uncivilized as people make it out to be.  While stopped, a lady in a hardhat came walking up the "road" talking to each car.  So I turned off Patty the Pilot and rolled down the window.  I was greeted by a "Welcome, Chattanooga, where is that?"  When I told her SE TN, she asked what brought us here, and I told her where we were moving, she assured me the road used to be paved, and would be again, and there was only about five miles of unpaved road that we would be escorted through before we reached pavement again.  And she ended with "Welcome to Montana!"  Great...

The other example was found while yard-saling Friday.  One of the very nice houses, I'd guess $250,000-500,000, was hosting a neighborhood yard sale with lots of kid stuff.  Unfortunately, in order to get there, I had to drive up one of those lump-knobs on a washboard gravel road.  I had a line of cars 4 deep behind me.  I apologized to the lady behind me who stopped to chat as we walked to the sale and explained that I was from TN where everything was paved.  She laughed and said she'd grown up on that kind of road so was used to them.

Clearly, the people are going to be what endears this area to me, not the scenery.  98% of the people I've met have been very nice, the drivers for the most part are understanding of the out of towners' wrong turns and prolonged blinker use since I'm not quite sure where my turn is.  Perhaps the snow that may appear as early as October and stick around till April will cover the brown and soften the lines of this new world outside my window.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Last

Still on my kindle; one day, I'll be able to spill my thoughts onto a keyboard without watching for a machine to figure out what word I'm thinking of, which is very distracting. But, here goes...


Three thoughts jump to my mind when I hear this word, last.  

No. Not acceptable.  Work harder. Work smarter.  Study more.  Train more.  First place.  Top of the class.  99th percentile.  Last means you're doing something wrong.  To whom much is given, much is required.

These thoughts are imbedded so deeply into my soul that it still cringes when I compare myself with others.  Just this morning, I made my husband breakfast.  Not because of kindness, but because I needed to make up for being the last adult out of bed every morning this week.  I don't do last.  I don't always come across as competitive, but take me out of the athletic arena and I'll compete, silently, with you on just about anything else.  

Then there's the last time. The last time I walked through my Church Hill house.  The last time I drove through Knoxville.  The last time I scratched my dogs behind their ears.  The last time I drove either of our cars before they got smashed in Atlanta.  I tend to dwell on lasts... and sometimes I dwell so much in memories that I forget to live in the present.

And that brings me to this: the last child.  The child that is yet to exist in this world, but that is being planned for and calculated about and sometimes debated about. (I will not have another September baby! I refuse!)  I'm going to be a basket case.  Poor kid... with Ladybug, anything she did for the last time would be followed quickly by her sister.  Yes, it sends a twinge through my heart when she decides that she can go down the big slide by herself, but I still have Turkey to slide with, and swing in the baby swing. And as she crawls all over and I miss the stationary bouncy seat days, I comfort myself with the thought that there will be another floppy infant who can't quite coordinate hands with mind.  

But assuming we are blessed with one more... am I going to be so troubled by the last of everything that I end up a tearful mother rather than a joyful mother?  Or will I have the opposite problem?  Will I be so overwhelmed by the challenge of 3 that I miss noticing those last times?  

It's a fine line to walk, between first and last.  Overly competitive and apathetic.  Prideful and lazy.  Melancholy and flighty. Mournful and frantic.  

Contentment.  Contentment to be right where I am, surrounded by the people I am, doing the things I am.  Whether I'm in first or last place, doing a task for the first or last time, doing it with the first or last child, or the one in the middle... grant me grace to be content in whatever state I am.


Written as part of a community of bloggers, who gather at Lisa Jo's blog every Friday to write about a prompt word, without obsessing over perfection.  Come join us!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Home... but not home

It's sinking in. This isn't a vacation. It's not a trip. It's permanent, at least for the foreseeable future.

This is home.

But it doesn't feel like home.

And there's not a thing anyone can do to help.  People are nice. The church has folks who have gone above and beyond to help and welcome us.  We've gotten involved.  But it just doesn't feel like home.

It's a process, I suppose.  Something that only time can do.  They say home is where your heart is.  And a large part of my heart is here.  But there's a piece of my heart in two furry critters in Michigan, one of which is still in the pound. And there's a piece of my heart in the green mountains of the Appalachians.

Watching my children struggle has made today especially difficult. I was unpacking a box and unwrapped a family picture, and I showed it to Ladybug. Usually, I'll point out family members and she'll try to say their names. Not today.  She sat in my lap, held the picture, and didn't say a word. And in her own toddler way, I think she was missing them.

I can put pictures on the mantle. I can meet people.  I can unpack boxes and hang up clothes. I can stop making wrong turns.

But can I accept this place as home?  In my heart, not just in my head?