Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dirt and Deep thoughts

Some people hear God at church. Others, while reading the bible and praying. Some meditate. I have a friend who said he heard God best while sky diving. God is cool like that. You don't have to sit in a pew to hear his wisdom. Today, Him and I hung out while I was in the dirt.

We moved into this house at the end of last summer. We busted our hind ends to get painting, carpet, hardwood, etc....all done before we moved in. And then there was school. And a new company. And a new job and new classes to both teach and take. Something had to give and that thing happened to be our yard.

Matt is not a yard work guy. He pretty much hates it. Lucky for us, it was the end of the growing season so we could neglect our landscaping (or lack there of) without too much chaos over-taking anything. As things started to green up this summer, we got to see how truly "in the weeds" we really were.

First I tackled my garden. 3 new garden boxes built, weed cloth, mulch, path stones and a little bit of fencing made my garden something I could be proud of. I planted a few pots of flowers. We ranked. Matt mowed.

And then there were the bushes.

Sadly enough, we couldn't even really tell if they were alive. Now, mid-June, they are green-ish. So today, I tackled the bushes. If it wasn't green, it got cut. If it was green but growing the wrong way, it got cut. If it needed to be thinned, it got cut. I have a huge pile of cuttings in my yard.

As I cut and pulled and shaped and pruned my mind wandered. I can see how gardens are accurate metaphors for life and God and I had a nice little chat.

Take my rose bush. First, there was all the dead stuff that needed to be cut out. It seems obvious we need to remove things that don't grow from our life, but it still hurt to grab the thorny branches to cut them out. And then there was the one branch with a little rose on it, I was tempted to let it be. The problem is it was growing in the wrong direction. It was growing away from the trellis and if I had left it, it would have grown larger and pulled the whole bush the wrong way. Life is like that some time. Things that are "good" are not always "best" and eventually get us moving in a way that isn't healthy. 

The branch also hung close to the swing that my children love. Roses are thorny and could give you quite the scratch if you ran into it. The rose bush has to share its space with a bunch of other things, just like we do. Sometimes the things that are good or easy for us can really cause problems for those we have to live with.

My lilac bush was in just as bad of shape. Full of dead branches underneath that kept it from being able to grow in a healthy way, even though from the outside it looks really green and healthy. We can be like that too, looking like we have it all together on the outside when underneath we have all kinds of things we have not cleared out. Resentment, frustrations at life not going the way we planned, anger, hurt, and pride. All of this makes us stagnant and keeps us from being the beautiful things we could be. 

The top of my bush is very tall, I am going to have to wait for some assistants before I can trim it. That happens in my life, too. Somethings are just to big for me to deal with by myself, I have to ask for help if I really want to be healthy.

I came in from the yard dirty and sweaty, scratched up and tired but somehow my soul just felt refreshed. God is cool with hanging out with us while we are working in the dirt. He is good like that.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

THAT Parent

We live smack dab in the middle of suburbia. Houses close together with yards back to back mean that occasionally we inadvertently get up in other peoples business.

This crosses my mind on those nice evenings when we have all our windows open and I am shouting things like "stop licking your sister!" and "for the love of all things holy, put on some underwear!". Most the time, things are pretty good at our house. Our kids, for the most part, are nice little humans. I am not much of a yell-er when angry and am more prone to getting dangerously quiet. If you asked our neighbors, I am relatively certain we would land somewhere in the "normal" category.

When only hearing snippets of other peoples lives, it is easy to get a little judgey.

Like the time one of our neighbors locked his wife out of the house while yelling things not fit to print. In front of there 3 little kids.

Or like tonight, when I could hear a neighbor screaming at her son that he was an asshole and asking if he was too retarded to do what she had requested.

It would be easy to call these parenting fails, and, well, they are. But we are not immune, we all have our ugly moments that we hope no one notices.

The truth is parenting is hard, relentless, and holds up a magnifying glass to all our character weaknesses. We say things we don't mean, we crush small people who are just learning how to be big, we are unkind and disrespectful.

The open window is such a good reminder for me to think before I act and speak. Not that I am overly concerned about my neighbors impressions of my parenting skills, but because I am very concerned about being a good mom. I WANT to remember to temper my tongue. I WANT to think before my actions or words are reckless and damaging. I want this because my children deserve to have a mom who is giving it her best shot, not that I think I will always be spot on.

So here is to open windows in my house; to speaking with respect to all people, especially the little ones under this roof. My children will grow up to do what they have seen, not just what they have been told, and I want to give them the best shot that I am able.