Lent: Day 34, 35, and 36

Day 34: partaaay…

God’s been working on my heart the past few weeks through this Lenten ‘adding’.  He’s been teaching me to step out in faith and to not over-think the future.  He’s pressing on me the importance of the message…His message, and the unimportance of my fears and seemingly humble concerns.  I say “seemingly” because I am learning that my desire to be humble is actually just a way to protect self.  It is inhibiting me from actually doing what God wants me to do…share His message.

Tonight was the final meeting of the A Girl and Her Warhorse Study at Crosspoint.  To celebrate our time together, we all brought snacks.  We had popcorn, fancy cheese and crackers, cookies, cupcakes, oreo balls, and even a Chick-Fil-A nugget platter.  It ain’t a party ’til the seal on the Chick-Fil-A sauce is cracked.

I am so thankful for all the ladies that I’ve grown to know a little better over the past 8 weeks or so.  What a delight to share our stories and to remember together how faithful is our true Savior.  Tonight was particularly meaningful for me as my new friends shared feedback on the study and thoughts for the future.  What a joy to walk alongside other women through all that life throws our way.  I’m amazed at all that God continues to do. He has been pounding me with words that I’ve been needing to hear.  And He does so with such gentleness and grace.

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”

Psalm 18:35 


Day 35: opportunity

Today I added an opportunity.  It’s been one of the ways God has been moving and speaking to me lately–through opportunities.  Usually, I let other tasks, like folding the laundry or cooking dinner take precedence.  Or I simply find an excuse to not answer these risky calls to action. But lately, I’ve been jumping with both feet(…as of this week).  It’s exciting to watch things unfold.  (A whole lot better than waiting for the clothes to self-fold.)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” 

Matthew 7:7


Day 36: yellow sweater

About a month ago, Helen and I were in the store when we came across some discounted fabric.  There was one bolt with some lightweight, very thin, white material with a pretty green design along its border.  In a moment of Super-Mom delusion, I agreed to make Easter dresses for the girls.

Fast-forward to day 36 of Lent.

Yeah, I totally forgot about the material and the promise of handmade dresses.  We’re going out of town tomorrow, and the last time I did math, I think 40 minus 36 was only…holy Cadbury Egg, not enough days to sew Easter dresses.

Yesterday, I found the bag of fabric stashed on the floor of the linen closet.  I started cutting and sewing the little that I could, trying to make a plan out of “no idea how I am going to do this.”

Today, I finished one dress, trying my best to meet all of my 11-year-old’s expectations.  Getting the super-fine fabric to glide under the machine’s needle without snagging was near impossible.  Which is why today, we added a yellow sweater.  Thankfully, it’s bottom edge hangs right at the waistline of the dress, hiding all the flaws of the gathered seam.

On the cross, Jesus covers me with a full-body sweater of righteousness.  It’s like a Snuggie…it covers every possible inch.  There’s not one bit of me that doesn’t receive his goodness, mercy, and forgiveness.  Thank goodness that His provision of forgiveness wasn’t a last-minute remembrance of a forgotten promise.  He had a plan of piecing His forgiveness over by brokenness since the beginning of time.  And unlike this dress, whose snags and hiccups are merely disguised, what was once flawed in us, becomes flawless in Jesus.  No more need to hide.

Now, we just pray for dress #2, whose designer is far pickier than Ava.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:10

Day 28, 29, 30, and 31…

Day 28- amnesia

The weekend was so full that I got behind on writing.  Now, I honestly don’t remember what I did on Thursday.  I do remember it not being a very great day for the Goeke family.  A lot of hurt was incurred.  It’s probably a good thing I can’t recall all that happened on that day.  Even in my forgetfulness, I am reminded of all that I receive because of Easter morning.  Namely, God’s merciful amnesia:

 “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12


Day 29- pow, pow

We surprised the kids by taking them to the Rodeo after school.  Paul and I had a chance earlier in the month without children.  Now, we wanted them to experience all the drama and excitement for themselves.  As the rodeo began, the stadium lights went out and fireworks were set ablaze.  Judah, stood in my lap, bug-eyed and jaw-dropped.  When all the smoke of the indoor explosions cleared, in a faint voice he said, “pow…pow…”  I said, “Yeah, Buddy, that was cool, huh…” To which he replied, “Mo…mo…”  Unfortunately, he had to wait 3 hours through all the rodeo events for more fireworks.  We took in the dust and the smell of livestock waiting for more big bang action.

To be “powed” by the Maker, by the display of His glory…this is the effect the cross and resurrection can have on us, if we are willing to bear our eyes wide to the expansive explosion of all time that occurred there.  All Old Testament prophesy collided in the man, Jesus, who proved His God-nature by rising from the dead three days later.  It all met at the cross, at the tomb, there with Mary as she looked up to the glowing face that knew her name.

Honestly, I never rest in that moment very often or for very long.  I rarely think about that morning, when she ran to tell all the others that their beloved Jesus was no longer dead.  I’m not taken in by the ‘pow’ daily.  I focus more on all the manure of the mundane life I live.  If only I could marvel more at the resurrection and take in some spiritual “pow.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’  Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’  She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

 John 20:15-16


Day 30- showers

Today, I took a shower then went to a bridal shower in a rain shower.  The day seemed to be covered in showers.  Sheets of water fell behind window panes set as a backdrop for the future bride as she was showered in gifts, blessings, prayers, and words of wisdom.  I was reminded of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  Women of all generations festively helping to usher the next young bride into the tent of marriage.  Such joy, such hope, such beauty.

Adding these varying kinds of showers to Lent has been a helpful reminder, yet once again, of all that is showered upon me through Jesus: His joy, His hope, His beauty.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61: 1-3


Day 31- worship

This morning I had a chance to be a part of the worship team at church.  What joy it is to worship.  I am thankful for the opportunity to humbly worship Jesus, whether from my seat, or the stage, or by the side of my baby’s crib.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Psalm 29:2 

 

floored

Real conversation when Paul got home yesterday afternoon:

Me:  I feel like I was the worst mother ever today….

Paul: What ma…(interrupted)

Gideon: AGH!!! (as a plastic swimming fish goes flying down the stairs)

Me: (sigh)

Paul: (laughter)

Me:  Okay, maybe they haven’t been the best kids today either.

At the risk of sounding crazy, at three separate times yesterday, I found myself lying on the floor.  Not playing with anyone.  Not cleaning anything up.  Just enjoying the silence way down there.  It’s like the whole world stands still and peaceful in that little world that exits in the last 5 inches of space before hitting the floor.  (And we even ended school at 9:30 in the morning!)

The day started with our end of the week little tests to make sure my kids are actually listening to me and learning something.  Like I said, by 9:30, we were done.  I promised the kids earlier in the week that if we ended early on Friday we could go visit their friends during recess at school.  Talk about motivation!  So we spent an hour out there in the hot sun at the elementary school playing it up.

My goal for the rest of the day was to clean the house. So, because I had already worked on cleaning the kitchen a little before we left, we ate lunch AWAY from home.  When we finally got home, it was time to get back at it.  But as soon as we walked in the door, a drink slipped through a pair of little hands and it was all over the floor.  Good thing that floor was going to get cleaned anyways as soon as we finished eating.  

The kids were given the task to play or watch a movie and let mommy clean.  This worked for awhile until someone (they shall remain nameless to protect their identity) got a splinter.  When splinters breed with this particular child a new beast is born.  Oh, man…D-R-A-M-A.  That kind of thing tests my patience like none other.  Especially, when I am trying to fix the problem, namely get the splinter out of the finger, and am slammed with a reaction that would suggest I am taking a chainsaw to it.  Momma did not do so well.  I eventually had to just get up and leave, letting the screaming beast figure it out on its own.  I did not speak with love or care or concern at the end of that conversation.  Not a good moment for Mom.

Amazingly enough, walking away actually made the splinter hurt less…go figure.

It was after this, that I had found myself on the floor for the first time…upstairs in my bedroom.  I had just finished picking up all the school folders and books and papers that had been collecting there by my desk all week.  I had picked up the laundry that the raccoon got into and I could actually see the floor again.  

Oh, sweet floor.  You don’t talk back to me.  You never run away from me when I am talking.  You are there…even under the crap I leave on you.  Ahhhh…before I knew it, there I was face down on my floor.  I think I could have even fallen asleep for a little, if it weren’t for the little pieces of paper I could see all the way across the floor on my new tan carpet horizon.  The impulse to vacuum overtook me and stole my moment of floor peace.

After vacuuming I hightailed it downstairs to mop.  I swept first and finally got that done after quite a few interruptions by Gideon and the raccoon.  I sent the girls upstairs to work on their rooms, and Gideon outside with the raccoon in his new swing.  (Don’t worry, he was buckled in and the blinds were open.  I could see them the whole time.)  In the five minutes that lasted, I got about a quarter of the floor done.  Judah was crying.  Time for a nap.  

I got him out of the swing and upstairs to his bed to try and take a nap.  I intercepted the girls going down the stairs to put in a movie (yes, again) because they were tired of cleaning, (if they only knew).  After singing him his song, laying him down, putting in his pacifier, tapping his nose and giving him his love-ie, he smiled at me and I walked out.  Sweet boy. 🙂

And then he cried.  

And cried.

And so started the routine: in and out of his room to “replug” him with the pacifier over and over again.  His sweet smile accompanying every nap-time rendezvous.  In between our little visits, I scrubbed toilets and wiped down counters and carried monster trucks out of my room and back into Gideon’s room.  Then, the girls decided to take a break from the movie and play outside with Gideon.  It was a good thing, because honestly, I forgot that he was still out there.

To take advantage of the moment I laid on the floor again…this time in the hallway outside of the raccoon’s room.  It wasn’t for long.  I was on my back silently pleading… Oh, please…go to sleep, little man.  You have to be tired.  You have to be…(I think I fell asleep, maybe…) 

But not Judah.  He was not having it.  In again, song again, pacifier again, love-ie again, nose-tap again, smile again.  Exit.  Cry.

Stinker.

I finally rescued him from my motherly torture.  I guess he is 7 months old, a real big man on campus. I guess he knows what he needs and he doesn’t need an authority figure to help him see when rest is essential to his temperament.  Sigh. Whatever.

Then the kids came back in.  “Oh, good! Judah’s awake!”, I heard.  (If they only knew.)  They started picking up their rooms again.  One needed my permission to hang stuff on the wall, the other needed my overall help and encouragement to throw away practically everything in her room.  Everything is special and important and has a future use.  If the world comes to an end, I want her on my team.  We will have plenty of McDonald’s toys (and wrappers) to throw at the zombies.

Finally, it felt like everyone had a task and didn’t need my help and I could sit for a minute with a glass of water.  Then, I remembered the three-fourths of the floor downstairs that still needed to be mopped.  And, yes, it was necessary.  This was the sticky area that had previously been polished with a rag and Sonic Ocean Water Slush.  I flipped on some music and got to mopping.  The raccoon was up in his crib, out of actual physical harm, but I could hear him fuss, and little Helen trying her best to sweet-talk him.  I could hear Ava at work in her room.  And Gideon…poor Gideon.  I forgot about him again.  I can’t remember where he was or what he was doing.  Not a stellar Mom day.

But, the floor was finally mopped.  It looked so good.  It was clean and smooth and cold.  Yes, floor-moment number 3.  On my face again.  That little piece of floor heaven looked so good, I even moved the kitchen table out of the way so I could really stretch out.  Oh.  To feel the length of my entire spine release from the pressure of just standing, it was amazing.  The cool floor against my face…and it smelled good…really good and clean.  Just thinking about it as I write makes me want to close my eyes.  It was so peaceful, in those 5 inches above the floor.  So calm.  So clean.  So cool.

“MO———–M!”  “Judah in his bed is not working for me anymore!”  

I picked him up and as I was headed back downstairs, in walked Paul.  I sat on the bench, which was out of it’s normal place.  Oh yeah, now I remember what Gideon had been up to!  I had completely forgot about the fort that Gideon had asked me to build him earlier when I was upstairs with the girls in their rooms.  That’s where he was!   OH…  That’s where he was…waiting for me.   Not a good Mommy day, at all.  All the furniture was rearranged and his entire set of sheets, bedspread, blankets, and pillows were waiting in the center to be constructed into a much anticipated fort.

Thankfully, Paul was already on it, tucking and stretching and building a much needed and well-deserved fort for Gideon.  Gideon ran upstairs to get a few things.  Ava came down the stairs ready to play.  Helen came down, saw the fort, and said, “Y’al’ve been building a fort while I have been cleaning my room?!  That’s not fair…”, and started to play.  (If she only knew.) Paul sat on the couch across from me and just said, “You gonna make it, Goeke?”

And this is where my, “I feel like I haven’t been a good mother today,” comment happened… and the fish flying down the stairs in a loud crash.

I think I wasn’t a good Mom yesterday.  I don’t think I am a good Mom any day.  I often lose my patience.  I often lose my temper.  I often breed my own little devilish beasts that take over my attitude and dealings with others.  

But thank goodness for those heavenly floor-moments.  And while the actual laying on the floor moments are good respite for a day like today, they don’t compare to the floor moments at the feet of Jesus.  When I lay at His feet,  when I sit in meditation enjoying sometimes a mere 5 inches of space between the world around me and the acknowledgment that Jesus loves me, I am surrendering all over to Him.  I don’t get distracted by the paper from the 3-hole punch stuck on the carpet.  I don’t worry about how many times I forgot Gideon, or how I may or may not have thrown Judah completely off a nap schedule.  I hand it all over to Him, asking Him to forgive my shortcomings, to heal the hurts that I have caused.  I can plead to Him- not to take a nap, but for all my restless moments.  I ask him to show me where and how I can love better, and even clean better.  I ask Him to make all this “family rehab” worth it.  I ask Him to give me more floor space- more time with Him to focus on Him.  And sometimes, even literally more floor space for our growing family and all their Happy Meal mementos.

And in those moments before His throne, in His house, if I am quiet and still enough, I can hear him remind me of his forgiveness, his mercy, his unfailing love.  Psalm 23:6 says it this way, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Being in His presence, sometimes, face to the floor, reveals my meekness, sinfulness, and weakness.  I need a god bigger than me.  I need a god who actually cares that I find joy in laying on my floor.  I need a god who takes huge measures to show me that even though I fail time and time again, he does NOT ever fail me.  My God gave it ALL on the cross for me, even when I can’t give my own children simple splinter first-aid.  He forgives me and remembers my sin no more, even when I can’t remember where I left my own children.  Through his sacrifice on the cross He cleans me and erases all my sticky accusations of a horrible mom.  Like my clean floor, He washes me clean with his forgiveness and I am clean, cool, and peaceful.  When I acknowledge Him in all my ways, He reminds me of ALL the ways He has acknowledged me…even when I am on the floor.

“…but, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

I don’t do anything to deserve my floor-moments with Jesus.  My little piece of heaven that exists somewhere in between my heart and my head is there because of what He has done in my weakness.  It is the gift of Jesus in me, connecting me to the Father and His truths.  

Thank you, Jesus, for times spent in front of your feet, wiping them with tear-filled locks.  Thank you for your gentleness and kindness, loving me there, where I am, how I am.  Thank you that when I am literally sent to the floor with overwhelming tasks, I am still floored by your overwhelming goodness and grace.  And thank you, Jesus, for freshly cleaned, good-smelling floors.