Friday, April 24, 2009

All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. ~Raymond Hull

Ok, have you ever heard two people tell the exact same story and stood in amazement at how different the two versions are? Well, such is the case of a husband and wife I know… we’ll call them Gibby & Leorge. Oh, what the heck… it’s really me & George. Everyday I have a story about him and as I am telling it to whomever (typically mama) I am thinking ‘How would he be telling his side’. No doubt he would leave out some very important details and paint me in a bad light… not at all like the story should be told.

Let me tell you today’s story… come, sit at my feet, listen and use your imagination to paint the pictures. First, I need to tell you how our mornings are supposed to work. I get up at 4:45 and am out the door at 4:57 for my morning workout which ends at exactly 6:00 putting me home by 6:10. I then come in and do one of two things. I get in the shower while George sleeps in or if he is already in the shower I pack the diaper bag, get the iron turned on and get my clothes ready to be ironed. I cannot iron until Andrew gets up since the sound of the ironing board unfolding is so shrill it wakes him up.

Regardless of either of these two paths, I have my morning quiet time while George is in the shower. I have 20-25 minutes totally uninterrupted and I enjoy it. No, it’s not an hour and half, but I do try to make the most of that time. I have prayed and asked God to give me a time that was unrushed and uninterrupted for quality time with Him, and this is the time he has given me. I sit in our study (we called it an office until Aunt Sue very politely said ‘Baby it’s called a study’) in 1 of our nice new recliners (they are somewhere between retro & ghetto and I love them). Lamp on and blinds open I open the devotional and read the passage from the bible… as I read I hear the birds chirp and the sun is rising. It has become essential for my morning and I begin my prayer time the same way ‘Thank you Lord for this time with you…’ I am so thankful for those 20-25 minutes.

This sets up the remainder of the morning, which is rushed, but pleasant and it works for the 3 of us. And so, I got up this* morning with all good intentions that today would be no different… WRONG!

I get home at 6:11 – now you can see we are already 1 minute off schedule here and I have no doubt that this one minute totally turned everything upside down. I come in and turn on the iron and get the diaper bag ready since I could hear George in the shower. I go in and say ‘Morning Georgie’ on my way to the closet to get my pants. I walked back out of the room, pants in tow, but said nothing more to Georgie. Put the pants in the laundry room and settled in my chair. Now, something in my mind said ‘You should have told George you were going to read your bible’, but that ship had sailed. Before I go any further, I must say that while our house isn’t enormous, it isn’t small either; trips from the front to the back are a hassle.

I am 3 verses in to the scripture passage and I hear ‘Liibbbbby’… I ignore it. Six verses in and I hear ‘LLLLiiiibbyyyy’. The second ‘Libby’ was even more playful than the first and gave no hint that anything was wrong… again I ignored. At this point I thought to myself ‘He will realize that I am not in the room and am not coming and he will stop calling my name’… WRONG, he called again. I really thought at this time he was out of the shower and if he really needed me he would come find me.

So, I started my prayer time ‘Lord thank you for this time with you…’ LIBBBYYYYY! Since I was already in prayer, I just gripped my hands and through gritted teeth said ‘Oh dear Lord, if he wakes up Andrew I am going to kill him. Seriously, if he needs a towel can’t he just get it himself?!’ I continued to pray and act like I was focused and when it came time to pray for George, I did. I may have called him an idiot though, I can’t be entirely sure, after all I was only acting like I was focused. He called at least 6 times… SIX TIMES!

I finally was done with my ‘quiet’ time and headed to the bathroom for my shower. I opened the door and sweet Georgie is still in the shower. So, he asks where I have been, he has been calling for 20 minutes. I reply ‘Yes, and I would have thought you could have figured out I wasn’t coming. I need to get in the shower’. I may or may not have said ‘Get Out’. He says ‘I needed a razor and would be out if you had given it to me’… and it went on from there. I was rushing to get ready, because now I was a good 15 minutes behind schedule, Andrew woke up early and George was ready to leave early. Nothing was out for dinner, had nothing to grab for breakfast and had a zit on my chin! We have now stopped talking aloud to each other but I am sure we are really giving each other a lashing in our own minds; I sure was.

By the time I got out the door this morning George had taken the time to dress Andrew, I decided to go by Starbucks for breakfast (they have good oatmeal) and frozen pizza would have to do for dinner. Andrew looked adorable (of course) and I managed a quick picture before we left all the while giving a loving, if not forced, smile, kiss and a ‘Love You’ to George. And we were done… on time.

I laughed on the way to work as I replayed how annoying he was this morning and thought he was probably replaying how annoying I was. I am sure we have 2 different versions of how that time went. Perhaps my quiet time would have gone better if I cut it short to answer George on the second call. Perhaps it would have gone great if he had just gotten out the shower to get his own razor. This I know for sure, we both contributed to the chaos that was our morning. I also know that we are growing and by the time I was a mile down the road, he had already called. The phone call ended, as it always does, with ‘Love you babe’… this time not forced.
* 'This morning' was actually a few days ago. This morning was actually smooth, despite oversleeping!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Fear… when you think of fear, what do you think of? Being at home alone and hearing a strange sound at 3 in the morning? Maybe just hearing the theme song from Jaws strikes a little fear in your heart? Snakes, spiders or big fat rats are a major fear for most women (and men) that I know. This type of fear causes momentary panic that passes once you realize that strange sounds was just the ice maker filling up with water, the song stops playing or you find relief in the fact that those snakes are behind glass at the zoo.

What about the fear that causes the joy to be sucked right out of your life and leaves you paralyzed day in and day out? This is something that I know a lot about. You may be shocked to know that fear causes me to cry myself to sleep many nights. No one really knows about this except me and the Almighty Himself – not even George who is sleeping mere inches from my sobbing head. I have learned to sob quietly.

I remember way back when I was a freshman in college promising myself that I would not ever let fear control my life. I did not tell myself this in an effort to comfort my current fears since at the time I didn’t realize this would be a battle for me. Rather, I knew I would graduate and move far away from my family and though it would be scary, this was what I knew I would be doing. That was easy though, the thought excited me – I don’t recall ever being scared. People told me I should be scared so I made this proclamation to them and myself. Funny, though, that that proclamation has always stayed in the forefront of my mind. I didn’t need to lean on that promise then, but I do now.

Fear really started in my mid-twenties and gets progressively worse with each passing day. I have feared everything. For a while my fear was that I would never get married & have children and then when I was old I would have no one to drive me the nursing home. Now, this is funny even as I type it, but I literally cried myself to sleep many nights over this. Growing old all alone… who wants to do that? Then I feared I had cancer because when I got out of the shower I had purple spots on my legs – cancer was the only logical conclusion. It never occurred to me that I have very fair skin and take much too hot of a shower. Then I feared that I would have heart attack at the gym, but thankfully they now have portable defibrillators located throughout the place so I just workout on the machines near those. It only makes sense right? I mean that way when I do go down they don’t have to move the machine that far to revive me!

This has all been easy enough to deal with, but now I have Andrew. I am now truly living for something, for someone and I want to live a very long time. And I want him to live even longer. Now my fears are very debilitating. Cancer… I could get cancer and not be able to raise my baby. Car accident… who’s to say it won’t be me in that fiery crash today? My biggest fear is that something will happen to Andrew. I fear every single day of my life that I will leave him in the car all day while I am work. That happens all the time. I fear that something will happen to him because of something I did. I am very careful about any news story I hear or read. If it happened to a child or a young mother, I can’t listen to it. It cripples me… literally. Everyday, all throughout the day, I battle fear.

I know there are many who would say that fear has no place in the life of a Christian, and I somewhat agree. But my fear and anxiety, well that’s just the thorn in my flesh. God uses it to draw me close to him. You see, my fears are about things that no one on this earth can prevent and that God himself may choose not to prevent. That is the reality of life. The good news is that I have the reality of Jesus… the freedom from fear. That freedom doesn’t mean that fear is no longer a part of my life – it will always be a part of my life.

When I cry myself to sleep at night, I do so while pouring out my fears before the Lord. Lord, I don’t want to get cancer and die until Andrew is grown. Lord, please let me live long enough to raise him to know you. Please Lord give me the wisdom to keep him safe at all times. Lord, I am scared. Every single time the same thing happens. Peace… He gives me peace & rest. He calms my fears. Never once does he say “You won’t die young”, “there won’t be an accident” or “Andrew will always be safe”. No, there is just peace that God is sovereign and in control. And every time I find myself in momentary awe and worship of the one who created me and has allowed me to fear. And that is what it is all about… the end result of our struggles should always be worship.

Fear is the thorn in my flesh and it keeps me continually at the feet of Jesus. I may be wrong, but I think it will always be there… keeping me where I need to be. I now realize that the promise I made myself back in college was not ‘Libby Inspired’, but rather ‘God Inspired’. He knew then what I would need now and he gave me something to cling to. What is your thorn? Are you praying that God will remove it? He may not. Your thorn may be the one thing that brings him the most worship and through worship, freedom is found.