Clean, Important - and Worth Doing

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

She always felt it when the train went underground - this sense of eagerness, of hope and of secret excitement. It was as if normal existence were a photograph of shapeless things in badly printed colors, but this was a sketch done in a few sharp strokes that made things seem clean, important - and worth doing.

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (p. 25)
This is the nature of the New Year. The nature of this new life into which I have been thrown. The fresh, the clear - they take me forever to sort. I have mental lists. I make small goals.

Lots of them:

*Getting out of my pajamas
*Getting Piper and Bredon changed and dressed.
*And feeding, the kids must be fed.
*Making the bed is a huge accomplishment. It is made today.
*A shower (without Pete in the house) is a bonus
*Making meals for myself
*Taking my pills

And there are other goals, bonus goals, the

*writing a post for the day
*visiting my online friends while babies nap
*cleaning out my inbox
*grabbing a photo here, a photo there
*figuring out the paypal so we can order my new computer so I can
*process my photos and
*fix my html code in my blog template (oy!)

I move in circles, slow circles.

My mental lists tangle with the hearts in this house. I keep quiet, breathing slow and trying patient, staying me for them, for me, for you. I try not to panic when everything goes crazy at once. "Just do the next thing."

The next thing that meant an ER visit Tuesday to find out that I have gallstones and need to have my gall bladder removed. Which means that I have to add to my list

*researching gall bladder and lyme treatment issues
*calling people who know
*planning different meals to stay healthy and push off surgery
*praying for wisdom and timing with my breastfeeding baby
*crying. I want that on the list. It hasn't happened yet.

And I added worrying yesterday.

My major goal yesterday was to clean and vacuum the living room before Pete arrived home. And maybe do the dishes. Which was his goal. If I did them, he would probably find something else to do. But I didn't get them done. He did. And we made dinner. And we had had a small, quiet window that felt sane. It felt like us.

I do have other goals. Long term goals. Small goals. Things I can see happening. Things that might not happen, but I'd like to try for them anyway:

*learning how to make Lightfoot Creamy Tomato Soup
*reading to my children
*creating a flash website for my photography

And then there is the grateful and the happy things to list that I breathe in and out and barely have time to count, the

*baby scent in my nose
*IV without dextrose
*sun in my eyes as I type (oh, it is beautiful, isn't it?)
*numerous comments and emails from friends
*enough milk
*love that goes around what doesn't fit in my arms
*sponge baths
*showers with my toddler
*hope that surgery may help the Lyme
*quality time with my husband, even in the ER
*eyes to see
*gasping astonished moments because God chose me to know Him
*phone calls with my mother, my friend, my new confidante
*a love story God wrote
*little girl time
*visits from family with perfect timing
*emails from friends I didn't know I had
*emails from friends I do know
*toddler messes and imagination
* "yes" that lights up little girl eyes
*baby smiles that light me up
*naptimes to hide in kitchen and gain perspective
*light that falls across my bed into my rocker and onto my son
*the sound of baby breathing at night - one on each side of me

And my not-alone, those friends who have taken the time to offer me their "I see you..." in these last weeks of silent crazy:

*Ann who has so often given to me
*Lyla, a fellow introvert who emails and offers
*Anne, who followed God into my life
*Sarah, who found rest in my restless
*Corinne, who knows and cries and comments
Love Does That

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burro's eyes and touches her ears
and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does

Love frees.

- from Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky
I considered putting this in an email, but then I thought it might encourage someone else by being here.

Beauty heals. Beauty restores. Beauty is somehow deeper and more powerful than all of the other things we know to be true about our life in the fallen world. Even when
we don't have the answers yet and when life is not organized properly, if we can stop for beauty, however simple, every day, it can do an amazing work of grace on us.

I've noticed that beauty means much to you and that it charges your personal battery like it does mine.

Every time it happens, I'm astounded at how much beauty restores and strengthens me, even when my problems are not yet solved.

But I have to be deliberate about seeking it. Beauty doesn't just come to me often enough to nourish me in the hungry places. I have to search for it and arrange for it.

So here's a prescription: take a beauty vitamin once a day. A picture you adore, a vase of flowers (especially in winter), a bird on the window, music that soars, a book of poetry. As much as possible, surround yourself with it. Don't feel that you have to "earn it" by getting to a place where you feel like there is room for it. Just do it now, in the midst of the mess and the confusion and the sense of being overwhelmed.

I wish -- how I wish -- someone had told me this when I had babies.

I hope it helps.
*Laura, who tells me I'll capture the sky
*Elise, who sends prayers and wonderful advice
And you, my friend, with your world weaving in and out of new son and helper daughter and less sleep and heart-cracking love... I've been meaning to pop in and share something...

Every time I see Gideon and his stiff-step walk turning the corner into his sister's room, and I hear her shriek of excited laughter as she runs to pull him in and hands him a toy and begins jabbering to him, I've thought of you lately. I've tried to instill in Eliana a *peace* about her brother being around... to point out how very much he loves her and admires her and wants to be with her. And so far, I haven't once heard her ask him to leave her room. (except when she's changing! :)

So I wanted to share... cultivate that love between Piper and Bredon. Constantly point out, Oh, he loves you! See him look at you! and exaggerate... Oooooh, Bredon, look at sissy's (or whatever you're calling her to him- Pip?) toy, or book, or dress- isn't it beautiful? Isn't it fun? Thank you, sissy!

Gideon is alight, Eliana is alight, and I'm loving their relationship.

May He give you eyes to see, my friend. (And may I add that I'm praying you into the Light, in this time of potential dark...)
*Jennifer, who listens and feels what I feel
*Jessica, who shares in this time
*Faith, who gave me courage to trust
*Bonnie, who prays and writes simply what I can't always say
*Glynn, who gives helpful courage and kind affirmation
*Holley, who asked for my heart at (in)courage
*Heidi, who asks how I am every day, who is blogging again
*Arianne, who wrote to me even in her own sadness - in spite of my joy

I leave you with a happy award today, given to me just last night by another friend, Amy at Haven Space. If you like, consider yourself tagged (but I don't have time for memes right now... *wink*)

And there are more of you; if I were to write out the words that are living in my heart and giving me courage, I'd be writing all day, and I started this post yesterday. You have given me so much extra courage. I have felt your prayers. I wish I had time and energy to encourage you all in return.

Normally, I have a plan. A prayer, really. Something specific to ask God for. But here I am two weeks into the New Year, and I can't begin to nail down anything specific. Maybe I would ask for

*one day at a time, because I can't live a whole year at once right now

But I don't really know what to ask. My prayers are mostly wordless right now, the aching, breathing, tearing-up kind that wend their way past ceiling into atmosphere that is not comprehensible by flesh and blood.

Ann suggested naming the new year. The only name that has come is Immanuel. This year offers me time, hope that I will

*look for Jesus as God with us
*speak more of the Gospel than I have
*pursue His heart in caring for other hearts

It is not much; it is so much. I laugh at that statement. My whole life is such a paradox right now.

I have thought many times in the past few days how we live in the mind, and I want to stay awake, to live for what isn't tangible, even as the tangible calls me into itself with baby cries and dishes and laundry and food. Really living is a miracle.

I think only God could figure out how we can do this and learn to love Him. There is so much that is worth doing. I only know what to do in the moment meant for it.

(Image © Informal Moments Photography)


To Think is to Create said...

Oh how I wish the harsh winds would stop blowing when we are already blown over. I know. I know.

Each little triumph is a TRIUMPH. God celebrates with you, as do we.

I'm praying for healing and courage and rest for you, weary friend.

Jessica said...

Thank you for taking the time to let me know about this post. Your posts so often encourage me, I am glad I can return it at times.

Will be praying for your new health concern - wow! - and for you all to feel God's presence and peace in this season.

Susan said...

So sorry to hear about your gall stones on top of everything else. Will be praying for you.

Bonnie Gray said...

"I think only God could figure out how we can do this and learn to love Him... I only know what to do in the moment meant for it."

Your words not only prompt the soul with lyricism, they open our spirit's receive the dew in everyday.

Kelly, I'm thankful for the ways you let Him speak through you.

Carrie said...

This is so beautiful, Kelly. Thank you for sharing your struggles. :) I don't bother to make the bed, but I also have certain things I need/have to get done before I feel accomplished. ;) The shower is an absolute must for me, though, it drives me INSANE to not shower!!!

Heidi said...

Awh, thanks for the HT dear! Praying for you. :)

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

I feel that tangle, too, of the mental lists and the hearts of home. -sigh-

After my second child was born, I especially felt that way. And like you, I was in the ER shortly after birth of Child Two.

During that time, I had a note taped to my pantry door, written in my sister's handwriting:

"Lord, Give me enough grace for today."

Indeed, He did give me enough for each day. (Though at the time, it always felt like JUST enough.) Now, I look back, and I see how I was truly awash in His grace, how He really gave me way more than I realized as I sat in the middle of that tangle.

... And as I read your list today, and I thought to myself: Kelly already sees it, even in the midst of the tangle. She sees the grace all around her. And she shares grace so beautifully that it spills over onto the rest of us.

Even in the dizzy pace of your day, you manage to bless those who pass through here daily.

Thank you, dear friend. How is it that in the midst of {this}restless heart, you manage to give {this} girl so much rest?

You're amazing.

Anna said...

Kelly, awesome post. Your post a while back about counting things done rather than things to do majorly helped shape some of my own adjusting to different things this past year ;-) Thanks for being real.

sarah said...

I'm sorry to hear of your need for gallstone treatment. I developed gallstones with my pregnancy and was told I'd need surgery. I looked into other options but in the end surgery was the only real response. (I know some people have cured themselves with natural remedies, but those remedies are so ghastly - and I had a lot of stones.)

But I was so scared, I put it off for years. I went on special diets, put up with screaming deathly pain attacks, and in the end had to have the surgery anyway. I wish so much I'd done it sooner. What a waste of years!

I was out of hospital the next day. I should have stayed one day longer but my dd had a stomach flu and I was worried about her. (I got the flu and complicated my recovery, but that's another story.)

I wish you all the best with whatever you decide to do.

Anonymous said...

Our pastor named this year Immanuel last Sunday night-- he spoke of the promise of God With Us and then of the times in the Bible when He reminds us He is Immanuel. "Lo, I am with you always." "I will never leave you." "I will fear no evil, for You are with me." And on and on.

It is a blessing to know you, Kelly.

And a blessing to know that a day at a time-- a *moment* at a time-- is enough.

Christy said...

Praying especially for your gall stones and health during this time. ((Hug))

Maureen said...

Dear Kelly,

I am touched and honored by your call-out, for the time you took to write this post and let me know about it. I'm also happy that you liked "Love Does That". Ladinsky's book has become one of my favorites.

Break down day
into hours
and hours
into minutes
and minutes
into moments
and moment

Breathe for
every moment
held in your eyes

Because God
looks back
at you

Love is like that

Namaste, Kelly. May your heart be peaceful.

Corinne said...

Oh sweetie... I wish I could bring you dinners and do your dishes for a bit.
I adore you. This was raw and beautiful (like always!)
Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

a beautiful post, kelly.

i also want to welcome you on behalf of all at high callings. as you already know it is a very good group of people and i hope that you find many ways to connect and relate.

Love to you.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Kelly, I'm the one blessed to have followed God into your life.

A friend once told me that God DOES give us more than we can bear—but not more than we can bear with Him.

Have I mentioned yet that I pray for you?

Much love,

Amber@theRunaMuck said...

I love it all. Babe, I've heard the gallbladder stuff adds a lot on the list having to do with uncomfortable and ouch.

Someone told me lately that we are never put into a position to suffer as a believer without glory going to God and without a blessing offered on the other side (from John 9). It all seems so duh, but I was still glad to hear it.

Carrie said...

I forgot to tell you that I had my gallbladder removed (laparoscopically) about three years ago - it wasn't that bad of a surgery & recovery, so I hope you can have it done that way - and I hope you can get it scheduled as soon as possible! I had to wait a while to schedule mine due to an insurance issues, but some change in my diet helped me to not be very uncomfortable in the meantime. I will be praying that you aren't in pain!

Laura said...

Oh, Kelly. You do. You do capture the sky. And everytime you share it makes me soar.

Thank you, sweet friend.

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