Being a Housewife is Hot (or, Blog Post titled by your husband)

Recently as I was putting clothes in the dryer, I found myself  basking unexpectedly in domestic bliss. During the previous few minutes I’d scooped stray Legos into my shirt pockets (the domestic uniform has to include pockets as one’s hands are inevitably full of one’s charges’ stray bits, laundry baskets, errant shoes, homeless papers, and the like), deposited them in the Lego bin, put the 8 loaves of cooled bread in bags and put them in the freezer before getting the dinner’s meat out of the freezer, given instructions for dishwasher emptying, tidied the dining room, wiped the counters, stopped to listen to and then cogently answer the 8 year old’s question, and put away the ironing board and cooled iron from the morning’s wrinkle-eradicating. In the ruminating I enjoyed a measure of satisfaction that I seem to enjoy only occasionally in midst of my work. I am more often thinking about the next thing, worrying over the last thing, wondering over done or undone things. NOT basking in the present or remembering the Divine-in-it thing. 

 That such contentment may be had as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 5 still surprises me. In younger days I fancied myself a Peace Corps worker, author, orphanage builder, professional musician, college professor, hippy, rock climbing instructor… You get the drift. Whatever my aspirations were, suffice it to say they could be construed as slightly  more dynamic than my present station.

Now. It’s hard to say whether such moments come as a result of something I’m doing or as a result of an “up” mood swing, but at that moment, the good feelings in my work felt to be the result of better working. The rhythm of things and my functions – unremarkable though they may seem in this endless cycle of maintaining/restoring order – felt in that moment like they’d been choreographed, practiced, and then executed with epiphany generating precision. The moment was profound enough – and I’d had it before – but this time it translated to something potentially tangible as something worth sharing. Improved ways of doing things after 18 years of cooking, cleaning, mothering, wife-ing (new verb?), living, seemed worth sharing all of a sudden. So my bright idea was to start a new blog called “What Works.” It could include any day to day helps I may enjoy in the hopes that such bliss wouldn’t be lost on just me but extended to others. It occurred to me that maybe others struggle too to enjoy strings of domestic bliss. That it pleasantly surprises me when I’m pleasantly surprised amidst the day-to-day functioning… I don’t know. Just seemed/seems worth talking about, worth improving upon.

Somebody has to do the mundane. Not everybody gets to be the Pope, a professional athlete or an actor. Somebody has to go to work and  collect a paycheck to support the missionary who has all their bills paid by somebody else. Somebody has to turn the 6 year old’s underwear right side out, sit at the desk and answer the phone for a mind numbing 8 hours, teach the thankless students in a classroom day after day, pound nails in the sweltering heat or freezing cold. And though many of our spaces may not seem big, bold, or beautiful, I hold that there are enough tinges of quality that we can tease out beauty. It’s everywhere. It’s my eyes that don’t see often enough, and I’ve noticed that how I see translates directly to how I live

And I live forgetful. I live like I haven’t tasted beauty, and it both shames and frustrates me. And then I just give up trying like the Sesame Street guy banging his head on the keys bemoaning, “I’ll never get it! I’ll never get it!” or distract or anesthetize myself away from fresh starts. I want to see better. Be better that I may then do better. This sounds like an inside job, and one in which I have not historically succeeded .

I got to thinking that maybe domestic – or any – contentment has less to do with mechanics  and more to do with my state of mind which I also tend to think is inextricably bound to the state of my heart, er, soul, if that word’s more comfortable for you (I think they mean the same thing?). What I mean is, it occurred to me that the world does NOT need another blog about homeschooling or how to remove soap scum from the shower. These things are constantly evolving and being improved upon by others waaaaay more capable than me. But living better from being better.. This extends to all. It’s the red satin ribbon that weaves through all the muck. 

Not everyone has the eyes or the inclination to hunt for it. God gives that. For any and all the improvements I may enjoy in terms of my day to day functions, I still struggle woefully and tragically to live a life free of regret and full of joy and overflowing with love. But God has given me Himself – wonder of wonders – and I want to honor His gift better. The only contribution of mine worth sharing is that He’s chosen to share Himself with me. And that means everything.
I have not posted much in recent months, and though perhaps the reasons matter, what’s been matters less than what will be. Maybe what I’m going to try is in honor of the new year, or maybe this is a tiny step toward maturity. I’m (for once) actually acting on an idea. I am notorious for enjoying great flashes of light but am woefully poor at follow-through. So in honor of the new year, and in honor of trusting Him more in it, I am going to try something of an experiment. 
I’m going to keep the notion of “what works,” but under the old umbrella of wordskeepmesane. Because in the telling of my struggle with desolations and enjoyment of consolations, words may do just that: help to keep this otherwise struggling person a little more intact, a little more effective, a little more joyful, and hopefully, a lot more loving. 

In past years, around January 1st there’s been a word that’s stuck out as something needful for me to grow in, understand, be a little more aware of. This year, and in keeping with the above, that word is… Jesus. The word that keeps us sane. As models go? None better. What works? Jesus. I can’t imagine a more worthwhile pursuit than trying to more wholly follow Him, be like Him. He’s the only person ever to have been above reproach by pretty much everybody. (Except the religious uptights which no one takes seriously anyway.)

If you’re a person who finds yourself frustrated too often, dead-ending, not living a life you’re proud of or satisfied in as frequently as you’d hoped, I hope you’ll join in the conversation (with me would be great, but I just hope you’ll join in with anyone!) about what it might look like, this “how-to of better being”, so to speak. It’s a new day/It’s a new dawn/It’s a new life for me/and I’m feeling good” as Michael Buble croons (maybe a little more lightheartedly than I mean, but I’m not opposed to that).

So wordskeepmesane will remain true, but the delivery may look a little different. Thanks for being here – ever. And may we all improve upon that which matters most. I hope you’ll walk with me as I desperately try and walk with Him… And I hope you’ll enjoy your own steps towards the light that’ll purify all the spaces.

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Move

  

When? When’ll it get written ‘cept now?

When? When’ll it get planted and how?

‘Less someone like me cares a whole awful lot

Nothing is going to get done, it’s just not.

‘Cept what happens when caring’s not in the equation

When my mind is so full but so dull

What happens when I’m paralyzed with my self

And I just can’t distinguish my call?

What happens when my brain’s so full of turmoil?

(I’ve been stewing, despondent and down)

Feeling a victim all over the place

Smiles are scarce ’round this face: s’mostly frowns.

See nothing gets done – I just stop and I stare –

Then obsess more with all that’s not done

I am weak, Lord, You know it, wish I had more of a scapegoat

But my self is at fault – I’m the one

That is faulty and sinful and wretched and dumb

Full of Amy and all of her woes

I forget – least don’t act like – all Your goodness is here

That I could myself on Jesus throw

I’m sorry, I am, I’m so sorry ’bout these:

These leanings towards over and whelm 

I don’t know what the cause is, the source or the problem

That threatens my place at the helm

‘Cause it’s that: it’s that feeling that I’m not in control 

Of my destiny, life, or e’en hope

And it leaves me despondent (yes I know it’s redundant)

And I wonder how better to cope

I can’t figure it out (it’s only been 40 years)

So maybe the answer’s not there

Maybe the answer’s in just looking up

To the One Who assures me He’s here

See “what would Jesus do” is slightly off base

It’s “what’s Jesus doing” that’s now

It’s a matter of aligning myself with His Self

(And relaxing these lines on my brow)

I can trust Him (we can!) we can trust Him always

And forever to do what is best

I can trust that my angst, and my self, and these pains

Can be completely shored up in His rest

It’s not a naive sort of trust that I mean

Rather it’s hard and a battle for sure

But it’s all not for naught – there is good purpose here

Makes us loving, gentle, right, and pure

In order to separate the good from the dross

Some fire’s required: heat and light

The yuck must be skimmed from this soul that is His

That His presence is all that’s in sight

See there’s too much of me too much world and distraction

That it muddles one’s right view of Him

So these troubles I feel – though they seem very real –

Must be brought more to Him so to dim

So now on to remember – Lord, help me do better –

Remember Your presence always

Remember what You’ve done, are doing, begun

Fixed-on-Jesus-eyes are what must stay

Thank You, Father, for even now I realize

That You’re helping me this very minute

To remember Your goodness, faithful, gentle leading

Redeeming all that is amiss

That’s the God that You Are, the One who rights all the wrongs

Who brings healing and light to dark places

Turns all things inside out, turns all things upside down

Transforms shame into beautiful spaces

Thank You for help, and thank You for love

And thank You for helping to love

And thanks for redemption, freedom, and reminding

Me blessedly towards You to move.

Good Morning

  

Ah, morning.

Before uncertainty, wit’s end, torn places

Before confusing, unfamiliar, troubling spaces

Before unkind, frowning, scowling faces.

Ah, morning.

All wide open and new

All quiet, serene, with no people in view

Stretched out and ahead

Before sapped strength,

Deferred hope, and fresh reasons for dread.

Fresh start. Hopeful. Still tackle-able.

Before unsure, full-on, and neurotically unstable.

Before all this wretchedness

Crowds out all this goodness

When the day’s potential’s

All fair and endless.

Ah, morning.

After coffee, before crashes

Before misunderstanding, disappointment, or miscommunication’s backlashes.

Ah, morning.

After prayer, before talking.

Before progress or insight or bad news that is shocking.

Just Him 

And just me

And just peace therein,

Good morning.

Brain Conversation

  

 I must insist, brain,

 That you quiet down.

 Yes, I am the boss of you.

 Even if, at this minute, 

 That seems untrue. 

 Even if taking you captive

 Seems an impossible feat,

 I am.

 I can no longer afford your company 

 In its current way of being.

 You have taunted and shamed 

 And convinced me that

 All my best parts are buried and forgotten.

 Encouraged me to blame.

 Riddled me with confusion.

 And though “I listen to my words but they fall far below”* *Cat Stevens

 As an honest admission 

 Sounds terribly weak and puny,

 There is truth to it.

 In spite of all your efforts to confound me,

 (And with so much life feeling to be swallowing me up)

 Maybe I ought to be relieved.

 In healthier moments

 Such “sensitivity” coins as “virtuous.”

 I don’t know what makes the difference:

 Why and when moments posing as majestic or terrible

 As savor-able or unbearable

 As breathtaking mountaintop or suffocating pit

 Pose thus.

 That song 

 Before today too light, too cheesy

 In light of today’s darkness 

 Held just about too much poignancy to bear.

 I want to put words to this

 more-than-anxiety more-than-depression more-than-difficult

 overwhelming-not-severe-enough

 terrifying-may-be-a-start

 Experience.

 Suffice it to say

 I want to figure it out,

 Only it’s you who needs do the figuring

 (you and your ridiculously murky waters).

 Come to think of it,

 Such navigation requires a sounder captain.

 I think I’ll ask your Maker.

 He’ll know.

 Brace yourself.

 ‘Cause for all your best efforts,

 He’ll undo you

 In all and truly best ways…