A Kept Woman

26 June 2008

Today we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. That is such an amazing feat, at least to me, considering that I am not yet 30 (one month and counting!) and have already been married 9 years. Not just that, but today we celebrated those amazing 9 years in Ireland. We spent four of those nine years just trying to get here!

There are a few conundrums to our union, not the least of which is that I hate cuddling. And he loves to cuddle. And you'd think in a marriage, this would be a difficult thing to overcome. And yet, because of love, there are days when the world stops for the brief few moments that my head rests between his clavicle and shoulder. It just fits there perfectly. I believe God made it (him) just for my head (me).

And then there's the kiddos. I'm stunted for words when I think about it. There's a quote from a Doris Lessing short story (To Room Nineteen). The anthology I have that this story is in is still in America, so I don't have the quote perfect, but essentially it's the wonder of love, marriage and family: that all this (kids, house, home, life, family) came into existence because two people fell in love. The short story actually is quite depressing, so there's nothing else really from the story that reflects our marriage, except that one idea. But it's a mesmerizing notion just the same.

On my spouse's nifty facebook page, it says: [he] thinks it has been 9 years of blessed imperfection. I think that's all we can really ask for.

Thou Shalt Not Covet (thy friend's house)

Everyone sins.  Some people have sins that are more obvious, more public, more noticeable.  Other people have sins that are an easily kept secret.  I have a particular one (of many, I'm sure) that I feel I must share with you at this particular moment in time.

I covet.

This is a particular issue in our line of work.  We hear (and preach) a lot about denying self, picking up our cross, forgetting what lies behind and striving towards what's ahead.  That's all well and good, but it's hard to look ahead when my head is always turned, leering and secretly thinking, "If only I/we had that."

When I was pregnant with our son, we considered buying a house.  We looked around, researched, planned... and then the husband said, "I think we need to remain mobile."  (Husband has the gift of prophecy).  Thus, the dream of a house of my own ended.  And then everyone around me started buying houses! Not just any old house, but houses I could've seen myself living in, fixing up, raising a family in and calling home.  We rented, moved around, lived with family members, and now today I sit on someone else's couch in someone else's home that we are renting, 3000 miles away from where the American dream had secretly enmeshed itself in my heart.

Do you see the sin there?  I like to think it's not there and that it's only natural to want something for yourself.  That's not bad in and of itself, right?  But when it becomes painful to even visit those places, where friends and family call home, and wish it was you and begrudge them the joy?  That's a heart issue, and I am struggling with it.

We spent a month in a school that prepared us for living and working in another culture.  The instructors told us - time and time again - that in order to best acclimate to another culture, leave who you were and where you came from behind.  This included personal belongings, things that had become a part of our history and our lives...

Our couch.  Last week I sat on this "other" couch and cried because I missed my stupid couch.  I've been going over pictures of other workers preparing to come here, dwelling on the fact that they "get" to bring everything they own over here, while we left nearly everything behind.  (Don't think this was an entirely spiritual decision on our part; this was due in large part to save money.)  We are waiting on a 6 foot x 6 foot crate with the few things we couldn't leave behind: pictures, toys, files, and our bed.  I covet that 20 foot container they get to bring.  And I covet the money that they have that pays for that container.  By extension, I belittle the money that was given generously and sacrificially by others so that we could bring a little bit of home with us.  There is a sin being committed there... and again, I struggle with it, because I know it.

Why is this even a struggle?  These are just things!  What is at the root of the covet?  A pastor here said that sin is not so much the issue, but the thirst that precedes the sin.  We solve the issue by quenching the thirst.

I keep thinking I'm quenching the thirst.  And then God reveals to me another area where I'm still thirsty and craving something other than Him.  He points out how pitiful I am.  And I'm brought back to the idea of dying to self.  To quench the thirst is to die to self, and to live for Jesus.  

Smitty WAS right...

24 June 2008

If you didn't graduate from high school (or middle school) in the mid-1990s or ever said goodbye to fast new friends at Bible camp, then you have not truly lived... the Michael W Smith golden rule:

Friends are friends forever,
if the Lord's the Lord of them;
And a friend will not say never
cause the welcome will not end...

Blah blah blah.

Ok, yes, I admit to being a cynic and not all that... shall we say... sentimental?  First of all, I have never really thought of myself as fertile soil (at least not until I had babies).  I have one friend I think of this way, but that's because she KEEPS having babies!  (and adorable ones too - I'm not judging).  I admit to maybe tearing up once during this song, but I think it had to do with a boy and youth group and... well, you get the idea.

Anyway, here am I, in Ireland - lovely, lovely, totally God's will and brilliant Ireland - and right now the place I want to be is Chicago, in the autumn, for a wedding.  My dearest girlfriend from college just got engaged and I cannot be there to see her walk down the aisle.

Cue piano.  Or synthesizer.  Maybe some humming.

Here's the thing about our friendship: husband, career, kids, geography... all have brought about a sort of distance in our relationship.  But the distance has never been a hinderance.  Rather, we have lived our lives, then reunite every 2 or 3 years, marveling at each other's accomplishments, and rejoicing at what God has done in each life.  Ok, I write all that and it sounds so... small in comparison to the...

...faith and love God's given
springing from the hope we know

Wow.  I have a disease.

So there were a few tears this week.  About the joy I can only witness through emails and IM chats.  And they weren't just my tears, either.  The sweetest thing being that there were a few tears on the other side of the Atlantic, too.  And a couple of I Love Yous.  And an "I wish you were here" or "there".

And then in 2 years or so, we'll meet again at the same spot we always do in Chicago.  And I'll see a ring and and meet a husband.  Probably a few tears then, too.  Celebrating a new chapter...

Darn you, Smitty!  

Psalm 45v1

18 June 2008

This blog is for me.  Or maybe, this blog is for you.  

For four years, I have chronicled the journey of our family's move to cross-cultural life and work in Ireland.  I realized today - as I wrote a post for prayer for my son - that I needed a space where words could not be minced and where my own journey from safety to risk could be laid bare.  This is with the hope that you can join me here, too, for my journey is definitely not the only one being taken.

Also, this won't always be as heavy as this first post might feel now.  I hope it to be light and airy and full of life and grace.  It's just that God has brought me to a heavy moment and the need, always the need, to write.

And as for the title of this blog and the purpose... my life verse, only read today for the first time from The Message:

My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. 
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words...