I let my kid go to the feed store dressed as Batman two days ago.
He’s old enough to know better.
People were staring. All the rancher-types we ran into, the ones who wear boots that have been worn hard and who have creases at the corners of their eyes from squinting, they looked twice, looked at me, and then kind of smiled.
Yesterday, the same kid wore six shirts.
I asked him, “Why?”
He answered, “It just felt right to me.”
I said, “Ok, I get that. But can you please not put the sandwich shirts, the four in the middle, into the laundry? When you get done with them, fold them and put them back in your drawer because they aren’t dirty.”
“Sure, mama!” he answered. And he did.
A few years ago our family attended a rabbit conference. Yep, those are a thing. You get with a whole bunch of other people who want to breed and raise rabbits that fit the show standards of one of the 49 distinct breeds of domestic rabbits in the US, it smells like hay and there are people holding rabbits everywhere, waiting to put their special competitor on the table for the judge to assess.
We spent time in the showroom with people we only know because of a shared affection for the lagomorph.
“I’ve never met a family quite like yours before,” said a fellow bunny lover.
“Oh no!” I said. “That could go in a lot of different ways. What do you mean? Have we scared you? Should I apologize? What did the kids say?!”
“No, it’s not that at all,” she said. “Each of your kids has a really distinct personality and it is given the space to exist within the family. I’ve never seen that before.”
Space to exist. Hm.
Friends, I can’t explain why I write the things I write. I’ve taken an almost-four year break from blogging and now I’m back at the daily posts. I don’t know if/when I will go back to my previously-typical posts about parenting, education, and the most bizarre news stories of the moment.
I don’t even have a true writing “process.” I usually sit down at the computer and just let my fingers start going. I wish I would plan. I see the kids doing key word outlines and ANI charts and I know that’s a logical and time saving way of writing. That my writing (and maybe my typo issues) would improve if I would do that a little.
But, so far it’s just not me. And I’m trying to do me, well. So I just sit down and write from the heart.
This morning, my heart is telling me two things:
One: Stewardship of persons is hard. This is not like hoarding all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box so you can eat them at once and enjoy their plasticy goodness. It’s not like throwing kernels of corn to the chickens, scattering them wildly to the wind.
Stewardship of persons, these little children, image-bearers of the Lord… stewardship of persons, to me, means giving the entities space to grow and bloom.
This counts for all relationships (although parenting is often most present on my mind these days). Marriages, friendships, co-workers, the cashier at Walmart… Persons need space to be able to be themselves, authentically loved even when they’re messy, inconvenient, different from us, and maybe even sometimes a little embarrassing (a la my tiny Batman at the feed store).
If I can love my husband well enough to encourage him to follow his passions – even if they aren’t my own – I’m stewarding a gift (my husband) that actually belongs to God and I only set my hands to for a life season. So I tend my marriage in a faulty but whole way, as best I can, with the best tools I have available each day.
If I can choose which battles to fight with these children, allow them the space to explore and create and test within a boundary that doesn’t allow them to forget the importance of community – I’m tending to my parenting. I will do it only adequately, many days. But I will continue to get up each day and make an effort to improve, because this is the job God has given to me for this life season and practice makes progress.
Our oldest is into goats right now. We have a milk goat I will help her tend in about three minutes, gently coaxing milk into a Tupperware bowl that matches the exact same bowl my father used to milk our goats growing up. The wild cats from the neighborhood have started showing up in our yard in 12-hour intervals, hoping for some milk to be spilled so they can lap it up enthusiastically.
The kids hope to tame those cats because they know I’ll never ok an intentional cat adoption around here. My allergies are too strong and I remember too clearly the demon cat of my childhood. I don’t know if these cats will ever be friendly to us but for the kids, hope springs eternal. I give the cats extra milk because it pleases me to see trust developing. It makes me think about trust in relationships to watch those cats. I see God’s fingerprint on their creation.
We tend to those we care about. We steward things that matter. If they don’t matter, there is no need to cultivate them.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
The second thought on my mind this morning: Fear is not of the Lord.
I am an anxious person. I don’t know that I have always been anxious, but in recent memory I have discovered that my ability to analyze and process things can cause paralysis. It seems I have to embrace the results of the worst case scenario before I can make a decision for action.
I second guess. I try to think of all angles. I try to extend grace and stay silent until I cannot NOT say something. And then I feel guilty for speaking, like my voice is not worthy to be heard. Like silence is the best policy.
As though the spirit of growth and space I actively cultivate in our home with the kids doesn’t apply to me. In our house, If the idea is not destructive and doesn’t involve glitter, we typically give it a shot. I struggle to offer that same openness to myself.
Fear, Anxiety. They are not the tools of the Holy Spirit and if I don’t call them by name and tell them, “STOP IT!” they can consume me. I must change this and support my gut, my “Spidey-sense” that is prompted by the Holy Spirit, with measured fervor. Fear is a silencer.
“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:2-3
“…being fully assured that what God has promised, He was able also to perform.” Romans 4:21
So, in sum, I ask you, if you’re the praying type and still with me on this rambling journey, please pray for me.
Pray for words that should be written, that the Holy Spirit would whisper to my heart and give me the boldness to speak Truth into the lives of anyone who stumbles by this blog. Truth that isn’t about any one organization or thought process, but about this living of life, of ways we can do it better, and in a more wholesome and holy manner.
“‘And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.'” – Iain Thomas