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Mercy made me whole...

It’s an unlikely sanctuary.

My three-year old is reenacting the scene from Toy Story where Buzz fails in his attempt to fly to “infinity and beyond” and breaks his arm; my naked one year old is pulling every toy out he can find; Phillips, Craig and Dean are singing about stars burning down and eternity and I have my head in the toilet (cleaning, not sick!)

And I smile and swish blue water and let out a dramatic, “OH NO!” as my son lays on the floor and says all forced sad and pathetic, “My arm is broken!  Just like Buzz!”  And I think, “This is perfect.” and I feel it is holy in its simple, mundane, every-day-way.

It’s the day after Mother’s Day and it’s back to reality.  The husband leaves for a three-day business trip, the very week we’re preparing to go on vacation.  Which means the house-readying, the puppy-tending, the children-maintaining, the packing, the shopping, the stocking up of juice boxes and apples and chips and not forgetting the binder of children-friendly DVD’s is all up to me.  

I’m interrupted.  “Where did the white tractor go?!”  I go with him to the front windows to look and lift him up so he can see.  “He’s right there,” I say as we peer through the slats in the blinds.  “He has to go all the way back there and then he’ll come all the way back.  Farming is hard work!”

And I think... oh, man, it certainly is.

The endless rows (or nights).  The plains (the days) that stretch on, seemingly forever.  The back and forth (the monotony of laundry and another meal).  The tilling, the readying, the wondering if it’s ever going to be done.  Ever be ready for planting.  And then?  Then all those seeds.  All that fertilizing.  All that care.  And will it even grow?  

It’s a hard job.  But without the diligence of that farmer, where would our food come from?  Where would his livelihood sprout from?  How would he support his family?  If he didn’t do the hard, dirty work, day in, day out, year after year... How would he survive, provide, fall into bed grateful and tired, weary and ready all at the same time?  Is the coffee warmer and better because of the worn-weary and the work-ready of every mundane, done-it-all-before day? 

And is God not closer for the seeking?  For the persistent tugging?

Today I read in my newly purchased, Jesus Today devotional to “Learn to live from a place of resting in Me.” and that by re-centering we can deal with the waves that come.  I’m in a little bit of a tizzy right now and there are four lists, open-faced and needy on my counter.  The calendar is sketched and slotted and I’m wondering how to fit in more with what I have been given without losing my ever-loving mind... or worse, spending the days shouting and shoving aside as I try to just pack and bring order and make sure we don’t forget something necessary (Like diapers.  Or my Kindle.)  

And I think of it all, with the coupons ready to go for tomorrow and the gratitude journal open and beckoning and the little candle flickering.  It’s just the small things.  It’s the boys in the next room playing and imagining.  All morning Joel has jumped from one thing to another... I’m Buzz Lightyear!  Now I’m a cowboy!  Now I’m making snowballs - and I have them in my pocket!  And he bounds effortlessly, his imaginings endless and possible.  Nothing too big.  Just embrace and go.

It all comes rushing in and I’m trying to do laundry and keep the baby from eating the shoes and the puppy is begging to be let out and I start to feel the unraveling.  The peace I started the day with is rapidly under fire and I’m wondering just how many trips up and down the corn rows I’m going to have to make today before it’s bedtime and it’s considered done.  

And I stop.  Right then.  Hands on the counter, gratitude journal in my face and I just have to.  I have to re-center.  It’s been all of a few hours, and sometimes just within the span of a few minutes, and I’m back at the altar.  A kitchen counter as an altar?  It seems an unlikely space.  An unanticipated sanctuary.  But it’s there and I need it and God meets me where I find Him.

It’ll be a long day in the field.  By the time the sun goes down I’m going to want a warm meal and a hot shower and I’ll probably be finding dirt under my fingernails all night long.  I’m going to make trips up and down those rows (or up and down the stairs).  More diapers, more dishes, more lectures on the virtue of sharing, more clapping to get the baby’s attention and using his first and middle name to tell him for the 100th time to not touch the TV cabinet.  

I think every farmer loves what he does.  Maybe that’s the Norman Rockwell pictured ideal I have.  I’d imagine, though, to do that kind of work - you’d have to love it.  It’d have to be in your blood.  Many famers are generational farmers.  It’s what his Daddy did and his Daddy’s Daddy.  It’s family land.  There’s history in that dirt.  He’s proud to till it and proud to cultivate and water and plant and harvest.  It’s long days and nights and grueling and dusty.  

But it’s a calling.  It’s a deep love.  It’s a field of history... of dreams and stories untold.  And the persistence will pay off.  And the peace will keep coming in.  You just have to keep going back to the kitchen counter, back to the tractor, back to the laundry and back to filling the silo.  Day by day.  Year by year.  You can think about farming - about mothering - or you can actually do it.

The day after Mother’s Day may be the best.  It’s the work and the love in action and all the doing with the baby hanging on our leg that makes it real.  That makes it worth it.  It’s a challenge and it’s labor, but hey, it always is.  It always was.  It was always meant to be that way.  You don’t just work hard and put in the hours one day and call it good.  Year after year the calling comes and you keep digging in, readying the plow and setting out.  

On the days when the rain comes, when the winds are hard, when the sun seems as though it’s going to stay hidden for years... That’s where we are reminded to stay persistent.  Keep seeking and finding and knocking until our knuckles are bleeding, keep listing the thankful.  We hope and we endure and God whispers close.

That good farmland can’t go to seed.  To waste.  We can’t let it.  We have everything we need for the days and work ahead.  We have all we really need to work the day away.  It can be exhausting and wearing, but it can also be life-giving, abundant, sun beaming down on your head.  

A barn - a home - bursting at the seams...

“For everyone who asks and keeps 
on asking receives; and he who seeks 
and  keeps on seeking finds; and to him 
who knocks and keeps on knocking, 
the door shall be opened.” 
~ Luke 11:10 AMP


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