grocery shopping with kids:: a modern spiritual discipline

I have been exploring my daily and weekly chores from a sacred perspective. Not because I’m on a quest to be holier-than-thou, not because I can elevate myself beyond the mundane acts of my real life, but quite the opposite, in-fact. I think the holy might most often be found in the ordinary moments. I’ve begun calling these things the holy-ordinary. It doesn’t necessarily make a moment easier or even harder but it does bring some degree of meaning.

So much of my life is about my family, raising kids and tending my marriage.
And when you are in this season of life there are a lot of practical things that must be done to keep the machine running smoothly and everyone alive. One of the most important: groceries. We must eat.

I try to make this as zen of an experience as I can, picking a time I can guarantee I’ll go alone, maybe swinging through Starbucks and treating myself to a hot beverage (coffee=love) or grabbing a bag of chocolate in the checkout line, sitting in the parking lot and reading a book or scrolling social media. Or maybe even wandering through the shoe or home decor aisle and lingering to look at all the beauty, colors and designs that speak to me. These are all tactics I have tried.

But there are weeks where plans fail,  and the strategy does not line up and you find me with a cart full of kids and groceries, barreling through packed aisles, talking too loud, begging, bribing and herding my children. I’m sweating just typing this.

I found myself in this exact situation last weekend, except this time mid-produce-aisle- herding, it came to me…. I am practicing a spiritual discipline. Maybe this is a holy-ordinary moment.

I know you can kinda chuckle at that idea. But it has to be true. If fasting, prayer, fellowship, frugality, service, submission and surrender are all characteristics that may define a spiritual discipline or practice, then spot on. I don’t know about you but it is no easy task to carry all my offspring to and from a bustling store; managing behaviors, finding all.the.things, paying for all.the.things. All the while keeping my salvation intact. (insert deep breath here) I fast, I pray, I fellowship, I serve, submit and surrender over and over again, with each wheel turn of the grocery cart.

I think so often we over complicate our spirituality, when the truth is we have a whole host of opportunities to engage with God in our right now circumstances, even in the produce aisle at your local supermarket while you mutter to your offspring. We need only be willing and have eyes to see it.

The spiritual act of grocery shopping with kids is one of the hardest acts of my parenting life right now. So I am going to continue to pray prayers under my breath while other choice words beg to come out. I am going to clench my teeth and speak kindly and respectfully to my kids even when they are crawling on the floor and hanging off the side of the cart. I am going to pray and be thankful for the money I have to feed and nourish the people I love. And I am going to do it over and over and over again remembering that even with it is painful it is holy, even when it is brutal and uncomfortable it is holy, even if I don’t have a perma-smily on my face it is holy. All the while also praying that God would grant me the grace to go alone just this one time.

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the whole cup

There is a cup.
It’s either half full or half empty.

I never liked picking which kind of person I was based on that analogy. Most of the time I feel like such a mix and life feels like such a mix. I decided this week that I’m not either of those. Take that stupid analogy. I’m not a pessimist or an optimist. I’m a whole-ist. I like making up words anyways.

I’m a whole cup kind of girl.
A whole-ist.
I want the whole cup.
I want to drink the whole cup.

Sipping and chugging and in-between drinking.
The hot burning beverages and the ice cold beverages and the lukewarm sat on the counter too long beverages.
I want to drink it all to the very bottom and let the last drop wet my lips.
I want to slam the glass on the table and long for more.
I want to be waiting in despair and excitement for what will fill it next.
I want to see it filled midway and 3/4 and 1/3 and to the top spilling over.
I want to see it filled with joy and bitterness and anger and peace and restoration and healing and nothing.
I want to feel all the feelings and temperatures and volumes.
I think that is the key. Being ok with your cup.
You have to know what an empty cup feels like in order to really feel the full cup life.

I’m a whole cup kind of girl.
A whole-ist.
I want the whole cup.

easter replay

I want an Easter replay right about now. I crave it like a late night Friends rerun that is playing on a night when you can’t fall asleep. ahhhh. yes.

The candy is gone, the decorations are gone, the long Easter weekend exhaustion is gone and quite frankly the hope feels gone again too. All to quickly I return to my Good Friday ways. The suffering, the frustrations, the doubts and controlling. The daily grind and worries and hassles. The anxiety. But there is no calendar to mark off. There is no alarm clock to wake me. No known timetable or checklist or anything to tell me how long. how. long.

Just the steady sound of waiting. The sound of dying and growing.

They didn’t have that luxury. They didn’t know the end result. They didn’t know the third day miracle was on its way. And yet I’m sure some waited patiently, and prayerfully, and reverently and others waited angrily and desperately and doubtingly. And I’m all of those.

Just the steady sound of waiting. The sound of dying and growing.

hope > control

Hope is greater than control.

I’m not speaking on some mystical theory here. Or mathematical theory. Just my own observations of this life.

I’ve said it before. I am a recovering perfectionist. A counselor, a great one I might add, once had me doing all sorts of practices around my need to control. And one of the things she had me do was practice saying, “I am a recovering perfectionist”. Although that might sound like some type of torture it actually began to set me free. Words are powerful that way.

But mostly I credit my total loss of control to my chaotic 20’s and having kids. I say credit because it’s 100% gift to be a recovering perfectionist. Talk about annihilating any need I thought I once had. In entered child #1 and 15 months later child #2. Bam. I know some people do this sort of thing on purpose. Thumbs up to you. That was not me. This was a one-two punch. Total loss of control. Picture a snow globe. Gone were the days of showers, eating meals at meal times, sleeping and any other meager human activities. Total and utter loss of control. Add to that my age, my expectations for my brand new marriage, jobs and lack of jobs, health crisis on top of health crisis. You get the idea. Pure chaos. Zero control.

What I could not find at that time was hope. What I kept looking for was the one thing that would give me the control back and let me make sense of my life. I was a frenzied gardener digging for the answers of my life.

I am still a frenzied gardener from time to time. I said I was recovering after all, still in process.

There are things better left undone. When you leave space in the uninterrupted earth, without the help of a frenzied gardener, hope may grow. The buds of unexpected life. Answers from the corner of your garden.

Hope for what is dead, hope for what is unseen, hope for tomorrow, hope for today, hope for healing.

Gather the scrapings of your life, the pretty sparkly things and the dead and dying things. Bury them deep in your garden and wait, wait to see what might grow. Just keep the frenzied gardener out of it.

the holy-ordinary

I think most of my life could be summed up in one word, ordinary.

There is nothing glamorous about the things that I do everyday. My dailies; mom duties, church duties, wife duties, life duties.  It’s just ordinary. I don’t get any big awards, hardly a thank you most days. Most of what I do is unseen, in quiet rooms out of the way from a spotlight.

This is not a pity party letter to myself. It’s freedom. I do enjoy my full life, the things I create and participate in; family, work and friends! But I have no big plans to take my career to the next level, whatever that means. We are done growing our family. That shop is closed with a capital “C”. There is no crazy chaotic change coming that I’m anticipating. And my desires are not to get bigger or richer or taller or more noticeable or extend my reach further. And that feels wrong. Wrong to not want more! I think for a long time I thought I wanted that. I thought I was suppose to want that. I thought that is what everyone did with their thirty-somethings to figure out what to do next! Bigger, better, faster, more.

But I think my work right now. My call, my job, my work, my discipline is much smaller. Like I’m working in reverse. Smaller, less, slower, ordinary.

The ordinary I find is what keeps me grounded in the dirt of life. In the waiting. In a place of hope but also grave uncertainty. In the dirty work of planting and nurturing and growing. The dirty work of math facts, and meals and laundry. Death to life. Cause really what could come of that? How could my list of dailies be significant or worthwhile? But that is the mystery isn’t it? Death to life.

Holy in the unexpected and insignificant. Holy-ordinary.

I’m staying planted in the dailies, the ordinary dirt of my life, waiting to uncover the holy-ordinary.

 

 

 

Nine

My oldest just turned nine. nine. NINE.

Did you hear me? N-I-N-E. nine.

I think it’s a total joke on mothers and fathers everywhere, this nine business. Except its not a joke. Heaven help me!

I had a very vivid experience, several years ago. This boy of mine was only 4, and still cruising the sidewalks with training wheels and velcro shoes. We went for a family walk, he rode out in front of us, full speed ahead. That is how he does everything. Full. Speed. Ahead.

Eventually near the end of our jaunt he over corrected. Bam. Flipped right over the handle bars. We ran to him. He was fine. Totally fine. In our shock we wiped him off. He jumped back on and off he cruised. It was a heart stopper. Stomach churner. I wasn’t ready for him to get back on that dangerous four-wheeled monster. But he was and off he went. Just like that. Over and done and moving on. Fast.

And then I heard it, some voice from somewhere naming this thing that just happened. “This is parenting”
It’s the perfect picture.
I mean it’s not what I imagined but I guess it is a picture of the real-reality kind of parenting and what it is like growing children into adults.

But we must release, and watch, and create independence, and distance, and run to rescue, and feel sick to our stomachs, and love, and brush off, and then give independence again. From now ’til forever.

And then I wanted to quit. Who do I contact to get out of this parenting contract? I think I signed up for the wrong assignment. I wanted the “control everything and predictable” assignment.

But the more times I think back to that day, which is ALOT. And that picture. And that gift.  And the more things I experience in raising my 3 hooligans, the more it feels true and right.

And then he turned nine. Another heart stopper. Seriously. Gasp.

Life feels crazy and full and overwhelming. But it also feels deeper.
With more meaning and more stress and more of it all.
Yes, all.
More grief. More joy.
More challenges. More love.
More questions. More grace.
More.

my new friend

Meet my new friend. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
At least I think her and I are friends. I feel like her friend. I think she would probably agree?!
Her writing is honest, raw, easy and she just seems like a regular old church-working girl who is trying to figure her life out one day at a time.

Here is an excerpt from her book that I keep chewing on.

“Start where you’re stuck. That’s what my (genius) therapist, who is also a writer, told me….But little by little when, when I start where I’m stuck, over and over and over, getting stuck and unstuck, something cracks through, and life reveals itself to me like a scroll unfurling, and I write about it.”

What would it take for me to just begin each day where I am stuck?!
To breathe deep and accept today for what it is.
Be ok with where I am; my kids, my finances, my husband, my heart, my home.
Instead of living in the what if; my dreams, my wants, my plans, my inadequacies.