Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Empty room. Empty heart.

There is an empty place on the floor of my bedroom. A week ago it had the sum of the world's possessions for a young boy, minus the bed and the bike at his grandma's house. Three boxes. Two held his clothes, socks, underwear, shirts, pants and shorts. Some were given to me by his mom. Some had belonged to his cousin. Some had belonged to my sons. One box had his pictures from the airshow, the drawings, the AWANA store.

But there are no boxes on the floor of my room anymore. There is no boy, saying, "Mrs. Jaeger." in his 5-year-old slur that could not pronounce Rs or Ls. No one has awakened me in the night with a bad dream this past week. No one has enticed my youngest into pouring soap all over the counter of the  pink bathroom. My 6 year old has not enticed anyone to throw wet chalk at the back door this week. There's been no biting or wrestling or sandbox playing.

It is cleaner in my room. And in the boys room where the sleeping bag has been put away. My house is cleaner. More convenient. Easier. This week.

I can clean the floor of my room and the boys room. But what do I do with this place in my heart? Do I clean that, too? But how? Because having him here was cleaning my heart: revealing my selfishness, requiring me to think beyond my own inconvenience.

What do you do when you don't want to go back? But you weren't sure how you would keep going forward? What do you do when life has changed and it wasn't your decision for him to come or to go?

I didn't like having nothing left of me. It felt terribly uncomfortable to only be able to rely on the grace of God. But yet I don't really want to go back to relying on me and my strength.

How do I live like I need Jesus all the time when it doesn't feel like it quite so much?

Nine weeks he came to live with us. One day we did not know him. The next he was here sharing our lives whether we liked it or not. He shared our airshow, our cousins, our clothes, our food, our grandparents, our bathroom, our tree house, our sandbox, our swimming excursions, our excitement of riding in the new 'swagger-wagon'.

Sometimes we didn't mind.

Sometimes we did.

Now, there is no one sleeping in the bag in the middle of the boy's room. There are no boxes in my room.

And there's a big gaping hole in my heart left by a five year old boy who doesn't live here anymore.

Oh fill me, Lord, with You and not with me. Fill me afresh today with You. Fill Yourself in the places that you pushed away in my heart, revealing my deep selfishness. Fill it still with your wonderful, matchless grace. 
Keep me in the palm of Your hand as you did when  I could only rely on the grace of God and the prayers of the saints to get me through each step of every day. Amen.
  * * *
Linking up with Jen and Emily.

Monday, June 11, 2012

20 Things About Living in Tennessee for 20 years

Then, 1992
Now, 2012

Twenty years ago today, on June 11, 1992, I arrived in Tennessee with my blue Toyota Tercel packed to the brim with all my belongings.  I had finished my school-year contract in Michigan, visited friends and family in Minnesota (my growing up place), and drove across the country to live near 'my friend, Kip.'

Though I had always longed to move where it was warm and live somewhere else,  I never imagined I'd live in Tennessee. And, lo and behold, it's apparently been exciting enough since twenty years later I'm still here with no plans of moving in sight.

In honor of this milestone I've made a list! No particular order or importance -- mostly it's about the contrast of Tennessee living versus Minnesota living. 

Twenty Things I've Learned During Twenty Years In Tennessee. 

Enjoy the randomness!

1. I like ice tea, or sweet tea as they call it around here. Yummy! (This is due, of course, to the great amount of sugar that's in it.)

2. I also discovered that I like cornbread. Who knew that it could be moist and sweet and tasty?! Well, I guess Southerners did. We even make it ourselves now;  it is a hubby specialty around here. He asked a cook in a small meat-n-three (another Southern entity) for the recipe. Now, he wrangles up a pretty mean cornbread in our cast iron skillet.

3. Children here are expected to say 'Yes ma'am' and 'Yes sir' to their 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' for the rest of thier lives. I have not as fully embraced this concept as the ice tea and cornbread. So you just know those Southerners are 'blessing my children's hearts' because they're sweet-n-all but they just don't say 'yes ma'am' and 'yes sir' nearly often enough..

4. Opening doors is much less complicated in the South. Men open the doors.

I no longer wonder who will open the door when we both get there. I know exactly who will open the door. The man. It's lovely. I'm no longer outraged; I'm honored. I like it.

5. Oh, glorious spring, I had no idea how beautiful you could be. The gradual awakening of color that starts with the daffodils in March and ends with the Magnolias in May. Spring comes early and lasts long. This alone can make me totally smitten with the South (not to mention that I don't deal too much with allergies which seem develop for everybody once they move here. )

6. Below zero temps are not the only elements that make winters challenging -- damp and cold with gray skies for endless days have their own set of challenges.

7. They can cancel school based on the prediction of snow. Yet, it took about 15 years of living here before I ever went sledding in Tennessee.

8. Due to this tendency, I have had more days off work due to snow days in Tennessee than school days than I had in all my schooling years. Then, there's the grocery store when they've predicted snow. I just needed to do my regular shopping. Everyone else (it's always someone else, isn't it?) are there getting milk and bread as if we're about to be snowed in for days and days. (But remember that it took 15 years before there was enough snow to sled upon!?!)

9. We used to laugh at how everyone stayed home when it snowed. Now, we do, too. Especially after the ice storm where hubby's car was stranded on the side of the road. Then, he proceeded to walked 10 miles on the deserted ice.

10. The mosquitoes are smaller here and the snakes are larger. People will say the bugs are bad tonight. And I think, really? Thankfully I've only seen those really big snakes in pictures.

11. Not only is the spring and the fall colorful in the South, the language is as well. Up north we'll say, "Boy, he's deaf." Down here, they say, "He's deaf as a post." Up north, they'd say, "You're really bugging me." Down here, they say, "You're gettin' on my last red hot nerve."

12. People besides your own folk will call you honey, sweetie, and darling.

13. When you speak too fast for the Southern natives , they might just tell you that "the first thing you can do missy is to slow down." Then, you might just might need to transfer them to someone who speaks Southern. Yet, ten years later your children -- your very own children born of Mid-west parents just might not be able to understand a Minnesotan because "they talk too fast." Oh, the injustice of it all!

14. In Middle Tennesssee as we drive around town, we can play the license plate game and see all of the states. When we drive home to Minnesota, especially in the wintertime, the plates say Minnesota.  This exemplifies how Tennessee is more of a melting pot and how close so many more states are to it!

15. It took us a long time to meet someone who was actually born in here in this city in Tennessee and had family here. Initially we met mostly transplants.(See number 14 about the license plates).

16. I discovered that people from Minnesota really do have an accent.

17. I moved from the land of 10, 000 lakes to the land of rivers (and only one natural lake).

18. The Civil War is a big deal around here, which some call the War of Northern Aggression. There are reenactments and many historical sites. It's interesting to live among people who have a different perpsective. I've also learned who was the blue  and who was the gray.

19. Nine hundred miles is far enough to enjoy different weather but too far to be there for enough family celebrations or just being there in times of trouble.

20. The biggest thing that I have learned in the twenty years of living in the South. Is that a woman can live somewhere long enough to have more than one home. I have my growing up home that influenced me greatly. And now I have the growing up home of my children. I also long for a home that is not my own -- and I place that I haven't been yet.

Home really is where you hang your heart and my heart is divided in more than one place. One day I will go to the place that I will be at home even though I haven't ever been there. It won't feel strange and foreign like Tennessee did when I first arrived. I won't feel as if I no longer fit when I go back as I've changed some due to where I live. One day we'll be home, to that welcoming place that I have never been.

How about you? Do you have any interesting stories and impressions of where you live?

Linking with Jen at SDG Sisterhood.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Feeling number-ish today

I'm feeling a bit number-ish today. Perhaps sometime soon, I'll expound and reflect on the milestones that these numbers of time represent. In the meantime, you can click on the phrases that are different colors and they will lead you to a related post of mine. Years, days, moments -- they go by quickly, don't they?

24 years in Minnesota
1 year in Michigan
20 years in Tennessee
19 years married
13 1/2 years as mom
11 years in this house
8 years of homeschooling completed

25 days with 8 kids
25 days with 5 kids
9 days with 9 kids

Do you suppose that this is what is meant by " Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom" means? Psalm 90:12

How about you? How are you feeling today?
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