Saturday, October 3, 2009

Coolness and Chaos


I just thought with all the CoOLness that I have going on here, I needed soMebOdy to laugh with me!
Flip flops with socks.
I was painting and cold.
And being a messy painter, knowing that whatever I wear at the time will serve as long term proof of my project, I thought this to be a rather ingenious solution.

Ingenuity may be warm, but it just must not be that cool.
Sarah looked at my feet, raised an eyebrow and asked if I was planning on leaving the house dressed like that.

Hmmm. A fleeting thought of opportunistic manipulative power crossed my brain.
Something like, " OK, children. Mommy will promise not to show up at school and youth group like this, if you promise to do your chores without complaining for the next year."
It was fleeting.
I wouldn't do that.
But the imagined scenarios put a big smile on my face.
Oh yes.

And just look at all the chaos we have with my coolness.
Here's the kitchen;
IMG_3981 We removed two layers of vinyl floor coverings, two layers of subfloor and thousands of nails.
I just feel this need to clarify that we removed two layers of vinyl floor coverings, two layers of subfloor and thousands of nails.
And then under that was this disgusting layer of tar paper that needed coaxed from its grip. It very determinedly left behind a black scum that required goo-be-gone and repeated scrubbing.

All that to get to the hard wood floor that we knew was under there.

There really will be something beautiful after all the mess!
I don't have a "before" picture at the moment.
For now, all I have is a "during."
It's messy in the middle.

( And did I mention inconvenient? )
( Let me mention inconvenient. )
( My fridge is now about 15 ft from my little kitchen counter. Our table is blocking the front door, so you'll have to come around to the back. Which I actually hope that you would anyway, because backdoor friends are better. And the cupboard that I use for storage is outside the back door on the porch.)

A wee bit more about chaotic, cool and inconvenient.
Here's our bathroom;

IMG_4043 IMG_4052

I had to laugh when I came home from Walmart the other day.
There was a TOILET sitting on our front porch roof!
How can you beat that kind of COOL?!!!
I don't know anyone else who can claim that one!
( It sounds like material for those, "You know you're a redneck..." jokes, doesn't it? )
Our one and only full bath is being gutted and remodeled ( they are removing stuff out thru the window and down scaffolding. This project is a long overdue necessity; antiquated, dilapidated and probably some other kind of -ated issues with plumbing, ventilation, carpenter ants and a potty leaning more and more to the left.)
I feel this need to clarify something again.
Our one and only full bath.
That part.
The "one" part.
The "only" part.
That's clear now, isn't it?

 We are having ourselves a little adventure here in our very own house, aren't we?
We have a powder room downstairs. yes. But we are showering, using a makeshift arrangement in our basement, next to the garbage cans and two large recycling bins.

It's messy in the middle all right.

"If the end is nice, the middle mess is not only bearable but takes on the endpoint's sheen."
~~Andree Seu

Totally believable with my kitchen floor.
Even with my bathroom and needing to wear flip flops in my own house just to bathe and stay clean at the same time!

Not so believable... with gut wrenching, life altering, permanent-on-this-planet change or loss of something or someone.

I would pick that God's perfect work would be revealed thru how He changed circumstances or the people around me, all to keep me healthy and happy.
I'm really not into pain.
I wouldn't voluntarily sign up for difficulty so that God would grow you or me.
No thanks.
But we don't have to look around that hard, or live that long, to see and know that life, in our broken world, runs us over with evil, pain and suffering.
Fair shmair.
It's not.
And we know it.
Then we wrestle with His sovereignty. Knowing that He allowed it.
We wrestle with His providence. Wondering on a good-bad day, but demanding on a bad-bad day; why on earth this was considered wisdom in management, love and care for His children, or provision for the future?!
We wrestle with guilt. Measuring ourselves among ourselves, we come up with some kind of pain-o-meter, feeling bad that we hurt when so and so fill in the blanks.
God does not minimize heartbreak, people do. (Beth Moore)
He is not scared by how big something is, we are.
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Not, blessed are they that cope, by deciding someone else has more pain.
How can He bind our wounds, if we try to believe that we're not really that wounded?

And you thought that I was writing about house projects.
I did too.
It's actually about me.
I have revealed a snapshot of myself here.

Layered and messy.

Those kitchen floors and ewwwww, tar paper? Me.
The gutted-start-over bathroom? Me.

I am s-l-o-w-l-y learning to know who I am. God is revealing the layers, the back behind, the underneath, the deep down thoughts and motives, my comfort zone and the arrangements that I have made to keep it intact. My unbelief, pride, fears and trust issues. My doubt of His unconditional love. My pursuit of 1-2-3 steps and formulas to fix the surface...

Not so neat and tidy.
I want desperately to call it a "during".

But, unlike a house project, absolutely nothing about what rips us up and knocks us down,

feels like a middle. Nothing about it looks like a middle. Nothing about it says middle.
It just says hard. Permanent on this planet hard.

I race to Jesus like Martha at times, in tear streaked authenticity,  Where were you??? It could been different!
I bring him my broken pieces, like the father with his son in Mark 9, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help."
I make it to His feet, but still wondering if surely, I am the exception to Who He Is.Sometimes I find myself changing roles in that story.
 I am the bystander, observing what seems hopeless saying, Oh my. Look. It's over. 
Then I am the son. Desperately needing someone else to take me to Jesus.

The deceiver wants us to believe that "the middle will last forever."
 He planned to take us down and out and pound us with;
He steals our joy and crushes all hope. He whispers that we are the exception.

But God made promises.
Knowing me. Knowing You.
Knowing today.
And we are not the exception to them.
Am I writing because I "get it?"
I am writing because I don't.

I want to enter His sanctuary, believe like Abraham, cry out like Job, and praise and sing with a willing spirit and a sustained heart.
When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God..."        Ps 73:16 &17
"... Abraham, "Against all hope believed."       Romans 4:18
Job cried out," I know that my Redeemer lives...He knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."     Job 19:25, 23:10"
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them...Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you...As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes..."
2 Chron. 2:5-30
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant a willing spirit, to sustain me."   Ps 51:12

The point to revealing my layers, is not for me to simply realize my mess and who I am,
But to know who He IS.
And My NEED for who He IS.

He is the Great Physician to cleanse and heal me from the inside out.
He's a carpenter, building a solid foundation so that I can respond out of what His truth is, rather than to react out of what I fear.
He is my Blessed Redeemer. He proclaims freedom for the captives and exchanges ashes for beauty, mourning for gladness, and a spirit of despair for a garment of praise. (Isaiah 61)
There really will be something beautiful after all the mess...because He wants it more than me.I don't have a "before" picture at the moment. And certainly not an "after."
For now, all I have is a "during."
It's messy in the middle.

His idea.

And the Ultimate Cool.

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John
and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men,
they were astonished and they took note that these men
had been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13