When Nothing Seems To Fit

I am 39 week pregnant, due in under a week.  I should be burrowing down, anchoring down, building something around me to settle in with the baby, to nuzzle and raise him in a cozy den.

But every page of the calendar, every conversation somehow reminds me of the other voices that are saying order, purge, pack, prepare, pull up stakes.

I feel pulled in two such opposite directions.  Moving countries and having babies generally don’t go together for a reason.

IMG_7626

What nesting looks like in my world–squeezing baby clothes into ziplock bags.

I sit in front of two Rubbermaid containers and sort my clothing into piles.  Maternity clothes that don’t cover my belly anymore, transition clothes for those lovely not pregnant but still chubby days months and finally, clothes for the heat that I hope will fit when we move 6 weeks after the baby.

Shells, yes.  But how do I know if I can fit.  How will I stretch still?  How will I adjust?  They are just shells, yes, but I feel the swelling of emotion, this buldge in my throat, the constriction of my heart like a waist-band too tight that leaves stitching and hem marks branded deep pink in the soft places like a wound.

It isn’t that I don’t want to go.  I know we are going where we should be for this season.  Back.  I know it will fit again, the language on my tongue, the laundry on the rooftop line, the scrub of soil from vegetables, the dirt from the track packed into the grip of my runners.  It will fit again. 

And this wee one, he will fit too.  I will wrap him tightly, carry him on my chest out of the hospital, past boxes, through customs, to teach him the word hogar, home.  The word will still roll round and full.

We’ll unpack sandals one day and the next we’ll shake cockroaches out of the Christmas tree wrapped black like a mummy.  We’ll catch up, with the local family we live with, as one can, in fragments, circling forward and backwards.

Ya me dijiste.

Oh, I already told you that.

Thoughts of what we’ll miss and are missing will circle like whirlpools of snow outside the lit windows.  Less places set at the table this year.

The stretch and the adjustment—I want to separate these—baby and moving.  I want some space between.  But maybe they fit afterall.

My citizenship isn’t here.  It isn’t as though Canada is really my home.  I can still burrow deep, deep into hugs while I have them, deep into the smell of freshly washed baby skin, soft.  I can burrow into the covers with my boys to tell stories as if the bed weren’t the only thing left in the room, to peer out the window of the plane as if it were the first time.  I can burrow deep into the rich comfort of Christ—the one, who by his birth, left his home, the one who understands.  And he offers me an invitation to take two disparate pieces and stitch them together.  In them I can find new understanding and a new way of being understood.

What are the pieces in your world that don’t seem to fit together?  How do you hold them in tension? 

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The Chai Conversations: On the Best and the Good

While it feels highly unrealistic to commit to a blog post a day when I have a baby due any day now, I’m at least giving it a shot, linking up with a 31 day challenge.  

When I think of tea, I think of sharing a pot with someone and having a good heart to heart talk.  My goal this month is to brew a few cups of Chai…to open my heart a bit and invite response.  I’d love to begin a few conversations.  So draw up a chair and muse a bit with me.

 

When you work in the profession I do, living overseas working with people with great needs, people assume you are in it for the love of it.  Living the dream.  The height of fulfillment on a daily basis.  Yes, it may be hard but there’s nothing you’d rather do.

And that’s the way we all want to live, isn’t it.  For passion.  Fulfillment. We want to live the way children run, free, fast, unexhausted.  Where the blood coursing through your veins propels you to live, fully,  sprinting, heart beat pounding in your ears, face wide open to the sky, arms swinging.

People assume I love my work.  Love my life.

And I do.  Some days.  And then some days I want to run away from it, blood coursing, arms swinging, sprinting face first into the wide world of predictable and comfortable and 9-5 and job descriptions and anonymity and English.

Most days I’m just there.  Neither loving it nor hating it but trying to be faithful.

Sometimes we do the right thing because it is the right thing and we train our hearts to follow.  I wish it were the reverse—our hearts know best and if we follow our hearts we will do the right and rewarding and beautiful things.  But sometimes our hearts are lazy.  Sometimes our hearts have good intentions but are weary.  Sometimes our hearts don’t know what to think because they were designed to feel and not think!

So we go back to what is good.  We go back to what is true.  We go back to the things that are pure and noble and worthy of doing them.  And we do them for those reasons, not because we desperately need to feel something in order to be alive.

Parenting is like this.  By our facebook posts, you’d think our children were always smiling in our organized living rooms with combed hair and wiped noses.  But we don’t have our cameras on the ready in the mornings when they’ve put clean undies on top of the dirty ones and won’t hurry up.  When we need to walk out the door in two minutes—or should have walked out the door two minutes ago—we aren’t camera ready, aren’t even really loving it, this parenting of rush and fluster.

Of course we have those good moments too, moments where our kids stand at the school yard fence, too small to be embarrassed by blowing kisses and kisses and still more kisses and catching ours and stuffing their pockets full for later.  We have those early morning snuggles or those mid-day giggles that fill the pockets of our hearts.  We love that.  We can live for it.  But when our pockets get turned inside out by the day and all we have emotionally left is lint for the hungry child, the dawdling child, the defiant child, we keep on being parents.  We keep on acting in love.  We act in love not because we always feel it but because it is right.  It is good.  We calm ourselves by reacting calmly.  We remind ourselves to love by acting lovingly.

I had a conversation with a friend a few weekends ago.  She shared with me a thought a co-worker presented speaking to a group of new college students.  “Sometimes,” this lady said, “we get so focused on doing the best.  On being the best.  Whatever happened to just settling for good and expecting good.  God looked at his creation and declared it good.  Why can’t good be good enough?”

So, I find myself, wondering about good, wondering about right.  I find more peace there than when I strive for all dreams and all fulfillment all the time.

But my question is:  Is that healthy, whole realism or settling for less than the best?  What do you think?

Planes, Trains and Bicycles

It is 4:05 am on a Saturday morning and I have no little person to blame this wakefulness on.  It is all me.   I found myself very reasonably packing suitcases in my head…5 ½ months early.  Now I like to be organized and all, but this is just plain silly.

I didn’t do it intentionally.  My subconscious started it.

I started in the toy room, thinking of these beautiful gifts the kids received for Christmas. I don’t want to sell them or give them away yet but I know my husband won’t let me just put them all in storage.  We already have to figure out how to get a whole house down to one room.  So I debate shrink-wrapping plastic and think about the Alphabet Train and the Rescue Helicopter and wonder how much does a Lego plane weigh anyways?

And then I remember.  Lucas begged me to bring his bicycle back with us when we go.  The one he got in summer as an early birthday present from my parents.  The one that makes him light up like this.

IMG_3438The snow made me forget.

Ah yes, the bicycle.

And I said to him, “We’ll see what we can do.”  I said that to a 5 year old who still believes his Mommy is half-superhero.  It is practically a yes.

He made a list in his first week here of the things he wanted to bring to back with us and stuck it on the fridge.  It consisted of his bicycle, helmet (safety first!) fire truck, Lego and was modified thereafter to include every prized new possession.

A bicycle.

We did it before with a tricycle.  Let me tell you, handlebars were not meant to be packed in suitcases.  Maybe you already knew that.  You did, didn’t you?

I have about three suitcases mentally packed when I remember the bike.  It is enough to make me get out of bed.

At 4:00 am on Saturday morning, you don’t mince words with yourself.  You don’t try to pull the wool over your own bleary eyes.

I realize precisely why I am doing this.  I am trying to pack up this and bring in there and sneak it past customs.  In six suitcases.  And make it look like we’re not greedy or materialistic to the local family we live with.

They notice everything, you know.  New socks.  New shampoo.  New toys and protein powder and bicycles.

There is no hiding what we bring in.

But it isn’t about them.

I’m trying to bring here there.

I’m trying to make that this.

The toy room, the pantry, my wardrobe, the bicycle.
Cottage cheese, strawberries, whole wheat toast.
Apple sauce, cheddar cheese, mashed potatoes.
The Food Network, FaceBook.  Unlimited texting.
School for my kids. Plush carpet for working out.
Tap water you can drink.
Kleenex.
Grandparents.
Church.
It doesn’t fit.
My kids’ favourite foods.  My family.  Everything that is normal about life.

It just doesn’t fit.

I have to let go.

I just got here and already I’m thinking of letting go.

God grant me grace.