Thursday, May 10, 2012

teflon tape

The first time I visited the home of a widow in our church, I commented on the beauty of her wood floors.  "I just had them done," she said.  "It was the first big thing I did on my own after my husband died, so its a pretty big deal."  I had never thought about that before.

My first big thing after the separation was moving.  Of course, if you're reading this, you are likely among the 35+ people who showed up to help.  So, I can hardly claim that it was something I did "on my own."  But, I had to come to point of being brave enough to leave my home.  The only home that my 11 year old remembers.  The house with the breakfast nook where I sat with students and friends in the big, squishy, second-hand chairs. The home where we recorded the heights of the kids and many TU students on the door jamb.  It was kind of hard to leave it.  And, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

There are some things that I have always done - married or not.  For example, I learned early on that if I wanted an hour or two of absolute peace I could mow the lawn.  And so that has always been my job.  I'm sure now that I have done a great disservice to my boys and especially their future wives.  Because, in the boys' minds, no doubt mowing the lawn is not their job.  This is a practice for which I have been scolded many times.  I've heard, "you need to get those boys out here to do that" at least a dozen times.  I also knew that if I were the one driving the car on long trips, then I wouldn't be the one turning around to replace pacifiers, blow noses, threaten, or feed the kids.  So I drove.  everywhere.

Tonight I went to the utility room for a hammer and nail and found the water heater spraying hot water everywhere.  I waded through an inch of water to try to find the right valve to cut the stupid thing off. 

First response, panic.  Then get a teenager out of bed - but neither of us could budge the valve.  Next, try a nearby friend.  Did I mention it was late?  No answer - call his wife, no answer.  Panic some more, because there's water everywhere and I. am. alone. 

So I nearly have a breakdown but then it hits me - I can do this.  Its just water.  Nobody is going to die here tonight.  I scramble around frantically looking for some Teflon tape because, even if it doesn't work to wrap a whole roll of Teflon tape around the pipe, somebody somewhere will be amazed and impressed that I even know what Teflon tape is and how to use it.  This situation, by the way, is not what you use Teflon tape for but I was desperate.  Can't find it.  I could take you to it in the old house - in my sleep and blindfolded - but I can't find it here.  Oh well, I'm smart enough to figure out how to contain a few gallons of water.  I can mop.  I can use towels. I need a 9x13 pan to fit into a tight spot, but that's ok because I have one.  I can find a 24-hour plumber online and call.  Its just a phone call and a nice, albeit sleepy guy with a truck full of valves and pipes and wrenches will show up at my door and make this little problem go away.  Took him 20 minutes.  

Moments of crisis make me feel like I'm alone.  I hate that.  Because as soon as I think I'm alone, I've added to the crisis.  What was just, "Oh grief, the water heater is leaking" becomes this wave of emotion that wipes out all reasonable thought.  But the reality is, I know what Teflon tape is.  I can do this.  And I'm not alone - not really.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

we rest

I sat across the table from a friend for an hour and a half.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a month so there was a lot of catching up to do.  She’s a good friend.  Her story is like mine… sort of.  In many ways, it’s much worse.  In others, not so much.  And that is why we are friends.  Sometimes I think it’s like perfect strangers who survive a plane crash.  I didn’t know you before my life blew all to pieces, but we’ll be connected forever.

They say that misery loves company.  I suppose.  But this friendship is not about misery, though we have misery moments.  This friendship is about…well…friendship, but it’s also about hope.  It’s about understanding.  I get her.  She gets me.  Every now and then one of us will say something, draw a word picture to explain how we feel and the other will have an ah-ha moment.  Yes!  That’s exactly how I feel and I just haven’t been able to put words to it. 

So anyway, we sat there and covered the past weeks of our lives.  About 5 minutes before she had to be somewhere else, we were lamenting the reality of our teenagers going off to college and moving on.  And she said, “I don’t want my daughter to get married,” and out-of-the-blue started to cry.  This was not a comment from a young mother talking about her 3 year old – something nostalgically cute and sweet about an event that could happen 20 years from now.  And, it was not something I laughed off as if to say, “silly girl, of course you’ll want her to marry when the time comes.”  It wasn’t an exaggeration. 

I knew exactly what she meant.  She may as well have said, “I don’t want my daughter to suffer as I have suffered.”  In fact, what she did say was, “I will kill him – I will kill any guy who hurts her.”  And I knew she meant it.  It didn’t matter that her daughter was not engaged or even dating seriously.  There was no pressing situation.  No real expectation that her daughter’s marriage would ever fail.  But the mere fear and dread of a hurt so deep and painful being inflicted on your child is overwhelming.  It would be enough to make a person chuck all the teaching on marriage and family that she had ever heard in favor of a life free of commitment and the pain that comes with it.

And this is the beauty of the gospel.  Christ coming in as the perfect husband to pursue what is his.  To bring us to himself.  If it weren’t for the gospel, I would have no hope for my children or my friend’s kids.  I don’t know how people cope with tragedy without knowing that there is a sovereign God who knows about all of it and will not stop coming after his children.  I can rest.  My friend can rest.  And our children must learn to rest, no matter what.  We rest on Christ.  He cannot love us more than he already does.  He will not choose to love us less.  

No matter what, we rest.


Tonight as I was putting Charis to bed she said, "You know what's frustrating?  At school everybody knows me as Ben's little sister, or Kali & Rachel's little sister. Ugh!  It's so annoying!"  "Well," I said, "in 2 years it will be just you over there and then...."  She interrupted, "Ya, and then nobody will know me at ALL!!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

i'm up.

I'm up.  studying for a final tomorrow.  My anatomy & physiology professor promised a 'Study Guide' on Thursday.  She posted it yesterday and I didn't get it until today.  It said helpful things like "know everything about the stomach" and "know everything about the pancreas."  OK, so... not so much helpful.  So here I am trying to make sure that all the little missed facts get crammed in somehow.

Anyhow, all this middle of the night, doubleshot-fueled studying reminded me of the note I wrote on Facebook a couple months ago.  I wanted to re-post it here for a Facebook-less friend. 
I'm in college. Again.

Today I went to college.  I’ve actually been going to college for a month now.  But today?  Today I went in my grubby jeans and my favorite 10 year old, bleach-spotted, Covenant Seminary sweatshirt.  It occurred to me as I walked from my car to class that in all my previous years of school and college, I never wore grubby jeans and a sweatshirt.  Christian schools and colleges are funny like that.  They tend to like skirts on women – at least they did in the *cough* 80’s.   I never set foot in a public school classroom until last month.

So, anyway, here I am going to community college to Freshman Comp (yes, again) and Human Anatomy and Physiology in my jeans and favorite sweatshirt, and I keep running into my kids’ friends who look at me as if I surely must be lost.  Then we have an awkward conversation that goes something like this:

Me:  Oh hi, I know you.
19 year old:  Hi, Mrs. Knorr – what are you doing here? (as if my backpack doesn’t give it away)
Me:  I’m taking classes – haha – I know, it’s hilarious.  And you really should call me Denise
19 year old:  Wow! OK.  That’s awesome.

And then there’s the sweet guy who talks on the phone to his girlfriend in the stairwell before class every day and opens the door for me every day and calls me ma’am.  every.  day.

OK.  It could be worse.

Wait, it is worse.  I guess I need bifocals!  The Walgreen reading glasses work just fine except they give me a headache and I cannot get the book far away enough from my face when I’m sitting in those desks.  It’s hilarious.  So I either have to keep them down on my nose and look over them to see the teacher and PowerPoint, or I have to slide them up on my head like a headband for my hair.  Half the time they only make it to my forehead.  I cannot imagine how ridiculous I must look to these kids.

But I am doing it.  I’m going back to school.  I’m starting over.  I’m almost 46 years old, but I guess that’s ok.

And so Jesus is in the business of making everything new.  He has been doing it and he will not stop.  It’s fun to watch.  Actually, it’s often been terrifying to watch.  But he is good and his love endures forever.