Let That Be Enough

I contemplated naming this post “G-d is a Jerk,” but then it occurred to me that that would probably be a breach of the second commandment (or the third, depending on how you break up your commandments).  So I didn’t (although I think that it probably would have gotten me more click-ity clicks in the old blog post feeds).

And why was I going to give this post such a controversial title?

Well, because (once again) God is making me do things that are completely messing up my plans.

This week was supposed to be my last week here in Kentucky.  I was looking forward to going home to be with my family and back on the farm where there are some new little critters and kitties for me to see.

Then Clarence asked if I could stay a little longer.  I said that I could give him two weeks and that was it.  I was quite adamant that I was going home in May.

Then God happened.  Two weeks ago, I was in the throes of making my final going home plans when suddenly I got the very distinct feeling that what I was doing was wrong.  There were some very good reasons why I should stay and I knew that it would be better for some of the other people around me if I stayed…and I suddenly realized that me leaving would be selfish.  This “you’re wrong” feeling took me so much by surprise that the first thing I did was go to my room and have a good cry.  Because I had really wanted to go home, and now I knew that I couldn’t.  As I have heard some Kentuckians put it: God had “laid it on my heart” that I needed to stay.  And so I’m going to stay.  Until August.  And whither then?  I cannot say.

The fact of the matter is, I wasn’t just crying because I wanted to go home.  I was crying because I know that my faith has not been what it should be.

I’ve been kind of upset with God (oh, what a foolish thing to be!) for a while now.  The fact of the matter is, I hate that I don’t have a plan.  I hate that I have no idea where I’m going.  I hate that I’m nowhere near to having the life that I thought that I would have a few years ago.  The fact of the matter is, although I generally pretend that it doesn’t, it really bothers me that I’m not married and maybe never will be.  It really bothers me that, for a girl who would list family and farm as the two most important things in life (after God), that I might never have my own family and that I might not live in Michigan and that I might not live on a farm.  In short, all of the things that I most wanted, I might never have.  And that really bothers me.  And I’ve been discontented because of it.

That’s why on that day in my room, while I was crying, I couldn’t help thinking:  God, why can’t I ever have what I want?

And it’s not that I haven’t had beautiful experiences and that I’m not enjoying my time here in Kentucky.  Because I am.  I just…want things to be the way that I want them to be.  And I know that that’s wrong.  And I know that God is way smarter and way kinder and way more wonderful than I will ever be.  And I know that whatever he has planned for me is for the best.  But it’s easier to tell myself these things than to believe them with my whole heart to the point where I gleefully declare “Yes, God!  Whatever you want, I’ll do it!”  And I want to be able to do that.  So badly.  But I’m just not there yet.

C.S. Lewis has a wonderful sci-fi trilogy, the second book of which is titled Perelandra.  And in this book, one of the characters says this:

“One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before—that the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished—if it were possible to wish—you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.”

When I read this, I knew that I had been sending my soul after the good that I had expected, instead of the good that I had.  God has given me some truly beautiful gifts over these past few years.  And yet I keep pining after the gifts that he hasn’t given.

The fact is, I shouldn’t constantly feel like I need these extra things to feel loved and happy.  God’s love is enough.  God’s love is MORE than enough.

God, let me know that you love me.  And let me know that that is enough.  Let me know that that is more than enough.

Because until I do, I’m going to be crying in my room over the fact that things are good, but just aren’t good enough.

Which, I am completely willing to admit, is just silly.

 

 

 

Busy Bees

“Wait.  Wait, you guys!  Wait.”

She stood on the edge of the property, a skinny teenage mixture of the Philippines, Korea, and Cambodia.  Behind her glasses blinked a pair of eyes full of uncertainty.

The rest of her classmates were already halfway up the grassy bank, making their way to the area where we were going to be working on a porch as a part of Youthfest (CAP’s alternative spring break for high schoolers).  It had just been announced to all of us that we would have to watch out for bees as we worked, because there were a lot of them around the house.

Hence the uncertainty and the call for a pause in our steps.

I turned to her.  “What is it?  Are you worried about the bees?

“Yeah.”

“Are you allergic?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve never been stung.  Does it hurt?”

I reassured her that while, yes, it doesn’t feel that great to get stung, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and that I myself was allergic, but I wasn’t worried about it because my truck was equipped with Benadryl.  She rejoined her group. Meanwhile I felt a bit of smile pulling at the corners of my mouth.  Here, I thought, we have a city girl.  I wasn’t so sure how well she would do with the housing work if the mere mention of a bee made her want to stay in the car.

But, boy, did she prove me wrong.  (And I love it!)

We needed a post-hole dug.  She was the girl for the job.  Dirt attacked.  Hole dug.

We needed some joist-hangers hung.  She was the girl for the job.  Nails hammered.  Joist hangers hung (and speedily, too!).

We needed someone to drill in some screws.  She’d never used a drill before, but she was eager to try.  In no time at all, she was sticking those screws in those boards like it was nobody’s business.  She was a busy bee.

Bill, the homeowner, stuck his head out the back door to look at our progress.  Knowing our busy bee’s fear of the stinging members of her species, he grinned and hollered “Look out!  There’s a bee behind you.”

But, in the zone of concentration, pushing a screw deep into a board, she didn’t even hear him.

Bees?  Who cares?!  We’ve got work to do.

 

 

Silvery Smiles

Dimes have been popping up in my life a lot lately.

Their small silvery smiles have looked up at me from living room floors, from newly swept dormitories, from laundry room rest stops (i.e. the top of the washer and the counter next to the door – where all lost laundry items stop to take a break).

Now, if this were any old bit of spare change, it wouldn’t have mattered.

But, this wasn’t any old spare change.

These, my friends, were dimes.

My mother has collected dimes for as long as I can remember.  When I was growing up, she kept them in a jar on her dresser.  As a child, whenever I or my brothers came across a dime, we would gleefully declare it and Mom would just as gleefully add it to her collection.  As we got a little older and were better able to understand the monetary value of our dimes, Mom would pay us fifteen cents for every dime we added to her collection (paid for in nickels, of course).  And now, even as an adult, I will still hand my dimes over to her.

And that is why, as dimes randomly popped up around me, at worksites, at Camp AJ, at the volunteer house – I couldn’t help but pause and have a look.  My hand itched to pick them up and save them to hand over to my special dime collector.  But Mom is ten hours away.  And that is why I left the silvery smiles there, waiting for their true owners to pick them up.

But I came across the laundry room dimes in the volunteer house again today, still waiting at their respective rest stops.  They had been there for a while, in need of someone to collect them.

And today, I decided that I would be that someone.  So I picked up the silvery pair between my thumb and forefinger and carried them to my room, where they found a new rest stop on my desk .  And there they shall stay…until once again my feet hit Michigan soil and I am able to say, smiling gleefully:  “Mom!  I have some dimes for you!”

The Chair by the Lake

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It lay there all winter, soaking itself in earth, scratched with brambles, and rusting around the corners.  But today it stands.  There, next to the lake, alone.

I passed it by as I headed back from the last day of Workfest.  It looked out over the spring green waters of Three Lakes and listened to the sounds of Larry loading up his trailer in preparation to head back home.

I can’t help but wonder about this chair.  Who wandered over, dragged it up off of the stack of three in the dirt, and set it up at the edge of the lake?  It could have been anyone, really – a housemate from the top of the hill, one of the cooks or crew leaders from the bottom of the hill, one of the many Workfest volunteers  across the way at camp.

But most of those people have left.  They are packed into cars, making their way from curving Kentucky roads to the interstate.  They are sitting at desks in college classrooms, with a notebook full of notes and a mind full of memories.

Memories of new people met – “Black Crew, where you at?!” Of new skills learned – “Can someone take a picture of me putting up this siding, because my Mom’s never going to believe that I did this.” Of the true meaning of “Hands to work.  Hearts to God.”

Memories of participants standing at the door ready to give out smiles and cook you some breakfast.  Of a dog having puppies while two little girls wait eagerly to hold them.  Of a daughter with a great love for a musician – a king – who died many years before she was born (that’s right:  Elvis).  Of a rag-tag bunch of dogs frolicking while their owner tells stories of her childhood.  Of a lady who could crack a joke at any moment, then touch your heart with the beauty of her prayer.

This chair by the lake stands as a last remnant of these Workfest memories.  I have no idea who put it there, but I have a feeling that it might have had something to do with a boy who wanted to fish.  But it looked lonely – so I sat in it, looking up at the sky.

But then something drew my eyes to the surface of the water.  And I watched as a fish darted beneath the grassy green and a tadpole popped to the surface, then darted back down.  Funny thing was, I had never really noticed the fish in this lake until I sat in this chair.

Sitting in the chair reminded me of laying on my stomach on a trailer in the pasture back home in Michigan, head hanging over the edge, watching for life in the grass.  I marveled at how many different insects could be seen walking across this one patch of earth and thought about just how many bugs’ lives I must be interfering with every time I take a walk.

I don’t think about things like that very often in the regular course of the day – about the bugs beneath the grass or the life that lies just beneath the water.

This chair made me see and think about things that I hadn’t really thought about before.  And that, I think, is one of the beauties of Workfest.  It takes you out of your comfort zone, plops you down in the middle of an unfamiliar place, and makes you take a good long look at it.  And you can’t help but learn – about the world, about humans, about yourself.

This chair by the lake, like camp, stands empty.  But it seems to invite me back.  To come and sit a spell.

Thank you to all those students who answered the call to come to Workfest – to come and sit a spell here in Appalachia.

Don’t be afraid to come on back.

The chair by the lake is lonely.