Good and perfect gifts

We interrupt this load of laundry to bring you a special stone:

Such is life with kids.

My son burst in from the backyard as I sorted through the fabric sea that had become my laundry room. “Mom, can I show you this rock?”

Of course. There’s nothing I would love more in this moment than a distraction.

“It’s really cool ’cause it’s all smooth and black and it’s got this neat line in it.”

Yes, it is really cool. In a backyard filled with jagged gray and white or milky pea gravel, it’s an utterly unique find. A gem.

“I think I’m gonna smash it.”

And off he went, set to smash this gem of a find. Also, I was now putting together the sounds of hammers I’d been hearing. Let’s just chalk that up to fostering independence and creative thinking. And LAUNDRY. 

It got me thinking, though. How often are we just like this? We have a gift (let’s say, I don’t know, writing. Or for you it might be sewing or a love of food/books/basketball/etc.). A special gem placed in our heart by the Creator. A unique and special gift

How often do we smash it with the hammer of our lives, our schedules, or feelings that this gift really doesn’t provide anything truly useful?

God is good to give us what we need. We can get so caught up in what we don’t have, but what about the things we have that we think we don’t need: gifts, and what they could give if we took the time to cherish them. We must need them, or He wouldn’t have chosen them so deliberately.

“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed…Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:14, 16-18). 

God gave us our gifts, and He is solid, not shifting. His decisions are not made without the seal of perfection. In other words, He didn’t get your gift mixed up with anyone else’s, and He didn’t throw it in just because it was lying around. We were given these gifts as a sign of the many and various fruits of His creativity, no matter how we try to deceive ourselves otherwise. Their existence is their usefulness, as is their enjoyment. 

So my question is, what are you doing with those gifts? Are you cherishing them? Ignoring them? Or are you smashing them, simply because life (or your laundry-minded mom) gave you a hammer and that seems way more useful, constructive, or satisfying? What are you missing out on through that destruction?

As a side note, my son wasn’t out the door before he changed his mind. The stone remains, beautiful, as are we all.


Live and let die

My tomatoes are dying. The leaves turned yellow, making their way to the top, and are covered with a light dusting of something the internet suggests is fungus. The internet also suggests that I race to Home Depot for fungicide. This isn’t going to happen. Instead, the tomatoes will just die as they did last year and the year before, along with my dreams of tomato gratin and tomato salad and tomato sandwiches.

They’re in good company. The zucchini, the squash, the green beans–they’re all dying too. I have copious amounts of basil and oregano, which isn’t particularly useful since I have no vegetables with which to pair them. The lawn, the flowers, the shrubs are all in some level of yellowed weariness. I’m just not good at gardening.

The thing is, I’m supposed to be good at gardening. We come from farming stock, B and I, and we garden every year. Unsuccessfully. Still, people believe I’m a gardener, which I spend a lot of energy trying to live up to. It’s not an uncommon thread, this feeling that I must live up to the expectations of other people. I can think of a half dozen labels just like this one that I long to shed. The shedding of them, though, is another matter. I don’t want people to think I’ve given up, or that they don’t know who I am. But in a lot of cases, I think I’m just figuring that out, and they’re bound to be as confused as I am.

At the end of eight months of dealing with this confusion, the bulk of it spent on my knees and in the Word, paring down the plants of the world to identify what God really created, I’m finally seeing the light. My purpose? To be a wife and mother and friend. And, to my multitasking chagrin, that’s about it. Other people may be created to do a lot of different things, but not me. Learning to be okay with that has been the first step to being truly happy.

It’s not easy. I’ve spent so long telling myself these things are me that I find myself holding on to them with superhuman strength. I suppose that’s why it takes God to wrench them from my grasp. I worry about what other people think, what they think I’m giving up, and what I’m actually giving up. But if I can stay there, in God’s will for my life, it’s like the peaceful eye of a tornado. It’s the staying there that’s so hard.


Everything’s coming up rosy

Since K is now using M’s twin bed, she’s been stuck with his old blue sheets. I really did try to find her cute girly sheets, but everything I could find was only a cotton/polyester blend. Which just doesn’t fly for me. Really, am I supposed to prefer wrinkle-free sheets to soft cotton sheets? Unless this means I won’t get more wrinkly, I’ll pass.

So being the resourceful (i.e. cheap) person that I am, I bought some fabric dye. After a long and stressful process, I produced two batches of dark pink sheets. Brilliant! K was so very pleased to have her very own sheets, and she didn’t seem to mind at all that they were all different shades of dark pink and none of them the pretty pink purple I promised. Good thing kids have short memories. I myself was extremely proud that I managed to dye them without dying myself or anything else, and that my washer did not, at any time, produce another load as pink.

Until now. Apparently I celebrated too soon, because now I have a load full of pinkish clothes, including the sheets to our bed, a pair of B’s jeans, and one very pink M sock. I couldn’t even luck out and have two pink socks, so that K could use them. So this weekend’s project? Un-dyeing, which feels just as stressful/water-wasteful/tedious as the original dye job. Cotton/polyester is sounding better all the time.