When I am an old woman
October 7, 2011, 1:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

On my good days I am so good. On my bad days I am so bad. I could say more, but Paul already said it. Romans 7:18-20

When I am an old woman, I will sit in my kitchen listening to the latest This American Life with whoever decides to sit beside me. I will eat grapes as I listen, and play cards or look at the latest pictures from the family. My grey hair will be held up in a bun by the pen I use to journal with the Lord in the morning. My hair will tumble down as I scribble a note, or a grocery list, only to be twisted back up again. All day, up-down-up-down. I will hear the washing machine tumbling, because it is always tumbling, full of someone else’s laundry that I will fold later on. I will pray for the wearer as I fold, and place the anointed coverings in drawers, waiting to see the day they walk out the miracle prophesied over them.

Once I have won my game of solitaire, or the computer stalls as it loads the photos, I will hoist my old bones up and water the flowers in the kitchen window box, and the planters just outside the sliding glass door. I am careful to do it quietly so that I don’t miss any of the precious words on the podcast, bringing me into a walk of life I have never known, alerting me to the pulse of this American land I’m temporarily visiting, informing my prayers and bringing a smile to my face as I marvel at how brilliant or idiotic my countrymen might be. Whoever is sharing the kitchen table with me folds his news paper, and takes his plate to the sink. I will never know what the program said during the rustling or the sink running, but long ago I decided the people near me are infinitely more important than whatever I might want to hear on the radio.

The front door slams shut and the shuffle of feet fill the house as tennis shoes bound up the stairs. Downstairs comes the older one who had been up there already. I love it when she comes into the kitchen, even though she is trying to escape a less than desired roommate. I haven’t seen her since morning devotionals, where she was once again confronted with the truth: God’s love really is enough. It seems too easy to her, she feels too complicated. Her mom messed her up too much, her dad hurt her too badly. I’m glad she’s here, she’ll learn in time that no wound is too deep for the love of Christ. She hugs me. I ask her if she got to journal about the Psalm I suggested. “I tried,” she says. That means that she did it, and doesn’t trust that it did anything. I smile and hug her close, so that we are almost nose to nose. “Its all true. And you are more lovely than I have ever seen any young lady be, ever before. Can you believe that?” She smiles and holds my gaze. She’s trying hard, either to believe it or not to. I’m so glad she’s here.

The man at the table informs us about what he read in the news paper, she rolls her eyes and hugs the top of his head before she grabs her water bottle and heads out to her part time job.

Two boys make their way in and go straight for the pantry, talking about some TV show I don’t watch. I pray that one day they will be more excited by risking they’re lives in the Middle East for the sake of the gospel than they are about entertainment and fantasy football. I know that to be a prayer Jesus loves to answer. It’s time to get they’re hair done again. I better make the appointment. Down comes the hair again as I scribble a note. The laundry buzzes as my middle school friend finally comes in to say hello after her long day at school. I can see on her face that it wasnt a good day.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I say as I take her in my arms. She burries her head in my side and doesnt make a sound.

“She got detention again- that means she has to go to school way early everyday for a week,” volunteers my nappy headed friend in the pantry.

Fighting again. Always fighting. Poor darlin can’t figure out that the Lord fights for her. I look at the man at the table, he knows this is his territory. He comes over, pries her little arms away from me, scoops her up and takes her to the living room. The two of them can alway talk this out. She is learning everyday that she can trust her father, on earth and in heaven. I can see her changing everyday. She comes to us now, even when she has sinned. That is such a victory in itself. Its so hard to watch her continually enter in to physical reactions, even as her heart changes her mind is slow to abandon its survival techniques. I check my e-mail, and sure enough there is a message from her teacher. Its short and to the point. She knows us after so many of our kids have gone through her classroom. “Same stuff, new day. Keep trying, you’re doing great. -Sharon.” I’m so thankful for that woman.

My boys don’t look up from their food and their ‘intense’ discussion. My little girl is talking with Daddy. My big girl won’t be home from work till late. The phone rings, another one of my kiddos is on the line, asking if she can drop off her kids while she hits the grocery store, she needs the time to walk around without the melt-downs and tantrums. She says she doesn’t know how I did it over and over and over again. She says she knows she was way worse than anything her kids have ever dished out. I don’t disagree. I ask the boys what their plans are, and see if they’re willing to babysit their nephews. Finally they are more excited about something than whatever it is they are obsessed with this month. I tell my daughter yes, of course. I’m glad I’ll get to see her face. I ask if she got to e-mail her siblings about Christmas plans. Before she can answer a wail rises up from the background, she says she’ll show me the plans when she gets here. I honestly can’t wait.

Its so nice to have an administrative daughter who can plan this stuff so much better than I can. She reminds me so much of my mother I can’t breathe for a second. They are so much alike, even though they share not a single chromosome. Must have been all the time she spent at their house when I needed a weekend off to catch my breath and get my bearings. I can’t image how she manages to get Christmas together with so much family to work with. They don’t all get to come, but so many do. It’s like a heavenly reunion whenever my kids come home. We share stories of God doing amazing things in our lives. My son prays in faith for healing wherever he goes. My other son is in college and is the boldest evangelist I have ever seen. My daughter runs a mercy house for teen pregnancies, and has discipled so many young women in Jesus. When my other kids are back state side on furlow, I love hearing about how the Lord is moving in the nations. I don’t alway love hearing about the authorities cracking down on foreign aid workers in the region, and getting dangerously close to my babies. But, I learn and relearn everyday to trust my Father with my kids.

I think back on the condition I received them in. I remember hearing the social worker describe the atrocities my babies had faced. I remember the violence and acting out so many of them dealt with. The years of bed wetting from PTSD. The night terrors and subsequent sleepless nights as 3 or 4 or 5 crowded in between us. I remember some of them hating us with all the rage such a tiny body could muster. I remember the teacher conferences, the hospital visits, the court dates. I remember seeing something shift in the hard little faces every time as we took them to the courthouse for adoption day. Seeing a 15 year old gang member weep because he had been chosen. Seeing an 8 year old sleep the whole night through for the first time. Seeing the scars on little girls wrists fade away over the years, and be replaced with Christmas gift charm bracelets. All my girls got them they’re first Christmas home with us, so they would know they weren’t going anywhere. “We gotta fill that sucker up with memories!”

The Lord dealt with us so kindly. He took our lives, and made them beautiful. I used to be so angry, so rash. My mouth would run away with me. One moment I would be building someone up, the next tearing them down. I didn’t even notice the words coming out of my mouth. Year by year, child by child I became a picture of the scripture, “slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to anger,” by God’s grace. I used to find my value in my wit and my tongue. God took that, and replaced it with a crown. He told me my value was in Him, which was infinitely greater worth. I got to pass that on to so many young women over the years. As I jumped into this crazy life I had to cling to Him, or do more harm than good to these sweet people God gave me. I had nothing for them, so He gave me everything. I lost myself, but gained Him and this hoard. This army of warriors for Christ. I gained so many loves. I can’t say they all are where I would like for them to be, but I have loved them. I have loved them and each one of them knows it. They know they are worth loving, and that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. I trust God with those that aren’t living in the fullness of relationship with Him. His arm is not too short to save.

I hear a car pull into the gravel driveway, and I know it is full of grand babies. I walk into the hallway to open the door, and as I’m on my way I catch a glimpse of an old photo of me from when I was a young Christian. I remember loving Jesus so much, and sinning so much. Out of the same mouth came blessing and cursing. I was so upset because whenever I got squeezed, meanness would come out. I remember everyday, repenting and resigning myself to walk in peace and gentility. I would grow in wisdom and the power of God, and then sin sin sin. And meet Jesus in intimacy and sin some more. Back and forth, back and forth just like my little middle school friend in the den with her Daddy. She’ll be ok- I know. The Lord is faithful. He breathes life into dry bones, that we might know that He is the Lord.

He breathes life into dry bones, and raises up an army.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

sitting at my desk wiping tear after tear off my face as they stream down. overcome with love for you. what Papa has done, is doing, and will do is remarkable. i am so thrilled for your life — i could just sit here and cry all day about it. thank you.

Comment by MLJ

One day I will learn. I will learn that I just cannot read these at work, because then everyone who walks by asks me what’s wrong because suddenly I’m crying.

Comment by Mommy

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