Garden Antics

It is spring. And with it comes the beginning of planting season (read: weeding season) in the garden. So, recently I found myself having this conversation with Kurt and thought I should share because, well, yeah, this is kind of how our conversations roll. It went something like this:

Him: I don’t think we should grow the vining plants on the garden fences this year because the deer eat too much of them.
Me: They only occasionally eat the outside of the plants and not even all of them. It’s not the end of the world. And anyway, it is the most practical way to grow those darn beans.
Him: We can just get some trellises to put inside and put up a bigger fence.
Me: That costs too much. I read in a book recently that you can scare off pesky animals with urine. We could just pee on the plants.
Him: (Edging close to exasperated) So, that’s your solution. We are going to PEE. On our food.
At which point I was lost because somehow it sounded better in my world, before he put it that way. But I have to admit, I did see his point. 
An hour later I was walking out of my dentist appointment still giggling so at least there was an upside to the idea, even if it has some major draw backs.  (I mean, who doesn't appreciate a good chuckle, outside Grumpy Dwarf maybe but really, what does he have to be so grumpy about anyway? He lives with 6 best friends and has a beautiful, sweet woman to do all his housework and cooking. And of course, he totally doesn't exist. Unless maybe Kurt is Grumpy.....but then, he isn't a dwarf. Although, I might very well be able to claim the role of Snow White. That would explain a lot....)
Him: What are you laughing at.
Me: Peeing on our garden veggies. 
Him: Yeah. I'd like to see you out there trying to do that. 
I'm pretty sure he means that as a dare.....maybe I could just use the kids' pee in a spray bottle though. It would be a little less conspicuous that way. 
(Note: I have this strange feeling that I am going to have far less people interested in my garden veggies this year. I guess it works on deer and humans.....)


Life Anew

"Mom, can a cheetah run as fast as our car?" Lily asked.
"Depends on how fast I'm driving but it could run as fast as we are driving right now," I told her.
She replied, "Well, ya know, I wish Aidan were a cheetah, because well, he's kinda fast and he'd definitely be more fun as a cheetah."



It came. It happened. And we are living on the other side. Thankfully.

This year, my Easter experience was like looking through a magnifying glass at my own inner life. Try it sometime. It's kind of scary. 

This year, just like the last few years, I was asked to play violin for our church's Good Friday service. This year, like in the past few, I said yes. This year, like in the others, I was given freedom to pick the music that would be the connective tissue of the service, flowing between speakers as if to unite them in some magical and mysterious way. 

This year, unlike the previous few, I did not have the full 40 days of the Lenten season to wander with the music, ingraining it into my motor memory and stamping it upon my soul. Instead, I had a week and a half. Apparently, that is not enough for someone of my meager talent and ability.

We chose to do the violin music written by John Williams for the movie Schindler's List. The music is haunting and beautiful. It is dark and deep and written with such precision and clarity that the emotion almost oozes out of the notes. It almost plays itself. Almost. 

I love this music. I love it beyond what is normal. My heart cries in agony for the chilling story that it is meant to convey. The character of the piece grips me and forces me into a place I do not wish to remain for too long, yet I cherish every moment spent there. Really. It is powerful. 

And I wanted it to be that kind of story and power for those who would be in the congregation on Friday night. I wanted it to speak to their hearts the secrets, the sorrow, the gift of Good Friday that perhaps they have not yet known. I wanted God to be there, in the music, wrapping them up and filling them with the sacred. I wanted Him to use me to tell the story of Good Friday. And I wanted it to be perfect. 

That is not what happened. 

What did happen during worship was as haunting for me as the music is supposed to be, yet without the beauty of the melodies. I messed up early and became timid and nervous and with each passing mistake of tone or intonation, my music froze as if I had never seen the notes before. It was not what I had hoped for. It was not what I had envisioned. It was not what I had practiced and rehearsed. Sure, there were some beautiful spots here and there, there were some moments of magic, it wasn't a total train wreck. But it was so far from perfect, so far from what I had expected, I could hardly fathom that it had been me up there making such a mess of such an incredible piece. 

At the end of the service with the lights out, the darkness of night engulfing the sanctuary and the congregants quietly exiting the space, I slowly put my violin back in its case. Heartbroken. I felt a state of remorse and shock and regret wash over me. How could it have been THAT bad? 

Madeline and Aidan hurried up to me. Madeline's bright eyes beaming in the darkness. "You were wonderful, Mommy!" she exclaimed. And she truly meant it. 

"I made a mistake," I said to her, head hung low; how big the mistakes loomed in my mind.

"Actually, Mom, you made several," Aidan said. "But, I don't think everyone noticed really." And he really meant it too, at least the first part. 

I left with my spirits all but completely shot. I think it is what they call gloom.

That night, I tossed and turned in fitful sleep and with Solomon up a handful of times during the night I was often left awake with my thoughts and those feelings of self-doubt, embarrassment and sorrow. I was raw with an inner conflict between my desire (and dashed hopes) to perform well and my desire to worship God authentically regardless of how I "perform."  I felt tortured by my unmet expectations. But what I was truly wrestling with was pride. I had allowed my ego to rear its ugly head, completely cutting me off from the end goal, which is not perfection but devotion. I had allowed my inner critic to be the solo voice in my head, shutting off the voice of love and grace I have come to know so well. And in the midst of it, my inner child, who apparently still craves approval and longs for praise, had come to the surface, grabbing hold of whatever she could, drowning me in the process.

In the grand scheme of things, the conflict seems silly and trite. Was I being over dramatic? Sure. But it pushed me into a very dark and remorseful place. As I told a friend recently, I don't flirt with that dark place too often but it is so heavy when I find myself there. I feel real compassion for all those who mourn and suffer pain of any kind. Grief is so tough. And this was nothing compared to what so many people go through on a daily basis. Yet there I was.

On Saturday morning, I had a date with my treadmill; nineteen miles long during which I was able to finish the book "Where is God When it Hurts" by Philip Yancey. And it struck me how God does not accept us for our perfection (thank heavens for that!) but because we are His and no matter what mess I made of that beautiful piece on Friday night, no matter what else in my life I truly mess up for there are certain to be many, He takes me as I am and accepts my offering because it was done for Him.  And the music, so very real, so very like my life, chalk full of mistakes and failures and a few beautiful moments to hold it all together, was what I had to give that night. It obviously wasn't enough for my ego but thankfully, that isn't what matters...sometimes we just have to get over ourselves for Easter isn't about what we did for God but what God did, and still does, for us and within us. 

My prayers for humility are being answered, ever so slowly, ever so painfully, but they are being answered. And as I watched my kids glow with excitement Easter morning, I was once again renewed. This was a new day, a new beginning. I have been entrusted with this beautiful family and am humbled and amazed by how much love these kids pour out on me and Kurt on a daily basis; mistakes, imperfections and all. And that, my friends, is God's love. 

While Easter this year didn't turn anyone into a cheetah, (thank God for that too as I'm not sure how I'd explain that one to Kurt!) it offers us a chance to start life anew: a chance to "shine like stars in the universe" because of the love and grace we have been given, a gift meant for sharing. Will you join me?


A sampling of our rehearsal, complete with mistakes, corrections and all, and sadly better than the worship service, can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/39559197

Password: Good Friday