Friday, April 16, 2010

Super Fix-it Woman a.k.a. Mom

It might be a slight exaggeration to say that I achieved Superhero status this week.

Spring has sprung, mud season has nearly ended and bikes have been unpacked from the Blue Shed.

Everyone was amazed to discover that his or her bikes had shrunk during the Winter.  Fortunately, we have bikes to spare.  All bikes lined up.  Everybody finds one that fits and off they go, one after another, flying in the wind down the driveway and dirt road.  Jumping off small dirt ramps as if it were a motocross exhibition.  Mud puddles parting and causing small tidal waves of splashes and splatter that will put Oxyclean to the test.  Passage to distant corners of our local universe suddenly available to all.

Well, not quite all.

There was one problem.  Jonathan, who at three-and-a-half has moved up in rank to full amigo companion to the other two amigos and accustomed to joining in the adventures of any of the older siblings (he's not your average 3-year-old!), is unable to ride a bike.  Left in the dust near the house, or dangerously hitching rides on other bikes - something needed to be done.

I knew just the thing.  Training wheels.  Now.

Out came the wheels, which I was surprisingly able to find in a bag in the back of a laundry room cabinet on my first try.  Next, the only open-ended wrench I saw in the tool box was the right size, which I consider a minor miracle.  Standing on the front porch with training wheels and wrench in hand, I called for the boys to bring me the smallest bike, currently riderless and abandoned in the shed.

There was skepticism, but the boys delivered the bike.  I proceeded to take the rear-wheel-assembly apart while Ben wondered out loud if it might be better to wait for Dad, and Sam crouched next to me watching closely to make sure I didn't lose any parts while offering commentary on the best way to approach the project.  I proceeded to reassemble the wheel, this time with perfectly placed training wheels out to the side.

Mission accomplished!  Cheering actually erupted among the crowd. They were quite impressed.

I became aware that a suspicion was forming in their minds that I might actually be a Superhero.  Some recent evidence of Super Fix-it powers.

Putting training wheels on the bike without losing a single nut or washer.
Getting the Lego piece out of the vacuum cleaner tubing–– a deep and mysterious task.
Painting not one, but two bedrooms while Dad was out of town (Ok this was mostly due to Grandma's hard work, but I got some credit, too...)
Fixing the plaster on an old crumbling wall in the staircase.
Fixing the loose baseboards in my bedroom.
Figuring out how to move the giant circa 1960's deep freeze when half a dozen eggs fell and smashed behind it (this event was worthy of an "I Love Lucy" episode... and I may yet write about it)
Unplugging a bathroom sink with nothing but ingredients from the kitchen and a plunger.  Bonus!  Vinegar and baking soda provide exciting chemistry lessons while the sink gets clean.

I vividly remember the day I thought my Dad had acquired true magical powers - having secretly installed an automatic garage door opener and with remote in his windbreaker pocket, he amazed my 6-year-old me with commanding the door to open and close by saying the magic word "abracadabra!"    When he showed me how the remote worked, I was no less amazed.

These days, wireless and remote technology of any kind is taken for granted by my kids.  Of course we can get email while sitting in the parking lot.  Who ever heard of a phone with a cord?  Even one of our air conditioners has a remote.   I'm not sure some of the kids are aware that the TV channels can be changed by buttons on the machine itself, leading to small panics when the remote control is no where to be found and the Olympics are about to begin.

But observable Fix-it Skill with actual tools, multiple parts, and preferably some grease, paint or other substance to leave small smears of evidence on jeans and cheeks and Mom's frizzy hair is still quite impressive.

At least to boys between the ages of 3 and 7.  If you're looking for a bit of an ego boost, I recommend keeping a few around.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Light and joy keep poking in...

Recently, I was thinking about the meaning of communion and the symbolism of His body broken for me, and His blood poured out for me, and unexpectedly I had an upwelling of love for our Lord Jesus and His sacrifice for us. It was wonderful for affections for Him to break through the mundane superficiality of my life and the experience was received as a gift. I knew there was nothing in me that had changed. He had opened my heart and I was grateful. Heading into Holy Week and Easter weekend I was hoping that by my own observance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and then the joyful Resurrection Sunday that I could somehow recapture those feelings I had a few weeks ago, and also, somehow think deeply and dig deeply into my heart to get the whole picture of what He has done for us, for me. Instead–I've been sleep deprived, busy, irritable and distracted and I'm flying up to Easter with only surface attention to the passing days. How like God to give me a gift when it is obviously not of my own work and then to let me see what happens when I try to "make" my own experience!

When I was in the middle of my deeper affections a few weeks ago, I found myself reading through the Passion Week scriptures and really noticing the experience of the women who were closest to Jesus. Oh, what love! What darkness they experienced to the core of their being! And finally, what joy! They followed Him to the cross; they watched the horror unfold; they clung together; they watched their last hope fade; they watched Him suffer on the cross; they stayed until He died from crucifixion; they watched as His death was confirmed with a spear thrust to the side; they stayed to see Him taken down; they followed to see Him laid in the tomb; they left to prepare spices and ointment as darkness fell; they observed the Sabbath and left the tomb alone for agonizing hours as He lay alone, His body unprepared; they came again to anoint His body as soon as they could possibly call it dawn; they arrived to find an empty tomb; they were greatly distressed; they received the good news and explanation of the resurrection from angels; one stayed and heard the Lord Himself speak her name; they returned to the disciples to share the news of the angels and with the report of seeing Him alive... only to be received as women speaking idle talk.

But–their story was confirmed–He appeared again, and again, and again.

They loved, they feared, they followed, they watched, they were devastated, they were confused, they grieved, they cared, they waited, they went to care for his body–all dark, dark days. I try to imagine the darkness of their grief, but it is well beyond my experience. Then they were the first to hear the good news from angels, to find the empty tomb on the third day . . . just as He promised. Mary, lingering and thinking that her grief had been compounded by enemies stealing her Lord's body, is instead called by name by the resurrected Jesus. Her joy is well beyond what I can imagine.

Thinking through my impossible plan to try to feel my way through the weekend really experiencing the dark leading up to Easter, and then the joy–I find that I'm never able to get to that place of grief because the joy and light keep poking in. I'm too tired to concentrate on keeping them out and feel the darkness. I know He is alive! I can't forget the Good News because it is the strength and joy of my life. I don't feel separated from my Lord during Good Friday. I am, at times, overwhelmed with what He has done to atone for sin, once for all. But death could not keep Him in the grave. His sacrifice is perfect and He conquered death for Love and His Glory. At the same time He is here with me on my superficial, tired days, leading me and carrying me and taking me where I need to be step-by-step and giving me the gifts of feeling His presence and feeling deep affection for Him when it is best for me.

Let us remember His suffering.  Let us believe in Him and receive His salvation. Let us be transformed into His bride. And if in our weakness, poor affections and pale imagination we can't grieve properly on this Good Friday for our Lord's dark day or for our sins, let us rejoice that we live on this side of Easter and that what He has accomplished is not dependent on what we do at all.

Yes, let us rejoice this Easter and every day, for the Lord is Risen, Indeed!

Treasure from the Junk Drawer
copyright © Sara Shull
•All text and poetry by Sara
•Art illustrations by Sara
•Photos by Sara or the Shull kids
~~~~All rights reserved~~~~

Bible verses:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV)