Signs of Life

I walked through the house and no bed was made. The rug that I vacuumed just yesterday now possesses a mixture of dust and dog hair once again. The tile floor near the front door greets us with remnants of outside. Tools lay beside the fire place. A blanket rests on the chair. Leftover tacos array the dining room table and a line of trash bags filled to the brim quietly await their new destination.

Soccer shin pads, hair products and a used rag decorate the living room table. The family room has an array of items everywhere. A laundry basket full of clean clothes beg to return to their home. A half empty cup from a local restaurant sits on the desk and the carpet is, well let’s just say that its not spotless!

There is noise coming from on the bedrooms, “Keep it up and I’ll shave your eyebrows in your sleep,” I hear baby brother taunting his big brother. Big sister sits in the middle of the messy family room and coaches her younger brother on a paper that is due in a few days.

The little girls take turns organizing the pantry as they take turns playing with the baby we are babysitting. Dad is on the telephone encouraging one of our pastors and I’m just feeling fortunate.

Life goes on here.

The younger brother is desperate for more help! It’s Friday and his paper is due soon. Big sister has to pack for a job interview  that’s three hours away.

Once the older brother is done putting his “taunter” in his place, he sits on the sofa to help his younger brother.

The girls are done with the pantry and find every excuse as to why they don’t need to sit at the school table! The “taunter” takes the baby from them and moves on the throw punches at dad in the air while he is on the telephone. Dad gives him a look to say, “I can’t play now.” The “taunter” moves on.

Life goes on here.

The girls get the baby back and ssshh him to sleep. Older brother wants to shower, but the younger won’t let him leave. His paper is due soon, plus today is Friday and he wants to have fun over the weekend! He needs this done now!

Life goes on here.

There’s a dance recital tonight. I need to take the girls dress shopping. I should be thinking of my next step. My next activity. The thing that comes after this.

But I’m swallowed into this space. I’m grounded here. I’m lost in this moment. I’m locked in the realm of right now. I just want to hold on to now.

This disordered house is just a sign of the loving lives that live here. We value the significance of each moment spent together way more than a clean house. I’m not making excuses for our sloppiness. The house really is a mess today, but right now; at this moment, I don’t care.

The Dominguez clan, this corner of the universe, this moment, our togetherness right now make way more sense to me than my next step.

Life goes on here.

Brother and sister helping the younger brother to succeed means more than having a clean carpet at this moment. The “taunter” feeling free to live up to his name carries more weight than the messy trash. Dad pouring out life brings more value than having a clean floor.

That cluttered family room is a true sign of life. It tells us that life goes on here. Lives are alive and living. Lives that are consistently making dents into the dreams that possess each heart here -live here. Lives that won’t stop living. What sense does it make to be alive and to not live?

These lives, the Dominguez lives, are sometimes messy. No matter how well we clean up on the outside, ever so often we find mayhem on the inside. Like the blue rug on my living room floor, we sometimes find ourselves dirty right after a good cleaning!

Such is life. If we would all choose the road of brutal truth, everyone would agree. We are all sinners saved by grace. Joint heirs with Christ simply because of His sacrifice, not because of our ability to stay clean. We couldn’t do it on our own. He had to come to save us.

I’ve come to appreciate the jumble. Messy people and messy homes are both signs of life. I’ve learned to stop and to embrace each moment, even those that are full of debris. If there were never any disarrayed moments in life, we would never see the glory of our Father. We would never know of His amazing power if chaos never existed.

The wonderful reality is that Christ found me in my wreckage. I was really dirty. Sin had become my friend, yet in that place I was discovered. I was loved. I was accepted. He embraced me in my hodgepodge of ugliness. I found freedom in the midst of my messy heart through God’s love.

This disarrayed view within my home today gives me hope. It tells me that we are alive. It tells me that we are awake. It tells me that life continues. Out of this messy heap arises a hopeful bunch of lovers ready to show up everyday all of the time.

I’ll get to the next step. I’ll clean up in a few. But right now, I just want to embrace this expanse in time. I cherish the blemished carpet simply because of those who made it that way.

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The Person of Love

The sun glared through the window as I contemplated getting out of bed. My thoughts roamed to another time. A distant place. In retrospect, it was a brief moment in history. Moments that are now memories, like vapors in the air. They existed for a short expanse and they are forever gone. My misty eyes became a fountain. Tears of sadness, regret, joy, fulfillment, gain, loss, salvation and demise are all wrapped up in this juncture.

Twenty-four years, eight children, three states and two countries later, here I lie. Soaked in the river of my sobs, I finally see. My blinders are removed, the mask is no  more. It’s just me. Raw. True. Me.

My body aches. My head throbs. Life happened too fast.

I pulled my aching body out of bed. Life must go on. I hurried to shower and to dress. I promised to babysit today.

Later, I sat on my sofa and held my friend’s grandson. I’ll be a grandmother sometime too. Life happened too quickly.

Once the baby was asleep and each of my own children were executing their duties for the day, I sat. I pondered. I thanked God. It hasn’t been easy. Life has been mysterious. This unending supernatural ride and magical journey has been intense.

The hard brought on the easy. The monotony of “easy” only caused me to dig deeper. It evoked in me a search for further distances. It incited a deep curiosity within that seemed too difficult to satisfy.

The baby’s grandma sent me a text, “I’m coming to see him when I get off work.” His grandpa stopped by in the middle of his work day, “Let me hold him.” He cradled the sweet creation to his chest. I remember when that grandpa held his own babies that way. His grandma and grandpa love him. Oh God! He is loved.

I started out my life with plans. My main goal was to please God at all times. I messed that one up time after time. I purposed to be an amazing wife. I got that one wrong too. And oh…I would be the best mom ever! Well, I guess you figured out the answer to that one as well.

Twenty-four years of marriage, eight kids, three states and two countries under my belt and I’m tired. Why shouldn’t I be? I worked hard at pursuing my goals. Though I now realize that my pursuit was in vain.

Hear me out! I’m not depressed. I’m not regretful. I’m not angry. I’m just real.

The simple, plain in my face truth is that I tried too hard. I put so much effort into a system that was designed for my failure. This man made arrangement was never God’s intent.

The baby began to cry, so I dropped what I was doing to hold him. My current activity did not mean as much to me as this baby in this moment knowing for sure that I love him. You see, this is my friend’s grand baby. This friend and I carried our babies at the same time. We fumbled through our newlywed days together.

This friendship is deep. She knows my secrets. I only have a few friends like her. I cherish them. I cherish her. I cherish her grand baby. The sacred reality of an assurance of love passed down through time exists right here, right now. As I comfort this precious creature that connects me to yesterday, I can only be assured of one thing. God loves me.

Through all of my wanderings, questioning, doubt, fear and sin, He loved me. Through every achievement, victory, smile, triumph and great deed-He loved me.

When I whimpered like a baby. When I got it all right. When I respected my husband and when I was flippant, God loved me. He loved me.

The baby’s mom arrived early to pick him up, “They let me off earlier than I expected,” she proclaimed with a smile. She snuggled the product of her love and said, “I don’t want to go back to work.” Love made her say that. My girls showed her pictures of us all holding hm throughout the day. He was loved.

Love reigned all around us. Love epitomized our beings. Love superseded our differences of opinion. You can’t have any type of relationship for over twenty years and never disagree.

Love super sized our belief in one another. We knew one another in the beginning. We know where we are today. We know what it took to get here.

Love became the overarching thought of the day. Love beats all. Love never fails. That means that love always works.

Through the good and the bad. When my face is made up and when its full of tears, love wins.

Now I understand why the virtuous woman smiles at her future. She also understood that it wasn’t about her. She realized that God loved her and His love would carry her throughout the next twenty four years of life.

God is the Person of Love and if that Person invades and abides in me, I too can love. My formulas failed anyway. I’m physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted by my own techniques. How about me allowing Love to lead my way-everyday?

The ability to rely on Love at all costs is extremely risky. Love with arms wide open often times experiences painful blows. But you know, Christ’s love got knocked all the way down. Yet, It rose! Love is so full of energy that it just can’t stay down. Love resurrects dead dreams and resuscitates hopeless hearts.

Love got me here. It wasn’t my formula. It wasn’t my ability to get each step right. It wasn’t my strength. It most definitely wasn’t my faith because only God knows that I lack in that area too!

It was Love! It was the Person of Love. For God is Love. For God so loved me. Yes, it was Him. It is Him. He has been my breath all along. He has been my provision all along. He has been my healer all along. He has been my strength, my impetus for success, my drive, my friend, my everything. It’s been Him!

The baby has been long gone. He’s back at home with his mom and dad loving on him. My husband is on the soccer field watching our little girl practice. I’m sitting in the car as the drizzle begins and I’m convinced that the years to come will be amazing!

Oh, they will be filled with curves and straight lines, mountains and valleys, happiness and sadness, disappointment and relief, triumph and failure; because that’s life. But I know without a shadow of doubt that it will be filled with love.

The Person of Love is riding this out with me. I’ll be ok. I’ve simply learned to determine my blessings based upon the One who blesses me. Not my circumstances.

So as the child soccer stars gleefully kick their balls in wonder across the field and the proud dad gazes at the product of his Love; I stand assured that the Person of Love consumes them as well. I glance down the field and see my man. Twenty four years and counting. Love got us this far, we won’t be turning back.

Onward we go with the Person of Love holding us together and binding our hearts more and more each day. Love is with us, Love is in us, Love made us, Love kept us and Love is who we are.