Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful for Him

"All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

A week ago today, I heard the voice of God.

Rest eternal grant them,
Lord our God,
we pray to thee:
and light perpetual forever shine on them

It came to me in a concert hall, during a dress rehearsal for my chamber group.  Dancers, singers, orchestra, and soloists, had all prepared for weeks and months, and as I found, lifetimes for this night.  I hoped that it would be enough, hoped that the music would be done justice.

The orchestra was good!  My heart went out in gratitude to them for the countless hours of preparation they invested to master their instruments. The amount of time and talent and God-given goodness sitting in those chairs blew me away.  

Lord Jesus Christ, thou that rulest in majesty,
O free the souls of they faithful departed
out of the lion's jaw...
Grant them, Lord, 
Grant them deliverance from death unto life,
We pray thee, as of old thou has promised to our fathers

The vocal soloists were masterful, tender, fervent, and sweetly floated their voices fifty feet to the ceiling on their own power.  My heart soared with those voices in the praise of Him who made them.

Light perpetual shine upon them, shine upon them, Lord, we pray.
With all thy saints in endless glory, for thy tender mercy's sake

My favorite piece of the work, "Sanctus," features a violin obbligato of such tender sweetness, words completely fail.  Give it a listen:

I was overjoyed that the violinist did it absolute justice.  How could I be so lucky, to be sitting in a room with so much beauty, all devoted to the Master of the universe?  It was as if He was there in the harmony, there in the dance, there in the perfect sweetness of the violin and the voice.  It was as if He was showing me His greatness through all this beauty.  

Heaven and earth are full, 
Full of thy glory, O Lord.  
Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna, indeed!  The God of creation has endowed this earth more beauty than can be seen, more loveliness than can be heard or felt.  He is in the taste of a perfect mango.  He is in the joy of a happy marriage.  He is in the great bodies of knowledge to be found in libraries all over the world.  He is in the majestic power of waves breaking on the shore.  He is in the works of masters like Gabriel Faure, and he is in the work of the musicians who work to bring it to life.

I am grateful for who He is.  I am grateful for what He has done for me.  I am grateful I can see and hear him when I'm looking and listening.  Not only is he the Great Creator, but he loves me enough to make himself known to me.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bedtime Battleground

Image result for frazzled mom meme

You might say my house resembles a battleground all day.  There is deafening noise.  There are piles of rubble and debris everywhere.  There are blood-curdling screams.  There are projectiles.  There are strange smells.  There are displaced persons on occasion.  Sometimes there is even violence.

Here the forces of order and wisdom battle the forces of confusion and anarchy.  Here I am a lone soldier striving to overcome the noise and disorder of a large family.

The first skirmish of the day sees me fighting to get four kids out the door with lunches in hand-- without letting them completely destroy the house.  Sometimes we start with a clean house, most of the time not, and sometimes I win this first battle.  Either way it's only the beginning, because people come and go all day, gleefully scattering personal possessions like Tinkerbell flinging pixie dust.

I do that early cleanup, the after-lunch cleanup, and an after-dinner cleanup if I'm on my A game.  In between times, I nag, cajole, remind, plead, and threaten my kids in order to get them to clean up.  I dream of the peace and quiet and cleanliness that will come once my darlings are all packed off to bed.  I fight valiantly through dinner, through dishes, through stories and sometimes even through baths.  I get sooooo close.

And here is where I typically fall apart, because lately I have been fleeing the battleground as the kids get ready for bed.  I barricade myself in my bedroom with a good book and smuggled brownies while TJ sings the two youngest to sleep.  After about a half hour of haranguing the oldest four to go to bed, he, too retreats, knocking pitifully until I'm sure it's him and that he's alone so I can unlock the door and let him in.   We cower in there together, shouting bribery and threats from the room to get our older kids to pipe down and go to sleep.  They pretend to be contrite for about two seconds before the raucous victory party continues.  We pass out at some point and hopefully they are kind and don't wake us up.  And in the morning?  Big surprise!  The house I fought so hard to get clean before bedtime was reclaimed by the enemy while I slept.

Snacks on the counter.  Shoes on the floor.  Cushions scattered all over the living room.  Backpacks, papers, journals, pencils, clothing, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, towels!!!  How is it possible to do so much damage in less than an hour?

I blame myself for being such a coward.

But recently I realized that some of my younger siblings still do bedtime the old-fashioned way.  You know, the parents tell the kids to go to bed, and the kids go to bed?  I have faint memories of when my kids were smaller and less intimidating.  Glorious memories of driving the enemy out of my territory.  I remember when every night I proudly retained the battleground of my living room.

And so I have taken courage, and with the promise of self-respect lighting my way, I tell my older kids that they are welcome to stay awake for an extra half hour after family prayers--if they would like to quietly read their scriptures in the living room.  During this time I fight the urge to flee to the security and peace of my room, and instead enforce peace or drive out the unpeaceful.  Too much noise and they're off to bed, shoes and clothing and books in tow.  Somehow, under my watchful eye, they just don't have the courage to produce new mounds of detritus.

Victory is sweet.