Butterfly-clockWe don’t even have a clock that is actually ticking. (We have a few that could, if someone wound them. But clock winding is way down on the housekeeping priority list. So far down the list, that they haven’t been wound in years.) Anyway– I swear I can hear one ticking…. “Tick, Tock. Tick… Tick…. Tick.. Tick.Tick.”  It’s speeding up. It seems to be ticking faster and louder the past few days. I know it is. If time flies- I’m pretty sure it just broke the sound barrier.

Or, I may be losing my mind. In general- auditory hallucinations?  Not a good thing.

It’s not a hallucination. It’s not even an audible sound. But, it is a clock that has run in the background of our life since my husband’s diagnosis with Prostate cancer. Sometimes, its’ ticking has felt like the ticking away of our time together. At other times- like a countdown clock in a ballgame we’re about to win, or lose. Sometimes, it ticks loud enough to drown out the sounds of a busy, noisy family. Sometimes it’s so quiet, I [almost] think it stopped.

This is not, a quiet ticking week.

This is a week where the ticking is thunderous.

This is a PSA testing week.

“Tick. Tock. TICK. Tock. TICK! TOCK! ”

Honestly? I have no idea what we’re ticking down to. I can only hear the ticking. We could be ticking down to a field goal kind of week. This could be the third, non-detectable PSA in a row!  (Is that a prostate cancer hat trick? I think so. Yes, it is. I just decided. Awesome.) The field goal count down would mean: we have more space for our lungs to fully expand.  A chance to take some cancer-free breaths for the first time, in a long time.

It could also be ticking away to another cancer grenade. An attack we have to fight. (And we will. Oh, we will. Trust me.)  A creeping PSA test means: the cancer is still somewhere and we start the next round. I don’t know what the next round means. I refuse to Google it. (Just a tip: when fighting cancer? Google is not your best source for treatment planning and information. You’re welcome. I just saved you a potential nervous breakdown. Except, you probably won’t listen. You will Google. You may obsess. You may have to learn the hard way- like I did. Don’t worry- I’ll be here when you’re done.)

Regardless of what the clock is ticking down to- I know this: Like it or not- we’ll get through it.

That doesn’t mean I believe God will make “everything okay.”  (Even though, I believe he can heal- people die. Hence- he obviously doesn’t always heal. Justsayin.) It does mean:  I know that His grace that has already sustained us through so much- diagnosis, surgery, treatment etc. can and will sustain us through whatever comes next. (That’s just this ONE issue’s list of grace. Multiply that by all the other issues we’ve faced as a family? And the Grace tally adds up to a thunderous chorus of resounding grace. We’re talking every band ever created playing it’s heart out- at the same time, kind of sound.  (Only, probably more harmonic. Okay? Let’s face it- The Clash playing with The Philharmonic,  Def Leppard and Green Day, may not exactly be harmonic, but it sure would be loud.)

Louder than cancer.

Louder than any diagnosis.

Louder than my whining complaints and worries.

Louder than the ticking clock that haunts a million insomnia-filled nights.

Grace is like that.

Grace sustains by resonating through our lives. All of it. Every moment.  Louder than any background noise or cancer grenade.

Grace is not ticking away this week- grace is building to a crescendo.

Regardless of the PSA outcome. regardless of prognosis or treatment plan.

Grace will.  It always does. Grace keeps us going and growing and renewed. Even here.

“Dear Lord- I don’t know who’s reading today. I don’t know what kind of clock is ticking away in their life. But I know this- your grace can be heard over, under and through it. Like the music heard over a metronome. Like a radio cranked above an engines’ whine.  Lord- I ask you to bring to remembrance every instance of grace in our lives. Start with the Grace that saves- the grace heard first on the cross. And keep going lord, with grace that has carried us through hard things- happy things and even the hardest things. Let it be a chorus that crescendo’s in our hearts this week. Even Here. Where ever we are. I love you Lord. And trust you to continue to be present. No matter what happens. Amen.

Sunday one of our Pastor’s preached on Sustaining grace. I’m glad he did. I needed the reminder. Maybe you do, too.

Especially this one:

” But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 2:9

Which led me to this:

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the
only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!
Amen”  From Jude 24

And this- by Max Lucado:

“Sustaining grace does not promise the absence of struggle but the presence of God.”

Photo1I never got in trouble for what I doodled in the margins…. it was always what I scrawled in the middle of the page that caused the problem. No, I wasn’t writing scathing book reports or running an underground newspaper in elementary school. I didn’t blow the cover off the faux meat lunch room cover-up or create a tabloid laden with pre-pubescent gossip….

I was boring. (Still am.) I just plain had illegible handwriting. (Still do.) No matter how hard I tried- it always looked like I’d doodled my homework. Let’s just say- I loved Scan-tron tests…. I could almost always fill in the little ovals in a way that could be read by the machine…. almost.

Yesterday, we talked about the art that can happen when we allow some doodle time in the pages of our lives. Today,we’re talking about the marginal. What happens when the margins take over the page.

My primary life goals are to- 1) love and honor God and 2) love others.

The truth is- my calendar and to-do lists rarely reflect this.

Here’s a sample:

6:30- wake up

6:31- do what all women who’ve had 3 children and the bladder to show for it- do.

6:33- glare at the coffee pot while contemplating mainlining coffee grounds just. this. once.

7:00- start the wake up process of a child who hates mornings.

7:10- begin making the threats that will eventually force him to both get up and get dressed. (Threats may or may not include and are not limited to: Nude school attendance, starvation, ice water dumpage, video game grounding.. you get the idea..)

7:15- discuss the physics of soggy cereal being a natural cause and effect of dawdling. I.E. your own fault.

7:25- nag about homework placement. (“Is it IN the folder, or shoved into the backpack? Is it complete? Don’t forget to turn it in…”)

7:30- explain that shoes are: WHERE THEY ALWAYS ARE. and yes- socks are part of the dress code. I SAID So.

7:32- begin the carpool countdown.

7:39- push- shove and generally throw the child out the door toward the SUV of the  neighbor/angel who drives him to school each day….

Kind of hard to find the whole… “Love God- and others” priority there.

I suppose you COULD make a case for the whispered prayers of “God, please help me not kill this kid.” being an honest connection with God. You could also say that getting a child launched out the door- clothed, fed, prepared and threatened into his day is a form of loving care….. maybe.

If my day became less hectic and more focused- you could even chalk that first 69 minutes up to- just being a mom….

The truth is- it rarely does.

There is always “stuff” to do. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, preparing, shopping, errands, appointments, carpool….

Chances are- if I’m not actively doing something- I’m guiltily thinking about the things I should be doing….(Like all that stuff I “Pinned” on Pinterest..)

At the end of my day- I find myself wondering if I really accomplished anything that matters.

Of course- the “stuff” of mothering matters. Naked children at school would be bad. (less laundry- but bad.) Feral children are generally frowned upon in even the most un-polite society.

But still. I wonder- is all this STUFF necessary?

I’ll be honest- I know it isn’t.

(well- clothes, food- safely maintained surroundings…. are… ) But- does EVERYTHING really have to be done PERFECTLY? Does EVERYTHING have to be Pinterest or photo shoot ready?

I’ve decided- it doesn’t.

If I spend less time on the “stuff” of mothering (and living)  I can do more of the HEART of what I want to invest my life in….. loving God and others.

The only way for there to be a margin of time  in my life is to stop scribbling all over the page of my days with never ending to do lists written in a striving for perfection.

I have to leran to let the marginally important become marginal in my life.

New rules:

1) Clean enough- is clean enough.

2) Good enough is good enough.

3) Start with the most important then add the lesser.

4) Do less- focus more.

5) Say “No.” Not “I can’t.”

Why? because:

1) Clean enough IS clean enough.  I refuse to spend my life cleaning. God has a bigger plan for all of us than that. (if you struggle with that- I encourage you to check out http://www.flylady.net ) A free way to find that balance of home maintenance and spending all your time cleaning….

2) Everything doesn’t have to be home made or perfect. Sometimes it’s okay to-buy the cupcakes for the class. Sign up to bring pop instead of a dish to pass. (Gatherings are about people- not a Food Network challenge…) Save that hour to pray. Read. Make a phone call. Meet a friend. Soak yourself in something encouraging you can pour into others…Don’t use it to clean the windows.

3) No really. I mean it. I need to force myself to start with connecting with God and people FIRST. Work can always be done later. Homework can wait until we’ve had a chance to talk- have a snack- be together. Time with God can begin before the coffee is finished…..I can get up a few minutes early to make it possible to have caffeinated devotional time. I can make the phone call early in the day before it becomes too crowded to really connect.

4) Somethings just don’t have to be done. I don’t have to sign up for every volunteer position. I don’t have to always cook a 3 course meal. Confession: I have lived at this house for 12 years. The windows have never actually been “washed.” We can still see out of them. (I do however constantly clean finger and nose prints off of them….- otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see out. Which could be a form of insulation- I suppose- but I’m not willing to try it. I have standards.)

5) When I say “No.” I’m afraid people will think I’m mean. (They may.) However- when I say: “I can’t” because- it feels like a lie. I mean…If I really tried… I usually COULD. (I can change schedule conflicts, I can rearrange my life- I can live with or treat the pain caused by….)  ( I have serious neck issues- I’m currently in a neck brace until at least June…certain things cause me physical pain- I can say NO- and not suffer it- or say yes… and hurt myself. It’s a choice I have to make.) Saying “No.” Isn’t mean. It simply doesn’t leave room for people to try and problem solve how you “can” instead of how you “can’t”.

Sidenote: when asking someone to do something- I think it’s better to ask if they will- vs. whether they can….. we need to allow each other to say “no” too. 

It’s time to get some margin into our lives.

It’s time to let the marginal take it’s rightful place….. to focus on the most important- and get that done, first.

Dear Lord- I confess- I often scribble all over my days. My to do list looks like one of my elementary homework assignments. If I try to read it- the point is lost. Illegible. I completely forget about margin because I’m so busy filing the entire page with the less important. Help me to be wise- to honor and love you and others first- help me to let the marginally important take it’s rightful place…. and help me to focus on the most important. Loving you- and loving others. Amen

How about you? Do you focus on the marginally important? How do you make time for margin in your life? What have you let go of? How do you save time?

Tomorrow we’ll complete the series- “Margins- Marginal and the Marginalized”….by talking about the Marginalized……..making room in our lives for those we are tempted to keep at arm’s length.

Barking. Saturday morning, I woke up to barking.

At 7:00 am.

I suppose in comparison to the 5:15 am, I’ve been getting up at, this was sleeping in. Kind of. But, I prefer the alarm to barking. thank you. .

Mommy Myth Busting days 4&5 showed me weekends mean something different to me as a working mom.

Typically, I get everything possible,  done during the week. That way,  the weekend is scheduled “down time” with my family.  Of course, I still do laundry and dishes, child keeping (Child keeping. I like it. It sounds much more Martha Stewart-like than saying “nail trimming, backpack checking and homework supervision etc) but that’s the bulk of my weekend “work” as a SAHM.

Not so much, this week.

As a working mom, I spent the weekend playing “catch up.” Vacuuming, loads of laundry, clutter patrol. (I swear stuff, moves on its own. And for some reason it all migrates to the same two places: the kitchen counter and the kitchen table. Maybe it’s some mystical vortex of mothering. I don’t know.)  This topped off other random errands. None of which were fun. We did carve out a few hours Saturday night for a movie and dinner date night.  But honestly?  I was wishing for my jammies and slippers the whole time.

I grocery shopped on Sunday. (I’d rather remove my leg hair with a blow torch- than grocery shop on  Sunday… not really related.. but both are equally painful and necessary.)

I battled the temptation to stay home from church this morning. I wanted to relax. Even the idea of getting everyone ready and out the door was overwhelming.

We didn’t.  I’m glad.  But I’m also: exhausted.

I forgot how much you have to cram into a weekend when you’re working all week.

ugh.

It’s now five minutes to Superbowl time and I’m looking forward to zoning out, while the guys worry about the end zone.. (It counts as family time- right?)

Things that were different this weekend:

I needed to get my nails fixed, but didn’t want to take time away form the guys. I put it off.

The laundry is mocking me and pressuring me.  (Yes, it’s personal.) I will soon, cave to its pressure-(yet again).   If I don’t, it could haunt me as part of the scenery and rogue killers in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, which would have also been inspired by our seeing “The Book Of Eli” on date night.  You know.. Dirty laundry also kind of looks like a pile of Zombies laying in wait to attack. Just sayin.

The grocery store was out of stock of everything but fruit snacks and tampons.  I swear 2 women were about to throw down over the last box of Mac and Cheese.  It’s wasn’t even THE BLUE BOX. It was store brand. Those girls were desperate. (Well, maybe I hallucinated that scene, due to exhaustion. Not sure.)

Things that were not different this weekend:

It was too short.

And that is Mommy Myth Busting Days 4 & 5…

Off to ignore a football game- more soon!

Questions for YOU:

Working moms:

  1. What are your weekends like?
  2. What do you “let go of” during the week, only to have to do double duty on the weekend?
  3. What (home/child keeping) things do you get accomplished during the week?
  4. Anything else I need to know?  Tell me girls!.. I’m tired– but listening!