Saturday, May 15, 2010

Boxes Have Made My Face Ugly

Soon...soon I'll write more about Haiti.

I keep reminding myself that I'll have the next year to write about Haiti.

I only have two weeks left in our home...two weeks to pack up things from the house where I thought we'd stay forever.  Two weeks to take pictures of the kids in their natural cleaning up around them...just capturing real life here, the way I want to remember it.

We've moved a lot over the years.  Us and our moving...sort of a running joke among our friends.  We've moved from house to house in the same town always to bigger and better.  When we bought this home I kept singing the theme song from the Jeffersons.

"We finally got our piece of the pie...."

Finally.  The perfect house.  The perfect neighborhood.  The perfect location.

I never thought we'd leave this place.

I started packing up our home the other day.  It's overwhelming trying to figure out how to get from here to Haiti.  What do you take?  What do you sell?  What do you save?  When I was moving from house to house in the same town, I had packing down to an art.  Not stressful.  Highly organized.  Way anal...something I'm usually not.  Packing and moving with four children will make anyone anal.  When you look up and see your 2 year old walking through the room with a butcher knife he got out of an open box you figure out real fast...there has to be a military-like moving plan put into action...and quick.  I had moving down.  I kind of enjoyed it.

Moving to another country...this is new to me.

Every other time we've moved I've been excited.  I've buzzed around the house cleaning out, organizing and dreaming of our next home.  The next destination was always better than the place we were packing.  I'd fall asleep exhausted from packing yet mentally arranging our furniture in the new house and imagining where my kitchen items would go in the new cabinets.

Packing this time hasn't been the same.  We know we should go to Haiti.  We have sweet peace about the move.  But when it comes down to the actual items in my home and saying good-bye to this place there are moments when I wonder if I'll make it.

Several times...the boys have come into a room where I am working and found me crying.

I've decided it's not good to be alone while you pack up your life and head to something unknown and scary.

I literally fell over and sobbed into the carpet of the boy's room as I held their toys.  Stupid toys they don't even play with anymore but my memories of their chubby little fingers holding "green man" and "chocolate man" are extremely attached to those tiny pieces of neglected plastic.

And so I've struggled this week...cried myself ugly and fought with Jesus over what He means exactly when He says to leave our stuff behind and follow Him.  He says, "Come, follow me" and His disciples immediately left their livelihoods and their belongings and followed Him.  How did they do that?  Were they deranged, or was Jesus that lovely?

I've had a hard time saying goodbye to the items in our home that mean nothing to memories attached to life in those objects.

I've come face to face with my greed.  How much I love things.  Pretty things from Pottery Barn.  Soft things...decorative treasure pile from Roundtop.

I've had to admit that I have a strong attachment to my possessions...things I swore I held with an open's funny how my grip got a lot tighter once it was time to let them go.

I've seen myself for who I really am this week and that's been difficult.  I love my things.  I'm attached to them.  Even the meaningless stuff.  I love it.  I want it.  I want to pack it all in boxes and bring it with me.  Like a bratty child...reach out, frantically grab it and yank it to my chest yelling, "Mine...Mine."  I've thrown myself on my bed and bawled over the antique well pump that decorates my front porch.  I've been more sad than I am excited about doing exactly what I know God wants me to do...because I want my things.  I want my stuff.

Rich young ruler.  I am one step away from being that man, and my vicinity to him makes me afraid.  It makes me sit in the floor in the middle of french fry boxes and weep.

And then there are the things that do have meaning...the objects in my home that were given life because they are attached to memories.  Love and life touched those items.  They are my Velveteen Rabbits if you will.  The couch that's dirty and makes me ashamed when I host baby showers...but it has held us all as we snuggled together watching movies.  Our school table where I taught my children to write.  The books...stories...that I read to my babies.  The comforters on top of their sweet bodies that have been there as I've tucked them in at night.  The end table my brother made me.  The shutters I bought in Roundtop right after I found out we had a failed placement.  The desk where I've sat and written my heart out.  The rocking chair where I nursed every one of my babies.

Losing those things feels like I'm losing part of my soul.  That troubles me.

I hate that I've ignored Jesus' warning...

Matthew 6:19-21
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  

I've gotten a good glimpse of where my  heart is.  My heart has grown tentacles and wrapped itself around children's books, antique coke crates, metal lockers, and area rugs.  I've stored up treasure and my heart adores it.  I've literally felt the yank...flesh being removed...the I've ripped these possessions out of my soul this week and put them into boxes.

In order to follow Jesus, I've got to say good-bye to these things.  To declare them dead.  To admit they were never alive.  They were never "me."  I've had to admit my greed and unhealthy attachment to things destined for the fire one day.  I've been trying to remember that the living people in my home...these precious souls are going with me.  There will be new memories.  New times to laugh.  New times to weep.  New times to snuggle up.  New reasons to lose it and yell at each other.  New times to say we're sorry.  We'll leave what's dead here.  We'll take with us what's alive.

It's been a rough week of packing...

Putting things in boxes...hurting as I admit that I've liked following Jesus on my terms.  Following God as long as I have a sleep number bed and high dollar carpet.  That's the Jesus I signed on with.

And yet the real Jesus...

Matthew 8:18-20
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

He bids me to follow Him, and yet guarantees no earthly possessions.  Not even a place to lay my head.  He points my affection away from this place and bids me to turn my eyes towards heaven.

Will Jesus...minus the bling and the glam be enough for me?  Is He all I need?  Is the Kingdom of Heaven where my residence and citizenship really resides?  Am I living like a sojourner?  A pilgrim?  A camper?  Someone longing for home, where my real life is?  Have I ever really lived for that kingdom?

As I've cried and cried this week over the contents of these boxes I've had to grieve the plastic, made up Jesus I had created.  I liked that Jesus.  The real Jesus is a lot more crazy...a lot harder to deal with...a lot harder for me to love.


Gabbie said...

Sweet heart is hurting for you, but hang on sister! In a little while, you'll see what no one can explain, until they have lived it. The complete joy of wrestling through a complete act of obedience. You are in a stage...a very important stage of letting go, realizing what is important, listening to the Lord...but it is painful. I a little while, what seems like sacrifice now, will quickly be a distant memory for the satisfaction you discover in sold out, selfless service to our Lord and Savior. In a little while, when others comment on what you have given up to go to will be upset for them saying that, for it will not seem like a sacrifice. You are about to discover what the scripture means when it talks about being blessed for your obedience. Praying for you dear sister....and excited for you for the journey!

T & T Livesay said...

wow Heather ... remembering and feeling it all over again.


Anthony and Sharon said...

I need to send every woman preparing to leave and follow her Lord across the sea to this post...just so they know they're not alone!

I can tell you sweet blogger friend that your life will become so full when you hit Haiti that the blessings he will give back to you will make the plastic you're leaving behind a thing of the past and you'll be so surprised how you don't miss most of it.

You trust that he'll be faithful and that is enough, even while you're mourning the loss of what you've made a home. Keep pressing forward. In 6 months or a year (long enough to get through a couple good rounds of culture shock and time to see blessings in Haiti) you'll have a list of those new memories and new things you could never love in Texas because Texas doesn't have those things. You have to go to Haiti to get them.

People ask me all the time how I can live in a place that's not America and love it. And just like any missionary wife will tell you, "I thought I was sacrificing, but then the Lord went and gave back to me above and beyond all that I left behind." Not necessarily Pottery Barn favorites, but different favorites... favorites that Haiti holds for you. I don't know because I've never lived there, but I'm sure given enough time, you'll be recounting how fully blessed you are by moving.

Thanks for being honest! An honest heart and a thankful heart will be the tools to help seeing all it is God has for you in Haiti.

SO many blessing to you friend as you pack your things. No matter how few they might seem to be!

Alanna said...

Heather, this is one of the best posts I've read in a long time. I think it will stay with me, kind of like Katie's stayed with you. Radical living before our eyes - I can only say I am blessed because of your obedience. I want to encounter the same Jesus ... a scary thought, but you are so right.

The Kramer Family said...

i agree...this will stay with me. your words here hit me to the core.

i love you more and more each day.


Anonymous said...

Heather, so excited to see where He is leading you! I remember our first round of leaving the country I would pray for His eyes of what I really needed to keep and what I needed to get rid of. I repeated this 3 times in about a month and we only had a little 2 bdrm house with no kids!
The second time moving overseas there was more junk with the bigger house, stuff from 3+ kids and memories. It's easy to get rid of the things, but it is those memories that you don't want to let go of that coorespond to those things.
I was just thinking of our slide my dad had made for us at the yellow house, the year before we left...the kids will be too big for it if/when we ever get back to that side of the made me sad for a minute and then I reminded myself it's just stuff...would I rather have that, or the life lessons that my kids are faced with everyday as they see hopelessness all around them; knowing their light may be all some friends will ever get to see of Truth. Wouldn't trade it for the world.
The what to store, what to get rid of, what to take is overwhelming even without all the emotional side! Hang in there. Pray before each box is packed, for eyes to see what is needed and what can go.
Don't get rid of it all. Take some precious things that remind you of "home country"...not that it's anywhere near our true HOME! But it's fun for our kids to see the rustic stars to remind us of Texas; to have a quilt that was my great grandma's, Christmas stockings and decorations/ornaments that are family traditions; pictures....a Yankee Candle on those days your so frustrated by the smells of things as you adjust to a new culture...
I think the hardest was the homeschooling stuff...
Will pray for you sister and can't wait to see how he will use you all there!!
angie daniel

Lauren said...

I love your willingness to share your "ugliness" on your blog, Heather! Reading your blog challenges me in my own walk with God, so thank you for that. You've reminded me that God doesn't promise us happiness, but he does promise us fulfillment in our obedience. I'm pumped to see what that fulfillment looks like for you and your family when you get to Haiti. Praying for you guys!

D.O. said...

First of all, I'm having a love affair with that first photo. It is incredible!

Secondly, I toyed with the idea of not really reading the words part of this blog. Glad I did. I feel that, and really don't care about (most) stuff.

Love y'all. I will see you soon, if the Lord wills.