Monday, January 21, 2013


I found this birdhouse with a cracked roof in with the "defect" merchandise at Michaels. I bought it because it was really cheap and I figured with some wood filler it would be good as new and a great project for my five-year old. And by my five-year old, I mean me.

And I -- I mean, E-Man -- was really excited to paint this birdhouse. He would have started as soon as he stepped foot in our house if I had let him. But somehow I convinced him (not without a great amount of cajoling) to wait so that we could get the right kind of paint. Not to mention the fact that it was about 9:00 by the time we got home . . .

We went to Lowe's a couple of days later and with the help of a very nice lady in the paint section, we had everything we needed for the project. Now it was really "game on" for the birdhouse but I had to work the next day so painting would have to wait . . . except that E-Man was hatching a plan.

"Mommy, I'm sure I can take it to Mama Jo and Papa's. Papa would love to do it with me."

"But honey, I don't have a paintbrush for you yet. I'm going to have to look around at home for one."

"I'm sure Papa has one I can use . . ." and so on. I think I tried some other stall tactics but in the end I conceded.

"All right, but you need to understand, Papa might not be able to do it today because he has G-Man too."

"Okay Mommy, okay, I understand."

When I got to my in-laws to pick up the boys that evening Papa had indeed been able to facilitate the birdhouse painting. E-Man was so excited to show it to me and I told him it was beautiful. The paint wasn't quite dry so we left the birdhouse and I promised Ethan we would pick it up the next day.

Upon closer inspection I realized the, ahem, unique artistic method with which E-Man had painted the birdhouse. Two sides were teal green and two were off-white. The roof was brown with an off-white chimney painted teal green on the inside. Some parts weren't completely painted. As I looked at it at home, I saw everything I wanted to "fix" about the paint job, everything I felt was wrong.

And then I felt guilty.

It was just about all I could do not to get out a paintbrush and start touching up that birdhouse. It truly took almost every ounce of self-control I possess. But what purpose would that serve? What lesson would E-Man learn? It would break his heart.

I have this overwhelming desire to control and make "perfect" whatever I can. Let me tell you, perfectionism has its benefits, such as attention to detail, but overall I've found it to be more of a curse, a disease to which the cure remains elusive. What I concluded is that the birdhouse is a metaphor for so many things in life.

It is often difficult to look past flaws on the surface to discover the beauty and artistry right before our eyes. Beauty and art come in countless forms and rarely have the same meaning for individuals. And when things are laid bare, when they are vulnerable, sometimes we realize that those flaws really aren't as important as they might have seemed. They can be overlooked, filled in, healed.

It is only when we let go and look at things from a different perspective that their true value can be detected. Try it, you'll be surprised at the result.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Riding the Waves

I look out across the next seven months or so as if they are an ocean, an ocean that I somehow have to cross on my own, unsure of my final destination. Some days the seas will be rough and I'll be tossed about by the waves, barely able to maintain my grip on the rudder as the storm assaults me from all sides. Some days the seas will be calm and I'll sail along under crystal blue skies without a care. It would be easier if I knew where I would end up when this journey comes to a close and if I could predict the storms I'll face along the way to prepare accordingly. But all I can hope for at this point is to arrive in one piece.

Sometimes it's not enough to hope for the best and take things one day at a time. I am very weary of this journey and it has barely begun. At times I wonder how I will maintain the strength to get through a day, let alone several months. I pray for strength, patience, understanding, pray that my children will flourish despite my shortcomings and in spite of what the future holds.

My heart is full and yet I feel so empty. I have so much to be thankful for and find myself longing, lacking something. I do things for others because it is how I show love but I find it difficult to justify doing things for myself. And I receive so much love from those close to me . . . only to be consumed by loneliness.

Lately it seems each twist and turn deals me another unexpected blow. I keep hoping that things will just settle down, that life will deal me some bliss instead of strife. I have learned to search for the good in everything, to heed the lesson I'm being taught, but there are times when no matter how hard it may try the sun can't break through the clouds.

I have to consider that I'm not the person I believed I was nor am I the person I wished I'd be. I do know that I am strong, I am resilient, and I am capable. Sometimes strength is easily apparent and sometimes it is hidden. Sometimes strength is admitting you are weak -- lacking -- and initiating change. Sometimes strength is knowing when you've been beaten, admitting defeat, picking yourself up and moving on.

Right now my ship is full of holes and taking on water but I have a bucket and I'm bailing as quickly as I can. I have no idea how I will navigate the seas that stretch out beyond the horizon and if I will make it to the other shore only to run aground and crash to pieces. But I suppose the beauty of the unknown is just that -- we don't know if we'll arrive safely and if we did we might not set out in the first place.