Monday, March 31, 2014

How to be thankful when the kitchen floor cracks wide open...

The crack started with just one tile.

 Smack-dab in the center of our kitchen.
It catches my eye every time I chop at the cutting board and fry on the stovetop. Just steps away from the overflowing ice box. Right next to my daily post at our humming dishwasher.
In the middle of our bustling command center.
Noticeable to every guest who walks in the door.

Now it's spreading.

The crack runs through the neighboring squares.
One. Two. Three feet away.
One tile I could kinda deal with.
But sisters, THIS is asking too much.

And as it snakes and grows, so does my monster resentment and deep-chest irritation that this brokenness in my kitchen simply can not stay. It must be replaced.

Because of the crack, my kitchen now looks run-down and dirty.
My "renovated" kitchen, with gorgeous red cherry cabinets and spacious island. My kitchen, with new appliances and decorative hardware.

The beautiful kitchen that made me want to buy this house has all of a sudden, become an area that I want to avoid. 

Ugly now, just because of this ONE crack.
Impossible to cover with a rug.

Distracting me from being present, robbing me of total "kitchen contentment".
And I hate it.
It's got to go, I tell him.
It's got to go now.
My "house happiness" depends on it.

And as the words come out, they radiate deep and I turn away at how ungrateful and pathetic they sound.
But I push on.

After all, I "deserve" to have this fixed.
How can I possibly mother, and mother well, with this flaw staring me in the face each time I make a meal?
 I am the one HOME ALL DAY, right?
I get estimates.
Price out different sub-contractors.
Peruse hardwood floor sales and bring home samples.
I make a business plan of how we can save money
and do it ourselves.

"We'll fix it," he says gently. "But we have to save up.
Not this month, but hopefully soon."
Not the answer I want to hear. I want it fixed NOW.
The cracking has seemed to slow. 
If only my heart-ugliness would simmer too.
Instead, I am boiling over.
I try to not to look him in the eye when it comes up yesterday.
And in a last-ditch effort to get my way (yet again), the me-me-me-need-my-way-now me makes another nasty appearance.

"I thought you said you were learning to name the blessings..." he says softly. "Remember, what you told me God was teaching you? To list the gifts of life and look-away from the complaints?"

I glance at the journal laying on my desk.

The one I have used to list the many gifts in my daily walk.
Unmarked for days now,
I have lost count and forgotten to label the blessings in my life.
I plead my case over big salads and iced tea with her as she mentors me. Just a few years older, but so much wisdom in her kind tone and big, blue eyes. Five kids in her growing quiver.
I share and she listens.
I ask and she answers purposefully.
And then I start to complain. AGAIN.
Whine about the crack and convince why I need to get this fixed right away. Certainly, she will understand. In fact, I'm sure she will give me some tips on how to sway my frugal husband.

Of all friends, she would certainly get it.

Instead, her gentle words stop me quiet in my rant.
She opens her heart, telling me about her family's recent financial struggle.Tears up when she whispers that they can no longer make the payments and are on the brink of foreclosure.
A heartbreak she has kept secret for months.
This "so put together" soul-sister says her husband called her just today because he worked out a miracle refinance with the bank.

Then she leans in close.

"My house is dirty Jodi, after all we have five busy kids. It needs repainted. Has cracks in the drywall and rips in the carpet.
Quite frankly, you'd probably think it's a mess!
But all of that doesn't really matter does it?
Because we have come so close to losing our house to foreclosure. Those things used to drive me nuts and steal my joy.
But not anymore. I've spent so many sleepless nights wondering where we might move or how we could find a rental in our school district that could house such a large family. This is where I've had my babies and watched them learn to walk. Each mark means a memory. A good memory. We found out a way today to keep it ours. We OWN it. And for that I am so thankful that when I come home tonight I will lay down on our dingy, brown family room shag carpet, the one with the juice stains, and run my fingers over it so thankful for each stain. It's when you come so close to losing something that you can really appreciate what you have."

 I chew on that truth, one only a soul-sister can share.
My eyes tear too.
Here I am going on and on about my cracked, gorgeous tiled floor in my comfortable house, not giving a second thought about making our monthly payments. I whine about a flaw in my home, while my dear friend is on the verge of losing hers.

Since when did my attitude become so tied to earthly things?

So today, I pull it out again.
The Journal, listing the thousands of gifts in this life,
that has helped me focus on the blessings
instead of wallowing in the brokenness.

Remembering, that when I  purposefully give thanks...
the circumstances are not what change.
It is my HEART that is transformed.

And a changed heart heaps praise for a cracked kitchen floor.

And today when he comes home,
I will run to him and throw my arms around his neck.
Thankful to be forever paired with a man who understands what's most important and who points my heart back to a life of joy.

Dear Lord, thank you for this cracked floor.
Thank you for the little feet that walk all over it.
For the beautiful newborn baby that I hold as my toes feel the crack and I stir dinner. Thank you for a the gift of a safe,
warm home when so many others are without.

And thank you that as this crack in my kitchen floor deepens,
so does my gratitude for You.

"Change my heart, O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God.
May I be like You."