…are wound up in all things little.” -L.M. Montgomery
Greetings from a cold but sunny Germany. I would like to take a moment to point out that if this were a Leap Year, this post would be made in the month of February so I’m basically a time-traveling blogger now. The future is now. Welcome to the new world.
The title quote is from Anne of Green Gables. (10 blog points redeemable in the gift shop for those of you who knew that already). When I read those words earlier this year I was struck by their profundity. I started to see them as a banner over the “all things little”’of my life. Perhaps if I probed & plied these words enough I could find them prophetic as well: That all things little would indeed wind up as all things great.
I’ve explored this idea before (on this blog actually) using the text from Luke 16 where Jesus says, “He who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” where He’s arguing from the lesser to the greater in the way we steward our earthly possessions correlating to how we steward our eternal souls. A chaplain here recently preached a fantastic sermon asking the question: Are we doing a better job of investing present dollars in our future retirement than present moments in our future reality?
This provides a somewhat seamless segue to my structure from last month (yes I’m going to say “last month” & mean January. Just call me Simon, because I say so). So without further ado:
What I’m Reading
Slowly working Savoring my way through The Lifegiving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson & one of the things I love most about their writing is their fundamental understanding of how the incarnation of Christ in a real & teeming world effects the way that we live in that same world ourselves. This pushback against the temptation to divorce our spiritual lives from our gritty reality in a way that breathes life into the very breath you inhale each moment.
If you have an iPhone, Android or other miniature computer in your hands every other minute of the day, I think you can agree that our visual & mental space has become crowded with content ranging from broad ideas about the state of the globe to the smallest minutia about the state of your living room. There are even some compelling arguments about how one relates to the other in any given instance. I’m not here to take on the philosophies of the day or to stand on a soapbox for a specific cause. I just want to pose the question that I’ve been wrestling with over the last few years. It’s another version of the dollars to eternity question posed earlier. But let’s recap how I got to this question first…
Over the last six years, my life has become more & more full of little things. Our oldest daughter joined our family 6 years ago & her brothers joined her not long after. Becoming a mother was transformational for me. This isn’t a new happening, in fact, I think it’s quite ordinary. (I’m going to resist the urge to caveat myself into oblivion with all the ways motherhood is not the exclusive entry point for these thoughts, it just happened to be mine.) As my days filled with smaller, noisier elements I felt myself aching for a reprieve & landed on the choice to leave Facebook. I still had an Instagram acct (& a Pinterest because recipes), but I needed to essentialize. Shortly after the birth of our third child I felt the same ache & again landed on a choice to pare down the mental noise in my life by exiting Instagram (for all the fact-checkers furiously typing my handle into your search bar: Yes, I still have an account. No, I do not actively use it. I just haven’t transferred all my old data off-app yet). I have now been off social media for over two years (except Pinterest because recipes & GoodReads because books).
This was an intensely personal choice & I’m not moralizing participation on the socials (see guys? I still know what’s up), but for me, it’s been a a season of respite & quiet. It has given me space to ask why do I have such a deep craving to be free of these little things in pursuit of something great? Why did the content I was consuming seem to add so much & absolutely nothing at the same time? How had virtual distractions supplanted real engagement? By this point I sound like every Luddite ever to write an article railing against kids these days, but stay with me.
I, as an enneagram 4, (don’t @ me about whether or not this is a valid way to categorize ourselves—you can’t anyway, I’m off socials)….
…have always been quite keen on the idea of living a meaningful life, being someone of significance, a leaver of legacy. As I hacked away at all the little things that seemed to be keeping me from this, many things other than social media fell under the axe. I found myself discontented in the minutia of my life, the mundane work of caring for & cleaning up after children, of planning for & implementing the feeding of those same children, even, sometimes, *gulp* those children. ALL little things seemed at odds with great things. & NOW I didn’t even have social media to happily distract me!
But in all my frantic life-purging, frustrated online minimalism & frenetic reading (because being well-read is meaningful, right??), a sense of significance eluded me. But there in the hard-won quiet where my mind could wander through deep thoughts & daydreams, big ideas & boredom the answer came slamming into view.
Lucy Maud said it superbly. I mean, so did Jesus, obvs. There just isn’t a great thing out there that isn’t entirely wound up in little things. & if I’m seeking to the height of great things—a life that echoes to the highest rafters I can reach of the total, unfathomable goodness & joy found in the One who created it, Who is goodness & joy—dare I forget that He came as the smallest? That He required of a mother the very same mundane care & keeping that my little ones do? That I did? That in breaking into our everyday happenings, He made them holy?
I still don’t have social media right now, but I have found my way back to this blog. For a long time I felt like there was no point in adding to the online cacophony; that there wasn’t any way I could add value by voicing my thoughts here. But as I read the heartening words of the Clarkson women, enjoyed a novel about a woman in the Norwegian middles ages (see subsequent bullet point) & marveled at the universality of the human experience, & pondered anew the human nature of Christ anchored as He was to a specific place, time & body, I decided to reclaim my little corner of the internet. So here I am, two years later asking different questions. Why does it matter that Jesus came as a baby human? Why is His incarnation essential to the story? How did He tether the mundane to the majestic, the ordinary to the otherworldly, the little to the lasting? How do I? How do you?
•Ahem…I’m also reading Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset which is a 1928 Nobel Prize winning novel highly reviewed as “…the first great story founded upon the normal events of a normal woman’s existence. It is as great and as rich, as simple and as profound, as such a story should be.” (Des Moines Register, Ruth Suckow) A fitting read for this season of life, to be sure.
What I’m Seeing
What My Kids Are Saying
•Skye on cracking eggs: “I’m not good at breaking it in half, but cracking it’s my thing.”
•Skye put on a puppet show for the boys today & afterward she sat at the dining room table & signed autographs 😂
•*jack’s drawing at the table with skye*
Jack: Skye! Skye! This picture! (holds it up for her to see)
Skye: Oh, wow, jack.
(to me) I wasn’t really proud, but I said wow to make him feel well. 😂😂😂 #relatable
•Skye & Cinco have a new game called Sonnikins where Cinco is Skye’s son. It mostly consists of him asking her to do things with him & her telling him she has to get to her exercise class or go to work 😂 She’s usually running late for something & Cinco is usually afraid of something & needs her to help him. I’m dying. #mirrormirror
•Me: Skye, you’re so special. You know why everyone smiles back & waves when you do? Because you remind them how fun it is to be alive.
Skye: I think I got dirt in my ear today.
What’s Been Freeing
Now you might be expecting me to wax poetic again about how it’s so freeing to believe in the almighty incarnational power of doing the dishes now, but I’m actually going to tell you a story about how I almost got detained at the French border last week. So YEAH. Now who’s predictable?!
Amidst the teeming, gritty reality of our life in Germany the last month (that’s included helping a friend with her six kids while she was away, getting a stomach bug that ran through everyone but Skye & surviving the deadest month of the year here) my family back in Georgia suffered a loss. My Uncle Bob passed away after a long battle with liver disease & I made my way back home to be with the family for the funeral. It was a sweet time of connection & togetherness that was truly a balm to my soul.
However, on the way back I had a lengthy flight itinerary that had me laying over in both New York & Paris. I knew it would be an exhausting return trip & I already had apprehension about my passport which was expiring in April. Due to the short notice nature of my trip I didn’t have time to renew it beforehand. The trip to GA had been uneventful, therefore when the French flight attendant nonchalantly turned me away at the gate in NY as I was about to board, I was completely caught off guard. It was like, “Hi, I’m here for the plane!” “Oh sorry, ma’am. Not today byeeee.” I was walking away before I realized I had NO PLAN for getting to Germany now. OBVIOUSLY I call Oakie at 1am his time sobbing about how I can’t board the plane & we had a good run, didn’t we? & kiss the kids for me & I’m just trying to embrace my new life as an exile & is this what Taylor felt like when she wrote that song?
He tells me to go back & try again which I VERY MUCH do not want to do. BUT I do, yet try as I might to explain that France wasn’t my destination because “SEE? I have a connection to Nuremberg right here! & a Status of Forces Agreement that guarantees me entry to Germany!” the flight attendant was adamant. He & his equally French cohorts were telling me if I was caught by the French border police I’d get fined €15,000 for being in the country without legal documentation. Their American (thank the Lord) boss said they should override the flag & let me go because of my military SOFA yada yada so the French employees did, but they told me the whole time (in their amazingly snobby French accents) that they thought it was unprofessional, they were documenting this (while taking very exaggerated photos of the system override on the screen) & that for them it was NOT ok, but they had to do what their boss said. They did stick it to me though by closing the flight I had a ticket for RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME & booting me to the next one leaving an hour later. By the time I land in France & head for my connection I am SWEATIN’. I get through the terminal change, security check & ticketing point before I ever reach Passport Control. *so close* I see border control agents to my left & an e-passport kiosk to my right. I take a deep breath, try to look like I belong there & choose the e-passport kiosk (basically reasoning that if it kicks me back I’ll plead me case to an agent, but it’s easier to keep calm when staring down a camera). Lo & behold, it opens the auto gate & the guy running the stamping station flips straight past my photo/expiration date page to the next empty page, slaps a French stamp on it & says, “Welcome to France.” & ya know what? That felt freeing to me.
Until next time…
Love from the Osbornes!
P.S. Apologies if this is the second publication email you’re getting. Had a slight WordPress glitch 🙃