Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Good Measure

When I was a little girl, I loved to bake with my mom. She would let me sift flour and carefully crack eggs and add vanilla. One of my favorite parts was when we put brown sugar in a recipe. Mom taught me that you couldn't just scoop up brown sugar and dump it in, you had to pack it down into the measuring cup--that way you could get a lot more in. At some point in time, she taught me the verse, "Give and it shall be given to you; a good measure pressed down and running over into your lap." She explained that if we give our little bit to God--our money or time or talent--that His return to us will be so great; it's like that brown sugar, packed down until it's spilling out over the cup.

This weekend was a pretty typical one--busy, lots of stuff going on, lots of responsibility for me--but nothing unusual for probably any ordinary mom. I had a lot of errands to run after work on Friday, and I've got a number of books in my "queue"--both to read and some to review. In fact on Friday night I wanted Darren to take a picture of me because, while I usually have two or three books I'm reading at any given time, that night I was sitting in bed with one book open on my lap and another in my hands, reading both of them.

Saturday morning I got up and got Lucy ready for a birthday party at 10. It was a dress-up party, so here she is:

While she was gone, Elaine and I went to a greenhouse to get a gift certificate for my dad whose birthday is the 30th. He and my mom were coming over at 1:00. Then my mom and I were going to a play. (It was fantastic--a lost Agatha Christie play called "A Daughter's A Daughter," and I think it is the first time it has ever been performed.) Before they came, I had to give the house at least a rudimentary cleaning since it was a disaster (I don't know how it got that way. It was just immaculate for Easter.) By the time Elaine and I got home, it was time for me to pick up Lucy from the party (which was about 1/2 a block away). I ran over and stayed for maybe 10 or 15 minutes.

We walked in the back door, and two things registered with me instantly. One was that it smelled really good, as if someone had just cleaned the kitchen. The other was that Lucy ran in the dining room and demanded, "What's Elaine doing in the naughty chair?" I walked in the kitchen and saw Darren standing there, trying to figure out what to do for Elaine had taken the opportunity in my absence to decorate the kitchen with 3/4 of a bottle of Palmolive. This is her, telling me she's sorry. You can see she is filled with remorse (note the Palmolive on her outfit).

I eventually got all of the downstairs straightened up and just gave up on the upstairs and closed all the doors. My mom and I left for the play, and I spent the ride (after accidentally running through a red light) chattering away to her about the morning and how I hadn't wrapped Dad's present yet, and my work, and oh, I had made the ice cream pies for dessert but I hadn't gotten any of the topping on, and the books I was reading, and also how I needed to make something for the church potluck tomorrow and on and on. When Lucy does this kind of thing to me, I call it "4-year-old stream of consciousness." When I do it to my mom, I prefer to think of it as Joycean, but really? it's just 38-year-old stream of consciousness.

When we got out of the car and were walking across the parking lot, my mom said to me, half laughing and half serious, "Honey? Do you think you have too much of a life? I used to worry about you because you might not have had enough of one, but now I think you might have too much life!"

Then we laughed and laughed.

I thought about it though throughout the day. She's right. I do have too much of a life. Most days I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. I am a person who loves quiet and serenity and peace and order. I need a lot of time to myself in order to read and just think about ideas and just be. I'm an introvert. But now my life is filled with disorder and multi-tasking and running and crisis control (case in point: this afternoon Elaine wanted to go upstairs and see Daddy who was taking a nap. The next thing I knew, I heard piercing screams. She had fallen off the bed and cut the corner of her eye and hit the back of her head--now she has a big knot that matches Lucy's).

As I was thinking of my too-much life, I remembered how it used to be. The days I had all the peace and quiet and order I could ever want, and what I really wanted was a baby of my own. I didn't know if I could or would ever have one. The hard times I have spent either searching for a job or working at a job I hate. The two years we spent here after we moved completely alone and not knowing anyone, never meeting people and not having a church or friends.

I tried as much as I could to give what I had, my hopes and dreams and wishes, to Him. And this is what He has given me--more than I can hold, brown sugar packed down to keep fitting more into the cup. Yes, sometimes it IS a too-much life. But I am loving this life, all of it, as it spills over into my lap.


Ann-Marie said...

We had so much fun at the play...I wish we could have spent more time together. Your mom is SO awesome! My friends Angie called her Doris the rest of the day - too funny!

Lucy looks good in a princess dress!

Alice said...

I know, we've got to hang out again soon. I'm going to email you later today (when I dig up your address!)

Something about our family...everybody young and old has little old lady names! But we wear them proudly.

Juliet said...

Yes, I too think tha Louis (?) is awesome! I of course mean Lois. It sure didn't help when one of the person in the play had the name Doris.

Lucy look so beautiful. And Elaine looks totally innocent of any act.

Alysa said...

ahhhh, i miss your mom! (and of course YOU, too!!!!) ... as you can tell, i didn't make it out to your work today and probably won't friday, so i think i will shoot for next monday .... we'll firm up plans when the day gets closer ... i'll see if jack can watch the kids so i can come and do lunch!

Alice said...

Sounds good; can't wait to see you!