Phototropism

One o’clock in the afternoon finds me face first in the couch cushions.

My arms are pinned at my sides and my feet stretch out behind me, as if I just tipped face first onto the couch- which is actually what I did.

It’s a position I like to call “The Penguin” because it’s the posture penguins use to slide down icy slopes. I tend to fall into it when I am sliping into despair.

I just finished pouring out my stress and lack of coffee onto my children in an impassioned torrent of accusasions and dramatcially flung snack boxes. My children were guilty of four counts of ignoring directions, and two counts of eating an entire box of gummy snacks in their rooms. Now, though, I am the one laid out by guilt.

Lest you think my reaction overdramatic, you must know that to me anger is an ugly, lifelong addiction. It’s taken me really dark places and had almost all the other effects a drug addiction would. So everytime I lose my temper it feels like a relapse.

As I am “penguining” on the couch I can hear my own voice in my head. “Defeated. I am defeated. I just want to give up.” Thoughts of letting my parents raise my kids and freeing everyone of being tied to me drift through my mind. I close my eyes and I can see myself curled up on a bed in a corner of a dark cell, not caring to dress, or groom, or eat, or be- giving up on existing. Yes, where many people’s “happy place” is a tropical beach, my thoughts put me in an insane asylum!

In a new glimmer of though, though, I know I don’t want to be controlled by these feelings any more. I know I can, and should chose truth intead, so I reach for my Bible, (which not coincedentally is kept about 18 inches from the couch.) I open to 1 John:

5:4 “for everyone born of God overcomes,”

4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome for greater is He who is you than he who is in the world.”

5:5 “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Ok, “overcomer” not “defeated.” So I get up, gather the kids to the table and even though I am still not feeling like an overcomer, I apologise to them and we move forward with our science lesson on something called “phototropism.”

I read from the book:

“Kids, you’ve all seen how plants grow toward the sun. Sunflowers turn their faces to follow the sun all throughout the day. Plants lean toward the sun. We call this ‘phototropism.’ Now let me tell you how this works. Inside plants stems they have cells called auxons. These cells are what make them lean toward the light. Now I bet you think I am going to tell you that these cells are attracted to the light and so they pull the plant along because they just love the light so much, but actually, it is the exact oposite! Auxins shrink and die in direct sunlight. They grow, and actually stretch themselves way out, in darkness. So you might say the auxins are actually more about darkness than light. But when all the auxins on the sunny side of the plant die and the auxins on the shady side grow longer this makes the stem longer on the shady side and shorter on the sunny side, so the whole plant is bent over, turned, toward the shorter, sunnier side. It’s the cells that love darkness that cause plants to seek the light!”

By now I know I’m not the teacher in this lesson.

“Guys, God made us to seek the Him like the plants seek light, in fact, I think that might be part of why He made this aspect of nature to work the way it does. Today I felt like my sin was overwhelming me, like my sin was holding me back from seeking God. I’m completely knocked over right now by this idea that it’s the parts still stretched by sin, not the parts where sin has been burned off, that cause me to lean towards God’s light. It’s my still sinfullness that makes me seek Him.”

This might seem like a nice story of how God answered my struggle, but it is really even bigger than that. This day came when I was struggling with my faith- just not feeling with my usual absolute, that God was real and really worth everything. I was struggling with doubt every time I opened my Bible. So, God showed me the answer from outside the Bible. An answer He had worked into the fabric of nature thousands of years ago, and brought before me exactly when I needed it to be lifted up towards His love. He helped my unbelief and proved Himself master of creation and time, and also intimately concerned with my heart. God is real, and He really did create everything for the purpose of revealing Himself to us, and He really does care enough to speak even in the every day struggles of an overdramatic housewife.

Advertisements

Beach Trip

‘Twas the night before the beach trip and all through the house
No one was sleeping, excepting my spouse.
The children were bouncing on beds full of glee,
“I can’t sleep, I need water, Mom, I have to pee!”
Yes visions of sugar sand danced through their heads,
And great rolling waves knocked them out of their beds
To roll on to the floor and go swimming in sheets,
Mom, I’m gunna surf- swim way out- buy sweet treats!
But up on the island, early the next day,
They stepped off the bus and looked round in dismay
When not a white grain or a wave met their eye
Just miles of mud and a matching grey sky.

042Everything in Korea is just a little bit different, from the taste of a Coke to the mindset about toilet paper in public restrooms, and Korea’s beaches are no exception. When I took my children to a nearby island for a day at the shore, they expected white sand for castles and burying each other alive.  They got rocks, from tiny pebbles mixed with broken shell all the way up to boulders the size of castle ruins.  Where my children expected waves crashing over them, they got a mile of slick, grey mud flat, under an inch of ocean- just enough to tease our toes.  It wasn’t a beach where the ocean crashes up against the shore, this was where the ocean came to nap.  Where grey sky and grey mud gave it camouflage to silently slide up to the shore and rest, breathing only the tiniest, rippling breaths, hidden from the world that expected it to roar,behind a curving wall of black green mountain.  The only thing that crashed down on us was my children’s expectations.  Clearly, I had ruined their lives by depriving them of salty foam and every child’s inherent right to a bathing suit full of sand.  This beach was not what they had wanted.  051

And it was perfect. We only made it about half way through the mile long trek across the mud flat before my children discovered crabs.  Real live, tiny crabs, all the way up to crabs bigger than my hand with blue claws, and eye stalks that really swiveled to look at you.  We were seeing and holding things we had only read about.  Soon after we were visited by garden eels, a baby octopus, and an entire civilization of strange, membranous things we have yet to identify.  We ran our fingers through a tiny sea anemone, and dug up clams and shrimp.  I climbed twenty feet up a cliff, in my sundress, with my camera tied to my bathing suit strap and got completely caught up in our discovery of caves, a crab trap, and real tide pools.  David went on a mission to rid the world of barnacles because “They’re just too creepy, Mom!”  This beach was filled with amazing things way beyond what had even thought to imagine.

067

And, then… my children jumped.  I can’t even put into words what I was thinking but when four minors, with not yet fully developed risk assessment skills, asked if they could climb a swaying, rusty metal tower 50 feet into the air then put their lives into the hands of a middle aged man who didn’t speak any English I said “sure,” and my children, all the way from 16 and immortal to 6 and unsure each conquered their knocking knees and fluttering stomachs and soared.  When I caught up to them back down on the stony sand they were the happiest I’ve ever seen them. 

094

Our beach trip wasn’t what we expected.  Honestly, my life isn’t what I expected, not when I think about all the things I should be.  But it turned out our beach trip was better than what we thought we wanted and my life is that too- its great and unimaginable.  God plans all the best for us.  He has been on our side sense He created us, but sometimes we miss it all because we get caught up in our expectations for our lives and for ourselves.  God asks that we abandon our expectations.  That we leave them like my children left solid ground and safety railings and that we trust only in our identity as His redeemed to carry us along.  If being His is enough then He can carry you into adventures better than you could ever ask or imagine. I hope this day of exceeded expectations and of practicing courage prepared my children for the lives God has planned for them.  I hope when He calls them to something as terrifying as giving up themselves and trusting in Him alone they will jump with eyes wide open remembering that He always has better planned for them then they could ever imagine for themselves. 

102