Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Whitewashed Tombs

Getting my thoughts recorded for this post has been more difficult than I'd anticipated.

Saturday we got a new puppy. He's one day older than MC. The plan was to visit the puppy and bring him home this Saturday. However, when the breeder learned that I'm a stay at home mom, and therefore would be home most of the time to monitor the dog, she went ahead and sent him home with us.

Let me back track a little. When Cookie died, T and I gave MW the option of getting another kitten or a puppy. I told T an outdoor kitten was fine, but a puppy would have to wait a little while. I knew a new baby and a puppy at the same time would be a bit too much.

But T found some puppies that were just what he was looking for...he was going to go check them out in secret, but that didn't happen...and MW was so excited about them! And they were so cute. And in my head, I knew it would be too much...a newborn and a new puppy...but T promised he and MW would totally take care of the puppy...and they do...when T is home...

Earlier this week, I read the passage in Matthew about the scribes and the pharisees being like whitewashed tombs. They looked really good on the outside, but on the inside they were nasty.

In light of that passage, I looked at these pictures and saw all of us smiling. I saw this precious little puppy and two very happy children and an excited husband...even I was excited. He is cute and the children were enthralled. Based on the photographs alone, which don't quite capture our hearts (at least mine), one could easily be convinced that all is well...that bringing home a new puppy with a newborn baby has been this great adventure and that I am all smiles and have a great attitude about it...but then I'd be an awful lot like those scribes and pharisees...a whitewashed tomb. And if one day my children were to read this post, at least MW would know I had been less than honest, because unfortunately, in my sin, I've let them all know exactly what I think about the situation.

I don't think a blog is the place to air dirty laundry, but I do want to be honest. Is there a balance? I think so. And quite frankly, I cannot post these pictures in good conscience and not tell you the whole truth.

The whole truth is that I have been really mad, no, make that angry, about this dog. I understand that T and MW intended to take full responsibility, but T works, so he isn't home all the time. And little MW is five. She's a very responsible five year old, but she is five and five year olds don't always do a stellar job cleaning up puppy messes, and often they can't get the kennel door open, and they really shouldn't carry a puppy down the steps...and she will be starting school in less than two weeks...

I've been angry because I barely was managing three little ones and fulfilling my responsibilities as a wife and mother...add a puppy to the mix and suddenly the time I was going to spend sitting at the table to eat and talk with my children over breakfast (or in this specific case, use the bathroom) becomes time I'm spending on my hands and knees, with tears streaming down my face, cleaning puppy diarrhea out of the nicest rug (it's woven...sisal) in our house. Suddenly, unloading groceries and three hot, tired, and fussy children, one of whom is hungry and is letting me know about it, from the car takes on a whole new dimension with a puppy clawing at his kennel and whimpering and barking...a puppy who, like most puppies, doesn't hesitate to tee tee wherever he is...I'm not going to go on. You get the idea. This puppy is consuming a TON of my time. And so between a husband and three children, one of whom nurses every 2 hours and 45 minutes, and a new puppy, I'm having to die to self in an entirely new way.

Self doesn't die without a serious battle. The battle's been waging for days now. Bitterness has been harbored and has festered and oozed out, poisoning my precious family and spilling out onto friends. Anger has effected everything from the way I fold our clothes to the tone I take answering the same question for the umpteenth time. It has not been pretty.

So I can smile and whitewash this tomb for all outside to see, but the truth is, the inside is nasty.

The wonderful thing, the great comfort, the beauty in it all, is the Gospel. That in the midst of our sin, in the midst of our depravity, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us...the Righteous for the unrighteous.

I have waged my own war of punishing my husband for pushing for a puppy at this time...I have spoken harshly to my children and been short and snappy, and I've said things I ought not to have said...I've thought wretched things while shoveling poop off the sidewalk, or walking barefoot through puppy tee tee. Yet, in the midst of all that filth, which I'd been justifying, Christ hasn't forsaken me. He has, in fact, been at work in my hard heart, giving me a small glimpse of the inside of this whitewashed tomb and the hope that only He can give.

So now, my head knows the right thing to forgive, just as Christ has forgiven me...but my heart and emotions are on the fence, shifting from moment to moment. And I have to forgive again and again 'cause I keep taking it back. Dying to self is so hard.

The puppy, his name is Warrior, by the way (I pulled for Duke, T wanted Knight, but MW insisted it was "Warrior" and it's her dog...), and he's a Great Dane, and he is here. It's a done deal.

And this crazy time in life is merely a season. It won't last forever. I won't always be walking barefoot through puppy tee tee, while on the phone explaining to the security company that they have my husband's first name as his last and his last as his first, while running to pull T3 out of the potty ('cause he sat with the seat up and fell in and couldn't get out), with a screaming newborn in my arms who just spit up in my hair and down my shoulder, and a five year old asking me to tell her a story from when I was little, while I pretend to be the ticket taker on the pretend train our house has become, while Warrior nips at my heels...this is just a season...a season that won't repeat itself. A season that really is precious and wonderful.

I don't want to miss it 'cause I'm angry about the timing on a dog.

I want to jump in headfirst with a big smile and eat up every second...with a good attitude. I want to be okay with, to even enjoy the chaos and moments of insanity.

But I do the very thing I don't want to do.

The war wages on...

And, there is hope.

The Gospel.

"My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

Warrior's mama, Snow White.

Warrior's daddy, Apollo.

A few of the hay bales the breeders have bailed on their 250 acres.

And a store (?) we pass frequently, while headed out of town...
I love it because it reminds me of my grandfather and summers spent at the lake as a child.


  1. All I can say is:

    You are handling this much better than I ever would! And God gets the glory for that my friend. Warrior is going to be a warrior. I thought he was a Great Dane and then you confirmed it and then I thought about the size of his turds... you're going to need the strength of a warrior to keep up with Warrior... praying for you! But listen, he sure is beautiful! And he's going go be beautiful! And in a few weeks he'll outweigh all your kids and you! :) But in the last few days that's probably crossed your mind so I better not push the issue!

    I also tried to call Lucinda but I think her home phone is disconnected... if you have her cell would you email it to me!? Thanks!

  2. You are amazing! We took in a puppy a few weeks ago (of course, I could not imagine a puppy and a newborn at the same time) and I felt so guilty for for being glad that we couldn't keep ours. It changed everything! I could no longer be gone all day, for puppy had to be let out, etc. I felt so selfish! I think we have to experience these things (the feelings, not necessarily the puppies) so that we can see the good we have in us, and also have opportunities to see where we can improve even more. I just don't necessarily want the experiences that come along with that kind of growth. You really are amazing, in case you didn't hear me the first time!

  3. Yes, dying to self is a constant struggle. Always. The blessing is Grace. Like you said. Let it wash over you. I lost it with the boys Monday-just one of many, many days. I needed to read this. Thanks for your honesty!!!!

  4. I have to thank you, through sobs, for this post. I have had one of those days as a mother (Rod out of town, Briggs uncharacteristically defiant, closing myself in the bathroom crying out, "God, why does this have to be so hard?") and with every situation I have dealt with, all I could see was my own sinful heart convicting me. And up until I read your post all I felt was guilt, condemning guilt. A failure. Thank you for reminding me that my sin is nailed to the cross and in Christ- it can be well with my soul. Thank you for your transparency and know that God uses it for encouragement and for His glory.

  5. your transparency is you

  6. First off, you'll look back at this and laugh...eventually. Thankfully puppies grow out of this...right now though, Warrior is just like little MC except he can walk. Have you tried to use MC's diapers on Warrior yet ;) Belle, our dog, is reverting backwards, she was trained, and now she teetees and poos in the house! It's so frustrating, cause she was trained, until James came into our lives. I know she'll get over it, it just takes time. Its so funny how time is out friend and enemy all at the same time.
    When you get a chance, if you havent already, read Marley and Me...theres a chapter where they have a baby and go through some rough times with the dog.
    Love ya!!!

  7. Thanks for your honesty. I can't imagine how hard this season must be for you, but you have great perspective. And I think our honesty and authenticity honors God when you do it the way you did, in a way that points to Him. Thank you, J. And bless you!

  8. Bless your heart and your honesty.

  9. Hey Jen!!
    All I can say is I am so glad God uses all the things in our lives for good, even if it doesn't feel like it! He is good , therefor life is good!! THnaks for reminding me that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!!
    Love you and miss you!
    Sarah (shults) B.

  10. Hey there! I read your sister's blog (don't know her either :-) and have gotten to know her via the blog world! Anyway, I felt the SAME way about my dogs when my husband decided we needed them. It was sooo hard, and it is still hard - 2.5 yrs later. BUT, this was a great post for me to read and to remind me of what's important and what we can all learn through these things. Thanks for sharing!

  11. J- Thanks for your honesty! It is so refreshing to hear. And i am praying for you and the family as you adjust to this season. I know it must be tough. Sorry I never resonded to your email... we went on vacation... a much needed vacation! Ill email soon, but in the meantime know you are loved and prayed for!