A Rock Home Companion: on being kin to dirt


“Milk comes from, say what?”

This week it was go to the farm and get really dirty day, so we went to a big barn, in flip-flops no less, and checked out all kinds of furry, loud, strange-parted creatures. I didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, which makes me really sad at myself. Growing up around farmy beasts really did broaden my educational scope. It didn’t take me long to figure out the birds and the bees when it was actually the cows and the horses. You know what I mean?

Isaac and his best buddy, Silas got to see a milk cow suctioned with a pump. All the milk slurped into a jar, and my best buddy and I said, “Ouch! Remember that?”

Jude spent the entire time ignoring all the amazing animals, even the strange white turkey that didn’t have any claws that looked pumped with Clorox. All Jude cared about was the dirt floor. We left with it in his shoes, hair, and pockets.

The day that all America’s air got in a big fight over the South, Northwest Arkansas turned creepy. It would pour rain for ten minutes and then peal back and let the sun glisten off the water. It was too appealing for little boys, one in particular. He just feels more like himself when he’s a little dirty, wearing very few clothes.

Little brother, too, has to follow along. Every time I dry his clothes, several handfuls of trucks, grass, and rocks jump out of my dryer. I have a bucket on the dryer just for little boy junk, and when they find the bucket, they act like they’ve found treasures.

This is my blessed life. These pictures are proof, yet I have a friend on the other side of the world, and she watches me from my blog. I watch her from her blog. We both see the other thriving, all smiles, but then we speak on the phone and we remember who we really are again as friends – just needy, mostly low friends, who love each other, even when the pictures say we have it all together.

I don’t have much together right now. I told a friend the other day how beautiful she is. She looked me straight in the face and said, “thank you, but it’s just an appearance.” Ah, I thought. I understand exactly what you’re saying.

There is this one who comes in my home wearing pink, my doll baby who isn’t mine. I thought taking care of her was going to make me a better person. I thought I would change her life, and she would change mine. But it’s not happening that way. I find myself again digging at my roots to see what I really am, all frail, only dirt with breath of life. A long time ago, a thought-bulb planted in deep, and as it grows, it tells me that the more I work, the more qualified I am, the better graces I’ll have.

Works-based righteousness is a tricky root to do away with.

I am a mother who fears confessing the struggle. I fear being questioned, but there comes a day when being tired outdoes the fear, so I confess it. There are days in the life of a young mother that can be very very dark, even when we stand as best we can in truth, even with the sword of words in hand, even when we hash it out in prayer. If we live in skin, we find ourselves in the dark place.

It’s muddy Spring, and the air is live with metaphor, the dirt even. Then why are you downcast, soul? Why so disturbed? Because, Hope feels different when it’s found in the dark. When praise is coupled with YET, with ‘even in this’, when we call Him Savior God, yet even in the dark places, He is Great GOD indeed.

I know there is nowhere I can go that He’s not there – He who breathes life even into the dirt.

amberhaines
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16 Comments

joann
Reply April 26, 2010

it's true.
we need Jesus, especially when we forget we need Him.

John
Reply April 26, 2010

Flip-flops? In the barn? I think there's something in Exodus about 'not' doing that.
~~~
...But darkness holds it all:
the shape and the flame,
the animal and myself,
how it holds them,
all powers, all sight -
and it is possible: its great strength
is breaking into my body.
I have faith in the night.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

    Amber
    Reply April 26, 2010

    I know. I walked in there and thought that my Daddy would give me a talkin to for walking in a barn with flipflops. Seriously, though, it was a tame barn. The dirt looked like it had been sifted for baking.

    John. Do you know how I love Rilke?

    I do. I love him. We'd have been friends.

    Listen to this crazy mess of a poet man:
    Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
    and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
    and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
    fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
    under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
    among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

    Rilke, are you kidding me? You, Me, Jesus, and a porch swing one day, I hope.

    Jesus, thank you for Brother John today. Sometimes I forget about poetry, and come to think of it, in Psalm 42 and 43, poetry is exactly what the writer used to remember and express truth, the facts of the matter.

Elaina Avalos
Reply April 26, 2010

I needed to read this tonight...

"Because, Hope feels different when it’s found in the dark. When praise is coupled with YET, with ‘even in this’, when we call Him Savior God, yet even in the dark places, He is Great GOD indeed.

I know there is nowhere I can go that He’s not there – He who breathes life even into the dirt."

Oh how I needed to read that!

Jo@Mylestones
Reply April 26, 2010

I was smiling and nodding all the way through the stories about farms and flip flops and mud and a treasure bucket on top of the washing machine. And then I read the last two paragraphs, and it was tears. Because YES and AMEN. And did I mention AMEN?

Gwen
Reply April 26, 2010

Beautiful post, thank you!

Elizabeth (@claritychaos)
Reply April 26, 2010

You're speaking the truth, my friend. It isn't easy, but there gets to be a point where we are just too tired to tell anything other than the messy, mucky truth.

Love to you and yours, girl.

xo elizabeth

mandy Eoff
Reply April 26, 2010

yes. thank you for writing this

Melissa Brotherton
Reply April 27, 2010

Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.

Megan
Reply April 27, 2010

I feel this very present right now. Thanks for sharing

emily
Reply April 27, 2010

Sometimes fear chases me into hiding, but then sometimes, like you, it smokes out the truth. I'm so glad your truth is spilling out today.

Jennifer @ GDWJ
Reply April 27, 2010

You're beautiful, and part of the thing that makes you most beautiful, is the dirt between your toes.

I love your heart, and your willingness to share it.

From one dirtball to another ... :-) ... I thank you.

kendal
Reply April 27, 2010

My boys play baseball so I have a laundry ritual. Soak the uniform for at least an hour in cold water, one cup of spray n wash and two scoops of oxy clean. Then wash as usual. Almost all of the infield comes out. Most of the outfield, too. Almost. I feel the same. I spend my time with Jesus working out the infield. The outfield. But the remnants.... Sometimes I get so angry - why can't I be normal? Healthy? Real? But those stains? They're my testimony. My reminders. My humility. Thank you, Jesus for the dirt.

Amber
Reply April 27, 2010

Love it! Keep writing. I look forward to your posts.

Rebekah
Reply April 28, 2010

we must have been on opposite sides of the barn. perhaps someday we'll actually spend some time together instead of merely passing in the hallway with six kids hanging on us. i do love seeing you around town now that we live here though.

JennieLynn
Reply August 11, 2011

The stories of your boys remind me of the Davies boys who inspired J.M. Barrie to create Peter Pan...Your three are definitely worthy of their very own fairy story.

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