Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolute




1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation; but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity.

70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.*




Ok, I didn't come up with these resolutions.  A man named Jonathan Edwards did in 1723. 
He was the president of a little school called Princeton, a brilliant and humble preacher whom the Lord used to touch countless lives.  He wrote seventy resolutions, but for the sake of my small, untrained 2011 brain, I have only included a handful.  Something to aspire to in 2012, eh?  And we thought losing weight and saying thank you more were good goals... 


*Taken from The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. Edited by Jonathan Edwards, including a biographical sketch of Jonathan Edwards by Philip E. Howard, Jr.

 



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Scandalous Present

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18


I thought about it during Christmas time.  God - condensing Himself into a human baby.  The Maker of the universe somehow fit His immensity into mere molecules.  That should have been one dense little baby :)  The One who created life became fragile, breakable life.
I find it awe-inspiring.  The stuff of tinkly, twinkly Christmas music.  Ephemeral, mystical, fairy tale-ish.

Immortal, all powerful God became helpless flesh.  But, He shouldn't.  He couldn't.  Could He?

Ruth Bell Graham - Billy's wife - said somewhere in a book I read (and now can't find) that it is a holy thing to have a Christmas time baby.  You feel some of the awe young Mary must have, struggling through very immediate and tangible labor pain reality to birth the supernatural Son of God.  The closest I've come is to have a January baby, so I can only commiserate by having been "great with child" around the end of December, looking like I could quite feasibly have squashed a little donkey under my girth.  (For the record, though this has nothing to do with my point, I've often wondered if Mary had to walk.  Would a poor couple really have had a donkey at their disposal?  I don't know, its not in Luke 2, just a thought.  Take that donkey out of the nativity scene and shake it up a bit.)

A baby is a miracle.  How is it possible life could come out of me?  There are fingers, toes, a personality - through me, but separated from me, complete apart from me.  Aside from the science of the birds and the bees, it really seems like something comes from nothing.  There was no life.  Suddenly, there is a beach ball kicking my ribs, then labor, then a squalling child.  A mind, a beating heart, a life.  A miracle.  I cannot comprehend this.
How could I understand then, the miracle on top of this miracle?  Supernatural life became human life.  The world didn't put up Christmas trees and buy extra scotch tape and eggnog when any of my babies were born, miracles though they were.  Jesus' birth was extra special.  Incomprehensibly special.
If I were just into Christmas for the stocking stuffers and pretty decorations at the mall, I would translate this miracle as ridiculous.  Foolish.  One commentary translated it "scandalous."  The message of the cross is utterly scandalous - God, in the flesh, born to die so we might live with Him.  Crazy.

Unless, I suppose, I grasp that He did it because He loves us.  He loves me.  Because He wanted me, God of heaven stopped at nothing to get to me on earth.  He pushed aside the flesh and blood barrier between us, not simply for fun.  He wasn't bored in glorious heaven so decided to sleep in a stinking manger on a whim.  That would be ridiculous.  He changed the foundational laws of spiritual and physical worlds so He, King of heaven, Son of man, could know us in both.  He changed the laws of physics (He made them, after all) to be with us.  To save us.  That's power.  That's love.  Scandalous love.  


P.S.  Talk about scandal - this was our tree this year.  Documented, in all its glory.  It was chosen and cut by my five year old in Grampy's back yard.  They thought it was the most beautiful tree ever.  Defeated the moment it came across the threshold, I let them have their way with it.  It was a wonderful Christmas.    


Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday

Woke up disgruntled.
I'm not ready for Monday.
I'm not ready for next Monday either.
By then, I'll still be behind on all the everything I should have done for this Monday.
This whole housewife-homeschooling-mom-to-four-boys-five-and-under life isn't hard.
It's impossible.

Pulled myself out into the kitchen.  The stove was cold.  So was the floor.  So were my feet.
Got banged in the head with the toilet seat when helping a toddler wrangle his pants.  My eyebrow hurts. I hope it doesn't bruise.  I don't want to explain it to any concerned citizens.  

There's a mountain of laundry.  I want to avoid it, but the kids have no underwear in their drawers.  They realize this after flinging off their pajamas.  We rummage together through the dryer, their unashamed little bodies diving in to claim personal items.  "Mom, the floor's cold!"  They wail.
"Put your clothes on!" I order, impatient as they are to get out of the cold laundry room.

My husband and I sit together briefly over lukewarm coffee.  There's syrup all over the table.  He works in retail; this is the busy season.  "Do I know you?" We joke, finishing the boys' half-eaten french toast.  I can't wait for January when we can introduce ourselves to each other again.  We've switched on survival mode autopilot.  I wish, today, we could just stop flying for a moment.  No.  We can't.
He goes off to work.  I feel alone.  The Proverbs 31 wife isn't showing up today.  At least she had servants to help, I think.  Blah.  Sighing is so destructive.  This pity party has to stop.  But I think I'm having too much fun being miserable.

There is dirt - and milk splatters? - on the walls.  I need to wipe those.  There are bathrooms to clean.  There is laundry.  Always laundry.  There are dishes.  Oh, and there are kids.  I need to do some school.

I read, then Gavin reads.  Shiloh and Henry fight loudly over firetrucks.  They call a truce to yell at each other through the baby monitors.  I can't seem to explain "one-way" to toddlers who grasp cell phone usage.  They are noisy.  The baby has learned to roll, but doesn't use his legs.  He flips until he hits a wall, then pushes backwards until he gets stuck under a bookshelf or sofa.  Then he hollars.  I rescue him so he can help us eat the school books Gavin's trying to decipher.

Lunch.  I start a movie to enjoy the ensuing relative calm and heat a pot of water.  Boxed macaroni and cheese; they'll love it.  Maybe I can start blogging while the water heats... Today's mail is taunting me from the keyboard.  I need to get the Christmas cards out.  The water boils.  I'll blog at naptime.  I say that every day, hoping.  The baby throws his cucumbers off the high chair.  Cucumbers are slippery.  Watch your step.

Sweet four year old spends longer than usual quietly not-napping in his bed.  "How nice of him to stay there so quietly when I know he's not sleeping," I think.  He appears a few minutes later, announcing, "I pulled all the feathers out of froggy!"
I smile wanly.  "Really, Honey?  All his stuffing?"
"Yup." He grins innocently.  "Now it looks like a big white garbage mountain!  And Froggy didn't have babies in his tummy."
So glad we resolved that question.  We go upstairs and find the big stuffed frog quite deflated.  His polyfill "feathers" are indeed heaped in a big pile.  Someone is ordered to re-stuff his fluffy pal and I add vacuuming to my list.

Gavin asks curiously, "When are we going to do those Christmas projects you said we have to start?"
"Maybe never," I think a bit frantically, "Or maybe after Christmas, when I can breathe again."  I shove a book of mazes at him instead.  It placates him; he loves mazes.  The two year old dumps crayons out to find the perfect blue one.  I set up an appointment for the baby for the next year while they squabble in the background.  I need a calendar up for January already.

I change the nappers.  Nurse the baby.  He humors me until a strand of my hair chances into his view.  He yanks that to his mouth instead.  I stop nursing.  Time to start supper anyway.
The beets stain my fingers.  Now its too hot in the kitchen with the woodstove and oven and witching-hour-fussing all raising my blood pressure.
They get the table half set.  I bring the food and the baby in.  Their plates get food.  We pray.  I cut meat.  I yell at the two year old to get back in his chair.  I forgot to pour their cups.  Don't attack the beans with that end of your fork.  Get back in your chair.  Eat!  Yes, you may be excused.  No, you eat your beans.

Bathtime.  Pajamas.  Close the gate so the baby doesn't roll down the stairs.  Don't take the fluff out of Froggy again.  We can sew him tomorrow.  Yes, sleep will make you grow.  Yes, you will be bigger than me.  But not tomorrow.  Go to sleep!  Aren't you tired?  I am.  I love you.  Good night.

Dishes.  Handwash that sweater.  Why must I "lay flat to dry"?  There is no "flat" to lay it on in this house!  It ends up on the floor.  I must remember to move it before the boys step on it and why did I buy a handwash only garment anyway?  Its as close as I've gotten to the sweaterdress I've wanted for about six years now.  Its becoming an obsession.  I've been either pregnant or nursing every winter.  Maybe next year.  If its machine washable.

I'm so tired.  Tomorrow is coming so quickly.  The boys wake up excited to start their day.  I woke up this morning excited for the moment it would be bedtime.  I should take lessons from the little whipper snappers.  Glad not everyday is a Monday.  Today sure was.  Mercifully, tomorrow is new.  I look forward to it.  I hope its not another Monday.      

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Because I love you...

1. ...I will finish your half-eaten soggy cereal.

2. ...I will take you back inside and change your stinky diaper even though it will make us late.

3. ...I will discipline you.

4. ...I will tell you "No."

5. ...I will be awake when you are.

6. ...I will brag about you to my friends and Grandma.

7. ...I will let you stomp in mud puddles.

8. ...I will cuddle you sometimes even when I am overwhelmed with housework that you created.

9. ...I will dress you, feed you, keep you warm and safe even though you pull off your clothes, spit out your food, leave the door open and try to play in the road.

10. ...I will tell you that Jesus loves you enough to live and die for you.  I will try to be a small example of Him to you every day so you can learn to love Him too, though it takes me to the end of myself... Because He first loved me.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Joy to the World

There is constant music in my house.  Well, OK, there is constant noise.  A hum of activity fills our background.    It is our normal.  In fact, the baby cries when it gets quiet around him; he finds the hubbub delightful and comforting.  Its not always happy noise.  But even when the bickering and fussing quiet, I often hear a child by himself singing (his version of) a familiar song.  They know choruses from Sunday school, melodies that accompany their Bible memory verses, and songs their Daddy wrote while perched on a stool in the laundry room with his guitar.  I can't imagine life without them singing through the day.  (Oh, I try to imagine it, sometimes.  Silence.  Golden silence.)  But their songs are so joyful, their singing so natural, the music is sweet.  If God is pleased by a joyful noise, (and He is) then He is honored by their songs.






In the 1600's, the only songs allowed to be sung were poetic versions of the Old Testament Psalms, rigid and unnatural.  Isaac Watts was born in 1675 to an English Dissenting father who had already endured hardship and jail for his differing views from the Church of England.  Isaac complained about the quality of their music one day after a church service, and a fellow member challenged the teenager to see if he could improve on it.  He could.  He wrote so prolifically that Watts is now known as the Father of English Hymnody.  Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, a collection of his songs putting New Testament fulfillment to the Psalms, was published in 1719.  It contained a song he based on Psalm 98 called  Joy to the World.


Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
   And wonders, wonders, of His love.      


It wasn't meant to be a Christmas song, simply a celebration of Christ's birth fulfilling verse that was written hundreds of years before Jesus came.  Watts wrote over 600 songs, many of which are sung today.  


I love hymn stories.  The words of these old songs are so rich and purposeful, they can stick in your head and be pondered.  Joy to the world - the Lord is come!  Let every heart prepare room for Him.  The wonders of His love!  What a great excuse modern Christmas tradition is that we can have meaty thoughts filling our ears throughout the day.  Not that I'm opposed to little ditties about Rudolf or partridges in pear trees, but I like a good steak meal more than a handful of candy.  Same with music.  How sweet to have it fill my house and mind.   Even off-key in high-pitched children's voices, God loves the noise of praise.  Most of the time, I do too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Rejoicing

This was mostly written the day before Thanksgiving, but someone threw up before I could finish.  I haven't had a long minute in front of the computer since.  I'm going to post it anyway.



This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

It was Wednesday.  I was making stuffing for our Thanksgiving feast.  It was snowing.  My two year old was rearranging our velcro calendar so the fourth Thursday of the month would never come this year.  He stuck a velcro sunshine on the current day, and a rain cloud where the date should be.   He had buttery fingers from his bagel.  Now all of November was buttery too.

I am thankful for butter and two year olds.  How can I not be?  On the first Thanksgiving, they probably didn't have butter, and half of the 101 who arrived the previous year on the Mayflower had died over the first harsh winter.  So they wouldn't have had many two year olds either.  Maybe none.  Cold, hunger, sickness, lack of basic necessities had wracked the small community.  Still they had a feast of thankfulness.  In one book I read, I think they called it a Rejoicing.

Over ninety Wampanoag locals came, their chief Massasoit leading them.  They came to the Pilgrim's settlement where their relatives once had a village of their own.  Plague had wiped out so many of them, they had vacated the area before the Europeans arrived.  Still they came to feast with the newcomers.  Harvest time feasts had been celebrated for hundreds of years in their culture.  They thanked their Creator for their provisions - long before they even knew His name.

I couldn't find my counters underneath the food preparations being prepared for Nana's house the next day.  One of the four children whined that he didn't like what we were having for lunch.  Another spat and threw his off the highchair.  I squashed a piece of pear under my foot and sighed.  Nap time couldn't come soon enough; I had so much to do and it was difficult with so many little hands to help.  My little blessings.  Baby's nose was gooey.  He smushed a pear slice in his hair and whimpered to be held.  Little sticky hands reached for me.  I don't care about your apple pie, Mommy.  I just want you.

Did you know the first book printed in America was a Bible?  It was also the first book in the Wampanoag language.  John Eliot translated it thirty years after the Pilgrims came to new Plymouth.
Within a generation, there were so many European transplants that the local way of life was no longer sustainable.  The native Americans were at war with the new Americans.  A decisive victory led to another thanksgiving feast in Plymouth when the new leader, Massasoit's son, was killed and his followers subdued.  Momentous events that defined their future.  My history.

The two older boys were playing roll the hubbard squash across the floor.  A friend called.  Her little son needs surgery on Monday because his bladder doesn't work.  He's already had heart surgery as an infant and lives with Down Syndrome.  She called to encourage me about the surgeon her son and mine share.  We didn't talk about the pain we have to watch them go through, or how our momma hearts hurt for them.  We say, "I'm so glad they're finding answers.  So good to know he can eat pie with you tomorrow.  Thank you for catching up with me."  And mean it.  It is good.  I watched boys' clothes shed sprinkles from the cookies we had just frosted in the kitchen.  I needed to vacuum.  We hang up.  Our lives are not how we planned them.  This is not how they could be.  But God is in control.   I will rejoice with you.

For a while, I left my kitchen to stew in its own mess.  It was bedtime.  They boys splashed happily in the bathtub which desperately needed a scrubbing.  I vacuumed their room while they were indisposed.  The carpet looked blue-er after several passes. Ben kept rolling across their floor, getting stuck in the corner and needing to be rescued.  Everyone wore fuzzy pajamas that night, the snow made us feel cozy inside.  We read books while I nursed Ben on the couch.  The boys snuggled extra close because the couch is broken and sagging in the middle.  They got to bed and fell asleep immediately.  So sweet.  I kept ignoring the kitchen and went out to shovel a path to our doorway before my cousin dropped by en route to her relatives.  It was so nice to see her, if only for a few minutes.  Don't look at my kitchen, I tell her.  "We can't buy that new place." She sighed sadly.  "We can't move yet."  She gave me a hug was was gone.

I don't know what the future holds.  I know there will be pain and hardship, loss and tears.  But I had a buttery calendar because of my two year old.  Worth it.  I had sprinkles in my hair and a dented squash because of my four year old and five year old.  Worth it.  I had snot all over my shirt from my baby son.  Worth it.  My kitchen was a mess because I hung out on the phone.  Worth it.  My arms were tired because I shoveled so my cousin could come inside for a moment.  Worth it.  I have a homeland, long forgotten relatives, memorable traditions, and Bibles printed in my own country through the great sacrifices of those before me.  Worth it?  May I never take it lightly.  Rejoice with me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You know you have a two year old when...

1.  The underside of the table is as sticky as the top.

2.  You find tissues in the dvd player.

3.  He asks for a spoon and your first thought is to protect the houseplants.

4.  You're not surprised to find plastic insects on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator.

5.  You own plastic insects.

6.  You never go to the bathroom alone.

7.  You give treats and praise when he goes to the bathroom - alone or otherwise.

8.  The most logical places to look for something missing are (a) the trash (b) the toilet and (c) his mouth.

9.  An empty juice box goes whizzing by your head as you drive the minivan, and you can tell by the high pitched evil laugh behind you whose car seat it came from.

10. The two best times of the day are (a) nap time and (b) when the happy, rested little person that looks suspiciously like you reaches up to be picked out of the crib and cuddled.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Knights verses doctors


There is a strong sense of justice within my foam-sword toting preschoolers.  They are boys; perhaps its in their very male blood.  I certainly didn't teach them how to have a shootout with sticks.  A stick to me is firewood, at best.  To them, a good one could be a valuable rifle or revolver.  Shiloh got upset when I enforced the no-sticks-in-the-house rule last week.  He said it wasn't a stick, it was a machete.  Fine, no machetes in the house, either.  They are bad news for little brothers and furniture.
The boys wake up and put on armor before they even get dressed.  After a quick swig from their morning cup of milk, they hurry into the living room to discuss strategy over the impending battle with the bad guys.  They seem to be good at strategy.  The bad guys never win.

I'm glad they want to stand for justice.  There is right and wrong.  There are rules.  There are consequences.  Coupled with that, we strive to be fair and equal.  I try to pour the same amount of milk in each cup.  Everyone gets the basic idea of taking turns.  We don't leave anyone out during colds or flu.  That's fairness.  Of course, they take it further.  If your brother hits you, you hit him back - to be just and fair.  They really grasp the concept of "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth."


My five year old shed some light on the subject recently, after matter-of-factly smacking his four year old antagonist with righteous indignation.  When it was made clear that this was not acceptable to his mommy, the five year old pled the "Do to others" mantra - with great emphasis on the first part.  They know the golden rule, sort of - I've even heard Henry preach to his siblings, "Do to odders what you want!"  Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.  Matthew 7:12  

And it dawned on me how they were interchanging the two verses to make them both fall under the law.  "An eye for an eye - do also to them."  Hmm.  We've been spending a great deal of time and my energy disciplining recently, enforcing rules.  The two year old is acting his age, learning his limits by testing them.  The older two are hearing about judgement at the end of the world in Sunday school, and at home we've been reading through the time of the judges in Israel's early history.  My little soldiers in plastic helmets have gotten the message that there are rules that must be obeyed.
Gavin wants to be a fighter jet pilot when he grows up.
Henry wants to be a policeman.
I think Shiloh just wants to be a hockey player and hit things really hard with sticks.

Its time to learn mercy.

What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

For I desire mercy...  Hosea 6:6 


The Lord laid out the law before He could offer mercy from it.  But then He did extend mercy, again and again, countless times.  Often, as I find myself stuck in these foundational stages of development with toddlers, my focus is establishing the rules.  Constantly.  It must be so, initially.  Everyone must learn parameters, and toddlers learn by bumping into them.  Four year olds delight in seeing them justly enforced (on someone else.)  But for my five year old - at least - it is time to build on the foundation of justice with an other-worldly concept.  Mercy.  I am allowed to not always serve justice when it is deserved.  Why?  I've experienced mercy.  I've broken rules when I knew better.  I'm supposed to be a grown up, (ha!) but I still break rules sometimes.  I've surpassed the speed limit and not gotten a ticket.  I've eaten chocolate when I should have eaten vegetables.  I've even lied and said I didn't know where the book was that they wanted to read for the bazillionth time.  I am despicable.  But I do like not getting what I deserve.

Now, here's the secret.  Shiloh, yesterday, was playing with some matchbox cars.  A younger brother came up behind him, stole a truck, and ran away.  Normally, a screech, a chase and a beating ensue until big brother gets his stolen property back.  This time, Shiloh said, "Hey!" But instead of chasing, he went over to the car box and simply got another toy.  Little brother, halfway to the kitchen already, was confused by not being chased.  He even came back in and held the pilfered loot tantalizingly near his brother.  Nothing.  He can easily take out brother.  I was amazed.  I almost wanted to say, "Shiloh, you can chase him if you want."  But I didn't.  I just smiled and thanked my four year old teacher for being an example.  To me.  Rather than exacerbating the condition, he halted the pilfering disease in its tracks.  It was beautiful and humbling.
I want to be like him when I grow up.
Especially if I can learn some of his sword fighting skills by then.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Land of the Living

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's; but the earth He has given to the children of men.  The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence.  But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 115:16-18


This was my Friday.

I planned to make french toast this morning, homeschool, be domestic in the kitchen and clean stuff.  So, by 9 a.m, we were eating Cheerios and toast.  Shiloh tried to suck up the milk in his cereal bowl with a straw.  Henry copied him.  He's an expert in blowing milk bubbles.  Ben seemed hot and bothered by something, and took it out on the contents of his high chair tray.  I made mental note to add sweeping and checking baby skin folds for crumbs to my to do list.
The boys, being boys, asked to go outside.  After wrestling over the idea of wearing socks and coats, and physically wrestling such clothing onto their reluctant appendages, they bolted for the door.  I savored the moment of silence.  There was a heavy footstep outside.  I heard Henry's welcome, "Hi Wail-man!"  The postman knew better than to hand a two year old the handful of bills, but returned his greeting with a tolerant "Hello" as he reached over his head to the mailbox.  "This is the Henry." Said the Henry, wanting to redeem his importance.
He trundled over to the other boys who were apparently building a rocket out of sticks.  Didn't know you could do that.  They have hundreds of toys.  Their matchbox car collection alone numbers well over one hundred.  But their favorite playthings are sticks, rocks, and a good pile of dirt.
God made the earth for the children of men, He said.  They embrace that wholeheartedly.


I do wish for a clean house, a neat little life, a bit of organization.  I am not organized.  That's probably why God has already given me four little boys in less than five years.  They are certainly impetus to get my priorities straight, daily.  My life is not silent or clean.  But it is full of life - noise, emotion, learning, craziness, goodness, and dirt.

I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.  Psalm 116:9

I looked over their math lesson, thoughts on the grocery list I needed to write.  All I had nearby were crayons.  Added bagels to the mental post it note that I piled onto the previous notes.  That's not a good system; by the end of the day, I can't remember what was on the bottom mental note.  
Grandma pulled up in front of their rocket ship outside.  It was time to wake the baby from his nap and head off to his appointment.  The boys piled back inside with their older victim in tow.  "Shoes off; close the door!" I commanded, automatically.  They tumbled into the kitchen, hungry, as always, while I bumbled around changing the baby and dumping his extra clothes into a bag to take along.  I always stuff too much in diaper bags.  
I heard a clink and saw Gavin and Henry by the counter.  "Wash your hands before you stick them in that sugar bowl." I hollered.  It took me a second.  "No - wait!" I rushed in, mopped up the sticky counter, and stuck granola bars in their hands.  The sink still had the breakfast dishes in it.  Maybe Grandma would have mercy on me while Ben and I were out and they would magically be clean when we returned.             
"I'm taking the boys to the library." She announced.  No dishes.  At least the house wouldn't get dirtier if they weren't in it.  Could be worse.  

I returned an hour later.  She was already being called into work.  Henry dumped the canned soup from his bowl onto his lap while she was on the phone.  I fed the baby, changed diapers, reheated some leftover lentils for my lunch.  Went though the motions of nap time for each child, then added the lunch dishes to the breakfast ones in the sink.  Decided it would be a good afternoon to introduce the older boys to Winnie the Pooh since we'd read the book.  We pulled out the computer and I tracked down the old version over the internet.    The lentils were cold, but I ate some before tackling the colder noodle soup still spread all over the floor under Henry's lunch chair.  Maybe I should mop this afternoon.

We survived the afternoon and suppertime.  Daddy was working late.  Good thing, really; the house was such a mess it wouldn't be pleasant to come home just yet.  I'd get to it - after bath and bed time for the young generation.  My house looks pretty good by 10 p.m.  That's life.  


My days are dirty, messy, disorganized, but so full of life.  The dead do not praise the Lord, their bodies are silent.  Guess we're not dead.

I will bless the Lord from this time forth.  Today.  Well, at 10 p.m. anyway.


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Church in thy house.

Learning to pray.

This is taken directly from Morning and Evening Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon.  I meant to pass it along in part, but I think you are getting the whole.  It challenged me.

Philemon 2.
'The Church in thy house.'


Is there a Church in this house?  Are parents, children, friends, servants, all members of it?  Or are some still unconverted?  Let us pause here and let the question go round - Am I a member of the Church in this house?  How would a father's heart leap for joy, and a mother's eyes fill up with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved!  Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us.  Probably it has been the dearest object of Philemon's desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first granted to him in its fulness.  He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service.  His master's prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon, not only to be a faithful servant, but a brother beloved, adding another member to the Church in Philemon's house. Is thre an unconverted servant or child absent this morning?  Make special supplication that such may, on their return to their home, gladden all hearts with good news of what grace has done!  Is there one present?  Let him partake in the same earnest entreaty.


If there be such a Church in our house, let us order it well, and let all act as in the sight of God.  Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity.  More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household; family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be more warm and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike.  We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches, for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a family-church in the inspired book of remembrance.


As a Church let us now draw nigh to the great head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

United Pirates



6:45 a.m.
The monitor lights sparkled and I heard a rousing rendition of Veggie Tales' The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything coming through it from the boys' bedroom.  Three boys, united, for a cheery dawn moment in high-pitched melody.
I was drinking coffee with my Bible on my lap, sitting on the living room couch.
I smiled.

This was yesterday.  Ahead of me was much to do.  My husband and 2 year old were sick the day before, and little got done.  There were sheets to wash, floors that desperately needed stickiness mopped off, an ominous pile of laundry already hulking in the corner.  I needed to plan the menu for the week ahead, look over school plans, find a good used wood stove for winter.  I had pain to deal with.  I had tried to pick the iron up on the wrong side the previous evening.  (Reason number 83 that I don't like ironing.)  My four year old had stuck his foot through the glass aquarium tank that was going to be a terrarium.  He was gingerly sporting a "crack" in the side of his foot.  There would be stubbed toes, squabbling to avert, and tattling incidents to control.  There would be noses to wipe and handfuls of clean tissues to stuff back into the emptied tissue box. It would be so easy to feel pulled in a thousand different, needful, directions.

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear Your name.  Psalm 86:11

Unite my heart.
Let everything else fade into the background that I might simply adore You.  But I am learning, oh so slowly, that doesn't mean I must go find a beautiful mountaintop and sit on a rock in the quiet early dawn light till I am fully in awe of my God.  Where I live at the moment, there are no mountaintops within range of my baby monitors.  A sagging sofa cushion must be my pinnacle.  The dawn noise that day wasn't birds chirping in the trees, it was the carefree chatter of toddlers.  This is where I must learn to abide in the Lord.
I have often prayed that God would give me His heart to minister to others.  I have prayed for His vision in my eyes, to see as He sees.  I want to hear with His ears, to touch with His hands, to walk with His feet.  Sometimes, when there's a mess on the floor, I can see the creativity He has endowed my scissor-happy preschooler with.  Sometimes, when I am cleaning the backside of the toilet - a truly humbling place to visit - I giggle out loud knowing that God Himself is right there with me, delighting to be with me.  That's amazing.  Sometimes, when I walk through the grocery store, I slow down, knowing humbly there are six little feet trying to follow (often literally) in my footsteps.  Sometimes, when I hear singing coming from bunk beds and cribs too early in the morning, I know that their Creator is blessed by their hearty, joyful noise - and I am blessed by it too.

 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.  Psalm 89:15

My little pirates and all their messes and mayhem could easily distract my heart.  I could endure the noise, or enjoy it.  The multitasking required of my motherhood could divert the purpose of my heart, or fulfill it to the glory of God.  What a joy to have united heart!     

  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ten things I said for the first time today

1. Don't feed my watch to the baby.

2. Don't draw on the toilet with that orange crayon.

3. Get the alligator out of my houseplants.

4. Use a tissue not the sofa.  (Ok, I admit, I've said that one before.)

5. Don't drive Lightning McQueen through your muffin.

6. I don't know if Cookie Monster wears underpants with a picture of himself on them.

7. Go with Daddy and chase those deer that just ran by.

8. No, you can't have a machete for Christmas.

9. Get out of the dryer.

10. Shiloh, you wrote your name by yourself for the first time today!

I have said, "Get out of the dishwasher" before.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicken picking




The other day it rained.  So, I baked a chicken.
Its an easy meal that makes me feel domestic and the house smell homey on dreary stuck-inside kind of days.  Throw in a few root vegetables and you've got the major makings of a good supper.  It is so versatile and wholesome.  The older boys like to study the heart and other organs that come inside. (Love these prepackaged meals!)  The bones will get stuck in the freezer until I have enough to make a big batch of stock (in theory, at least.)  The leftover meat will feed us in at least one more main dish.  

That is, after I pick it clean.  Which I despise.

Now, I don't really have qualms about chicken blood and guts.  The idea of starting from scratch, taking the chicken from the barnyard to the table, doesn't particularly phase me (though I quickly admit I haven't had the opportunity to look a chicken in its beady eye while I hold it over a chopping block... That will be another blog post - someday.)  It's the after part I don't like.
I don't like the smell or feel of cold, slimy, greasy chicken.  I don't like throwing all the solidifying fat into the trash where it will stink by morning.  Mostly, I don't like the tedium of scraping off every last bit of meat.  I love to cook for my family, but by late evening, I don't want to be in the kitchen any more.  I want to be done.  I don't want to spend quality time with the carcass of a very dead bird.

This is where it gets ugly for a minute.  (If it wasn't already.)  During supper, I had been mumbling and grumbling a bit - just a bit - about this unpleasant task.  Someone who loves me very much offered to do it for me.  That isn't the ugly part, of course.  That is selfless love, and its beautiful.  He worked all day, came home and wrestled the little minions and played with the baby, then offered to de-meat the chicken after helping wrangle the kids through bath and bedtime.  Only thing was, after the boys were tucked in, I think he forgot.
I know; isn't that just despicable of him?

Ok, this really isn't about sins of omission.  Its not about him at all.  Its about me.  At least, I thought it was.  I was so mad.  How could he do this to me!   He knew how much I dislike this task.  He'd promised me.  But there he was in the living room, reading, leaving me to face the clean up in the kitchen.  Feminist sirens were blaring in my ears.  Did he think he'd get any of this for lunch tomorrow?  Why did I have to do all the work for everyone around here?  Those fellas want to act like pigs, I'll leave them with a pigsty.

There's a story in Luke 15 about a prodigal son.  He demanded his inheritance, wasted it, and ended up penniless, feeding swine to stay alive.  Verse 17 says he was sitting there in the muck with the animals when finally he came to himself.


Well, that's what I did.  Smacked right into my own rotten self, there at the kitchen counter with the slimy skeleton.  My dear Conscience whispered gently, "Would you pick this chicken for Me?"
I melted.
Of course I would.  I'd pick a hundred chickens for Jesus.


"Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:40

My husband is my favorite person in the world.  But I wouldn't pick a chicken for him?  I laughed, and sighed, dissolving in repentance.  That chicken meat went in the fridge, his lunch got packed, the bones went in the freezer, and he never knew what a shmuck I had been.  (Till now - I did ask him to proofread this for approval.)
But God knew my nasty little attitude.  He loved me too much to let a bunch of old bones get between us.  I love that He will find me in my messy little kitchen and suddenly bring me to the foot of His throne.  He is so good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just as I am



Can you imagine getting sick at the age of thirty, and being bedridden for the next fifty years?
Charlotte Elliott was a bright, vivacious young woman who lived in England at the turn of the 19th century.  Just after her 30th birthday, she became ill.  Fatigued and in constant pain, Charlotte was confined to her bed.  She would remain an invalid until her death at age 82. 
One day, as the story goes, several years after the onset of her condition, Charlotte visited with a minister.  She expressed her frustration with her state of helplessness and feelings of wretchedness.  He urged her to commend herself to the Great Physician.  She responded, "I would like to come to Christ, but I do not know how to find Him."  The pastor said simply, "Come just as you are."  She did.
Charlotte still struggled to feel useful within her physical confines. One night she wrote a poem. It was published anonymously several years before she became aware of it. You may have heard it.  The words were later put to music.  
Years later, a young man named Billy Graham heard it and committed his life to Christ.  He also had it played after presenting the gospel at hundreds of meetings himself.    


Just as I am - without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
 

-O Lamb of God, I come!


Just as I am - and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
-O Lamb of God, I come!
 

Just as I am - though toss'd about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shiny things


When she found it, she called her friends and neighbors together, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost."
Luke 15:9


Just changed someone's diaper.  Found my earring.  Life can go on now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The one that got away

Beniah ate my earring last night.
Really.
It was a dangly, mother-of-pearly tear drop.  The end looked enticingly like a fishhook.  He fiddled with it in my ear while I undressed him for a bath.  Suddenly he gagged, I flipped him on his back, and whatever was in his throat slid down instead of out.  Daddy noticed a moment later that my ear was empty.  Ben burbled and cooed and waved his naked legs at me.  I hooked a big one.

He slept innocently.  But I wasn't letting him off the hook yet.  First thing this morning, I whisked him off to get an x-ray.  In the first place, I wanted to know if he had indeed ingested my illustrious jewelry.  You can see the proof if you look closely in his rib cage.  In the second place, I wanted to know if it was planning to rip any holes in him along its journey.  But earrings don't tell you their plans.
 

Now there is nothing left to do but wait.  And feel a bit like a terrible mother.  Why couldn't he just eat pocket change like other kids?  Or get peas stuck in his nose?  And how often does the fish actually swallow the hook anyway?  (I am not the authority on fishing, so that may be a stupid question.  I've really never thought about it until today.)

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fuzzy Pickles


Woke up late.  
Four-year-old was yodeling from the bedroom, "Momm-mee, Henry's sii-ick."  Upon quick inspection, discovered Henry simply coughing - rather cheerfully from all the ensuing attention - and ordered all three to go back to sleep.  It was time for them to be up, but I wasn't ready to hurtle head long into the day just yet.  They didn't "sleep" much longer, but I got the coffee started and scanned a quick chapter from the Bible.  Read something about aspiring to "lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your own hands..."  Then I started hurtling.  
Baby was snotty and cranky.  It could be just a cold - or could be a warning sign of shunt or kidney infection.  I don't know.  He wiped his nose on my black shirt. 
Wanted to make bread today.  Dumped flour into the Kitchenaid; realized I didn't have quite enough sourdough starter.  While adding to starter, two-year-old "helped" by jabbing the flour from the mixing bowl into any possible crevice in the mixer that might lead to electrical or motorized parts.  Cleaned up Henry, counter, and floor.  Bread might get made tomorrow.  
Called doctor to schedule baby's next check up.  They can only see him during his nap times and not for over a month.  Should have set this up a long time ago.  
Fumbled through homeschool lessons since I fell asleep last night before prepping for the day.  (Did wake up quite refreshed, though.  That was nice.)  Five-year-old does not like handwriting.  Four-year-old colored entire work page black.  Ambitious.  Two-year-old played outside in the dirt.  Wondered what all the other local homeschoolers were learning today.  Probably a lot.  
Lunch came out of a can. (No bread.  Remember?)  Fed baby leftover chicken and frozen blueberries.  Baby was still blue around edges an hour later.  Yelled when I should have disciplined.  Disciplined when I should have gotten the facts first.  Let the boys watch a movie so I could attend to the morning carnage.  Reheated leftover lasagna.  Ate it cold an hour later.  
Blessed naptime.  
Four-year-old decided not to partake.    
Five-year-old not interested in starting a book about dresses.  I didn't fight.  We started Winnie the Pooh instead.  Considered attacking laundry pile hulking in the corner.  Added load from dryer and ignored it instead. Practiced number flash cards with four-year-old.  When he got them wrong, Shiloh mumbled in disgust, "Fuzzy pickles."  Must be a terrible occurrence, in his mind.  
He ended up playing mail man with the cards.  
Made supper while kids played outside and baby fussed.  Cleaned two-year-old when he came in smelling suspicious.  We don't have pets that would leave anything around.  Ugh.  Five-year-old cleaned all the little crab apples off the young tree in the back yard.  He proudly brought them in and asked to make jelly with them.  I said no.  Called kids in for supper and cleaned hands thoroughly while baby fussed. 
Made kids eat vegetables.  I think my two-year-old has forgotten how to swallow.  I bet food tastes good still warm.  I don't remember.  
Shuttled four boys through bath.  Need new drain plug.  Baby probably gets a new cast on his foot tomorrow, so that means no baths while it's on.  Hope I remember not to feed him blueberries during this period.  (The cast simply stretches the ankle/foot muscles that he can't stretch on his own.  He doesn't notice it except when he drags it up to his mouth to chew on.)          
Nursed baby while reading The Little Engine That Could for the bazillionth time.  Boys fought over who gets to be which train.  They have to fight over something.  
Prayed in their dark room.  Henry added, "Thank You for trains.  Thank You for Daddy's house.  Thank You for Mommy.  And thank You for trains."   Awh.  I love my boys.  
Cleaned dinner off the table.  Did dishes.  House smelled like fish and diapers.  Got trash out for garbage day tomorrow.  Vacuumed.  Looked at laundry pile.  Decided to do paperwork and then blog instead.  Looking forward to sleeping.

That's a day in my life.  Left out some trivial things so it wouldn't seem too busy.  I am so blessed and I wouldn't trade.  Really.   
Well, maybe the laundry.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seasonal


I love New England this time of year.
The hills are breathtaking in riotous color, clear air and dazzling blue sky reflecting in picturesque little lakes.  Puffy clouds dapple the landscape with movement.  Postcard perfect, but so vibrant, so alive.
Soon it will be winter.  Icy lakes will reflect the gray sky.  The hills will be covered with stark trees, monotone and still.  Lifeless.

Beauty before death.  At the risk of giving trees too much personality, I was awed by the thought.  In preparing for the inevitable end to their lively summer season, every tree proudly displays its most beautiful stance.  Each leaf, at its end, is unique and vibrant.  They have lived for the summer, they have done their job for the tree, soaking in sunlight so the whole plant can grow bigger and stronger.  Their final days are inevitable.  Instead of shriveling and dropping into oblivion, they first blaze in bold, joyful color.  They praise their Maker.  They display a hint of His beauty.  They have fulfilled their purpose, and glory in it.

I won't draw the comparison further.  But I saw more than a postcard today.  When I fulfill my purpose, I hope my end will reflect the beauty of my Creator to those around me.  I hope to boldly reflect His glory when I have completed my usefulness.  Winter inevitably comes.
But then, after that, so does Spring.        
   

Monday, October 3, 2011

Would you accept his proposal?

Written in 1810 to a prospective father-in-law.

I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of  India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death.  Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of the perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God?  Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness, brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from the heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?  


Sent by Adoniram Judson to the John Hasseltine, father of 21 year old Ann Hasseltine, one month after meeting her.  Adoniram went on to Burma as a missionary, wrote the first translation of the Bible for the people there, endured extreme harsh persecution, and waited seven years for his first convert. His wife Ann was with him.


-from My Heart In His Hands, Ann Judson of Burma written by Sharon James.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Purpose - or, Here's mud in your eye.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 
And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him."

It was one year ago that we found out the twenty week old baby growing in my womb was a boy.  We also found out that he had Spina Bifida.  We could see a bubble on his lower back.  His spine hadn't formed completely on the end, and the spinal cord was growing into that bubble.  One foot was twisted almost backwards.  He had too much fluid (or too little brain) in his head.  It was a shock.  The prognosis was uncertain.  He could be born and live almost completely "normal." Or, he could have massive problems and maybe not even be able to see or breathe or eat after birth.  
We searched for answers.  Had I done something during pregnancy to cause this?  Was there anything I could do now to fix it?  And why?  Why?

Honestly, I don't know why.  Not exactly.  

I recently read John chapter 9.  The entire chapter is devoted to Jesus' miraculous healing of a blind man.  This man gets a lot of "air time" in a Book where quotes are at a premium.  Why?  He isn't the first blind man Jesus ever healed.  In fact, its a fairly "routine" miracle (as much as that is possible - which is part of the point).  It is actually kind of a yucky miracle (as much as THAT is possible) - spit, mud, finger pointing, libel, and ostracism.  Jesus walked by a blind beggar, spit on the ground and made mud, rubbed it on the man's eyes, told him to go wash it off, and left.
I am amazed by his willingness to obey the Stranger who basically just spit in his face.  Jesus didn't tell him when he washed his eyes he would be able to see.  Yet he willingly found his way to the pool of Siloam and rinsed off the mud (certainly breaking several Sabbath rules in the process).  Suddenly, for the first time in his life, he could see.

Now, I'm not expecting someone to come up to little Beniah, rub mud on his back and head and erase all his physical difficulties.  And if you read this and feel so led, be forewarned I will probably, at the very least, spit on you.  Sure, it would be swell if my baby would be able to play soccer and drive a car and have his own children (well, not yet, but eventually).  Maybe in 20 or 30 years, God will heal him.  Maybe He won't.
In the meantime, I am encouraged by this man.  He had the wisdom to somehow know that this Man with the mud, whom he couldn't even see, should be obeyed.  He wasn't distracted by the politics and drama surrounding his healing; in fact, Jesus apparently gave him very good vision.  He seemed to see things clearly in black and white.

"One thing I know; that though I was blind, now I see...
"Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him...
"If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing."


I love this man's boldness!  Perhaps it is easier to stare your enemies in the face when you've never seen a single face before in your life.  He had doubtless prayed every day of his life that God would take away any sin that had caused this handicap.  Finally, finally, God answered by sending the only sinless Man on earth to touch this man's eyes.
The very men who should have been rejoicing that God was there among them didn't even want to believe the man had been healed.  They questioned his very blindness.  They questioned his willingness to be healed by a man who would break the rules of the sabbath to do it.  Ultimately, they ostracized him from their whole culture for simply believing his healing came from God.  The man defended the mud-Maker against the mud-slingers.  It cost him.  But he got to know Jesus face to face.  

Beniah is 8 months old.  Many of the nerves below his belly button don't work.  He had back surgery the day after he was born.  He had brain surgery two weeks later to put in a shunt (which diverts excess fluid from putting too much pressure on his brain.)  He is followed by a bevy of specialists.  He can't wiggle his toes.
I love him and find him adorable.  I don't like that he has so much suffering and difficulty in his life.  I don't understand it.  Maybe this is how he will know Jesus Himself.  Maybe this is how God will use him to teach others about Himself.  Maybe my job is to raise him to fulfill whatever purpose God clearly has in store.  One day, I hope, we will see it as clearly as that man with the mud on his eyes.  Even if it seems like God is just spitting on us, it could be a miracle in the making...


Monday, September 26, 2011

Things for little brothers to do while Mom homeschools older brothers

1.  Strip 1/2 the leaves off succulent house plant and squeeze out liquid from leaves with feet.

2.  Escape outside and stomp in mud puddle.

3.  Sit in mud puddle.

4.  Peel wrappings off all crayons.

5.  Smash chalk against hardwood floors

6.  Dump remaining chalk in little space behind baseboard radiators.

7.  Spin several gluesticks to the top, take out glue, smush on table.

8.  Tear library books.

9.  Attempt potty training.

10. Dump cordless phone neatly in garbage can. (Thank God it rang soon after!)



Granted, this is not a comprehensive list.  But we've only been at this for a month so far...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cheetos and stuff

"A cheetah could eat a giraffe."
My five year old stated matter-of-factly this afternoon.  He was, aptly, wearing a giraffe costume rescued at a weekend yard sale.  Daddy had been in charge of lunch on his day off, so a take out pizza and bag of Cheetos magically appeared on the table at noon.  The boys were ecstatic at the crackle of the orange bag of rare delight.  Now, as I cleared the table, Gavin sat munching with a twinkle in his eyes.  "Look, now a giraffe is eating a Cheeto!"

Daddy grinned, "That's my boy."
I chuckled.  The boys are constant entertainment; at least when we choose not to be exasperated by them.  Life must have been so dull before I had children, but that era is a distant memory now.  Gavin is 5 and 1/2 now, and he is followed (and often tackled) by a 4 year old, a 2 and 1/2 year old, and jolly little 8 month old.  And yes, a bit of a break does sound nice.  And yes, we are busy.  And yes, they are all mine.  I was there at their births.  Believe me.


And, yes, we are beginning our homeschool journey this year, officially.  In fact, we have survived week four.  When asked recently what he'd learned so far, Gavin flung out nonchalantly, "Stuff."  As if my ego and reputation were no concern of his.  As if he doesn't consider how desperately I want to do this whole "raising children" thing right.  




Of course, I learn so much from having these little reflections around.  My relationship with God is so often mirrored by their own simple existence.  I suspect He gets exasperated with me, cries for me, laughs at my antics, aches when He must discipline me, and always, always loves me.  I read John 13:1 this morning.  Jesus, "having loved His own who were in the world, loved them to the end."  His own.  Isn't that a wonderful phrase?  Two chapters previous, Jesus had wept with His dear friends before Lazarus' tomb.  Later, He sat down to a good meal with His disciples, then humbly washed their feet.  He was preparing to die for them.  For me.  For His own.  That's heavy.
Yet I blithely go about my days largely naive to His great sacrifice for me, His grace toward me.  I appreciate some good things, complain about a lot of difficult things, and generally ignore the One who holds the molecules of my life together.  He delights in me.  He's constantly teaching me, giving me good things, taking care of me when I have no concept that I need taking care of.  Because I am His own.      






There.  Blog one.