Friday, December 24, 2010

Hey look!

"Hey look it's BABY GOD!"

Marcus yells every time he sees a nativity scene. It is a striking phrase, one he pieced together himself.

"Baby Jesus" is something we hear all the time, but "baby God," actually more accurate, is really quite startling. It is bizarre, really, to put the words "baby" and "God" together. One brings up ideas of weakness and vulnerability and neediness, the other strength and power and authority.

Yet God, our God, has put these two things together. He is the God whose apparent weakness is strength, whose vulnerability and death is power and blessing.

A great mystery is here.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Inheritance

I think the children are inheriting some of mommy's sentiments...

The other night Seth prayed, "God, please make Peter stay a baby forever!"




Oh honey, I like him as a baby too, but God didn't make him to stay a baby forever! God has plans for him as He grows up, just like he has plans for you. We love and enjoy him as a baby now, and God will help us love and enjoy him when he's big too!

(I lecture him and myself!)

"What would you say if I prayed to God that you would stay four forever, would you like it if He said yes?"

"No mommy! I want to get big and go to school!"

So he understood the lesson, and better than the giver of the lecture, who would be perfectly happy if God allowed her to stay 30-something forever.

But God has plans for me as I grow up too, so I'm told.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Isaiah 26:17-19

Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth
so were we because of you, O Lord;
we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.

Your dead shall live;
their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Isaiah 26:17-19

Heavenly Father,
Apart from you we can do nothing- we know this because we have tried, and we have either failed completely, or watched our "accomplishments" topple over in the wind. All our works are filthy rags, yet in your mercy you forgive us and graft us to the vine that bears lasting fruit, your Son. When we are discouraged by the trials of this world, comfort us and uphold us, and preserve us until that day that we see these words fufilled before our eyes. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tending

"I'll finish our book in a minute, honey. I need to tend to Peter."

I use the verb "tend " all the time to refer to the baby of the house. I hear crying or fussing, and I rush off to "tend," to meet whatever need it is that needs meeting. I tell the other children I must "tend," because as I go pick up the baby I do not know if he needs changing or feeding or cuddling or what. Hang on a minute big kids, mommy needs to "tend!"

I remember when Eldon was little and needed tending to, and Aggie was sick and needed so much tending to, and the others tended to each other as much as possible. I remember the day I was cooking dinner and talking to baby Eldon and dosing up the epilepsy meds, when Marcus pulled on my leg and demanded with big sad eyes, "Mommy! Tend to me!"

I like the verb "tend," and have begun to use it in my prayers. I miss my family, more than usual during the holiday season, and I hate not knowing what is going on with everyone. I have friends back home that are going through some hard times and I wish I was there to help them through. There are some in our church family who suffer, and I don't know what to pray or how to help them. So I use that wonderful verb that covers it all- I pray that Jesus tends to them. He knows whatever needs there are that need meeting, and He is also able to meet them.

Jesus, please tend to those I love in Michigan. Tend to my mother and father and sister and family; tend to my dear in-laws and my extended family. Tend to those who are rejoicing for I know not what, for those who bear sadness and trials that I do not see. Tend to those who miss loved ones like I do, tend to those who suffer both near and far. Jesus Our Good Shepherd, tend to us. Amen.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Scowling

"Mommy, look at this beautiful picture I made! I am going to bring it to school tomorrow to show my teacher!" my daughter yells. She digs through her church bag to find the picture, still breathing hard from beating all her siblings in the run home from church.

"Oh honey," I sigh, remembering her upcoming MRI, "It's beautiful, but you are going to have to wait until Wednesday to give it to your teacher. You don't get to go to school tomorrow; you have to go to the hospital so they can take pictures of your brain instead."

"But mommy!" she whines. "I want to go to school!" I watch as a hard scowl smashes the joy from her face. She stomps down the hall, a picture of woe, certain her life is entirely ruined. I suppress a smile, watching her moan and complain about this small misery. She doesn't even remember her year of daily seizures.  Now, it is day 445 of seizure- freedom for that girl. She has no idea what a small thing one little MRI really is.

Yet I see myself in her, so I withhold my lecture for once. Telling her, "you think this is bad? Let me tell you how much worse it could be!" would be as unhelpful to her as it is to me when I am feeling overwhelmed and burdened. Of course, I act like her sometimes; surrounded by a million mercies, yet pitching fits over minor inconveniences. Fighting children, interrupted schedules, stomach flu, broken dishes--any one of these things has the potential to elicit sighing and complaining from me. My daughter is blessedly shielded from how much worse it could really be, and so, an MRI counts as a trial in her world. That does not make her suffering pointless, or something that can be lectured away. "God says to rejoice always, little girl, so buck up and get yourself happy right now!"

The concept "It could be worse!" is often used as an attempt to comfort those in trial by well-meaning people. When this idea comes from a Christian, the implicit message sounds an awful lot like: Jesus died for you! How dare you be sad?! Is this what the Bible says about suffering? Your laundry machine is broken. Rejoice always! You miss a birthday party to spend the day throwing up into a bucket. Rejoice! That baby you prayed for has died. Again I say rejoice! Really?

Christ has died for us, and has received the enormous suffering we deserve for our sins. Our greatest debt has been paid, and on top of that, our Heavenly Father surrounds us with His grace and blessing as His children. Surely this is reason for great joy! However, that does not mean suffering is no more. While we remain in this fallen world, we will suffer. We have not been told to wear plastic smiles and pretend it is not so.

Rejoicing and suffering are often mentioned together in Scripture. Peter wrote to the suffering church, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials" (1 Peter 1:6). Trials, from minor inconveniences to breath-taking grief, have been part of the life of the Christian since the beginning. The imperative "rejoice!" is not intended to be a heavy word of Law slapped on the back of a suffering Christian. It is not a call to rack our brains for a hundred reasons to be thankful even as we tremble under the shadow of death.

God's children suffer, sometimes greatly, sometimes without knowing why. And yet they are made able to rejoice even while suffering. The important question is: Rejoice in what? Surely not in the fact that they suffer! No, rather read the beautiful words Peter uses to direct the eyes of His fellow saints to their source of joy:

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

In this we greatly rejoice, though now for a little while we suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

As God's children, we have been given so much more to comfort us than "It could be worse!" We have a risen Savior, a certain hope, and a God who keeps our inheritance for us, who will carry us through our trials to that day when we are with him in eternity. We may sigh today, we may even mourn, yet even as we do these things, we are tenderly invited to look to that day when the promises God has given us in Christ will be fulfilled. Soon, we will be gathered with all His saints, and He will destroy for us every reason for scowling and tears.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

serious Aggie


After a couple pukey hours this morning, I told Aggie I was feeling better.
"Of course you are mommy! I prayed for you!"
"Aw, thanks honey!"
"Your welcome," she said seriously. "Now, let's not have that happen again."

Friday, June 25, 2010

A new strategy for whining

This is making me crazy, and I really do mean crazy:

"AggiEEEEEE! Don't take my car from meEEEEEE!"
"MommEEEEE!!!! Seth hurt meEEEEEEEEEE!"

Wow, they sure know how to hit that perfect pitch, the one that makes the little hairs on my arms stand up and my neck twitch. They sound like squawking chickens, and it is making me a little nutty.

How nutty? Nutty enough to try this:
"Kids, if you are going to talk to me like squawking chickens, I am only going to reply like a chicken." They laugh and roll their eyes, not taking me seriously.

Then, five minutes later...
"MommEEE! I was tryEEEEng to make my bed but AggiEEEE-"
SQUAWK!!!! SQUAWK SQUAWK! says mommy.

Giggle, deep breath, then in a normal voice, "Mommy, I was trying to make my bed but Aggie wants the pillow on the top but I rEEAAly want it- (slipping into whining again)

SQUUUUAAAAAAWWK!!!! say I.

Source: sweetpeachblog.com via Cat on Pinterest
It took about five tries, but he finally got the whole story out without a single whine. I then stopped acting like a chicken myself and helped him solve the problem rationally.

Before long, it was Aggie screeching, "MommEEEEE!"
SQUUUAAAWK! I replied.

She suppressed her smile and tried hard to reign in the whining, but could only get to word number three before she was assualted by mommy squawks once again.

"Mommy." she said with a serious face. "I am trying to tell you something."

"Alright, then use a nice voice to tell me."

"Mommy. I was going down the slide with my car but Seth is trying to go up and I REEEEly don't-"

SQQQQQQUUUUAAAWWWKKK!! SQUAWK! SQUAWK!

(deep breath) "and I really don't want him to do that but he woooooooon't-"
SQUAWK!

Exasperated, she walked away from me.

Calmly, she said to her brother, "Seth, could you please stop going up the slide so I can go down?"

"Ok Aggie," he smiled.

I chuckled (or maybe I clucked?) as they ran off together.
Will I have the guts to keep this up in public?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The liturgy of Easter


I had this conversation with Marcus yesterday at church. It is a conversation as predictable as the daily “be kind to your siblings” lecture, and so each child knows the rhythm of it by heart.

“Is that Jesus mommy? Jesus died?” (serious face)
Yes honey he died on the cross, do you know why?
“For our sins?” (sad face)
That's right, but did He stay dead?
“No Jesus rose!” (happy face!)
Yes, He rose three days later. He's in heaven and someday when we die we will get to go to heaven to be with Him!
(happy face! and on to another subject...)

And so to the children, death means little. They hear about it often, but the whole subject is defined for them not by the cemetery, or by grief, or by their own personal losses, but rather, in terms of Jesus' death and resurrection. Therefore it is not permanent, nor it is the end of anyone's story. Death.... like sleeping …. or moving.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thou shalt not judge



How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me ridicule the boogers on your face,' when you yourself fail to see the layers of crust on your own face? You hypocrite! First wipe the crust from your own face, and then you will see clearly enough to to teach good hygiene skills to your brother!
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