Monday, July 21, 2014

this mission

I seldom feel like much of an adventurer--standing in this kitchen, pouring cereal into bowls, refilling them, handing out paper towels when the inevitable cry comes: "Uh oh. I spilled." But sometimes at night the thought will strike me: There are three small people here, breathing sweetly in their beds, whose lives are for the moment in our hands. I might as well be at the controls of a moon shot, the mission is so grave and vast."

(Mahoney, Feminine Appeal, 62)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Uncle Geek, the fixer-upper

Yesterday was a joyous occassion for the Cook family!

Uncle Geek-- I mean, Quinn, my husband's youngest brother, got married to a beautiful woman of God.  We couldn't be happier for the two of them!

When we got married, Quinn was ten. He surprised us at our wedding reception by singing us a song (his parents wrote the lyrics).  It was called "Emily and Josh" and it was to the tune of "Beauty and the Beast!"

His mom suggested that we return the blessing at his wedding.

Note: teasing IS his love language.

As you can see from the performance below, we love him very, very much!

(This is a dress rehearsal version. I may post the live version eventually, but it is harder to hear them then due to all the laughing and cheering!)

In honor of Uncle Geek's wedding day- a tribute to "Squinn!"

"When I was little, I couldn't say the word 'Quinn.'  But I found another word that fit better: 'Geek.' Geek has always been another kid to us."

"Now, we can hardly believe it- Uncle Geek is married!"

So- we have a few questions for Sara-

What's the issue dear? What do you SEE in such a man?

Is it the clumsy way he walks?
or the mumbly way he talks?
Or the pointy, goofy weirdness of his teeth?
And though we know he drives so well, his car ends up sorta smelly...
But you've never met a fella who's as hilarious as Geek!

Yes he's a bit of afixer upper
He's got a few quirks
His peculiar brain, dear, we just can't explain, dear
He called you a horse! That's how he flirts!?

Yes he's a bit of a fixer upper but this we're certain of
You'll be happy with this fixer upper with a little help from above!

How about the way that he runs scared
of all the birds in the air!
Or that a happy, clappy clown can make him weep?
Do you like his butt-shaped chin?
And the way they call you "Squinn?"
And the drool puddles every single time he sleeps?

He's just a bit of a fixer upper
He's a little weird
His hair is curly and his arms are girly
And we don't think he can grow a beard

So he's a bit of a fixer upper, but God knew what to do
He had mercy on this fixer upper when he fixed him up with you!

What about Sara? She's not perfect either!
Good point!

So she's a bit of a fixer upper
A bumble bee can make her FLIP!
She takes your Pepsi, when you complain, she
Smiles and says "I just want a sip!"

So she's a bit of a fixer upper
She reallly loves donuts!
And that gum snapping--that gum snapping
Is enough to drive you nuts!

We're not saying you should change, dears,
but as the seasons change
You might wake up and wonder why the other looks so strange
But we know you're in Jesus, and in Jesus Christ you're blessed!

God's love will keep you strong each day-- we wish for you  God's best!
May God grant you His best!

Everyone's a bit of a fixer upper
That's what it's all about
Father, sister, brother
We need each other
to fix us up and round us out

Everyone's a bit of a fixer upper
but when push comes to shove

The only fixer upper fixer that can fix a fixer upper is



God's blessings to you "Squinn!"

Lyrics by Emily Cook
Special thanks to all who helped prepare these girls: Pam and Larry Cook, Nikki Burkey, (Awesome) Tom Rozegnal and Amazing Jean, and the Heyboers for the use of their party room and microphones!

Monday, July 14, 2014

More than "Get well soon."

"Mommy! The pukes are coming!"

My son runs towards me yelling these words. Towards me, and away from the bathroom.

Few words get me moving so quickly as these. Immediately I switch from relaxing on the couch mode to super-ultra multi-tasking mode. I leap towards my son, scoop him up in my arms, and begin my lecture, "Honey! If you have to throw up---" toilet seat up, kid in position, "go to the bathroom first, don't---" Lysol, paper towels, "come running to me first--- Oh, honey." The lecture is silenced by compassion. The child looks up at me in between heaves. His world has utterly changed. He has come face to face with pure evil, and its name is "stomach flu."

One by one, the six children succumbed to stomach flu last month. Each one insisted that mommy be present and involved when the heaving was happening. So there I stood, time and again, next to the toilet, rubbing backs and murmuring words of compassion.

I hate sick eyes. Sad, sick eyes looking up at me, begging me to make it stop, or at the very least to explain why it is happening. I could do neither, so I sighed, prayed, and rubbed backs. My ineffective, weak hand could not stop the violence that attacked my babies' small bodies. I gently encouraged, patted, and assured the little ones that it would be over soon.

What was the point of that, really? Why in the world was it necessary for me to be there with them every time? Why did they want to hear those words that I could not fulfill, those mere wishes that they would get better soon? Why was it necessary for me to crawl from underneath my warm covers, stand with them through the heaving and the crying, and maintain some sort of hopeful and comforting attitude through it all? Why did they want my powerless hands to comfort them when they could not take away the sickness? Yet they insisted on it, adamantly, making clear that messy consequences would follow if I even hesitated for a moment.

It made me think of another situation I hate even more than I hate stomach flu: when evil, the kind worse than stomach flu, attacks me or people I know. I hate when I know of someone facing an enormous trial that I can do nothing about. I hate when my heart breaks with theirs, and when I feel so utterly powerless to do anything about it. I hate the helplessness so much that sometimes I am tempted to say nothing, do nothing, and ignore it if I can; to stay under my warm covers and simply comfort myself with denial.

I remember when my daughter's brain tumor was making her terribly sick and nobody knew what was going to happen. I hated being the person that reminded everyone of this huge, sad thing, the family that was suffering so much that anyone who knew about it couldn't help but wonder, "Where is God and why isn't He helping?"

Yet I also remember being comforted. I remember those who allowed their own hearts to be pierced as they shared the burden with us. Those who let themselves love my little girl, and us, even though it hurt. Those who were there with a meal or a hug or an offer of help. Those who dared speak a word of encouragement. I remember, through those seemingly small things, I was comforted.

I was comforted because what was given to me was not simply a cheerful pep-talk or unfounded optimism. I was encouraged by those actions that reminded me of Him, by the words of encouragement that were echoes of the Truth of God's love for us in Christ. It is all too easy to forget the love God has shown us in Jesus, the peace and forgiveness and grace we have in Him, when we are suffering. God knows this about us, and in His mercy, He sends people into our lives during times of suffering to remind us of these things.  He sends His Word, His Sacrament, and words that echo the love He gives there.

Mere words cannot take away the sadness of this life. They cannot turn heavy boulders into feathers, they cannot make the sun shine in the pit of hell. But God can do all of these things! In Christ we have a hope that will not put us to shame; even if the worst should happen, our God will be victorious, and we will be OK.

Because we are in Christ, we can join with those who are facing hardship that we cannot relieve. We join with them by bringing them in prayer to God, and bringing the encouragement we receive from God back to them. We can take the hands that tremble into our own, and look together to the God who
steadies them.

Even though we suffer, we are not forsaken. God is with us, and because of Christ, we will get well soon.

Come Lord Jesus.

(reblogged from 1/21/11)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

on being satisfied

This word has been on my mind lately. 

God forces me to let go of things that I think keep me happy, satisfied... and deep in the letting-go I find not deprivation but satisfaction, deeper and richer and sweeter than I expected.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

Psalm 63:1-8
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

We live under an OPEN heaven. 
Lord, open our hands to receive your mercies!

Psalm 145:14-19

The Lord upholds all who are falling

    and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.

You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.

Father, increase our hunger for that which truly satisfies: for you.
Tend to us, uphold us, refresh us, and feed us Lord. Amen.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

as if life depends on it.

Life right now requires many words, many chores, and much hurried business. In my rare moments of quiet I have had to choose between listening and speaking, reading or writing.

Lately, I have been made so aware of my desperate need to receive, to breathe in, to cling to God and feed on His Word, that I have been listening as if my life depends on it.

(It does.)

So, I have little to say today, but what I do have to say is important:

God hears the cry of the needy.
He helps those who call on Him.
He knows how to sustain with a word the mama who is weary.

If you need some soul food, here are my most recent favorites:

Kleinig on Receptive Piety

A Hearing Heart

These are talks given by Dr. John Kleinig, author of Grace upon Grace. Whether you have read that most excellent book or not, you will be edified by the wisdom he delivers to us here.

(Note: Dr. Kleinig delivered these lectures at a pastor's conference- so if the pastor stuff doesn't apply to you... perhaps use those moments as reminders to pray for your pastor in his unique challenges.)

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