Easy Button

Days like today should be the norm, but they’re not. I got groceries this morning, the bill wasn’t too high, the items fit well into the recycled bags I bring to Aldi. (Weeks that I don’t have enough bags for it all I get really embarrassed for some reason. First world problems, right?) The kids went down for a nap reasonably well, and I now have a window of free time to choose an activity. For me. To do. By myself. Cool.

But, like I said, this is not what happens every day of the week, and usually what does happen requires great struggle and sacrifice on my part. My wants and needs are often marginalized. I am often asked to put others and their needs first. My gut reaction is usually to complain, even if only inwardly, I didn’t ask for this! Why me, why now?

The first study question of my BSF lesson hit me squarely in this. ” How does this passage (John 18:1-27) show you the Lord Jesus Christ chose to suffer and was not a victim of circumstances? ” Wow.

You could almost say that most trials of life, and our choices while handling them, fall into either one of these categories. We can choose to suffer, ie. die, to ourselves and submit to what we can learn from the experience, or play the victim, and hold on to our rights we think we have to a happy life and NOT this happening, with any number of resulting fits and tantrums, even if only inward ones. I’m queen of the second category, by the way. I’ve played the victim all my life. Jesus is King of the first category, one of many reasons He is holy, so completely ‘other’ in His behavior. I want to be able to look at life and my choices in it the way He did while He was on earth. Not least of which would be His determination in His final days, arrest, and crucifixion. The only Person who could ever have truly played the victim, didn’t.

 

What He Would Say

I was reading a children’s story Bible to the boys one day, and when we came to the page with a picture of Jesus sitting with some children, I asked what Jesus might have said to these little kids.

“He told them to be quiet and to behave,” Kenan was certain in his reply.

As funny as it was to hear, it was a little sad, too. Is that what Kenan thinks Jesus wants from his four year old self? Good behavior? Is that the message he is getting from home and church, that all important be-quiet-and-then-we-can-do-fun-stuff?

I thought some more about Jesus and the children. I love the pictures that have Him holding the infants and kissing them. He was all in, whatever crowd it was. Newborns or lepers, they were all welcome at His side. I do wonder what He had to say to these littlest of all, most powerless, most helpless. Would He have told them of the heroes of old, like David, like Elijah? Would He have told them secrets of the world to come, what their rooms would look like? What most important things could He impart to a group of young that He may never see again? I imagine it would include, Love God Who Made You And Loved You First. Love Your Friends. Love Your Enemies. Love And Obey Your Mom and Dad. In These You Will Be Blessed.

It starts to sound like Keeny’s answer. Be quiet. Listen for God’s voice. Behave. Honor your parents and do what they tell you. This is the path to knowing God for each and every one of us.

You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly.” Proverbs 5:12-14

Redemptive Winds

I was reading a magazine article about peacemaking, and the thought came to me:

Have I been the victim in a conflict so long it has become comfortable? If so, am I willing to go through the painful process of resolving the conflict and reconciliation?

That is a tough one. As things develop, and I make choices to be open to change and improvement (in my heart first), I hope I can answer yes to the second question as easily as I do the first.

A quote in Little Britches applies here, too.

“You know, a man’s life is a lot like a boat. If he keeps his sail set right it doesn’t make too much difference which way the wind blows or which way the current flows. If he knows where he wants to go and keeps his sail trimmed carefully he’ll come to the right port. But if he forgets to watch his sail till the current catches him broadside he’s pretty apt to smash up on the rocks.” -Father, to Ralph

In my boat, if I have made a habit of taking every offense to the Lord, and have done all I can to avoid bitterness, those big winds of hurt shouldn’t throw me off course. But, if I haven’t been tending to those weeds of resentment and have allowed them to take root, I’m in trouble even before the storm hits. In this most recent event, I think I could see some real maturity in my reactions and responses. But it also revealed my penchant for being ready to forgive but not being ready to give when the situation requires give and take. It is a lot easier to walk away and say, that’s not worth it, they are not worth it. But people are worth it, and as long as there is hope of peace I must be willing to pursue it.

“So then, let us pursue the things that make for peace, and the building up of one another.” -Paul, to me

Pure Poetry

That had to be the shortest diet ever, or the failingest, or both. Last Thursday I decided to try some strategies from this book I had just read, and I guess that word “some” should have been the first warning. Gathering a little from here and a little from there for a diet could be unhealthy. Sunday afternoon my stomach started hurting, and only today is it beginning to feel less tender. Whew! I can’t say what caused the abdominal pain; indeed, I get sick like this every few weeks. Usually it only lasts 24 hours at most and seems to be related to one food I eat periodically. Thats as far as I have gotten on a self diagnosis, for though I am so happy to be better, I haven’t really discovered what went wrong. Our bodies are created by God to work like a well run factory, with all of the machines going. One stick in the works and the processes come to a halt.

Luke wants us writing more, and last week had us working at persuasive essays. I chafed. I languished. “I don’t want to pursuadr anyone to think or do anything! Can we just move on?”But this week has been a treat. I had forgotten how much I love poetry. To say so much with a few words is a rare talent. Today we discussed Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody”, and even our biggest scoffers had to admit there was more to it than first met the eye. I’ll share my favorite poem now. I found it in a book when we were reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and wanted to share more poems at our homeschool book club.

SCAFFOLDING

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.

God’s Celery

That title may have originated from VeggieTales, not my subconscious, though these are very closely linked. I’ve seen all the shows (old ones, not new ones) so much it is easy to speak veggie.

I’m on a sort of diet, inspired by the book Why We Get Fat. I’m eating a lot more vegetables, and today was really looking forward to a celery snack. When I went to the fridge for some celery to put in tonight’s meatloaf (yes, in that, too), I saw that my bunch of celery was gone, and a bunch of that had been purchased by someone else was unopened but obviously old, yellow and rubbery. And it might have even been purchased that way, in haste. I fumed to Aliyah that I should take it back to the store, but I didn’t have all day to start dinner. I took a stalk and diced it up, grumbling why people had to eat MY celery.

If you’ve read any devotionals ever, you know where this is going. No, it wasn’t my celery, it was God’s celery. I have no claim to anything on this planet, not even my next breath. So thoughts like this began to calm me down.

Later I had the chance to run to Walmart to get, wait for it…celery. And milk and half and half and clif bars and nuts. God is so generous with me that I can afford these things. But you know what I was thinking as I packed the car? “I should tell (the person who bought that bad celery) to take it back and exchange it so they can get some more celery.” Immediately I thought, wait. I just bought celery. What would Jesus do? He would go home, throw away the bad celery, and tell the family to help themselves to the celery He just bought. There would be plenty more where that came from when we needed more.

Remember, God made you special and He loves you very much.

With Him We Rise

“Want you outside, Mama.”

And that is how I am found here on our new porch, typing away. I don’t think I have talked about Luke’s masterpiece yet. We recognized the need for Carol to have an easier way up the stairs a while ago, but just over Christmas was Luke able to do something about it. He built a long ramp that follows the length of the house, then turns to the spot in the driveway where she parks. It is really nice. He had his new Christmas grill set up here where I am sitting, until it blew off, twice (no railings yet). It seems the cover of the grill turned it into a kite and pulled it into the air like Mary Poppins. While the grill was still in place, a stray cat would take up residence under the cover and on the shelf of the grill. I don’t think I have talked about Luke’s nemesis yet. This cat shows up on a weeknight, peeking in the screen door and meowing. I quickly took a picture on my phone and sent it to my cat loving neice. This cat looked a lot like her cat, Fixie, so I named it Tuxie, as it was all black with a white triangle down its chest. We knew never to feed it, and didn’t expect it to stay around long. But after a few weeks it was wearing out its welcome. Wednesday night of last week we came home from church to find it had gotten in the basement. The boys and Luke had a bit of an adventure getting that cat out of our house, and Luke was now ready to put it to sleep. A few days later, he did the deed carefully enough that most of the kids didn’t know. Over the next week he would make comments about his recent kill and how much he missed the little guy, chuckle. I told him gloating must not be as exciting because not enough people know what he is talking about. He pointed out its final resting place to me on the way to church and I didn’t know what I was looking for. A hunter? A bird? A piece of litter?

I heard this morning about someone, actually a few someones, needing prayer and encouragement. It is good to be reminded that we are all struggling, and good for those struggling to be reminded that we are all in this together. I have some ideas for ways I can encourage these folks. Hopefully I can pull it off during this busy week. Bible Study, church, track practice, a dentist appointment, a birthday party (not ours), and a field trip. Should be wild.

Be Mine

And a lovely Valentine’s Day it is, too. Temperatures have to be in the fifties outside, and the sun is so welcome. I cannot complain about this mild winter, although a rough one was much more expected after the multiple mild ones we have had in recent years. One of these days in September, that Indian will show up at the feed and seed, warning us about what is to come. You just wait.

Yesterday Luke was home sick from school. During our time of study, we again broached the subject of “why isn’t this going more smoothly?” since Carol is here and helps out, and since I am well past the postpartum excuses for lack of progress. Luke has especially been concerned with our lack of writing, and the kids’ consequent lack of writing skills. He admonished me that I should be going through the different writing styles with them and helping them get familiar and capable in writing. Aliyah is planning on taking the ACT soon, and will need some confidence writing-wise, as that is one area of the test that is looked at more closely. I complained how it would be difficult to take more time, looking up these things on the phone, and was about to go into (again) how inadequate of a teacher of writing I would be, anyway, except Luke cut me off with, “Well, that’s your job. I don’t necessarily like everything about my job, but I go and do it each day.” If I wasn’t immediately mortified, I might have laughed at the irony of him sitting in his pjs, home from work, saying this. But it was a timely rebuke.

I had just been reading over some notes from a Bible study lecture that said when we are troubled, like Christ, we should say, “Father, glorify Your name.” Now, I am not certain of all I could do to respond correctly, but I did know it would include picking up the phone and looking up some good writing websites, and planning future times of putting together good instruction for the kids. This would glorify God and not myself.

Today went okay; we brainstormed a thesis statement for an essay. I think the kids had a pretty good handle on how to do it, to where we should be ready to write the essay soon. There is a whisper of fear here, though, as I feel like I’ll come to a place I don’t know how to move forward. Consulting Luke will be my first stop, as he is sure to be able to help.

 

Tuesdays With Kenan

Ay yi yi. Last night, Luke and I  settled back on our pillows at 8:45, 8:45, and grinned at each other. How nice to be going to bed so early! We proceeded to watch about 3/4 of an episode of Monk, then the night began to unravel. First, Julia woke up. I went to get her out of bed and, since it was dark, only dimly saw big red splotches on her sheet. Is that the set with the polka dots, I wondered to myself. But when I got her where I could change her diaper, I saw her face was covered in blood! Earlier that evening she had fallen against my leg, and her upper lip bled a bit after the mishap. But since then she had nursed, took a pacifier, and gone to sleep just fine. Now, she was bleeding heavily. Luke helped keep me calm and instructed me on what to do (so thankful for his authority and first aid knowledge!), and we got her cleaned up and nursing again, to curb the blood flow.

Only then did Kenan wake up, crying that his ear really hurt. He had just taken medicine an hour prior, so we were at a loss as to what to do. I remembered something about olive oil to put in the ear, but lacking that, I went for the coconut oil and warmed up some. It did seem to help, for a short time. Luke then volunteered to go to Walmart for some of the alternate pain meds we could try in another hour. So, on the bed that only recently held two tired parents happy with their bed-early fortune, sat me nursing a bloody Julia, and Kenan wailing beside me. I’m so glad Walmart is close.

Once Kenan was tucked away with more meds and ear drops, and Julia tucked away with fresh sheets, at 11:00, we were able to finish Monk. Our night wasn’t funny, but we had the wisdom to laugh about it.

This morning I took Kenan to the doctor, and, sure enough, he had an ear infection. He was so cute on the drive there. I hadn’t heard him say so much before, and for a while I kept the music playing, but when I realized he wouldn’t stop anytime soon, I turned it off so I could hear him. First he asked what the numbers on the dashboard were. I started with the radio and the heating/cooling controls, hoping that would satisfy him. Then at Meijer for the prescription, he wanted to know what the numbers in the parking lot were. They were letters, I said, to help people remember where they are parked. Inside Meijer he wanted to ride in the cart, but at four years of age he is way too big. So, we found a cart with a bench on the back. It was like driving a semi through the store aisles; I constantly had to re-judge the distance ahead of me not to knock into displays or people. At the pharmacy, an older lady got in line behind Kenan’s semi, and asked aloud whose child this was, as I was up at the window. I turned and responded, and she proceeded to talk to him, about as much as he’d been talking to me. But now he didn’t feel much like talking, and was on the verge of being rude. The lady then turned to the girl behind her, and started saying something about how evil the world is getting and how she asks everyone if they are born again and they look at her funny. I  thought about how it is good she is so bold, but that she may come off as ‘that crazy lady’ more often than not. Hey, David and Paul were willing to look undignified and foolish, so I shouldn’t look down on her efforts.

Days like this are par for the course, with so many children, but I don’t like the beating our schooling takes every time it happens. Oh, well. The best we can do is try to get to bed tonight, early, and make the best of tomorrow.

In Good Health

Julia came down with something this afternoon. The illness was almost instant in its ferocity, where she was fine one minute and feverish the next. I gave her the decongestant first, because there wasn’t any apparent elevation in her temperature. Then, an hour later, I gave her fever meds because she was so miserable. Her eyes would roll back in her head and she could hardly stay awake. That shallow breathing, that stillness. Many sick children, but it never gets easier. I think of how I will do anything to make them feel better. Anything.

A lady whose blog I read wrote about having tests run and how expensive that is, along with the many treatments for disease and major illness we have now. Things like this have been on my mind a lot lately, too, not because I am sick, but because it seems like after every diagnosis follows a fundraiser for the medical expenses. What am I not getting about this scenario if I think there is something weird about that? Add to it that a man was in the news because he faked having cancer so he could take money from everyone. This past year, our two biggest medical expenses- Sam’s MRI and Julia’s birth- were ‘covered’ when I applied for charity with the hospital. So, how is it that illness bankrupts some and not others? Is it ever the case that someone chooses against the expensive treatment because it would not be a good use of (everyone’s) money? Should we act as if God wants us to choose chemo, every time? All of these are good questions to meditate on when I am not in a desperate position to answer them. One thing has come to mind so far, I believe from the LORD. My job is to treasure and to preserve life as far as it is in my power to do so. I suppose that would be a guiding factor in situations where I had to make a decision of treatment for one of my children. When Sam’s neurosurgeon was strongly recommending a surgery at a very young age, we decided for it because it would give him the best chances at a good quality of life. Of course, it had its risks, and its expenses. But the decision wasn’t hard.

Now, if I had cancer. That is tougher, because how far do I go to treasure and preserve my own life? Selfishly, I go all the way, no expense spared. If I am thinking of children still to raise and a husband still to belong to, I still go pretty far to take those chances at a better quality of life. I think. There’s Heaven to consider, though. How much should Heaven factor into this? Not that I am eager to get there like I should be. I mean, there’s still much to be done here in this city, right Chris Tomlin?

What a burden it is for parents of sick children and people of sick selves to make these choices. God is faithful, I know, and will pave the way for us as we go, and bear us up on His wings when we can’t go further.

He found Jacob in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness. He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the apple of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, so He spread His wings and caught  him, and carried him on His pinions.

-Moses

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burdens.

-a Psalmist