Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Looking for the Christmas Moments



So I've been at this blogging thing for just over a year now and if you judge by page hits, it's going well, and if you judge by my enjoyment of it, it's going well, but if you go by number of blog posts recently, it is the pits. 

Because here we are, a year after that first post, and it is once again Advent. It was a seriously nutty time last year, and I determined about a month ago to make it less-so this year. To really revel in the gift of baby Jesus. To focus on that. To not feel rushed. To savor.

Right.

I keep finding my lips forming the word "yes" when what I really mean to say is "NOT IN A MILLION YEARS!" It's like I am not even controlling the words coming out of my mouth.

Ornaments? I'll make them. 

Cinnamon rolls? 36 pans? Sounds good! (by the way, I was at my one-day-a-week job when I got the text from Preston saying, "I know it sounds like a lot, but I really need 17 pans of cinnamon rolls this year." I actually cried out in anguish and told my coworkers I wanted to go home and punch my beloved in the face. One girl told me I needed to go to Costco and buy some. She is wise like a magi.)

Class Christmas Party? (Times two...so far. I know number three is coming) Apple cider? Craft for 28? Yes, yes, yes!

Field trip? I'm in.

Birthday party? We will be there.

Oh, and I pretty much killed Christmas when I answered the girls' questions with the truth that no, our Elf does not move each night by magic and no, Santa does not come down our chimney.




And just now, when I went to grab my laptop, Preston asked me to get him a drink, which I did, and then when I sat on the floor beside him he patted my head and told me to get in the kitchen and make him some chicken wings. He's still alive, but barely.

Next week is no different, because My Redneck is going to live at his school while they play host to a week-long basketball tournament. I expect to see him never. 

And there are multiple parties to which we have been invited. 

I am weary.

And yet.

I have been blessed in all these things. (Well, not the class Christmas parties. I find it extremely hard to believe that anyone has ever been blessed by an elementary school classroom party. The Road to Wine is paved with elementary school parties.) 

Even in the girls knowing the truth about Santa and the Elf on The Dadgum Shelf has been blessing. This year has been more about the coming of Jesus, why He came, why He had to come and how amazing that He did, than ever before. My second grader literally read Luke 2 straight from her Bible on the way to school today. Just because she wanted to. 

And tonight was calm, a balm for our little family, a moment of Christmas on an ordinary weekday. An evening of nothing but the fire, the tree, the story of the Birth.

So tonight I decided that instead of trying to have an entirely peaceful Advent and being disappointed every time my phone chimes with a text/email/phone call (I mean, who calls anymore??) I will go with it. My prayer each morning when I wake up (well, after coffee) is, "Lord, I give you my day." So when things come that I don't expect, I know they are His things. 

And instead of a perfect Christmas Season, which is really just a myth, 




I will look for Christmas Moments throughout this season of Advent. 



Like the seven year old reading the Bible on the way to school.

Like time spent with My People around the table making ornaments of Zechariah and Elizabeth and telling them the story of another miracle baby.

Like hilarious conversations on a field trip with kindergartners. (Me, desperate to entertain these precocious little people: Name some things you find on a farm. Children, in all their wisdom: Farm Cats, Farm Pigs, Farm Stickers, Farm Worms, and Farm Candy.)

And many more Christmas Moments that aren't falling in line with my first plan of Lying On the Couch Eating Caramels and Chex Mix All Season, but will be all the moments that make up my Christmas Season.



Like this Christmas Tree Quest across every inch of all 200 acres looking for and arguing about the nonexistent Perfect Tree. And the sweetness of these three who are truly best friends.



And the finding of the Tree. And the not breaking the phone when it fell from its precarious position.





And this beautiful man, this lover of Jesus, teaching his daughters that girls should know how to swing an axe.






And their awe as their Daddy came in and felled it in one...ok, twenty-one... thwacks.




And this ornament that started it all back in March of 2001. (Who goes snow-skiing on their honeymoon? I thought I had made a dire misjudgment in my choice of groom on the first run down the mountain when Mr. Athlete threw his poles like a man crazed after his 57th fall and said, "We should have gone to the beach!") 



And this woodpile that tonight became this:


And the sitting and watching as the flame dances, dressed in reds and yellows and blues, and burns down to the embers by which I write.


And this home, in which all the occupants are asleep save me, tucked under warm blankets and cozy comforters, kissed, and read to, and sung with, and prayed over. 



And this. This woman, who was engaged, planning a wedding, visited by an angel, pregnant even though it was scientifically impossible, her finace tried to call it off, she journeyed to visit her pregnant friend whose husband was mute, wrote a song, travelled at nine months pregnant on a donkey to her husband's hometown, was refused lodging, gave birth to the Savior of the World and was forced to put Him in a feeding trough, which, speaking from experience, was most likely covered in animal saliva and chewed up and spit out bits of hay, not so much the sweet smelling clean little manger of our nativites. This woman, who was probably desperate for a Christmas Moment of her own. 

And this Babe.

And Joseph, whose head had fallen off and had to be glued back on. 

Grace for the Moments of Christmas,
Martha



Monday, November 23, 2015

Charles Ingalls is Right, Dadgummit

(First of all, my blogging has been pretty much never the past few weeks, not on purpose, but life has been...full. That sounds better than "busy." I am working on that and have a plan. More to come on that. But not today. Too "full.")

Evenings that aren't full of basketball, projects, homework, and piano practice have found us nestled into the couch watching Little House on the Prairie with the girls. (Sounds cozy, doesn't it? It is...after everyone finds their spot where no sister is touching them, no one is sharing a blanket, no one is blocking anyone else's vision, the bean bag tower involving 3 beanbags, a poof-type footstool (is there a better word for that?), and a giant pillow has been awarded to the person whose turn it is (Oh my word, the taking turns with everything under the sun is sucking the very life out of me. "Mommy! I put away that Barbie shoe last year when we cleaned up Barbies! Don't you remember? It was that day and the sun was out and it was one of the days of the week and I did so pick up that shoe! I'll pick up everything else but I am not picking up that shoe! It is her turn!"), and the TV volume is set to the most appropriate level (earth shattering) and the five year old has been shushed and threatened. Cozy times.)

The Ingalls Family - just pretend this is us
and consider it your Christmas card.

Anyways.

The show is so good. It actually seems a little too old for them at times, but I think maybe that's good. I was starting to wonder if we were possibly sheltering our girlies too much. They haven't seen ANYTHING. But this show is introducing them to things like bullying (Nellie Olsen is the worst, and Laura isn't too kind to her in return), drinking too much (Mr. Edwards - he's probably my favorite), legalism (Walnut Grove's pastor is a mess), community and the value of extremely hard work (all the women come together to thresh wheat "like Ruth" when it was flattened in a hail storm.) All three girls were caught in a fit off giggles when Laura took her bath outside in a washtub and spurred to pray for others when I told them much of the world bathes that way still. 

Reverend Alden...
He's watching you!
Nellie...biggest bully in town.

She's just Mr. Edwards' type.

We have had some sweet evenings and powerful discussions that started with this show. And "Little House" actually helped with the discussions because God, Jesus, prayer, church, do for others...all these themes run through each episode.

But the best line so far has been Charles Ingalls to his wife, Caroline, when discussing their own three girls: 


"They are going to grow up whether we want them to or not... 
might as well want them to."


Preston cut me a meaningful look.

I stuck my tongue out at him (just like Nellie), which is an accurate example of my role in this relationship. He, calm and wise; me, not so much with the wiseness. Or calmness. Pray for Preston.

More and more and more it feels as if time is a wave upon the sand, a moonbeam I can't hold, an elusive cloud refusing to be pinned down. (Name that musical!)

We got a new (to us) car over the weekend. The girls love it because it's clean, and they haven't had time to crap it up yet. (It's like they don't realize they are the ones crapping it up. "It's so clean! I can actually see out the windows! Let's buy this one!") Eva asked us how long we would have this car. Preston said he reckoned about 7 or 8 years. (He uses words like "reckoned." This is why he is my Redneck Man.)

Then Eva spoke very evil words:

"So I'll be 17 when we get a different car."

I couldn't deal. I felt like I did when I was ten, and my brothers intentionally bounced me off our netless, unsafe-but-so-fun trampoline. I landed on my back. I was sure they had finally done me in because I couldn't breathe.

That's how I felt.

Seventeen?

Are you sure? I mean, math has never been my strong suit or really any suit, but yes, yes, it does appear 9+8=17.

And she will be nine in six days. If she doesn't get bounced off the trampoline first.

This whole season of change and Stupid Kindergarten has been a constant pain in my heart. It started around July, and it feels like a little tear that keeps being ripped open - when I drop them at the door of the school, when I watch their backs disappear behind the doors, when they say horrible things like, "I'll be 17 in 8 years." 

Just so you know, I'm doing a really good job keeping these feelings from them. They think I support education. They think I want them to grow up and often tell them if they don't hurry up and get out I am going to start charging rent in the form of Halloween candy. 

But inside, I am a little shredded. 

I do know Charles Ingalls is right. I cannot freeze time or squish them to keep them little as I used to tease my baby nephews who are now giant man-boys. They are going to grow. They are doing a great job of it so far. New shoes all the dadgum time. The little lines on the kitchen wall at my parents' house keep climbing higher every time Grandpa stands them up there. ("Quit standing on your toes! In my day we didn't even have toes to stand on!) 

And I do want them to grow spiritually, too, and fall more in love with Jesus everyday and spread His name and be light bearers and sunshine oozers and make His name known and have children and families of their own.

I just want them to do it from the basement. Okay, Charles?


He approves. 

Grace for the Pain of Growing Up,
Martha

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What I Just Cannot Savor

I have become one of those women in the grocery store line who looks at the mama with the screaming toddler and the baby strapped to her chest and the preschooler clearing out the gum department and says, "Oh, it's going to go so fast! Enjoy every minute!"

How do I think that is even a little helpful??? It is not. That poor mama just wants to wipe the tears off my face by punching me. Rightly so.

In reality, there are some things about those years that just cannot be savored. Can. Not. 

Let me give you permission here to not savor some things.

One a.m. diaper explosions? You do not have to savor that.

Vomit in the carseat that takes eleventy billion hours to disassemble, wash and then reassemble? Don't savor it.

Dragging, literally dragging, a snot covered child out of the chick-fil-a play place? It's ok if your face turns red and you cry and wonder what happened to the college degree you worked for and the respect you used to command.

And for all of you who are already irritated with me thinking I don't love my children, please know I know these years go fast, I know these children are a gift, I believe God gave them to us on purpose and orders our days, even days that involve more time-out than time-in. That is why we kept them. 

And if you are irritated and think those moments should be enjoyed because it goes so fast, you have forgotten what those moments felt like or you are delusional and need some psychiatric assistance. 

The days of those major meltdowns are behind us, for now, and we seem to be in the "golden age" of parenting. We are pretty much drama-free, the kids love us and want to be with us and think we're awesome (although one did call us both "really old" last night - didn't savor that moment), everyone tends to obey, the days we have to dole out consequences are getting further and further apart.

However, there are still some things I just cannot savor. And I know these things go on at your house, too, so I'm just going to say them out loud for us. And if they don't or never did, then you are a better mom than I. Brava. 

But in this house, Darling Daughters, Mommy cannot savor:

Rolled up, sweaty socks
Unrolling socks is apparently excruciatingly hard. I know this because there has never once been an unrolled sock in the laundry basket. I am very wise, though, and can teach you this life skill. In fact, I feel sure I have shown you many-a-time. This cycle may be hard to break as it is apparently genetic. Daddy really struggles with this, too. 

Crumbs.
For the love of Pete's sake lean over your plate! Six feet away from the table is not an ok distance. Are you trying to leave a trail so you can find your way back to the supper table tomorrow night? Because I will give you a tour of our house. I'll show you where our dining room is. Crumb trails are not necessary, Gretel All Three Daughters.

Q-tips/tissues that almost make it to the trash can.
So close. So, so close. But the floor right next to the trash can isn't actually the trash can. I know it's confusing: in, out...which is it? Here's an easy way to remember: if it doesn't fall into the small white cylindrical bucket, it's out. Also, whoever tried to throw away a partially eaten box of last Halloween's Nerds? Didn't quite make it. I can tell because I CAN SEE THEM. Can you? You don't actually have to wait until Saturday to sweep them up. Cleaning, although generally done then, can be done any time you see a mess. 

Hair everywhere. On every single surface.
You know how Daddy is pretty much bald? Apparently that is happening to you. Or maybe it's just that you are cleaning out your hairbrush in places like the kitchen where all our food is made and then getting so, so close to the trash can with the resulting hair wad (see previous non-savory item). I have occasionally been startled and a little frightened by the appearance of a coyote or possibly even a buffalo in the corner of the living room only to discover it is a hair ball. I know you don't want Mommy to be afraid in my own house, so again, all loose hair goes in that little white container.   

Empty toilet paper spindles. 
When Mommy chose the toilet paper holders for this house I chose ones that are levers. You merely raise the little thing, slide off the old tube, slide on a new one and then lower the lever. There's no more of this rocket science stuff where you have to push and lower and try to figure out how a spring works. That kind seemed hard even for Daddy. Show me your hand. Now raise it an inch. That's it! You can change the toilet paper. College, here we come.  




Books turned sideways and lying on top of other books.

Again, what a good effort. But see all that empty space at the end of each row? Well, if you will just turn the book, just a tad, no, not all the way around, just a slight turn, you can stand it up in that empty space, and it won't get all bent up or lost behind the other books. This will require a paradigm shift, but I am sure you can do it if you focus.

Gallons of shampoo used nightly.
Now as far as I know there is no shampoo shortage, but for each of you to use an entire bottle with each bath is just a little much. And even though we use the cheapest shampoo the Shampoo People make because of this very reason, Mommy and Daddy may have to cancel Christmas in order to pay the shampoo bill. I know this would make you sad, so maybe we could drop the shampoo usage to half a bottle a night, or even better, a dollop the size of a quarter, which we have demonstrated for you nightly since birth

Furniture as Trampolines
This is a really hard concept. This chair, although it may look like a trampoline, is not. In fact, it is the only nice thing left in this house. Mommy picked it out back before you were born when we weren't having to spend quite so much money on shampoo. It is made of the softest leather, but here lately seems to be a little sad. See how the back cushion is sagging? That is not a natural phenomenon but is instead caused by behinds who are confused and think that part is the seat. Not so. And the wrinkles in the once taut leather on the actual seat? That is from little jumping feet. Again, the resemblance to the gigantic bright blue trampoline in the backyard is uncanny, but know that this is the chair, not the trampoline.
 
If we could just work on those things, maybe Mommy will let you live here until you graduate. K? K. 

Now I know some of you mamas who are past even this stage will tell me I will miss the laundry, and chairs can be replaced, and supper will be so quiet without them and be glad they have access to shampoo. I know, I know. In ten years I'll be that mama, too. 

But for today, can I say --

OH MY GOSH THERE'S A COYOTE!!!

Nope. Just a hairball. 

Grace for Little People in Stinky Socks,
Martha





Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just Keep Breathing

I literally have allowed myself until the granola bars are done to write this post which gives me:




So I'm going to go fast.

There are so many horrible, horrible things going on and so many of my Dear People are on so many different sides of the issues. So the big thing here is just to Pray, Pray, Pray, without stopping, breathing prayers in and out all the live long day, and if we are all doing that and loving Jesus, then that is all we need to have in common.

So today, through all the mean posts and ugly comments and devastating news stories, I am going to "Live Right On" which is a quote from Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter, best book ever, that a dear friend is getting tattooed on her wrist, fully supported by her husband (PRESTON!), and has become a motto of sorts. I think our generation would do well to learn a little more Living Right On and a lot less Wallowing. Do we or do we not know the end of the story? Let's live like it!

Anyways, living right on for me today includes a vacuum cleaner taped together and a vacuum bag so full of Rainbow Loom rubber bands I could...well, I don't know what exactly, but I could do whatever it is you are supposed to do with 87 million tiny rubber bands. 


See the tape on all pieces of the handle? 
Vacuum needs 
some oils or prayer or something. 

It also includes a costume for the oldest girl, who will give a report on the Greek goddess Demeter tomorrow, who is the goddess of the harvest. Lots of my Mom People are also putting this together, and can I just say the texts going around about this are HILARIOUS? While at the same time, infuriating. Nothing brings out mama's dark side like a good costume. Lucky for me my girls love some dress up, and we have two laundry baskets full of randomness for just that reason. 



I am also breathing in and out for a newborn babe with a blocked retina, a three year old with a sudden thyroid disease, three cavities in my own mouth that will require fillings and cursing, refugees whose husbands were lost at sea, elderly parents, wisdom, people who find themselves with water in their living rooms and no insurance to fix it, safety for my babies in their school, adoptions to go through.

All those things are HUGE! So enormous.

And God cares and is working and always will be working in those gigantic things.

But God, in His beautiful beauty and unmeasurable grace and love beyond my imagination also cares about the things like getting to school on time when car trouble has forced us to turn around - and we did get to school on time! 

And He cares about Greek costumes.

And He cares about alternators.

And He cares about vacuums.

Keep breathing, friends. The end is so good!

Grace, 
Martha

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What I'm Loving and Loathing

Loving:

1. This meme. Which makes me laugh hysterically. It's just one of those things that makes me crack up every single time I look at it. Who knew? George and Mix-A-Lot. And when I shared it with my other Mom People, one said, "Why is it that I can sing all the words to filthy rap songs from high school and struggle to memorize Scripture?" Amen, Mom Friend. 

2. This stuff right here is the best thing in my life. You kinda feel like you are drinking Fanta or Crush, but it's WATER! Yay, LaCroix. You keep working your magic.
3. This is my guy. I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Carson speak at a fundraiser for our kids' school, and I just love him. He is class personified. And he's been there. He knows. For the first time in history I am putting a bumper sticker on my car, which I generally dislike. (Bumper stickers. Not the car. Well, I don't love the car either since it's a van, but I meant I dislike bumper stickers.) I really think this man has what it takes. Look him up.


4. The single pear one of our four baby pear trees produced. This picture kind of makes me want to be a tree hugger. Look at those beautiful wooden salad utensils! Look at that countertop! Look at that pear! Thanks, Trees.



5. This cookbook is awesome. It was written by Leanne Brown who wanted to help people receiving government assistance eat well on their $4 per day allotment. They gave these to everyone at our kids' school, and this book is my love. I have gotten some great recipes out of it already. There were several celebrities who tried to live on the food stamp amount for a week and gave up after a few days. One said that making his own fried rice emotionally drained him. I wanted to hurl this book at him through my computer where I was reading about him on People.com TheWebsiteSmartPeopleRead.com. I think this book could be life changing for some people. 


6. Rolls of hay sprinkled across southern fields. Farmers getting ready for the winter. The country life. (Although not that many nights ago we were enjoying the peace of the most magic hour of the day, i.e. when the children go to bed, and were accosted by the howling of coyotes, the return howling of our dog, and the moo-screams of all the mama cows who were spending the night alone after the round up saw the calves hauled off and sold at auction. Preston looked at me and said, "I thought we moved out here for the quiet!")


7. The time of year for fires with friends, s'mores, kids running wild in the dark. And standing on the picnic table. Why, children? Why do ya'll do the destructive things you do?


8. BSF. If you are not involved in a Bible Study check out bsfinternational.org.We are going through Revelation this year, and it is phenomenal. They have classes for every single age. And it's not childcare. Every child, down to the teeniest babies, hear the lesson, place their chubby little hands on the Bible, are sung to and prayed over. Bible Study Fellowship has been a huge part of my life, and it's like a sigh of relief to be back in it after a three year hiatus due to my youngest child who would scream so much her teacher told me, "We would love to comfort and help her...if she would let us touch her." We did that for 8 weeks and then decided enough. Her teachers were praising Jesus the day they got our drop notice, I am sure. 


9. This right here is a billion dollar idea.


10. This game was introduced to us by a college friend at our annual lake weekend (aka #spaghettifor31please). It is so, so fun, but involves some quick thinking and trickery. I am shocked at how well our girls play this game and what good little liars they are, which does not bode well for the teen years. Let's all pray for the teen years.


11. Eva used this photo of my Grandma and Grandpa King to complete an art assignment to sketch "an old couple." This is going with me if our house is on fire. 



12. My girl's diorama project. Mama's hands did not touch this, nor did Daddy's. I wish I'd gotten a better picture of the details, like the crack in Benny's pink cup. Bravo, sweet-baby-whose-parents-won't-help-you-because-we-already-did-2nd grade.



13. I have wanted a tattoo since I was 19. Not anything major, just a little body art. First my dad was super opposed, and now the other important man in my life is super opposed, but wouldn't this be so pretty on the inside of my wrist? I love it so much. I researched the font I want. I looked into tattoo parlors. I have spent wasted so much time on this. Maybe you could just casually mention the awesomeness of tattoos next time you see my Mr. Conservative? Thanks so much.
14. This little nugget I found when I got to the bottom of the Pile Of Paper That Is Eating Our Kitchen. You have one of those piles. Go through it. Hopefully you'll find something like this and not the cutoff notice I found from AT&T, which I kind of forgot about and ignored because I had paid the bill and knew it was a mixup but then our service got cut off for a few hours until Mr. Conservative called their customer service and really let someone have it talked calmly and rationally to the person on the other end and got it all figured out. I should make myself write something like, "Don't speak until you have called Preston and run it by him" about 250,000 times. He is so my opposite in his ability to be calm and rational, and he is definitely the more holy one in areas of the tongue. But I say "holy" a lot. It just isn't usually followed by a holy word. And this note right here is proof that the Lord is working in spite of the holy words I say.  


15. And ending my love list with this. What else should we be giving our lives to except discipling, parenting, raising our children so that one day they would run towards the blade (I just can't get away from that) for Jesus if need be? So that they spend their days being the hands and feet of Jesus so that more people come to know Him? So that they understand their own sinfulness and their great need for a Savior? So that they fall so in love with this Savior that He is the most important thing in their world? The 20 or so years we will spend in this intense parenting phase is but a blip, a vapor within the vapor of our lives, but how distracted we get by the things that pale in comparison to this calling. And parenting can be so inconvenient! It cramps my style, man! But this gift. These little people He gave to Preston and me, for now. Sometimes I feel as if my heart will explode from the love of them. What could possibly be more worthy of our time?  


Loathing:

1. Ragweed. Ragweed is the root of all evil. All of my energy I use for loathing is used up on ragweed. 



Grace for All (and Especially All My Fellow Ragweed Sufferers),
Martha

Friday, September 18, 2015

Being Hands and Feet (and Socks!) For Refugees



Today I am guest blogging for a group I love, Servant Group International. They are a non-denominational organization originally founded to help the thousands of Kurds who came to Nashville after the first Gulf War and are now working hand in hand with organizations inside Greece, Iraq and other areas of Europe to serve the thousands of refugees who continue to pour in. Here's a little excerpt:


I was very hesitant to write this post.
I know people who are now giving their time, energy, comfort—their very lives, in the middle of the war-torn area of the world that is home to the refugees I have been viewing in slideshows, on websites, and on blogs.
These people know there is a problem. No, not a problem; a crisis. They know all about the refugee camps, the broken families, the children scarred by the things they have been forced to witness, the mothers who won’t let their children out of their sight to even use the bathroom, the teenagers who will never get any further with their education, the pastor who fled without even his Bible.
Me? I’m pretty comfy here in my suburban American life. Got no reason to go to that seemingly God-forsaken area, other than the time I went to see the Holy sites. (Jesus was born here! Buy a keychain!)
But about a week ago, a picture was published that woke me up.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My New Favorite Person On The Entire Planet

I feel it is necessary to inform you of my new-found love.

You know how much I love teachers, having been one, having married one, having so many fabulous ones teach my girls, and on and on. Yay, Teachers!

But Ya'll.

I am ashamed to say I never knew the wonder that is School Secretary until today. 

School Secretary = my new favorite people group.

I subbed a few days for the sweet, sweet secretary at my kids' small elementary school, which has about 225 students. 

I want to kiss her feet.

You might think the school secretary does things like answer the phone and send emails. That is true...for 0.00001% of the day.

The rest : nurse/counselor/nurse/NURSE.

I passed out 5,000 band aids over the course of one school day. To 225 students.

I dealt with blood coming from a child's ear.

I taped a kid's jammed finger and then was bombarded with questions from another boy who had heard a rumor that "the lady who is in the office today popped my buddy's finger back into the socket and was it awesome or gross?" Um, I taped it. It was pretty awesome. Wait, no, no it was not.

I handled two episodes of bathroom accidents. You know what I mean.

I tried to determine whether or not a nose was truly broken or the soccer ball to the face caused mostly emotional trauma. (I diagnosed it as emotional trauma. I have no qualifications to assess that situation. I hope her nose doesn't fall off in her sleep.)

I took the temperature of all the children ever and finally, after 37 attempts, figured out how to use the thermometer cover.

Two kids came down with a stomach bug which nearly sent me over the freaking edge. This girl can't even when puking is involved.

I filled up All The Baggies with ice for All The Fake Hurt Children.

A six-year old kid asked me to pull his molar. Get back to class.

There was lots of crying. So much crying.

And I got to hug some babies and listen to some stories and have my heart break a little and love on the least of these and try to hide my laughter until they went back to class. 

And most importantly, a new hero was added to my list of People I Love More Than Whipped Cream... The School Secretary.

You need to make sure you take a Starbucks to the secretary at your kid's school at least once a week. And pray for her and anoint her with oils and extra good Christmas presents. 

And band aids.

Grace for All The School Secretaries in the Entire Universe,
Martha






Sunday, September 6, 2015

Will We Run Towards the Blade?

I am processing here, so bear with me. Or read something else by someone wiser. Which pretty much means anyone. 

How on earth do I reconcile my wealth and ease with the relative poverty and desperation of the rest of the world?

By American standards, we are not wealthy.

But we are so, so wealthy.

I do not worry about clean water.

I do not even give a thought to if my children will eat. Our pantry is overflowing, even when people are asking when I am going to the store. 

I do not worry about someone dangerous coming into my house. 

I have 42 items of clothing and 13 pairs of shoes.

I have 5 purses.

My children have clothes literally spilling out of their dressers.  

Preston has enough t-shirts with some variation of "Fairview Athletics" to clothe us all well into eternity.

But what about the mother of these babies?



And this father?



And this person, shielding her child while they sleep on a train bound for hopefully safer lands?




I guarantee these parents are worrying about food, water, shelter, safety, their next breath.

And I am sitting here, feeling very sorry for myself as I am in a Benadryl stupor, scratching my eyes and cursing the ragweed. 

And Preston took the girls to IHOP, rather than wrangle everyone into church clothes by himself, which really requires Mommy, where they will undoubtedly come home full of chocolate chip smiley face pancakes. 

I am trying to process the picture of three year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish shore. His parents knew death was a possibilty, but still fled their country, believing death was a better option than what lay ahead of them should they stay.

I am trying to reconcile that desperation with the ease of my life.

I came across the pictures in this post while looking for something appropriate to show to the girls while we discuss what is happening and how our family can help. 

There really isn't much out there I feel I can show my 8, 7, and 5 year olds that won't greatly disturb them. 

I am trying to think how I can explain to them that I recently spent $215 on clothes that weren't actually necessary, and then show them this list and explain we really can only afford to pick one item to send.



I am trying to think of ways I can explain this to them without them feeling guilty for the life we are living when I am wracked with guilt myself. 

This is the only way I can reconcile it:

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5
This is true not only for me, but for all people. All of them. Even sweet Aylan Kurdi. 

"The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength." 
Isaiah 40:28

So I will stop questioning "why" He gave me and my family this abundant wealth. His understanding is unsearchable, and I don't have to understand His ways to believe they are right.

I will instead start asking, "What would You have us do with this wealth You have given us?"

And this morning, I was cleaning out a purse and found a gas gift card with $81 left on it. 

What should I do with it, Lord? 

If I'm honest, what I really want to do is take that nice surprise money and have an extra night out where I don't have to cook a meal everyone will complain about.

But we are going to take the $81 we won't have to spend on gas this month and go buy as many things as we can off that list to send to Greece. I don't think it's an accident that I found that year-old gas card on the morning I was wrestling with all this. 

Is it enough?

Well, no. Obvisouly not. Especially when you look at this chart produced by World Vision:



But I believe it is what God called me to do today. From my laptop in my comfy house He knew about way back before the beginning of time. 

ISIS has promised to use this refugee crisis to infiltrate borders and carry their evil further into the world, which some would use as a reason to stem the tide of refugees. Honestly, I can't fault this thinking.

But then the other side of me, thinks, "So what? So maybe we die in a terrorist attack. I know where I'm going. I know where my Beloved is going. I know where my Jesus-loving girls are going. What if they aren't from ISIS but are angels? Or just desperate mothers and fathers, trying to save their children from unspeakable brutality? And I refused to be the hands of Jesus because of a remote possibility they are terrorists?" 

My pastor used a phrase in his sermon several weeks ago that Preston and I have been repeating to each other ever since: We want to raise our daughters to run towards the blade for Jesus.

Whoa. That is heavy. It makes us tear up every time we talk about it, and I am weeping as I type. But should the day come, I want them to know, really know, where their eternity lies and lay down their very life for Jesus' name.  

I will continue to wrestle with this all my days, I suppose. My life has been one of ease. I am so thankful for that. But so many others live in daily fear. I cannot fathom why. It seems so unfair.   

But even if I never understand, and I never have answers, I will trust God.

After all, at the end of the story, all will be well.

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship Him. They will see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever...'Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.'"

Revelation 22:1-5, 12

Come, Lord Jesus.

Grace, 
Martha

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