Fat Angels

Approximately sixty years ago, a man planted a Christmas tree in the front yard of the house he had built for his family. And rain fell and the sun shone down and it grew older. And the man grew older. Eventually a new family moved into the house behind the tree. Still the pine grew. It towered over the house, a quiet sentinel, marking time by pushing roots down deep and thickening girth, ring upon ring under gnarled bark.

 

Trees are quiet things. I had been largely oblivious to it. My mind certainly wasn’t on trees as I unceremoniously dumped water on little people’s heads that evening. The little people screeched their disapproval as mom’s waterboarding interrupted their bath time play. I continued unsympathetically with our nightly routine, warm water threading white rivulets through the spaghetti sauce on their round cheeks. Bath time is not a quiet ritual around here. So I missed the tree’s heroic moment. Heroic moments are sneaky like that.

I heard the thud. But one of the children was in the room overhead, rummaging through the Lego box like young thunder. Another was practicing long jumps across the living room rug and vaulting onto the loveseat. So thuds hardly registered on my internal Richter scale. It was only when my oldest called from the living room window, “Mom – there’s a truck on our front lawn…” That I felt a need to investigate.

Indeed – there was a truck on our front lawn. It was an odd place to find a pickup truck. I glanced over at my older children in mutual confusion as we stared out the window, watching the truck. The driver seemed as confused as we were. For a moment, he sat there, facing the tree that he had just crashed headlong into. Then he backed up, nearly hitting the telephone pole, swerving wildly, forward and back several times. He must have had trouble seeing over the smashed up hood, but I suspect his vision was compromised already since tire tracks proved he’d careened nearly 30 feet off the road. I strained to see the license plate, but the driver managed to find the road and speed away before I got a look. The oldest boys and I ran out the front door and surveyed the carnage. A headlight and bits of metal and glass littered the snow. The old pine had a gash across it, bark severed from the trunk, several branches hanging limp. I glanced back to the house. Two wet chubby bodies glistened in the front window, shameless in their curiosity. I hurried back and found towels to sop up the puddles left from their tub escape (and to cover their bright white thighs). My mind whirled. Should I call an emergency number if a guy just drove across our front lawn? I texted my husband with one hand as I toweled dripping children. He was nearly home from work, and drove in as I was strapping on diapers. “Call the police!” he remonstrated me from the doorway, and tromped over to survey the scene. I googled the number for the local police department and called. No answer. Nonplussed, I dialed 911. The dispatcher listened as I stumbled over my words. “A guy just drove over our lawn, hit our tree, and drove away…”

“Ok…” He responded. It was awkward. I explained no one was hurt, but the man (I was pretty sure it was a man we’d seen in the driver’s seat, but you never can tell these days) had seemed very confused and unsafe.

“I think they’re already on this,” the dispatcher mentioned. “Thanks.” And he hung up.

I continued with the evening ablutions of pajamas and books until the dispatcher called back a few minutes later. “Just wanted you to know,” he explained, “the driver crashed not far down the road from you. He won’t be going anywhere for a long time.”

“Thank you for letting us know.” I responded, and started to ask for more information, but the man said an officer would be in contact and bid me good evening.

About half an hour later, we saw a tow truck trundle by with a familiar smashed up pick-up truck on its hook. We had a good discussion that evening about how alcohol or drugs can impair your ability to think. (The cause of the driver’s recklessness was never revealed to us, but it opened the door for some conversation anyway).

 

As I lay in bed that night, it occurred to me how close the driver had come to my children and me. The tree was within ten feet of the corner of our house. He must have been going far above the speed limit to fly over thirty feet off the road, up the knoll, and still smash the vehicle into a tree with such force. I shivered. It had been dusk, and thankfully, wet and chilly, so none of my children had still been out playing in the yard when he came. But they could have been… I shut my eyes and breathed a prayer.

 

“Thank you, Lord, for that tree. Thank you for guarding us…”

 

I’ve often joked that I must have had a fat guardian angel, since there has often been a space of about 10 feet between my indiscretions and a true emergency. I remember the winter after I learned to drive my dad’s 4 cylinder pickup, sliding off slick white roads a couple times into soft snowbanks. I’d had to grab a shovel and work my way out, but it was harmless compared to what could have been if I’d made sudden contact with a telephone pole not far away.   I’ve never (knowingly) met an angel, but I suspect their wingspan is far greater than the little Valentine cherubs of the cartoons. Perhaps the ten foot span that often came between me and peril was actually a supernatural warrior sitting in the snow – calmly flexing. A single angel has been known to wipe out entire armies (check Isaiah 37) and make grown men fall on their faces in fear (Daniel 10). A guy like that would have no trouble stopping a measly pick-up truck with his pinkie – or a sappy pine bough.

The driver himself wouldn’t have stood much chance at his speeds had he chosen to interact with the telephone pole down near the pavement rather than heading upwards over the turf for several dozen feet. I wonder if he appreciated this fact when he woke (wherever he woke) the next morning and realized how exciting his previous evening had been. I’m guessing he missed it. But we prayed for him to find purpose in his lease on life anyway.

 

Sixty years ago, a man had no idea how pivotal one little sapling would prove to be. But I know. My house and my kids were protected. Cupid strikes again. Ha. Like a rock.

Go Cupid.

 

God is so good to me.

 

Trust Fall of Faith

Someone made an offer to buy our old house last week. The timing was interesting.

This week – exactly one year ago – we moved out of it.

We’ve tried to sell before. For over eight years, we’ve tried to sell. But the market isn’t what it was when we bought, and our mortgage (created for first time home buyers) has a clause that prevented us from renting it out. It seemed fine a decade ago, expecting our first, with the housing market booming. It became less fine as the years passed, the housing market crashed, and we expected our 4th, and 5th, and 6th.  Every time a potential buyer began the process, a different road block would pop up.  It got a little ridiculous.  We inquired about getting a new mortgage without such a clause, but as housing markets struggled, the bank said there wasn’t enough equity in it and refused.

 

Finally, last April, we were granted a reprieve from the confines of the mortgage, allowing us to rent it out while promising to simultaneously try to sell (again).

But if we don’t sell, and don’t re-inhabit at some point, we could technically be in breach of our mortgage contract and the bank could foreclose on us, even though we have paid the mortgage every month and it is inhabited by a contented renter.

Will they do it? I don’t know. I’m not a bank. (Though I haven’t convinced my kids of that yet.)

Was it risky to have taken this chance for a year?  Was it a good idea to leave the small house (with a smaller monthly cost of living) for a larger, costlier one?  Was it smart to have taken on a second mortgage on a new house when the last hadn’t sold?   The bank could destroy our credit by taking back that old one.

It’s humbling.

I might have thumbed my nose at someone else faced with foreclosure, assuming them reckless with their money and resources. Or at least, I might have over a year ago.

But now…

Sometimes following God isn’t the most financially sound choice. Or most comfortable. Or most logical.

Yes, we are called to be wise with our money and bodies and time and resources.

 

But sometimes wisdom isn’t smart.

 

The day we moved, April 2016, we tried to squeeze everyone into one last picture on the longest wall

 

The Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

But people who feared God often did stupid-looking things.

 

Noah spent years building a boat on dry land and moved into it amidst the jeers of his neighbors.

Abraham moved – before knowing where he was headed.

Moses challenged Pharaoh with a stick.

Joshua attacked Jericho by walking around it.

Gideon challenged the Midianites with a horn and a torch.

David stood up to Goliath with a leather sling.

Ezekiel gave the people God’s message by being silent.

Jonah brought a nation to its knees with 8 words that didn’t even include the word repent.

 

And Jesus said He could save the world by dying a criminal’s death.

 

None of that seemed logical. None of them looked smart.

But it’s always wise to follow God.  Even if it looks stupid to everyone else.

 

A friend left a couple days ago, moving from our cold muddy New England Spring to Brazil.  There are snakes and spiders there that can kill you. The humidity and sun are merciless. None of her family live there. She doesn’t know the language.  She is young, single, blonde, and beautiful. She will spend the next 20 years or so on this quest.

But there are indigenous groups of people who have never heard the gospel. They don’t have a written language, so they don’t have access to the Bible. Her job is to be accepted into one of their communities, learn their language, write them an alphabet, dictionary, and grammar rules, and then translate the Bible into their language. It isn’t lucrative. It is dangerous. It is very hard, and lonely, and frustrating.

It seems reckless.

Last song before we moved out

I know that being a Christ-follower doesn’t mean we’ve been given a license to be stupid. Most of the time, it means being logical. I don’t smoke (because it’s bad for my lungs), or drink (I need every brain cell I’ve got), or party (unless staying up past 10 p.m. counts). I try to budget and shop at thrift stores. I don’t play with matches or run with scissors (much). I eat my veggies and read a lot and buckle my seatbelt and vote. I try to be wise with my daily life. Of course, I’m capable of doing plenty of dumb stuff without permission or thought (Not everything makes it onto a blog!). But generally, I try to live without stepping on any snakes that could turn and bite me.

And still, the uncomfortable moment came to step out in reckless hope.

God was there when each of our six kids were born.  God was there when one was born who would need a wheelchair.  God was there when we bought the little house.  God was there when we had to make the decision to move out of it.

leap of faith?

 

We’d made some crazy-looking decisions.  So we prayed like crazy.  And prayed some more.  And held our breath.  And jumped.

Maybe it will end in foreclosure.  But maybe a bad credit rating isn’t of prime importance in God’s kingdom.

But a humble, willing heart is.

 

The buyers backed out on Friday. So we wait, again, wondering if we were wise to take on a second mortgage, to leave the house we weren’t allowed to leave, to trust God to provide for the children He gave us.

If I’m reckless, I hope it is because God told me to be.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.

I can’t stop trusting just because I already took the first step of faith.  After all, it isn’t the first step that hurts – it’s the possibility of a sudden stop at the end!

Who knows what God has planned between now and then?

 

the view from our old back deck

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

 

 

Lightbulb Moment

How many kids does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Depends. The oldest unscrews the old bulb in the lava lamp. The next runs to the basement and determines there are no more little bulbs to fit. Meanwhile, mommy realizes it’s too quiet and goes to find youngest. He is discovered stuffing legos into the empty socket. Everyone survives the night (somehow.)

Next day, three kids accompany mommy to the store. The youngest kicks off his boots while he sits in the front of the shopping cart. As mommy bends to retrieve them, the next youngest screams (yes screams) with passion “LIGHTBOUBS!” because he lives life exuberantly and expects the rest of Walmart wants to join him.

Mommy jerks her head up so quickly in surprise that she smashes it into the cart handle. Rubbing her head, she looks up to see the second youngest in the process of loading the cart with lightbulb boxes. So the second oldest and second youngest are sent to the end of the aisle to look at (unbreakable) plastic trash cans while Mommy replaces lightbulbs back on shelf and boots back on the youngest. Mommy hurriedly selects what she hopes is correct bulb (plus an extra for good measure) and survives checkout.

Once home, mommy realizes she left two bags back at the store (she won’t work up the gumption to return to collect them till the next day, but at least she noticed, so points for that). Youngest finds package of bulbs in bag that did make it home and opens it (they make toy packaging impossible for a child to open or assemble, but lightbulbs are disturbingly easy). One lightbulb breaks. Mommy cleans it up.

Second oldest takes remaining light bulb upstairs to install it, realizes someone has disturbed his Lego town, and goes on a rampage for revenge. Blood and carnage ensue. Mommy demands peace and serenity – or else. Eventually the dust settles, and the child returns to his room to finish screwing in the new lightbulb. It works.  Eureka.

 

So in this case, it took six children to change a lightbulb. But results may vary.

How many does it take at your house?

Bearing

Once upon a time, it was the worst day of my life.

On the eve of my son’s third birthday, his brain got infected. The outside world got in. It was only the tiniest little bit that found an entrance, just an itsy bitsy staphylococcus – an everyday kind of germ that we all keep around for company. But we can’t survive with it in our brain. So I found myself, somewhere around midnight after the unfortunate discovery, singing happy birthday to my son in a breaking voice as I laid his little trusting body on the operating table so doctors could get the infection out. It would be a long week before we could go home.

The next morning, when my brother came to visit, I asked if I could leave my infant son (who was along for the wild ride because he was nursing), and my newly-minted-three year old hidden under a maze of tubes and medicine, to run to the store to buy the birthday boy a toy tow truck. It was all he wanted. And I wanted clean underwear. I ran in and out. It was snowing lightly as I pulled away from the store. Another car came around the corner in the parking lot and slid into the driver’s side door of the car I had borrowed from my brother. The driver quickly parked and came over to be sure I wasn’t hurt. I blubbered my story of how it was my son’s birthday and he was in the hospital for emergency brain surgery and all he wanted was to blow out candles and he couldn’t because that’s illegal in the hospital. The man nodded sympathetically, then got in his car – and drove away before we could file a report and get insurance worked out.

 

That moment of betrayal, heaped on top of my exhaustion, stress, worry, and loneliness, ranks as one of the lowest points of my life.

 

It was bad.

 

But you know what happened in that moment? My son needed me. So I drove back to the hospital, crumpled on his sterile bed, and held him – and begged God for strength. And God gave it.

Not a lot. Too much would probably have made me capable of doing dangerous things, especially to the guy who drove away from the teary-eyed woman in the disheveled Subaru in the parking lot that cold January day three years ago.

But it was enough.

 

I felt so helpless. I couldn’t fix my son. I couldn’t even celebrate his birthday. I couldn’t even run to the store without someone’s property getting destroyed! I was insufficient.  I just couldn’t even.

But God.

In that moment, God came near. And I knew that the prayers of hundreds of friends were – at that very moment – storming the throne of heaven with our names. And He heard. And God came near.

 

I remember that moment, because today, a friend is going through the same valley of the shadow. She is watching her baby daughter struggle with insidious evil germs threatening her little brain. It is a horrible place to be for a mom. But thousands of other moms are live-streaming petitions to the throne of heaven on her behalf. And God is listening.

 

The first woman – the first mom on earth – was named Eve. Her name in Hebrew is Chavvah, or “life-giver.” It’s Zoe in Greek, meaning “preserver of life, life-spring”.

This woman, Eve, was the first woman to talk with God, the first to know Him.

She was first to revel in His creation, to enjoy His goodness.

And she was the first person on earth to sin.

She was the first to realize she no longer had the right to dwell with God.

She was first to miss Him.

Eve, created to be “life-giver” to all future generations, was the first to lose intimate fellowship with the Creator of life.

 

It was a horrible realization. She was not enough. She could not make it right.

 

But God.

In His love for Eve, in His desire for her to fulfill her purpose as life giver to all future generations – God made a way for her to be restored.

 

She was saved by His grace. (“By grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9). All moms since have the same chance.

 

We can be restored to a deep relationship with God by the Word of God dwelling with us. (“The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…” John 1:14).

 

And God has (often) used a big-eyed, naked toddler covered in my lipstick, sitting on my once-white bedspread (just hypothetically speaking) to reveal to me the very depths of my insufficiency. It ain’t pretty. (I mean my dark and frustrated heart. But also the bedsheets.)

 

My children have showed me, like nothing else, that I cannot survive without a direct line of communication with the life-Maker.

This past Wednesday, I spent the morning busy.

I woke, stretched, and found clothes for myself and three others. I started the laundry. I took a shower (and was only interrupted once). I wiped down the bathroom. I drank cold coffee and ate three strips of cold bacon. I fed kids. I (tried to) clean hard boiled egg yolk off the chair. I dressed children. I wiped noses (and other things.) I read and explained a Bible story. I broke up fights. I did fractions and adding and multiplication with four separate children while keeping the two youngest from (totally) dismantling the living room. I paid some bills. I took a child to the doctor. I made up a story to keep him occupied in the sterile office. I gave up my granola bar to feed the backseat driver. I gave up my water bottle. I bought several gallons of milk. I bought the still hungry caterpillar (aka the growing three-year-old child) a sandwich. I kept time shamelessly as he danced to the restaurant muzak. I got home to relieve grandma of duty. I changed more diapers. I cleaned the kitchen. I paid for piano lessons. I put the little two down for nap. I put the little two down for nap – again. I confiscated a video game. I pulled bread rolls out of the freezer for supper. I glanced at Facebook and saw a post that a friend’s baby had been admitted to the hospital for bacterial meningitis. And I stopped everything. And I prayed.

 

Because in all the business – the busy-ness – of motherhood, that direct line of communication has been more precious than any ability I possess.

As my friend’s baby girl lies in a sterile medical world surrounded by wires and lights and foreign smells, hurting and fragile and in desperate need of a miracle, it makes me pause. I have looked into my own child’s eyes, wide from pain and fear, as he sat small in a big white hospital bed, fighting sinister germs that attacked his own brain. I have turned away so he would not see tears fall.  I would love to wrap my children in bubble wrap so they would never know hurt or evil. But that’s not the answer (nor very practical.)

 

I have often wondered at the verse that states “She will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” (I Timothy 2:15)

 

What meaneth this? Maybe that childbearing – from the first kicks of new life inside me, to the sting of distrust when a child lies to my face to cover a sin, to the leaning-down hug as they leave the house to strike out on their own – constantly reminds me of my need for a Savior. It certainly has for me.

Or maybe it means that “they” who continue in faith, love, and holiness – “they” are the community who holds up her arms when they are weak from mothering. They petition heaven on her behalf when she is too exhausted to lift up her head. They care for her children’s needs when she cannot. They continue – so that she will be preserved in this most important work of life giving.

So we pray.

As mom, I am first to realize I am unable to fix all my children’s problems.  I  am first to know I am not enough.

But I know Who is.

There is One Who can say “I AM.”

We mother on.

We mother – on our knees.

 

Cloudy, with a Chance of Heaven

The kitchen felt sticky hot.  I pulled the cakes from the oven in anticipation of the three year old’s birthday.  A strand of hair fell across my forehead and stuck there.  I brushed it absently, glancing out the window.  It was three in the afternoon.  And it was dark.  A storm was coming.

Toys decorated the back yard.  I went out to gather in the deep summer harvest of random socks, nerf guns, and fly swatters (why not?) that graced the lawn.  The air was heavy and silent.  Creation was holding its breath.  Maybe God was too.

Waiting.

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I pulled the curtain off the entrance of the boys’ secret hideout among the cedars (don’t tell them I told you).  Pregnant raindrops started to land heavily on the pavement, fat with the promise of more.  I ran inside to shake the older children from their stupor intense concentration on a Star Wars Lego computer game.  The lawnmower should be inside.  I needed backup.  Big drops spattered the engine as I lurched forward on the ungainly beast of a riding mower.  Two children watched and directed as I attempted to line up the wheels  on the planks that would get the machine over the step down into the basement.  Twice I tried.  Both attempts stuck the mower deck fast on the threshold.  Rain fell more urgently.

Finally I admitted defeat.  I backed up and parked the puttering machine back where I had found it.  Hail smacked my shoulders and head as my oldest and I threw a tarp over the beast, fighting the wind to tuck it down.  Then we ran inside, suddenly soaked and breathless.  I commanded the mind-numbing zombie-making computer screen be turned off.  Four pairs of eyes refocused on the windows.  We watched the sheets of rain turn the road into a river.  Thunder cracked and shook the atmosphere.  Lightning sliced through the dark sky.  The lights flickered.

The two littlest woke from their naps crying.  Downstairs, we pulled out ice cream cones in the still-humid hot living room.  I opened our current read aloud to the next chapter and raised my voice above the insistent storm.  We stopped briefly when it sounded like a jolt of electricity stuck something close by; everyone rushed to the windows to study the closest trees.  We gazed in awe at the intensity and power surrounding us.

I droned on for half an hour.  Ice cream smeared across my arm.  The storm abated.  Soon, sunlight pierced through the breaking clouds.  The boys glanced at the windows, searching for rainbows.  As the ice cream hit their bloodstream, everyone got restless.  The toddler stood on the sofa and bounced, sending sticky drips everywhere.  Someone sat on someone else and a wrestling match ensued.  I kept raising my voice to finish the chapter until I had to admit defeat.  Again.  Everyone was sent to their respective corners to regroup.  I opened windows and let the cool clear air push into the sticky house.  It was twenty degrees cooler than it had been an hour ago.  The washed air smelled of fresh cut grass and warm dirt.  I breathed in deep and went to start supper.

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After we survived mealtime, the boys spilled outside to run it off.  I left the smashed potatoes to dry on the table and joined the five year old on the porch.  Mist rolled across the back yard in silent wisps.  I patted my son’s head.  “Hey, don’t break my mohawk!” He remonstrated me.  I apologized and shaped the sweaty damp locks back into a blonde point.

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We watched the brothers chase each other, screeching and blaming each other for tripping in the damp grass.  The toddler chose a puddle and sat down decisively, immediately saturating his clean diaper.  Blue chalk decorated several rungs of the deck.  Even the hard rain hadn’t totally cleaned it off.  I was trying to silence the busy-mom-voice in my head that was commanding I turn around and attend to the congealed potatoes, when a little voice echoed over my internal argument.

“Mom, why does heaven take so long?”

Busy mom went silent.  My mind searched wildly for wise mom, who always seemed to hide when I needed her.  I’d wondered myself.  Buying time to get wise mom to appear, I prodded for more.  “What do you mean, honey?”

“I’ve been waiting for heaven a long time.  When do we get to go?”

I smiled slightly.  He was 5 years old.  I remembered his birth like yesterday.  And suddenly here he was, sitting in a shiny wheelchair, asking hard questions in a well-spoken, shrill voice.  But 5 years is a long time to not walk…

Finally honest mom surfaced.  (When wise mom hides, she’s a willing sub.  Wish I chose her more often over blabbering-idiotically-mom!)

“I don’t know, Ben.  Waiting is always hard for me too.”

My heart ached.  We watched the boys run.  Past conversations about heaven drifted through my mind as the fog rolled across the field, softening the blades of grass, till it was hidden under the cool blanket.  We have often said that in heaven, my colorblind son will see brighter colors there than those of us with “normal” eyes ever could here.  Heaven will be “more real” than the best our senses can do to experience earth, and our abilities will be far stronger when they’re unfettered by commotion, distraction, pollution, germs, stress, and biological imperfections.  Ben will run faster than anyone ever could on earth.  It will be awesome.  I wished he didn’t have to wait for awesome.

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“God makes each of us a little different, some a lot different, because we each have a different job to do before we go to heaven.  He has big plans for you.  I know He does…”

Honest mom sounded lame.  I wished I could give him some assurance that God does what is best, and what is best is usually hardest.  But try explaining that to a five year old.  I admitted defeat for the third time.  And hugged him.  “I’m glad you’re here right now.”  He patted my back reassuringly and slid out of his wheelchair.  He crawled to the ramp up to the trampoline where he jumped on all fours, sending the toddler with a sagging diaper bouncing amidst fits of baby giggles.

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He is waiting.  We hold our breath, knowing there are storms on the horizon.  Half a dozen times since Saturday, he has asked me, “Why am I like this?”  and I give reasons.  But it’s hard, in the heat of the moment, to accept them.  So we brace to weather the storms.  I hope I can shelter him through some of them.  In them he might be scared, but he can also experience the power of God in his life.  I don’t want to be so distracted by the fly swatters, and video games, and cold potatoes, that I miss awe and wonder hidden in the cloudy days.

The clear air after the rain will be worth the wait.

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Thresholds

It was Tuesday afternoon.

And I was chopping onions and chives for potato salad.

And I wondered where I would store such things in my new house.

And it seemed petty.

(Though I can’t just leave them on the dining room table all the time.  All chives matter after all.)

 

It was Tueday afternoon.

And I was yelling.

Everyone was grumpy.  It was wet outside, spirits were damp, noses were runny.

I had streaks on my shirt shoulder from the baby.

 

It was a Tuesday afternoon.

And Jesus went to Lazarus’s house.

But he wasn’t there.  Well, his body was, but it was just a shell.  Empty.  Buried.  Lifeless.

And Jesus wept.

 

(Actually, I don’t know if that happened on a Tuesday.  But it wasn’t long before Passover weekend; people were already headed to Jerusalem to prep for the feast, and Jesus knew they were in the countdown leading to His own day of death.  So it very possibly could have been…)

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Two Tuesdays ago, we bought a house.  We. Bought. A. House!

My husband said he would carry me over the threshold like newlyweds entering their home together for the first time (but he wouldn’t let me take a picture of it, to preserve his manliness.)  The house echoed.  It was so empty.  So clean.  Not even a single dead fly lay belly up on the windowsills.  No fingerprints on the door.  No crayon marks on the walls.

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Now there are. (It doesn’t take long!)  The flies get captured to feed to the pet praying mantises.  (So I caved on the pet thing.  But we’re still not getting a puppy.)  Little smudges cross the glass of the door where toddlers watch for Daddy in the evening (and for any chance to escape undetected to the great outdoors).  Two children were caught decorating the inside of the closet with the contents of the re-discovered crayon box (at least it was the inside).    The house is full of life and promise.

 

We bought the house from someone who gutted it and redid the inside five years ago.  I think they expected to stay here longer.  But within six months of starting the work, he was diagnosed with ALS (remember the ice bucket challenge?)  So their renovation plans changed.  He built a wheelchair ramp.  He created a first floor master bedroom.  He tiled the whole bathroom to make a walk – or drive – in shower.  He installed a bidet (that’s a new adventure for the kids!)  The thresholds are low.

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Some people have patted me on the back and said we deserve this house.  I concur that it is lovely to have a big backyard for the boys, and wheelchair access, and to not sleep on the living room pull out sofa every night, listening to the dishwasher hum its evening routine within feet of my head.  Rejoice with me.  I have yearned for this for years.

But we don’t deserve it.  Just because we have six kids and a wheelchair does not equal rights to a larger accessible space.  Just because you think we are nice (and you haven’t seen me at bedtime when they won’t sleep) does not mean we should have nice things.  Just because we trust God does not mean our faith guarantees we get what we want.

The man who owned this house before us didn’t deserve to die any more than we deserve to live here.  We all live in this sin-scarred world full of germs and degeneration, a place where it rains on the just and unjust, where life isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense.

There are probably hundreds of mamas living in cardboard shacks with their six children who have far greater faith than me.  And I know much nicer people.  And just having a wheelchair does not mean that my son is guaranteed the right to easier access.  It doesn’t even mean he deserves them.

Rather, it is grace.  It is always grace.

It was grace that brought Jesus to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, dead for four days.

When he got there, Jesus wept.  Why?

Because the world had lost a good man?  Lazarus was a good man.  He was generous and hospitable (you don’t become the stopping place for a rowdy group of a dozen grown fishermen and IRS agents unless you’re really good at sharing!)  He was known and respected.  But Jesus knew him too – as a friend.  He didn’t deserve to live any more than anyone else just because he was a nice guy, or to die because he was any worse of a sinner than his neighbors.

It wasn’t weakness.  This was the Man who had complete control of the very weather over His head, who could command legions of angels to His bidding, who made demons shriek in terror.  Jesus could make Chuck Norris cry.  Jesus didn’t cry because He was weak.

Did He weep because He missed him?  Jesus knew the exactly what would happen in a few minutes.  He would call Lazarus back from the grave.  Come back from the beautiful place where there was no pain, no worries.  No tears.  Come back to the land of death, where people would hate Lazarus so much they’d want to kill him – all over again.  Come back from the comfortable, bright, safe place beyond the grave, back to the hurting, grumpy, wet, petty place where people think it matters where the onions are stored, where people decide whether they think you’re worth life or death based on their preference to your appearance.  Come back to limitations and frustrations.  Come back from the land of the living.  Maybe I would cry too.

But I don’t think that was the cause of Jesus’ tears.

I think He wept because He ached for His friends.

Jesus wept because the strongest Man on earth was also the most compassionate Man.  Because sometimes grace is allowing a man to die and never hurt again while his family aches on earth, but sometimes grace is bringing a man back from that good place to live in a decaying body again. In that moment, Jesus felt their deep sorrow.

Sometimes grace means rejoicing on earth.  Sometimes it means heartbreak.  I would love to hear Jesus laugh.  I bet it is infectious.  But so are tears to a Man with a big heart.

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The Jesus I know is a God of grace.  Five years ago a man was diagnosed with an incurable disease.  That same year, a child was born with a lifelong disability.

The man was capable, financially wise, and sensible.  He prepared for his physical decline by preparing his home and his soul to meet the challenge of dying.  Meanwhile my son underwent surgeries, bought a wheelchair, and got a couple more siblings to prepare him for the physical and mental challenge of living.

A year ago, in late May, I committed to praying daily for a new house for our growing family.  A year ago, in early June, that man died.  He was committed to a new forever home that would never decline and never ache again.  But there were tears on earth.

I wept when I read the obituary and realized the timeline.  I do not know why God chose to do it this way.  But I do know Jesus Himself ached for the heartbroken family even as He welcomed a soul into eternity.

I walked through the house this man rebuilt.  He died in this house.  And for a while it stood empty.  Silent.  Waiting.

Now it is full of life.  And crayons and oatmeal.  Loud baby squeals echo and pokemon battles rage (the stuffed kind, not the virtual.  They find them – and throw them at their brothers.)

Last Monday, I looked out between fingerprints through the kitchen window as a thundercloud swelled across the sky.  The stately old elm tree at the back of the field stood stark against the foreboding grey.  I called the boys inside.  We watched as the heavens opened.  Rain poured in sheets.  Lightning ripped the clouds.  Thunder shook the heavy atmosphere.  It was majestic.  It was terrifying.  God reminded us that He is big.  He is powerful.  He is utterly in control.

And I hugged my littlest men close and felt their cubby warm softness.  And I knew God was also gentle.  He is compassionate.  He is utterly good.

And I do not deserve His grace.

But still He gives it.

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“The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you… and in the wilderness you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries His son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.  [He] went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go.”

Deuteronomy 1:30-32

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Vanilla House

We found a house.

We made an offer.

They said no.

We haggled, they haggled back.

We agreed.

Now we wait on the bank and all the paperwork.

It is twice the size of our old house, almost exactly.  And half as old.  The walls are straight.  The basement is dry.  There is already a wheelchair ramp, and an accessible shower, and no rugs to slow down the child with wheels.  A stream full of frogs to be caught borders one side; big grassy fields invite soccer and breathless games of tag on the others.

We are hopeful; even a little bit excited now.

Soon.

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Funny, it wasn’t my first choice.  In fact, when we looked at it with the realtor, I dismissed it quickly.  It was missing vital points of my “must-have” list.  It has no mudroom or entry area where stacks of boots and winter coats can live.  It has no laundry room where piles of clean and dirty can meet and greet.  It has no pantry area for the kitchen where I will spend most of the next decade or two.  It has no garage or barn.  It isn’t closer to where my husband works.  It has none of the character or intrigue of an old house, no nooks or crannies or little rooms to hide in with a book.  I call it the vanilla house.

It needs sprinkles.

I am not used to starting with a clean slate.  What a wonderful chance.  What a terrifying chance.  How exactly do I do this?!?

Interior decorator I am not.  Nor am I particularly organized to live without a pantry or bookshelves or a place to hang coats.  That gift skipped my generation, or at least my time and money constraints…   I am not sure how to make this clean palette of a house into a beautiful, inviting home.  I thought maybe a house that came with some flourishes of someone else’s life would help.  But instead I’ll have to start scouring Pinterest for how to build a pantry out of pallets and coconut oil.  Isn’t that what kids are into these days?

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All the furniture that seemed too snug in our old house will seem lonely in this new space.  I don’t own a single bookshelf now.  Or curtains.  Or a lawnmower.  Or a big garbage can.

I hope the neighbors are nice – even when they discover they’re living next to six young brothers.

I hope I can make the vanilla house into a vibrant, tasteful home.

I hope you can come visit.

Soon.

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The Young and the Reckless

It’s been an odd two months.

I’ve hardly watered a houseplant.

I’ve shared laundry duties.

I’m not the one who locks the door at night, or turns off every light, or starts the dishwasher before bed.

I haven’t written down when a single library book is due in 2 months.

I’m not always the choice for bedtime-story-reader.

I haven’t done nearly as many dishes.  (You could even say my sink doesn’t runneth over.  Dare I even write this blog anymore?!?)

Maybe I should call it a vacation.  It’s been a month of Sundays since I ran a household.  We aren’t home after all.  A man I’ve never met lives in our old home.  I haven’t been back since the day we left.

But mostly I’ve felt unraveled.  I’ve wondered.  Was this whole plan to get out of our little house wise?  Is it of God?  Is it crazy?  Was it impetuous?  Was it wrong?  When I look back at these months, will I be able to say we followed God on this crazy venture, or ran reckless in the opposite direction?  It has been a challenge.

Homeschooling is hard when you’re not “home.”

Mothering is hard when you’re in your own mother’s house.

Marriage is hard when both of you have been uprooted from your traditional head and heart roles.

Meal times are hard when someone else cooks differently than you would.

Relaxing is never quite relaxed.

Sometimes following God does look reckless.  Ask Noah, who built a boat where there was no water.  Or Moses, who told off the most powerful ruler of the world with just a staff in his hand.  Or Mary, who told everyone she was pregnant with the son of God.

But sometimes reckless is just that, reckless.

Where is my heart?

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They say hindsight is 20/20.  I’ve certainly learned things that way.  But Sarah, the wife of Abraham, didn’t have the benefit.  She couldn’t walk through the hallowed archways and see pictures of faithful who came before her, because she was one of the first listed in the hall of faith.  She must have wondered too.  A lot.

God had promised her husband he would have descendants.  But she hadn’t given him even one yet.  It was the one thing on earth Sarah wished for more than anything.  A son.  But years had passed.  Sarah’s arms remained empty.

True, with no child tugging on her skin or waking her through the night, Sarah remained youthful and beautiful.  She had no stretch marks or pregnancy weight, no hormone crashes, no sleepless exhaustion hanging under her eyes.  Far past menopause she still turned the heads of kings.  Manual labor was delegated to her servants.  Her job as trophy wife to a rich man was simply to supply an heir.  But she couldn’t.  Twice her husband allowed her to be taken into other men’s harems.  Maybe it would solve both their problems if she simply disappeared.  But God always stopped it.

Finally, in desperation, Sarah came up with the only solution she could imagine.  She would give Abraham an heir all right.  Just not from her body.  Sarah didn’t have the ability to get pregnant, but she had power.  She could force a surrogacy.  She had a servant, a nice girl, healthy and promising.  Culture dictated this was perfectly legal.

Abraham himself was 85 and getting a bit impatient.  When Sarah came to him with a thinly veiled broken heart and an open proposition, he was enticed.  He took her up on it.  And finally, Abraham had a son.

But it wasn’t the son God had promised.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait another fourteen years before God reiterated His promise again.  Finally, they believed Him.  Finally, Sarah got pregnant.  From that child of promise, she and Abraham became the parents of millions, the whole nation of Israel.

But from that other son came nations too.  Throughout the millennia since the two half-brothers were born, their descendants have fought each other.  That one time Abraham listened to his wife rather than waiting on God has cost many lives and much heartache.  It was expensive impatience.

I hope I haven’t asked my own husband to do that.

Not that we have harems around here, but…

I had wished so hard for a bigger house.  But it seemed like the one thing we never could have.  My husband was content to wait; little houses do cost less than big ones after all.  I was finding it harder.  Every morning I woke up on the pull-out sofa in the living room.  In the little house, even one thing out of place made paths wheelchair inaccessible.  Entertaining was difficult when little ones were always napping in all the rooms upstairs, and even our own family overflowed the dining room table.  It felt like a losing battle.  I wanted a new house.  I didn’t think I’d be happy till I got one.

At least it felt like it.

But I didn’t want to be reckless Sarah.

Once she ran reckless after her own heart and did the practical thing.  But it only brought sorrow.  She could have had kings for husbands.  They wanted her.  They might have given her princes for children.  She could have raised her servant’s child as her own.  He went on to have 12 princes out of his own descendants.  She could have made something of herself.

But I wanted to be righteous Sarah.

She was the one who made it into the Hebrews 11 hall of faith.  That was the Sarah who followed bravely after God when He led her husband into the wilderness.  It was that Sarah who believed God could make her pregnant with a husband as good as dead. (And you thought yours had issues!)  That was the Sarah who didn’t make something of herself.  God made Sarah.  When God singled out a nation as an example of His grace to all humanity, He chose Sarah to be its mother.  The very son of God would be her great-great-great-great (a bunch more greats) grandson.  She could have birthed princes.  But instead, from her came the King of all creation.

Sarah’s first god was too small.  It was years – decades – before she realized how big her God could be.

I look ahead as far as I can see and tremble. The mountains look huge.  Insurmountable. The responsibility of two mortgages…  A big impending tangle with Ben’s faceless insurance world…  Long demanding work hours owning my husband’s time…  I feel overwhelmed.  That’s when I forget my God is big.  He doesn’t always take us the practical, well paved route.  I still wonder if this is crazy.  But maybe, just maybe, I’m not being reckless.

So I fall again on my knees and beg God to keep me from making far-too-small plans.  He has big hands.  Big plans.  Don’t let me try to make something of myself, Lord.  I’ll only make a mess.  You Yourself make me.

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I’ll have to wait and see how He does it.  And let the houseplants rejoice that I’m not in charge.

See What I Did There?

I hate to read bad news. No matter how far removed from me, it stings to hear that someone was hurt. I would rather glide through life glibly on clouds of innocence and comfort than hear about tragedy and horror.  But I can’t.

I read about hate.  I read about sin.  Blame gets thrown.  Mud gets slung.  Mamas weep.  Children cry.  The world seems dark indeed.
Every morning in the brief interlude between staggering to the Keruig and hearing the patter of little feet, I pick up my Bible.  It’s usually only a few minutes, but it’s good.  I don’t follow a fancy reading plan or a devotional.  Maybe I’m too rebellious to follow someone else’s daily path through the Word of God.  Maybe I’m just lazy.  (There are a lot of great Bible study resources out there, I’m not knocking them, I just don’t tend to use them).
I just pick up my Bible and read.  I start at the beginning and plug on through.  It takes 2-3 years at my rate to get from one end to the other.  And then I start again.  Sometimes I’ll follow a rabbit trail for a day or two into another passage that caught my attention, sometimes I wish I read through faster, but… life.
Yes, Leviticus can be a bit tedious.  Yes, the prophets can feel a bit gloomy.  Yes, I’ve read it before and occasionally I glaze over on a familiar passage.  But the unique thing about this Book is that it is alive.  It’s the Word of God.  God Himself holds it higher than His own name, which the Jews won’t even speak or write because it is so holy.  It is heavy (not just because it’s a big book.)  So even though I’ve read it nearly every day for over 20 years, I still learn new things about God.

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But the part I really dislike reading every time is the crucifixion.  Of course it’s all through the Book, referenced for thousands of years through the Old Testament, narrated in each of the four gospels, and becomes the mantra of the rest of Christian history to date.  The actual events leading to Jesus’ killing are gruesome.  The murder itself is long and horrific.  I abhor the thought of anyone inflicting such pain on another human being, and my sense of justice revolts at the realization that they did this to an innocent Man.  To One I love.

But it’s where I go when the world seems dark.

Back to the cross.

It is the place, the only place, where love wins against a world of hate.

Acacia thorns formed the crown Jesus wore
Acacia thorns formed the crown Jesus wore

In one moment of time, the world literally shook as Jesus Himself wrenched the doors off of Hell and set the captives free.  Every single person deserved to be there.  Except Him.

But He went anyway.

And Jesus stood in the doorway between life and death, He stood there bloody and swollen, bruised, and humbled.  He reached out to the slaves to sin in the darkness.  He  reached toward me, abandoned to hopelessness, lost in a world of hate.  And Jesus offered a trade.  “My life – for yours.”  Most people rejected the red-streaked, mangled hand.  But some accepted the offer.  Some still do.

It wasn’t fair.  Death is fair.  Life is not.  That’s grace.

Every time another person dies, Jesus goes back to that moment again.  He pulls His crucifixion out of history and replays it before His Father.  He says, “See what I did there?”  And if that person who died had accepted the trade that Jesus offered, then God Himself looks at it and says, “Yes, the debt is paid.  Death has no claim on him.  Let him live.  Forever.”

Jesus knew He was going to die.  It’s why He came.  Christmas wouldn’t mean a thing if we didn’t have Easter.  BC and AD should have come together at the moment of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  (But they didn’t ask me, so we’re 33 years off, give or take.)  It is the culminating point around which time revolves.  What you decide to do about it defines your whole existence.

He knew it was coming.  A thousand days – a thousand years- before they killed Him, Jesus knew every detail of the agony to which He was headed.  A thousand times He must have gone through it in His mind.

But the death Jesus died – it only happened once.  Jesus died once.  And He came back to life because death has no right to an innocent person.  So He will never be dead again.  He doesn’t have to bring it up again.  It’s done.

But He replays it, again and again.

Paul's prison cell in Philippi, Greece
Paul’s prison cell in Philippi, Greece

Hate destroys.  It devalues life.  At best, we try to fix it by taking away the weapon.  But they killed Jesus with a hammer and nails.  They killed His disciples with rocks, with dull knives, and more hammers and nails.  Death is caused by sin.

There is only one thing stronger than sin.

When I hear about death and pain and heartache, I want to point fingers.  Mama bear wants to rear her head and demand justice.  I want to hide my cubs from a world of hate and pain.  But instead I try to do what Jesus does.  He doesn’t hide.  He doesn’t shake His fist.  He goes back to the cross.  So I must too.  Jesus pulls up the events of those horrible days that cost His own life, and plasters His gift of life across the face of all the filth and blood and terror that surrounds us, and reiterates it all again. “Love isn’t just puffy clouds and rainbows and comfort.  It isn’t Christmas.  Love is red-streaked agony.  Love is messy, and hard, and undeserved.  It isn’t weak.  It doesn’t lack.  It will not take.  It gives.”

“See what I did there?  I did it for you.”

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So Much No

We drove slowly up the tree-lined driveway.  The old farmhouse greeted us solemnly as we parked under old maples and stately pine.  a few stout tulips bloomed despite several years of neglect.  Ben spun wheelies with his chair on the cobblestones by the front door as the older boys scattered to explore the yard.  They came back with reports of tadpoles in the backyard pond.  The two year old handed me a fistful of giant dandelions – thriving in the abandoned garden bed.

I was bewitched.

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It was then our friend the realtor drove up and gave us the bad news.  Someone had already signed a contract.  The house wasn’t for sale – as of that exact moment.

It had felt like a dream too good to be true.  I guess it was.

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She still let us in to see the house.  It was empty, full only of peeling paint and unspoken memories.  The only furniture was an old piano in a back room.  Shiloh found it and tickled out a few off-key chords as the others raced through the echoey house with abandon that seemed appropriate to the setting.  I imagined a bookshelf here, a bunk bed there, bean bag chairs in a cozy corner, crayon pictures hung on the walls.  I realized it might finally be time to consider adoption because there were enough bedrooms to house a larger army – or even a pink bedroom!  I imagined my son’s wheelchair spinning smooth across the hardwood floors, a fire crackling in the old stone fireplace, the smell of cookies wafting from the welcoming kitchen.  I realized every stroller and bike and even huge family vehicles would fit in the ample three car garage.  I imagined snowy days seeing my oldest with a book, his lanky frame curled onto a window seat.  I saw homeschool supplies piled on a big plank table; a big soup pot simmering on the range.  I imagined parties in a house that could hold a crowd of boys – and their friends.  I could see Bible studies around the wood stove, music spilling from that room with the piano.  I envisioned a long rope swing hanging from high in the barn, a fire pit in the backyard for get togethers with marshmallow-sticky fingers.  It would have been a gathering place.  It could have been a home.

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But God said no.

He does that sometimes.  It hurts in the moment, the dream-shattering, like glass splintering into a thousand pieces.  Shards of what was hope get under your skin.  It stings to draw them out.  Maybe I shed a few tears.

I have been praying daily for a new house for a year.  Well, much longer really, but I committed to asking daily exactly one year ago – to the day – that I found that house for sale.  I thought that would magically mean it was the one.

God says to set landmarks (Jeremiah 31:21).  When we look back we realize how far He has taken us.  I was hoping this landmark meant the end of our house search.  Apparently He wants me to keep praying.  So I painstakingly glued the shards of hope back together and tried to place it safely where it belongs.  In Him.  Not in a house.  I love old houses.  But old houses crumble eventually.

Being a Christian sometimes gets reflected clearly in being a mom.  There are so many days filled with NO.

“No, you can’t have a cookie.”

“Don’t lick your brother.”

“You can’t go outside till you finish your math.”

“Don’t shoot the bird,” I said to the boy pointing a nerf gun at a friend’s pet parakeet last week.

“No dancing on the table.”

“Take off his underwear and get your own!”

“Do not run away from me in the parking lot!”

“No you can’t go outside without pants.”

“No, you can’t have a puppy.”

“No more tv time.”

“You should not eat the bug.”

“That is not chocolate.”

“Don’t eat applesauce with your toes.”

“Dandelions are not weapons.”

“Stop licking the bug spray.”

“Don’t hit him!”

“Don’t say that!”

“No.”

“No.”

“NO!”

A friend in the midst of single parenting her three young daughters said it once.  “There is so much NO.”  It stuck with me.  I feel like a mean mom some days.  I want to say YES to something.  Anything.  But they want so much that is wrong, so much that would hurt them or somebody else, so much that is detrimental or even dangerous.  And I have to say NO.  Again.

I realize I am often the same way with God.  I ask for so much that would be bad for me, then pout when God says NO.  I believe He has my best interests in His heart, I know He’s the one who sees the future, I realize He wants better for me than I can even comprehend.  But I don’t see it that way in the moment.  Not that I would ever be dumb enough to disagree with the Creator of the universe…

What worries me is the fact that sometimes God says YES when we should accept NO.  He did it when Israel wanted a king like the other nations (I Samuel 8:6-7).  He warned them it wasn’t good for them, He told them they were rejecting Him by asking for a human leader.  But He finally gave them a king because they asked for it.  They rejoiced in the moment, but ultimately it made them miserable – and led to their national ruin.

I fear that.  What if God said YES to my petulant whining for a big old farmhouse when I really need a smaller boring one?  I admit I’ve done it as a mother.  I’ve wrecked dinner with ice cream before.  I’ve let them overdose on Curious George or Man vs. Wild episodes when they should have been running off their God-ordained boy-sized energy outside.  I’ve let them stay up too late.  I’ve cleaned the bathroom when it was their turn.  Don’t go calling Child Protection on me.  We all bear the consequences of the overdose on sugar, the lack of sleep, the entitlement attitude, the pent up energy.  I know better, but sometimes I still allow it.  I’m lazy.  I’m human.  I’m selfish and don’t want to argue again.  I don’t like to say no.

While God doesn’t do wrong, I don’t think He likes to say no to His children either.  So sometimes He says yes to something He knows will hurt us.  Hopefully we come out the other side just a bit bruised, but also a bit wiser.  And more humble.

So I try to pray differently.  I ask for the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4).  But I ask not that He give me what I want – I ask that He put the right wants in my heart.  He loves to give.  He gave me the breath in my lungs, each beat of my heart, the food on my table, the sun to keep me warm, the precious quiet before the whirling dervishes wake up in the morning.  And I pout because He doesn’t give me the big house that would cost me far more than I know.  Because I can’t see that living there might cost me my marriage, or the soul of one of my children, or simply ridiculous expenses that would force me to choose paying for groceries or heating bills in the dead of winter.  I don’t know.  I can’t know.

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I admit my faith has been shaken in the last several years of life.  The Bible says ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will open.  And yet God has said no for five years as I’ve begged him to heal Ben’s legs or fix his brain.  He has said no repeatedly when I’ve asked Him to sell our house.  He said no when I asked that a friend’s child live through cancer.  He said no to fixing the dyslexia with which one son struggles.  No to so many big and little requests.  I wonder sometimes if God even hears me.

Jesus’ own best friends questioned it.  They hung out with God all the time, but even they asked Him, “Lord, just increase our faith.”  We must not be believing hard enough for You to hear us.  We must not be making enough faith.    He said something pivotal.  (Of course.  He’s Jesus.)  “Have faith as a mustard seed.”  Then you can tell a tree to go plant itself in the sea, and it would listen (Luke 17:6), or then you could tell a mountain to move, and it would obey (Matthew 17:20).

But mustard seeds are small, insignificant.  I think Jesus was telling them it isn’t a matter of amount.  I guess faith is more of a light switch.  It’s either off or on.  Either I trust Him – or I don’t.

My two year old does it all the time.  He takes a flying leap off the sofa and expects me to catch him.  He trusts me.  It’s not a matter of amount.  One cannot take a flying leap just a little.  If he trusts, he jumps.  If he doesn’t, he stays on the sofa.  There aren’t degrees of separation.  There aren’t levels of faith.  All that matters is what his faith is in.  Or rather, whom.

And for all the NOs I’ve said to him, even my two year old knows that I’ll say YES when I can.  It doesn’t stop him from asking for everything, all the time.  I mean constantly.  By the minute.  Without rest.  Always.  That’s why there is so much NO.  Even two year olds know there will be a YES sometimes.  So they keep asking till they get it.

So I’ll go glue some hope bits back together and keep an eye on the toddler who may jump at any minute.  And I’ll catch him.  Because that’s what I do.

But they’re still not getting a puppy.

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