Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Friday, April 29, 2011

like flowers...or weeds

"Mommy look!  All the rain we had this week REALLY made my hair grow!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's one more?

Blog, that is.

I have long since felt this blog was a bit moody.

That is a good thing though, and not the reason I am trying something new.  Booger stories do mix with reflections on life and death in my world, and Queen Mommie will continue to display both gratuituous cuteness and reflections on faith and church life.

My new blog, Weak and Loved, is going to be a little more general, but I think you who read this blog will enjoy it too.  It will be my attempt to share my reflections on faith and family with a wider audience, and it will be the blog I share with the world if I am ever published. (The book is written, but seeking publication is time consuming, hard to do with kids underfoot, and not as fun as blogging!)

You will see that I sent many Queen Mommie posts to the new blog, but after I get them both running, there will be no more redundancy.

Queen Mommie will continue bouncing along here, and I invite my family and friends and church family to keep following.  And if you like what you see at the new place, please share it!


After a church service which for me was only little-boy disruptions, I wonder "Why do we even bother going?" But she walks home with me from church.  Just her, next to me in the cool wet air.  Her siblings got a ride from a friend, but she didn't want mommy to be lonely, so she grabs my hand and offers to share her umbrella.  Her mere presence reminds me to drink deeply of fresh air, to savor this precious moment of life.

Her kind hand grabs mine, and I remember that God gives what I need; that seasons of rain often produce the most beautiful of flowers.

This girl who has been through the valley has come out of it with an enormous heart, and love bubbles out of her like a spring.  I feel the cool night air, breathe in her kindness, and give thanks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life is good at the cabin.

I didn't even ask if there would be coffee in the cupboard.

It's my parent's cabin. Of course there will be coffee in the cupboard. There was, and I drink it now. Just as I breathe in the constant breath God gives me daily, I drink my parent's constant coffee, and I am cared-for.

Of course a hotel would have also provided coffee for me, but I wouldn't get to drink that coffee out of my dad's chipped mug that says "I'd rather be golfing." The wonderful hot shower wouldn't have been that same shower I used when I was fourteen, the shower that brings memories of soggy swimsuits, and washing away beach sand and a little wet sister pleading "Don't use all the hot water!"

I inhale the trees, the crisp cool chirping air, and the sweet memories.

It is good to be a kid.

Monday, April 25, 2011

decipher me this

"Hey mama!  Look, I ate "squat!""

Hm, has he been told recently that he 'didn't eat squat?' I wonder. 
So I say, "Oh really!  What's squat?"

"It's syrup."

(Note that he has no syrup on his plate.  Only chicken nuggets and grapes.)

"How did you eat syrup when you don't have any syrup on your plate?"

He looks at me, obviously assuming this mother of his has never gone to school or even opened a book, and states with authority, "Squat can be Ranch too."

Get with it mama.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is risen indeed!

Awake my heart with gladness,
O Blessed Spring!
He is risen!
See what today is done;
Now, after gloom and sadness,
Comes forth the glorious sun.
My Savior there was laid
Where our beds must be made
When to the realms of light
Our spirit wings its flight

Now I will cling forever
To Christ, my Savior true;
My Lord will leave me never,
Whate'er He passes through.
He rends death's iron chain;
He breaks through sin and pain;
He shatters hell's grim thrall;
I follow Him through all.

(Awake, My Heart, with Gladness, Paul Gerhardt)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter weekend

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

"The sad part," by Aggie

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

May our sad parts become lighter this weekend
as we consider Jesus' love, and Easter hope, and the coming joy of the resurrection.
Have a blessed Easter weekend everyone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

For a smile

Proof that even the most self-centered of children
can sing along with the songs of the church!

(It is only 1 minute long)

Please excuse my singing but it was worth it for the cuteness!
(In the car I usually turn the radio up loud enough so I can sing along without having to hear myself sing!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eldon's Guide to Fit Throwing

We poor toddlers have so much going against us.  We are surrounded by beings much larger than us, and the largest of the beings, the "mother," seems to have been created solely to thwart our fun-having and world-exploring efforts at every turn.  We would utterly despair, and perhaps shall, if all of our weaponry against them proves ineffective.  As for me, in all of my two years, I have found no success with weapons weilded by my siblings.  I have little success with the Winning Smile; the Reasoned Argument is yet out of my reach; the Sibling Blame is only possible for those who have walked on this earth for even longer than I, and taken ample time to store up the vocabulary and body language to decieve the mother.

As for me, I have grown in wisdom and knowledge, and have wisely reduced my arsenal against the large beings to one category: the fit.

The Fit has many uses and can be displayed in various forms.

The wilted flower
Slowly sink to your knees, hang your head and shoulders, and maintain grief-filled silence.  Refuse eye contact.  If a Large Person attempts to cajole you into talking or tempts you to smile, summon the powers of your imagination.  Envision a torn blankie left in a mud puddle, or stepped-on cookie, or anything else that causes your heart to ache with deep and indescribable pain, and continue to wilt.

The skull cracking scream:  When injured or wronged, you may find this scream comes naturally to you.  My only advice to my peers who use this weapon: Make sure you are not in arm's reach of the mother.

The toothy attack
A tool best used on siblings when the Large People are not looking.  Your stature may be small, but an attack with your entire body is often effective.  Run towards your enemy, and grab him.  A proper grab utilizes the muscles of the arms, legs, and jaw.

The leaky faucet
Best used on tired Large People.  At random intervals throughout the day, emit unhappy noises. Screams, whines, fusses, and gibberish complaints are all acceptable.  You do not need a reason for such noises, your job is to simply make them frequent and relentlessly.  If you are feeling creative, you may want to add some bangs, crashes, and "injuries" just to mix it up a bit.  If successful, the mother may give you a blankie and set you in front of your favorite movie while she hides in another room. But beware: if you push her too quickly, you may just end up with an extra nap.

The despairing soul
When you find yourself frustrated, and unable to solve your problem with screaming, try this technique.  First, make your desires known in the best and loudest manner possible.  If the mother, chair, stool, or toy refuses to obey your clear direction, fall dramatically to your knees.  (See wilting flower above.)  After a moment's wilt, make plain the utter despair welling in your heart by sinking to the floor.  From your knees, crash forward to your belly, splaying arms and legs out wide to show the depth and width and height of your despair.  Roll from your stomach to your back, ensuring you still have an audience.  If you hear laughter or any other unhelpful noise (like advice on your problem,) simply roll back to your stomach and display the utter sadness and hopelessness of a splattered bug.

Daily I build my arsenal, daily I practice my techniques.  I do not give up, because I see the Large People around me are imperfect, vulnerable to attack, and prone to their own version of fit-throwing.  Though I cannot yet claim victory, I sense that the mother is weary.  My triumphant reign may be right around the corner.  I shall press on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

on pushing chairs around the room

"What are you trying to do El?  Can I help you?"

I ask this question in response to the screams I heard from the other room.  First, I heard the sound of moving furniture.  Then a small bang.  Then screams.  Screams of frustration, so I did not run, but I finished what I was doing, took some deep breaths, and then walked into the room to see what was the matter.

Eldon had gotten in his mind that he wanted to move the chairs around the dining room.  However, he is not quite old enough to be able to plan ahead very far, nor can he articulate exactly what it is he is trying to do.  He simply goes up to a chair, and uses every inch of his tiny body to make it move.  Soon, it gets stuck on a table leg.  Without wasting time trying to problem-solve, Eldon moves immediately into scream and cry mode.

So, can I help you honey?
"AARRRGGGHHH!!!"  The screams get higher pitched, and he throws himself on the floor.

In my motherly wisdom I see that my old standby tactic ("Do I need to separate you two?") will not work this time.   Perhaps separation from that particular chair would help, but who can separate a child from all uncooperative, inanimate objects?

"Honey, where are you trying to take that?"
Eldon gets up, hits the chair, screams, and falls back on the floor.

I try to redirect him, scoop him up quickly, and sit on the couch,  "You want to read a book?"
He climbs off my lap, runs back to the chair, smacks it again. With screams.

I am getting a bit frustrated now too.
"Eldon what is the big deal? Nobody even asked you  to do that!"
In frustration I take him out of the room, and when the screaming does not stop, I set him in the corner until he calms down.

Nobody even asked you to do that.  The words come out of my mouth, and again  I see my own self in this irrational child. (again God? really? c'mon I thought I had grown up a LITTLE!)

How many times in my day do I get frustrated because I am unable to accomplish things that nobody even asked me to do?

It takes a good deal of wisdom to properly triage all the things on a list.  I have not this wisdom, and so I am often frustrated.  The craft that seemed like a great idea, the laundry I wanted to get done today (NOT tomorrow,) the potty training session I'm not even sure we are ready for, the little things that never get completely finished to the point where I feel CAUGHT UP enough to really have TIME to deal with the childish interruptions....

Though I confine my own fit throwing to the inside of my head (on my better days,) I must admit I do relate to Eldon's frustration over things that seem like nothing to anyone else who might be watching.

God, keep me from the folly of pushing chairs aimlessly around the room today.  
Help me to see what is important! 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

rock vs. puppet

Saturday evening

In my living room, Elmo squeaks a cheerful little ditty.
Eldon sucks on his fingers, clutches his blankie, and giggles.
In my basement, little girls play dress up and and exchange silly bands.

Outside my window, a crowd gathers by the side of a grave.

When sweet babies are afraid, shall I not assure them that all is well?  I buckle seat belts and dice hotdogs, yet I persistently shower my children with phony, smiley optimism, wanting so badly to convince them, to convince myself, that this world is fundamentally safe.

But today, that seems so...  futile.  My voice squeaks like Elmo's, and the fluffy red puppet does not comfort.

Smile!  Elmo loves you!

Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
Psalm 61:1-2

Saturday, April 16, 2011

awful beautiful weekend

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

It is an odd, emotional weekend for God's children who are called to do both at once. 

With God's help, may the sadness we share work only to increase our joy as we are reminded of HIs faithfulness to our Confirmads.  May He train our hearts to find joy in those things that will last: in His love for us, in His promises, and in hearing them once again applied to us and our children.

Not even death can remove them from His hands.

And may we grieve not as those who have no hope, but always looking into the face of Him who is our Hope, clinging to Him to preserve us until that day we are called home to eternal joy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

on community

"Oh don't worry about me, my grief is nothing compared to what the family is going through."
I have heard this all week from people with red eyes, and I have said it myself, but is it true?

Of course those who lost a son, brother, friend carry the heaviest grief.
Yet we are community, we are one body, and when one of our members is hurting we all hurt.  Today, more than just one hurts.  One is gone, and many hurt.  So, we all hurt.

He wasn't our son or brother, but it feels like he was.
The parents are not our parents, but we hurt for them as if they were.
The sister is not our sister, but we pray for her as a sister.

How can we not feel this way, we who are learning to love each other as Jesus has loved us?
And I wonder, would we have signed up for this had we known it was going to be so painful?

Perhaps not.  But His grace signed us up, and His grace will sustain us even as we learn the hard side of love.

Lord, strengthen us in the grief we all share.  Loving as you love is sometimes painful... of course You know this, as you loved us unto death.  Comfort this community, and hold each one who grieves in your loving hand.  Sustain us in Jesus, that by Your grace we may be preserved until that day you call us home to You.  In Jesus name, Amen. Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 
Romans 12:4-5

Thursday, April 14, 2011

on collecting data

It is of utmost importance that parents gain insight in to each child's temperament.  Observe the children, make note, and attempt to discern what kind of training each child needs.  Are they overly cautious? Overly adventurous?  How do they react to change?  to challenge? to authority?  to praise?  What is the immediate response to a person who catches them in blatant naughtiness?

After much pondering, I decided to perform an experiment on the children to gain answers to that last question.
(side note: The children had been bickering all morning long, I was low on sleep and on coffee, and two of the younger ones had chosen this day to practice their high-pitched screaming.)

They were bickering at the kitchen table over who sits where, who sits by who, who helps what baby, who gets what spoon, and who leads prayer, and who pushes what chair where.  Their howls and whines bounced around the inside of my already sore skull.  A shriek pulled my eyes wide and made me grit my teeth.  Then, a spill, and one more tattle, and one more indignant "Mommy!" screamed in my direction..

I calmly decided it was a perfect time to try my experiment.

"STOOOOOOOOOP FIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHTIIIIIIIINNNNNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  The tone and the sound and the mommas-gonna-lose-it expression on my face had the desired result.


Then, the opportunity for data collection regarding their psychological makeup.  Behold, the multicolored temperaments that graced my table that day, and the thoughts I read on their faces.

The Instant Repenter- Sinful wretch that I am!  I am not worthy to be a child of this house! If I let fall the tears from these eyes they will never stop flowing! Oh, woe is me!

The Smirker- Yep, momma's gonna lose it.  Oh what fun that will be!  The authority figure has been defeated!  Hm, what shall I do first when there is nobody to rule me any longer?

The Smarter Smirker- Don't laugh.  Look contrite.  Make your eyes big and look very serious.  Don'tlaughdon'tlaughdon'tlaugh.  Hold your breath if you have to.  Do not make eye contact with the smirker.

The terrified-  Oh I see.  This is how my life will end after all.  I didn't think it would happen quite so soon, but alas, so it shall be.

The Sibling Checker- Laugh or cry? Laugh or cry?  What are the others doing?  Oh no, mixed messages!  What do I do?!?! WhatdoIdoooo?

Yet these dear children, molded by the liturgy of sin and grace in our daily lives, spoke with one voice to their frazzled mother as she tucked them in for naps and whispered a sad, "I am sorry for yelling at you like that."

"I forgive you momma." said each one, adding grace upon grace with tiny hugs and kisses.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

on faith and sight

We do not serve a God who wants us to pretend we are blind.

Our God does not require the ridiculous of us: He does not ask that we suffer and pretend that we are not suffering.  He does not require us to look at evil and call it good.  He does not pour suffering out on us, and then wait to see if we can still conjure up "faith" from somewhere inside our own wounded hearts, "faith" that somehow shows Him how sincere we really are, how much we really love Him.

We believe God is good.  When the worst happens, we question and wrestle and accuse God of failing us.  That is what faith does. 

 Like  David, like  Israel, like afflicted children of God,  like Jesus Himself, we cry out.

Faith questions.  Faith suffers. Faith looks to Him for answers. Faith wrestles, argues, shouts.  Faith is deeply grieved when He seems silent. 

Sometimes the prayer of faith is simply, Oh God, Why?

But He is faithful, and He knows how weak we are.  If our faith is to be sustained, it is He who will sustain it.

As we question, let us remember to look where He told us to look. 
His Word.   His Son.
Here, our pain is acknowledged, and yet our hope is not destroyed. 
Truth is still Truth.

Jesus on the cross, proof that He loves us. 
It does not answer everything, but it answers enough.

on the weather and suchlike

Yesterday morning Aggie came in from feeding the dog, complaining loudly to me, "Mom! It's cold out there!"  She really seemed disgusted about this, and quickly explained why.

"I told God to take the rain away, but I forgot to tell Him for it not to be windy!"
Exasperated sigh.

I guess I can see her point... does God really need her to spell out every tiny detail?! C'mon, get with it God!

Aggie is pretty sure she would do a better job than God if she could take over full control of the weather.

I sometimes feel that way about matters of life and death.

Probably, we are both wrong.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

of mothers and sons

The officer came to our door early sunday morning.
Oh no, not my son, fearing that vacation had ended in tragedy
The name given. Relief.  Not my son.  
But someone's son.  Guilt, compassion, sadness

Yesterday, kids in bed, parents enjoying the last quiet of the night,
but things went from awful to worse in that hospital room
and Pastor was called back.

Alone in quiet,
I rocked my youngest son,
thinking about the mother who once rocked hers,
who watched him bloom,
whose ears heard the name of her son from the officer.

I laid the baby down, and sat in the chair staring through tears,
thinking of dark hospital rooms.  Afraid, sad.
Another son walked down the hall.  He complained of dragons.  Afraid, sad.

Afraid and sad we went to bed,
his little head not quite filling daddy's place on the pillow
his little voice asking why daddy went in the night to "be with the sad family."

He curled up close, beating heart, breathing life.
not knowing why tonight mommy hugged him so tight,
held his hand, welcomed him close.

Oh Lord, how much longer must we stay here,
in this world of fragile mothers and sons?

Monday, April 11, 2011

On being loved in the waiting room

As I think back to our days of waiting rooms and hospital smells, I remember the little things that helped carry us through it.  God used many of you to help us see that suffering did not mean we were unloved, only that we were suffering.

I remember the meals, prayers, phone calls, cards and emails.  Many thought to do these things, and each small gift nourished our family as we got along minute by minute.

There were other things that helped me through too, things I did not know to ask for or even know I needed them, until I received them and was blessed.  But this is how I would have asked had I known how to do so.

Let me hide behind technology a little bit
Especially when Aggie had her intensive testing done and we were  dealing with surgery, it became utterly exhausting to me to talk on the phone.  I simply did not have the strength to share the details over and over again, to "keep it together" so that the person on the other end of the phone did not have to worry too much about how I was handling everything.  I was suffering, and it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and keep doing what was in front of me. I blogged when I could, but had very little to say to people by phone.  I appreciated that people seemed to understand that.

Take charge of little details
Someone tell me where I left my keys, and remind me to eat something.  Someone decide for me what it is I might like to eat, and bring me to that place to get it.

Just be with me
It is not fun to be the person or family that reminds everyone of such an enormous sad thing.  Some withdrew, and I understood, knowing that it was usually those who were carrying too much grief already to take mine on as well.  Some loved us through it, even though it hurt them to do so-- love in a hospital room means sharing worry and grief-- those who were willing to have their hearts ache along with ours were pictures of grace and compassion to me.

Remind me what else is out there
During the weeks at Cleveland I remember feeling like our world had become so small.  Everything was Aggie's condition, everything was hospital and worry and trial.  Yet some who shared our grief were bold enough to share bits of their still normal lives with me too, and I was surprised at how I appreciated that.  A funny story about what someones kid did that day, news from home or school that had nothing to do with us-- those were blessed reminders that life was still going on outside the hospital, and I could hope to join that world again someday.  I had wanted to talk about something else, even just for a minute, but I had no idea what else there could be other than my sick child.

Acknowledge my pain and remind me of Hope
Don't deny my pain with cliches, but look it full in the face, and then tell me that Truth is still Truth.  Tell me what I already know. Scripture or hymns, things I have heard a thousand times- I need to hear them again.  Nothing fancy or profound, just the basic faith we share: Suffering is awful, but temporary, because Jesus loves us.  Even when we hurt, we are safe in His love for us.

How about you, readers who have been in dark hospital rooms...  What would you add to my list?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

blessed spring

Remember about a month ago, when all the trees looked dead?
No hint of a leaf, nothing but bare, skeletal limbs, dry twigs reaching up to a silent, bleak sky.

Now, they bud and bloom.  The earth awakens, the time for growth has come again.  The whole earth is fragrant and glorious once again.

I look out the widow at the quiet cemetary, and I think on these things.

There is a time when all looks to be lost. There is life silenced, a sleep that no human can disturb.  There is a time for cold, quiet, and waiting.

But that time is a season, a mere season.
Soon our Lord will speak, and that season will end. 

And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
Ezekiel 37:13

We cannot rouse the trees, nor can we rouse ourselves or our loved ones from the sleep of death.  But like the trees, we can receive life when God pours out on us.  We receive it today, we who are living, and even after our mouths are silenced for a time, He will cause us to receive it again. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011


As the children squawk, "I want to sit by you for the movie mama!" wrestling and pushing and climbing over each other to get to me, I try to pry them apart and make room for everyone.

"Easy kiddos. There's enough of mommy to go around," I say. I say it quite often, yet they never seem to believe me.

They struggle with each other, always needing, always asking mommy for whatever it is they need. I give what I can, though sometimes they must wait, and sometimes they must hear the word "no." Nobody is really starving, nobody is naked, and nobody's been left at the grocery store. Isn't that proof, dear children, that there really is enough of mommy to go around?

Except, honestly, there's not.

Were it possible, sheerly by my own effort, to make my children get and stay content, I think it would have happened by now. But most often, at the end of the day, my efforts are spent, and still they are not content. I say this not to play the martyr. I say it because again, I see myself in them.

I am also not content. I am restless, I am disapointed, or I am frustrated, every single day. There is usually someone or something to blame for this. The children are uncooperative. My husband is too busy. My house is messy. My head hurts. My dog ran away, again.

If these things were not so, would I be content then? Would I, if my husband spent 100% of his day doing my bidding and telling me how great I am? Would I be content if my children were kind and clean and healthy, and my body never hurt, and the stupid dog stayed where I put him? The truth is, even if today was the first day that every single thing in my life went to plan, tomorrow would not be that way, and the bit of contentment I felt today would disappear.

My children see me as the Ultimate Need Meeter in their lives, but when I daily fail to meet every one of their needs, they are disappointed. Their desire for their mother to meet all of their needs will surely change as they grow, and is already changing. Yet restless striving for contentment will not go away. They will try to settle themselves in their friends; in their studies, in their young loves. They will someday try to find contentment in their spouse, or their career, or even their own children.

I like that they need me, but my children need more than just me. And I need more than just them.

What is it we need to be truly content? We want our needs met now, and we want to know whatever needs we have in the future will be met in the future. We are restless because even if our health and our relationships are intact today, we have no assurance that things will go well for us tomorrow. Those we love are unpredictable. Sometimes they sin and fail us; sometimes they get sick and fail us; sometimes they are called by God to serve people other than us. Sometimes God calls them to Himself, and away from us. This is simply the reality of life in our fallen world.

But God does not fail us. Only He can give us our daily bread today, and only He can promise to do it for us again tomorrow. The gifts He gives may not be those gifts we think we need so badly. It may not be all the motherly attention the children want, it may not be the clean house I want, but He abudantly gives to His children those things that are truly best. He gives forgiveness and destroys sin. He gives and sustains life. He gives breath to we who are but dust. He gives us Jesus.

Heavenly Father, teach us to desire the good things that You have to give us. The troubles in this fallen world and the confusion of our own hearts create discontentment for us daily. Help us to look to You for comfort and security during our journey here. Mercifully provide daily bread to both body and soul, and sustain us in Jesus until that glorious day when Your Kingdom finally comes. In the name of Jesus, the Bread of Life, Amen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The big baby turns two today

Eldie, Eldie, two years went by in a blur...

Because I am too busy chasing you, cleaning up after you, or recovering from you, 
Your birthday letter is short and sweet this year!
Besides, I have food to make for your party!

Happy Birthday my little buddy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The mystery of Kerplunk

Kerplunk!  A fun word, a fun game, a terrific sound to hear when the marbles fall!  Yes, mommy, I want to play Kerplunk! Wahoo!!!!

Wait a minute here....
What are all these rules?

Mom, you're telling me that I am supposed to use all my thinking power and my skills and a "gentle touch" (whatever that is) so that ... NOTHING happens?  Really? The winner is the one who makes NOTHING happen?

Well, mom, I know how you like winning, so I guess I will just practice letting you win today.

KerPLUNK!!!  Tee hee hee hee hee hee!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My precious daffodils

Just yesterday, the tiniest little sprouts....

Today, they bloom.

Dear God, thank you for letting me tend this garden today.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Psalm of complaint

How long will the wicked prosper?
How long will mine enemy triumph over me?

I praise your name all day long, O mother, I go forth to declare your glory
I follow in your footsteps night and day,
See O mother, how I love your law!
I wash my hands in the bathroom according to your word
If I see an open fridge, I close it
And a dropped sippy cup, I retrieve it without complaint
My hands have not thrown blocks at my brothers
though they taunt and ridicule me without ceasing
My feet have not wandered to the puddle or the road or the field
My laundry, though it sticks to my hands and offends my nose,
I have placed in the basket as you have commanded
My stomach has submitted to your harsh schedule of meals and snacks
My ears are attentive to your numerous lectures,
and my eyes divert not away to the television

Yet you, O mother, do not heed me in my distress!
My tears are my food and my face is caked with mud
My brothers scoff, they smite me to my face

How long will you keep silent?!
Hang up the phone and heed my cry!
Do not hide your face from me in the office!
Judge the wicked, O mother!

Make them drink the cup of your wrath!
fill them with corner-standing, spankings, and green beans,
until their hearts are turned to you once more!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Public smirking

If you went to Walmart today, you may have noticed a lady shopping with her son, wearing a strange smirk on her face throughout the store.

There was a good reason for the smirking, for the suppressing of the laughing, for the avoiding of the explaining to the son about the laughing.

The son, whose "job" it was to eye the shelves and declare, "We need some of that mommy! And that too mommy,"  did not desire everything he saw in the store today.  For as the son rode past the shelves with the feminine products, he shouted, "Mommy, we do NOT need any more ear pluggers!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Awkward Honesty

In our women's Bible study, we have been talking about how salvation "by grace alone" in Jesus radically changes everything. For example, knowing we are truly loved and saved by grace allows us finally to be truly honest with ourselves about our sin, to God and to others. We can admit we need help, and ask for it:

With that request for help comes and end to our playacting before the imagined audience of God and the people around us. We also receive relief from the intolerable pressure to demonstrate how much spiritual progress we have made and to show how spiritually mature we have become. (Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig p. 39)

My children are so good at forcing me to put abstract theological ideas into practice.
This week, Lorraine skipped over to me, excited to tell me about her day at school. First, English class:

"Mommy, at school today we read a sentence that said, 'The mommy was patient with her active child' and I said (snort), 'That's not my mommy!"

"What do you mean by that!?" I protested. She giggled and went back to her painting. Painting. Mothers with no patience do not let their children paint, do they? Not to mention there were FIVE other children painting along with her at that very moment!
I pressed her a little bit, but she probably sensed my defensiveness. "What do you mean I am not patient?" She shrugged and smiled and continued painting.

Hm, did she tell her teacher that too? I wondered. As a litany of my own "good deeds" ran through my head, I thought about sharing them with her. I wanted to make her believe that I am a patient mommy, show her how many of the things we do every day would be impossible if I really had no patience whatsover! I even thought about lecturing her about how hard it is to be patient with little boys; a fact she ought to know, as she loses her temper with her brothers at least as often as I do!

But who would I be kidding? This is my daughter we're talking about here. The one that sees how I get up in the morning, bleary eyed and staggering to the coffee pot, kicking children out of the way as I go. She knows the wild-haired person I am after a day of time-outs and failed nap attempts.

I wish I was always patient, compassionate, and kind to my children, and I hate that I am not. I know that I cannot fool God on this point, but I still would really like to fool my children. I would like to hide my sin at least from them, to never let it hurt them or discourage them. I wish they did not have to know that even mommy is selfish and ugly, even mommy must come to God as a pathetic beggar, relying only on His grace.

Grace. That is what keeps me going. The grace of Christ, who takes my sin from me and nails it to the cross, who cleanses me, who gives me what I lack, who cares for me even though I sin; this grace is my only security, the solid foundation on which I stand even when my works are tried by fire and found wanting.

God reminded me of this grace, and helped me to speak, "You are right Lorraine, I do not have enough patience. I am glad we have Jesus who forgives us and helps us, aren't you?"

It felt very unnatural, to let my sin lay out in the open in front of my child, and to refrain from covering it again with my words. But hiding my sin would teach them to hide theirs, instead of exposing it to the light and receiving grace and healing from Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9

Saturday, April 2, 2011

heavy lifting

I remember back in the day when I ran track and so forth, I also had time to spend in the weightroom.  I had no idea how much my high school arms could lift, so I'd start with something small and do a few reps until my arms burned. 

But sometimes, I'd see a friend able to handle something five times the weights I had, so I'd give it a try.  One rep, maybe two, and I would be sufficiently humbled.  Back to my puny weights I'd go, and they would feel even lighter than before.

I feel that way today, being home with only my own six children, who suddenly feel lighter than before.

Six children feel light after having ten in the house all week long! Dear friends from college came for a visit with their four children. What fun, what chaos, what noise we had!

Our "quivers" combined!
I wish this picture could communicate the incredible noise, the crunchy food all over the floor, and the sheer energy level that almost brought the house down!

Friendship that can survive distance, change, and child after child; friendship that can survive losing touch only to find it again in the midst of noisy chaos; friendship that dares to mix this many children together and then watches the children become natural friends just like the parents-- it is a precious gift from our God!