January 22, 2018

January 22, 2018

I hate drinking water. I don’t know why that is. I will walk around thirsty all day, in and out of the kitchen, but I won’t pour myself one glass. I’ll even share my thermos with TD (believe it or not) without taking a sip myself. Not so with my little people. They drink gallons daily; we’re constantly refilling the pitcher. And not only do they guzzle water, they consume every bit of juice, tea, milk, or soda we have in the house. Me? I will nurse my coffee until it’s time to take my meds before bed. Java makes my world go ’round. And that leads me to the woman at the well, the subject of our Sunday school lesson. John 4:1-30 describes how Jesus quenched her thirst—not the kind that you satisfy at the kitchen sink, but the soul-deep need that only the Savior can fulfill. He met that need, and she shared her news, leading others to run and learn about that living water. We should be running, too, sharing “the one thing we know,” what Pastor Livingston taught in church. That one thing is Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. This is Who and What the blind man professed when Jesus healed Him (John 9). The sermon reminded us to look beyond what we see and feel, to be encouraged, healed, and filled by the Living Word that lives within us, just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for...
Singing in His Reign

Singing in His Reign

Hubby not only brings home the bacon, he wraps it around pork loin and cooks it for dinner. He works hard to make it possible for me to work hard, too. He’s like the green onions he rooted and then planted: He keeps on giving and providing and sprouting for his family’s benefit. He doesn’t just look good in the window; he enhances the flavor of my whole life. I love me some him. But that wasn’t the song I sang the other day. Tuesday was just a rainy mess, and Think Tank had soccer. Despite all my fussing about the risks of practicing soccer on slippery fields, my recommendations to check in with the coach, my requests to scour his e-mail for a message about cancelation, it wasn’t until after I’d driven through the pouring rain that Hubby realized that soccer had been canceled earlier that day. At that moment, I was humming the “Hubby-never-listens-to me-I’m-hot-as-fish-grease” tune. Hills and valleys. Rollercoaster rides. Waxing and waning. Going where the wind blows. That’s where and how my emotions travel. And God’s got my number. One minute I’m singing His praises, trusting His promises, telling folks about the good and gracious, ever-present God I serve. The next I’m questioning His intentions, fretting about delayed answers, and wallowing in my sackcloth and ashes. I wonder, “God, I don’t feel Your presence. I need you. Where are You?” From gracious to capricious in one fell swoop on my unbalanced scale. Well, God is ever present, gracious, and good. Always. He keeps on giving, loving, and working on my behalf regardless of my moods, feelings, and thoughts—and believe...
Son Covered

Son Covered

Photo by AJ Garcia “Oh, my goodness. It was just indescribable. It was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. I mean ever.” I admit, I turned a little green as I listened to my friend recount her eclipse experience. Her family had driven to a location that put them right in the path of totality. Her view definitely…well, eclipsed my own view from my backyard, during which I cast only brief glances at the sky, and through the trees no less. As far as I was concerned, it could have been an overcast day or the early evening at its peak. Nothing indescribable or amazing over here—unless you count what I saw on television. Of course, it was my own fault. I didn’t insist we drive hundreds of miles, pre-order viewers for the family, risk the crowds at a university viewing party, participate in an eclipse-focused science class, or even take a pair of scissors to a cereal box. In fact, I spent much of the afternoon in bed, writing and watching God cut a cross-country swath on CBS. Even Think Tank did more than I did by taking a push pin to an empty box of Ritz. So, that’s what I got for my efforts. But I still cried, “No fair!” “What about me?” “Is it my fault I live on the outskirts so I only get 75% while others get 97.1%? That seems to be my constant lament these days. What about me, Lord? Did you forget about me? Where’s my healing, my contract, my miracle, my path of totality, my day in the sun? Do...
Grace Retained

Grace Retained

About two months ago, the dentist fitted Brown Sugar with an “appliance” to fix her underbite. She struggled with it in the beginning. The first night, she lost it somewhere in her room while she was asleep, and she came downstairs in tears, fearing Mama’s wrath. (No worries, we found it under the pillows and toys.) She had to get used to wearing it practically 24/7 and storing it in her case during meals. We all enjoyed hearing the way it affected her speech, and we’d ask her to repeat certain words—it just added to her appeal, if not ours. But Brown Sugar was a champ—diligent, mature, faithful, and good-humored. She quickly adjusted to life with it (including our teasing). She brushed her teeth and the appliance after each time she ate. She dutifully wrapped it in a napkin when she wasn’t wearing it (because she couldn’t always keep up with the case). She soon got used to the pressure on her tooth, the dental checkups, and measuring her progress. We anticipated the day when the dentist would say she could put it away for good. Well, that wonderful day arrived at last. Brown Sugar’s hard work and patience made her precious, gap-toothed smile even more precious. The problem now? She’s struggling to get used to life without it! “My teeth feel weird,” she commented after a few minutes of freedom. Later she pointed to her teeth and worried, “They’re hitting each other. Are they moving back?” We’ve had to reassure her that all is well, that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Once again, she’ll have to get used to life without the appliance....
July 9, 2017

July 9, 2017

During Sunday school, we talked about “serving.” When we visualize that concept, we see Jesus turning water into wine, healing the sick, encouraging the meek and poor in spirit on the Sermon on the Mount, washing the disciples’ feet, and ultimately giving His life for ours. But as we chopped potatoes and whisked eggs, Hubby helped the little people grasp servanthood as more than a spiritual ideal. It’s what we do day-to-day; it’s our attitude regarding our work and our calling; it’s a reflection of our relationship with God and a result of our relationships with others. In serving we should…  “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) Relationships was on the menu in church as well. First Corinthians 10:32, 33 says, Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Sometimes, that passage feels like another lofty ideal. But it’s imperative we live it out in real, practical ways in our service to God and man. That scripture doesn’t mean I should lie about my beliefs and experiences to appease others or ignore my core values to seem chill to my little people. It means I need to live true to my faith—choosing love, not legalism, and “putting relationships over rules,” as Pastor Livingston taught. And I need to do that as a parent, a friend, a child, a believer, and a servant. Yes, we’re breaking all kinds of rules over...
Declaration of Dependence

Declaration of Dependence

This morning, TD announced, “I’m going to dress myself!” Armed with a few key reminders (“Tag in back,” etc.), he did just that, lickety split. Now, this shouldn’t be a big deal. By this age, the other little people were sewing their own clothes, not just putting them on—okay, not really, but close. They all had at least one younger sibling to share their spotlight; they were little helpers and leaders—“knee babies” as Grandma called them, who had to move out of the way. But TD is everybody’s baby, and he works the roomful of eight mamas and papas willing and able to cater to his every whim. My constant prayer is that we don’t let our precious fruit spoil on the vine, but I’m starting to notice some overripe spots, right behind the ears he doesn’t wash himself. The blessing and the curse? He’s the last. The last I breastfed. The last to get a first tooth. The last first steps we witnessed. The last to learn to read. We all cling—and yes, I more than most—because we won’t get these “firsts” again. We delay their arrival and departure as much as possible, even to our own detriment. Sure, it makes more work, but it also keeps him…well, a baby. So, call us Dr. and Mrs. Frankenstein. Meet our cute little monster. But as I watched TD struggle to put his right foot through the right leg of his shorts, I took heart: he’s still my baby; he still needs me. And that won’t ever change, if my own Mama is any example. Even with a husband and my...