Why Am I Afraid to Love?

I had just pulled the big, white Suburban, full of kids, into the driveway. It had been the second day of Vacation Bible School and I had volunteered. The baby had fallen asleep immediately, even before we had pulled out of the church parking lot and I intended to keep her asleep and transfer her into her bed as soon as we got home. I opened the rear passenger door to get her out, unbuckling the seat belt as gently and quietly as I could. I lifted her up and turned around and almost bumped into my neighbor, Richard. He had come over and was standing right outside the door of the SUV, waiting to talk to me. It was a little past noon and already I could smell the alcohol on him.

“Just give me one minute,” I pleaded, hoping the interruption would not wake the sleeping child in my arms.

“How many kids do you have now?” he remarked as I frantically grabbed at my keys and opened my front door and swept upstairs to put her down to sleep, wondering all the while what in the world Richard had come to talk to me about and if I could accomplish my task of keeping the baby asleep and then gather my boys and their best friend, whom I had left unprotected in the car.

I came downstairs as the boys wrestled and laughed their way inside. I noticed my purse and the diaper bag inside the house and Richard just outside my door.

“I brought your stuff inside,” he said to me, motioning to the bags on the floor.

I panicked, but recovered quickly and apologized for leaving him  as I explained the importance of making sure the baby stay asleep. As I talked, I walked outside and closed the door behind me. The midday sun beat down upon us and the windless humidity and smell of his intoxication hung heavy about us.

Richard began by telling me that his daughter (with whom he lived in the house across the street) was moving to a different house and that he needed to get rid of some of his things and he had a wood lathe that he wanted Jason to have. He said he couldn’t sell it, but needed to get rid of it, or else it would be thrown away.

I told him I would talk to Jason about it, but that we did not have a truck to move it and that we were trying to get rid of some of our things in order to simplify our lives. Then I asked him where he was going.

And his answer has broken my heart.

“To a shelter,” Richard said, worn eyes looking down. “My kids are done with me and this is the end of their help.”

I stood there silent. There were all of these churchy answers floating around my brain, wanting to come out like, ‘Just trust in Jesus,’ or ‘God will heal you, just ask him.’ But I couldn’t say any of that. Maybe he didn’t want to get well. Or maybe he had already asked for healing and healing hadn’t come. And I don’t have answers for an alcoholic.

I said all I could think to say. “I’m so sorry, Richard.”

After telling him I would talk to Jason, he squared his shoulders and walked as dignified as a broken man could walk back to his daughter’s house.

I wish I could tell you a happy ending to this story. But my fear got in the way of my love. A couple days later I noticed a pickup truck in their driveway and the hustle and bustle of packing and loading. When we came home from VBS that afternoon I could see Richard sitting in his garage, amid cardboard boxes and a mattress leaning against the wall. I deliberately parked the car, got all the kids out on the opposite side of the driveway, so Richard could not see us and I ushered the kids inside the house quickly. I even scolded Thaddaeus for hanging back on our front porch, looking for a toad he had trapped earlier that day.

I was afraid of Richard.

I was afraid to even wave at him and acknowledge his presence.

I was afraid of his brokenness and so I hid inside my house.

This morning I opened up the garage door to take a walk and I noticed that Richard’s car was gone. He had moved and my last chance to say goodbye had been wasted because of fear. I wept as I prayed and repented for my lack of love. And then I remembered something that had happened last year. I remembered my daughter, Addie, had written a bunch of notes that had said, “Jesus loves you,” and she and Jeremiah had run around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and leaving the notes, to the infuriation of some neighbors and to the blessing of others.

I remember one evening being outside with my husband as our boys rode bikes on the street with the neighbor kids. Richard had come out of his house and walked over to Jason and had told him, in a choking voice, just how much that note that Addie had left meant to him. Jason asked him, in the sincere and strong way that he has, how Richard was doing. Richard’s eyes had filled with tears and he said, “Not good.” But then he squared his shoulders and walked away back to his house.

Why am I afraid to love? I think it’s because I believe the lie that in order for God to love me, I must be perfect. When I see the vagabond and the addict and the homeless man, I start to believe that love is dependent upon the wise choices we make. They have not made wise choices and therefore are below me. Not worthy of my time or my attention or my money. Not worthy of my love.

But I forget that I am the ragamuffin. I am in desperate need of the love of God and He loves, oh He loves me, not based on anything good that I do or any good choices that I make!

As Brennan Manning, one of the men most humble and secure in his own brokenness and belovedness in the Father, has written:

Our trust in Jesus grows as we shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing ourselves to be loved as we are (not as we should be).

You see, my daughter had it right when she wrote the notes with the cheerful and uncomplicated message.

Jesus loves you.

When I allow myself to believe that this is true, it casts out my fear and empowers me to love others.

 

 

 

 

Behold the Love!

I have the privilege of sharing my story on my dear friend, Kelly’s blog today. I have written for those who have felt unworthy of the Father’s love and for those (like me) who did not even know their need for it. May it stir us to begin the journey of beholding the unfathomable love bestowed upon us by our good Father.

It was ten years ago, when my oldest daughter was but six months old, that I began the journey of knowing the love of the Father. We were at Maranatha Bible Conference, a family camp along the shores of Lake Michigan that my mother’s side of the family has been going to for almost 30 years now. The missionary focus that year was Mission India and the speaker was John DeVries, the kind of man who just radiated the love of God like no one I had ever seen. He instructed us to pray the Word of God and gave us an assignment that week to use the passage of 1 John 3:1 and each day take only a couple words and pray that God would reveal them to us in a great way. Unbeknownst to me, in the instruction to pray the Word of God slowly and thoughtfully, he was teaching me the ancient discipline of lectio divina.

To read more, click the link below.

http://thesobieskicrew.blogspot.com/2015/06/behold-love-by-kristin-brown.html

A Mighty Rushing Wind

I met an old man from Bangladesh the other day. He had bright white hair and only one tooth in his mouth. I was drawn to him. He asked me about the baby I pushed in the stroller. The baby that looks nothing like me, with her deep brown eyes and jet black hair,but who has belonged to me for these past nine months. I tried as best as I could to explain to him what fostering meant, and maybe he got it a little, but it was apparent I could not communicate exactly to his understanding. But that encounter that morning was no accident and I could feel the Holy Spirit within me pushing me towards him. I could sense the love that God had for this precious Muslim man. So I asked him if he knew that Jesus loved him. “Oh, you mean Isa?” he asked. “He is one of our prophets.” “Yes!” I cried. “And Isa loves you!” And he began to speak to me that he did not believe that Isa died, but was taken up to heaven. And then he told me that he believes that Isa is coming back to fight alongside militant Islam. And I told him, with great joy, “Oh yes! Isa is coming back. I believe that too!” And as I spoke so briefly with this Muslim man, I stood before him and I held out the good news of Jesus’ love. This. This in the face of the grand scale persecution going on throughout the world of militant Muslims against my own Christian brothers and sisters. Today is Pentecost Sunday. The day the Holy Spirit came upon the believers for the first time as they waited and prayed together for that power that Jesus had promised would come over them.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:2-4

Jews from many countries were gathered in Jerusalem for their pilgrimage to the Feast of Pentecost. Jews from the nations, speaking different languages, heard the good news of Jesus being preached to them in their very own tongue. Peter preached from the Hebrew Scriptures and they were convicted and responded to the message. And three thousand were baptized and added to the church. The Jews knew Pentecost or “Shavuot” to be a festival of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. This came fifty days after the festival of the early first fruits of the barley harvest. In this feast of Pentecost, the first of the wheat harvest was taken from the earth and baked into two loaves of bread and waved before the Lord in praise for the promise of a greater harvest at the end of the season. In Jerusalem, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, God was fulfilling the meaning of this festival harvest by a harvest of souls. But not just for the nation of Israel. For all the nations of the world.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2

This morning I awoke to the most violent wind blasting through my backyard. I pray that the Holy Spirit would break out upon us in a mighty rushing wind. Oh church, let us rise up and proclaim the rich message of salvation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that all nations will come to King Jesus. Let us get down on our knees and pray that God would send us out to the fields, white for harvest. The time is now. So that one day, we will hear every nation, every language, every tribe declaring the praises of Jesus. And I hope to hear that man from Bangladesh, with the snow white hair and the one tooth, declaring the praises of Isa.

When Jesus Prays for You

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It is lent and I wake up dry as old bone.

My alarm went off at 5:30, but I shut it off and rolled over. It’s now 7:30 and the kids are awake and my youngest comes into the room, desperately hungry. So I get up slowly and try to gear up for a day of serving my family and teaching my children, but I realize as I look at myself in the mirror that I have nothing to give anyone today.

The one thing I want is the thing I forfeited when I decided to sleep in this morning. I want time alone with Jesus. I need time alone with him today. Because my heart doesn’t seem to be working right. I’m needy and I have been for a while. And now, with the recent news I received of my loved one (the kind I can’t share details about) I’m in angst and my sadness and anger dodge and twist within me.

I’m faithless today. And along with that, I’m joyless.

But it is an absolutely gorgeous day today. Spring seems to have broken through. The birds are rejoicing outside and the blinds spill golden light into my bedroom.

I walk out into the living room and my boys have opened up the blinds already and Jeremiah smiles proud and shows me the table he has set for breakfast all by himself. Thaddaeus hops up and down expectantly as I survey everything. They are full of springtime.

So I make them breakfast and they eat and then Addie comes down and she eats. Then I make breakfast for Jason and I as my husband comes in to help me and I can’t stay inside, so we eat outside. And the warmth of the sun and the cool, fresh breeze and the garden beds prepped and ready for seed and the smell and the sounds of new life, all of this begins to awaken something deep within me.

We gather the kids outside for morning devotions as Jason pours us each a glass of home-brewed ginger ale. I pass the Bible over to him and ask him to read, for I need to hear it this morning.

I close my eyes and Jason reads John chapter 17. It is Jesus’ prayer for himself and his disciples and for those who would believe in him in the generations to come. It is his prayer for me. These are Jesus’ last words to his friends before he is betrayed into the hands of evil men and condemned to die on a cross for the sins of the world. For my sins. These were the last words recorded by John, Jesus’ beloved friend. And as Jason begins to read and the kids sip ginger ale, I am overcome with the intimacy of this recorded prayer for all who would believe in Jesus.

Jesus was praying over me. With hands outstretched and eyes looking to the heavens, he prayed all those years ago thinking about me. He prayed protection and unity and holiness and mission and nearness and love. But what really got me was verse 13. “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

A tear slips down my cheek as I inhale the meaning of these words. Jesus wants me to have joy. Even now. Even though all is not as it should be. Even though those I love are hurting greatly. Hadn’t he just said it in John 16? “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jason finishes the chapter and we all sit in silence in the golden morning. Addie says that devotions should as well be over because when Jesus prays for you, that’s about as good as it gets.

“Thank you, babe,” I whisper to my husband. “I so needed that.”

The kids skip away to play, taking advantage of the fact that I am in no hurry to start the homeschool day just yet. I sit in the sun and let myself come alive at the reality that Jesus offers me full joy today. And all I have to do is receive it. He doesn’t force himself on me, but lets me choose if I will allow myself to be loved today or not.

Today I choose to receive.

Fullness

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Life is full these days. The good kind of full, the push your plate away from the table and sigh kind.

After several years of trying to just survive, it has been so refreshing to breathe and to invest time and energy into this season of fullness. The biggest investment has been in bringing my children home from public school and beginning to homeschool. Fourteen weeks into it so far and we are all loving it.

Due to my own lack of documentation of the process, I struggle to even attempt to recount our homeschooling experience. So I will do what a wise person once suggested in this dilemma: write out simple declarative statements from snippets of life.

Maybe this will paint a picture of what fullness looks like in the Brown household:

Addie declares the very first day of homeschool, “I want to be known for something one day. Kind of like Benjamin Franklin or the Wright Brothers.”

Our whole family drives downtown to Houston’s inner city Third Ward on a Monday morning every month to deliver sack lunches to Generation One Academy.

I have Thaddaeus and Jeremiah take turns running up and down the stairs 20 times as a study break in the middle of the day.

I step out in faith and play guitar every Tuesday for devotions at our weekly Coop meetings.

The kids make new friends. And so do I.

We do our read-alouds in a magnificent Magnolia tree on the Houston bayou one afternoon.

One of my children sometimes doesn’t want to do their reading.

One of my children sometimes doesn’t want to do their math.

One of my children stands on the chair to do their work.

Sometimes I have to get the principal to talk to them. 🙂 aka Daddy

Sometimes the principal has to do the math lesson.

We get to care for a litter of five baby kittens.

We bury one of the kittens and I hold my oldest son as he grieves long.

Jason teaches the kids woodworking in the garage.

Everywhere projects abound and cardboard and scotch tape disappear fast.

Addie warms our home with her piano-playing.

Legos are always everywhere.

Thaddaeus uses all things as percussion instruments.

We go to the park when the other kids are in school.

We finish school by noon.

We watch bees make honeycomb in the bee hive Jason built.

We read lots of books.

We pray together.

Jeremiah prays over a sack lunch with a name on it from Generation One Academy. He prays that this girl will grow to love the Word of God and be bold to tell others about Jesus. Thaddaeus lays his hands on another sack lunch and prays protection over the child.

Addie tells me that it should be our family’s job to tell others about Jesus and she tries to come up with ways to get a whole bunch of people all together in a room so that can happen on a grand scale.

And I laugh and I cry and I love my kids so hard my heart hurts and some days I have to text my prayer-warriors because I do not feel like even looking at my children. But at the end of a day, I am full with the conviction that I am doing exactly what I have longed to do for so long and that God is blessing this season of togetherness.

It is good.

 

 

The Season of our Joy

There is a strange phenomena around the holidays that not many people talk about. Something most of us probably do not deal with, but then again, maybe we do. Something that stands opposed to this season of light and hope. Something that would rob us of our joy.

Depression. Sadness. Sorrow. I don’t care what you call it. It’s there for all kinds of reasons. That dull ache in your middle.

I feel it too. With Thanksgiving just a heart-beat away, I know that it is followed by a flurry of December birthdays and Christmas shopping and family get-togethers and good food and anticipation of my children’s expectancy and the advent activities we do.  And I love December. But there, in the midst of the glowing lights and the happy faces is the realization that my family is broken. That relationships are not what they should be. That loved ones are really struggling in all kinds of areas. And most of all, that I cannot fix it. Oh there is such deep sorrow over the pain of those I love!

I remember this Fall, at the very beginning of our first homeschool year, I went out for a walk. I prayed that God would reveal to me the meaning of my middle name. It seems a funny thing to pray for because my middle name is Joy. But I prayed for it nonetheless. Immediately, the phrase, “shouts of joy and victory”, from a Psalm our family had been memorizing, came to my mind. But I quickly dismissed it because that didn’t seem to fit me. I am not a loud person by any means. I had always thought my name meant a kind of peaceful happiness. That seems to gel more with my personality.

The next day I happened to look up a Scripture that God had used mightily in my life to deliver me from fear. Zephaniah 3:17. I began looking up this reference in all different translations of the Old Testament. The Complete Jewish Bible translation reads: “Adonai your God is right there with you, as a Mighty Savior. He will rejoice over you and be glad, He will be silent in His love, He will shout over you with joy.” And there it was again. This concept of shouting joy. So I looked up the Hebrew word for that specific use of joy in that passage and it is the word “B’rinnah” which means “praise with loud, joyful shouting or singing.” And this is the meaning of my name. A triumphant shout of joy.

And so God has revealed to me my name, my calling. A shout of triumph over the enemy of this dismal and corrupt world. A shout of joy that my God is still a Mighty Savior. That He rejoices over me. That I can be still and know His love. Even though there is still pain. Even though things are not how I want them to be.

He is here. He is right here in our midst. Emmanuel means God with us. It is the victory of advent. It is the joy that triumphs over the sadness. And it is mine.

Kittens and Memories

We were adopted by a stray cat several months ago. The kids were still in school at that time and Thadd and I were outside waiting for the bus to drop them off in the afternoon. We heard her before we saw her, the kind of friendly meow that beckons to you. She jumped up on the neighbor’s fence from the backyard, leapt down on our side and came trotting over to us. A small, gray, tiger-striped cat with just a dash of orange on her forehead. She let us pet her and then, when Addie and Jeremiah came home, we all found ourselves scrounging around for things to feed her. A bowl of milk, a piece of salami, a crust of bread (she didn’t care for that). And of course she kept coming back. I even accidentally happened to put a bag of cat food in the shopping cart soon after meeting her. Addie affectionately named her Maggie, which fit her perfectly. We continued to feed her and she stuck around.

A few weeks ago Maggie started to put on quite a bit of weight around her abdomen. My suspicions were confirmed one day when she let me put my hands around her belly and I felt an ever-so-slight kick. We watched her grow so pregnant that she couldn’t walk without waddling. We put a cardboard box and a towel out on our porch, just in case, and kept on checking on her. This past Saturday morning I went outside and Maggie showed up from our front bushes very much NOTpregnant. I called the kids and we began looking for the babies, which Addie found presently. Five tiny kittens huddled together behind a sago palm in front of our house.

Towards the end of the day, Maggie let us take the kittens to the box on our front porch. And there they stayed, their mama guarding and nursing them around the clock.

Every chance we get, we are out there watching the miracle.

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The kids could stay out there for hours. Watching and petting them, picking them up, then putting them back when Maggie begins to nervously growl. The truth is, I could stay out there all day too. There is something deeply satisfying about a baby’s lustful quest for sustenance. Maggie purrs as we watch on. I have never seen her so content.

At night I put the kids to bed and the boys ask for the usual bedtime story as I scratch their backs. The books we had just read together never count. They want a made-up one. And about animals. Always animals. Usually, my mind is too tired to come up with anything interesting, but tonight is different. I find myself conjuring up scenes from my past when I was a little girl. About my first cat, Blue Eyes. I tell them about how I found him when I was four and how his owner gave him to me. How he was the sweetest cat ever, even though I would fold him in half. How he had the bluest eyes. How he had gotten out of the house one day and we couldn’t find him for a while. All of a sudden I was that bright-eyed little girl with the staticky hair.

“I remember being in the car on our way to the doctor, my mom driving my brother and I, when all of a sudden I heard my mom scream,” I paused and the boys sat up in bed, hanging onto every word.

“There on the side of the road was a dead cat, run over by a car. My mom wouldn’t let me see it, but she was sure it was Blue Eyes. I remember how my Uncle had come and picked him up and put him in a shoebox. He let me see him then, and even then I didn’t believe that it was my cat. It didn’t look like him, but all the adults were sure about it.

I remember how we had a little burial for him in the backyard. My dad, mom and I. My parents walked back inside the house, but I stood out there, sobbing. Right in front of the freshly-dug grave. I couldn’t believe this had happened. Death seemed so unnatural. I remember looking up and seeing my dad standing tall near the house looking at me. He started to walk toward me, a look of understanding on his face. I ran at him and he caught me and I wept into him-” my voice trailed off at this point as the distant memory enveloped me. A warm feeling overwhelmed and surprised me and I found myself fighting the tears. My daddy. I was overcome with feelings I had not felt in a long time. My two boys seemed fine with my ending the story at this point. Somehow they sensed the reverence of the moment. I sat there in the night thinking about my dad. His strength and kindness and protection. I kissed my boys and left the room.

I unlocked and opened the front door and sat down by the stray cat Maggie and her babies. I ran my hand through her soft fur as she purred lazily. And I thought about my daddy.

When Words Fail Me

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We were getting close to the visitors center at the South Rim. We had come far. 1300 miles in a truck pulling a travel trailer, three kids in the backseat, a flat tire miracle, a transmission scare (which turned out to be a fuel filter issue), changes of plans every day. But we had finally made it!

“Close your eyes,” Jason said,  “and I’ll lead you there.”

We had met my Uncle Ernie and Aunt Rose and my two cousins in Flagstaff the day before. I asked Aunt Rose to keep an eye on the kids while Jason led me to the rim. Didn’t want them jumping in or anything.

Now I have to explain that ever since growing up in the mountains of Latin America, the mountains have been in my blood. Living in the lowlands for 15 years have made me appreciate any kind of topography whatsoever. As we drove into the hills of San Antonio and the elevation began to change, my soul began to breathe deep. As we continued through southwest Texas and up through New Mexico and Arizona it just got better.

But even a mountain lover is not prepared for the Grand Canyon.

I’ve seen the photos. Bought books and checked others out at the library. Heard personal testimony of the greatness and beauty. My expectations were pretty high. But I was blindsided by a thought, “What if it’s not as great as what everyone says? What if I’m disappointed?” A crazy thought for sure, but as I was led down the path to the look-out I wondered just what my reaction would be.

It was overcast and the rain would gently come and go. I looked down at the ground as we walked and we finally came to a place everyone agreed upon. I heard a few exclamations from my children as we approached and Thaddaeus yelled out, “Is this the Grand Canyon?!” Jason put my hand on the metal guard rail and I could feel all eyes looking at me.

“OK, open your eyes.”

And this is when all words fail me. No description does justice to what I experienced at that moment. My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? Is this real?” The immensity and beauty and majesty and awesomeness. The way the sun hit the side of the canyon and enflamed it red, and then the layers upon layers and all the colors. The blue and orange and red and purple. The treacherous cliffs and the chasm stretching out beyond what my eyes could see. The mists and the rain and the sky in all array of colors above. Ah, language! How I butcher the beauty!

I have only had one other similar experience. The only other moment of absolute disbelief and amazement was when I held my baby girl for the first time. Both of those times I was overcome by involuntary tears.

The Grand Canyon exceeded my highest expectations.

We went back to camp to fix dinner that evening, but hurried back to get a view of the canyon during sunset. As we pulled up we noticed a double rainbow in the steel gray clouds. We ran frantically to the rim with the camera and were able to take some shots in a tiny window of time before the clouds covered the rainbows from sight.

To see the sign of God’s covenant to the earth, two colored bows, stretched over one of the greatest evidences of a worldwide flood was overwhelming.

I was overcome by God’s great love for me. That I could get to see his handiwork like this! There are no words.

How in the World Do You Impart Faith to Your Children?

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It was the night before the first day at a new school. I came in her room to tuck her in and pray with her about the school and the people and the bus ride home. But she had other things on her mind.

“Mommy,” Addie began, “How do you ask Jesus to be your Savior? I really want to, but I don’t know how.”

The boys were in the other room fighting over pajamas. What had my daughter just asked me? My eyes widened at the realization of the moment. I had not anticipated this conversation that night. I asked her to wait as I ran downstairs to tell Jason to tend to the boys and I grabbed my tattered, purple Bible.

Running upstairs, I breathed a prayer that God would give me words to describe the great mystery of salvation only found in Jesus Christ. The salvation that had changed my life forever. And Jason’s.

I came into her room, the room Jason and I only a few weeks back had prayed over as we dedicated the rooms in our new home to the Lord. I closed the door and sat on her bed. And her eyes were urgent with anticipation. I took a deep breath and began to talk about the gospel. The good news that Jesus had come to earth to live and die and rise again to make us new and clean and take away our sins and give us a new life. It is so simple. And the most powerful thing in the world.

But she has heard this good news since she was a tiny girl. I remember her telling it to Jeremiah when she was three. Telling him all about the garden of Eden and Adam and Eve and the first sin and how God had to send Jesus to come rescue us.

But this day was different. This day Addie wanted a part of the story. She wanted Jesus to save HER.

And so as best as I could, I explained to her that all you have to do is ask Jesus to save you. You turn from the old way of life to the new way. You turn from sin and turn to Jesus.

I asked her if she wanted to kneel with me by her bed and pray. She hopped off fast and we knelt together, mother and daughter, as I helped her communicate to God that she was turning from sin to Jesus. From death to life. She was beaming with joy when we finished. And I found myself dizzy with the privilege of leading my little girl to Jesus.

I was suddenly struck by a realization as I opened my Bible to the place where I had recorded when I prayed to ask Jesus to save me as a little girl. January 6, 1988. I was eight years old. This day was January 7, 2013 and Addie was also eight years old. But my birthday is December 11 and my daughter’s is December 12. This means that we both chose to follow Jesus when we were the exact age. To the very day! This is no small thing. A precious detail in both of our stories to show that this was completely God’s timing and not my own. A gift from Him.

How in the world do you impart faith to your children?

I had long felt the pressure to lead Addie into that “sinner’s prayer”. But, I can’t make my children choose Jesus! All I could do was pray on my face for the salvation of my children and live and speak and love like Jesus. That is it.

God did everything in Addie’s life. He caused her heart to seek His. My boys will have a different experience that their sister’s. But God is able to reach them exactly as they understand and I will keep loving and praying for them. O what a holy calling to be a mother! And a discipline in self-control to let the Holy Spirit do His job.

On Pentecost Sunday two weeks ago now, we all watched as Addie Rose chose to tell the world that she has chosen Jesus over all other things. Through baptism. Buried with Christ in the likeness of his death, raised to walk in newness of life.

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When Is It Done?!

IMG_8376I had waited for the day of freedom. When Jason would be finished with paramedic school and clinicals and his National Registry exam. Finished with all of the work and the busy and the time-consuming activity spent somewhere else. When he would just be a firefighter with a one day on, two day off schedule. When he would be home and truly here; no more textbooks dictating the amount of time he could spend with all of us. We waited and persevered and found God faithful in the wait. And then as the final months broke down to weeks and then days, the hour of his exam was here and he passed! And we celebrated! And at last we were in our own home, with schooling behind us, and we were ready to just be and play and dream and figure out who we were after the messy three years of schooling and moving and waiting we had just emerged from.

But even as he was finishing, our van’s transmission was going out. And as soon as the National Registry was completed, Jason dove into car mechanics with the same fervency (even more so) as he had exhibited toward his paramedic studies. Not because he really wanted to spend all of his time rigging up engine braces made out of scrap lumber or traveling far and wide in search of used auto parts or schooling himself on transmission removal and a host of other pertinent information. No. He was motivated by a lack of money and the desire of having two working vehicles. He even went out to a Beaumont junkyard twice only to discover that the used transmissions they had sold us were defective. The first one we got was the wrong one and after returning it and picking up the second one, it wasn’t long before he figured out that that one, too, was bad. It seems like at every turn there have been roadblocks. And futility.

And so we came to the conclusion that he had to give up trying to fix the van and just settle for a cheap commuter car until we could save up enough money for something else. But when you settle for a cheap commuter, you usually settle for a car that needs a bit of work to get it going. And so we bought the 1996 Nisan Altima… The blueberry-colored one. The one that needs a new water pump. The one my husband, the car mechanic, is working on right now.

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And when you scrounge around for change to purchase auto parts and payday is tomorrow and there is not much food left in the pantry, that’s when snacks start to get creative. So I pour out the rest of an opened gluten free pizza mix and I add the remains of a gluten free pancake mix and I say, “Thaddaeus, we are going to make muffins.”

And my son wastes no time, but begins to drag the step-stool over to the counter. He grabs the milk out of the fridge and muscles it up next to the bowl I’ve just brought down from cupboards overhead. I crack eggs and add oil and milk and he stirs the mix happily as I oil the muffin tin. And then we fold in the frozen blueberries. I scoop out batter into the tins and he looks on hungrily. He licks the fork he had been mixing with. The oven is ready and I put the muffins in, set the timer and walk away.

“When is it done?” Thadd immediately asks. It hadn’t been in yet for even a minute.

“Twelve minutes, buddy. We just put them in.”

The blonde-headed four year-old has no concept of time. “I want them now!”

I turn on the oven light and he looks at the muffins, still gooey. “I can take them out and you can eat them if you’d like,” I offer. “But they will be all sticky. They are not done yet.”

He doesn’t want sticky muffins. He wants done muffins. Now. He has worked so hard pulling out ingredients and beating batter and dreaming about actually eating the muffins. And now to wait for them? This is more than he signed up for.

And that’s when I realize I am a lot like my son. Waiting makes no sense at all. Especially if what I am waiting for is something good like a chance to rest and breathe and spend time with family. Especially if we have already waited three years to get to this place. It’s not fair.

But wait we do. Whether we like it or not. Thaddaeus cries and complains and keeps a vigilant eye upon the muffins. But finally, twelve minutes come to an end. I, at long last, take the muffins out of the oven and they’ve changed! They are plump and golden and hot.

Another wait. For I make a cup of coffee. Muffins cool and Thadd jumps up and down. But as soon as I put the long-awaited muffin on his plate, all is well. He forgets the wait.

IMG_8393We take a cup of coffee and a steamy blueberry muffin out to the car mechanic. Big hands smeared with grime take the cup and plate carefully. He smiles and thanks us. I take a deep breath, go back inside and keep waiting.