Friday, April 19, 2013

Ask

The oldest g'baby and I talked some this morning about the process by which we call on Jesus.
Pretty basic stuff, really.
You know - if you're in trouble, ask Jesus to help you.


So this afternoon, we were getting ready for church...
When she got out of the bath, she asked me several times to wrap her in her towel but I was in the middle of something else and asked her several times to hold on a second.

Then she said, "Jesus, I'm in trouble. please help me."

For maybe a millisecond, it crossed my mind that I hadn't been "teaching" her right.
But then quicker than that, it hit me. She'd just called on Jesus and was I gonna leave her standing there cold?!

So there it is. Pretty simple, really.
If you're in trouble, ask Jesus to help you.
BE the help if He calls you to be.

And I need not worry about how she's learning it. Once she was all wrapped up, she started blowing kisses upward, and saying, "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sackcloth and Ashes

By the time I will have finished this, it will have become the most convoluted thing I've ever assembled.  Somewhere, I make a reference to "a month" but I've been coming back to this for monnnnttthhhs, not editing so much as inserting.  Or maybe I've been like some abstract artist, flinging my paint at the page.  I've decided not to erase or white out any of the seizure-like quality here.  By the end of it, I trust the thing will have been worked out between me and Him and I'm leaving anything past that entirely to His management.

I'll be amazed, quite frankly, if anybody even gets to here.
In fact, just the publication of this one might be worthy of a monument, some small altar.

Easily, this could have begun with

uuuuhhhhhhhh ummmmmmmmmm

and gone on that way for several more lines. 

For a month or more, it seems, I've been like this.  I keep returning here, only to sit and stare at just this many words.

There's something in my head, some emerging idea or barely grasped concept and it's just nearly a tangible thing like a splinter working its way out. 

There's an element of pain involved.

[Long, deep exhale.]  [Push forth.]

I facilitate a small group at my church on Wednesday nights, have done it for some time, six or seven years, maybe.  And yet, to this day, I've adamantly insisted that my group-mates not refer to me as their teacher.  (yep, I think this is it.)  I don't teach.  I don't lead.  I ask the questions.  I fa-cil-i-tate

And it's seemed reasonable to me, this model.  I've noticed that Jesus was frequently asking questions ~ ones to which His listeners already knew the answers.  If I am His disciple, then surely I'm "doing it right" if I'm interrogating people, right?!

And yet...

In my heart, I keep hearing "sackcloth and ashes."

I close my eyes, I see myself
kneeling in the dust,
rocking, wailing,
tossing the cinders.
Why am I so troubled?

I know why I am so troubled.

I take back what I said before about the white out.
I'm leaving the parts that show my attempt to dodge,
but deleting the attempts to close that loop.
This thing is really about just one thing.
One thing that plagues my mind.


Zion’s leaders are silent.
    They just sit on the ground,
tossing dirt on their heads
    and wearing sackcloth.
Her young women can do nothing
    but stare at the ground.
 My eyes are red from crying,

Jan Swart Van Groningen

my stomach is in knots,
    and I feel sick all over.
My people are being wiped out,
and children lie helpless
    in the streets of the city.
 A child begs its mother
    for food and drink,
then blacks out
like a wounded soldier
    lying in the street.
The child slowly dies
    in its mother’s arms.

Lamentations 2:10-12


I've made my excuses, have let fear, self-centeredness, laziness stop my tongue. I've been stone-cold when I should have been swift.  I've not taught the things I should have to whom I should.

I can't change my past.  I can only tell you about it.
And say,
See Here: 1, 2, 3...

Teach your children in the way they should go.
Teach them from their very first breaths, believing everything you've ever heard about the formative years and about their coming back to it after the rebellion.
Teach them, knowing that when Jesus said to "love your neighbor as yourselves," your children are among your very first neighbors.
Teach them as if their lives depend on it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Write, Schmite

I've said this before:  I really don't know why I write here.  I have, at moments, believed I'm under some sort of divine direction.  Other times, it occurs to me that I should just go back to writing in my journal.  Maybe that's all this is:  my personal, digital diary.

In any case, what I do here is record my experience, share my story and maybe, just maybe some insight.  I am always, always in the process of working something out and always, always need every bit of insight I can get.  It makes sense to me that if I gain so much from reading other people's stories, then maybe I can drop a grain of helpfulness for someone else.

In any case, we're all just humans on this planet, doing this life one way or another.  Some of us write about it.

I have a draft I've been working on for six months or more that's not so much about a particular thing as it is about my responsibility to speak about any particular, given thing. What I mean is that I've wondered if I might oughta be more forthcoming about things I know.  You know, less of the lyricism and poetry, more of the "See Here: 1, 2, 3" kind of stuff.

But something in the blogosphere recently has put me a'kilter.  And of all the things I think about, read about, am working out, I did not expect the subject of servanthood - or, more specifically (by God!), the subject of female servanthood - to be the catalyst for this kind of unravelling.

I mean ... there's gun control, gay marriage, abortion, greed, hunger...
A lot of stuff to think about.

I have thoughts about all of this stuff.
I have oh-pin-yuns.
gasp, oh Lord, I have convictions.
I have some stuff I could write.

...

hello?

"Female servanthood" probably isn't even the right ... "  ".

Please allow me to be vague...

Somebody wrote about it and I, personally, thought it was a great, grounded article.  It made sense to me, made me think for a bit.  I never - at any point - had the idea that the author portrayed herself as a scholar, as a theologian, as the only one having the only answer.

But somebody else didn't like it.  Mainly, I gathered, because it wasn't right.  And I mean, perfectly, like "your root meanings of Hebrew words aren't put together right" right.

Somebody else didn't like it because "nyah nyah, nyah nyah nyah."

Some of the finest, smartest writers that I've read showed up - and quick! - to point out the errancy of this woman's way....that way being a good and fair attempt at pointing out a better path for certain others of us.  You have doubts about that?  Haters hate?  Maybe I'm simple-minded or slow but I was encouraged by the article - not to be less than any man but to be more like Jesus.  And that's my favorite kind of encouragement in the whole, wide world.  I don't care a lick if that turns out to be simple-minded.

The negative responses from all the deep-thinkers?  It's had exactly the opposite affect on me.  Is that what higher education and IQs are really all about?

You know, I'm really grateful for root meanings and for people who study them and for folks who have alternative perspectives and are willing to share them and for the great "out there" of open discussion where everybody can tell everybody else to &*%^ off*... but in the nicest, most intellectual ways, of course.

But I'm also reminded of high school.
There were all the cool kids that I'd wanted so much for so long to join.
What was it that made them so cool anyway?
Was it really just their ability to find the un-cool-ness about everybody else?

Why?  Why would I ever want to be a part of that?

I don't even use Hebrew words.
Maybe that's why I'm not so much the "everyman's writer" as the "onlyman's writer." Maybe I should start locking this stuff up.  Before somebody tells me I'm not right.

By the way, can somebody please tell me the root meaning of the word "schmite"?




*Maybe this is one of those times that I should have just said "&*%^" but I happen to believe that there is such a thing as foul language (and I struggle with it sometimes, and am aiming to end that) and I happen to know that my resistance to blogging such language does not indicate my apathy toward starving children.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mantra

This will be very, Very hard for me to say, but...

I may, in fact, possibly have taken on more than I can handle.

There are women my age who are just now having their kids...or having more kids.
I've seen, continue to see, have heard references from throughout history of grandmothers taking care of their g'youngins while the baby-parents go plow the field.  Or whatever.

It's embarrassing, to be quite frank.  A little depressing.
I feel thin-skinned, see-through, tired.  Tired.

My tired mind starts looking for reasonable explanations:
it's the gluten.
it's the gmo's.
it's the government.
Then I start wanting to say to friends (and sometimes random people in the store, too, to be honest), "Hey, you know I work too, right?  That I do actual, sit-at-a-desk, earn-grocery-money, work?"

I want to say to my kids, "Hmph.  Don't think I've forgotten that weird, secret (latent-guilt-inducing) thrill that comes in getting to drop your kids off and goooo to work."

So far, I've managed not to actually say these things.  I think.
Did I already say that I'm tired?

Help does come, though.  For instance, this: Stuck In the Doldrums, Jen Hatmaker.  It was impressive how invigorated I was just in reading that.  I was just sorta wishing Jen Hatmaker could have come to fold my laundry too.

A friend asked if I was drinking my water and I answered a resounding, "yes."  Truth is, I probably need to be asked again and again in order to keep it on my tired mind.  I'm grateful for friends who keep me on track.

And that brings me to my greatest help of all.  I have found that some of what I thought would be my most challenging days turned out to be some of my most successful just by remembering to practice (a prayer of) gratitude.



Every time I print a contract,
thank You, Lord.
With every push of the vacuum,
thank You, Lord.
Every fold of a shirt,
thank You, Lord.
When I glue the zebra's leg back on,
When I brush the crumbs from the paper dolls,
When I change the diaper,
thank You, Lord.
When I can sit and listen and hold and love,
oh, thank You, Lord.
thank You, Lord. 


And He reminds me that this is but a season of my life.
And I feel a little less tired.
And a lot more aware of the ways that I am blessed.
Thank You, Lord.