Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pray for Mine

Tonight Kachi barfed in the tub.
Probably from slurping soap, maybe from getting right into the water after eating supper.
And nope, Patrick and I aren't sure which, because we don't have our eyes glued on him every waking moment. 
This afternoon I helped a neighbour carry her groceries into her house. Sam followed me outside, and played in the snow in our front yard while I popped inside with the bags. When I came out of the house, he was on the street corner throwing a snowball at a passing car.
My heart breaks when I read about people judging Chase Marten's parents for not watching him in the few moments it took for him to wander out of sight. That could be me.
That could be my child.
Parenting is a constant guessing game of what is the best choice for an entire family at any given moment. Does the off chance that someone could get hurt stop us from living life? No - it can't.  It can't.
Pray for the Martens.
Pray for your family.
And pray for mine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why Are You Following Me?

For the first time in their young lives, Sam is starting to want some occasional space from Vava.

March Break stretched long after a week off school from illness, and Sam was missing his friends and big kid activities.  Vava, on the other hand, was over the moon to have Sam around all day again.

After asking permission to go to the basement to play with his small Lego  (we try to keep it out of Kachi's reach, so it's not with the rest of the toys), Sam opened the basement door and found Vava hot on his heels.

"Why are you following me?" he asked.

"Because I just love you so much," she explained nonchalantly, pulling the door closed behind her.

I didn't hear the rest of the conversation but I couldn't help grinning.

The word of God, right there in her mouth.

That's why those of us who love Jesus will find ourselves singing about the cross, come Sunday.  Why we will open and retell the bloody story of the crucifixion. Why we will contemplate the holy transaction - Jesus suffering in our place for our sin, granting us His own place as free children of God. Why we will weep for gladness as the truth of the resurrection sweeps over us yet again, that glorious triumph of Life over death. 

Yes. In the face of His love, His sacrifice, His shattering power, we have only one answer when He asks -

Why are you following Me?

We just love You so much.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Vava is a fearless jumper. That kid will climb and leap right along with her big brother, scamper up a ladder and stand on top of slides and jump to the ground instead of sliding down.  At home, she is allowed to jump from the fourth step - and she regularly asks if she's big enough to jump from the fifth, promising me cheerfully that she'll be careful not to die.  I love it.  I love that she's brave and bold and determined. I value the skills of risk management that she displays - she's aware of her physical limits but instead of being fearful, she's challenged by them. 

Not in every way, though. She is not an upside-down fan. She has always hated being held upside down, leaning too far backwards, or feeling at all like she's about to learn practical gravity head first. (She comes by it honestly - I can't stand the disorientation of being upside down.)

Every time she needs help in the bathroom, I hear a little gasp of fear when I ask her to lean forward and rest against my legs so I can wipe her little backside. Tonight she sighed with relief as she hopped off the toilet. "That's the scariest feeling in the world," she explained, "leaning."

And I felt like God was holding up a mirror in front of my soul.

Leaping? Climbing? Doing sudden and big things when He makes it clear to my heart that He wants me to? No problem. I  can make that jump. Like Vava with high places, I know Him. I've tested some of the big ladders and I know what happens. Trusting Him in big circumstances is a whole lot of thrill. I can jump from that fifth step and remain confident that He will be faithful. I can hurl myself off a ladder, because I've landed gleefully on that pile of cushions at the bottom before.

When I felt that God wanted me to volunteer in Zambia for a year, it wasn't hard to say yes. He had been preparing my heart for an adventure, for the cost, for being away from my family. That kind of jumping is dizzying ... but delicious.  It's got direction and speed and the difference it makes is huge.  And it's fun.

But leaning? Trusting on someone else to hold me up? Choosing to let go of control for an uncertain length of time and depending on them to make sure I'm okay? I'm not so good at that kind of disorientation. I'd prefer to be the boss of which end is up, to see where I'm going and decide just when my feet leave the ground.

Leaning is that everyday kind of faith, the kind that obeys the ordinary command in scripture to discuss offences with the person who offended you instead of gossiping about them with everyone else (won't that be awkward?). It's the faith that prays for a gentle heart in the face of irritation and misunderstanding (it would be such a relief to roll my eyes or snap some sarcasm right now!). It's the faith that trusts that God is there even when you haven't had any thrilling little hints of His presence (oh sure ... like He really cares to hang around while I'm making a casserole *zzz*).

Leaning is boring and difficult and scary.  And the temptation to give up and just stand on my own strength is a lot bigger than when He invites me to jump.

But there are some things that require leaning.  Logically, if I can trust God when He asks me to leap, I shouldn't find it hard to trust Him when He asks me to lean. 

But I do.

I start to worry the leaning won't end. I start to fear what might happen if He decides not to hold me up. I - not intentionally, but unconsciously - think I'll be better at holding myself up than He is. 
And instead of remembering those everlasting arms, I just think about falling. And that ... that's the scariest feeling in the world.

My little mirror is right. Jumping is exciting and fun. The scariest feeling in the world?


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

And Unicorns

There are things you have taught me, sweet daughter -
Like how to juggle two kids at once,
That tiny babies can love stuffies from the beginning,
And how to forgive freely -
Things that only you could have taught me.

You have shown me how to talk to God -
With arms stretched up to heaven,
With twirling and clapping in celebration
For a blue sky or for that rainbow that splashes on the carpet every afternoon -
You talk to Him openly, freely, with a full heart.

You point me toward Him, you curious arrow,
When you seem to be aiming in much the wrong direction.
Your angry eyebrows and fury when you stub your toe,
Your need to vent rage before you seek comfort,
Shoot my heart straight up to Him
Because He allows me room to be angry too
Before He folds me quiet in His peace.

You want to see His great white horse
And pet it, if He says you may,
And you have a steady expectation
That in His house you will be able to hug Him,
And unicorns.

You vivid spark, you teach me so much
About loving and hoping and being.
You sit at my feet and
I sit at your feet and
Together we sit at His feet
And love Him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fit What?!

One of my friends got a fitbit today.  He shared his first day's results and it was kind of cool to see his day broken down into fitnessy categories. Among other things, it noted how many steps he took and how many calories he burned. 

Sometimes it feels like I don't accomplish much in a day, but when I look back I realize I've done a lot.


I think toddler parents should have trackers too.  (Normal people have brains for this, but ours are too sleep-deprived.)

They could track all the weird sentences we didn't think we'd ever say. 
(Samples from today:
Don't lick the puddle!
What's the rule about eating brains? (You may only eat mama & papa's brains.))

They could identify just what disorder each cartoon character is suffering from, so we'll be able to recognize it when our little tv addicts manifest symptoms later in life. (Is Mayor Goodway suffering from delusions? Is she really running Adventure Bay or is her first name just Mayor? Why doesn't she spend any municipal funds on an actual emergency service? Is Adventure Bay even a municipality? What's a municipality again?)

They could track how much time we waste pondering the complexity of kids shows. (Ibid.)

They could calculate how much food the kids ate. (Subtract food thrown on floor and scavenged by Hangry Mama from total food prepared minus crusts and spills.)  Or maybe the sheer volume of bodily fluids expertly wiped from multiple bottoms?  Or the number of times mama kept her cool when she really felt like snapping.

Or, since I'm dreaming, maybe they could measure and save the things we really want to know.

What moment from this ordinary, messy day will etch into that little brain forever? The simple goodness of provision - food to eat, clothes to wear, hugs and kisses and comfort, or the rushing and tearing to meet the bus on time? The unfairness of that time out or the kiss and make up afterward? The long walk in icy puddles or the fat cookie at the end?

Maybe they could tell us just what that misbehaving little one actually needs. Sunshine? Solitude? Stricter boundaries? Lenience?  Less sugar? More water? A visit from Grampie?  A vacation in Hawaii?

I don't know. 

Maybe parents do a lot more than we can calculate, even when we stop and think about it.  (Or whatever we do in the five seconds between last-last-last-last kisses and snoring into oblivion.)

I folded and put away laundry this morning.  But i didn't just fold and put away clothes ... I paid attention to the kids at the same time. I answered Vava's questions about unicorns and realized a whiny Kachi needed to be carried on one hip while I worked.  I caught Sam before he pushed Kachi and instead of getting in his face, realized he needed some one-on-one connecting time before we dealt with the roughness. And while it's not much - it's nothing extraordinary or even anything to note in the busyness of the day - it's what they needed, and I knew it even without a device.

So no, maybe parents of toddlers can't say they accomplished much on their to-do list today ... but papas and mamas , I bet you accomplished exactly what your kids needed today.

You've done things a fitbit couldn't dream of tracking.  You've done them for the thousandth time.

And tomorrow you're going to get up and do it all over again.

Press on, parents!
I'll be over here, corralling zombies, over-analyzing cartoons, and hopefully preventing the little one from drinking too many puddles.