Monday, April 22, 2013


Parenting is difficult for a number of reasons, one of which is the number of gray areas not covered in "the books".  This thing, in this particular circumstance, from this child, on this day .... 

There really is not a formula.
One of the things that Ellie has trouble with is telling us that she has poop in her diaper.  She can just have been making that cute little 'I am pooping' face, staring right at you and then promptly deny that it produced anything.
You can say, "Ellie, do you have a poopoo?  Do you need a new diaper?"
She will look at you and say "no".
"Really, Ellie," I respond, "Are you sure?  Because if you did and you told mommy that you didn't that would not be honest.  You wouldn't want to lie to mommy."
"No poo poo, just pee" she says with great predictability.
"Ellie.  Here's the thing, somebody in the room pooped and as you are the only one with a diaper on I am really hoping it was you."

We go change the diaper and I debate on various days the extent to which I want to try to teach this lesson at this age.

Recently a family we knew came up in conversation.  Their schedules are full, they have more children than we do, their house is tidy, their kids are clean .... we were admiring that.  Someone remarked "They run a pretty tight ship over there."    Maggie and I had toddlers crawling over us dressed in their self-chosen cacophony while we sat on a rug that had not been vacuumed since I do not know when, toys strung about, a basket of unfolded laundry was probably on the couch.  I looked around and asked, "What kind of ship are we running here?"
"The Ship of Grace!  That's it",  we laughed.
And I do hope we are!  I hope when both of you read my blog or when my conversations are overheard that the thing most felt is grace.  Because I believe Jesus covered the sins of the murderer and the sins of the gossiper alike.  I believe that the cross satisfies for adultery, the struggle of homosexuality, the addictions of pornography or alcohol or whatever else.  I believe, if asked, Jesus is happy to cart every one of those (and the thousands in myself that I am blind to) away from the judgement seat of God. 
But we have to own them first.

We have to admit that we didn't make it to the potty.

Jealousy? "No, not me." 
Control? "I don't think so." 
Discontent? "No, Lord, that's not my diaper - must be someone else's that you smell."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moving On

Yesterday morning the cats moved out. 
As most of our animal departures occur via death, this one was, relatively speaking, good.  I had not held out much hope of finding them a new home.  I mean cats seem pretty ubiquitous and people have these conflicted relationships with the ones they own.  So when the first person Maggie mentioned it to, actually wanted them? 
Well, it was a God thing.
The family who took them seemed genuinely thrilled to have them.  Who would have thought?
So ... that's good, really good. 

Except for this one thing. 

It would not be happening if Maggie was not also moving out. 

Everyone who knows me knows I will find it hard.  Some people laugh when they find out that her moving out is not even leaving the town we are in.  Some people say they understand.  Others remind me that it is the appropriate next step.  They tell me that she will be home often.  They tell me how miles don't change your relationship.  They scold me into thinking of how the alternative - her never leaving - could be a really sad thing.

I know all of that!

It is good!

Her leaving, her ability to leave, and to be excited about it, is indicative of a great deal of healing in our family.  For that I am so, so thankful. 
These past four years with all of their drama, also contained great gifts one of which was this amazingly precious relationship with her.  When she showed up, no matter what the state of things, she made it better.    When people would say "dumb" things to us about our situation, we would smile at one another knowing they meant well.  With one look across a room we could communicate a whole paragraph of response.  She is the only one who breathed the same air that I did and thus the only one who fully understood the depth, the scope, the far flung consequences of certain things.  There were trials in her life going on too, ones in which a mother is a very good thing to have. 
So it is nice for her not to need me so much anymore.

Well, sort of.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench: 
Isaiah 42:3 
This third point that I wanted to make has been more difficult. I mean how do you "describe" God, even the tiniest slice of who He is? I nearly gave up on the idea, letting it fall by the wayside like the vast majority of my blog ideas.
But, it is such an indescribably precious lesson to me. I don't want to forget it. I need to stop here and erect twelve stones.
I can not remember exactly which beach trip we were on, but it was not long ago.  I had gone for a walk by myself (which might be why this is memorable). 
I was lamenting as I walked, complaining mostly but lamenting sounds more biblical.  Either way it was not grateful conversation.  I turned into our cul-de-sac and over the sound was a huge flash of lightning and a loud boom.  At that moment it occured to me.  God could strike me down right now.  In fact, for all of my moaning, He should.  If I had been him, I would definately have considered it.   
He didn't.
When you are tired, tiny, discouraged - God's response is not frustration or disappointment, it is tenderness.

In 1st Kings the prophet Elijah  has been fed by ravens (17:6-7), he resided with the widow of Zarephth where indeed the oil did not run out (17:16). He prayed for the healing of her son who was dead and his life was restored (17:21-22).  He had been party to God's proving himself before the prophets of baal by igniting fire on the wet altar that he had built (18:38-39).  God had been ridiculously, obviously present in Elijah's life for some time.
Even so, after all of those events, when he hears that Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, plans to kill him he is afraid and runs away.  He tells the Lord, essentially, "I have had it. I am done. I am tired."  Now, instead of getting frustrated with Elijah, he gives him a really long nap.  He has an angel awaken him and feed him - "and he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water." 
It is such a compassionate gesture. 
This response of God to his pitiful, fearful, grumpy little prophet is like that of a mother (on a good day) putting her toddler down for a nap.  HE does not reach down and slap him and shout "Elijah, you who have borne witness to my mighty power, actually think that Jezebel is going to take your life one moment before my ordained time for you?!"
If I were God, that's what I would have said, only with uglier words I am sure.
And, if I were God that day that I was on the beach I think I might have been tempted to have that lightning strike at least close enough for me to feel the electricity. 
HE could have and probably should have.
The Lord has blessed us and kept us these years, He has surrounded us with people to help us at every corner. And, when I complain, He puts me to bed like a tired toddler (or sends me to the beach) and feeds me, and waits for me to see again.
This tenderness? This is our God.
He who is the great I AM.