I will not even pretend to understand the story of Abraham going up to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22. I love faith to make sense. I love God to make sense. I love very clear right/wrong/black/white stories where good prevails and never disguises as bad, where people are better at the end, and where people don't sacrifice their children! Needless to say, regardless of how many times I hear sermons or read commentary on Abraham and Isaac, I still don't like it.
I don't understand all the implications of what God did. But I am experiencing what Abraham must have (on a much smaller scale!) when God said "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." Genesis 22:2
As S. and I have journeyed through highs and lows during his sabbatical, we've had some distinct days. The past 3 days have been distinct because we have both felt God asking us to 'lay on the altar' dreams that we have thought are placed in our hearts from him. As we have been asking, "What season do you have for us right now, Lord?" He has clearly shown us He has much to do in our little family of 5 and that some other priorities, while perhaps noble, need to take a back seat.
I snapped this picture of Hudson sitting on the counter while I prepared snacks yesterday. At age 3 1/2 we are starting to see an inner warrior come forth in him. The other night he started praying about danger. He prayed about the 'robbers' who broke into people's cars in our neighborhood Christmas night. He prayed for the police to get them, for Daddy to get them and hit them, for them to bring back Mommy's cds. Then he prayed that God would get anyone who snuck into our house. Over and over he used the word "danger" praying with more fervor each time he said it. When he finally said 'amen' Darla burst into tears. "Hudson's prayers scare me!" She declared. "Why does he only pray about danger?"
Oh, the tender heart of a little girl and the fighting heart of a little boy.
Perched on the counter while I sliced apples, Hudson told me he wanted to be a soldier. We had seen some pictures of Matt Cole in Afghanistan and it made a big impact on a little boy. He said, "Me be soldier, Mom."
"I have no doubt you would make a good soldier because you are good at protecting people and loving what is good," I answered.
"Me go to 'Ghanistan, Mom."
"Yeah. Me not scared. Me have Jesus. Me get ALL the bad guys. Me get them and they not hurt people." He was giving his best 'tough man' face and taking swings like a bad guy was directly in front of him.
Then he paused, looked back at me and said, "Mom? You hold me now."
I scooped him up. He kissed my cheeks and snuggled in. How I love a warrior at the cuddly, Momma-lovin' age of three.
I fell in love with a 1936 farmhouse on 1.25 acres a few years back. It was vacant, in need of repair, and was covered in various 80's wallpaper schemes. It didn't take much for S. to convince me it was just what we needed so with the help of some friends willing to invest, we bought it at an auction in the front yard one summer day, 2003. We went strong; new roof, new windows, stripping wallpaper until we steamed up the windows.
That fall our dreams were devastated as a Ford Explorer roared into our house at approx. 90 mph. When we woke at midnight to our bed shaking along with the rest of the house we went tearing out into the kitchen, panicked. We saw cracks, split linoleum, smelled gas. We left the house with only essentials and no idea what would become of our dream house.
The next week the construction guys came out to have a look. They showed us that the Explorer had hit the main foundation beam head on, moving the entire house 6 inches off the foundation. We had thought the wall cracks could be patched with sheetrock. They informed us that the cracks were too deep. "When a foundation gets hit, you have to strip the structure to the studs, re-lay the foundation, and start over."
We packed everything and put it in storage. Insurance paid for a duplex so we moved to what we affectionately coined "our winter home". Though we felt daunted by the task at hand, we were able to move forward and get excited about insurance covering the next round of repairs to our farm house.
Then the flood hit. "The worst flood in 100 years" the neighbors proclaimed. We jumped in the car to see how our house faired. We found we couldn't reach the door without hip waders. Ironically our address sign, 911, floated by. Our Christmas picture was taken with us standing in the water next to the gaping hole in our house.
When the water receded we took a trip back for "cleaning day". We found remnants of the roof we had replaced, an old window, paints, rotting wood, thick flood muck, a neighbor's garbage, some dead rodents. We looked around the property with sighs and dejection. We kicked around some garbage and wandered with empty eyes and sapped resolution. Cleaning day was over. Was this place ever appealing? Why did we ever want to live here? Will we ever be able to live here again? Do we even want to? We left the eye sore of a home to rest at our "winter home".
Props to my daughter for knowing how to throw a party. A house full of cousins, some friends & family, and one heck of a Tinkerbell pinata. (I highly recommend pinata's with small children- quality entertainment.)
We had Bible Study in the morning where Darla's class sang her Happy Birthday. Jasmine & her kids came over for the afternoon. At one point we thought Everett was playing with the other kids but had snuck in to do some wall art (okay, a lot of wall art) on a bedroom wall with a green sharpie marker. Not long after I discovered it I also discovered the closet shut and locked (we have no key). Thankfully, 4 out of 6 kids napped while Jazz & I had lattes & talked. Good thing we had the rest because soon after James jammed 3 toothbrushes down the sink.
Darla is 5 years old today!
I am increasingly careful of what I let Darla overhear because regardless of the topic, she will surprise me with her comprehension, challenge me with her questions, and soften me with her sensitivity. Last week she was in another room entirely when she heard us talking about the high percentage of foster children that have been exposed to drugs.
A moment later she was standing beside me asking, "Mom, what is a drug baby?"
I replied, "It's when a mom doesn't do a good job taking care of her baby growing in her tummy. She puts bad things into her body instead of staying healthy. Then when the baby is born the baby often is sick and has things wrong with their body and mind because of their mom's bad choice."
She was quiet a few minutes. I assumed she had moved on. (Never assume this with Darla.) She re-entered with intention and severity. She looked at S. and said, "Dad, for your job you need to get in the car and drive around the world. You need to tell all the moms to not do that to their babies! Dad, you need to teach them how to take care of their babies and tell them to make good choices! They can't put bad things in their bodies!"
I told her maybe God is showing her things that she has a passion for. She has now decided that along with being a barista, a waitress, and a teacher she is going to drive around the world teaching moms to take care of their unborn children. I don't doubt it. In fact, when I pointed out that this is kind of what her Aunt Megan does (Meg is house mom to unwed, pregnant women) Darla became excited and told Megan, "When I grow up I'll do your job with you! I'll drive over and pick you up, Aunt Megan."
As Darla turns 5 I am humbled by the delight she has been to S. and me. (Okay, aside from the 2 month period as an infant where she would scream bloody murder from 6-8pm every night.) Some moments I look at her and think she's all me; dancing dramatically in front of her reflection, studying books intently, commanding her brothers with "their best" in mind. Other moments I look at her and think she's all S.; memorizing names and striking conversation up with strangers, unable to sleep because she's re-hashing her day, passionate about a good meal.
At 5 Darla is reading. Simple sentences, but reading nonetheless. Her Christmas present was a big whiteboard for by her bed. She spends hours drawing pictures and writing the words she knows with colored dry erase markers. I've been integrating her drawing with reading by writing "books" with a few pieces of paper. Each page has a simple sentence for her to read & then illustrate. Our favorite is "The Cat and the Rat" in which the cat eats the rat. Darla drew a picture of a wide-mouth cat with a rat perched inside. She can't get through the last page, which says "Yum yum" without collapsing in giggles.
We've worked hard with Darla on how to know when enough is enough. She is social and intense by nature but also easily over-stimulated. It's a brutal combination so we've taught her that quiet time is necessary and refreshing, and how to say "no thank you" when someone is coming on too strong and she's about to freak out. Today will be a test in over-stimulation because her birthday falls on her favorite day- Thursday. We get to go to Bible Study and then Jazz & her kids are coming to our house. We don't have enough space so Darla & Pearl won't have naps. They have quiet time together, which Pearl handles fine while poor Darla gets goofier as the minutes tick by. The rest of her cousins, aunts, uncles, and my folks will join us for a cousin party in the evening.
Darla has thought through and planned her party with detail. She reminded me we need paper plates and requested hot dogs for dinner (yes, we are grilling in January). The queen of cupcakes also invented a new idea for this year; she's requested a pinata. She has never tried one so her greatest expectation of the day is what it will be like to hit something with all her might to have it rain candy on her head. What she doesn't know is that I discovered a Tinkerbell pinata last week. Tinkerbell has become a huge deal here and I can hardly wait to surprise her with it.
My prayer for my little girl this year is that her creativity would continue to flourish; that she will not fear taking risks and pursuing passions, however big they may be. I ask that her heart would be tender toward the Lord. I know from experience that when you believe you have all the answers, you are used to being the "boss", and running the show, it's challenging to be humble and receptive.
Yesterday Darla was holding her favorite silky pink blanket. Her eyes widened and she asked in a panic, "Mom!? Do 5 year-olds still have special blankets?" I assured her that she could keep her blanket.
I asked her today what is exciting about being 5. She answered, "I won't have sippy cups anymore- just glass cups. I'm excited to be 5 with Pearl for a lot of days. And I can't wait to go to school and teach all the kids the ABC's and 123's. 'Cuz I already know all that... what they learn in kindergarten." (Oops. Sidenote: never tell your child that they know more than the kids around them)
Attending a church with the slogan “always a place for you” gives me warm fuzzies. Ahhh, I’m welcome, loved, and they have to accept me- their slogan says it!
Christ the King has a heart for lost and broken people, a model comprising of small groups, a vision to keep the main thing the main thing.In being part of the CTK story I have learned that a church that draws transparent people is always adventure. It isn’t always warm fuzzies…but itis always adventure. We regularly hear crazy stories of where people have been, how Christ has redeemed their life, and look forward to future with them.
In over eight years of full time ministry you start to think “we’ve seen it all”.There were 3 weeks this fall when this was proven wrong.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...