Friday, September 19, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
And, I might add, neither is martyrdom.
Lest anyone think I am a saint (anyone? anyone?), let me assure you that I do my fair share of foot-stomping, whining, and all-out boo-hooing when life seems to be "unfair" (whatever that means). I sometimes feel that the world has gone to the dogs, and I am the last piece of bacon.
I OFTEN feel that way.
In fact, I feel that way so frequently that my husband has teased he is going to teach our children to call me "martyr" instead of "mother." (But then I remind him that if "mother" turns to "martyr," then "father" must turn to . . . and he stops teasing. Because I WOULD have them call him that.)
But I have been GROOMED for this kind of life -- the kind of life that makes people say things like, "You get more opportunities to trust God's providence than most people I know!" (, Kendra!) Theologically, isn't every single second an opportunity to trust God's providence? What I'm trying to say is, I would like to practice trusting God when I have it all together! But I grew up hearing phrases like, "God's mercies are new every morning. Tomorrow will be better" and "We're making a memory!" Even then, I wondered why people never made GOOD memories.
- On one of my first skiing trips, in middle school, I was taking the "How to Ski" class on the bunny slope with a bunch of 5-yr. olds, and I started sliding backwards down the hill. I landed on my face, and the instructor used this opportunity to instruct a giggly group of sippy-cuppers on how to stick your rear end in the air to get up on skies. Trust me, it sounds a lot easier than it is. Especially when 5-yr. olds are chortling at every synonym the teacher gives for "big ol' ski-panted bottom."
- On the very same trip, my ski tag got caught on the ski lift chair as I was trying to jump off. They had to stop the lift and disengage my dangling self.
- Growing up, we had a bronze van. Enough said.
- Well, not really enough said. This bronze van actually LOST A SIDE WINDOW as we were driving down I-95. It fell off the van.
- This same van broke down in inner-city Washington, D.C. My mother called AAA and Dominoes. The pizza guy got there first ("We're a broken-down bronze van on the corner of Gang and Delinquent").
- My grandmother lived with us. Her slow senility quickly drove us batty.
"I just can't finish my milk tonight.""Grandma, that's Ranch dressing.""Even so..."
"I just can't swallow this pill tonight.""Grandma, that's your denture tablet.""Even so..."
- And, most tellingly, my mother made me suit up ALL THE WAY whenever it snowed. This meant moon boots. In Virginia. Not mountainous Virginia, but Just-North-of-Richmond, Virginia. Where the forecast of an inch of snow meant the A&P sold out of bread in an hour.
I had visions of grandeur back then. I knew I would outgrow this crazy family and all of its inconveniences and live a life others would envy.
If anyone would have told me that I would have six perfectly normal children (which means there is never a time when there is not someone whining)...no, even worse, HOMESCHOOL six perfectly normal children (which means I get to try to creatively categorize the day's worth of whining into some kind of educational jargon so that I can feel that I'm being a successful teacher), and that before leaving to go anywhere, I would actually resort to COUNTING to make sure everyone was here because I honestly couldn't recall all of their names, or that at random moments during the day I would again resort to COUNTING because I thought they were all here and yet still I hear someone crying in the distance, only to find that they are all indeed here so who on earth is crying in the distance or is that just phantom crying...
Well. I would have just labeled that prophet as another "crazy" and forgotten the whole business.
Pass the Ranch, please. I need something to wash down this Polident.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Since then, his grandfather died unexpectedly, we were kicked out of our house, we have been living in a camper with six children, Ethan has left for a far-off state for 12 days to candidate for a pastoring position, and someone has stolen our van.
Yes, stolen the van. The nerve. Can you imagine what dire straits you must be in to steal a MINI-VAN (puh-tuwee! How I hate that word!) with six (SIX! SIX! SIX!) carseats and a ton of junk? Not even decent junk, like cool radio parts or bank notes. Junky junk, like six weeks' worth of Sunday School papers, crusty sippy cups, thrift store mock Crocs (child sizes 6 and 12), eight pillows, and many, many other things that escape my mind now but I know will come back to irritate me later.
There are some other things that weren't junk to us but probably won't be treasures to anyone else...a special stuffed animal from Ethan's grandfather, my file of important-to-me papers, Ethan's briefcase of important-to-him theological books, Ben's bag of important-to-him library books.
The library books is what put Benjamin (6) over the edge. "Mom, don't tell the library! I don't want them to kill us!"
(At which point my younger brother chuckled and mumbled something about Conan the Librarian. Just what Ben needs -- confirmation of his worst fears.)
Miriam (3) explained it to Ethan over the phone this way: "Mama lost the car. Somebody else is driving it. And that's a bad, bad boy."
Yes. Very bad.
What throbs in my head the most is that this was MY stuff. MY hitch for the pop-up camper. MY husband's very important books. MY bag of crusty sippy cups. MY crumpled up bulletins, gum wrappers, and mushy chicken nuggets.
While I slept in a pop-up camper with six snoring children, someone took MY stuff away.
And then the teary-eyed call to Ethan, who responded (in true accordance with this summer's motto) with loving words and rock-solid truth. "It's just stuff, Rachel. We're OK. It's just stuff."
And my six-year old's voice, with his memory verse for the week:
"I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?"
I answer, falteringly:
"My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
The rest of the verses fade and I have to look them up:
"He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore." (Psalm 121)
Yes, He will. He is MY surety. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One Who will not let anyone snatch me from His hand (Jn. 10:28).
The stuff? It would have faded and gone away with or without someone stealing it. It could not have healed broken hearts, opened prison doors, unstopped deaf ears, made blind eyes see.
But my God? He is sovereign. He is Creator and Sustainer. He foreknew this and rules over this.
My emotions are strong. But my God is stronger.
Calvinism over Emotionalism? Well, we've tested it this summer, and I'd say it's a worthy motto.
But I have an idea for this Fall's Motto: "Health, Wealth, Size 8 Jeans, and Smiling Children."
Well, the jeans might just be pushing it.
Friday, September 5, 2008
My kids like it.
Even my nephew likes it. That's saying A LOT.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Papa: I used to say that, too. You'll change your mind.
Benjamin (adamantly): NO, I WON'T. When you get married, you have to go on a honeymoon. And I definitely don't want to do that.
Papa: Why not?
Benjamin: Because when you go on a honeymoon, you have to play games that I don't understand.
Benjamin: Like tennis.
Ah, yes. Perhaps it's best if he doesn't honeymoon for a while. The rules can be so confusing: you have to win the right to serve, and love is when you don't score.
Besides, there's always the tennis elbow thing.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Lily, about two seconds after saying, "I AM being careful. I WON'T fall." (Please notice the knee):
Abraham, awaiting his turn on the kayak:
Miriam. Notice the bangs she gave herself. I must admit, I am secretly impressed.
Eden, demonstrating our aversion to cameras:
Me with Jonathan:
Me, Jonathan, Eden, and Ethan enjoying a paddle:
Thank you, Rick and Kendra and crew! We love you!