Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ordinary Loaves and Fishes

I have been meaning to post this poem shared by a woman in our Bible study. Today seemed like a good day to do it. I reached a low point in my mommying today. I am not sure what we have done wrong, but our children seem to be turning into little monsters. They are so incredibly disobedient and dishonoring lately, not matter how gentle I try to be. I am becoming more and more disillusioned by parenting theories and models-- from the ones given to me by my parents and in-laws, which work for some like Hobbes but just scare sensitive children like Calvin into obeying (and later into hiding things from us)--to positive discipline models which just seem to make kids confused about who is really in charge. I feel like I am drowning. I feel like I am doing nothing well. And so I read this, to be reminded that it is faithfulness in the little things, all parenting theories aside, that God can take and bless and multiply. Lord, have mercy.

Ordinary Loaves and Fishes
--Sanna Anderson Baker

At night I lie beside my child and sing.
Last night I sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Her back was pressed against my chest,
and the smell of the wind was in her hair.
Before I’d finished singing she was sleeping,
but I sang on softly of your faithfulness,
faithfulness that made you pursue your people
even after the green of Eden faded.
At first you came in cloud, in fire,
feeding, leading, sealing
covenants with rainbows, oaths with flames
that passed at dusk between halves of heifer,
ram and goat. Your raw presence was too much for men.

Then, when time was right, you
who were cloud and flame came closer,
and the glory that before could not be looked upon
settled on your son, asleep in a woman’s arms.
And in him men saw that the God who fathered them
longed for them, loved them.
There were thirsty deserts, waffling followers.
Yet, faithful to your love for men,
he went your way, another son following father
to the stony place of sacrifice.
This time, though, no ram in thicket,
no staying of the father’s hand.

And now, as your strange ways would have it,
the Spirit that is you has come to me
and I, not ark, bear you through the world.
Bearer of your image, I? I do no miracles—
make no manna, sight no blind eyes.
I tie laces, make beds, bake bread.
But your equations, like your ways, are strange
adding oil, multiplying meal, making one lunch
food for thousands. Take my acts,
ordinary loaves and fishes.
Bless, break, multiply.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sometimes I Just Have To Laugh

Hobbes at bedtime last night:

"I need someone to lay with me! I need someone to lay with me! Someone please come lay with me...lay with me..."

This kept getting more and more faint until he finally drifted off to sleep.

Hobbes at naptime today:

"Mommy, I don't want you to lay with me! If you lay with me I won't sleep! I'm not going to sleep! Mommy, I don't want you to lay with me! I'm not going to sleep! I'm not going to sleep...I'm not going to..."

This time he fell asleep with me beside him. Ignoring the grammar issues for a minute, don't you think this boy needs to learn to make up his mind?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is A Cherry Bomb in the Toilet in My Future?

It's busy at our house these days, and I am just not finding much energy for blogging. Thankfully, with all of the hard work of parenting, there are some really funny moments. Here's what you may have heard if you had been with us this weekend:

Calvin was in the car with hubby last night. We had just been at a meeting where we did a Gregorian chant in Latin.

Daddy: "Do you know what language that was, Calvin?"
Calvin: "Nope."
Daddy: "It was Latin."
Calvin: "Oh! I know that word. It was in one of my Magic Tree House books where they get whisked away to Ancient Rome. That's what the ancient Romans spoke."

They went on to discuss the importance of Ancient Rome and Greece and Israel to our heritage. I'm sooo unqualified to homeschool this kid. He's always one step (or ten) ahead of me.

But, that doesn't mean I am unqualified to teach my boys some manners. They have recently discovered potty language. (Why do all boys think this is funny, by the way?) My basic rule is that they cannot use it in front of mommy or in any sort of company. Basically, they can laugh about it in their room or with the other boys at school. I just don't want to hear it.

Calvin: "Poopy on your..."
Hobbes: "...head!"
Calvin: "Poopy on your..."
Hobbes: "...head!"
Me: "Boys! What did I say about potty language in front of me?"
Hobbes: "What, mommy? I was just saying head."

Funny as these moments were, the best was definitely tonight. Calvin was truly living up to his comic strip namesake. We were out at the in-laws, and my younger brother-in-law was there, which almost always means firecrackers or other sorts of dangerous fun. While I was busy getting dinner ready, Calvin and Hobbes concocted a plan.

Calvin: "Excuse me, Grandpa, could you please tell me where you keep the explosives around here? And we need some tape, too. Don't tell anybody. It'll be a surprise."

Just so you get an insight into my in-laws, my father-in-law did nothing to discourage this. In fact, it wasn't until my children grabbed some matches and walked out the door and I realized they also had a firecracker that someone interfered. Thankfully, that plan never saw the light of day...or set their fingers alight.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Easter Sermon of John Chrysostom

I know I posted this last Easter, too, but it is just that good. We spent a quiet day at home Saturday, working in the garden and preparing for the celebration. The table is set, the food is ready to put in the oven, the eggs are dyed, and the bells and flowers are ready to be taken to church. Alleluia, He is Risen!

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

-St. John Chrysostom, Constantinople ~400 AD

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lord, Have Mercy

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all
friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours...Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

C.S. Lewis, from
The Weight of Glory

Three men in one week. The first was a middle-aged man with a weathered face sitting in the corner of Wendy's with a super-sized drink. His back was to me, and I was busy with two boys covered in Frosty and ketchup and a baby who wanted out of his carseat. But that was no excuse.

The second was an older Asian man in the children's book section of the library. He was obviously lingering there after his ESL class, trying to learn some English words from simple, children's books. He smiled at the boys and watched us with interest. I was chasing boys around the library, trying to keep them from pulling books off the shelf, and bouncing a fussy baby. But that was no excuse.

The third was in the Chick-Fil-A playground. A guy my age was arguing over the phone about his marriage, presumable with his wife, while his son played. I was trying to get my boys to get their shoes on and head out the door. Baby Linus was growing impatient in his carseat. But that was no excuse.

No excuse. I am certain now that my life intersecting with the lives of those three men was not an accident. I heard His voice telling me so. Telling me to go to that man in Wendy's and say that God loved him, though I thought it was just some crazy idea in my head at the time. Telling me to sit and talk slowly and patiently with that man in the library, and I was a bit more sure of it that time. Telling me to pray for that man at the playground and offer him a kind smile and some help with his son. Then I was sure. And I DID pray for him, all that day and every time he has come to mind since then. But I never did open my mouth to talk to any of them. Lord, have mercy.

I thought about these men this Sunday when our pastor mentioned the horrible, violent attacks in our nation this month. I wondered who those killers were. Were they men who were sitting in a Wendy's who needed to hear that God loved them? Were they immigrants who felt rejected by our culture, unable to acclimate, isolated, and angry? Were they young men whose lives were falling apart because of lost jobs or broken marriages? Were they people to whom God wanted to speak but found no mouthpiece? Lord, have mercy.

Despite my less than serious attempt at Lent this year, it seems God desired to bring me face-to-face with some of my sin and open my eyes to my place in the greater work of His kingdom. In learning to get over me, to see beyond my own perspective, I am being led to see beyond my own four walls and into the places I so casually choose to go. There are no accidental meetings in this life. Whether I have specific messages from God for them (which happens more than we may know) or just the love of God to show in daily acts of kindness, every person I interact with is brushing up against the presence of Jesus in me. What would happen if I stopped letting myself get in the way? If I opened my eyes to see His kingdom work? If I opened my mouth to speak His words of healing and grace? What would happen if all of us who had His Spirit did?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week at TwoSquare

I'll admit that my Lenten fast and preparations for Holy Week have been less than stellar this year. Baby Linus' once good sleep patterns are now terrible, and I am sort of just making it through the days. So I am not expecting much this week in the way of great family worship and lessons. But here is what we are doing.

We made a Lenten Garden for Holy Week, thanks to another mom from church who set up a craft day on Saturday. Basically, it is a shallow pan filled with sand and dirt. We placed a small plastic dish in the garden and filled it with pretty stones and water. The boys made a tomb out of modeling clay (and a few rockets and space ships...because what is any craft worth if it doesn't have space stuff in it?). We made a path of stones leading up to the tomb lined with white birthday cake candles for each day of the week and leading to a white votive candle at the tomb. Today, we planted some rye grass seed in it and put a bare tree branch beside the tomb. (Spring has arrived here, so I had to strip a branch of its leaves.)

The idea is to have the garden come alive for Easter. So we will mist the seeds every day and hope they begin sprouting by Sunday. Each night we light one of the candles and let it burn down during dinner. The large candle is lit and extinguished on Friday. No candle is lit on Saturday. On Good Friday, we may put a small caterpillar in the tomb, wrapped in silk. On Sunday morning our (hopefully) green garden will also have a budding branch instead of a bare one (thanks to my switching it out overnight) and an empty tomb and butterfly. There are tons of things you can do to make the garden slowly come more alive over the days of Easter leading up to Ascension and Pentecost. Thanks, Rebecca, for the great craft!

Also, we are continuing to use the stations of the cross book with the boys during prayer time, and beginning tomorrow, I will read them the stories of Passion week from this excellent children's Bible storybook.

Both of our boys will sit with us during the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. And we will spend a quiet day on Friday. Saturday will be a day of preparation. Easter egg dying, making out Grandmother B's yeast rolls for dinner on Sunday, and preparing a little something special for breakfast are all in the works. I may even try to get to the Farmer's Market and hunt some asparagus, though I will have to get there first thing to get anything good!

On Sunday, in addition to the changes in our little garden, I will have the table set with lots of candles, including our white "Jesus" candle from our Advent wreath, which we will use for devotions all during the Easter season. The boys will each get a little bit of candy on their breakfast plate. After church, we are eating Easter dinner at the in-laws with friends from church. An egg hunt, feeding baby goats, and playing with puppies. Sounds like a good celebration of new life to me! And no bunnies to be found!

Friday, April 3, 2009

7 Quick Takes-Galactic Pee, Books to Read, and Holy Week

1. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the reality that I live in a house full of males. The other night, as Hobbes was preparing for his bath, I walked in on him standing in front of the toilet, ready to pee, saying "All systems are go!"

2. In case you can't tell from the above, space travel has been a big theme around this house for, oh, over a year now. It finds its way into everything from potty time to dinner time. Over and over again we have had to "correct" current books on the topic by insisting that Pluto IS a planet...well, sort of. The boys were just given some new solar system placemats that put the issue to rest. In the picture, the planets are circling the sun, all labeled with their correct names. On the outskirts there is a tiny planet with no name and a very sad face. When the boys first saw it, they were heard saying, "Don't be sad Pluto, you can still be a planet."

3. I have found a new addiction...not exactly Lenten of me, I know. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims are scrumptious! They have plenty of dark chocolate and just enough crunchy, salty pretzely-ness to be perfect. I could eat a whole bag in one sitting. So much for losing the baby weight.

On a more serious note...

4. In case you are looking for a good read for Holy Week, I highly recommend Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. I am reading it right now, and it offers some incredible insight into the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus and into resurrection and new creation in general. Good stuff.

5. If you are looking for other good reading, I have two books to recommend. I have been terribly remiss in not mentioning these before, since they were written by very good friends of mine. Give them a try, and help feed some starving academics and ministers! Unlocking Romans by my good friend and former housemate would also be an excellent, more academic read to complement Wright's on the topic of the resurrection.

6. And Giving:the Sacred Art, by my college roommate of four years (who could probably write a book on that topic, too, or at least win an award for putting up with me), is a wonderful look at the history and meaning of giving in many faith traditions. She includes practical ideas for creating a lifestyle of generosity. Oh, and all proceeds of her book go to charity.

7. Back on the topic of Holy Week, I hope to have a post up this weekend about what we are doing with the boys to observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. We are going to a little pre-Palm Sunday party tomorrow where the kids will make some crosses from palm fronds and flowers to use at church on Sunday and where we assemble a Lenten/Easter garden. Holy Experience has a good example of this type of garden here.