If we learned from our mistakes, I’d be a genius by now. My only hope is to help someone else avoid the same ones. On those rare occasions when someone asks me for counsel on parenting, I get all excited, as that is a subject upon which I can expound. I can’t tell them what to do, but I am very qualified to tell them what not to do, as I have thirty-some years of mistakes from which to draw. Speaking of mistakes, isn’t it weird that in spite of living with a perfect example of a sinner, my children will most likely make the same mistakes as I, as will their children, and their children’s children? It seems the wisdom of my brilliant mom-isms like “Eat your spinach or you’ll poke your brother’s eye out!” may have all been in vain. This is our human condition. We all step off the same curb, into the same mud puddle. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus- instead the Bible would read: “By your own clever ingenuity, inherited by your dear mother, you have been saved”.
I had a dream some years ago: Some of my kids fell off a bridge into raging rapids, I ran to the edge, ready to jump in after them when a voice said, “STOP! You can not save them.” I awoke, strangling in the twisted sheets of this truth. I CAN NOT SAVE THEM. Detangling myself from this false assumption and it’s evil twin: “IF ONLY I’D…” is the first step to breathing again. The second step is a giant leap: To respect my children’s right to exercise free will. To RESPECT THEM. God places such value on free will that He allows the unconscionable; if He didn’t, I’d smell like fried bacon from all the lightening. Nothing takes God by surprise-He’s made the observation, “Everything man thinks or imagines is bent on evil from childhood,” (Genesis 8:21). The shock is not that some of us prefer the world systems to God’s; but that some of us don’t. The greatest shock is, I’M SAVED-rescued from myself and at peace. And the same ARM that saved me, is not too short to save those who follow in my mistaken footsteps. I breathe easier these days.
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1
One of the great blessings of having had eight kids, is they kept me real. Unfortunately for them, “real” was not always pretty. I homeschooled for twenty years, which means by the time they graduated, they could spell P.M.S. without a hitch. The poor things only got relief from me when I went to the hospital to have another one of them. “Yay! Mom’s having another baby!” took on a dark, hidden meaning known only amongst themselves. Basically, it meant Dad served dessert; for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I understand more fully why the Lord commanded a woman on her period to stay away from people, declare herself unclean, and “live outside the camp” (Leviticus 15:19). It was simply more straightforward than, “WHY HAVE YOU RUINED MY LIFE BY LEAVING YOUR SOCKS ON THE FLOOR AND NO IT’S NOT BECAUSE I’M ON MY PERIOD, YOU MORON! (This is also why men like camping). Actually, Leviticus 15 says if she’s having “issues”- which, y’know, means King James had some first-hand experience. All this to say, if you are on the receiving end of “a woman with issues”, it’s your own fault. Read your Bible. Ezekiel 18:5-9 listed way before Star Trek, how to live long and prosper (I’ll skip to the pertinent part here): “If a man be just, and do what is right..hath not lifted his eyes to idols…neither hath come near to a menstruous woman…he shall surely live.” See? God knows stuff. Okay, God is actually talking about not being intimate with a woman on her period, because He has noticed some of His creations are not the sharpest tools in the shed. But I say, the further away the better, and I think John would like to raise a tentative little pinkie of agreement. The lesson here is read your Bible and don’t skip over seemingly irrelevant parts. Your life may depend on it. Thankfully, God uses all things for good, and my daughters-in-law have me to thank, that at certain times of the month, while other young husbands find safe alternatives to being home- like, say- bear hunting, their husbands take it all in stride, “Oh..that.” “C’mon kids- let’s go get some ice cream!” And return home five days later. Ezekiel 18-Read it and live it. There’s good stuff in there.
Not only are my ducks not in a row, they are nesting on my bed pillow, feathers flying, pooping everywhere, vying for position as Lord of my life. Okay, so I have a few events converging at once, and they’re all taking cuts in my nice, straight line. According to the World Population Clock, it’s only 7billionth, 228 millionth, 204th thousand, 665th about me. No-wait- 666…667…668th about me, which should help me keep things in perspective, not to mention that I don’t live in Syria or South Korea or the hundred other places in crisis. Geesh, I’m such a wimp. Which means I’m tempted at times to ask Jesus, “Lord, didn’t your mother teach you any organizational skills?” And then I show Him my very efficient flow chart of How Things Should Be. He feigns interest, but I see the raised eyebrow, saying, “Do you want my advice or not?” Sigh. “Okay…”
”Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”
So I close the door on the ducks, and shuffle downstairs to my chair, Bible and coffee. I pray for the families of the kids on that sunken boat in South Korea, the people of Ukraine, the Syrian government; and my wee small pea-brain thanks the Lord for blessing me, and asks Him to use me in some small pea-way today. I look up just in time to see my ducks flying out the bedroom window. And look at that-they’re in a very efficient V-formation. Choose for YOURSELVES THIS DAY whom you will serve..as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Freaking out is a human condition. I have yet to see my cat wringing her paws over the mouse that got away. She just shrugs, stretches her hind legs as if shaking the dust off her feet, saying, “Alright then- Another time.” And if the dog’s bowl is empty, he just KNOWS it will be full- Yes! He waits, dancing around the kitchen, eyes, tail and tongue saying, “YES! YES! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I KNEW you would do it, My Master!” But humans? Well, a different story, for sure. When things get tough, we lose all sense of perspective- our soul rocks its head in its hands, “Oh what to do? WHAT to do!” -and glances sideways at the cheap bottle of wine, or some other addicting consolation. Or, we dive in there and FIX IT- by which I mean we become the over-zealous husband who, never having touched a water pipe, decides to overhaul the plumbing- with the wrench he got from Dollar Tree. The only thing to show for it, in the end, is Plumber’s Crack.
Thankfully, we get old. Yeah, we cry sometimes (mostly for the ones who can’t cry for themselves), huddled with our Bible on the old glider-rocker, Jesus sliding it silently with His sandaled foot. But “that which we have heard, have seen with our eyes, gazed upon, and our hands have touched, concerning the Word of Life” has given us Blessed Assurance. We get up in the morning, stretch by the window, look out and thank Him for the sun. We pray, putter around in mundane acts of faithfulness and love, then dress for the great things to come- because they always DO come, but never before the socks are picked up, and the coffee made the way he likes it. We look to the day and just KNOW our bowl will be full. It is well with our soul. Because He said so: “By your patience possess your souls”. John 1:1-5; Luke 21:19
This is why I love teaching at homeless shelters and rehab centers: Recently, after a study on hearing the voice of God, I asked the women, “Looking back over your life, can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit spoke to you?” One young gal piped up, “Yes- when I was working the streets- y’know- as a hooker, I started to get into this guy’s car, and I heard the Holy Spirit say, ‘NO- not this one’.”
I kept my delight to myself, but inside I was thrilled by her honest example of the Lord’s willingness to meet us where we’re at. He can be found in the darkest places; He is not above street level; in fact, He works there too, calling the lost and leading us out.
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious and they will trust in His name.
We just sold our house. It sold to a family with the last name of “Ng”. Well, you know me- I’m so excited for them. I have loved this house, and so I can’t think of a better gift to give them. If I ever come visit, maybe it will smell of fresh steamed jasmine rice, and-okay, perhaps a little fish sauce. Maybe the older man who’s contributing to the money pot will sit on my deck over the golf course and imagine a rice field, one from his childhood- I hope he will think he’s there, and I pray the Holy Spirit will linger here with him. God has given me a huge gift in letting me pass this house to them. So…. today, we are looking for a home for us- just a temporary kind of thing; a place to stay until we move on to heaven.
Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Psalm 90:1
P.S. I just realized maybe it wasn’t the house they loved, maybe it was the two, large framed Chinese symbols hanging in my living room representing Grace, and Serenity. May they find both here.
You want ME to come to Belize and speak at the women’s conference? Oh YAY! Now I can add, “International Speaker” to my resume, which sounds better than “Geesh- can that girl TALK.” They must think I’m really good. Maybe I AM really good! I mean, why else would they ask ME?
“Mom. You don’t charge anything-that’s why they ask you.”
YES! I’d be honored to be the speaker! What’s the theme?
EMPTY ME as in “He Must Increase, and I must decrease” from John 3:30.
Oh………I could just die.