August 27, 2014
He was baptized by his cousin John and his father was so pleased.
I love this story. I love that Jesus asked John to baptize him, and I love that John didn’t want to but did anyway. I love the after-glory of the Spirit coming down as a dove and the Father’s voice echoing through the land. It’s a holy family scene like no other in scripture. The ancient heavenly equivalent of high fives and whoop whoops.
The next part of the story has always been perplexing, though. In the midst of the celebrating, Jesus leaves. He heads out into the wilderness, led there by the Spirit it says, to be alone. To fast for forty days and nights? To be tempted? What?
I’ve never been to a baptism that ended this way.
I can relate to the being-proud-of-the-son part. I remember the baptisms of each of my three boys, and I was so proud. I was happy and pleased and joy-filled because of their decisions and what those decisions represented. High five. Whoop whoop.
But not once did I think, let’s get these boys out to the wilderness right now. Let’s leave them on their own and stress them and deny their bodies nourishment and let’s let the devil have his tempting way with them, and we’ll just see what happens.
Here’s the thing. It happened anyway.
There’s the celebration of a decision, and then there’s life, and that’s where the rubber meets the road. And the boys, each of them, has the road rash to prove it. So do I. So does anyone who not only makes the commitment but lives the journey.
I don’t know why Jesus did it the way he did, but I’m glad he did. I need the example. I need the reminder. Because the temptations are real.
August 26, 2014
I google map my way to the daycare she’s been living in for the past month, and the women, the ones who’ve been taking care of her, are very sweet. The daycare is clean and friendly and the children are sitting at a table playing with freshly made play doh and it is nice, as far as daycares go. But still, you know, a daycare.
They tell me what they know about her. She’s potty trained, day and night, she’s language-delayed, she’s been on these meds for this problem. She’s so sweet, really, adds the tiny, bird-like worker with the hard-to-understand-accent, just as we are leaving.
My son grabs the small grocery bag half full of clothes they hand us, and she takes my hand like she’s been taking strangers’ hands her whole life, and we leave.
It’s late and we’re all tired and we still have a two-hour drive ahead of us, but the social worker hands me a clothing requisition and it’s obvious she needs some things, so we stop. I peek into her bag, and it’s a jumble this and that. A few summer tees and some shorts and a bunch of boy clothes that are way too big for her. No jammies at all, and one black sock.
It’s as quick a stop as I can manage at that store that has everything and I block out of my mind the questions of where those four-dollar shirts were made and by whom. I do the best I can to eyeball her size and I mentally add the purchases as I fill the cart, and she oohs and aahs over the Minnie Mouse skirt and the Strawberry Shortcake pj’s, and we choose colourful panties and those get squeals of delight, too.
I see them there, hanging on a hook beside the pretty panties. Packages of plain black socks all practical and economical but her eyes wander down the rack to the rainbow striped ones, and she looks at me and I grab two packages. Of course we can get twelve pair of rainbow socks.
I try to find runners but it’s a weird end-of-season time to shop and there is nothing in her size. The sparkly Dora shoes catch her eye and we try them on and I say, sure, and we head to the customer service desk, and the first thing the woman behind the counter says, after I hand her the clothing req and I start piling our purchases on the counter, is, shoes aren’t clothes.
She’s holding the pretty shoes and I must have looked confused because that’s how I look when it’s late and I’m tired and someone tries to tell me that shoes aren’t clothes. So she repeats herself, and I shake my head and smile and say, that’s okay, I’ll buy them separately.
I’ve said no to this little one many times since she took my hand a week ago. I’ve said no to cake for breakfast and I’ve said no to chocolate bars spied from the grocery store checkout line and I’ve said no to the bedtime tantrums, and I’ve found her more practical long-sleeved sweaters and hoodies and rubber boots to wear.
But a little girl who starts out with one black sock should have a pair of pretty shoes, I think.
August 13, 2014
Posted by Janelle under life
People get excited about things. The books they read, the shows they watch, the vacations they take, the ministries in which they are involved.
I get excited, convicted even, about things. Books, shows, bible verses, family stuff, home stuff, faith stuff.
I’ve noticed – when sharing my stuff with other people or when people share their stuff with me – the excitement doesn’t always transfer. Instead, I or they, depending on who is sharing and who is being shared with, might feel judgement or pressure or a vague sense of wow, that person is so much cooler than I.
Please don’t tell me I’m the only person who has struggled?
It took me a long time to figure this out, and I’m still pretty bad at it. I’m lame like that. The first time I really understood the challenge of being excited without portraying judgement was when I first started homeschooling. I’d been to conferences and read books and bought curriculum, and I WAS EXCITED. I remember talking with a friend about some of what I’d learned about homeschooling, and she said something negative (I don’t even remember what it was) and I realized she felt she had to justify to me her choice to send her kids to school. I actually didn’t realize this right away; I was initially just hurt and kind of confused (lame, remember?) but after I’d thought about it, I understood. And other comments people had made about school issues started making sense.
My response to my epiphany? Stop talking about homeschooling.
And that’s pretty much been my Go To response for everything that seems (to my skewed and insecure perception) to rub people the wrong way, since. Just stop talking about it.
I’ve been wondering how many other people have stopped talking about their passions and joy for the same reason? How many people don’t talk about their ministries or their hobbies or their goals or their experiences because they’ve been shut down in the past, maybe by me? This makes me sad.
I’m going to stop being so sensitive. Honestly, I’m so much better than I used to be. I’m going to stop thinking another person’s success is an arrow pointing out my failure. I’m going to stop feeling judged by your cool experience or the passion you are brave enough to follow. I’m going to surrender my false feelings of not enough, and I’m going to congratulate you as often as I can for your beautiful gifts, whatever they are. I’m going to celebrate your convictions, and share mine with joy.
Life is way more fun that way.
August 12, 2014
Posted by Janelle under life
Might you be feeling the same as me? Too much, too much. Too bloody much going on out there, and the suicide of Robin Williams is just one more drop in the already heartbreaking flood of sadness and despair, and it is overwhelming.
Overwhelm: bury or drown beneath a huge mass… swamp, submerge, engulf, bury, deluge, flood, inundate…
There’s a tsunami of horror in our world, and it’s not hard to feel desperate.
The truth, though, is that I’m not the one in the water. I’m standing on the shore, watching while the whole world (it seems) drowns in front of me. The water is barely lapping at my feet as I’m considering vacation options and cleaning my home and feeding my kids who will at some point today complain about something for which most other children in the world would give their left leg. This is the hard truth.
And the other truth, hard also, is that I wonder that maybe I don’t have the faith or the skill or the chutzpah or maybe just the courage to swim out there and try to help a single drowning soul. I’m afraid I’m wringing my hands on the beach because I just don’t want to get my hair wet, you know?
I forget, in the midst of the bad news, that there’s another meaning for this word.
Overwhelm: defeat completely… trounce, rout, beat, conquer, vanquish, be victorious over, triumph over, overcome, overthrow, crush…
I forget, in the midst of despair, that there is hope, and I thank God for mercy and second chances.
The only way I know to overcome darkness is with light. I don’t know exactly what that means for me, standing on the beach today, but I know it starts with a love that is willing to get wet.
Instead of being overwhelmed, let’s overwhelm the world with love and kindness and grace, however and whenever we can. I’ll bring the towels.
August 11, 2014
I started on January 1, committed. I was gonna do this read-the-bible-in-a-year thing. It’s not like I hadn’t tried before. I had. But this time I had an app.
We’d have a cool, modern relationship this time. This time, we’d make it.
We honeymooned through January, and I knew we could beat the odds. We’d survive where so many others had failed. We’d make this thing work.
But then, like always, you got boring. (Maybe no one has ever told you that before, but it’s true. You can be boring sometimes.) The drama of the early days faded and you settled into Leviticus and Numbers and I lost interest. I struggled to enjoy spending time with you and life got busy and I got distracted.
It’s not like we were enemies. I still hung out with you on Sundays and occasionally we’d catch a few minutes here or there, but let’s be honest. We drifted apart. I let the kids and the house and all the other things crowd you out.
I was only going through the motions, but you were patient. And in your patience I found you again or maybe you found me, and I remembered why I love you so much. Your ancient beauty has recaptured my heart, and my adoration of you has been rekindled.
I’m sorry for my indifference. I want to try again. Who cares if it’s August 11 and we’re only at Day 80?
Thank you for waiting for me.
August 4, 2014
I read this over at Seth Haines’s blog this morning, how a friend of his was at the hospital bed of his dying daughter and a woman offered the solace of the admonishment, if you just had faith like a mustard seed, all this trouble would go away. And it’s true, scripture has been used this way. It’s been hacked up and thrown about, well-intentioned sound byte offerings of impotency or judgement.
But that’s not scripture’s fault, said Seth, and I like his conclusion. Scripture doesn’t always mean what people says it means, and that’s the sad and happy truth of it.
Yesterday our dear, faithful Servant of Scripture preached on Romans 13, and his thoughts have been mingling with my thoughts since.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)
And this is beautiful and makes me smile, because it means all the rules we like to emphasize and hammer on are made fulfilled if we love each other. Because if I’m loving you, how can I harm you or steal from you or gossip about you?
Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10)
Let’s go about our days paying our debts of love. Lets love each other as best we can, in Jesus’ name amen, and I bet those mustard seeds of faith will grow like crazy.
August 1, 2014
You know that expression, right? The one about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? I think (based on extensive internet research that took about 30 seconds) the proverb originates from the Cherokee tribe, who reportedly said,
Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.
And, of course, there’s the famous line from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (which, honestly, I read for the first time this past year), where she wrote,
You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around it.
Which is a cool thought, but, you know, impossible.
I get what these quotes are talking about. They’re talking about cultivating empathy, about not judging others about things you don’t understand or haven’t experienced. And that’s a worthy sentiment.
But, you know, impossible.
I have three kids. They’ve been raised by the same parents. They’ve had the same “shoes,” if you like, but not really. They’ve had similar experiences but because they are different people, their experiences impact them in different ways. If they each told you what it was like growing up in our family, you’d hear three very different stories.
I remember the first time I went to Mexico to help build a school. I tried really hard to see where the folks there were coming from. I took pictures of falling down shacks and I heard the common – they don’t have much but they are such a happy people – that we often say when we visit these kinds of places. I tried to talk to the moms and I smiled at the kids and I thought we were so alike in some ways, but really I have no clue. I have no clue what it’s like to be a mom in Mexico. We were in and out of there in under a week, and the first thing we did when we crossed the border was to stop at In-and-Out Burger and order all the food we wanted and pee in their clean bathrooms with toilets that flushed.
I can’t walk in a Mexican woman’s shoes and she can’t walk in mine.
I can’t walk in a Central Regina woman’s shoes and she can’t walk in mine.
I can’t walk in my husband’s shoes and he can’t walk in mine.
I can’t walk in your shoes. You can’t walk in my shoes. But we can share ourselves with each other, can’t we? We can share our stories and our lives and our coffee and muffins with each other.
We can’t walk in each other’s shoes but we can walk together, each of us slipping on our own Nike’s or Birkenstocks or flip flops, and won’t that be a beautiful journey.