Thursday, July 26, 2007

Such As These

The day was hot and sticky.
Many lessons,
many people
Would Jesus ever stop?
Tired and cranky,
wanting to go home.

And then….
Could it really be children?
Who would be audacious enough
to bother the Teacher,
the Healer,
the Lord,
with ones as small and ignorant,
as rude and noisy,
as children?

Convention stripped away.
“Let the little children
come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven
belongs to such as these.”
Upside-down kingdom

In the shade of a tree
during a moment of pause
He pulled the children to himself.
Dirty from playing,
sweaty from working,
these were not bathed and powdered,
nor dressed in new Easter hats and Mary Jane shoes.
Children of the earth
they came,
the least of these.

And he put them on his lap.
His arms folded around them,
holding them,
caressing them,
runny noses and all.
The God of the universe
held children in his arms.
He placed his life-giving hands
on the tousled hair
of their small heads.

And in the silence
of mouths dropped open,
of aghast disciples,
He prayed for them…

July 2, 1996

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

February 22, 1997

The tears gently roll down
in the secret places of my heart.
I bow in bewilderment
burdened by confusion,
as if I were shouldering a ton of bricks.
I lift my eyes in desperation.
From heaven on high –
from right beside me –
you see my tender heart tears
And you hear my whispered heart cry.

“Father, who am I?!
What makes this heart of mine
care so much for other people
and about what others think of me?
Spirit, can you possibly take
this over-sensitive
and transform it into
something –
anything –

Sleepy eyes droop
and one salty tear
escapes from the recesses,
sliding gently down my cheek.
My fingers grope
my guitar
to find the chords
that mean
what I really want to say,
what I really want to say.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Painting Pictures of Egypt, by Sara Groves

This is a song by Sara Groves, and describes how Steve and I are feeling now (and how we felt in Scotland and probably how we’ll feel in our next location!) We'd appreciate your prayers as we look for a job and decide whether to stay in rural Virginia or not (our apt. requires a 3-month notice for another 12-month lease, so we need to decide about our apt. by July 31).

I don’t want to leave here,
I don’t want to stay,
it feels like pinching to me either way.
The places I long for the most
are the places where I’ve been.
They are calling after me like a long lost friend.
It’s not about losing faith,
it’s not about trust,
it’s all about comfortable when you move so much.
The place I was wasn’t perfect
but I had found a way to live.
It wasn’t milk or honey
but then neither is this.

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
leaving out what it lacked.
The future feels so hard and I want to go back.
But the places that used to fit me
cannot hold the things I’ve learned,
and those roads were closed off to me
while my back was turned.

The past is so tangible,
I know it by heart,
familiar things are never easy to discard.
I was longing for some freedom,
but now I hesitate to go,
I am caught between the promise and the things I know.

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
leaving out what it lacked.
The future feels so hard and I want to go back.
but the places that used to fit me
cannot hold the things I’ve learned,
and those roads were closed off to me
while my back was turned.

It if comes too quick, I may not recognize it.
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
If it comes too quick, I may not appreciate it.
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Journal quips about Naomi

Rachel taught you how to paint rock houses. You designed your own. Great job!

You made a sweet picture for Daddy because he’s sick. You fell asleep sitting up on the couch, reading a book. You think you look like a boy (because I cut your hair short)

You were so sad to say goodbye to our van.

During an evening storm you said, “What do you think, Mom? Will we be washed away?”

You said of Ethan, “You sure keep us busy!” You also asked him, “Are you working on something?” (in his diaper) To me you said, “I hate to tell you this, but…”

Josiah was walking with Rachel up ahead of us on our dirt road and you said, “Josiah is miles ahead!”

You used chalk to color the sidewalk with scribbles of every color.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Journal quips about Josiah

I asked if you like your Sunday school teacher and you said, “Yes, because she’s pretty and her nails are pink.”

Mimi said you and Owen (20 month old cousin) played so well this morning (you both spent the night at Mimi’s). You held his hand and walked him to daycare.

(July 4) Even though we were 5/8 mile from the fireworks, you still held your hands over your ears.

(July 5) You asked if we could see fireworks again tonight.

You helped me hang up wet laundry. You want to move to the top bunk.

I discovered blue stuff on your carpet – been playing with toothpaste? (I later found much more in the closet, all over a puzzle.)

Because we have cow dung on our dirt road, you said, “We live in a poopy place.”

July journal quips about Ethan

You started blowing raspberries and sticking out your tongue.

I gave you a plastic card to play with while I was in the shower, but you couldn’t pick it up off the floor because it was too thin. You kept pushing it around and following it.

You love to grab your toes.

You are popular everywhere we go. Today it was Wal-Mart, where people kept talking to you or about you.

Your eyes got wide when I dipped your toes in the cold wading pool water (from a well)

You are fascinated by our push-train. You stand against it and put your mouth over the horn.

You no longer like to sit on laps. You arch your back to get yourself off. You prefer to stand, sit by yourself, or scoot.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gardening Update

I have good news and bad news. Most of my plants are doing great. Both avocado trees are two feet high and doing well. My tomato plant has 17 baby tomatoes on it. The citrus are still small, but look healthy.

The bad news is my sweet potato vine. It was doing awesome up until a few weeks ago. I never even got a picture of it in its prime. Long branches and lots of leaves were reaching out at least a foot beyond the pot, and I had to move it away from my kitchen sink because it was getting in the way.

Then it started to have lots of holes on some of the leaves, and as this increased, I looked more carefully and saw a teensy caterpillar (?). Now, it’s lost almost all of its leaves due to the pest, and I’m not sure it’s going to survive. I moved it outside hoping that maybe spiders would help with bug control. I’ve sprayed some home remedies on it, but I’m not even sure what I’m fighting.

It makes me extra sad because it had been my most beautiful plant in its prime. I had really enjoyed its fullness and rapid growth. Should I start another one or will the same pest just wreak havoc again? Should I bring it back inside or leave it out? I welcome any suggestions from anyone out there with a green thumb!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

MATTHEW 18:1-4

I came to Jesus one day
with my degree and diplomas,
my awards and references,
my GPA and skills.

I came to him
so sure of myself,
so eager to please.
“Jesus,” I asked,
“what do you want most?
Who should I be
to be most pleasing to you?”

Of course, I already knew the answer:
I fit the bill perfectly.
For with my pride, talents
and successes,
I more than covered up
any small faults I had.
I was the match.
My successful self was
just what he wanted,

“A child,” he said.
“To be like a child –
to be humble and innocent,
trusting and gentle,
to love me as a child loves,
almost bursting at the heart’s seams.
To be like a child,” Jesus said.

As I slowly turned away,
hot tears came to my eyes.
I felt his arms enfold me
and gently
he began to peel away
the masks of grown-up pride.
he let me cry on his shoulder.
Only Jesus.
Only Jesus.

January 3, 1998

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Snake Visits Us

Last Friday I went on our front porch with the kids to water our many plants. Just as I leaned over a potted flower to reach my basil plants, I noticed a green head suspended in the air just below me. I thought at first that it must be one of the kids’ rubber snakes. But my kids don’t have a green rubber snake. Theirs are pink and purple. No, this was a real snake, right on our own front porch!

I drew the kids’ attention to it and we spent many minutes gazing in fascination at this thin green snake in our flower pot. His body was wrapped around the large flower and about 7 inches of him was raised above the flower. He was very still. We kept waiting for him to move, but he didn’t want to, maybe because he sensed we were near. I let Naomi prod the neighboring flower stalk with a little stick, just to shake the plant enough to inspire the snake to move.

It worked! We saw him curl his upper body into more of an “S” shape and then he stuck his head through our little jungle gym door, as if he were playing peekaboo with us. The kids were tickled!

Throughout the morning we kept going back inside to read books and then we’d check the porch again. The snake was probably there for a couple hours. Finally we saw him crossing the porch on his belly, and making his way for a low-branched tree that touches our fence. I looked it up in our nature guide book and it appeared to be a harmless ‘green snake.’ We saw it once more a little while later, up in the tree, very camouflaged. That was the last we saw of it, though every time I’m outside now I glance up in the tree, hoping I’ll spot him again.

It was quite the excitement at our house. We called Papa on the phone and told him all about it. We took pictures and at a family dinner that night, told everyone else of our green visitor. It was the first I’d ever seen a snake in the wild; yes, even after having lived in Africa for 3 years!