25.4.11

There will be no songs

Sometimes you are the reason your child is crying herself to sleep with loud and desperate sobbing. Sometimes instead of being the one to comfort and sooth her you give her 5 minutes to wail before ordering her to be quiet now so her siblings can fall asleep. Then you hear the quieter muffled sounds of the sister sharing her bed crying too.

You sit in the other room, listening to every sound of grief, and woe, and you do not take it lightly, but you won't go in again. Instead you find a tangled string from a kite lying about and you start in the middle, trying to work your way out, to make sense of the knots and put it right again.

So tired of coming into sing at bedtime, only to find the room torn apart and clothes still on the floor you told them, tonight after dinner, "If I come in to sing and your room isn't ready for sleeping, with everything put away and the floor picked up, we'll spend the singing time cleaning up instead and then you will go to bed without songs."

Surely they will clean up quickly now. Surely they will choose to pick up.

But when you go into their room, after wiping the baby clean and getting him out of his high chair, she is looking at a book, and she is setting up a diorama and they are both standing on the clothes you told them to pick up.

There will be no songs.

For perhaps the 5th time in her entire life there will be no bedtime songs. And you can't take it back now. Or rather, you won't, because you are convinced that it's better for her to learn that her choices have difficult consequences from you, at bedtime, rather than the hard way with things, and people, and results so much more permanent than bedtime songs.

But, as convinced as you are that there is long term good to denying her what she wants now, when her choices said otherwise, it doesn't stop you from sitting where you can hear every cry and working away at a difficult tangle.

Because that's what mama's do.

Oh, how he loves us so...

We went to a Passover style Seder, a Catholic Easter Vigil Saturday night, and our own church's raucous mix of rock'n'roll and gospel choir celebration Sunday morning. All were beautiful, meaningful, and full of the creative energy that people devote to worshiping and honoring the God they all believe in.

In moments like these I am always taken with fits of love for everyone, for all the different ways God made us and all the colorful and beautiful ways we find to express our love for him. It's confusing to me how many of these people can be so quick to violent disagreements with each other. We are the squabbling children of the same father. He loves us all. He seems willing to love us and give us his spirit on whatever antenna we put up. This is a good thing for all of us.

I like it so much better when my children can work and play together without fighting and bickering. I suspect that our Father in heaven prefers the same. Maybe I think this because Jesus prayed, "...I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that ALL OF THEM may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world will know that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one-I in them and you in me-so that they may be brought to complete unity."

I personally have the urge to sweep you all up into a big hug, you Catholics with your beautiful liturgy and reverence, you hundreds of denominations of Protestants, with loud music, no music, only liturgy, only spontaneous prayer, no dancing, yes dancing, big buildings, rented halls, house churches and every one in between, even you Mormons, though I find less to agree with you on, into a huge hug and say together, "He is Risen" and you answer back,"He is risen indeed." (Even if you go to my church and apparently never learned to affirm that on Easter morning and keep saying happy Easter instead.)

(Remind me to tell you my story of why I learned to include Mormons in my sweeping embrace sometime.)

I am thankful for every person who gropes, however feebly in in whatever misguided direction for the grace an life and love of God. For I know that he is faithful and will meet us all.

This week my voice rises to give thanks for,

Children gathered. writing in the thank-you cards they received in their Easter baskets. I have an unopened one form the Boy addressed to mom and dad, to open when Aaron comes home.

Rings twisted from purple grass flowers

Giant black and yellow butterflies

A Boy who spoke confidently all the answers at Passover.

A Girl who is clever with numbers.

A party to plan.

Little sitting on the bottom step holding her baby brother and singing, "I was trying to get him to go to sleep mommy."

The pretty and oh so funny and clever Emily, my friend who just volunteered to help with administrative work for The Charis Project.

A husband who only responded graciously the 3 or 4 times this weekend he had good reason to be irritated.

The Baby who laughed and laughed at the huge bonfire.


A painting session under the guava tree.


A sibling moment on the back step.

The cutest baby ever! (He inspires hyperbole.)


holy experience

22.4.11

A Child's Lenten Meditation-Day 40-Here comes the Spirit

Acts 1On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." 6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." 

Jesus disciples wanted to know if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel.

What do you suppose they are expecting?

They may have still thought that Jesus would set Israel free from Roman rule. Maybe he would lead Israel in a rebellion against the Roman Empire and rule Israel as their king?

Everyone would follow him now, he came back from the dead. Maybe.

But Jesus has something much better in mind. He tell them that they don't need to know times or dates, but to wait in Jerusalem until they receive power from on high. Jesus will establish his kingdom. BUt it's not an earthly one. And he will not do it himself.

He will give power to his disciples and many, many others, and through them his kingdom will be brought to earth, little bit, by little bit.

They work isn't done yet. But if you follow Jesus you can be part of bringing his kingdom, you can be one of the ones who redeems the earth by working with Jesus spirit in you.

The part when the spirit comes is actually the most exciting part. But like the disciples, we will have to wait until it comes.

*******
This is the end of the Lent series. And the beginning of a weekly series for Pentecost. (I wrote it last year for Sunday school class.)


I would love some feed back from all 15 of you who actually read the whole thing. :) I welcome critiques. Also, sorry about the lack of pictures for the last several weeks. Maybe I'll get some up by next year. :)

Traditions


When you are birthing babies some of the books tell you to think of all the other women in the world who are also in labor and to think of yourself as connected to them and working with them as you do the work of circling this baby down and moving him through the deep center of your body and out into the light. The think of yourself as part of this mighty chain of women, all grunting and groaning and straining with the work of life and it's euphoric. And you are not alone. You can trust that you will be able to do this because so many women before and now are doing it with you.

I'm standing in my kitchen mixing flour and sugar and raisins. I tell the Boy that my whole life my mom made hot cross buns, and my grandma. There were always buns on Easter. I am making them at the last minute of course, because we are out of cereal and, oh right, it's Good Friday. That's when hot cross buns are eaten.

Suddenly, as I am telling him of my mother, and my father's mother, I feel it, that connection. My feet grow down into the tile of the floor and my soul spreads wide to realize how many women, in how many places are this day standing in their kitchens making buns to remember.

I know that higher, nobler things are meant to unify us. This sense that people the world over are praying together, the joining to celebrate the life and resurrection. But not surprisingly, for this woman, the sense of oneness comes with a simple recipe and kneading the dough in my hands, laboring together with my mother, and my grandmother and my sisters everywhere.

Here is the fast, single rise recipe that I invented this morning to feed my people.

Quick and Tasty Hot Cross Buns

21.4.11

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

New meme, it's perfect for me.


IMG_8896-3


Easy to post, and communicates the week better than I could otherwise I think. Here you go.

Pretty


I sent gifts to the women in the villages and who staff the Charis Home with Aaron in March. Umbrellas wrapped in cloth handkerchiefs and hair elastics.

Happy


I found this on my camera. Probably taken by a child. He loves his bouncer.

Funny
Surprise. It's the baby again. His sisters did his hair in the bath.

Real

This is a Christmas wreath, on my office closet door, because I haven't put it away yet. Yesterday is when I actually got the nativity and light put away and up on the closet shelf. Also, the picture is sideways. I was going to fix it but then thought, nah, real.

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 39-

John 21

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus ), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6 He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus Reinstates Peter

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." 16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." 17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

Jesus cared about his disciples. Even though he was here to redeem the whole earth and all people he cared about each of them. He loved them. He loved Peter, even when Peter did something wrong because he was afraid, he loved Peter.

So he tells Peter to feed his sheep.

Does Jesus actually have any sheep?
No? Than what is he talking about?

The people who follow him, he calls them his sheep, because he takes care of them like a good shepherd takes care of his sheep. He leads them to safe places, he feeds them, he protects them.

Jesus tells Peter to take care of his sheep for him. He trusts Peter with those he loves. It's a really important day for Peter.

Now why would Jesus tell someone else to take care of his sheep? Is he going somewhere?

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 38-That you may believe

John 20

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher"). 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

The Purpose of John's Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

We just spent the last few days trying to understand what it was that happened when Jesus died n the cross. We read what they figured out and wrote after a lot of thinking and talking about it. But at the part of the story we stopped at they are still confused, and frightened, and surprised. They don't know what to make of it all.

But they write it down. They tell the story of how they were confused and afraid. They tell us what Jesus did to help them to understand. They tell us how he showed himself to them over and over so they could believe.

He let them ask questions. He let Thomas prove it to himself. He was ok with their doubt. He just showed them again.

Later they wrote it all down that we who read it might also believe and enter into life.

What life are they talking about?

They are talking about the life we were designed to have, the life that God gives by his spirit. There is a part of all of us that is dead without God. But Jesus made it so that we could have his perfect life inside us. We can agree with him and his goodness in us and be like him if we believe.

You should ask those questions if you have them. Jesus can answer them and help you believe, and give you life.

19.4.11

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 37-New Covenant-Power to change

 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.' " 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. 
Hebrews 8

The High Priest of a New Covenant  
1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: "The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbors, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." 13 By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.


Remember when we read about this promise? Remember how God said he would have to make a new covenant (that means an agreement and a promise) with the people and put his laws in their minds and write them on their hearts? Remember the promise to forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more?

We wondered how that would happen.

The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus on the cross made it happen as both the sacrifice and the high priest.

He had no sin, so he didn't need to do what other high priests did and make sacrifices first for his own sins. Instead he offered himself as the perfect sacrifice.

What did that do exactly? Do you understand it?

The old agreement, or covenant, between God and the children of Israel after he led them out of Egypt, with the sacrifices and the tabernacle, was a way to teach Israel. It was a way to help them see and experience God's forgiveness. But the sacrifices for atonement, when they placed the guilt of the people for breaking the agreement with God on a goat and killed it in the place of guilty people, weren't perfect, and they needed to be done again, year after year after year, because the people were still the same. They still did not do good out of what was in their hearts.The sacrifices and the priests could not make the people good, they could only show them what their hearts were really like.

Jesus changed all that. Jesus made it so that God's spirit could get back into people. Without it, people could never be as God designed them to be. (The proof of the spirit coming to people happens at the feast of Pentecost, which is later in the story.)

Jesus was not only the perfect sacrifice and atonement for sin, but he did something much more important than that as well.

He set us free!

Just like God set Israel free from slavery in Egypt .

Before we were slaves to sin and death. His sacrifice freed us, and now we have his power to live righteously. He put himself in our place, and then defeated the forces that made us slaves in the first place. If we weren't set free we couldn't hope to keep the covenant. God had to replace the old covenant that he made with Israel when he brought them out of Egypt in order to keep his promise to Abraham, the original covenant.

We just read about how Jesus the night he was betrayed said, "28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Jesus is talking about his sacrifice, how his blood will be the marker of the new covenant, just as God took upon himself, in his own body, the burden of fulfilling the first covenant with Abraham.

We now have Jesus living in us and we are able to keep this new covenant by agreeing with his power in us, rather than just trying to do it by ourselves. Jesus did it perfectly, so we just have to agree with him.

That's way better than the old covenant, don't you think?

Have you ever tried to keep a promise on your own? What happened when you asked Jesus to help you.

18.4.11

When you get what you want...

While mommy and daddy are on a conference call...

There was a time when I was certain that if I could only get to where I am today I would be done with the struggle, and it would be easy. There is that place that we all want to get to, and in our fantasies that place is where life becomes easy. We don't have to struggle any more to figure things out. We are doing what we love so we don't have to search for motivation, and self discipline comes so easily because it lines up with our passion. It won't feel like work when it's something we love.

The truth is a whole lot more messy and complicated than that, of course. Life constantly throws new challenges at us. We work and claw and scrape to get to the top of the hill, only to find that it's just a foothill, the first step in a mountain range and we have to scale that too.

All that to say, life is hard. Anything worth doing is hard work. As Thomas Edison said, "Most people miss opportunities because they come dressed in overalls and look like work."

Those people making it look easy, those people who seem to have everything fall in their lap, most of the time they worked their buts off for it, you just didn't see it. And when they got to the top of the first hill, they just kept going.

It's because I know I am prone to thinking that when I reach X things will be different that I wrote this post back here. It's because I fight this mindset of acting as though this part of my life is a dress rehearsal and when the real thing starts it will be easy after that that. I am trying to tell the story of my journey here with all the bumps and rough spots included.

There was a time that I was sure that if I could just do something, to help kids, to make a difference, that's all I would need and everything would fall into place. The truth is, if I am not disciplined in doing my duty in the things right in front of me, I will never be able to do the work required to make the thing I want to do, the thing I am passionate about, happen. And once I get started on that, it's discipline, much more than passion, because on a sleep deprived morning after an all night wrestleathon with a nursing 8 month old I don't really feel passionate about anything, it's some sort of work ethic that keeps me crossing things off of my to do list.

They are forced to fend for themselves.

I'm not just talking about The Charis Project either. That work is not the first time I believed I could get it all "right". I tried that my first year of high school, then university, then traveling... When I got married I was again going to change, start anew, get everything "right" and do it the way, I wrote the story in my head, it "ought to be done". Well, eventually passion for being the perfect wife wore off a little, and I needed something else to motivate me to clean up at the end of the day and figure out what to make for dinner. Where I lacked discipline, fickle passion could not make up for it, and my natural laziness and inertia asserted sway.

When I had a baby I would change again in order get it "right". But it wasn't passionate love for my child that got me up in the middle of the night, not the way I imagined it. It was the weight, the responsibility and the realization that if I didn't get up and take care of this child, no one would. This was my job, the first job I was trusted with that really mattered.

I worked hard to get it "right" when we started homeschooling. In a way we did, depending on what you consider right. But again, if I don't teach this kid to read, since I've chosen not to send him to school, how will he learn? His education is my responsibility. I signed a legal contract and everything committing to a certain number of hours and days per year. This is my job, and it mattered. Again, where passion failed, and enthusiasm waned, discipline and a sense of duty is what carried us through, day after day, tearful math lesson after tearful math lesson, until the tears finally stopped and we were enjoying ourselves.

And now, orphaned kids in Thailand, victims of war, poverty and abuse, but still so full of life and promise. I don't think I told you about how we didn't think we were going to be able to take care of them near the beginning. There wasn't enough food, there was crisis. I called every. single. organization I could find! I called Compassion. I called World Vision. I called organizations that I had never even heard of before who were working in Thailand. Every single call I got the same response. "We would love to help, but we don't have any programs in that area, and we don't have room for that many kids here."

Just as clearly as that first night, with my first baby, came the feeling, "If I don't help these kids, no one is going to." This is my job, it was given to me. I honestly didn't think it could be done, but I had to try. Of course you know the rest of the story. Now I'm an officer of a non-profit corporation and we are taking care of these kids and working towards taking care of more. But as the crisis passes, and the past 2 years were a crisis for those kids, the work remains, and it's discipline, what little I have, that settles me in to see it through for the long haul. I have responsibilities. Somehow, I have to balance them all, but my idea of "right" and what really needs to be done may not be the same.

I've had some interesting responses to that last post. One person suggested that I should stop, that it was my pride that keeps me doing something I maybe shouldn't do and neglecting my own kids. For the record, my kids are not neglected. I estimate they have way more positive interaction with their parents than most kids do. But my heart, of course, is to do more. I see what other moms do, things I had time for once, the non-essentials, and I miss that. But I don't believe they are suffering because their mom and dad are writing a story together of our family, who we are and what we do, that involves loving those no one else loves, and making things happen that looked impossible a year ago. It doesn't help anyone to cater to the lowest common denominator. Rather we expect they will rise to meet the challenge, and so far they have, admirably.

See how neglected they are? Poor hobos on the front lawn.
Perhaps it is pride that keeps me going, pride in a job well done, pride in that fact that I am the kind of person who will not abandon someone in need if it's in my power to help them. Just like mothers have pride in how they mother, the parts they get right. I am proud of the parts I've gotten right. I am proud of what my hard work has accomplished. I'm really proud that the last two years of my life have been spent the way they have been. I'm not sure this is a negative thing though, as was implied.

And those of you who gave advice, and commiseration, thank-you. There are probably things I can shift still, once I step back for a minute. There are things I can let go.

My problem I think is that I kept waiting for things so calm down again so I can catch up. I realized this week that this level is the new normal, and I have to shift to figure out how to do what needs doing at this level. That helped. I stopped waiting for a breather and got to work. I don't even know if that made sense, but we had two absolutely peaceful productive days at the end of last week.

Yes it was craziness to commit to writing 40 posts in about as many days for Lent, but that's actually more for my kids than anything else. I'm just sharing our conversations with you.

But I want you all to know this blog isn't going to make the cut list anytime soon. You all know I usually barely ever get here to post anyway. Once or twice a week if we're lucky. But you guys, you are the ones who carried me through the last two years. And not just with emotional support. You are the ones who turned things around and gave and spread the word and made it so that enough people knew about those kids that we could give them a fighting chance. Long before a lot of the people I knew in real life took what we were trying to do seriously you guys came to the rescue. You sponsored kids. You donated money for bunk beds, shoes, even a truck. I have your names memorized, and your email addresses. I love it when you like us on facebook so I have a face to go with the name.. I know who you are when your donations pop up in the paypal account. I wish I could meet everyone of you in person and hug you and cry and say thank you for the way you cared, and the way you came through when no one else did and made this amazing thing happen.

Half of our entire budget last year came from people who found us through the internet, through this blog. 

I'm just a pessimist who had no choice but to try anyway. You guys are the ones who gave me hope. you are the reason I still have this job today.

And that's only one of the reasons I love you. I'm not going anywhere. But I will be glad when lent is over. :)

14.4.11

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 36-Our New High Priest

Hebrews 613 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

And suddenly the end of this story takes us back to Abraham and the Promise God made to him

This whole story has happened, everything Jesus did, was to keep God's promise to Abraham. 

Why?


Was it just to keep his promise?


Why did God make such a promise in the first place?


In order to God to keep his promise he had to change the way the world is, the way people are. And he had to defeat Satan, who kept people in darkness.


Isn't that what he was doing in the first place?


Remember the plan?


God called Abraham and Israel in order to show the world who He is, so people would go back to him, get his life in them again as it was when He made us, and once again take care of and rule over the earth.

What does that have to do with what we just read? Jesus went behind the curtain, he entered into the holy of holies where where the priest only went once a year to make atonement for the people. He is the forerunner, which means we are to follow him. Because he is our high priest, we can go with him into the holy place.



More on what that means tomorrow.

13.4.11

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 35-Wonder

Luke 24
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 'The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. 

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 "What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

No one expected to see Jesus again when they laid him in the tomb. It was over. He was gone. Those who went to the tomb did so to honor him.

They weren't expecting him to be gone. They couldn't make sense of it. None of them had understood what Jesus told them before he was crucified.

Jesus had to explain it to them.

Do you think you can explain it?

Can you see the whole story from the beginning, through the Exodus, the exile and the prophets?

Tomorrow we start to look at the explanation in the book of Hebrews. It's going to all make sense.

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 35-The Veil is Torn

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ""Eli, Eli," "lema" "sabachthani?"" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah." 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

The Burial of Jesus

27:57-61pp -- Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:38-42

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." 65 "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Let's just read this part again because it's pretty intense.

" At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!""

Do you know what that curtain in the temple was for?

It was what separated the people who were worshiping from the inner sanctuary where the presence of God used to rest. When Jesus died, whatever it was that he did in that moment made it so there was no separation anymore between God and people.

It seems there was no separation between life and death for a while there either. People who had been dead came back to life, lots of people.

That was sort of different.

And the earthquake was unusual too.

This moment, when Jesus died, something big happened, and the people writing the story want us to notice that.

It wasn't an ordinary death, because Jesus wasn't an ordinary person. You may not be able to tell yet from the story, but Jesus just won.

11.4.11

Failing

I know I'm not the only woman who tries to keep to many plates spinning every single day. But lately there's always at least one falling. The answer, I would think, is to simplify, to eliminate at least a few of the plates. But I can't really find anything extraneous to cut. There are the kids, the baby who is about to crawl, just started eating solid food and peeing on his potty on occasion. I can't cut him. I don't want to either. He's the best part of the day, most days.

There's the nine year old Boy with so much intelligence and talent and I'm his teacher. It's a good thing he likes to read because most days I just hand him a book and let him learn on his own. And he teaches himself his math lesson now and does his work. His voice and ear are excellent. I should be giving him voice lessons and vocal exercises. I should spend more time policing the piano practice. He'll thank me later, I know he will.

The Girl is reading, right on the cusp of taking off and reading independently. She's probably be there already if I had more time in the day to spend with her. She knows math that I didn't teach her. She can figure out things all on her own and I know I didn't teach it to her, and I should have. Imagine what she would be doing now if I had. I should spend more time helping her learn guitar. She still needs me there.

I want to read to Little more. To hug her more often. She is 4. She's at turns delightful and fractious and she is getting big so fast.

I wish that I could just spend all day with my kids, actually engaging with them. (I'd also like a maid to do the laundry, but I can live with that if kids and house were all I had to do.) I want to go on nature walks again and just hang out and explore.

But instead I spend the afternoons tucked away in my office, shooing them away because I'm working. Why not just quit work? I mean, it's not like I actually get paid for anything I do.

But those faces of those kids in Thailand stare at me. Those 10,000 refugees from Burma who are being sent back to their deaths haunt my heart and I can't stop working. There are dozens of kids who don't eat or have a place to sleep at night if I don't do this. There are hundreds, thousands more who still need help and I can give it to them. If I just keep working, and reaching out to more people and telling their story and organizing EVERYTHING, I can help them.

When I fantasize these days it's that we can afford to pay a bookkeeper, and a web designer, an accountant, a secretary and an administrator. I'm doing the jobs of 5 people, and I'm not doing any of them as well as I could be if I had only one to focus on.

Every day something important slides. If I sit and read to my kids a child sponsor doesn't get an email they should get. If I type the minutes for a board meeting and remind everyone of their action items and answer the 500 questions about when where and how of our next fundraiser my 4 year old who wants to paint get shooed off to fend for herself and the baby goes too long between diaper changes and leaks through.

I choose to write a blog post and my husband is neglected. I sit with him the dishes from dinner are still on the table at breakfast time. I take a phone call and talk to a friend who needs me and my kids only end up doing half of their school work, build a giant doll castle, leave their breakfast in their bowls and complain they are hungry before lunch time. Let's not even mention the thank-you notes and letters owed or I may cry.

Through it all I'm haunted by the idea that if only I was better organized, if only I could force children to finish school work and chores in the allotted half an hour and run on even less sleep with a baby who nurses all night that I could keep all of the plates in the air and spinning effortlessly.

And maybe that's true. I probably could be a better steward of my time than I am. Or maybe this really is more than is humanly possible for one person to accomplish.

I tried to find someone who could do the Charis work for just a month or two, not all of it, just basic things, like data entry, and organizing things, so I could rest after the baby was born. I couldn't find anyone who was willing, who was also local.

I'm bad a delegating. I need another me, who already knows what needs to be done. In the time it takes to explain what needs to be done to someone else I could do it. And I've had people offer to help, sweet, sweet people, and I just don't have the list broken down into bite sized pieces like that. And I would need you to come to my house because by the time I photocopy and scan that thing to send to you so you can do it I could have done it myself.

(Deep breaths)

I lose track of the list in my head after about 30 items. I have notices and calendars and lists. But I am failing. At everything.

I am exhausted, mentally and physically. I consider it a successful day if I kept my head down and didn't quit again. But I never come to the end of my list. There's always more I could be doing and I start to forget some things, that are sometimes pretty urgent, because the other things crowd it out.

How do I do this? Seriously. I don't know how to do all this and do it well.

I wonder how many other people feel this way?

Do you?

A Child's Lenten Meditation Day 34-The Lamb of God

Jesus Before Pilate

27:11-26pp -- Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2,3,18-25; Jn 18:29-19:16

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "You have said so," Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor. 15 Now it was the governor's custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?" 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. 22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" 23 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" 25 All the people answered, "His blood is on us and on our children!" 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27:27-31pp -- Mk 15:16-20

27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

27:33-44pp -- Mk 15:22-32; Lk 23:33-43; Jn 19:17-24

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means "the place of the skull"). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. 38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself ! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself ! He's the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

This was not what the Israelites imagined a savior to be. They rejected Jesus. And yet, he saved them. In fact, he saved all of us, by not saving himself.

Does this look like saving to you?

Remember the Passover lamb.

It's not over yet.

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