Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Agonizing Promise of the Small

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This morning, I walked with a neighbor who has lived in Clarkston for many years.  For most of the years, her family lived among refugees in an apartment complex.  She is a teacher and became burdened by the lack of access to English classes for moms of preschool-aged children in the complex where she lived.  Out of that burden grew a program called “Mommy and Me” that is now a thriving adult literacy program currently held at the Clarkston International Bible Church.  Today on our walk, my friend shared details about the new burden God has put on her heart for economic development and its intersection with the adoption world in the Congo.  Wow.

(Sidebar: I’m so unfamiliar with this other-world that I am not sure whether the country is best referenced, “Congo” or “the Congo” as I type.  There ya go. Ignorance.)

She was clearly struggling to fit huge vision and burden into short bursts of available time to connect, fund, research, raise awareness, and birth this new ministry that God is crafting in her life. I, on the other hand, was feeling awed by the amazing power of God to take a human vessel and pour through it a tiny but profound piece of His redemptive work via a surrendered and willing heart.

Oh, and I was also feeling totally dwarfed by this friend who will have fostered two amazing ministries by the time I’ve figured out how to…fill out forms, master signupgenius.com, procure the longest-lasting manicure, fund camps for my kids, get the mildew out of my shower curtain, and generally avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I realize this self-analysis is not very gracious, but – face it – shiny, white, magna cum laude suburb-lady with three kids can look herself in the mirror and think these things pretty honestly on a “lazy” summer morning, right?

This is the wrestling I have.  I think many of my friends have it, too.  We’re full-out family mamas in a world where that job description is known to eat those of us who hold the title and spit us out medication-dependent and hand sanitizer-obsessed.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

BUT, there’s that other world out there – the one that we know grips God’s heart profoundly.  The orphan crisis.  The homeless population. The millions of refugees.  The clean water initiatives.  The sex-trafficking industry.  These causes and needs LOOM (on facebook, no less!?!?). In response, I genuinely ache and then go try a new smoothie recipe since I don’t know what else to do. (This morning: cantaloupe, ice, and coconut milk.  Pretty tasty.)

So today, I am both discouraged and encouraged by my amazing friend.  Discouraged that I’m not her – that my pro-activity and my surrender have been so often stunted by my fear, selfishness, and the tyranny of the urgent.  Encouraged that she starts small, too.  She spent two hours yesterday procuring an email address with the right @ “whatever” at the end.

That’s small.  And frustrating.

Small is all we’ve got, ladies.

Today I’m thinking about small and how agonizingly profound it is.  Not one of us is exempt from embracing the small as we follow the God of huge redemptive grace.

I think our culture tells us that we must (and can) be “profound” (read in a booming, deep voice).  So, we buy that lie and look for opportunities to leap tall buildings in a single bound rather than fighting for grace by the inch.

Today, may we embrace the agonizing promise of the small.

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Being Rabbit

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It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in our new home for two and a half months.  Often I still feel like I’m visiting Clarkston when I drive into my driveway.  The fact that we’ve had our first leak, our first dinner guests, our first re-organization of closets, and our first birthday in the house make me know I’m home.

I’ve been absent from the blog much of this year – little time to write due to the demands of job and family and move.  I’ve also shied away from writing because, while I want to process the heck out of this move, I also wonder how relevant my own stirrings and musings are to anyone but my own journal and me.

One of the things that God has nudged me about, several times, is the urging to bring others along with us.  Traveling with friends is so much more satisfying, orienting, and encouraging than travelling alone. I’m here to update you and to bring you along, should you care to join us.

So, where are we today?

Well, I’d have to let Doug speak for himself, but I do think that we’d both say that this has been one of the most intense seasons of our lives so far.

As for me, I’m struggling with “being Rabbit.”  Winnie the Pooh is my all time favorite children’s story series.  Perhaps I love the sweet community, or maybe I really enjoy the British take on being a child, but I think I most appreciate the absolute type-castability of Pooh’s neighbors.  In my four walls, we have a definite Owl, a total Eeyore, a budding Kanga, and even a Christopher Robin.  Unfortunately, I’m the Rabbit around here. Got to work hard and get it right.  Can’t play – too much to do.  “Why is she cranky?” “Not sure, but she’s too busy to ask.”

ImageThere’s really way too much to get right – being a neighbor, step-mothering, career choices, supporting my working-so-hard-too husband, learning a community, plugging in with refugees (with what time?), and staying connected with friends.  The Rabbit in me is daunted and wants to put a sign up in the yard that says “no trespassing” until I get my rows tilled and my seeds planted and my seedlings labeled.  Sorry, chickie-mama, but this life doesn’t allow for that level of control.

The problem with Rabbit-weaknesses is that most people name them as strengths when they compliment you.  Efficiency, care, awareness, and industriousness – these are good things that can be really important in running a home and nurturing family.  They are me, and they matter to our life. Right now, though, they feel like they’re causing me fret over a level of order that I have no business trying to attain.  Lists, lines, rows, priorities and tasks are dangerous rabbit trails (excuse the horrible pun) that are apt to suck the joy out of this transition for me…and therefore for everyone in my house.

Yesterday morning in my devotions, I stopped short at a verse in John. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his inmost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)  Rivers flow.  They sweep.  They swirl.  They rush.  They meander.  They cleanse.  They bubble.  They refresh.  They reflect.  They ebb.  They flow.  They curve.  They cut.  They nourish. They are alive. Things that are alive cannot be contained, cordoned off, parsed, or neatly organized. 

When I stop my Rabbiting, lay down my list, give up today’s fret, and believe Him, the well-defined rows may very well disappear, but they will be replaced with a powerful, nurturing force of Holy Spirit life that will allow for both adventure and order, both calm and chaos.  I don’t have to get it right, but I do need to lay it down and just believe.

So, “where am I?” –  I’m caught in the tension, and I’m glad He keeps showing up and loving the Rabbit in me enough to ask her to lay down her garden tools and take a walk with Him.