Becoming Available

My husband said I should go. I resisted. Ignoring the nagging in my heart, I called a friend about our homeschool co-op. Her husband, the youth pastor, interrupted with a question,

Does Renae need a ticket?

I said I’d call back.

Trying to stall, I opened the internet and stumbled across an article written by a young lady who spilled her heart in Africa.

Rainstorm Approaching Huts and Rice Paddies, Batad, Ifugao,   Philippines

My selfishness swelled and burst as tears spilled out of my eyes reading of her sacrifice, of her love. This single, young girl adopted 14 children. She had counted the cost and decided it was worth it.

As a young person, I told God I would go anywhere. I planned to finish Bible college then move another country.

He sent me here.

I never would have chosen this desert, but there is no doubt in my mind that I am here for such a time as this. This is my mission field. And the mission is not about the place. It is about the people.

So why was I shirking this opportunity to serve the youth in my church?

Comfort

It was an inconvenience. My plans included relaxing on the weekend. Besides, Acquire the Fire is LOUD. I’ve cranked up the sound on Michael Buble’, but that just screams old.

Insecurity

I’d gotten really used to hanging out with elementary school kids. Don’t you have to be cool to relate to teens? Surely, someone else was more qualified, more ready, more able.

Selfishness

My heart was already so full. I didn’t want to open it up any more.

I was willing to give everything decades ago. Why not for this? Was it because it didn’t look like my youthful ideal of living in a jungle?

Wooden barn and silo, Lewiston, Idaho

There was no excuse for the lies holding me back.

Yes, I’m coming.

So I drove my van full of kids to a conference. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice. I slept on a cushioned bench and stopped for coffee on the way to the auditorium.

It wasn’t even really all that loud. I enjoyed the concerts and the teachings inspired. My insecurities sloughed off as I realized anew how simple it is to love. My heart stretched. My prayers for this generation renewed their blaze.

More faces filled my widening view of what if means to minister here.

Was that the purpose all along?

Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35)


Only Mommy Will Do

The cereal crunches underneath my feet and the toys jab at my steps, but my littlest girl’s tears pull me through the mess.

I want you, Mommy.

Scooping her up, I trek back through the maze of laundry baskets and lay her on my unmade bed. As I cuddle close, her heaving chest calms. Her tears dry. Eyes drop and a hand, still so much smaller than my own, reaches out to question. The answer is found as her hand falls on my neck. Her burning body relaxes and her breaths grow long.

I wait for deep sleep to overtake her and then begin to pull away to carry on the day’s tasks. I lean down to kiss her forehead one more time. My eyes fill with tears.

How can I mean so much to one person? She is peaceful now because I’m here. The power of my touch. The comfort of knowing I care.

And if I mean this much to her why am I so distracted by things that don’t matter and things that will wait?

I mean the world to only three. No one else will call me mother. I get one chance with this kind of influence.

Lord, help me to remember this season is short and act accordingly.


The Faith It Takes to Homeschool

For the first time, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the plethora of choices at the homeschool convention. A few art supplies were gathered as gifts to take home to my children, but no curriculum grabbed me. Our shelves at home contained more than enough.

After six years of homeschooling, I felt settled. I finally realized there was no perfect curriculum. I understood there was no system to replace character.

The view from my new vista looked so promising. My faith was stronger than in those first faltering days of kindergarten crying. My children were learning and growing. Homeschool was working.

Then a new season crashed in on us. A season of selling our house and moving across the country….

To finish this article, please click over to Heart of the Matter Online and let me know how you conquer the fear of homeschooling.


Finding Wisdom in Trails of Trash

I hear the thud as the shed door crashes to the ground. The thick, handmade door fell off the hinges months ago. I prop it up, but the wind frequently knocks it down. I want to tear the whole thing down. Take everything out and start all over.

Boxes spill out books and clothes, paintings and pottery, craft supplies and toys. We’re living without it in the house. Can’t we live without it in the shed, too?

Old Rusted Cans Lined Up on a Shelf on the Side of a Barn

I close my mind’s eye to the exposed mess. I’ll shove the door upright later. Right now I’m reading while the happy chatter of children floats outside the window. Little heads bob past. I hear the scooter rolling on the concrete porch floor. The sound lulls me to sleep.

Moments later, I am shaken awake with an announcement of something cool. A little friend holds a rusty, drill-like hunk of metal in my face. I usher her back outside and instantly see why the scooter was going back and forth.

Has the shed been completely emptied?

Suitcases, stuffed animals, felt scraps and two bags of walnuts are strewn about. A smiling queen sits in a doll’s chair overlooking the mess. The rusty hunk of metal is now a walnut crusher. The birds will have a treat.

I feel asleep weighted down by a full belly. I feel the weight of this stuff, too. I thought we purged so well before the move, but I’m realizing we can do just fine with even less. Perhaps, even better with less. I’m tired of prying my fingers off paper, cloth, and sentimentals. I want to be free, unencumbered by spilling boxes and irrational attachments.

I am not ungrateful. I realize the stuff is a blessing, but am I prepared to deal with it? Can my character grasp hold of the truly significant and let go of the rest?

I sense the weight is not merely the physical things I’ve wrapped around my subconscious.

A trail of my own trash follows me: laziness, anger, pride.

Those horrible things cannot be packed in a box and shoved in the corner where they can be knocked over. They must be burned out of my being as a daily sacrifice.

I start carting the junk shop back into the shed realizing that I, too, am exposed. No wonder I hate that falling door so much. It is a reflection of my own mask. It is so easy to ignore the turmoil in my own heart in the busyness of motherhood and homeschool.

The moment I took to read on the couch is a rare thing. It is hard to let go of the guilt of sitting still. Things are out of place, but they always will be. There will always be boxes in a shed to sort. I can’t throw everything away and start all over. And would I really want to?

Some of the boxes contain tokens of memories. Some of them hold promises for the future.

No, it’s not the stuff that truly weighs me down. It’s my failures and my expectations. Who says sheds need to be clean? Who says I have to be busy every moment?

Maybe wisdom can teach me to do the most important things like loving God and my neighbor by using the gifts packed within me. If I spend more time with the boxes in my heart, I have a feeling the weight will slip away.

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Mathew 11:30. Amplified Bible)


A Dance for Today- A Passover Story

We gaze at the ornately decorated tables and pause with wonder at the symbols of remembrance that will be explained throughout the evening. My children grumble about their hunger. I am hungry for what is to come.

I’ve done this before. Choked down the horseradish. Ate the salty herbs. Splashed juice onto my plate. Proclaimed praise to the Lord God of the universe.
Last Supper
The anticipation builds as we pour and pour again. The table is finally spread and we feast with friends. Then the dancing continues.

My little girls giggle with glee as their dance teacher takes their hand. Other women join the train flowing through the tables. A few men gather at the back to kick in unity. My son arm in arm with his father expressing the joy of redemption.

Yes, the joy! How often do I forget the list of chores and accomplishments to just celebrate?

Oh, that each day would be a celebration! I walk in grace. I live in peace. Glory! Hallelujah!

It is easy to see the darkness. It is easy to lose hope, but God conquered the grave. And when he arose this world changed. Love infiltrated the human heart. Individuals awoke to liberty, free to release fear and bitterness.

Yes, I remember the stabs of bondage, but after mourning comes rejoicing.

Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him and because of that every day brings hope. (Hebrews 12: 1-3) Do I walk in that hope? Do I pause to laugh with my children? Do I celebrate today?

This morning the answer is yes. I awake and choose to continue dancing.