From the Mouths of Babes….or young lads who challenge the home or hospitality mentality.

The curtain rod fell down on my head as I balanced on a stool for the tenth time that day, all with hyperactive children running all around me a few feet below. I half caught it and then slammed it down on the stack of boxes below.

“I can’t get anything done around here! I can’t even get curtains hung!”

Danny tries to calm me.

“Honey, its OK. It will come together eventually. ”

“But I’m so tired of not being settled! I just want everything in its place and I want our house to be done!”

Danny could have talked til he was blue in the face, but it was my son’s words that penetrated.

“Mom, nobody in our neighborhood even has curtains. Why do we need them? Right now we’re just like everybody else.”

Oh, how his words sunk in. put this nesting mamma in her place. put priorities in order.

My neighbor's make-shift curtains, which is how my entire neighborhood "does" curtains

My neighbor’s make-shift curtains, which is how my entire neighborhood “does” curtains

What does it really look like to come from a “different culture” but choose to become one with the culture we have moved into?  What does it look like to to truly become incarnational in this context? Right here in America, where I can drive 15 minutes to a friends house and see beautiful tapestries hung and in place?

Maybe it means prioritizing people above the picturesque home I desire.

Maybe it means enjoying children more than enjoying neatness and order.

Maybe it means welcoming neighbors into a home that still has boxes stacked in the corners and walls still to be painted, simply because today I choose people over projects, the “to BE” list, rather than the “to-DO list”. 

Do I choose to spend the afternoon preparing a meal for houseguests who will then experience the meal in God's word? Or do I spend the afternoon tackling the boxes?

Do I choose to spend the afternoon preparing a meal for houseguests who will then experience the meal in God’s word? Or do I spend the afternoon tackling the boxes?

We chose the houseguests, and the Bible study.

We chose the houseguests, and the Bible study.

and let the stack of pictures to be hung just sit there.

and let the stack of pictures to be hung just sit there.

I don’t completely forsake the chipping away at household projects, or the desire to create beauty, order and grace in a home. For now, the slowness of the process can be embraced as a needed process of soul sanctification, neighbor identification, and it becomes far bigger than just my home transformation.

After all, maybe Liddell, who lives in a home with a blue tarp roof,

IMG_7635would feel far more welcomed into a home that is also making good use of large blue tarps

our backyard and the blue tarps...what drives me crazy, might actually drive our neighbors towards us rather than away from us.

our backyard and the blue tarps…what drives me crazy, might actually drive our neighbors towards us rather than away from us.

Every neighbor in this area lives in a home that needs work done on it, and despite my desire to “just be done” with house projects, being in this state of process might be the very thing that unites us instead of divides us from our neighbors.  Those walls needing paint, and that unlandscaped yard, and that pile of building supplies, might be the very thing that keeps the “us and them” mentality at bay…the very “us and them” mentality that left this neighborhood so forsaken those years ago.

So maybe with a death of my desire,

a desire that feels so natural and justified to me,

actually creates a void

in which new life can emerge,

the life of a neighborhood connection,

a commonality,

an identification,

a “with”ness,

that creates a platform for

witness.

Which in the end, is far more important, far more eternal, than curtains being hung.

~~~~~

Guests in our home, AND the curtains were hung (in the backdrop) both desires fulfilled, but not until patience was learned.

Guests in our home, AND the curtains were hung! (in the backdrop) Both desires fulfilled, but not until patience was learned.

 

 

Eventually those boxes were unpacked.

Eventually those boxes were unpacked.

The house looked like this when we moved in...

The house looked like this when we moved in…

And looks like this now. PROGRESS!!

And looks like this now. PROGRESS!!

Progress, but not perfection...still little things needing to be done!

Progress, but not perfection…still little things needing to be done!

 

Advertisements

Mouths of Babes….Malachi

FullSizeRender

They were all piled on the bed.

Sprawled out during our nightly family devotions.

We are reading through the Bible as a family, and we’re camped out in the book of Numbers right now.

I know, I know, not exactly an attention-grabber book of the Bible for little ones.

But you would be surprise, how much our family has gotten out of reading the book.

Even little, hardly-talking-yet Malachi.

Daddy’s voice was gone, so Mommy was reading that night from Numbers 13….

 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amoriteslive in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

And while I read it, all of a sudden half-asleep Malachi pops up and starts pointing to himself,

“Me!? Me!? Me!?”

It didn’t register in my mind, so I was about to scold him about needing to be quiet during family devotions, but Danny caught it…

“He heard Amalakite. And he thinks you said his name.”

Well, prove me wrong again.

All those nights that I spend half of family devotions breaking up feet fights between children sprawled on a bed, they might just be listening,

And through all the times I keep telling them to be quiet and listen,  they might just be listening.

And even if I’ve just yelled at them, I still gather them to hear God’s Word despite the fact that the one reading it is unworthy to share it with them, they might just be listening.

And those Words, and my prayers might just be laying dormant for a time, but Malachi’s little reaction gives me hope, that life will come from the seeds planted.

So, I’ll keep breaking up feet fights, and keep reigning in attention spans, and keep quieting talkative preschoolers, and keep bringing those kids to the Source of Strength that we all need desperately….

banking, all the while,  on the promise…

so is My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  

Isaiah 55:11

From the Mouths of Babes….Breastfeeding According to an 8 yr. old Boy

This kid, the one that loves babies, is obsessed with holding his little brother.

Sometimes to the point of harassing me.

There was a mini-war-turned-formal-schedule over which sibling got to hold Judah during family devotions each night.

And if Mommy actually has to be nursing during the scheduled hold-Judah-night there is no lack of impatience.

Mommy, can I hold him?

Not yet, honey, he’s hungry and I need to feed him.

Mommy, is he done yet? 

No honey, I can’t make him eat any faster.

Oh, now, Mommy, can I hold him?

No, honey I have to burp him and feed him on the other side….

and so it goes.

And after devotions that evening, he was pondering the “other side” of nursing.

Mommy, why does Judah have to eat on both sides?

Because they get full of milk and he needs to empty both sides. 

Ohhhhh, soooo….its like two nerf guns that are loaded and once you finishing shooting one, then you have to shoot the other one. 

Exactly.

Sort-of.

IMG_5193

Family Devotions…blurrily captured by a little set of hand playing with Mommy’s iPhone.

From the Mouths of Babes….A Big One

This kid LOVES babies.

1947499_10152273284925737_6182404594029138112_n

 

 

 

This kid, who, for the three months leading up to Judah’s arrival, did everything he could to help ease my life because it finally registered in his mind that out of Mommy’s misery, a wee little babe would emerge.

And he was excited!

He cleared out his own dresser drawers so there would be room for Judah’s clothes, he loaded baby toys into his closet and set up a diaper station. (I kept telling him, Judah wouldn’t join him in his room for several months but he just wanted to “be ready”)

The week of Judah’s arrival finally came, and because of a traumatic delivery, and a flooded basement, I hadn’t seen that firstborn of mine in five days.  All of his siblings would be going to the pool after school, but he decided to skip out on it because he could.not.wait to meet his new little brother.

The minute his head popped into the bedroom, to meet that tiny bundle, he started exclaiming

“Ooooh Mommy!!!!”

while he jumped around the room.

“Can I hold him? Can I hold him?”

So after a hand washing, and a settling down, we unwrapped that precious miracle and he held his new baby brother for the first time

“He’s so cute I could faint!”

That eight year old boy was absolutely giddy.

Over a baby.

And God knew, those many years ago, exactly what type of firstborn, what type of leader, what type of sensitive personality this Mommy would need as a right-hand man as Danny and I wrangle this now half a dozen kids.

 

Big brother LOVES his baby brother

Big brother LOVES his baby brother

IMG_5154

His love of babies even motivated him to keep refilling Mommy’s water and bringing me food in bed!

IMG_5140

Giddy over the tiny bundle!

IMG_5151

Lovin’ on his little bro!

IMG_0007

Once he learned about skin-to-skin time he started taking off his shirt to let Judah lay on his chest.

photo 4

Firstborn and natural leader…or forced into leadership because there are so many little ones following him.

 

Image

From the Mouths of Babes…two year old arguments

While camped out in the Costco parking lot, awaiting the rescue forces of my husband and co-worker to a pregnant damsel in distress with five children and a lot of melting frozen groceries because of car trouble, I observed this dubious duo at it again, debating over the messiness of smoothies.

Each kid had one (thanks to the random lady that felt sorry for this pregnant lady with five kids and an overflowing grocery cart who shoved money in my hand and said, “Go, buy your babies some ice cream).  So the healthier option of smoothies were purchased and we marched out to the car, buckled everyone in, loaded an enormous amount of food into the trunk, and realized the car was going no where. In the brief amount of time when I kept trying to start it, and then call my husband to come rescue us, Malachi managed to spill his bright purple smoothie in his car seat.  As I was getting him out of the hot, non-moving car I chided myself “Why did I give you this. Smoothies are too messy for two year olds in the car.”

Boys hanging out in cart (contained!) and awaiting rescue from car trouble

Boys hanging out in cart (contained!) and awaiting rescue from car trouble

So as the boys sat in the cart while we waited, Benjamin says,

“Smoothies are a yittle bit messy in the car, right Ma-ki?”

And his two year old pipes up “Noooo”

The boys beginning their discussion of smoothie messiness

The boys beginning their discussion of smoothie messiness

“Yes, dey is.”

“Noooo…”

Benjamin pauses to think about it…

IMG_4889

And resumes his insistence that smoothies ARE messy…

“Ma-ki, smoothies IS messy”

“Nooo…” Malachi insists.

“Yes, dey is!”

“Noooo!”

“YES, DEY IS MESSY!!”

“Nooooooooo!!!!”

and this continued for several minutes…

And if someone doesn’t agree with you in a very obvious argument, you obviously should pinch their face so they can see the light of your reason…

 

Benjamin pinching "the reason" into his argumentative brother

Benjamin pinching “the reason” into his argumentative brother

After working THAT out, I tried to recapture the argument, and in this case, maybe the pinching worked for Malachi was much more agreeable this go round (of course, it always works that way…you can never quite capture the moment again on camera)

 

 

From the Mouths of Babes….extra ones

My sixth child...greatly influenced by the rest of my kids...shopping cart out, nerd rifle in one hand, purse in the other...

My sixth child…greatly influenced by the rest of my kids…shopping cart out, nerf rifle in one hand, purse in the other…

This child is the Presence of Christ in my life.

Not because she is a huge ministering Spirit or represents great power available, but because of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40

“And the King will answer them, ‘

Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,

you did it to me.” 

And to be honest, there have been many an afternoon in the past several months in which we arrived home from school pick up, all hungry, grouchy, bouncing off the walls or each other, and dying for a nap (usually it was ONLY me wanting the nap) and this precious little girl, like clockwork, would ring our doorbell within five minutes of us pulling into the driveway.

And the complaining, selfish spirit in me would sometimes moan…”Lord, don’t I already have enough kids to deal with?! This is one more mouth to feed, one more person calling my name, one more person who needs some of me, when I already feel like I have none of me to give (little baby Judah is selfishly claiming it for his development and growth) !”

But one afternoon, as she showed up, with her bright eyes and eager heart to hang out with me, (and sometimes my kids) the Lord whispered that verse, which He had spoken two thousand years ago, “as you did it to one of the least of these my children, you did it to me, ” and I knew I was suppose to view her presence in our home, in all the chaos of free play time and kid-herding during chore time, and attention-span reigning during reading time  and mouth feeding during meal time as HIS presence. And I have the opportunity to minister to Him by ministering to her. 

So, this little girl, who when I first met her hardly spoke English, is literally like a sixth child in our home now (first day of summer vacation, and our car wasn’t gone she was faithfully ringing the doorbell at 8:45 am).  And instead of being a burden, it is an opportunity, a blessing, and a privilege to be able to love my Lord, by loving her. Just as the call to love my own children faithfully each day is a constant falling upon the grace, power and Presence of Jesus available to me, I fall on that same power for loving her, another child to care for, shepherd, and pour into. And todays manna is never sufficient for tomorrow. But as surely as the sun rises, the manna will be available to be gathered .

So, in terms of her contribution to Mouths of Babes…In her broken English (but MUCH better than when I met her almost a year ago) she can say some funny, “mouths of babes” things just like my own little ones. And because she knows the rhythms of our home life, the other day she saw me putting on my running shoes, and says:

“You exercising now?!” (she likes to try to exercise with me…or at least watch me clumsily jumping around and sweating)

“Yup, I’m gonna try to do it real quick before I have to cook dinner.”

“You’re kitchen gonna break.”

I burst out laughing…I knew exactly what she was talking about.

I exercise to little youtube workout videos in the kitchen, and it often requires a lot of jumping and hopping around. which can be rather boisterous, loud, (and yes, I admit it…floor-shaking) when you’ve got a massive bump on your belly, and, ahem, maybe a few too many extra pregnancy pounds, to carry along with you.

“Oh, you mean because I jump around and it makes a lot of noise”

“Yeeaahhh….Your kitchen gonna breeeaaak.”

And that was my “you’re fat and pregnant” compliment of the day. Which, fortunately came from the mouths of a babe, an extra one…

so I wasn’t too offended.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From the Mouths of Babes…Romance in the eyes of the little ones

When Danny and I were first married, we kissed at probably every stoplight…we called it red light romance.

2234743291_09795cc3bd

Now we can’t even kiss once in a blue moon at a stoplight without comments from the peanut gallery…the crew filling the back seats,

and most recently from our three year old, of all people.

We were headed to church and Danny and I kissed each other at a stoplight and we hear,

eeeeeewww, you’s kissin’ each uttewr! (“you are kissing each other!”)

and instead of turning around to see our eight year old who gets grossed out by kissing in Disney movies, we find our three year old, balking at our romance.

photo 1

photo 2

 

One day, son, you will be extremely glad that your parents, after nearly ten years of marriage and 5.5 kids, still love each other… and still kiss at stoplights.

IMG_4260

From the Mouths of Babes…cover song style

There are many a day as of late that my afternoons are spent in this position, out of sheer exhaustion…

 

my official pregnancy position

my official pregnancy position…not very flattering is it?

One such afternoon, Benjamin emerges from the extensive imaginative play (thank you, Lord, for my kids having good imaginations!) and starts knocking on my door. I was literally too tired to get up, unlock it and let him in (not that I would have minded him cuddling with me…I was just literally too wiped out to move)

And so after about 10 minutes of me hearing him knock, shuffle around and cram stuff under the door, he remembers a similar scene in a much beloved movie.

So he starts reenacting:

 

“Knock, knock”

“Elsa, you in daya”

And then the song:

“Do you want to build a snowmaaaan…

or ride our bikes around the haaaallll…

we used to be best buddies,

but now we’re not….

I wish you would tell me whyyyyy…”

 

(this one isn’t very clear but the only snagging I have of it on camera)

 


And then he says to me,

“Now, Mommy, you say, “Go away Anna”

So I do.

And He sings

“Ok, byyyyeee!”

and then he laughs, and starts the reenactment all over again.

So for the meager effort on my part to say “Go away, Anna” ever 3 minutes, I was able to buy a full 20 more minutes of resting and being off my feet…..until a real emergency erupted like the broken lamp downstairs due to the unmonitored pillow fight.

Have I told you that my Benjamin is my easily pacified child?

And that, thanks to the movie Frozen, and thanks to Mommy being too tired to care just how many times they’ve seen it, nearly everything in our lives has been turned into a musical…all to the different tunes of Frozen songs.

Sure beats a whiny voice. (I’ll take what I can get here)

 

Just in case you want to see the real video…not just “Benjamin’s version”

From the Mouths of Babes…Little Evangelist with Ulterior Motives

I was soaring in my short lived spurt of energy in this long, draining pregnancy.

So I wanted to make the most of it and finally go visit my Muslim friend from Bangladesh who hadn’t seen my face since January (because I’ve been barely eeking out an existence). We baked her, and her disabled son, a loaf of bread and I was planning on delivering it that evening.

I tried to recruit visiting partners.

Me: “Benjamin, do you want to go with me to Amari’s house to give her the bread you helped me make?”

Benjamin “Who Amari ?”

Trinity: “Remember, Benjamin, you got to watch TV while Mommy talked to her last time?” (in her best prodding, convincing voice)

Benjamin: “I not know who Amari is….”

Me: “Remember, Benjamin?  She gave you a donut last time we went there?”

Benjamin: “OH, YESSS!!! I want to go to Amari  house!!”

Me: “Well, Benjamin, she might not have donuts this time…”

Benjamin: “Dang it*.”       “I not want to go to Amari house”

 

*After I finished laughing, I asked him where he learned to say “dang it” and he tells me,

“YOU. You say it when sumfin not workin”

There we go, my little, exposing mirror…. Oops.

 

From the Mouths of Babes…Birthday Grace

IMG_4151

Super Dad had taken over for the evening. I lay sick and exhausted in bed, for I had used every last ounce of my strength to take Trinity out to buy a birthday present for Katy-Grace (with her own money). And we had made cupcakes and assembled snack bags for the Little Chef’s party (NO way I was going to execute that on this  utterly depleted energy level) Now go-to-the-movies-to-see- Frozen-and-get-to-sit-and-be-still-for-2-hours birthday party the next day.

Anyways, there I lay, half comatose in bed and Trinity COULD NOT WAIT to have Katy-Grace open her present, so she had opened it that evening, the day before her birthday. I hear them brushing teeth and getting ready for bed after the “grand surprise”.

Trinity: “I’m so glad you like your make-up set. You totally deserve that present for your birthday.”

Katy-Grace: (in her passionate, somewhat disgusted voice) “What?!? After all the mean things I do to you?!?!?!”

I died laughing.

At least she owns up to it. She knows she’s a sinner. Undeserving of grace.

And, in a particularly rough patch with her, I remember telling Danny, “You know, we named her Katy-GRACE because I was praying she would be full of grace. But I think God wanted us to name her that, so I”m ALWAYS reminded that she NEEDS GRACE”

But the hope is, that with the measure she has received, she will measure out to others and the grace that has had to be poured out on this passionate, willful, impulsive  (but also incredibly indearing!) child will fill her tank up so full, that one day, that grace will come spilling out to others that need to know the grace of the Father too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Previous Older Entries