Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What I like about you

Ross McClain
(photo stolen from Facebook)
On my way upstairs to tuck the boys in, I walked over to the small bookshelf beside my bed.  I scanned the titles, looking for one in particular: Cosmic Christmas.  My eyes stop at the sight of it, I reach for it, open the cover and smile.  I remember who gave me this copy.  I wondered if he wrote in it?  He did:
To Rebecca, Michael, and Jackson,
Rebecca, I can not tell you how much I have enjoyed "Cosmic Christmas."  I have read it to my Sunday School and Choirs every year.  I have given others copies as gifts.  This year to a new believer who is recently divorced (with 3 little ones).  Did not know if you still had a copy.  But you read it to Michael and Jackson.  And Michael you read it to Rebecca and Jackson.  And some day Jackson, you read it to your mom and dad.
Merry Cosmic Christmas
Ross McClain
I smiled.  I felt thankful, blessed and encouraged just by the fact that Ross is my friend.  There are some people who warm my heart with just the thought of them.  I know what Paul meant when he said: " I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with JOY." (emphasis mine).
The main platform for my relationship with Ross was the three years pre-marriage that Mike and I worked alongside him in the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School room.  Mike and I got married, moved off and have been working with kids every chance we get since then.  Ross, I'm pretty sure, is still with the 5th and 6th graders.  At least he was for years and years after we left.  He's recently been working an "I can't tell you what I do or where I do it" job for the government.  So he may have had to step down. --However, that's not the point...
I began teaching Sunday school with Ross and Mike because of people like Karen Bench --who happened to by my 5th and 6th grade teacher, Kent Pride (3rd grade), Joan Lynch (Kinder), Cinda Boshart and Sherry Way-crazy (11th and 12th) and Julie Robinson (9th).  
These people taught me much, but mainly conveyed to me two things:
1.  I was important.
2.  This following Jesus thing? It is worth it. It's valuable.  It's worth the work.
Not one of them had the perfect teaching method, not many of them were flashy or amazingly cool.  They, like Ross, saw value in the little people.  They obeyed God when He said, to teach His Laws diligently to the children.  They chose not to ignore this command.  They didn't pretend discipling was only for people with certain gifting.  They didn't look away when it was mentioned that a teacher was needed for the 3-year-olds, hoping no one would ask them point blank.  They stepped up, saying, if there is a need and I can meet it, I'm your guy.
Ross has been the guy for years. 
I've recently been saddened and frustrated when I look at our kids ministries in our churches and see needs failing to be met.  In our churches.  Let me say it again.  IN OUR CHURCHES.  I'm embarrassed to write this.  We have nursery directors whose main job is not to plan curriculum, but to beg people to fill empty slots.  Often times on a weekly basis.  No one will commit to serving for a whole year in a class so weekly our nursery leaders are making phone calls, stopping people in the halls, pulling youth out of the service to work the classes.   This is not just our current church, I'm not hating on anyone here, I'm just so sadded that people who speak of following Jesus won't obey him in the most obvious and most tangible way:  Loving the least. 
My intent with this post was to honor a man who doesn't ask for honor.  As I think about how clearly he gets what is important to Jesus, I am frustrated inside that I can't figure out how to get across to people that this "kids ministry" thing is for everybody.  Everybody.  It's not just for me because I am a mom.  It's not just for Ross because he enjoys it.  It's not just for Julie because she is gifted in it.  Its for all of us because if we get what Jesus is about, then we understand it is about serving the weak, the helpless, the poor, the needy, the ones who can't help themselves.  Isn't this what Jesus came to earth to do?  If we model our behavior after His then shouldn't we be about taking care of the weak?  The nursery at church isn't the only place kids can be cared for.  There are lots of opportunities for teaching and mentoring.  Right now I'm praying for a man to take Ty out to Lowe's one Saturday a month starting next year.  Mike will be busy busy with the AF and I want Ty to have some man time.  It's things like this.  You were called to do things like this.
The older I get, I am becoming more and more convinced that there is something we can learn from everybody.  What I hope we all learn from Ross is this:
  • Serving the least of these brings joy.  --He smiles every time he talks about his kids.   
  • Loving Jesus through loving kids is worth your time.  --So make it.
  • Blessings always follow obedience.
Thanks Ross.  You made my night.  And I'm pretty sure there are a couple hundred kids who would say you made their year.  And one day, when you get home, God's going to say, "Well done.  You made it."


Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving morning.  It’s 9:50 and I’ve just snuck upstairs to get out of my cooking clothes.  I’m going to look cute I decide.  Hair is done and make up is next –I hope someone has a camera out today.  From room #4, the one assigned to the Ellis’ this weekend, I can hear the sounds familiar to my family.  The eight grandchildren are all outside playing in the backyard.  There are four men supervising them.  The kitchen has been a hub of activity since 5:30 A.M.  One person constantly cleaning, another reading off directions from recipe cards while another bustles about gathering ingredients, measuring and stirring.   Right now I can hear Chrissy, the seventh born into our family of ten, telling those who have just arrived that she is not the one responsible for her fiancĂ©’s bad haircut. She normally cuts his hair, but was busy the day he wanted a trim.  He went to the barber. “I told him it didn’t look good when they cut the back that way.  But He didn’t listen to me…”  She goes on.  As a woman who also cuts the guy’s hair in my family I can understand her frustration.  When Mike spends money on a haircut and it looks bad… I’m not a happy camper either.    I hear Emily, the oldest, speak up:  “Now you don’t tell him how to do his hair.  It’s his hair.  Don’t go bossing him around.”  She’s been married 12 years. 
Later Mom yells out to Grant, the sixth in the birth order, “Grant!  We don’t want any trips to the doctor today.  That’s too high.”  No wonder all the boys like him.  He pushes the swing fast.

I look out the window and see two men with babies, slowly walking around with their face toward the ground.   Austin had thrown a shoe. 
Mom just called me.  She’s cutting dad’s hair and wants advice on a style.  If you know anything about the Bosharts, then you know that they go big.  “A simple family Thanksgiving[C1] ?” That phrase sounds like Greek to me.  We try to pack as much into the weekend as possible.  Apparently there was unscheduled time between 9:55 and 9:59 this morning. Something had to go there.  Oh!  How about we give dad a haircut? Perfect.   A haircut… probably be a ten minute job so we will need to put a rush on the sweet potatoes in order to get them in the oven on time.  And… go.

Back from the haircut.  I don’t think Mom will call me for fashion advice again.  She didn’t seem to be on board with the messy hair look.   I think Dad will have no problem pulling it off. 

Stan (#3) is the only one who couldn’t make it home this year.  He is out of state working.  He is good at what he does and well, people like him, so they gave him a four month project working almost nonstop at a Nuclear power plant.  It won’t be the same here without him.  He is probably the most pleasant one of us to be around.  And I’ll miss seeing the wide-eyed smile on his face as he takes in all the chaos that accompanies the 21 people busily going about this house.  It’s like he goes back to his bachelor pad and instantly forgets, every gathering amazed, as if for the first time, at how we can all function in such noise and discord. 
Thanks to this huge house I’ve been left relatively alone for the last hour while I write this.  (Yes, I was interrupted several times by things like haircuts and nursing babies and stopping toddlers from climbing up the stairs.)  People are about to arrive, my mom’s extended family will be here --at least some of them.  It will be a small crowd this year due to my cousin, Mark, getting married in Nebraska this weekend.

It’s amazing how there can by so many things within 100 feet of me to be thankful for  --two of them just walked in (Grace and Chris).  Not just one day, but every day we must train our eyes to focus on our blessings and when we see them, give thanks.  One thing I read recently said something to the extent of “How can we keep asking God for more blessings when we haven’t stopped to thank him for the ones he’s already given us.”   
I love coming home.  That’s something I’m thankful for this year.  The 100,000 things that went into making this crazy house a place of encouragement, safety, correction, fun, and refreshment.  Thank you Lord for people who teach and strive to live by your Statutes.  What could be more of a gift than to grow up in a family who believed Your Word.  Posted behind me are the Words: “Let all that you do be done in love.”

And that has made all the difference


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jack's prayer

A couple mornings ago, this was the conversation during Jack's ride to school.  Right after turning off of our road he asked me to pray for him and "Zone". The background on that is that Zone, from day one has had a hard time obeying the teacher. Jack looked down on him a little I think, so we began praying for him. Hopefully compassion will take the place of judgment for Jack. Anyway, our conversation went something like this:

"Mom, can you go ahead and pray for Me and Zone? I don't want you to forget." (I always pray for the two boys as well as the teachers on the ride to school. Lately there had been some last minute prayers.)

I say "Sure." And begin to pray. I thank God for the weather, and the school and the morning, I pray for the boys and the other normal stuff. I end as we pull into the school.

"Jack, is there anything else you want me to talk to God about?" I look back in the rear view and see him with his head down and his eyes squeezed shut.

He opens them, looks up at me and says: "Mom. I prayed for Zone too. Yesterday he had a hard time sitting on the carpet. So I prayed that God would give him wisdom to do criss-cross-applesauce."

I was anxious to see what God's answer was to that one. I mean, he tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom he should ask and God will give generously. I expected Zone to do well today.


We got home from school and Jack told me that Zone had done very well during carpet time today.  "He even got a crayon."

(Crayons are given out to the students when the teachers sees them going above and beyond or responding quickly and correctly.  If you have five at the end of the week you get to pick out something from the treasure box.)

It's just like God to not only grant Zone the wisdom but to give it so generously that it cannot be overlooked by the teacher.  Thank you Lord for strengthening Jack's faith by the very visible way you granted his request.


Jack says, "Zone did well, and it was all because of me."    Talk about another good visual of how we try to take the credit away from God thus minimizing his goodness.

I tell him, "Wasn't it great that God used you to do His work?  It's pretty awesome to be used by God huh?"

Friday, November 16, 2012

An average day.

Yesterday was a good day.  But when trying to recall where the time was spent I struggle.  So I'm going to sit here and best I can, recount my day.  Surely it will come to me as I type.  Get ready, there will probably be more details than the average person has time for.  I'm planning on printing this off in a size 24 font so that I can sit and read it when I am old.  I'll have nothing much else to do other than read about what crazy things used to fill my days.  Things like this:

Dear Diary,

My day started off at 5:00 A.M.

During my morning reading I came across this quote and wrote it down:

"Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.  Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don't have." 

ouch.  I stared it: *need to remember not to hurry*

I also read:  Be interruptible.  Which means, "be willing to be inconvenienced."

That one got another star and a line in my notebook full of things I need to remember.  Those came from a book I'm reading on neighboring.  So far it's good.  They told me to go meet my neighbors and then are giving me all kinds of reasons why it's important.  I think they are right.  Today I will attempt to meet one family I don't know.  Maybe bake them a pie?

I took Jack to school.  Then we headed to Home Depot and bought a dryer.  Our dryer went out a couple days ago.  This guy had been repaired twice already in the last two years (remember the deployment of '11, concurrent to the ice storm of '11?)  and since the black Friday sales were already starting, we thought it best just to get a new one.  I bought the five year warranty.  I'll bet money we use it.

Since Mike flew the night before and was home sleeping we went over to play at some friends house for an hour.  I walked in with a load of wet laundry and sure enough, my friend was gracious enough to let us use her dryer.  The kids played, the clothes dried and I drank coffee. By and by, (yes, I'm bringing the phrase back)  Austin fell off their slide.  My friend went to get a wet rag for the blood then asked: "Does he have all his teeth?"  --she's funny isn't she?  She made up for her "funny" joke by giving him some Gatorade.  He liked it.  He asked for more --twice.

Home again, home again.  Mike was up now.  We walk in and Austin immediately pees his pants even though I had taken him potty right before putting him in the car for the 6 minute drive home.  We change him.  He pees again 4 minutes later.  We change him, he does it again.  This time I told him to get upstairs in the bathtub.  I text my friend and thank her for her generosity with the Gatorade.

Austin gets a bath, but now we are out of pants and the dryer doesn't work.  It will be several hours before the clean clothes line dry.  Two shirts, undies and socks, maybe that will keep you warm enough.  "Stay indoors."  I tell him.

My next big accomplishment of the day was to organize some cords behind the entertainment system (no one make fun of me).  Brady spends most of his awake time chewing on cords and I've been trying to come up with another pastime for him.  In my digging and pulling I discover that White Phone Line (Brady's best friend) is actually not connected to anything.  It runs along our living room wall for no reason at all.  I pull that sucker out and get rid of him.  Poor Brady didn't even get to say "Goodbye."   For a moment there I felt like a really good mom.  But who am I kidding?  White Phone Line was just a gateway cord.  I'm sure he'll move up to the hard stuff like coaxial or even HDMI.  sigh...  I'm imagining I know how moms of crack addicts feel.  "Where did I go wrong?"  We all ask.

Next I vacuumed under the table.  I think I need to accept that this will be a daily chore, I used to think I could go two, maybe three days without doing it (assuming company isn't coming over).  It's so nasty under there that I think this needs to be priority #1 in my housecleaning duties.  This is my punishment for getting rid of the dogs.

During nap time Ty and I make a pie for the neighbors.  We are going to be pro-active and live out this faith.  Next stop meeting a neighbor.  Yes!

Last chore/spend time with Ty and make him think we are having fun was filling up the lawn mower cart full of the leaves we raked last week.  They have been jumped in, driven through, rolled over and  now they were good and ready for the compost pile.  Ty and I piled into our 12 cubic ft. cart three loads full.  There were still two loads left!  We will have to finish those later. 

The pie burned.

Even with foil the middle wasn't done until the edges were burned. 

I pull it out of the oven, but now it's time to get Jack.

I drive up to his school, as I get closer I see that the place is crawling with Pilgrims and Indians, all of them somewhat wild.  He climbed into my van looking like this:

Don't worry about the grumpy looking kid in the background.  He was scooped up in the middle of his nap and placed in a car seat without any pants.  I'd say he has every right to wear that face.
Back to my little pilgrim.  I ask if he was William Bradford.  I got a blank look.  He said his teacher decided who would be Pilgrims and who would be Indians.  He would have liked to be an Indian and if so he would have been Squanto.  "Did you know he went to England several times?"  I'd forgotten.  What few brain cells I have left have been dedicated to remembering where I last saw the magic eraser not Squanto's transatlantic adventures.
I asked if he had eaten a Thanksgiving feast.  He said, "Yes!  I had pumpkin pie, cheddar cheese and 100% juice."
Sounds good to me.
Back home again we changed some diapers then hauled a couple loads of leaves to the compost pile before cleaning up and heading over to some friends home for dinner.  The drive over was spent singing Jesus songs, yelling, telling on people for yelling:  "Ty, we are singing songs about Jesus.  God wants us to be serious."  The heavy metal screaming of the lyrics continues.  "Mom!!!  Make him stop!  God doesn't want us to be rude when we are worshiping him!!"   --oh the irony*.
*Remember to teach them what hypocrisy is
I turned off the music we devoted the rest of the ride to manners rehearsal.
 "Ty,  What do you say when you are given your dinner?"  I ask.
"Thank you."  Ty correctly responds.
"Ty, what do you say when you are given your dinner and you don't like any of it?"  Let's see how he handles this one.
Without skipping a beat he responds with: "Thank you." 
He nailed.  I'm so proud. 
However, right before we ate, when I was filling his plate he loudly exclaims, "Mom, I don't like any of those vegetables!"
Oh well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What would be left?

I say I love Jesus.

I say I want to follow Him.

I say I believe God's Word is completely true and trustworthy.

I say I would give up everything to follow Jesus.

It's easy to say those things.  I live in luxury.  It's easy to align myself with a God who promises blessings to the righteous when the blessings are glaringly obvious. 

If I really would give up anything in order to follow God more closely, then what if I asked Him to take things away?

What if I asked God to take away anything that makes it harder to follow Him and He did.

He came down to my home and took out all that caused us to stumble.

What would be left in my home?

Let's say I am gone when God does the big purge.  I return home, what would be left?

Would my 2600 sq. ft. home be reduced to 200 sq. ft.? 

Would I have a TV? Would I have a computer?  Would I have any books?  Would the kids have toys?  If so, which ones?  Would my garden still be here?

As I sit here typing, I'm looking around the room.  What steals my time?  What grabs my attention when I sit down to read his Word?  What thing am I really thinking about when Ty talks to me about how tall the tallest monster truck in the world is?  What fills up our time so much that when we have to cut short our Bible study?  When we sit down to read God's Word with our children discussion are born.   Last night Jack thought through aloud how Jacob could have avoided the scary meeting with Esau by going home by another route.  He wanted to talk through what it would be like to wrestle with God.    Of all the things to spend time doing, shouldn't this be first priority?

What about the new coffee table?  Does it make it harder for me to be loving to my boys?  "Get off!"  "Don't drive trucks on there!"  Although not a bad thing, do I value it more than I value gentle speech?  Is it a tool for good or a stumbling block?

What food would be in our pantry?

What clothes in our closets and how many of them?

And what would stay?  The soccer ball?  The Word of God? (yes, duh) The rake?  The dining room table?  What has God blessed us with that are tools for His work?  

This post isn't going to be tied up nice and neatly at the end.  Because I don't know what conclusion to draw.  But I will be looking at my home with new eyes.  I will be evaluating things, seeing if they bring peace and growth or if they cause conflict.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not our first indoor basketball goal

See our new-to-us wall mounted indoor cabinet basketball goal?   To quote Ty:  "It. Is. AWESOME!"

We are lovin' it.  The goal was given to us without the hardware needed to mount it on the wall.  I called the company to order it, they said a package would be on our doorstep in 7-10 business days. 

Day 4 I started watching for it.  I was like the 5 year old a week before my birthday.  Every day we were watching for the mail man, waiting for for our package.  Every day we did this --for a month.  Then I called them.  They had no record of the order.  No problem.  We reorder.  5 days later it arrives!

It was on the wall that night.

Mike and I now have no reason to go on dates.  Why leave?  Just the other night we put the kids to bed, hung out for a bit and played some basketball.  We started out with the regular game of see how many points you can score in 30 seconds which morphed into a game of horse played all over the living room.  (Don't worry, we moved the lamps.)

I was totally schooling him when he makes this comment:

"Well... you're a stay at home mom.  No wonder you're winning.  This is home court advantage for you."

He continues...

"Why don't you fold some clothes instead of trick shotting all day?"

--that folks is why I love this guy.