Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Feet

I did something last night that I’ve never done before. I washed someone’s feet. Okay, let me clarify that. I have four children, and they all came equipped with a pair of feet. Coincidentally enough, I have two of my own feet as well. So, technically, I have washed feet many, many, many times in my life. But I’m talking about Jesus-style feet washing. You know, that whole Last Supper kind of thing. This is pretty big for a girl who a) doesn’t really like feet and b) doesn’t like awkward moments.

It goes without saying that I was somewhat forced into this situation by a sister in Christ who a) has no problem with touching others’ feet and b) thrives on awkward moments. But I refused to back down from the challenge and went into the experience prayerfully seeking to know Christ more. In the end, the act of washing the feet of a stranger was not nearly as gross or awkward as I feared. In fact, she was quite pleased with the experience and actually requested a little foot massage to follow. (Which leaves me wondering…did Andrew or James or someone more obscure like Nathaniel hit Jesus up for a little extra rub time? I’m thinking probably not.) At the time, it wasn’t all that impactful either, I’ll be honest enough to say. However, as I pondered on the episode a little longer, it really hit me.

What kind of God humbly washes the feet of those He created and breathed life into? What kind of King makes Himself so low that an onlooker would take Him for a household servant? What kind of Lord gets Himself wet and dirty serving those who should consider it an honor to serve Him?

The answer: The same kind of God who leaves His throne to walk among His subjects. The same kind of King who gives Himself as a ransom for as many slaves as will accept the offer of freedom. The same kind of Lord who silently takes the unspeakable punishment of those who don’t even love Him. Jesus.

It’s astounding to hear people make the claim that all religions and systems of belief lead to the same place in the end. If they really think that, they don’t know the Jesus I know. His path led to the cross so that my path could lead to my Father in heaven. I know of no other god created by man who would make himself nothing for those who, without Him, truly are nothing. It defies reason, logic, and our own desires. This is not a god man would fabricate. Who does this kind of thing? Who imagines a King like this?

I can never completely comprehend a Savior Who loves me so much that He would make Himself nothing for me. I am not worthy, nor will I ever be, but that’s what makes it all the more amazingly beautiful.

In the fall, I will go farther out of my comfort zone than I have ever been. I will go to another country with Happy Feet International, among people who may as well live on a different planet, and I will wash their feet as a way of sharing my Savior’s love for them. My flesh wants to stay with my babies and my husband in our safe, comfortable home, but my Savior asks me to do as He did. It is a miniscule act of service compared to what He has done for me, but it is one small step in my quest to know Him more.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Show Me the Cake

We did something today that we haven’t done in a long time and that we’ve never done with all four kids. We attended a wedding. It was a little risky taking the Fantastic Four, but in my opinion they looked adorable and behaved remarkably well. The location was absolutely beautiful, the couple was charming, the ceremony was touching. It was fun having something to dress up for and we enjoyed hanging out with friends. There were unique touches that made the reception fun, and we were not disappointed by the musical selection. Included in the line-up were some great American classics that are well-loved in our family, specifically “Play that Funky Music White Boy.” All in all it made for a fun afternoon.

But I must say that a pall was cast over the whole affair for me. We stayed at that wedding for two and a half hours. Actually three because we were 30 minutes early. (Gasp! I know many of you find that hard to believe, but believe it!) And after three hours of wedding attendance, we were forced to leave without having tasted a single bite of cake! I made no secret of the fact that, while I was very happy to share in my friends’ special day, one aspect of the whole event that I was particularly looking forward to was the cake. Let’s be honest with each other. Cake is always a highlight of any wedding. But today I spent two hours standing mere feet away from two delicious-looking cakes, yet I was denied even the tiniest morsel. It would seem that the happy couple was having such a great time dancing and visiting with friends and family that the cutting of the cake was not at the forefront of their minds. I actually cannot at all identify with this way of thinking, but it was apparently the case. I mean, how could they not care that their honored guest was about to die of cake deprivation? Finally, after all that waiting, I sacrificed the eating of the cake for the good of my exhausted six-month-old. Selfless. That’s me.

The only thing that could make the whole lack of cake worse would be to find out that they cut it two minutes after our departure and that it was the most delicious wedding cake ever. If in fact that did happen, I’ll kindly ask anyone involved to spare me the pain of that harsh reality. God willing, I will actually be attending another wedding next weekend, and you’ll have to drag me out of there kicking and screaming if you think I’m leaving before they cut the cake. I just wanted to give everyone involved fair warning.

On a happier note, there was a conversation on the way home that went something like this:

Jack: Daddy, can white people marry brown people?

Daddy: Yes, Jack.

Jack: Good! That means I can marry Alece in my class.

Daddy: As long as you marry a girl and she loves Jesus, it’s fine with me.

Jack: Okay. I’ll ask Alece if she loves Jesus.

I suppose if Alece is in agreement, there could be a wedding in our future. And you better believe I’ll be eating cake - and lots of it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tales from Target

Last week, the littlest guys and I stopped in Target to get a few things. There was a deal on frozen chicken that I couldn't pass up, and a little gander at the clothes never hurt anybody. Since I rarely get to go clothes shopping (although I did yesterday, which is totally ruining my credibility), my best hope is to find myself at a superstore that combines clothing with necessities such as frozen chicken and chocolate.

At the point where I could feel the boys teetering on the brink of impatience and the frozen chicken thawing in my buggy, I decided to count myself blessed to have survived to that point and head for the checkout line. After paying, we headed for the car. Luke, like most three-year-olds, is a wandering walker. He heads in the general direction I’m going, but weaves back and forth, checking out anything and everything as we pass by. Being the attentive and vigilant mom that I am, I occasionally toss back “Luke, c’mon. I’m leaving you.” I might even turn my head every once in a while to be sure he’s still back there and hasn’t been sucked into picking up and admiring some random piece of trash on the floor, declaring it to be his newest treasure and insisting on taking it home.

I am now going to reveal my complete neglect of my child, but that’s not the point of the story, so please just ignore that part. I walked out the automatic doors ahead of my lollygagging Luke, who also happens to be quite short. He is three and also my husband’s son, which ensures that he must be a shrimp. He made it through the first set of doors, but as I looked back after passing through the second set of doors, I saw him stop right in the doorway. For some reason, the genius who invented automatic sliding doors didn’t think it necessary for said doors to detect people who are shrimpy. Evidently they’re expendable, and Luke was about to be expended, if you know what I mean. In my desire to avoid seeing my sweet Luke crushed by the door, I yelled, “Luke, watch out!” Naturally, he stepped back into the store rather than out the door.

At this point, I was relieved that Luke was still a three-dimensional object, but I realized that this is the one store I know of where you cannot get back in the automatic exit doors or the manual exit doors once you go out. They are serious about some traffic flow and don’t seem to tolerate people who forget something, change their mind, or let their children get stuck inside the store. To get back in, you have to walk around to the entrance door, but, knowing Luke as I do, I figure he’ll dart out the exit door with the next exiting customer before I can get back around to him. The problem is, there are apparently no customers currently feeling the need to exit.

The whole thing was just funny to me as I realized that if I were a first-time parent, I might be a tad bit concerned that my kid is stuck behind a door and that he’s starting to get a little panicked about the whole thing. But, being the seasoned mother that I am (which means I’ve been through enough drama to know it’s all gonna be okay), I just told him to chill and wondered exactly how long it was going to take for a taller person to come our way. About the time Luke has backed up and walked toward the door 15 times, which is pointless because he’s still short and door is still prejudiced against short people, a man walks toward the entrance, glances at me, and just smiles. It was that knowing sort of smile that could only come from a fellow parent. He headed in to rescue Luke and send us on our merry little way. After all, we did have important business to attend to. Thawed chicken would not be good.

All of these unnecessary details now bring me to my point. I know you’re relieved. As I thought back on the silly little story, I wondered how many times our lollygagging (which is shockingly a real word as there is no red squiggly line beneath it) and hesitation have caused us to be separated from our fellowship with Christ as we seek to follow Him. We’re usually headed in the right general direction, and we can see Him up ahead, leading us in the way we should go. But we become distracted along the way, many times by garbage that just looks fun to play with. We don’t follow with determination, but with a complete lack of urgency and passion. Before we know it, we’re caught in a closing door and it’s decision time. A moment of hesitation can send us backwards, and the door is closed. We find ourselves looking out at our Savior but unable to get to where He is. Eventually, help arrives or we decide to seek after Him again, but the hesitation has cost us those moments of fellowship, obedience, and blessing that we can never get back.

I’m forever asking God to speak to me, give me direction, use me, show me His will. I’m following after Him. And then, suddenly, the moment will come when He speaks, but I hesitate. My lack of faith or my pride or my laziness or my fear get in the way, and the door is shut. I’ve missed my chance at obedience, which means I’ve missed the blessing of walking with Him and seeing Him work. It happened last week. I’ll never know what could have happened, because I chickened out. I hesitated, and the moment was lost to me. I’m still seeking Him and following and loving, but I can never get that moment back. Let’s not hesitate next time.

Let’s stay hot on His trail, ready to walk through that door when it’s open instead of finding ourselves behind the glass, looking out to what we could have had. Also, let’s all (and by all, I mean me) keep a closer eye on our kids so they don’t get stuck in Target. Or we could start an ugly letter-writing campaign demanding that short people get door recognition, too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

So many bloggy thoughts, so little bloggy time. No matter how determined I am at the start of a day, the hours seem to fly by with time for little other than being Mommy. The laundry almost ate me alive this week, and the semi-annual "changing of the closets" to the new season of clothes was almost the undoing of our family. Is there anyone else out there who gets as stressed about this as I do? I'm thinking probably not. I am so glad it's over and we can head into spring with wardrobes intact. By the way, Luke has enough clothes to outfit every three-year-old in this half of the county. Ridiculous. Sam turned six months old last week and, if I'd had time, I would have cried a bucket of tears. He is the sweetest, most kissable thing I've ever laid my hands on, and he just won't quit growing up. I love him to bits and make a regular habit of squeezing those chubby thighs. Yummy! He's a wild man already, wiggling and rolling everywhere.

The week before us promises to be as busy as ever. Jack has a special part in the much-anticipated school program, and we're in our second week of the soccer season. I can hardly believe it, but Jack actually ran toward the ball and kicked it many times in his first game of the year. It turns out that it's a lot more fun to watch the game when your kid goes toward the ball rather than running away from it and avoiding it at all costs. Who knew?

Our days are crazy and hectic, even when we're doing nothing but staying home. I try to remind myself in the middle of the mayhem that these are the best days of our lives. How can they seem so long and so short all at the same time? Tomorrow, I'll start all over again, trying to cherish the blessedness of it all. It doesn't always feel like paradise, but I know it's as close as I'll get until I reach heaven itself.