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Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Notice

Hey. Little boy digging in the dirt next to the fruit stand.
I see your torn t-shirt, two sizes too small.
I see your ribs poking through the tear on the left seam.
There are tracks in the dust on your face where a tear fell today.
I see you.
I notice.

Little boy walking down the street outside my neighborhood. Too small to be alone but you are.
Carrying an empty plastic bottle of pebbles, shaking out a tune as you go.   I see you watch the children as they leave the gate at the school.  I see you follow their smiles with your eyes. I see you watching them line up at the sari sari store to buy a snack for the walk home. I can tell you would love to be in line, in that red and white uniform, choosing from the bags hanging above their heads.
I see you.
I notice.
Tiny, thin girl. How old are you? Eight? Maybe nine? I see you carrying your little brother down that busy road where the cars and jeepneys drive so close to you, it makes your hair blow up. I see your intent eyes, and how you keep your brother hoisted just inches off the ground because he is almost as big as you are.  I can tell  you are a wonderful big sister.
I see you.
I notice.

Twelve year old boy in a temporary shelter for street children. I see you sitting against the wall in the room while the twenty-something other children play. I can tell you are unhappy. Your shorts are too small and they were intended for a girl. You don't chase after me like the other children, trying to thumb wrestle or hold my hand. You keep to yourself. And never smile. So I come to you and ask your name in my pitiful Tagalog. But you understand and even spell it for me. I tell you I will look for you when I come back.  And I see a hint of a smile.
I notice you.
You are worth more than all of the gold in all of the mountains in this whole, wide world.
Do you know that? I think you don't.  Yet. 

Children are everywhere here. They are free to roam in ways that make my mother- heart skip a beat. . . . down busy roads, on precarious piles of rubble, on trash heaps. They are the most abundant resource in this beautiful and terrible place.  They are the future, but they are often disregarded.
I see them barefoot, sometimes naked, occasionally crying, often begging.   They spot my white face from afar.  They notice me.
But not the way I notice them.

Little boy with the dusty face, you interrupt my peaceful sleep.
Sweet preschooler who watches the "lucky" children,  I brought you home in my heart.
Precious girl in your mother role, far too soon, I thought of you fourteen times today, or more.
Twelve year old boy, in your misery, I know your name. It's Jhon Matthew. I won't forget it. 

I notice that you are precious and worthwhile and deserving.
I notice that giving you those few pesos might make you smile today but may reinforce your low self worth, verifying that you are "just a beggar child", choosing your white-faced target wisely.

You are infinitely more .  .  .

And THAT is why our path here has taken a hard left turn.
YOU are why I can not be satisfied just to do good things for a few.

I must do more than notice.    I must act. And that action must be immediate and intentional.

 I am praying for you. I am changing my life's path for you. I am taking a leap of faith that  has me shaking in my shoes.
I am making a place for you.
Because I noticed . . .

Monday, February 17, 2014

Making The Bread, And Other Failures

"Hindsight is 20/20"   I'm not sure if that is the most widely-used cliche on Earth but I'd wager it's in the top ten.
For a reason.
Looking back on life and events offers a clarity that just isn't available while you're in the throes.

I've been surveying the past a little too deeply the last few days.
Maybe because I just had a birthday.
Maybe because two of my seven  children are now homeschool graduates considering returning to the US for college.
And a third is enlisting in the US Army.

As I scroll down my facebook news feed and read up on my friends with  young children,  they are busy doing so many of the things we did and still do:
going to homeschool co-op
driving to Upward sports
planting things
baking together
studying God's word with their children
training them in righteousness
raising chickens
making bread

Yeah, the bread.
I tried many, many times as a young mother to bake bread. My best friend could do it with no recipe, with her eyes closed and with one hand tied behind her back. She could bribe me to do anything with the promise of a free loaf of her bread!

But my bread always seemed to harden to concrete somewhere between my kitchen aid mixer and my counter top.
I pretended not to care that I couldn't make bread.  But I cared. It felt like a measure of my "good wifelienss" back in the day.

And a failure.  Even women who used the wrong form of "their" and "your" could make bread. And I could not.

Today, as I use my "powers of hindsight".   I see how we strove to do what we truly believed was pleasing to the Lord in regard to raising our children.
used Growing Kids God's Way until we didn't
we switched to Shepherding  a Child's Heart when it proved more Biblical
banned most every cartoon that had stupid fathers or rude children
watched little TV anyhow
made our children "ask for forgiveness" rather than saying "I'm sorry"
worked on the heart, not just behaviors
taught our daughter the finer points of mothering and "wifing"
helped our sons cultivate their manliness through pocketknives and shooting
joined great co-ops and went on most every field trip they offered
memorized scripture together
fell in love with Voddie Baucham, Doug Phillips, Above Rubies and all things Vision Forum
refused to limit our family size
assigned chores at early ages and expected hard work from hearts aiming to please God

I still believe many of those things DO please the Lord and ARE the best way to train the hearts of children to know and love Him. That should always be our goal as parents.

But I'm here to tell you that you can DOUBLE this list and still some children will  struggle with sin, doubt and ungodliness.
Most, I believe. Whether you want to consider this or not. Our "recipe" for perfectly Godly children often fails to account for this. 

Listen, mothers of young children!   At the tender ages of birth  until about 15 or 16, you can control the environment of your children quite nicely. We did.  You can stretch this time out even further if your child will attend Christian college and, if you're super blessed, find his/her spouse at a young age and get married.   Virtually no time in "the world" amongst "the heathen".  No influences aside from those prescribed by you.
 We were certain, beyond a doubt, that by those upper ages, our olders  were radically in love with Jesus and would, with reckless abandon, chase after Him no matter what life offered up.

And some of our children do.

But not all.

You see, there comes a time in the life of EVERY child, where his faith must become HIS faith.  Where a true laying bare of the heart happens and some children begin to question the truth of their own upbringings.  Some do this internally in just a flash and then they are right back in close communion.  Others "camp there" and wrestle with deep questions, BIG questions where faith and facts seem at odds with one another.

We see it first hand and up close and it is terrifying to watch.

Primarily, it is scary because we understand the Doctrine of Election.  We want so much to believe each of our children is predestined for a saving walk with Jesus.  The mere thought of any of our children spending eternity apart from Him is paralyzing.

Secondarily, having a child who struggles and doubts bruises the ego. It makes us question our entire approach. It makes us wonder if the striving was worth it. It is harder than concrete bread on the spirit of a mother.

Finally, we  come to the realization that it's not about us, as parents. It's about God, His Word, His promises and the hearts of our children - a place we try hard to visit often but do not live.  There comes a time, as scary as it is for us "homeschooling Mama types", that we pray the foundation we tried to lay wins out over the shrill call of the world to doubt and disbelieve.

And we lean on THIS:

Philippians 1:6  I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.


Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

 And the account of the Prodigal Son and the knowledge of the sovereignty of God and we can rest a little. 

Because even when we can't make bread, and even if we leave "gaps" in the education of our children, and especially when we aim to do all that is pleasing and still fall short, HE IS ABLE!

Pray more, micromanage less.  In hindsight, that sounds so appealing. 


1 Thessalonians 5:24

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.