Arriving late, mama whose belly is large with precious new life holds the hands of a 5- and 7- year old, while the daddy carries one of a duo of 2- year olds and dear oldest 14-year old son holds the other.  We sneak into the building, hoping not to be noticed.  Behind us, the old wooden door creaks as it closes and the young child husband has in his arms coughs loudly.  Our attempt at being inconspicuous fails, and we are now the main focus of this Sunday morning church service.

Trying to not give attention to the stares and whispers, we gently shoo the children along as we maneuver through the  tiny aisles, searching for an empty pew for our large family.  Dark eyes follow us as the short man to our left mumbles a comment I pretend not to hear, "All theirs?  And another?"

Sitting down, I feel the eyes of judgment on us.  Emotions begin to boil inside, I make sure children are seated, hope they are quiet and that focus can be returned to where it should be.

Three people away from me, 5-year old has decided he is too far.  Crawling over daddy, then sister, and lastly attempting to pass over toddler who yells, "NO JOSIAH!!!"  Before mama has the chance to intercede, 5-year old grabs petite little sister and pulls her off of the pew, promptly replacing her empty place with himself.

With the attention of the church on our family, 2-year old begins to cry from the floor.  I lean over, gently swoop her up with a multitude of kisses, and hold her in my arms, stroking her soft hair.  With my free arm, I pull my handsome young culprit close to me, and whisper, "Now that was not very nice, was it?"

His face reflects the sadness he feels at his choice of behavior, and he attempts to kiss his sister and apologize, only to have her cry all the louder.  After a moment she settles down, and eventually we are forgotten, yet inside I feel a bit dejected having become the spectacle I desired to not be, and most likely causing some people to feel justified in their judgment of my family. 

The church service ends, and we cause quite a bit of ruckus packing up to leave.  Making our way towards the exit, I feel the eyes on me again, hear the whispers, and I think "Lord, don't these people know You? "  Not one smile, not one word of kindness... I know we will not return to this building.  I feel such frustration welling up inside me, and I want to tell these people who Jesus is, I want to ask them why they claim His name when they can't even welcome a new family to their church... but I stay silent, I know I am just as guilty as they of judging others, of whispering about people, of not showing love and kindness.  I am no different.

Almost to the door, an elderly woman approaches us.  Her back hunched over, her white hair glowing under the church lights, tough skin a symbol of many years of care, love, work.  She smiles at me and her smile is so large that her wrinkled eyes almost close, and joy just seeps out of her.

"Your family is so precious.  Thank you for bringing them today.  I don't get to see this much these days, but I am so blessed when I do.  Do you know what you have here?  Do you?  A legacy.  The only one that matters.  You have so much to be grateful for."

I was grateful for her.  For her love, her joy, for the wisdom flowing through her and a knowledge of something greater.

I thanked her as she walked away, and I was knew why we had gone there that day.

And I continue to show my gratitude...

29. the wisdom of those older

30. the legacy we leave

31. a God who wants us just as we are and wants us to be what He calls us to be...not what man does

32. cloth diapers to wash and hang

33. community of believers who are no better, no worse than I

34. redemption

35. flowers blooming in the yard

36. catching fish, raising fish

37. a boy growing so big, bursting out of every new clothes size

38. a husband who loves his children, who teaches them and plays with them

39. fresh baked bread

40. children who make the bread

41. rest

42. a mother, a sister who remain my best friends despite distance

43. friends who care, who open their hearts and lives to you

44. sitting down for dinner at an overly crowded table with the ones I love

Join in counting one thousand thanks...

holy experience

Love and thanks

It was his day.  The day we celebrate him and his special God given role.

Daddy.  This word he loves beyond any other.  This name he is called which he thanks God for.

Plans were made.  We would do what he wanted, eat what he wanted.  He would relax, enjoy his family and know how much we loved him.

Then came the days of sickness prior to daddy's special day.  Young children with fevers and coughs, sweet baby fussing and trying to nurse.

I hoped it would end by his day.  I hoped we would wake to a bright, sunny day, everyone healthy and joyful.

It was his day.  He spent it holding sick kiddos, taking care of fevers and sore throats while I rocked and nursed sick baby.

Never a complaint, never a frown... he was a daddy, loving and caring for his kids, helping his wife.

We told him happy father's day... he smiled, hugged his children, and kept on taking care of them.

Once all the babes were tucked in their beds, sleeping their sickness away, we crawled into our own, exhausted from the day which should have been restful.  I apologized to him for his father's day.  He smiled and told me it was wonderful, that he had a day of children and hugs, just what he wanted.

As another sick (but almost better) day is upon us, I am thankful for the many things I as a mama have to care for my sick littles...

#17 old, wooden rocker to rock my babes

#18 a husband who is happy to take care of his children

#19 soft music to soothe fussy ones

#20 candles for a dose of light

#21 blankets and quilts to warm those chilly bodies under

#22 piles of books to read to young ones

#23 sweet, delicious coffee to drink after a lack of sleep

#24 the ability to nurse dear baby, the best comforter he could have

#25 naps

#26 getting better, little by little

#27 a wonderful father for my children

#28 my own great fathers

Join in counting your thanks in Ann's gratitude community

holy experience


To be cancer

 Linking this old post to Emily's imperfect prose...

The sun was shining everywhere that day.  Waking in the morning, dressing for church, packing up the children, the sun was brightening our day.  After weeks of rainy weather, what a longed for treat to rise and go with the world lit up.  Birds were actually chirping.  This Sunday was beginning as perfect and peaceful as I could imagine.

Church was followed by accepting an invitation to lunch at brother-in-law's house.  His family had just returned home from their church, and they would barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs, this beautiful sunny day.

We arrived, husband and myself, six hungry children in tow.  Greetings were made, children disappear into their various imaginations and play lands, and conversation begins.

Brother-in-law passionately begins a narration of what his pastor had spoken about in church that morning.  I listen intently, always hungering for some bread from God's Word. 

He starts telling us about cancer, the way cancer feeds off of the other parts of the body, contributing nothing from itself but pain and destruction.  He then explains that his pastor compared those in the church who come in on Sunday, sit down and do nothing except for feed off of what others do, to cancer.  The cancer of the church.

My heart sank.

Then came the end... brother-in-law left church concluding that he and his wife were cancers.  They joked about it on the way home but were truly convicted, he shares.  They could at least pass out bulletins, be ushers or something.

I feel tears welling up and I leave the room, heading for the bathroom, somewhere to breath.

Why?  Why has this ungodly burden been put on God's children by man?

It is good, it is right to live for the Lord, FOR THE LORD.  Not for a building.  When are we going to stop telling God's children that if they are not serving in a specific way, a specific place they are not doing anything for fact THEY ARE CANCER on the body of CHRIST?

I have been known to speak passionately against things that I feel wrong, destructive and divisive.  Yet my passion becomes rudeness in the face of those it is directed towards.  I could not leave that bathroom until my emotions were under control.

I closed my eyes tightly, I told myself not to be so upset, that the underlying message WAS GOOD.  But, I argued with myself, the received message was WRONG.  It overlooked people's callings and ministries if they were not part of their local church building.

The daddy who woke up at 4 am everyday to work in a warehouse and provide for his family, who went to church to be refreshed from his hard work, who worked such long hours so his wife could stay home and raise and teach their kiddos, who made sure to pray with the kids every night before bed, was told he was cancer.

The elderly lady who had spent her entire life running from God, who had denied Him and hid from Him, who had finally put her trust in Him and believed Him, who barely made it to church on Sunday because of her physical ailments but did make it, beaming, so joyful to be amongst her new family, she learned she was cancer.

The businessman who had no time to do anything on Sunday but attend church, who ran his business with honest principles and taught his employees to be respectful, virtuous and trustworthy, who explained to them that he ran his business to please God when they asked him why, this Sunday he learned he was cancer.

I prayed.  I asked for a humble heart, for help to not be self-righteous in "knowing" the fault in the sermon.  I left the bathroom, walking slowly, taking deep breaths.  Entering the kitchen, I took a seat at the table in the chair which my husband had left empty and pulled out, waiting for me.  Silent, I listened to the conversation going on around me.  As soon as I perceived the end of the talk, I looked up.


Brother-in-law turns his gaze upon me.  I repeat, "You are not cancer."

"In our service to the church, we are to serve God's children.  That doesn't just mean people in our local church.  That includes literal children.  Which means YOUR children.  They are in the body of Christ.  Your children, your wife.  Serving them is serving the church."

I see his look of understanding, of considering something which he hadn't before.  I continue,

"When you work and provide for your family, you are serving the body of Christ.  Your wife taking care of your boys, teaching them, keeping you fed is her ministry.  There may be a season in life for passing out church bulletins, but the love and care of your family is forever and just as, if not more, important.

If your only service, your only ministry, is what you do for your family, I believe at the end of your life God will say to you, 'WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL STEWARD.' "

Emotions beginning to show, I whispered one last time, "You are not cancer," and sat back.

"You're right," brother-in-law responded. "Thanks."

The day wore on, we finished eating and went home.  My mind and heart remained fixed on what I had heard that day, and my sadness for those brothers and sisters walking around thinking they are a cancer on the body grew.  How I long to show them otherwise.  They are beautiful, called into service of the King wherever they are, whatever they are doing.

Jesus, thank you for calling me into your service.  Help me to remember that when I am serving my family, I am serving You.  Thank you for every opportunity I have to show your love, kindness and gentleness to others.  Remind me to  make the most of every circumstance.


Beginning a gratitude count

I have long wanted to join Ann's gratitude community and participate in her day of giving thanks.  Children, husband, life is a priority though, and the time had not yet come.  This morning when I read this, tears coming to my eyes, I made the time...

time to begin my list of thanksgiving.
time to look at my life and count my fish.
time to see how, in the midst of different trials, God has blessed me with more than I could ever count...
time to be aware of it.

Beginning with the simple, the obvious, the beautiful...

#1 Jesus and His saving grace
#2 My amazing husband

#3 Ian

#4 Layla

#5 Josiah

#6 Ruth

#7 Hannah

#8 Moses

#9 The planting of new life

#10 Symbols of HOPE
#11 A best friend, a sister

#12 A house made into a home

#13 The ability to read God's word

#14 a kiss from the love of my life first thing in the morning

#15 children who love all things created and do not shy away from worms, bugs and spiders

#16 those who understand...

Please join Ann's gratitude community, and count along.

holy experience