When I was 17 years old I bought a month long Amtrak pass and figure-eighted the country stopping at cities and sites of interest and even visiting some friends along the way. It was a grand adventure that had I a daughter of my own I would never allow her to repeat. What were my parents thinking? I didn’t even have a cell phone for crying out loud! I slept on the train and in train stations and chatted away with strangers all over the country. And I fell in love with trains. So much so that I repeated the same kind of adventure in Europe a couple years later and then again with my husband all across the U.S. and Canada. I’ve trained the coast of California with 4 little ones under 7 in tow and up the Central Valley to see our Capitol with all 5.
If you’re one of those who has been too intimidated to start a Bible reading plan, it might be because you’re viewing yourself as the engine. You think you’ve got to gear yourself up and flex your muscles and start chugging away with all your might. But the fact is, you’re not the engine at all. The Holy Spirit is the power behind this whole operation!
So imagine all the rail cars like books of the Bible. This summer you’re hopping on to car #John and you’re going to ride in there for a while and then move on to another car, #1,2 and 3rd John I believe, and then car #Ephesians and so on. You might fall off the train at some point and the train’s going to keep going without you. But here’s the thing, you’ve got one of those passes like I had so you can just hop right back on any time you want! You might not be in the same car as you were, it might July and everyone’s riding along in car #Mark now, but no plan has been derailed because you’re still heading for the same destination! Do you see what I’m saying?
The Holy Spirit is the engine that’s powering the Bible along and when you get yourself into the book it starts moving you toward sanctification. Sometimes you’re moving toward sanctification in an Old Testament car and sometimes it’s a New Testament car but as long as you’re in a book of the Bible, powered by the Holy Spirit, you are heading in exactly the right place. Not only is the Gospel proclaimed from it’s pages “the power of God unto salvation” but the Bible is also the means God uses to conform His Church to the image of His Son. To be in a car filled with other saints as we journey on to sanctification through the washing of the Word is one of the greatest privileges in this life. So please jump on board!
It’s Mother’s Day 2020 and we’ll never forget this one will we? What ever your usual tradition might be, it– like everything else in our lives– has likely been altered this year. Some of you moms are feeling like you’ve earned this day now more than ever after having spent weeks on end cooped up at home with your kids. For those of us who were already homeschooling life may not have changed all that much other than doing things like church, lessons, Bible study and shopping, on-line now from home. Either way, ALL of us are spending more time at home than we used to, and for some of us whose homes are full of other people that can be stretching to say the least. There’s nothing like being stripped of all your natural escape mechanisms to heighten the sensation of confinement. If you are a mom whose experience of late has either revealed or reaffirmed your perception of home as a prison, this post is for you.
I recently posted a video on Instagram of an extremely brief tour of the main part of our house. It wasn’t brief because I walked through quickly. It was brief because our entire kitchen/dining/living area is contained on a single 23×17 foot room. This is where our life is centered. It’s also our school room, game room and Tom’s study space for seminary. Our house also includes a little downstairs den which we use as our master bedroom, while our 5 boys and all their musical instruments, hunting, fishing, camping, and hockey gear occupy the real master and 2 tiny bedrooms under the eaves upstairs. There is also a half bath upstairs, a half bath downstairs and a little shower/laundry room. Yes, I share a single shower with 6 males.
I tell you all this, because if anyone can start to feel a little choked by their surroundings its me. I understand what some of you might be experiencing right now. I understand what its like to wake up to a full manger everyday and to sometimes feel its walls closing in. I understand what its like to long for, if even for a moment, a clean, quiet and perhaps roomier house. But friends there’s a tradeoff here, because according to Proverbs 14:4 a clean manger is an empty one.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
In 2015 I devoted a whole year to blogging about life with a house full of little ones here under the title of Full Manger. At that time we were living in a third floor resort condo on the beach in Kona, HI. You can read about some of the blessings and challenges associated with that living arrangement by clicking here, here, and here. 5 years later 3 of those boys are now teenagers and our little manger in the mountains is fuller than ever. Because I’m a perpetual tidier, always cleaning as I go, my life seems to be an endless cycle of relocating the many belongings of 7 people with widely varying interests.
But it’s times like this that I’m reminded of all the empty mangers around me. I think first of the elderly, many of whom were already orphaned by their families who placed them in nursing homes and left them to die alone. Others are in the same situation having abandoned their own families and are now lying in the bed they made. Still other elderly folks live alone but are accustomed to the constant care and attention of devoted families but have been forced into isolation by Corona protocol and are lonely and anxious and confused by these new circumstances. I think of empty-nesters with kids off at college or starting their own families and who were just finding new purpose in life through church and community and volunteer opportunities, all now put on hold. And what about those couples who desperately want to be parents and fill their mangers with little lives but have been prevented from doing so? How about young singles? Have you thought what these long, lonely weeks must be like for them?
This Mothers Day, I just want to encourage you moms who can think of nothing better than a chance to escape the life-filled home that you’ve been confined to, to consider the alternative. Let us rejoice in the fullness of our manger, knowing that as loud and messy and crowded as it may be, that it is our blessed strength in times like these. It might be quarantine life, but it is life abundant, and its life worth celebrating. Happy Mothers Day!
Oh and here’s a little poem I wrote back in Hawaii about all the nests Tom and I had occupied over the years.
Nest One was a basement suite;
Ocean front, with gorgeous view
and included in the rent
was carbon monoxide poisoning for two.
Nest Two was a little beach shack
with an odd, chemically smell.
Turns out it was a former lab
where meth-heads used to dwell.
Nest Three was the Parsonage
adjacent to the church.
If we ever missed a service
they didn’t have far to search.
Nest 4 was our city digs;
an apartment -normal, boring.
Nest 5 was a real live house
which sent our spirits soaring.
So much in fact, we got to work
and immediately added chicks.
But 2 weeks after the fourth was born
we moved into Nest 6.
That tiny cabin in the woods
was an answer to my prayer
for a lot less house and a lot more dirt
and that fresh, cool mountain air.
Nest 7 was a lot more house
but still had forest all around
and by then I was quite proud
of the perfect place I’d found.
But God had other plans in mind
and He moved us on once more.
Nest 8 is where we’ve landed now
on this warm, Hawaiian shore.
*When I was pulling that poem off of the old blog post I noticed a comment my Dad had left on there. He had added his own lines to my poem and it turns out they were quite prophetic!
“Cayucos, Fresno, Oakhurst, Palomar.
Then the warm Hawaiian shore.
Nest 9 surely the future beckons,
Back where the towering Sierras soar!”
Now go check out Titus McEntee’s Mothers Day tribute on Youtube by clicking here
It’s Boys Day again! Some of you may not be aware that Cinco de Mayo shares it’s day with this Japanese holiday (now called Children’s Day). We’d never heard of it either until we moved to Hawaii where they celebrate everything. Our Japanese neighbors taught us to Koinobori in style. These posts from 2013,2014, and 2015 give you just a taste of what it looks like to Koinobori in style.
When we moved back to California we brought Boys Day with us. Boys Day mountain style looked like this.
This is the first time we’ve ever celebrated in quarantine. Since we couldn’t invite any friends to our party we sent some party to our friends. Gideon was happy to deliver Boys Day goody bags to some of the neighbors.
We’ve never done presents for Boys Day before but being home-bound was a good excuse to for a new Japanese card game and boxing glove. So while they tried out their new stuff I set to work making sushi for lunch.
And of course no Boys Day celebration is complete without a nod to the holiday it twins with. I give you Cinco de Macho.