Tag: poetry

Full Mangers

img_3270
I love this picture because it perfectly illustrates 1) 2 of the many amazing moms in my life who I am blessed to call friends and 2) that pre-Corona joy of filling our house to the brim with people!

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

On Worship

After Tom had a week away at seminary for Winterim with Keith Essex and Steve Lawson, I got to take a once in a lifetime trip to Atlanta for the G3 Conference.  It was the first time I had traveled alone in over 20 years.  When you’re used to crossing the Pacific every summer with 5 kids in tow, you’d think this would be a piece of cake but I was pretty much lost and pathetic the whole time.  But I did more than survive the adventure.  I came home with a ton of sound teaching, glorious worship, and edifying conversations ringing in my ears (and more free books in my carryon!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Going to a G3 Conference is like attending a family reunion.  Only it’s the kind of family where everyone gets along and is really excited to see each other.  And it’s the kind of family that has an inordinate number of extremely gifted Bible expositors, prolific authors, powerful preachers, qualified shepherds, dedicated missionaries, and a host of general doers of the Word.  I can’t even begin to describe the caliber of teaching, heights of worship, and warmth of fellowship I experienced there.

After hearing some of Tom’s take-away from his Essex class on Ezra and Nehemiah the week before, I couldn’t help but feel like I was experiencing at the conference some of what is played out in those two books.  Ezra 7:10 tells us that “Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach His statutes and rules in Israel.”  The fruit of this determination blooms gloriously in Nehemiah 8 and 9 when

“all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate.  And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.  So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard… And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands.  And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground… They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

One of the points John MacArthur made at G3 was that “The guy with the guitar is not the worship leader.  The pastor is.”  Which is why according to Paul Washer, “The problems with our worship go back to the preaching.”  This makes sense in light of Washer’s definition of worship as “the outward expression of the inward estimation of God.”  If people are not taught who God is directly from the source of His own revelation concerning Himself–His own Word–how can they worship Him in truth?  As Steve Lawson pointed out, “Our worship will rise no higher than our theology.”  At the same time our worship needs to be as truth-full as our teaching.  Costi Hinn remarked that “Accepting false lyrics but demanding true teaching is hypocrisy.”

The people of Ezra’s day heard the Word of God, they understood His character through its exposition, and they worshiped Him through their ‘Amen’ to the truth.

Popular worship today seems to fall so short of ‘Amen.’  There is too little of God’s holy, triune nature being proclaimed in preaching or in song to demand such a response.

There was a lot of talk at the conference about making the expository preaching of the Word of God the central tenant of our worship and bringing back doctrinally robust hymnody (and Psalmody!) as a means of singing out our ‘Amen’ to the Word preached.

This was a huge encouragement to me.  I grew up singing hymns and spent 7 years in a church dedicated to exclusive Psalmody.  I’ve also been a part of churches that were devoid of both.  While living in Hawaii we attended a traditional service in which we were the only young family.   I had the incredible privilege of singing in a choir made up of older saints.  It was the highlight of my week to gather with them to sing the great hymns of the faith, all through the months of expecting our fifth son, and then with him in my arms, and then with him being passed around the choir, and then with him crawling all over and under the pews.  And then the announcement came that in an effort to “breathe life into a dead service” and attract a younger crowd we would no longer be singing hymns.

It was devastating. Both to the older folks and to our young family.  I wrote the following letter to the pastor expressing our sorrow.

Thus says the Lord:“Stand by the roads, and look, ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is;and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” But they said, “We will not walk in it.” Jeremiah 6:16

I’m just a mom with a bunch of little kids.I can’t write out big tithe checks or traverse the globe on mission trips. I’m not what you would call a “mover and shaker” in the church. Most of the time you wouldn’t even know I’m there and if it weren’t for my toddler running up and down the aisles I wouldn’t get noticed at all. But I’m there almost every Sunday, not at the contemporary family service, but at the traditional one. The one with all the old people in it. The one that’s been described as “dead” or “on it’s way out.” The one with “not much going on.” Most of the time my kids are the only ones in that service and it’s true that most of the time it IS pretty quiet.

But one thing I’ve learned from spending a bit of time with older folks is that one should never mistake “quiet” for “dead.” In an age of sensationalism we tend to forget the God of the Whisper. The God who commands us to be still. The God of Order. The God who finds great worth in “a gentle and quiet spirit.” I am perfectly aware how hardly anyone looking at all those white heads sitting silently in the pews would ever describe that service as “Spirit filled.” But that’s not quite fair, either to these gloried saints or the Spirit that indwells them. In fact, I would venture to guess that the hunched over ninety year old who seems to be dozing in the pew knows quite a bit more of the Holy Spirit than your average thirty-something worship leader does. You see, the Holy Spirit’s been her constant companion for nearly a century and since her husband died twenty years ago, He’s been her only companion. And she’s learned a lot from Him. For one thing, she’s learned to listen. To be still. And God in His amazing wisdom has equipped the elderly body to do that better than anyone else.

The thing is, I know just how much these quiet folks are filled with the Spirit because I’ve been the constant beneficiary of the gentle overflow. Every smile, every pat on the back, every shaky squeeze of the hand, every time they stop to interact with my children, every word of encouragement they offer is a Spirit-led act that in a faster-paced, noisier setting might go completely unnoticed. But for an hour each Sunday, there’s this pause in my crazy, hectic life. And wrapped in the warmth of tradition and the richness of the well-ordered-Word I look up to see an older saint nod an affirming “Good job, mom” and it’s just the encouragement I need to make it through another week.

Please, in your quest to fill the church with young people, don’t neglect our older saints. They have more to offer than you might think. 

And so does their music. Music which I’ve heard disregarded as “archaic, boring, and irrelevant.” Because apparently to be acceptable to God, church-music must be modern, entertaining and germane. Maybe it’s time to rethink the standards by which we regard church-music and repent of the flippancy with which we’ve thrown generations of rich, meaningful, God-honoring, Gospel-centered, deeply instructive worship material out the door simply because it didn’t have the right beat. Maybe it’s time to return to those ancient paths that Jeremiah 6:16 encourages God’s people to seek out and walk in.Paths for which our older saints make the very best kind of guides. 

“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.  I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:32

After a hard fought battle the church decided to allow the hymn singing to continue until that generation had passed on.  They didn’t have to wait long.  I wrote the following poem in honor of that triumphant day.

We are the church who killed the hymn –hurrah!
Who shook off our fetters, went out on a limb –hurrah!                                                        Who took what was sacred and dear to the heart
Of the elders among us whom we’d like to depart
And take all their creeds and their stained glass art,                                                                Their potlucks and organs and dreary old songs,
And be Gone! Gone! Gone!

We’ve adopted a tune heard in any saloon
And added a beat picked up right from the street.
In the name of progress and the modern age
We’ve looked to the seeker and made them our gauge.                                                           We’ll no longer be bound like a bird in a cage
To traditions or standards or words on a page!
Yes, we are the church who killed the hymn!
Hurrah! And Hurrah! And Hurrah!

To see how one member of our family is working hard to keep hymns alive in his generation click on this link.

Friday Factoid Week 26

To celebrate International Astronomy Month we did a few activities from the Globe At Night website.  Below are a couple of our submissions to the poetry contest.  The first is by our little neighbor friend, Parker.   The second is a limerick that Nate and I wrote together.  He did the first stanza and I added the second.

Haiku by Parker (age 8)

I look up above and see

Jesse sees it too

A galaxy far away

 

Solar System Limerick by Nate (age 11) and Mrs. McEntee

Mercury is closest to the sun.

Venus is the second one. 

Next comes Earth.

And Mars is fourth. 

Moving out we’re half way done.

Jupiter is biggest of them all.

Saturn keeps her hoops on lest they fall.

Neptune’s blue.

Uranus too.

But Pluto’s now been judged too small.

 

We also did some entries for the art contest.

Below is a Hubble Image of the Crab Nebula and an oil painting by Sam (age 9)

Next is a Hubble Image of SN 1006 Super Nova Remnant and an oil painting by Joel (14)

And in honor of this week’s release of the very first images of a Black Hole here is the photo everyone’s been talking about and an oil painting by Titus (age 15)

Our neighbor friends also did some artwork with us.  Below is an oil pastel of the Veil Nebula by Benji (age 10) and the Black Eye Nebula by Sawyer (age 5).

Bravo to all our poets and artists!  How are you celebrating International Astronomy Month?