Non-global Missions

I am tired, but I have to write. It’s just what I do. I feel sanest and bravest when I’m putting words out there on the page. So, here we go. I hate the heat, but it has been a relatively mild summer so far because of the rain. I have reveled in this upper 80’s and lower 90’s temperature range, trying not to imagine how unbearable it feels when the temps shoot up another ten degrees. I swim laps at the pool around 7:15pm a few nights a week and aim to squeeze in all walks in before 8:30 or so, but I hate when I feel like those are my only options because (my children and/or) I will melt at any other point in the day.

We went to family camp week before last and it was wonderful. It rained every day at least once and never got too hot. One afternoon, I went for a hike at 1pm. I broke a good sweat, worthy of a dip in the river, but not demanding of it. That’s what I hope heaven is like. I hope we get to wear a light jacket in the morning and swim in the afternoon.

Camp reminds me of heaven a little. Maybe that’s what I like so much. Some days I’m just so ready to go home. I was definitely made for another world and I’m getting pretty itchy for it lately. More and more I feel like an alien here, but I don’t want to give up on the land of the living. I want to endure and show up for these few days I’m given. I want to keep opening my front door to the sweet 16 year old girls who walk through it every week and I want to open my mouth and say the right things to my kids; I also want to close it when that’s the better option.

At my son’s well check today, we found out his height/weight put him in the 20th percentile. That makes me long for heaven too because my little heart can stand the thought of someone making fun of my precious son. It’s possible that I would jump anyone who called him anything close to scrawny or shrimp. He will be a late bloomer like I was, but I pray that his heart blooms early. That he knows he is a man of God, more than outward measurements – I hate that this would ever be a struggle for any young man. And why is it so opposite for young women?

Oh, Lord. This is going to be quite a ride. I’m scared and I don’t feel equipped, but I know You are real. I know your words are real and that I have a calling as my children’s mother. Please give me the inner gear I need to accomplish this mission that seems so impossible.

Time and Time Again

I almost don’t know what to do with myself. The time is 10:28 on a Saturday morning and my incredible in-laws took the kids to breakfast so we could pack for family camp next week. Spencer and I have already been to the store, picked up breakfast tacos and packed both kids. Heck, I’m even sitting at my computer typing while I sip a cup of cocoa. This is just magical, really.

But, as I pulled the laundry from the dryer only seconds after the buzz, I couldn’t help but think about the day these kids will be gone. The day when I don’t step on matchbox cars every five steps and there aren’t Elmo coloring books diving out of my cupboards. Most days I can’t even imagine a day like that will come. When my phenomenal mother-in-law comes over one day a week, I am racing around running errands and trying to get things done that take four times as long with two tiny people in tow.

But I know the day comes. See, last weekend, Sabra and I drove out to San Angelo to visit my Granddad Raab. And it was the second most depressing event of my year (only to be beat by the awfulness associated with the Wimberley flood). My grandmother died over 15 years ago and their house is basically just as she left it. Besides vacuuming, I’m not sure my granddad has done any other cleaning since. It’s dry-heaving repulsive and I would not have taken my daughter there if she did not walk now.

I found myself questioning God, asking why this old man gets to live so long to watch TV all day and go to HEB once a week, while 4 and 6-year-olds have to leave Earth so soon. I just don’t get it. This is not to say that older people have no purpose, but I can’t help and contrast how full of life kids are against the mere existence of many older people. When we were out in West Texas (for 24 hours), the minutes droned on and on.

So I find myself wondering if there is life somewhere between having too much to do and too little. My kids will come barreling through the door in about an hour and the rest of my day will fly by with to-do’s, but I see that in the midst of 100mph, I have to retreat. I must pull away from my harried reality, meet with the Lord and put on His perspective, whether the day is empty or full. I’m happy to say that our family is ½ packed to retreat at our favorite place for an entire week.  Read: childishly giddy!

 

Aftermath

News has to be new to be categorized as news, I suppose. We are only 11 days out from the flood and the news has moved on to more sensational stories. Bodies are still missing, but the aftermath is easy to hid from if you just don’t get too close.

But, we keep getting too close. Today I took the kids down to Pease Park to the splash pad near Shoal Creek. This was under water only two weekends ago, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. That is, unless you drove there. As we turned off Enfield, we passed mounds of mattresses, old chairs and bookcases ruined in the flood. These homes – smack dab in the middle of Austin – are experiencing the same loss as our friends in Wimberley. I honestly can’t imagine.

And Brooks keeps asking me about Andrew. He heard me tell someone that he died and now he is repeating it. “Where’s Andrew?” he asks. “He die,” he answers himself, then asks me: What’s died?

I tell him the truth. I tell him where Andrew is and we will go when we die. I don’t think he quite understands it all, but it has started. He’s asking harder questions and we have to step up. We can’t shelter our children from the hard things of life.

Dear God, please give us the patience and discernment to answer just a few of his 300 daily questions with grace and clarity.

Thinking Out Loud, Hurting Silently

Let me start off by saying that I have a lot of feelings. And I quit drinking about a month ago, so I’m really feeling those feelings. The feelings I am feeling are loss, devastation, grief, sorrow and gut-wrenching sadness.

If you don’t live in Texas, or turn on CNN, you wouldn’t know that a river house in Wimberley, Texas, was hit with a wall of water over Memorial Day weekend. This wall knocked that house off its stilts, carrying the nine people inside down raging river. The people in this house held hands and made one phone call, quickly explaining the situation. This house eventually hit a bridge and one person survived along with his dog. I know this person.

I actually went to a homecoming dance with his younger brother my sophomore year in high school. I know their family. Well, my long-ago date’s big brother suffered serious injuries and learned that while his dog was found, his son did not survive. He was released from the hospital on what would have been his 10th wedding anniversary. Days later he identified his wife’s wedding ring and she is now confirmed dead. His daughter is still missing. I’m pretty sure I’ve cried every day this week.

The owners of the house, their daughter and her husband, along with their four-year-old son, were also in that house. Half are missing, while the other half’s bodies have been identified. I don’t know these people, but my dear friend Lorraine and her family know them. I feel like everyone was connected to someone in that house in some way.

So what am I doing about it? I’m not donating thousands of dollars and I’m not out there on foot looking for the still unrecovered bodies. I’d like to, but I take care of two tiny people all day. What I am doing is loving on my children and trying to teach them to be involved. This morning I told Brooks that there was a little boy just like him who lost everything in that flood, including all of his toys.  I asked Brooks to go in his room and pick something special to donate to a boy just like him. I went through our closets and got things really don’t need and I tried to pick a few things I actually like, including a frilly dress Sabra has never worn. I don’t just want to give my crap –that’s too easy. It’s harder to part with our “pretties” as my mom calls them. After all, the victims of this flood didn’t get to pick out their favorite things to save from the flood. So, I guess I’m looking at it like that.

Also, while I was driving to church this morning, I was considering Darwin’s survival of the fittest. What I don’t understand is how giving of our time, resources and selves fits in with that framework. No one knows (except you two readers) that we are donating bags and bags of goods to these victims and we don’t even have a yellow ribbon on our front tree to let people know we are praying, so why do it? And why grieve for people I’ve never met? Again, not surprisingly, I’m going to go back to God on this one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Likewise, love your neighbor as yourself.

The people of Corpus love these families like their own. Hundreds of people have put their feet on the aftermath of this flood in search of loved ones and friends’ loved ones. The donations for helicopters, boats and K9’s blow me away.

And in the midst of these names being highlighted in every news report, there are many other bodies that have been discovered, not to mention those wounded. Many are grieving the loss of every possession they had. There is hurt on a grand scale and I’m watching as the people of my church and the city of Austin step up to help their Wimberley neighbors in need.

You do it because it’s the right thing to do, even non-believers know that. But where does charity come from? Why would we be concerned with another’s well-being? These questions are stalking me.

And I have to put my stock into what Jesus said: “Whenever you served one of the least of these, it was me that you served.”

Because, in the end, our faith in Christ is truly our most valuable possession.