Monday, August 25, 2014

When Things Were Simple . . .

We sat all-childish in the old orange booth, swinging our scuffed-up legs beneath us. The sun filtered in through the wide, large-open windows facing the street, when there weren't so many cars out to clog them and the days themselves seemed more simple and free, less bogged down and cluttered by activity.

Stores used to be closed on Sunday and the largest retail outlets were the old Ann-and-Hope and the Ames around the corner in East Providence. There were no Wal-Mart superstores to lose your mother in or to walk around for hours trying to find the person that you were with. 

Life was simpler, even those seemingly-brief years ago when I was a little girl and we used to frequent the then "Mister Donut" in Seekonk. 

It was always the square apple muffin that I chose. The lovely square apple muffin with the sugary caramelized apple chunks that weren't even close to being nutritious, but gave the aura of a nutritious lunch. That, and a small box of milk.

And once in a while, when I went there with my Dad, I would get a chocolate sprinkled donut, just to be like him. Unless, of course, he ordered the coffee roll, in which case, I was banned from eating such a large and "expensive" pastry. 

We usually went there with my Mom. Now that I look back on it, I think that she brought us there to "break up" the long hours in her stay-at-home-Mom day, a respite in-between visiting one of the libraries that we used to frequent where we would sit for hours while she read book after book after book to us. 

It was always exciting to enter into that warm and delicious-smelling donut shop, where we would take the teetering tray to our booth, the tray that was adorned with chunky glass plates and the silverware that used to be returned and washed at donut shops. None of this "throw-everything-away-culture" mentality back then.

We sat at our booth and watched the men who speckled the round-raised seats at the counter slurping their coffee and chatting away into the sunny afternoon. 

Every crumb was carefully savored, every drop of milk drank and we wiped away the happy remains with a delighted satisfaction. 

Things like that were meaningful to us as children. We didn't "have a lot" and so we were content, satisfied with the "simple." 

And I watch children nowadays in donut shops, one greasy hand gripping a large-sized coolatta, a heavily-laden, whipped-cream-confection, their other hand grasping an expensive bakery sandwich.

And I watch them halfheartedly partake of their decadent lunches, and then crumble a quarter of the remains into a nonchalant pile of rubbish and toss it unthinkingly into the trash can. 

I'm thankful now that I was raised without a lot of "stuff." I see it now as a gift from God that we were always struggling to make ends meet so that my Mom could scrape us through the Christian school that we attended and give us piano lessons.

I see it as a blessing now that our vacations were simple, uncluttered camping trips, that we ate a lot of meals of hamburger and beans and shepherd's pie and macaroni, that our refrigerator was never heavily-stocked.  

It made me more deeply grateful for the special times in life, for the occasional cupcake at school, for the delight of the holidays, and made me anticipate my birthday all year long when I would get to choose the kind of cake that I had. 

I'm glad that my Mama kept things simple when we were little . . . It made me treasure the important things and checked me from taking them for granted. 

It's harder now to do that . . . There are restaurants and fast-food pit-stops on every corner. Stores are open 24-7 and you can get what you want whenever you want it. 

Convenience is a blessing and a curse. 

Kids walk around in expensive clothing and carry technology with them wherever they go. Their minds are distracted, caught up in all of the random, suffocating clutter of this age. 

Clutter and noise that pushes out the gift of quietness and walking in the woods and resting by a stream and listening to the birds sing and the crickets chirping at night.

Noise that pushes out the voice of the Creator. 

I think that I liked it better when things were simple. 

So I try and the Lord gives grace to raise my babies the way that my Mom did. Without a lot of stuff -- whether by necessity or choice. 

If I have to choose, may God give me grace to choose the simple. 

I want my children to be in an atmosphere where they can hear His voice--there are enough distractions around already. 

The simple, uncluttered way that leads to Jesus. 

So Much At Home

1.Photo credit: roboppy / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
2.Photo credit: Qfamily / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Monday, August 18, 2014

For the Love of a Rabbit

My Mama loves rabbits . . . 

And this morning in the quiet day, one of her beloved rabbits died. 

And her eyes tear-filled, she took up a broom and cleaned up the place where the little bunny made her home these last 5 or so years. 

My Mama loves rabbits, any living creature, really. And she keeps her bunnies in the house, litter-box-trained, near the chair where she sits and she reads. 

And she holds one of her rabbits at night, the one with the chewed-off ear, she holds him and she rocks him and she reads and she loves. 

Two rabbits now; she used to have three, and we use a child's play-yard so that they can each have their turn "coming out" from their cages each day. 

She talks to them and she spoils them and she buys them special treats and she worries over them when they are sick and she loves. 

But one of her house bunnies died today--her favorite one, the soft gray bunny with the wide eyes and the gentle, peaceful heart. 

Some people think that it's silly to love a rabbit. 

But I don't. 

And in some mysterious way, I believe that creation itself will be redeemed in the last day, the creation that groans, the creation that suffers now--

The birds and beasts and trees and flowers destroyed, tainted by the Fall--

I believe that creation itself will be redeemed. 

My Mama hinted at this to a woman once - said that she might see her dying pet again one day--

And the woman looked at her sharp and with a jagged eye barked that her theology was faulty. 

And I think now - What about John Piper and Elisabeth Elliot and George MacDonald and C.S Lewis - They all believe in the redemption of creation itself - Is their theology tainted? 

Or do they see with a clearer eye? 

Maybe we just need new eyes . . . 

Eyes and hearts that love His creation, because we love the Creator--

My Mama loves her rabbits--

And loving them, loves Him. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Like My Daddy--A Word to Fathers

My Daddy left us. 

He took his things and he sauntered away with a chip on his shoulder and the world in his heart, the lust of the things of this life flowing through his deep red veins. 

And he took his things and he slammed the door on a past that he didn't want to bother with,  didn't have time for, didn't care about any more. 

Slammed the door on his family, on the God he claimed to know. 

My Daddy left. 

And I still hold on to strong memories from the time that my sisters and I were little girls, little girls who adored their Daddy, their Daddy with the strong, sinewy carpenter arms and the gruff truck-driver voice and the smell of sweat and cigarettes and coffee and cologne that was him. 

I remember--

The donut shop where I would order the chocolate sprinkled donut--the same kind that he ordered--to be like my Daddy.

Working in the yard and watching him labor there in the hot sun, even the strongest heat of the summer--he was a strong man. 

But not strong enough. 

And he could sweat and grow browner and browner and drink coffee in the sweltering afternoon and it didn't affect him. 

My Mama was always physically weak; but she always said that it was her weakness that humbled her and drew her to the Lord . . . 

So my Daddy was strong. And he could swing the hammer hard and I loved to work on projects with him and watch him pound the nails in deep and smell the delicious scent of sawdust and the motor of the saw. 

And I remember how he used to get up so early in the morning and make his thick, dark coffee and drink more than a cup or two. 

And he left for the cheap things in this life--the beer, the women, the glitzy thrills of a quick-night spent and a morning of regret.

He left the things of value.

Sold his inheritance for a bowl of soup and a pocketful of silver. 

The bread of life forfeited for a moldy, stale crust that is bitter to the taste. 

I loved my Daddy. 

I wish that things could've been different, but God gives a choice. 

And I speak these things from the hurt of a little girl, but also from the wisdom of the grace of healing and years and tears and surrender. 

The Lord gave me grace to experience His loving and continual healing in my life over my father's conscious and deliberate choice.

And that is the mystery of His will to me--

That He could give my Daddy a choice and "empty" me of the blessing of an earthly father who loved me--

And then fill that emptiness with Himself, the Father of my heart, the One who chose me from the foundation of the world--

The One who loved my Daddy, but gave him a choice. 

And my Daddy chose the world--over the woman who loved him more deeply than he knew how to love and the three little girls who belonged to him. 

Did he forget . . . ? That they belonged to him? That he was given a charge to be their earthly protector, provider, and example of Jesus to them? 

Did he forget? 

And the things of this world appear so lovely, all-polished and shiny and pleasant to the eye. 

But in the end, they bring forth sorrow and death and devastation and hurt. 

The hurt cut deep. 

And I pray that the pain that I experienced would be a lesson, a warning to other fathers, to other men. 

The pleasures of this world are fleeting--

Lay hold of Jesus, and embrace those things in Him that have lasting value. 

Be still before your God and turn your eyes away from looking at worthless things. 

And see the woman that you covenanted with and the children that she gave you as a beautiful gift, as a charge to keep, a charge committed to your trust. 

See the gift as precious; see Him as precious. 

So that you don't leave sorrow and pain in your wake, but grace and strength.

The strength of a man who loves his God and whose eyes "look straight ahead," straight ahead to Jesus, to glory, to peace. 

The strength of a man who loves his family and his children and who truly wants the best for them. 

Learn from the lesson of my father--

And embrace the high calling of the Great Father of our hearts. 

1. Carpenter
Photo credit: ajschroetlin / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

2. coffee
Photo credit:shoothead / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)