Monthly Archives: June 2016

Designs on the Resolve

It had been a long day.  And as it got later and later, I felt some dismay creep into my soul.  I took a quick appraisal and decided that there were still some things that needed to be done before I climbed the mountain to my sweet, sweet rest. Middle daughter was home, but working, Certain Man’s day had been physically and emotionally taxing and the two of them were out of sight for the duration of the evening it seemed. Certain Man was within shouting distance, but Middle Daughter was documenting a complicated Hospice admission that she had just visited, and that rendered her pretty much oblivious to the goings on down in the main floor.

I sighed a bit (since Certain Man was NOT within sighing distance) and looked at the kitchen that I had just straightened a few hours earlier.  Since then, I had made a coffee cake for Certain Man, fed my ladies, picked and brought in some garden tea, and the kitchen was in disarray.  Over 50 containers of strawberry jam sat on the counter, ready to be taken to the basement and the tea hadn’t been made, so there was a small, green mountain on the cupboard where there were some small beasties crawling around.  There was still laundry to be sorted for the morning washing, and I was really tired.

There is only one thing to do in these situations, and that is to get busy QUICKLY and do what needs to be done.  But I’ve found that, while the sighs don’t help, and neither does feeling sorry for myself, it does help to look for things to be happy about. So I got busy and sorted some laundry.  Certain Man had already fetched the laundry from our side of the upstairs and brought it down to the laundry room.  (He’s always done that for me, ever since our children were little, and it is a big help!)  Our Girl Audrey had also gotten hers and Blind Linda’s into a big basket and pulled it out to the laundry room, which was another gift to be counted.  And Middle Daughter would bring hers down later.  In case you’re wondering, my angst was not at any of them.  It was just that this needed to be done and there was no motivation on the part of the one who needed to do it!  Uh-huh!

So.  Since I felt like I was supposed to stop sighing and be cheerful about things, I turned on one of my favorite CD’s and sorted the laundry that was available.  That was easy enough.  I like sorting laundry.  Especially to music.  And then I looked at one of those yet unappropriated laundry baskets and decided to use it to carry the strawberry jam to the basement.  I would need to make a couple of trips, but not FIVE.  So I started some water for the tea and then loaded my first sturdy basket with thirty jars of jam and headed on down to unload it.  The freezer needed some rearranging, but it wasn’t too bad, so I smiled at it and resolved to be cheerful and did what needed doing and got my first layer of jam jars into the freezer and then went back for more.  The water was boiling and I had managed to strip the leaves off of enough tea for a gallon, so I got that steeping, and then took the second load of strawberry jam to the basement and got it arranged where it belonged.  Wow!  That was satisfying!

Upstairs again, I found that Certain Man was off his chair and winding his clocks.  He was working his way around the family room, living room and then into the sun room.  I stirred about in the kitchen, finishing the tea and getting it into the fridge.  Then Certain Man said something about thinking it was time to go to bed.  Which suited me just fine.  He came out into the kitchen to see how things were progressing, while I finished arranging things in the laundry room for the morning’s chore of laundry.  He was saying something to me, and I was replying in my cheerfullest, brightest voice while I stacked some wash baskets around the corner from him when–!

Ker-thunk!!!

Down came a heavy wash basket right on my toe!  Right on my big toe.  Right on my toe that I had done surgery on to remove an ingrown toenail two nights ago!  It hurt so much that I couldn’t see straight, much less talk in a cheerful, bright tone.  I kinda’ stopped everything in that split second and didn’t say anything out loud.  (And NO! I wasn’t saying any bad words!)  But in my swirling head where all the stars were milling about I was saying, “REALLY???  (Oh ouch!!!)  All this concerted effort to not feel sorry for myself, (Oh ouch!!!) to count the gifts and to be cheerful, and this happens to me???(Oh ouch!!!)”  And of course, I had to say to my Heavenly Father, with my face all scrunched up and water standing in my eyes, “I just don’t get it! (Oh ouch!!!)  And why is this hurting so much?  REALLY much!!!  (Oh ouch!!!)  What sort of unholy design is there upon my honorable resolve???)  Thankfully, I was around the corner from Certain Man and he was sleepy enough that he never noticed the abrupt (long) pause in my cheerful, bright conversation.

After awhile he said, “You ’bout ready to go up?”

I took a deep breath, and discovered I was not going to die of toe-itis-meyeomia and decided to go for it.  “Yup!”  I said in my cheerfullest brightest voice while my poor toe throbbed and I gave thanks he couldn’t see my face, “I’m just finished.  Let’s go get some sleep!”

And so, we did!

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Sunday Morning with The LITTLES

They came into the classroom, full of joy and smiles and LIFE. I looked into their eager faces and mentally reviewed my morning. It was going to be busy, to say the least. And lately, they’ve been so talkative. (Which I absolutely cannot resist. No matter how hard I try to stay on the subject, if I think there might be something one of them needs to say, or some sort of childish wisdom or insight, I cannot bear to shut it down.)

We gathered around the table, and sorted out the chairs and who got which one.  There was an extra again this morning, so the routine of “who sits where and on which color chair” was disrupted a bit, but finally, everyone was settled and ready.  A few months ago, as I was considering the whys and wherefores of Sunday School for these children, I realized that what was most important was that they have a sense of GOD in THIS PLACE, and so we’ve been talking about the fact that “God is here, in this classroom!  He sees us and He loves us.  He is our friend!”  And we follow that by singing the old song that my first and second grade teacher, Sadie Bissey, taught us so long ago:

Into our class
Into our class
Come into our class, Lord Jesus
Come in today
Come in to stay
Come into our class, Lord Jesus

So, this morning, as we were sitting around the table, I asked them the question that I’ve been asking them over the last few months.  “Who is here in our class this morning?” I asked them.  “Who is right here with us today?”

“Jesus!”  “God!”  The answers chorused around the table.

“That’s right,” I smiled at them.  “God is right here with us today.”

He was sitting at the end in his usual spot, and he looked around curiously.  “He’s not here today!” He said with a note of disappointment.

“Ah, but He is!” I told him.  “He’s right here with us!  Even when you can’t see Him, God is with you.  He’s here.  He’s with you when you are in trouble.  He’s with you when you have work to do and helps you.”

“We did lots of work,” he told me earnestly.  “We had to to do really hard work pickin’ up stuff in the yard.  And God didn’t help us at all!”  He shook his little head sadly.  He obviously had some feelings about this.

I pondered a bit and then suggested, “Maybe He did!  Maybe you just didn’t realize –”

“Nope,” he said decisively.  “He didn’t.  We did it all by ourselves!”

Oh, Lord Jesus!  How often have I been so sure that I was alone trying to do jobs that seemed big and hard?  And when I got done, I was sure I had done it “all by myself” when, in fact, I was under the protective oversight of a loving parent, who enabled and gave strength and tempered the job to my abilities.  Thank you for the reminder through one of my LITTLES that we don’t know the half of how your presence surrounds and enables and LOVES us in our “hard work” and never leaves us until the job is done.

Hebrews 13:5b-6a (NCV) “. . . God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.’  So we can be sure when we say, ‘I will not be afraid because the LORD is my helper’. . .”

For this promise, for my LITTLES, for shelter on this stormy Delaware evening (and so much more!) my heart gives grateful praise.

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Filed under Laws Mennonite Church, My Life, Praise, The LITTLES Sunday School Class, Uncategorized

A Man Named Wade

I was reading the account this morning in I Kings about the Sidonians being hired to cut the trees for the temple “Because,” King Solomon said, “we don’t have anyone who can cut down trees as well as the people of Sidon.”  I looked over at Certain Man, sitting in his morning chair with his Bible cradled in his lap.

“Huh!” I said, surprising him a bit, “I wonder what made the people of Sidon good at cutting down trees?  I mean, what is there to cutting down a tree that a certain group of people would be better at it?”

He looked contemplative and then said, “Well, maybe they were like Wade, and were just naturally good at it.”

“Wade?” I queried, puzzled. I knew immediately who he was talking about, but I didn’t know this about him.

“Yeah, Wade!” Said my good man.  “He was incredible when it came to cutting down trees. It was almost unbelievable!  He could make them fall wherever he wanted them, no matter how they were leaning.”

“Really!”  The word was more of a statement than a question.  “How do you know?”

He looked thoughtful, like he was trying to remember something he hadn’t thought about in a long time.  “Well, when Greenwood Mennonite Church would cut wood for the widows, I would go and help sometimes and he was usually there, and he would do the cutting.”  He paused again, and then said, “I heard a story once about him taking a tree down at someone’s house–.   I’m not sure whose it was, but as I recall, the tree was leaning towards the house and it needed to come down because of the danger it presented if there was a bad storm. Wade said he could do it and came over to take it down.  Nobody thought he could do it.  He made a big notch in one side, and everybody watching said that it would never work.  But then he started making a cut in it and whoever was telling me said it was almost unbelievable!  That tree actually appeared to rotate on the stump and fell exactly where he wanted it.  That may have been one of the harder ones he did, but even when we were cutting the wood for the widows, sometimes we had just a small place for the tree to fall, and he would look at it, think a little, and then lay it right down where it needed to go.  It was phenomenal!  There was nobody quite like him.  I don’t know who taught him or how he learned it, or how he could figure it out, but he did it and it was something to watch!”

I went back to my morning reading with troubled, wondering thoughts circling my heart.  In that brief exchange, I learned things that I had never known before.  For one, the fact that Wade would come to the widows’ woodcutting told me something about his sense of responsibility for his widowed mother.  The handsome, curly haired oldest of her six children, was also her wild child, but he must have felt both her prayers and her love.  And then this unusual gifting that took some sort of knowledge of  math and physics and trigonometry gave me pause to consider what went on in that head.  I knew he had an artistic eye and that he could draw fine line pictures that were incredible in detail.  My Daddy, once when we were still children, hired him to make a series of pictures to illustrate the six verses of Psalm 1.  He brought the pictures to our house one night, done on letter size white paper, finely detailed, one picture for each verse.  I was still in elementary school, but I would look and look at the pictures and wonder what was in Wade’s heart, where no one could see.  (I kept thinking that series of pictures was still somewhere in my parents’ house and I looked for them when we cleared it out last summer, but never found them.  I wonder if someone has them somewhere.)

It would be nice if stories could end with the perfect endings in real life.  Wade’s life was difficult and sad.  He made choices, yes, I’ll grant anyone that who wants to quibble.  But so did the community that he grew up in, and I wonder if anyone ever told him how very special it was that he could cut down a tree so well that he would have been chosen to build Solomon’s Temple.  I know that people tried to encourage and engage and influence and help, but sometimes our best intentions are not the most helpful or effective. And sometimes the way people try to help actually ends up hurting.  Unfortunately, for Wade, the hurts seemed to pile up.

All day I’ve been thinking.  Maybe if his choices and our choices would have been different, there just might be art shows and museum pieces with the name, William Wade signed in a corner instead of a tombstone inscribed with his name and the dash of his life,  1/9/44-5/6/95.

Maybe his name would be remembered for his abilities, his intelligence, his skills.

And even though we will never know, I still wish it could be so.

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