Monday, September 15, 2014

So Grown Up, Yet Still Growing

It seems summer has almost disappeared (way too early!), and the plight of both Narnia and Arendelle await us…always winter, eternally frozen. Or so it will seem by January.

But the seasons aren’t the only things coming and going.

Around here, we’re racing past some monumental milestones. We’ve endured the long haul from diapers to deodorant. But wasn’t it just last month I had a pile of baby blue laundry—sleepers smelling of spit-up and a hundred tiny mismatched socks? This month, the baby blue load has been replaced with a load of blaze orange and camo in all sizes.

Just about the time I wish for time to slow down, I’m reminded it’s passing at the usual pace.

One minute at a time.

For example, my oldest passed me up in height this year. I’m now the third tallest in our family, soon to be the last, I suppose. He’s made a graceful start to middle school and shows inklings of maturity more often than he used to.

He’s so grown up! I thought as I drove him to a middle school activity.

“Mom, watch,” he said, interrupting my nostalgia.

I took my eyes off the road to witness him blowing big spit-bubbles and smiling proudly as they popped and splattered on his lips.


And he smiled as if he’d accomplished his goal.

Not too grown up yet, I guess.

After just three days of school, we contracted a variety of germs which landed us in the doctor’s office this week. A new policy requires the nurses to ask each patient whether they’ve experienced abuse or neglect.

I understand why, but it saddened me that the question had to be asked and that it brought up issues kids shouldn’t have to be concerned about. Well, they’re growing up. I told myself. They need to be aware of these things.

The nurse left the room and my middle son said, “I don’t even know what abuse and neglect are, so I just said no.”

Never missing a chance to point out he knows something his brothers don’t, my youngest said, “You don’t even know what abuse is?!...It’s when you’re really overweight.”

“Um, that’s obese,” I corrected and realized again we’re not quite as grown up as I thought.

It seems we’re in a delightful and funny stage of life. Getting all grown up but still growing.

·        Learning to clean fish with an electric knife, then dissecting every internal organ to see what’s inside.

·        Popping a wheelie, yet still needing TLC after a crash.

·        Outfitted with all the football gear, yet unable to get it all on by themselves.

Grown up, but still growing.

I guess it’s really not a stage at all. It’s a perpetual state.

For Kurt and me, one of us has just crested the Big Black Hill, and the other has the summit in sight. But the fact that it’s called “mid-life” indicates there’s the possibility to live another lifetime.

I guess we’re supposed to be grown up, but we’re still growing too. And we’re looking forward to the next milestones as they pass by.

One minute at a time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The World Does Not Know Her Name

An interviewer once asked Edith Schaeffer, “Who is the most influential Christian woman in America?”

Her options were varied but her answer was provocative:
“The world does not know her name.”*
I’ve been mulling over her answer for the better part of this year. Is it possible that the most influential women are unknown and unnamed?

Photo by Frank Comisar
I’ve visited several small churches throughout the Midwest this summer, and each time I leave thinking about the women who have served there. Behind the scenes, doing menial tasks that few notice. Women who meet a need before they’re asked and desperately hope no one embarrasses them by noticing. Women whose service is truly for the Lord.

There is a woman who, despite her crippled leg, raised two grandchildren. One of her greatest joys is taking a meal to anyone in need. Anyone sick, injured, grieving, or just plain busy. She doesn’t do it because she’s afraid of what you’ll think if she doesn’t. No. She gives and gives and gives because a long time ago she was grieving, she was injured, she was busy. She gives out of the memory of her greatest need.

And the world does not know her name.

A woman rocks a fussy baby in the nursery. It’s not her baby, nor her grandbaby. She’s just loving a young mom by loving her child. She wipes congealed breast milk off her shoulder with a paper towel because the burp rag is soaked and sour. But she goes right on patting and consoling so a young mom can have 20 minutes to worship. She will be back next week and next month and next year, because when she was a young single mom she needed just a small window of undistracted time to worship the God who sustained her.

And the world does not know her name.

There is a woman who married a jerk. A “Christian” jerk. The kind who make physical loneliness seem like paradise. The woman has overlooked a thousand wrongs, turned the other cheek, and turned her eyes upon Jesus. She is a trail blazer for her small circle of young friends who find themselves gasping in the thin air of unmet expectations. She stretches an oxygen mask over her young friend’s face as she spirals down into the jungle of disappointment. Then she drags her from the wreckage and urges her on toward Christ—who makes beautiful things out of wreckage and disciples out of jerks.

And the world does not know her name.

Three unlikely examples of faith. None has a laudable accomplishment that would land their name on a list of “influential Christian women.”

And yet, that is exactly who they are. Influencing others, one meal, one hug, one tissue at a time.

They are the salty salt, almost invisible, but sprinkled among us, flavoring life, preserving hope and whetting our appetite for Christ.

They are broken vessels whose fractured lives allow the light of Christ to shine through.  Jesus has set these women on a lampstand called influence and they give light to everyone around them.

They exemplify the poor widow Jesus pointed out, who gave out of her poverty rather than out of her abundance.

He notices.

The world may not know their names, but Jesus does. 

And he’s given them influence so that the world might know His.
*I've googled until my eyes are googley and cannot find the original source of this quotation. I heard a radio show guest quote this interview this spring on Moody Radio.