I was privileged to spend a few hours today with mothers of very young children. Those with four years or less under their belts, still excited and yet exhausted by the day in and day out of caring for little people who can’t meet even the simplest of needs. It was a lovely time; if you ever start to feel jaded by the long haul, sit in the company of women just now discovering the beauty and the burden of being a stay at home mom, of raising her babies, of juggling marriage and faith and stealing a shower in between the newborn’s cat naps…all with a few little people clinging to her skirts.
I was sitting at the table this morning when my wife began recapping a story she’s been reading to our little ones.
It’s the story of a boy and his sheep (Mountain Born), but in this scene, the boy’s mentor is using another lamb to draw in wolves that have been decimating the larger flock.
Right now, I’m sitting in Bryan College’s still library. It’s Spring Break, so the campus is empty except for a handful of staff members charged with duties that aren’t suspended in the absence of classes. It’s a beautiful, well-lit library on a cozy campus. It’s my first time here and frankly, I can see why, after visiting this past fall, my husband spoke so highly of it. It’s beautiful, yes. But it’s peaceful, too. Everywhere, the motto “Christ Above All” is sprinkled– and feels real.
I’m not sure I will ever quite get over the “how cool is that?!?” factor of loading up before breakfast to run down to the post office and pick up a box of chicks.
I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, we mothers decided that we should be busy. I blame the NIV Bible, which translates Titus 2:5 like this:
to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
The email was a welcome bit of encouragement: you are not forgotten, I pray for you and your family, your work. There was a simple ask at the end. Just a request to partner in ministry.
And yet… the tears.
Here I am, sitting in a hotel room more than 9,000 miles from my home in Tennessee, and I should be spending the evening reviewing and refreshing the material I plan to teach about 50 pastors tomorrow morning.
I recently received word that a friend and supporter of our ministry had died following a brief respite in hospice for brain cancer.
Slightly older than me, he had already lived years longer than the weeks, maybe months, doctors had given him. And while clean brain scans for much of that time gave him an appreciation for life that few of us will ever have, he used that period to tell people about the peace God had given him no matter what the outcome.
We school year-round—three months on, one month off. The shorter, intermittent breaks suit the rhythm of our family well. By the end of a twelve week summer break, all of us were craving structure and weary of open-ended days. Too, we find the heat of the summer in the south exhausting at its peak, and not enjoyable in the “we’re on vacation!” sense. So: three on, one off. The perfect compromise.
The Gospel is universal but the language we use to share it is not.
And that can at times make it difficult — so difficult that only the very grace of the God we’re trying to explain makes it possible.