Once, I Laughed when I Should have Cried

Once, I laughed when I should have cried.  I slammed the back door of our Honda minivan on my husband’s head.  HARD.  I felt so bad, I laughed.  And then I felt really bad for laughing.

Maybe I shouldn’t laugh when I read this passage.  But I do.

Read these verses in Genesis 18:10-15:

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”  Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”  13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”  But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

I love this conversation!

1) The Bible calls out Sarah for eavesdropping at the tent entrance.  You would too if important strangers showed up at your door!  I admit it–many times I have eavesdropped on my husband while he is having an important phone conversation about conflict at work.

2) If you have a few extra minutes, read a couple different Bible versions of Sarah’s response.  You’ll laugh.

The Message Bible says, “Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”

The Amplified Bible says, “After I am aged, shall I have pleasure and delight, my lord (husband), being old also?”

3) I can’t help but imagine Sarah putting her hand on her hip and shaking her head, “Oh no, I didn’t.  I didn’t laugh.”   And God doing the same and nodding his head, “Oh yes you did.  You laughed.”

4)  Why did Sarah feel compelled to lie?  Why didn’t she just say, “You bet your cowboy boots, I am laughing.  This is crazy talk, God.  Push the cray-cray button!”  But she didn’t say that.  Instead, she lies.  After years of hiding the pain of infertility, she is out of touch with how she really feels.

I guess I laugh because I relate.  I get like that too.  Instead of allowing myself to feel what I truly feel, I pull inward.  I close up.  I build a wall.  I paste on my happy face.  I get completely out of touch with my true feelings, fears, thoughts.

So maybe I should be crying instead.  Like Sarah, am I lying to God too?  And myself?  At some level, Sarah must have felt that she couldn’t trust God (or herself) with her true feelings.  Weirdly, we’re all kind of like that.  However, if I can’t trust God with my feelings–if I lie to myself and Him–I am in danger of becoming a real fake.  And I don’t want to find myself there.

In a Pickle (Fight)

Once upon a time, there was a pickle fight.  Yep, you read that right.  In a Christian school cafeteria, in late Spring.  A group of Senior classmen decided to throw some pickles around.  It turned into an all-out pickle food fight.

Pickles, right?  Pretty easy to clean up.  Make the kids do it, along with scrubbing all the walls and floors.  And dole out consequence.  Something appropriate–an apology letter read to the student body and/or a day of school suspension.  Process it well.  Give the kids opportunity for restoration.

But that’s not what happened in this situation.  We no longer work at this school, so I admittedly may not have both sides of the story.  But I was there on the day that it happened.  It must have been the last straw in a series of events because the school administration reacted quickly and harshly.  Parents were called to the school immediately, kids were interrogated.  Afternoon classes were shifted and a school assembly was called.  The kids were shamed at the assembly.  Administration long-windedly preached to the rest of the student body.  The senior classmen were posed with the threat of not being able to compete in the State Championship track meet, nor attend the senior trip.

It was overblown.  It was legalism for the sake of looking good.  There was little grace or restoration. There was little attempt to shepherd hearts.  And because of this, sadly those boys spiritually floundered in the years after graduation.  

As a parent, I’ve been there, caught up in the concern of what we look like on the outside, and missing the opportunity to shepherd my child’s heart.

I remembered this pickle story during yesterday’s sermon on John 9.  In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man.  We are given a glimpse into this man’s journey to faith.  He begins as a non-believer who has a surprise encounter with Jesus.  When he hears Jesus’ voice for the first time he obeys and washes in the Pool of Siloam.  Through a series of events, we watch the man grow in belief.  He gains not only physical sight, but also spiritual sight as he recognizes Jesus first as a prophet (John 9:17) and then as his Lord (John 9:38).

This is how God works in our own lives, isn’t it?

And this is how God works in the lives of our children.

Our kids are on spiritual journey to the heart of Jesus.  More than anything else, I want my kids to trust Jesus more and more, and then place their hand in His so that He can lead them forward.  I long for them to grow in spiritual sight, not stay in blindness.  So how will I react when there is a pickle fight?

In John 9, there are several reactions to Jesus’ miracle.  God’s work on display causes quite an uproar.

The healed man is taken to the religion police, the Pharisees, who react quickly and harshly.  The miracle was performed on the Sabbath, and on top of that, they doubt the miracle.  An investigation ensues.  The healed man is interrogated several times.  His parents are called to the synagogue and questioned.  The Pharisees hurl insults at the man.  They tell him, “You were steeped in sin at birth!”  And they throw him out of the synagogue.

Well, duh.  We’re all steeped in sin at birth!  Every parent understands this at the first thrown tantrum. 

The Pharisees miss a great opportunity for restoration.  There is no grace from the religious leaders.

Contrast now the reaction of Jesus.  Jesus had heard of the uproar and investigation.  It was going viral.  He seeks out the man and finds him (John 9:35).  He doesn’t interrogate him.  Instead, Jesus has a conversation.  He shepherds the man’s heart.  He answers his questions.  The man grows in faith and spiritual sight.  And the healed man decides to make Jesus his Lord, essentially placing his hand in His and allowing Him to lead forward.

Man, how I long to shepherd my kids this same way! 

When you find yourself in a parenting pickle, don’t miss the opportunity for restoration.

 

 

A Tribute to my Middle Son (and Tips for a 6th-Grade Seattle Field Trip)

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Mileage from Spokane, Washington to downtown Seattle, Washington = 292 miles.
Pretty much a drive across the entire state of Washington.

My Google map predicts a 5 hour, 3 minute drive. But if you are following a large white tour bus full of 6th grade kids, their teachers, and their principal, AND stopping at two rest stops along the way, it’ll take longer.

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At a Mariner baseball game with a large group of 6th graders, the crowd you are with is WAYYYYYY more entertaining than the actual game. Not because the game is boring, but because 6th graders in the nosebleed section all to themselves are fascinating to watch.

The above is especially true if the 6th graders are on their first day of their travel money.

The above is also especially true if the Mariner jumbo screen camera people are in your section.
Or the Mariner Moose.

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But definitely sit on the south side of home plate at Mariner Stadium if you want the best view.

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At every stop, always allow more time for the gift shop than you expect.
Or better yet, accidentally miss it. 6th graders can really throw down the money.

Also, there will be one kid in your group that loses something at every stop. Plan accordingly.

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The Museum of Flight will make you proud of human achievement.

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The Pacific Science Center will keep kids busy for a long time…

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The Naked Mole Rats is the name of my next band.

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On the first night, sleeping on a hard church floor will be uncomfortable.
But on the second night, you’ll be so tired, you’ll sleep in your clothes and won’t even wake up once.

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Girls will talk late into the night, especially when a couple of great teachers are leading the discussion.

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DO NOT drop pennies off the Space Needle.

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If you work on the kitchen crew and forget the key to the church, you must be flexible enough to break in to a church window.

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15 minutes is not enough time for a bunch of moms to play hooky and use their free ticket to the Experience Music Project.

It’s also definitely not enough time to figure out the lives of Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Hendrix.

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If it is a sunny day, Seattle is really beautiful.
(And if you need it, there are approximately 420 Starbucks in the Seattle area. For real.)

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Spending time with your son and his friends is priceless, even if you don’t get a shower for three days.

I am so proud of my boy.
Sixth grade has not always been easy.
He’s been up. He’s been down.
He is changing, growing, becoming.

Sometimes,
when he’s been playing too many video games…
and we are fighting over it…
or when he won’t engage with me…
or he grunts at me…
I get worried.

But this trip was a gift.
I saw that my son is kind.
He is a good friend.
He’s got the heart of a hero.
He watches out for others.
He has the unique ability to weave himself among diverse groups of kids,
laughing, joking, reaching.

We’re gonna be ok.
He’s going to be a great man.
And that makes me happy.

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