I love to write. I love the thrill I get when I have a good idea for a plot development. I love holing myself away in my little closet office as I race to get the words onto the screen before I forget what I’m trying to say. I love talking about my characters to anyone who will listen. I love that I can use my imagination and not have to follow a set of directions. I basically love everything about writing. Well, that’s not exactly true. There’s one part of writing I could do without: editing.
I see a lot of myself in Martha. I like to be industrious and keep busy around the house. And trust me, with five kids, there’s always something to be done. The chores never end. And like Martha, I tend to get impatient with those who aren’t helping. Impatience very easily gives way to resentment, and pretty soon I find myself grumbling to God, “Don’t you care that I’m the only one who ever does anything around here?” I may be “serving” others and getting the chores done, but it certainly isn’t with a happy heart.
The smell hit me in full force as soon as I walked in the door. We were returning from a spur-of-the-moment overnight trip to the beach, and we were all hot, tired, sandy, and greasy from sunscreen. All I really wanted to do was take a long shower, give the kids a bath, and put everyone to bed. But that was not meant to be. It didn’t take me long to realize what the awful smell was. Our dogs had left us a lovely package in their cage, which was smeared all over the place, hardened by now, making for unpleasant cleanup at best. So rather than get that nice long shower I’d been dreaming about, I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing out their cage. Welcome home.
For as terrible as it got, it had a rather innocuous start. Two days after contact, I noticed two small bumps on my arm and wondered about them. Over the course of the next few days, more bumps appeared. Then more. Then there were some on my sides. My arms and both sides of my abdomen were covered with blistering sores, and during the dog days of summer I was relegated to wearing long sleeves to cover the gauze that hid the ugly red sores and scabs that lasted the better part of a month. What caused all this discomfort and pain? Poison ivy.
I was almost done unloading my shopping cart when another lady pushed her cart in behind me. I glanced at her apologetically, saying, “You’ll be here a while.”
“I’m in no rush,” she assured me.
I smiled and continued unloading. Half of my groceries were already bagged and loaded into another cart, the entire conveyor belt was full of more groceries, and there were still some left in my original cart. The lady behind me observed all this, and tried to make small talk.
“Big trip today, huh?”
“We have five kids,” I explained. “And I try to do a shopping trip for two weeks at a time so I don’t have to come as often that way.”
Her eyes widened. She took in my three-year old and 15-month old sitting side by side in the double cart, uncharacteristically docile as they looked at her. She hadn’t been privy to their meltdown on aisle 8.
“Do you plan out your meals two weeks in advance, too?” she inquired.
I nodded in affirmation, and her eyes got even wider. With awe in her voice, she said, “You’re so organized!”
I sure had her fooled.
One of the most tragic verses in the Bible is Judges 2:10. “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” What?? How is that even possible? Think about this. Joshua led the Israelites after the death of Moses, and through Joshua’s direction, this band of nomads conquered the Promised Land, defeating strongholds like Jericho simply by marching around the city and blowing trumpets. They had seen God’s hand powerfully at work in their lives, and had witnessed what their forefathers only dreamed of- entering the Promised Land of Canaan. But then that generation died and their children grew up, not knowing the Lord. Why? I hate to say it, but it was because of the parents.
I made an idiot out of myself not too long ago. Okay, granted, that’s not as uncommon as I’d like to believe, but this took the cake. Over Spring Break, a friend told me she was taking her daughter to Chicago, and when I talked to her the morning they were leaving, I asked, “Are you coming back yet today?” There was an awkward pause, and she reminded me, “Ruth, it’s 17 hours away.” Oops. That’s right. We live in Texas, don’t we? I made the excuse that I’m still in the mindset of living in Michigan. But that’s not the whole truth. And the real reason is even more embarrassing.
I threw a birthday party yesterday. It was a pitiful affair. I made a box of confetti brownie mix in lieu of a cake, grabbed a Bop It and some Star Wars Pop Rocks as a gift, and had the kids sign a card for the birthday boy. That was it. It was pretty meek. But in my defense, it wasn’t even my kid.
It’s been a busy weekend, hasn’t it? Oh, to be sure, a joyful one, but still busy nonetheless. Easter is my favorite holiday by far, with its beautiful message of new life and resurrection. But rather than expound upon the subject, for this post I’m going to do something different. I’ll let my sixth grader serenade you with the hymn he played on his trumpet for church on Easter. Sing along with the words in your head as you listen, and remember that Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
(Lutheran Service Book, 457)
I love Lenten hymns. Of all the church seasons, something strikes me about the penitential season of Lent. The hymns are poignant and the melodies are often beautiful. But sometimes it’s easy to sing through the words without really thinking about the meaning. So with Holy Week upon us, let’s take a look at one such example.