Timeless truth in a changing world



Measuring Up



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.

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To Sue for Pardon


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.

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Keeping House


Just once I’d like to prove myself wrong.  I have this theory that housecleaning is always a humbling and usually disgusting experience.  And I have yet to disprove that by my own experiences.  With five children and two dogs, my house certainly won’t pass any white glove inspections.  I steam-mopped the house this weekend, and even though I had done so the previous week, I went through multiple mop pads in the process this time, and every one of them was black afterwards.  The stuff I swept up beforehand was nothing to sneeze at, either.  And my baby crawls on this every day?  Disgusting!  I could clean my bathrooms three times a day and they’d still have toothpaste on the counters and who-knows-what on the floor.  No matter how I try to keep a counter clear of clutter, it seems like I turn around and there’s a mound of stuff.  Sigh.  Just once, can’t I prove myself wrong?

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The Double-Sided Nature of Guilt

The other day I had a panic attack.  It suddenly hit me that I was totally screwing up this whole parenting thing.  I wasn’t spending enough quality time with my kids, I wasn’t disciplining well enough, I didn’t hug them enough, I wasn’t teaching them enough responsibility with chores, I wasn’t keeping on top of what they were learning in school…  In short, I was generally failing at pretty much every aspect of my motherly duties, and I was pretty sure my kids would be completely messed up for life.  Bad parent?  Guilty as charged.

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How would you feel if you knew you would meet a Nazi in heaven?  Taken aback?  Horrified?  Resentful?  After all, some of these guys committed unthinkable crimes and implemented programs that caused the murder of millions of human beings.  Almost everyone you ask would probably come to the same conclusion- if anyone deserves hell, they certainly do.  And yet, like it or not, you will meet a few Nazis in heaven.  Inconceivable?  Absolutely.

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A Slap in the Face


I don’t want to boast or anything, but I make a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Ever since I learned the secret of adding a box of instant vanilla pudding to the dough, my cookies have been nice and soft, even a day or two later, if any happen to make it that long.  I don’t claim to be an amateur chef like my brother, who even has his own food blog (The Cordial Chef, in case you’re interested), but I make good food for my family, and especially those chocolate chip cookies.  So a number of years ago when we had new neighbors move in across the street, I whipped up a batch of my cookies and took them over as a welcoming gift.  The wife made a comment about how soft they were, and I proudly let her in on my little secret.  Then her husband informed me that since his mother burned everything while he was growing up, he got used to burned cookies and actually preferred them.  Oh.  Um, thank you?

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Guilty Consciences

Mommy guilt is a powerful thing, as most mothers can tell you.  Many of us worry that somehow we’re completely messing things up for our kids.  There are so many different books out there telling us how we “should” be parenting, and a lot of us read them only to realize we fall far short.  We worry that we’re damaging our kids for life, that they’ll be ruined forever if we do this parenting thing wrong.  Hence the painfully true E-Card that says, “Behind every great kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it up.”  One of the most encouraging books I’ve read is Mommy Grace: Erasing Your Mommy Guilt by Sheila Shuller Coleman.  I really need to re-read that book, because just last week we had a really bad morning, and I felt guilty about it the rest of the day.  Let me illustrate, but read on at your own risk…

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Fender Benders

It was not a good morning. At. All. I had accomplished the crazy morning dash of getting the kids ready for school and out the door on time, but as I pulled into the empty parking lot I realized we were on a two hour fog delay. At least, that’s what I assume. We didn’t have fog by our house, and since this was before the days of text notifications for delays and cancellations, parents were left to their own discretion to check the radio or TV for delays. I, obviously, hadn’t deemed it necessary to check, so here we were sitting at school fully ready for the day two hours early. But the day was about to get worse.
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One of the things I love about Jesus’ parables is how unbelievable some of them are.  He throws in so many unexpected twists and characters that there’s no possible way some of those parables could ever actually happen.  A man who sells all he has to get one pearl?  Sure.  The story of the workers in the vineyard, where the owner pays the guys who worked one hour the same thing he paid the guys who worked 12 hours?  Never going to happen in the real world.  Imagine pitching, say, “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant” as a TV show idea.  Um, yeah, we can’t use this.  Sorry, but it’s just too far-fetched.  This guy’s debt is unrealistic, and there’s no way the king would just cancel it all because he asked him to.  And then for him to be such a jerk to his fellow worker regarding his small debt is completely ridiculous.  Give us something people can believe.   But here’s the thing- this story has happened.  And you’re one of the main characters.

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