The only one

It’s six o’clock in the morning and my alarm goes off.  I hit the snooze but only twice.  I’d gone to bed the night before thinking “Easter is in four days and we haven’t even done an amazing craft project or talked deep about the meaning of this, the most holy day in all our faith”.  Right as I will myself out of bed to do some thinking, preparing, praying on the matter I hear a banging so loud that Chris leaps out of bed running.  Sounds like someone is taking a hammer to our front door.  He quickly realizes its Finn.  Pounding on his door from the inside with his little two year old fist and a plastic baseball bat.  He’s learned to climb out of his crib, strip himself naked, turn on the lights in his room and then perch precariously on his toy tool bench so he can peek out the window down our street.  Every morning.  But usually he hollers or taps softly.  And usually at a decent hour.  Just not today.

My attitude goes down a few notches as I face the prospect of finding peace and quiet with a precocious little man by my side.  I coarsely tell him that I’m really quite unhappy he is awake at this hour and his brown saucer eyes just look at me and smile.  He wants a cheese stick.  I want coffee and quiet.  I wonder if TV would keep him busy for a few minutes.  Not a chance.

While I make coffee, Finn finds his way into the laundry room, grabs two cans of Guinness left over from St Patrick’s day and hands them to me. “Need this.  Now.” he states emphatically.  I smirk just a little and say “um, no.  those aren’t yours.”  But he is two.  And two doesn’t lend itself well to sharing or being told no, especially before the sun is up.

I try to put on a tractor movie.  It’s the first time I’ve ever even attempted to occupy him with TV.  Totally fail.  He screams when I leave.  I offer him an orange.  He takes it and I go to finish with the coffee.  I come back and he shoots me an angry glare.  “Squeeze oranges.  Hmph.” he says while avoiding eye contact.  I look down and he’s squeezed a (very) juicy orange all over his shirt, pants, carpet, shoes and the couch.  Just to spite me I’m quite sure.

I lose my cool.  Tell him we don’t have a working washer at the moment and would he like to clean the carpet and wipe off the couch.  He crumbles and whimpers and says “oh, sorry mama” and helps me scrub the floor.  My contemplative morning in quiet is long gone.  I settle for sitting next to him while he eats, at the counter in the kitchen.  The words of Ezekiel sit on the page and I try to focus and soak in some piece of bread that will feed my soul this Thursday before Easter.

It is lament and prophecy one after another, depressing and weighty.  Words blur and I wonder if God could possibly say anything to my annoyed but tender and heavily burdened heart this morning.  There are so many broken pieces around me and so many questions that aren’t being answered in the way I want.  I give it one more chapter.  I get to chapter 34.

My eyes well up…this may not be an “Easter” passage but it’s the glimpse of God’s heart I need right now, this very minute.  He paints this gentle but oh-so-strong picture of his sheep and I hang on every word:

I myself will search for my sheep
I will seek out my sheep and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness
I will feed them with good pasture
They shall lie down in good grazing land
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep
I myself will make them lie down
I WILL SEEK THE LOST
I will bring back the strayed
I will bind up the injured
I will strengthen the weak
I will rescue my flock

Not a passive word in the lot.  Not I might or I could.  But I will.  And this shaky heart of mine that’s worn plain thin today needs to hear the I WILL.  I need to hear that He intends to feed my heart with good things, to strengthen me in my weakness and make me lie down when I need it.  He will bind up the places that are broken, how many times have I watched Him do just that?

And when I start to wonder what does this have to do with Easter, with the greatest sacrifice ever made it becomes clear in an instant – Jesus was the means of the rescue.  Long after those words were penned by a prophet, He came and lived those words so we could see.  He made a way for me to come.  To find my way to the cross and leave my burdens there, my bad choices, my deepest secrets and my gaping heart wounds.  To find new life and freedom that only comes from laying my own life down.

We never did a stellar project that drove home the holiday today.  But we lived and breathed together.  They watched me hurt and wiped my tears for a situation that’s so beyond my control but so near to my heart.  I talked soft to Audrey as her tremendously empathetic self wrapped little arms around me this morning, I told her “I just want to fix it, I want to make her well.  We keep asking and God isn’t doing what we’re asking.  And that’s so hard.”  Her response to me is one I hope I never, ever forget – in her tiny voice, so matter-of-fact, she looked up at me and said:

You can’t mama, there’s only one who can, you know?
It’s Jesus.

And that’s the simple truth.  He’s the rescue.  He’s the one who WILL step in and bring back lost ones, bind up broken ones.  That’s the bread for my soul today and tomorrow and the next day.

Farm baby

It’s been exactly one year since we moved out here. Since I told the kids this bedtime story.  To the big yellow house at the end of the road.  The one I’d bookmarked as a “dream” on my computer that for a year I would compare every other house to and come up lacking.  The one with space for kids to run and gardens to grow and goats to graze.  The one with the “revolving” front door that welcomes a couple dozen people on a weekly basis.  Not into perfection or Martha Stewart life but into our mess.   On our knees as we scrubbed blueberries out of the off-white carpet two weeks ago, he said to me with a smile “You know, not too many places could withstand this…”.  True.  But that’s our life in a picture….loving people and blueberry stained carpet instead of pristine spaces and no one to share them with.

I don’t know when I won’t drive down our county road and not marvel at the mountains God moved to get us here.  Hopefully never.  Forgetting the goodness is a such critical piece of what makes me forget to be thankful.

There have been countless “firsts” here.  Today was our first farm picnic next to a big John Deere tractor:

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And the first time we watched posts get slammed into the ground for our fence:

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As well as the first time I caught all five of our kids on a tractor…

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But the favorite first of all is this one:

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First farm baby, due mid-September!