Friday, June 27, 2014

Shepherds


Summer sits thickly all around us. It's in the air that has us sweating at 8 pm as we play outside at Gramma's waiting for Daddy's surf ski practice to end. In night-time thunderstorms that leave children scrambling and disoriented. In daytime trips to the pool and the library, and watching more tv than planned.
Summer has been going on long enough that the boys earned enough quarters doing school and house work for new monster trucks. And has been busy enough that I only managed to get pictures of them with their quarters, and haven't gotten one of the monster trucks yet.


We've been blessed with visits from family. A few weeks ago it was my sister M and her daughter C. The Dude was doing swim lessons at the time but was too shy with his instructors to improve much. But a couple trips to the pool with cousin C, and he was jumping in by himself.

This week it was my sister A and her 4 kids, who are hardly kids anymore. My neice, R, who soothed baby Greystoke with professional Monica moves. L, who kept the older 2 boys entertained, Jess, the baby whisperer, and Jeff, who bonded with Aquaman over Monster Jam.

There is nothing quite like the gift of family.




The boys have started gymnastics class, and yesterday JT got to go and watch. Both Aquaman and The Dude spend the majority of the time bouncing and admiring themselves in front of the mirror. The Dude has a long winded explanation to the teachers for why he can't (or won't) do anything they ask him to do ("I don't need a drink of water. I have a water bottle in the car."), though he generally does it after a little prompting.
They love it. And I enjoy sitting for an hour in air conditioning, and relative quiet.

Greystoke has been pretty busy too.
Mostly doing this.


And this....

And a little of this....

In his brand new crib.
There is furniture all over our house, because JT's parents recently moved out of their 2nd home in Indiana, and gave us some of their furniture from it. However, JT hasn't had time to move it upstairs yet, since he is working and has competition practice twice a day, so there are dressers stacked up all over living room.
It's slightly disconcerting. But no more than the laundry that never gets caught up, or the food that is always on the floor because it seems like as soon as I get one meal cleaned up, it's already time to eat again.

JT did get the crib set up yesterday though. We're going to start with naps, since he woke up like 3 times the first hour I tried him in the crib last night.

He's a dream, this kid. Every night he sleeps a 6-8 hour stretch. During the day, he cries only briefly when he's hungry. He wakes up, eats, smiles and kicks a bunch, then takes his pacifier and drifts back off to sleep.
He is the kind of baby you read about in books. It's good I didn't have him first, I might think I had some sort of awesome baby parenting skills. But the fact is, he requires very little skill at all.



Snuggling his Wubbanub buddy.

8 weeks of Maternity leave is coming to a close.
Last week, right in the middle of the boys' first gymnastics class, my boss called me and announced that her boss had decided I could not return only 2 days a week, which had been approved 6 months ago, after all. I told her I didn't have childcare for a 3rd day, and that I would have to let her know what I would do tomorrow.



I kind of wonder why that call came in. Maybe it was to test my heart. Maybe it was to show me my heart. Maybe it was a chance for God to show me my husband's heart.


I didn't enjoy the rest of the day. The action of the evening swirled around me, and I barely had a moment to open my bible while I nursed the baby, but I had plenty of moments to utter the words: "help" to God.

And when I finally had a moment at the end of the day to discuss it with my husband, we were on the same page again: I may have been there 7 years, but it's just a job, a means to an end. My heart is at home, and anything else is just extra. I would call the next day and let my boss know that I was going to look for a per diem job.
But before I could call, she called back. They had reviewed the budget, and it was a false alarm. I was free to come back 2 days a week, "and I am so sorry to have bothered you with this."

But honestly, I'm not sorry. Because it was a reminder to me of God's promise to our family: "help is here."
It's what Greystoke's name means. Help is always here. We may not quite be able to touch Him sometimes, but it's right there, and when we jump out, He'll catch us. He always does.


I'm falling behind on my "read through the Bible in a year", but I keep plodding along at my own pace, and I'm ok with that. I've started reading it aloud whenever I am nursing Greystoke, and more and more often, I find Aquaman, coming from wherever he is playing, usually holding a monster truck, and sitting at my feet to listen.



He often stops me to ask questions. Right now I am going through Job, and he is fascinated by it. I love to see him come to deeper understanding about the ways of God, as he goes beyond just the storybook version of the Bible.

But honestly, each night as we read the Jesus Storybook Bible together, I get as much out of those same old stories as I do from my own reading. We've read through this Bible probably 10 times in the past year and a half. Often, Aquaman begs to read 2 stories, and often, I can't resist.


Last night, it was the story of the shepherds:

"Now where would you send your splendid choir? To a big concert hall maybe? Or a palace perhaps? God sent His to a little hillside, outside a little town, in the middle of the night. He sent all those angels to sing for a raggedy old bunch of shepherds watching their sheep outside of Bethlehem...you see, people thought shepherds were just nobodies, just scruffy old riff-raff. But God must have thought shepherds were very important indeed, because they're the ones He chose to tell the good news to first."


At first I thought about how sometimes I feel like scruffy old riff-raff.
Especially right now. I have no right to be sitting here writing this blog. My older boys are playing in the sandbox that has turned into a mud box since I forgot to cover it before the storm last night. I haven't even begun the laundry for the day, and I definitely haven't taken a shower.
There is bedroom furniture everywhere, all over the living room, and cereal on the floor from breakfast.


Then, I thought about the homeless man I saw, walking across the street to the park where JT was getting ready to have his competition BBQ. He had a walker, and a backpack, and I loved him.

Come to find out a little later, there he is sitting in the pavillion, and he says to JT: "is this your family? Is this your new baby?" And I brought Greystoke over to see him, and he was sitting there reading his Bible, and he said "you don't have to get up for me."
And I thought about how he thinks he's not worth getting up for.
But Jesus got up for him. Jesus didn't just get up for him. Jesus died. Just for him.
JT says that man is always at the park, and that he is definitely thirsty for God, and I'm praying that he sees how important indeed he is to God, if not in this world.

Summertime is a full and wonderful time for our family.
It is an exhausting one, with all the planning, and practicing, and fundraising, and someimtes the busyness can all feel like vanity.

But what if, today, my boys are that raggedy old bunch of shepherds? What if, so are those kids practicing their lifeguarding skills, and that homeless guy who is searching for the Lord there on the beach?

They are. They all are. And we are. And it's not so bad being nobodies. Because to God, we are very important, indeed,

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