The Juggler

"But the final answer to all feelings of inferiority
is to remind yourself that God
loves, redeems, pardons, restores, 
protects, keeps and uses
misfits, outsiders, and failures
no less than He does beautiful people
of the kind that keep crossing your path
and of whom you have been wishing you were one."
~ J. I. Packer

The children were laughing with delight as the juggler tripped and rolled to the hip hoppity music he played on his small instrument.  He made funny faces and pretended to be careless, dropping the balls he would juggle.  The little man so enjoyed to hear the laughter of his young crowd that he even performed beyond his own abilities, surprising himself along the way.   He always wore a funny sort of outfit to enhance his ridiculousness and to advance his appearance of hilarity.  The children, of course, loved it and him.  Even the simple minded enjoyed his show from time to time.  Others put up with the juggler and either pretended not to see or just ignored his show.  The parents of the children would have to stay, somewhat embarrassed, to be seen in close proximity to such foolishness.

The juggler knew this, of course, and in moments of solitude would rehearse over and over again the seeming rejection in his mind.  He never wanted to be silly or useless.  The little man, like most humans, wanted to be respected and well thought of.  In reality, he wanted more than that.  It was appreciation that he craved and the need to be useful.  Always, he felt like he was imposing himself on the crowd, forcing his way into acceptance.  It never really worked though and he would go to his home with the same feelings of rejection.

No one was out and out mean to him.  But it was as if he were invisible.  The juggler had tried other means of employment but he darned near starved to death.  At least being a juggler he had food on the table even though it wasn't much.  Day after day he would try and think of ways to be more than what he was but then at the end of the day he would come with nothing to show for it.  The little man was ashamed to admit that he wondered why God had made  him this way.  Perish the thought that anyone would know what was going on in his mind.  Better to play the happy juggler with appearances of not having a care in the world than for people to know how deeply he struggled with his feelings of inadequacy.  He really was quite miserable.

All that changed on the morning when the Master Commander came to see him.  The little man was getting ready for his daily show.  He was putting on the silly hat with a bell on it.  Every time he moved his head the bell would tinkle so there was constant noise.  It wasn't a terrible clang but just a small tinkle.  By the end of the day, though, he would have a headache from the ongoing tinkle, tinkle, tang, tinkle.  The juggler was thinking on this as there was a knock at the door.  He almost missed it as he was in such thoughts about the tinkle on his head.  But there it was, "knock, knock and then another knock-bang".  He jumped, not sure what to do.  Because, you see, no one ever knocked on his door.  His movements were such that he almost tripped over his own feet.  So by the time he actually got to the door he was out of breath.  When he opened the door the little bit of breath he did have was sucked inside his diaphragm so as not to be able to speak.

The MC smiled and one could feel the love and kindness ooze out of Him toward the juggler.  The most amazing words came out of the Lord's mouth.  The little man stood there with eyes wide open and mouth almost dropping to the floor.  "I need your help, my little friend.  Is it possible to take a moment of your time to hear what I have to say?".  Frozen, the juggler could hardly even move backward to let the Master Commander in.  With his mouth still open wide, he shook his head in agreement and opened the door farther as the MC came in and waited for the door to close.

"What did Jesus mean when He said that Christians are salt?
Notice that He said, "You are the salt of the earth."  
The mood of the verb is indicative (a statement of fact), 
not imperative (a command to be something).  
Jesus is not urging His disciples to become something they are not; 
He is telling them what they are as Kingdom people.  
The implication is that they are to be what God has thus made them."
~ Sinclair Ferguson

"Jesus' illustration of salt is an encouraging reminder 
that the apparently cheap and insignificant 
can influence its environment out of all proportion to our expectation."
~ Sinclair Ferguson

As the juggler listened to the MC's plan one could see the fear rise up in the little man's eyes.  Of course, the plan could work but it would mean sacrifice and danger.  Such of the likes that the juggler had never seen or experienced in his short and silly years.  It was to be a rescue plan for a much-loved daughter of the Kingdom.  The Master Commander was putting a team together and the juggler had no small part to play.  What would happen if he failed to do his part?  Friends, coworkers, teammates could be hurt or even killed because of him.  The risk was so great.  A full-blown panic attack was rising up in the little man's heart.  His breathing was labored and short.  His eyes began to blur as he put his head between his knees.  

And then . . . .  he felt the warm hand of the MC rest upon his back.  His eyes came back into focus and his breathing started to normalize.    "Do not worry, my little friend.  For I will be with you and uphold you with my right hand.  I will strengthen and help you.  You will not be alone."   The words of the Master Commander came to him in a whisper as if blowing on him and into him something akin to bravery.

The juggler rose then to stand in front of the MC.  He felt taller and stronger in that moment.  As his eyes rose to meet his Lord's the answer reflected from them.  With gladness the MC grinned as a chuckle arose deep in His throat.  It was reported later that there was uproarious laughter coming from the juggler's home.

"For consider your calling, brothers:
not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, 
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.  
But God chose what is foolish in the world 
to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world
to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not,
to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."
~ I Corinthians 1:26-29

Everyone has struggled with feelings of inferiority at one time or another.  There will always be someone who does it better, looks put together more and has that air of confidence we wished we had.  The truth is this:  we are foolish to think that we are strong in our self; full of pride to think one looks better than an other and mistaken to believe that any confidence comes from deep down in our inner core.  The human race is broken from the cradle to the grave.  This is why we need, desperately need, a Savior.  One that has taken our place and fulfilled all that is required to make us whole again.  If you need strength; go to the One who has conquered sin and death.  If you need confidence; rely on the One who is faithful and true.  If you need assurance that you are beautiful; go to the One who adorns you with the jewels of the Kingdom and sees you as no other can.   Outside of this is nothing more than a fantasy, a whisper of what it really means to live.  If you really want to be all that you can be give your life over to the Life-giver.  

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, 
whom God made our wisdom 
and our righteousness 
and sanctification 
and redemption.
Therefore, as it is written,
Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
~ I Corinthians 1:30-31


At the End of It All

"Teach us to number our days
that we might get a heart of wisdom."
~ Psalm 90:12

At the end of July, for part of the week,  Lydia and I along with Esther and her 4 children went to the beach.  The Oregon coast is lovely and I happen to have friends who own a place in Seaside, OR.  These are the most gracious people I know.  They have offered their place to us at any time as a place of respite and relaxation.  This is what we did.

We went down on a Wednesday and the weather was the best.  The kind that is picture perfect with sun shining and warm sand to surround your feet.  It is a particular delight to watch my grandchildren dig and run and jump and get absolutely covered in sand to where you would think that most of the beach ends up in their shorts.

I do have to admit that I'm not so much of a beachy person.  I struggle with the feeling of salty skin and sandy toes.  But it was so worth it to be with those I love and watch their enjoyment.  It's like the tension of life just slips away with the wind that comes off of the ocean.  What I do find amazement in is the sheer majesty of the ocean and waves coming and going.  Such power and beauty all together in the roar of the tide.  It is astounding and fearful all at the same time.

There has always been a fear of the power of the ocean for me.  I have marveled at the beauty from a distance.  I'm afraid that I have taught this to my children telling them never, no never turn your back on the ocean.  Hopefully they aren't scarred but have a healthy regard for the power of the surf.  There isn't many remembrances of going to the ocean as a child.  In talking with my mother this week she mentioned that she was never a beachy person either.  We just always did the camping thing in the mountains with lakes and ski boats.  But I digress ~

A number of my children love the ocean/beach thing.  And, of course, it is beautiful.  Quite unlike anything else.  We, I suppose, tend to take it for granted as it is in such close proximity to where we live.  But there are others who travel long distances to experience the Oregon coast and the town of Seaside in particular.

In true Pacific NW style it rained on the next day (Thursday).  This wasn't a gully washer just some drizzle.  So when the others decided to go to the beach I decided to stay behind and have a power nap (this is what I call them as it sounds so much more impressive).  After waking up I gathered my things and headed down to the beach.  It it only a few blocks walk, no driving needed.  It wasn't cold, just a bit overcast with clouds and, of course, windy.

There was no expectation to see what was next or to witness for the next hour or so the drama that was happening.  As I plunked my folding lawn chair into the sand I could see farther to my right a line of people in the surf holding hands.  There were Search and Rescue vehicles with lights flashing and a jet ski in the surf.  Then the Coast Guard showed up in their helicopter going back and forth close to the shore line and finally dropping a swimmer into the water.

It turned out to be a vacation from hell for one family who lost a son that day.  As we watched the rescue efforts from a distance we couldn't help feel the anxiety and sorrow.  Trying to hold the tears in check while at the same time praying for a miracle.   One afternoon and all was changed for this family.  It was supposed to be a happy time at the beach, carefree with no worries.  Instead tragedy came with it's friends called heartache and despair.

We never know what tomorrow will bring.  Oh, we make plans and have goals but that can change in a moment.  For all the things that we think we have control over the reality is this: we really don't have much control over anything.  Most of our comings and goings belong to the Master of the universe, the God who is all wise, all knowing, and so much more.  We have only been given a certain number of days.  No one can add to it or take away from it.  No matter how hard we try to cheat death, it will come.  This is the hard reality of being human.

Life is precious.  Each day brings new mercies that I don't think I fully comprehend.  What we live for determines the quality of our lives.  Fame and fortune can be nice but at the end of it all is it enough?  Goals are good but once achieved, what then?  At the end of our lives what do you want said about you?  When this mortal body ceases to breathe what is your hope?

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die." (John 11:25).  The Savior conquered death when he rose from the grave.  If we put our trust in the Christ we can ultimately triumph over death.  There is hope beyond the grave.

"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"
I Corinthians 15:55

Might I encourage you to think about the end of your life.  On that last day when you have that one last breath what will be your hope?  Living a good life will not be enough and no one can say that they have lived a perfect life.  I take that back.  There is One who has and He lived it for you.  So on that very last day of your life can you say, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

There is an eternity coming.  Where do you hope to be?  

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 15:57


The Thief

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
John 10:10

We have blueberry bushes on our property.  They have been pampered with a watering system, fertilizer and fencing.  The fencing is to keep the four legged critters out (our dogs mostly).  Dan did most of the work putting the fencing in.  He  even put a couple of gates into the berry patch for easy access.  I suppose it wasn't necessary as the fence is only two feet tall and can be stepped over.  But it looks good nevertheless.  Because the gates look so good there is talk of putting in a picket fence some day.

The goal of keeping the dogs out has been accomplished only to be followed by the thieving birds. We have had an extraordinary spring.  Consequently, we are about a month ahead of gardening.  I have tomatoes plants that are 3 feet tall (daughter Hannah told me about this awesome fertilizers for tomatoes which, I'm sure, contributed) and my strawberries gave their best in May.  

My blueberry bushes have matured to the place that I should be getting around ten pounds of berries per bush, possibly even more.  I have gotten maybe one pound total.  The birds have found them and have been stripping the bushes of all the beautiful blue fruit.  So, on to the next quest of keeping critters out.  Honestly, how did the pioneers survive all the wildlife to get any fruit at all?  We have silvery streamers on stakes, netting and I've even looked at sonic wave instruments.  By the time we are successful, if that ever happens,  a pound of blueberries will be worth mucho dollars.

I am contemplating on putting birds in the same category as weeds.  You know, part of the fall of Adam.  Although I do understand that God created the birds on the fifth day and called it good.  Can I say that birds are good but that, at the moment, I don't like them?  They are so cute when they sit on our bird feeders eating bird seed.  Hummingbirds are really my favorite and they don't eat blueberries.  Why can't the other birds just eat bird seed?

We have plenty of bushes and I thought that if I had enough bushes we could share.  I really don't mind feeding the birds SOME of the blueberries but the little thieves are taking them ALL!  As I look on Pinterest for solutions I realize that I'm not the only one with this problem.  How is it that something that God calls good be such a problem?

"cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, 
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust, 
and to dust you shall return."
~ Genesis 3:17-19

The realization that this is not a global problem and there are much larger battles being fought is true. But at this moment feeling the angst of thieving birds I consider how the sweat on the face, the toiling to produce something good is also a battle.  Reminds me of another profound battle.  Since the fall of Adam we have been cursed.  The thief came and with a lie produced loss and suffering.  Humanity has been living with the results ever since.  And yet in my struggle against thieving birds I can be extremely thankful.  The God who created the world didn't leave us to wallow in the ultimate curse but sent Someone to take our place.  The first gospel pronounced (proto evangalem) right after the fall of Adam was given to the woman promising her offspring to bruise the serpents head.  God made a way!  
"but God shows his love for us
in that while we were still sinners
Christ died for us."
~ Romans 5:8

It's always good to put life into perspective.  I won't die if the blueberry crop is minuscule this year.  On the other hand, life without Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is a death of the worst kind.  There is no hope without Him.  There is no point, no joy and certainly no eternal life to look forward to.

We are still battling against thieving birds.   But I am seeing a glimmer of hope.  Dan did some more research (probably not on Pinterest) and bought some plastic snakes and beach ball hanging things with big eyes.   Our blueberry patch looks a bit like a circus but I am happy to report that Dan and I actually picked some blueberries tonight.  However, I couldn't help think of how many of the little blue wonders escaped our picking and ended up in a bird's belly.

I had had visions of lots of blueberries so that I could invite family and friends over to pick and enjoy.  I'm still going to hope for that and we will just have to see what happens.  So the battle continues!

I wish it was as easy to do battle with the father of lies.  At any given moment he whispers in our ear lies to confuse, disappoint and bring us down.  This is what he did in the Garden.  He lied about God.  He lied to Eve and to Adam.  His goal is to bring division between peoples but especially between you and God.  As Christians we have to remember, always remember, that Jesus is bigger and stronger.  He has solved our biggest problem which is life apart from God.  God's promise way back in Genesis to the woman has been fulfilled in Jesus and I am a glad recipient of His kindness.

As Jesus has solved our biggest problem it is imperative that we always go to him when we hear the ugly whispers of the devil.  We need to be alert and vigilant because the liar is always looking for opportunities to cause damage to the Christian.  

"Be sober minded; be watchful. 
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, 
seeking someone to devour.  
Resist him, firm in your faith, 
knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced 
by your brotherhood throughout the world.
~ 1 Peter 5:8

Just as we have tools and weaponry to keep the thieving birds out of the blueberry patch so also has the Lord given us tools the guard against the thief of our souls.  I don't want to give up.  I hope you don't either.

*I wrote this a couple of weeks ago.  The reason that I haven't posted until today was because, as always, I needed help putting pictures on.  My trusty computer person (Lydia) did her magic so that you could see our circus blueberry patch.   And I am happy to report that we are getting more blueberries.  Yippee!


Pain in the Valley

"I have fought the good fight, 
I have finished the race, 
I have kept the faith."
~ I Timothy 4:7

There was an eery stillness in the valley now.  One could hear very little compared to the roaring of hours before.  A young woman could be heard quietly weeping over the much loved one who had ceased breathing, gone to another world altogether.  Horses were wandering free, waiting for the strong command of their masters, also gone.  The scene was ugly as devastation was evident.  This is where Bravadin  found himself as he slowly came to.  He had been left for dead which was partly true.  The young soldier was bleeding from his shoulder and his head hurt from the massive blow of the enemy. So the scene that was before him did not register to his mind.  It took quite a bit before he understood what his eyes were seeing and then he felt sick to his stomach.  The cry that came from him echoed in the valley and summed up the agony of his soul.

A battlefield is never glorious but a scenario of the struggle against evil.  There might be a victory but always at a cost.  Sometimes the cost is almost too much to bear and the wounds go so deep that one never really heals properly.  At this particular moment for Bravadian he hoped he would succumb to his wounds and quietly go to that wonderful place of rest.  As he slumped over he could hear someone approach but was too weak and heartsick to even look up.  Fresh blood dripped from his forehead and he could taste the grime and sweat on his lips.  "God, help me" he thought as he didn't even have the strength to push the words past his lips.   Gloom, despair and agony were swirling around him like a tornado.  Then he slipped back into realm of blackness again.

Kabed had received the message from his niece, Frailian.  He had hurried as fast as he could, meeting his younger brother along the way.  These three were banning together on a rescue mission.  Frailian had quickly sought out her father after the dreadful night of her mother (Honoria's) abduction.  They were making their plans in route when news of the battle and the devastation of the battlefield reached them.  Hence, their previous plans had to wait as they made their way to where the battle had been fought.  All three had been searching all night for the brother/son/nephew in hopes that he was still alive.  Both for the Old Man Warrior and his younger warrior brother the scene before them was not a new experience.  It didn't lessen the gut wrenching that they both felt as memories came back in a rush, flooding their minds with the heartache of battle.

The Warrior, Frailian and the OMW had been praying all night amongst themselves to find Bravadin.  Now they stopped and in unison joined hands to petition the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Time was always of the essence.  They knew this when they had first started out the day before towards a totally different goal.  But it was a well known fact that time was held in the Maker's hand.  And though their actions were swift they counted on the divine will of the Master Commander.  There was no question of submission to this will even though the outcome could possibly be something other than what they hoped for.   Sometimes our prayers are not always answered in the way we want but are subject to the All Knowing One.  So, consequently, it took a good remainder of the day to find what the group had been looking for.  Bravadin had succumbed to unconsciousness again.  When Frailian found him he was hardly recognizable and she had to wash his face to make sure it was him.  She cried.  When her father heard her he came running, falling to his knees to hold his son.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, 
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me."
~ Psalm 138:7

Bravadin was a good and faithful soldier.  He was true to his men and cared for them deeply.  His concern for them always superseded his own wants and desires.   So, consequently, he was much loved.  This love not only came from his family but almost everyone that knew him.  There wasn't a soldier that wouldn't follow him into battle and most wanted to be in his squadron.  Now, many of those that had followed him lay on the battlefield floor.  The fortunate ones were still alive but barely.  Many were gone, never to return to their families and the ones that loved them.  This would prove to be a heavy burden for Bravadin to bear ~ so many of his brothers-in-arms fallen on the battlefield.  He had followed the MC's orders never imagining that it would cost so much.  This, too, would be something that the young soldier would have to reconcile to himself.

The Kingdom fighters had held fast that day.  It didn't seem like a victory but the enemy was held back from advancing.  This is what had been hoped for.  Of course, the soldiers were hoping for a massive victory.  But it was not to be.  The cost for this semi-victory was much and there were those who doubted the wisdom of such a battle.  But seasoned soldiers know that victory isn't necessarily seen with the naked eye.  One has to believe though not seeing.  It takes a measure of trust in the One sending you forward to believe in victory.  If you were to ask the now fallen soldiers there would be no hesitation to do it all over again.  Such were the heroes.  The memory of them would be what stories are made of.

As the OMW and his brother lifted Bravidan into the cart they could hear a quiet moan.  However, the young warrior did not regain consciousness and wouldn't for some time.   His physical wounds, though many, would heal.  But no one knew of the mental toll this battle would have on Bravadin and of the monsters that were gleefully planning their reunion.  However, this time it would be with the brother of their old captive.

The sister could feel the ominous, cold presence of her old foe.  She knew a battle was brewing for the mind her brother.  But this time she would be the one to help instead of her mother.  She was unafraid and ready.  The Master Commander would help her and guide her to his restoration. Frailian knew that her brother was strong and that his love for the MC was great.   "The monsters are fools." she thought if they think they can gain a foot hold on Bravadin.

As the four members of this warrior family headed back to the castle the OMW was already  formulating a plan for the next venture.  Bravadin would be in the care of the healers for some time.   The Warrior remembered the time that he had barely made it to the castle to be restored.  He remembers the caring hands and the tender words.  He remembered how his body, though beaten and sore, had responded to their treatment.  He was confident that Bravadin would be in good hands.  Therefore his resolve was to go after his wife.  Although he was tired and worn out he could not lay his sword down now.  Would this battle ever end?  How he longed for the peace of the city and rest for the soul.

Kavidan was thinking the same thing.  As the two brothers left the healing wing of the castle they gave each other a knowing look.  With quick and long strides they headed to war room to plan and make preparations for Honoria's rescue.  The Master Commander was waiting for them.  His kind eyes and gentle voice beckoned them in.  As He sat down with the two brothers they realized without a word that what they desired was not going to happen.  The MC's plan for the much loved Honoria was to leave her for a time in the belly of the beast.

"Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!"
~ Psalm 37:5-7

Not always do we feel victory on the battlefield.  Often we come away broken and wounded.  We question our endeavors to fight for the right and wonder if we heard God's voice at all.  This is the way of the soldier of Christ.   We do, what we think, is our best trying to be true to what the scriptures say.  Our semi-victories bring us to our knees as we were fully expecting total conquest.  But, oh dear friend, how sweet the surrender of knowing that the battle is the Lord's.  Yes, we are called to the struggle against evil but amidst the struggle is the assurance that He leads the way and secures the final outcome.  This never is a one-time lesson as we are thick in the skull.  Yet, the Lord allows breaking in us so that He can tenderly mend us.  The wounds that come often, He will heal.  And the disillusionment that is so prevalent can turn into confidence in a loving Savior.  All is never lost.  All is gained when we look to Him.

"When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me
that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch,
but that in Christ I am reconciled, made alive and satisfied;
that I am feeble and unable to do any good,
but that in him I can do all things;
that what I now have in Christ is mine in part,
but shortly I shall have it perfectly in heaven."
~ Valley of Vision


Everyday Heroes

When the three oldest were young (3 on down to 6 months) we had gone to the beach as a family.  At this time there wasn't much extra in the way of funds so we tried to be careful where it was spent.  However, we thought it would be nice to splurge and take the girls out for a sit-down breakfast.  Long story short we left the restaurant before we were even done eating.  The table that we sat at looked like a hurricane had come through.  One of the girls had oatmeal all over the front of her while the milk that had been spilt had made more than one of us wet and soggy.   Right before we left there was that moment of shock and disbelief only to turn to laughter as we noticed onlookers gazing at the nut -cakes sitting next to them.  It was a while before we took our kids to a restaurant again.

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, 
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, 
and let her works praise her in the gates."
Proverbs 31:30-31

I have been a homemaker for almost 40 years.  I have raised 5 children, homeschooling all of them.  There are four daughters and one son who have gone on to be productive members of society.  All of them professing faith in Jesus Christ and are training their children to love Jesus and live according to His Word.  I'm really not trying to brag but I do have to admit that I'm proud of the adults my children have become (in spite of me!).  I'm pulling a trick like the apostle Paul did.  The reason I say these things is that there is something else I want to say.

It isn't at all popular to be a mom and especially if you have chosen to stay, and have been able to stay, at home to be with your children.  Its kind of like being a dinosaur.  You know ~ extinct.  Here is a little picture for you:  You are at a party and having a polite conversation with someone new.  The dreaded question comes, "What do you do for a living?"  You bravely answer that you GET to stay at home and raise the children.  Awkward silence ensues maybe with a half hearted smile from that new person you were trying to get to know.  You try to keep the conversation going but it isn't long before they have left to find someone more interesting to converse with.  It probably would have been better to tell them that you are a dog trainer instead of a soul-shaper of human beings.

We live in a topsy-turvy society to be sure.  I don't think it is getting much better either.  We have been sold a bill of goods.  In the amazing creation of an Imago Dei we've been told that children are a burden, an interruption of our life's plans, and penance for a moment of passion . It is true that children are a huge responsibility.   By the time everything is said and done the financial aspect is enough to break the bank.  There is drama involved and sleepless nights (something that never really goes away).  A mom loses her own identity of who she thinks she is to the immediate needs of the helpless ones that God has given her.  It can be a thankless job with little financial rewards.  It can break you until you don't think you will ever be put back together again.  And yet . . . .

If you are a Christian mom God has called you to a high calling.  What you do in obscurity is well known to the Lord of life.  Your sacrifice day in and day out will grant you a reward like no other.  You might not be making the big bucks but the dividends are enormous.  I'm talking about motherhood/homemaking as a divine calling from the Lord.  Where else does a woman get the opportunity to train, for a good portion of her life, someone for the eternal?  Where else does service to the Kingdom of God become more relevant?

As women, particularily those with young children who stay at home, you can feel like you are lost in some kind of little people vortex never to come out alive.  This feeling can multiply with each baby that comes.  Add to that the isolation of being at home most of the time with minimal adult conversation is reason to turn you into something not fit for adult human interaction.  I hope you can see the humor here.  If you can't, trust me, someday you will.

You are on a mission.  Quite truthfully it is just as important if you were going to some far off country to preach the gospel to the unsaved.  One of the differences here is that you aren't being fully funded in the endeavor.  It is this important and has eternal ramifications.  It is a life long journey for the sake of another.  And this is Christian work in the trenches.  Think about this deeply and with intention.  There is no other job, ministry or calling that will ask more of you, take so much from you but reward you so deeply.  It is a grave mistake to 
underestimate your importance.

For those of us that thought it would be easy we have learned through the school of hard knocks.  And I, for one, am so extremely grateful.  It has been in the trenches that I have experienced the grace of God for my failings and the courage given from the Holy Spirit to keep moving forward.  It has taught me to run to Jesus for help and trust the Bible to believe what is true.  In this school it has shown my children what really is important in life.  And now I get the extreme delight to see the process  all over again in the next generation.

Motherhood has fallen on hard times but it will never be extinguished.  It is the natural order of things.  For the Christian woman it is still a high calling and as she fears the Lord it is praise worthy.  You are the everyday heroes and I happen to think there you are endowed with super powers.  Never, never, ever think that you are someone less than.  Do not believe the nay sayers that think you should have a career to bring fulfillment.  You really don't need to feel important to be important.  I wonder if we will be surprised to see the many jewels in the crown of the women whose mission and calling was to be "mom".


Old Man Warrior

"So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
and power to all those to come."
Psalm 71:18

It was a beautiful day.  The rain had stopped and the sun was peeping out of the clouds.  Everything glistened with the rays of the sun piercing through the drops of wetness.  Steam was rising from the ground and out in the fields there was a smokey looking cover to the verdant softness.

This is what caught his eyes as he sat at the gates of the fortress.  The wizened face smiled as he closed both eyes simultaneously turning his face towards the shining sun.  Wrinkles covered his face.  Some from contemplation and others from the joy of years.  He had old eyes which was appropriate for a man his age and yet there were those times that you could still see that twinkle.  This old man had seen much in the span of his lifetime.  Many were the battles he had fought for the Master Commander.  And many were the scars to prove it.

The sun felt so good and seemed to radiate through his tired bones.  It was a good moment to reflect on years gone by and of the mercies he had received.  True, his marching orders might be a bit different these days.  But, nevertheless, they were still fierce and with resolve.  There are no vacations for warriors and a warrior he still was.  So, even though it would be nice to sit and enjoy the sunshine, he got up from his perch and, with determination, started the day.

Kabed was now a trainer in the courtyard of the MC.  His name wasn't known to many.  Most just called him Old Man Warrior.  But the Master Commander knew his name and everything about him.  So, the OMW was fine with that and let most think that he didn't have a name.  Many years ago his mother had named him Kabed as it had certain meaning.  She was longing for a son who was strong and mighty.  Funny, how a name can make someone into what it is called.  Kabed, meaning heavy, in a good sense defining that which is honorable, weighty, glorious, noble.  And this is what the Old Man Warrior had turned out to be.

Now Kabed, or Old Man Warrior, was an instructor of the young.  No more was this chiseled warrior to lead the charge toward the battle,  or so he thought.  It was the training of new recruits, young and mighty that would do the fiercest battle and it would be his charge to teach them in the ways of the fight.  He was glad for the post even though it brought a sense of melancholy.  No longer would he feel the thrill of the march, the comradeship of other soldiers and the joy of victory.  But he knew it was a wise assignment from the MC.  He trusted the Master Commander's directives and would not question the decision.  He would follow the voice of the Great Shepherd for Kabed had learned, sometimes through hard lessons, that the MC's ways were the best.  They were the best not only for the OMW but also for those around him.

The old man's body was tired even though his mind was still so very much alive.  It hurt to get up and move but this was the very thing he needed to do.   He so loved the Master Commander that it was pure joy to serve him.  It didn't matter what the MC asked of him.  Old Man Warrior was willing, even if not so able, to give it his all.  "Just give me a moment", he thought, "and everything will be moving just fine".  So he swirled his arms about and lifted his knees high to limber things up.  "Onward", was his motto.  Always onward as he started his way toward the courtyard and the daily opportunity to teach what he knew.

There were many of the young new recruits who would smile and snicker as the old man passed.  Not so those who have even spent 10 minutes in the presence of the OMW.  Great respect there was for this old man who walked with slow and halting gait.  There had been speculation that the limp was just to throw the new recruits off.  Not many knew that the old man's leg had been mangled in one of the great battles.  It was always a spectacle even to those who did know to see the teacher transform before the students.

It is like a dance.  The old man would transform right before the eyes.  At one moment he was bent over walking with a hobble.  But when  he entered the ring of training something happened to make his movements graceful and magic.  Most would be seen with their jaws dropped with wonderment.  While others would smile with knowing from seeing the scene before.  It was a sight to behold.

"even to your old age
 I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save."
Isaiah 46:4

So it was on this particular sun shiny day.  His movements were slow at first giving the recruits an advantage.  With each blow that came at him the old man would defend with such ease it would frustrate the new recruits.  In their zeal and determination the blows would come harder at the OMW. And each time would be thwarted until finally the young person lay on their backs wondering what had just happened.  The roar from the onlookers would be deafening until the new recruits would see the kind face of their trainer above holding out his hand.  In that moment each one, as so many before them,  loved the old man as a father.  

Kabed had never had a family of his own.  Something that he regretted often.  But even though he didn't have sons and daughters born through him he had many spiritual sons and daughters.  This gave him such satisfaction that, at times, he felt his heart would burst.  He knew that this too was a kindness from the MC as always the solitary are always put in families.  However, there were the times that he did indeed feel lonely.  This was always a good opportunity for him to reflect on what really is true instead of what he felt.  Even at old age he found that the tricks he employed in his younger years to be helpful now.  A warrior does not rely on one's feelings to get him through the battles but solely relies on what is true and trustworthy.  Of course feelings can be helpful if trained to line up with the truth.  It had taken the OMW years to hone this skill and even still there were moments of pause and reflection in listening through this grid.

The day was now over and training would have to wait until the morning.  Kabed could feel the muscles start to seize up from the exercise of the ring.  As he walked slowly across the courtyard he was approached by another brother in arms.  A quick glance startled the old man.  There was a foreboding radiating from his friend.  What he was about to hear would change Old Man Warrior's world yet again.

"Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heaven.
You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities 
will revive me again; 
from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness and comfort me again."
Psalm 71:19-21

The warrior's battle is never really over this side of heaven.  It can change from time to time and there might be a season of rest.   Our attitude as believers needs to be one of readiness because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.  One thing that we can be sure of is that Christ always leads the charge and we are never alone.  So, stay awake, Christian and have your hand on the sword!  There is no time to sleep.

"Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
Fight the good fight of the faith."
I Timothy 6:11b-12a