Of Little Girls and Kittens




Our cat has obligingly produced yet another litter of fine kittens. This time she gave birth under the porch, not in the van. I thought that was a much more appropriate place. We weren’t even aware of the kittens until they tottered out, blinking their milky blue eyes at the sunshine. To say my girls were thrilled would be an understatement.

 Since the colder weather has come, I have relaxed my rule of “NO kittens in the house” to “IF they poo, you will clean it up.” Parental compromise, there you have it. Since we cleaned out the toy box, this is how they use it. I think it is a win all around. 🙂

Does God Throw People Under the Bus?

The thought caught me off guard when I was reading through Job’s story, agonizing with him in his questions, despising the dastardly wiles of Satan as he taunted God about Job’s seeming cupboard love. “He only worships You because You have blessed him and You protect him. Take that away and he will curse You to Your face.” This was not Job’s reputation on the line. This was about God, about whether He is trustworthy or not. So God gave Satan permission to take it all away, all but his breath. Can you imagine how much God must have trusted that Job would continue to worship Him in the middle of all his afflictions?

I read Job’s protests of blamelessness to his uncomforting friends who thought surely he had sinned to deserve all this calamity. I feel his bewildered questions, the lack of divine rescue causing him such turmoil. And yet, Job worshiped! Not once did he blaspheme God with accusations of unfaithfulness. Job worshiped in the face of the most inscrutably unfair events that could have possibly come into his life.

I shake my head in amazement. Can I understand inscrutable? Am I okay with a God so sovereign? One Who may give the Devil permission to make my life uncomfortable as hell? I mean that literally.

People say, “Oh, God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I no longer agree with that statement. I think He gives us more than we can handle pretty often. I believe that He wants us to find Him there, in our problems. I am simple enough to believe that He still says to Satan, “Have you seen my faithful servant down there, who will worship Me in every circumstance?”

If there is anything I have learned in the last few years of plodding toward Gabe’s nursing degree, it is this: I have settled it, deep down in my soul, that I CANNOT. Having always liked to be organized, capable, and managed, it was a difficult place for me. I had more than I could handle. A lot more. All I had to do was admit it, and I found a “strength in trouble”. I discovered new depths of ugliness in my flesh, and realized profoundly that anything sweet and lovely in my life comes purely from the redeeming work of Jesus.

For this faithfulness, I worship. While I would not ever suggest that my life parallels that of Job, I do know that I worship God in a different way than I did before severe testings came my way, those things I hated that I could not handle or fix. I am guessing Job did, too, when he was on the other side of his abyss of trials.

Maybe you feel “thrown under the bus” because of circumstances that are crushing you. Maybe God is showing Satan that you will worship Him anyway.

Diet Suicide

I think it is wonderful and funny how November brings out the pumpkin in us all. Even if you just dip a toe into Pinterest, it  will come back to you with its stomach growling and its brain teaming with recipes for pumpkin goodness.

I do it every year. Starting with gobs, working my way through lattes, after having a grand flop of a pumpkin roll, I found myself drooling over this recipe for donuts.

Oh my. Goodness. I knew it was not wise, seeing as I had set myself a sugar fast goal. But I reasoned that the kids and the man deserved donuts, even if I didn’t. They were super easy to make. I am afraid I broke the fast and ate pretty much sugar, but it was also vegetables and grains, so I told myself. You really should try these. The pumpkin window will close before long.

The Monk and Me

“…we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of GOD, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

That is what Brother Lawrence said. He was not educated enough to be a cleric in the monastery, so he worked in the kitchen, at the constant beck and call of his superiors. He also said this:

“Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”

And this:

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.[1]

I have been reading “The Practice of the Presence of God” and finding it very relevant to my life. So, what do I have in common with a French Carmelite monk from the 17th century? I suspect it has a lot to do with my life in the kitchen, my life of scrubbing and being at others’ needy beck and call. Do you ever feel like I do? That I do for free what you couldn’t pay a lot of people to do?

A wise aunt of mine advised me that the best way to deal with the repetitive nature of my household work is to learn to enjoy it. I get that. It totally makes sense. I actually really got a kick out of raising fat cabbages in my garden, shredding them up and making them into sour kraut. It was a satisfying project that turned out well, with 16 filled pint jars to show for it. I like baking carrot cake and spreading thick cream cheese icing on it. I really enjoy sewing cute little dresses for my girls, and making them matching blankets for their toddler beds.

But there are a few things I do not like, no matter how much Pollyanna logic I employ. I will never choose to iron clothes for fun. Neither will I just wish I would have something to clean. So what can I do when I really hate to do the thing that must be done? I can choose to worship. I can offer up the thing that I am doing to God and believe that it is acceptable and pleasing to Him, just as pleasing as if I were rescuing orphans or preaching the Gospel. It comes back to the love that Brother Lawrence described. The worst menial task I can imagine can be offered up to Jesus and become transformed into love’s work.

I am reminded of an early morning in Africa, just after the roosters started crowing. I was on a short term mission trip, and I heard someone heartily singing, “It is joy unspeakable and full of glory, full of glory, full of glory…” I wondered what on earth the guy was doing so early in the morning, what it could be that made him so happy. Peeking out the window, I saw him in the field next door, digging a hole to bury the contents of the toilet bucket.

Believe me, I am not at that exalted plain. I get really tired and I lose my joy, and I mutter and grumble about some of my tasks. That is why I am finding Brother Lawrence to be such excellent company these days.


They say if you wait long enough, your children eventually do grow up and mature and quit writing on walls and playing in the toilet. I know this, but sometimes I feel like I have been in this season forever, where I have to constantly be on high alert for clandestine activities going on in the next room. I realize that is because I have had a toddler for 9 years, just not constantly the same one. Still, that can give one the illusion that one is not making any progress.
Well. Yesterday I awoke feeling dreadful, head all stuffed up and bones hurting. That had no effect on the littles who are always up between 6 and 7. So I called my big boy to my room, croaked pathetically, and asked if he could please make me a cup of tea and feed the other children leftover pancakes. I saw a mantle of responsibility fall onto him as he importantly went out and told the rest of the kids that they have to be quiet because Mama is sick. I grinned and sank happily down into my bed. Just an extra half hour of quietness with a cup of tea, and the realization that we are, indeed, making progress.

All We Need Is More Floor Space

All We Need Is More Floor Space

I did a bold thing about a month ago, one that I had muttered and threatened to do every time I stumbled over the shape sorter bucket or picked my way through the rubble after the girls had played Find the Bottom of the Toy Box. The boys moved their treasures to their drawers a few years ago, and their very prized toys from tot-hood were put into their keep sakes boxes in the attic. All their Legos and Creative Toys With Millions of Small Parts are stored in plastic boxes, with only one species at a time being allowed into the outside world.

But the toy box still ran over with lots of stuff that nobody ever really played with except in odd moments of setting up store. At bedtime a favorite stall tactic was dithering over which stuffed animal to sleep with tonight. Other than that, they ignored them. So I took out everything except two dolls and two purses with a few dolly accessories. Everything. I had read this blog post that gave me courage to be radical. (I can’t make the link work here, but I will post it in the comments.) Olivia took one look at the pristine condition of their room and the toy box and wailed, “WHERE are our TOYS?” But you know what? That was the last I heard about it. They didn’t miss one single thing. I put them all into the attic, because a long winter ahead with a box full of newly interesting stuff to play with occasionally will be a life saver. This was an experiment for us. I am sure there are seasons when the toy box will fill up again, and we will continue to give birthday gifts. The baby has a basket with a couple of pull along toys and Little People. The girls play with their one doll each, and give them much better care than they did when they had a family of a half dozen. I mean, they actually keep them clothed! They don’t fight much now. They trade. They also draw, snibble, paste and color. They string beads, look at books, or play in their play house/sand box on nice days. As for me, I haven’t stumbled over the shape sorter bucket in a month.