Thursday, August 25, 2011

I never was much for wrestling...

***For reasons beyond my control, sometimes the links I include in my posts don't highlight themselves. So just FYI, anything in BOLD is a link:)***

A few posts back, I was fretting over our "new summer schedule"...but summer seems to have vaporized. It's all a fog really...
And I'm not going to lie, I shed quite a few tears the night before school started. I love my children. And even though some days are REALLY tricky, I miss them when they are gone.

Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. Time keeps on ticking away...They keep growing and learning. The laundry keeps piling and the sink keeps filling. Messes keep happening and papers need sorting. Knees get scraped and feelings get hurt. Things keep breaking and bills keep coming. And when I focus on what sometimes seems like the hugeness of the urgency of all those little things, piled one on top of another, it can SEEM overwhelming.
I can get so caught up in the daily chaos...but thankfulness can replace that feeling of drowning. Like this for instance...

I was staring this in the face today.

And just to give you a better perspective, here's another photo that shows just how much of our kitchen table these beans covered.

Imagine the wave of that "overwhelming" feeling that washed over me when I saw my dear husband carrying in two large buckets of beans last night. Knowing they would be sitting in my kitchen, just waiting to be cleaned, snapped, and canned. All the while, breakfast needs to made, get kids off to school, kitchen needing cleaned, sheets to be washed, ornery toddler needing chased and changed, beautiful weather calling the little ones outside, lunch to make, books to be read, settle the kids for naps...yes, the beans, yes, I'm getting there...the beans.

Lovely beans from a generous "Farmer Uncle". A beautiful blessing often taken for granted because I'm wrapped up in the chaotic, minute details of our life.

I sit in the quiet of nap time, to begin the cleaning and snapping. And I pray. Simply talking to God. Thanking Him for our abundant blessings and asking questions that I can't possibly know the answer to. I wrestle with the unanswerable questions...Asking how it is that we have the "luxury" of so many green beans and all this...

How is it that we have this bountiful produce growing in a little plot of dirt in our yard,
when there is currently a severe famine in East Africa?

I cried, well sobbed actually, as those haunting images of starvation first sunk deep into my heart and mind. Changing the way that I think about so many things.

I sometimes close myself off to these things, I think. Because I never was much for wrestling. Wrestling with those hard questions. A person can become obsessed with the sadness of the severe poverty in SO many other countries. I block it out, because here in good old US of A our version of "poverty" can sometimes still include big screen tv's, video game consoles, and junk food. So many times I try to just shield myself from the atrocity in the world by "blowing it off"...I hear about stuff like this and often times think, "How terribly sad." and then I go on with my day and go off the deep end about how "overwhelmed" I am...

But now, those images seem to flash to the forefront of my mind, just as my mouth gets ready to spew complaints about our water filter being broken or the work that comes with the bounty of our growing vegetable garden.
How blessed am I that I've never heard my children screaming (or even worse, being silent) because they are starving to death?

Overwhelmed is not dealing with five lively, HEALTHY children, while knowing I have a huge load of green beans to can.
Overwhelmed is not spending a lot of time chopping up vegetables to make fresh salsa, only to find out it ended up too salty.
Overwhelmed is not frantically searching the fridge to decide what to make for supper in less than half an hour.
Overwhelmed is not the time and energy it takes to manage the kiddos while cutting up our home-grown produce to make a yummy meal like this...

These things are not problems to be overwhelmed by, but gifts of grace for which I can choose to be thankful.

Overwhelmed IS walking miles and miles to wait in long lines for a small ration of food that won't possibly be enough to feed your whole family.

Me. Here. Complaining about a broken water filter, when so many people in the world have not a drop of clean water to drink? The only water they have is that of which I wouldn't even consider sticking my foot in. Filthy. Unsanitary. That is the kind of water that should be considered undrinkable. Not my, always available, at the turn of a knob, freely flowing faucet water.
I'm trying more to think twice before I speak. How can I NOT be grateful? I cannot understand it, cannot wrap what's left of my brain around it...but I just have to be thankful for the beans, and the "not-filtered" water AND our beautiful chaos and trust that this famine is not just a sad situation, worthy of tears, but a call to action. Bringing to mind that often, well-used phrase "Living simply so that others may simply live"...

If you, too, feel moved by this situation, please consider giving to any of these worthy and responsible organizations to help provide relief to many who desperately need it.

Compassion International

Samaritan's Purse

Mennonite Central Committee

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ "
Matthew 25:34-40

A few more links for you to ponder:

For a little more perspective on what really matters...Lysa TerKeurst @ Proverbs 31: What do I have to be angry about?

The beautiful and thought provoking writing of Ann Voskamp @ The Holy Experience: When you're dying to live radical: Fight the Middle Ground

A new song by Shaun Groves--All's Grace

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