The fall is here. Yippee! I love pulling out sweaters and coats and cozy socks. I love hot baths and warm fires. I love soup. I had tomato soup today for lunch and for dinner too. I like back to school shopping, changing leaves, football season and rain. Actually, I love the rain. I like how it sounds and how it smells. I like how everything shimmers right after it rains. Allergies are better, gravel driveways are less dusty, the whole world looks brighter. I spent a while today with a loved one who shall remain nameless searching the parking lot for a lost car. It was raining. We were all wet. I didn’t mind a bit.
When I was a child I loved jumping in rain puddles. My mother told my daughter this recently. I think it may have been to get back at me for all the shoes I wrecked as a kid jumping in rain puddles. My daughter however is not really a jump in the rain puddle kind of girl. She’s more the “laugh at the mommy who jumped in rain puddles” kind of girl. Now when it rains, she points and says “there is a big puddle mom, don’t you want to jump in it?” I do actually but that takes a certain level of commitment. Is the moment’s joy worth the soggy pants and squishy socks?
I have a new book. It’s called Taste and See by John Piper. It includes 140 meditations which are to help with “Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life”. If you need something to read that gives you a short thought that will remind you to be grateful then get a copy of this book. You can borrow mine in about 136 days. Mark your calendar. Today’s thought was all about rain. Job 5 : 8-10 talks about the amazing and unsearchable wonders of God and includes rain an example of a miracle. I grinned when I read it. Not only does rain provide a great way to irrigate crops but I think God knew that we couldn’t have sunshine every day. Rain provides a way to cool down and rest. It’s a lot like grace.
Todd Agnew’s song Grace Like Rain sums it up nicely.
Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away
I’ve had a rough patch here. A couple days ago my spouse asked what was wrong. I told him I was sad. I think it’s a combination of exhaustion, the last dredges of a cold, some lingering culture shock and a frustration about a lack of a buyer for our house. We would have to decide to sell our house in the worst realty sales month on record in the last twenty years. Nice timing.
I’m not the sad type. I tend to run as a fairly stable person. This means that I’m not usually the one to call on if you are looking for a party but I do work fairly well as a designated driver. We did a personality test one time at marriage retreat. My spouse was a golden retriever. Golden Retrievers are caring, loyal, and consistent. I was a lion. Lions get a lot done, aren’t scared to attack a problem and have a bite when they are cranky. Go figure.
Ever struggle with a bible verse? I do sometimes. It’s because I personally believe that the Bible is true. So if there is something I read that I don’t like I struggle. But I have to tell you I still believe its true. So…here you go….I’ve got one for you.
II Corinthians 12:9 ”But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Most people love this verse. My grace is sufficient for you. What a wonderful truth and strong place to ground your feet. That’s not the bit I struggle with. I don’t particularly like the I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships bit. I’d rather delight in the answers to prayer that go the way I want. I’d rather that those insults stop. I’d rather that the hardships go away. But here is what I need to remember…
It’s not about me.
I went on a date today. With my husband. Semi-regular dates are one of the reasons we smile when we tell people we’ve been married eleven years. It was time for a date. I was gone for 17 days on a mission trip to Rwanda and then we spent the two weeks since I got home getting our house ready to sell. We’ve scrubbed, painted, hauled, boxed and sorted. We were tired. So today we went to church and then spent the afternoon doing nothing together.
At one point, we ended up at Peet’s Coffee. I had a gift card so we had a guilt free drink each. Its hard to come back from Rwanda and pay $5 for coffee. It’s also hard to keep my mouth shut. In the sermon this morning, our pastor mentioned that upon returning from Rwanda his tolerance for complaining is very low. I experienced this at Peets. The lady in front of us in line was returning her iced coffee. If you’ve ever seen a preschooler refuse to eat lima beans you have a pretty good idea what this thirty something woman was acting like. Her nose was scrunched, her voice was at a high pitch whine. She stuck out her tongue. She actually said yucky. Turns out she didn’t like the ground up coffee beans in her drink. The girl behind the counter deserves a raise for her tolerance. She made her a new non-fat, sugar free, bean free iced mocha. I said “You know the problem with people…. and my husband quite wisely shushed me. This is another reason we’re still married. He has the uncanny ability to tell when I’m headed to disaster and can frequently stop it.
I huffed out of the store with my drink talking about how that woman needs to learn about gratitude and she should try drinking the dirty water the Rwandan’s drink and she should be ashamed of herself for the example she’s setting for her daughter who watched the whole thing. Next door to Peet’s is Ulta. I marched in there and bought a bottle of leave in conditioner still fuming about the coffee woman. The lady in front of me at Ulta spent $214 on shampoo. By now I was on a roll. $214 goes a long way in Rwanda. The average skilled laborer there gets paid about $1 a day. Before I even thought about telling this to shampoo woman, my patient spouse hauled me to the car.
I was ranting about how our country probably spends more on beauty products than the entire economy of Rwanda spends of food. This is a completely made up statistic and has no basis whatsoever in reality. However, with those thoughts running through my head and the experiences in Rwanda still close to the surface I felt pretty self righteous.
Its an ugly place to be.
The truth is that Coffee woman and Shampoo woman probably both need an attitude change. But I needed one more. We could probably all spend less on frivolous things. I know I should. We could also all stand more gratitude and less pickiness. I need to quit complaining if coconut shows up in a cookie.
On the way home tonight, my daughter told me that she doesn’t want to be like Jesus. I asked her why. She said “I don’t want to grow a beard and turn into a boy”. I swallowed a laugh and assured her that wasn’t the point. I explained that really what God wants is for our hearts to be like Jesus. That’s what I want too.
I am grateful for grace that forgives my bad attitude. I’m grateful for sermons on truth. I’m grateful for dates with a husband who makes me laugh and reigns me in. I’m grateful for clean water, a warm house, and food to feed my child. I’m grateful for the courageous and graceful Rwandese people. I’m grateful for generous and creative Americans. Tomorrow I’m going to try and go complaint free. Want to join me?
On Friday we had a little patient. His mama brought him in. He wears a black t-shirt with a batman logo on it. He is probably 18 months old. The little one was dehydrated, suffering from vomiting for 4 days according to his mom. He clearly needed help. His veins were so dry that it was extremely difficult to get an IV in. Plus, it was getting dark in the clinic. We don’t have lights. So picture Lori working to find a vein with the help of a head lamp and some twilight from the window. It took four pokes and Tracie K, Alexandra, Brittany, Mama and me all holding down his body, arms and legs to get it done but Lori is a confident nurse. The IV pumps would not drip and so we then all sat there while she hand pushed in saline, 300 ccs of it, 20 ccs at a time. Brittany sat and kept a log of each syringe to make sure we kept track. Lori also gave him some anti-nausea meds and he should be feeling much better. He is supposed to come back today for follow up. His mama is a strong woman because she did not flinch or cry. Perhaps it’s because life in Rwanda is so hard, there aren’t tears for just an IV. Perhaps it’s because she knew we were trying to help. Maybe she cried later. I hope it’s not that she has already given up. The nurses tell me that this little guy will be fine, that the fact that he was struggling was a really good sign. They say if the babies don’t cry or struggle that’s when you worry. Pray for this boy and his mom. Pray he’ll be healthy and that she will continue to struggle because it’s a sign of hope