Out of My Hands

I have such a hard time leaving my life and problems in God’s hands.  I find myself always trying to keep control of things and trusting in my own ability to solve my problems.  It helps me to picture a little scene more like this:

Mary stands before me with her hands open. Into them I place my time, my money, and my heart and ask her to carry them swiftly and give them to her Son. I have prayed the Memorare over them and am assured that she will do just as I ask.

What will He choose to do with my time, my money, and my heart? I feel like I have taken a bold step in handing these over to His best courier and sending them on their way.

Much like a package that has been handed over to the post office, these things are gone from my control.

May I have the grace and faith to leave them that way.

Why We Are Still Open to Life

Around the time that Molly, our eighth child, turned one the usual questions that we get asked changed in character a bit.  They went from “Are you going to have any more?” to “Surely, you are not having any more! Right?”

Having a large family means getting a lot of questions from people.  There are many nosy questions that people would never think to ask someone in a smaller family.  Mostly I am okay with that. I smile and answer questions as best I can without getting too personal.  People don’t run into large families very often any more and they are fascinated, usually in a friendly way, and just want to understand how it works to live like this.  I think it is a good thing that they are seeking to understand better.  There are those who are not so kind, but I don’t run into them very often.

But the questions we were getting as Molly graduated to toddlerhood came from unexpected sources and carried more pressure than usual.  They came from dear friends and family who have seen how hard the last year has been for us and who truly want things to be easier fur us.  They would point out how we have certainly done our part in being open to life and now it was time to move on, to expand our horizons, to live a bit for ourselves.

For a while we felt like they might be right.  Maybe it was time to close up the old womb and focus on the future, when things wouldn’t be so hard and labor intensive (in more ways than one).  I could get more involved in my ministries and writing, and not spend as much time feeling like I was going to die from either morning sickness or exhaustion from dealing with a baby who can’t sleep.  I looked around me at people who don’t have little babies in arms all the time or toddlers to chase and thought, “I could get so much done if all my kids were just a little older!”  And isn’t that a noble thing to hope for: to work for the church and school and my family in an efficient way?

So we dusted off the old charts, bought a new thermometer, and buckled down for the bumpy ride through my return to fertility while breastfeeding.

What we found though was that we weren’t really all that convinced we didn’t want another baby.  The older kids talk frequently about “when the next one comes”, and as we looked over the dinner table in the evening there was that gnawing feeling that we aren’t all here yet.  I found myself hoping that NFP would fail or I would make a mistake in my charting and the decision would just be taken out of our hands.

My husband and I discussed all these things at length.  We prayed about them and contemplated them in our minds, and our hearts.  And here are the things we discovered:

  1. God allows us to participate in creation.  Let that sink in a moment.  He lets us be a part of the creation of a whole new person, a soul that never existed before but will now exist for all time.  How can we pass that up?  Most especially when He put it in the framework of an act that brings us closer to each other and is, in a word, amazing.
  2. We are already here, doing the daily work of parenting, and we have gotten pretty good at it if I may say so.  We have adjusted to the fact that having young children around is a way of life and not just a hardship to toil our way through as quickly as possible.
  3. There is no really good time for a baby.  There is never enough money or time or sleep to prepare.  One of the other children is always needing us in a way we hadn’t anticipated.  And yet time after time we find that…
  4. Children are a gift.  They are joy, they are work, they are renewal.  As each one of our children has been unique and special and world changing, so will the next one be.  We can’t take that for granted because…
  5. Children are not a guarantee from being open to life.  I have been surrounded lately by friends who have lost babies to miscarriage, babies whose lives were cut short by disease, and those who yearn for children and suffer the heavy cross of infertility.  I have mourned with those friends and seen what it is like when that gift is taken away.  On a lighter note, I am thirty-a-lot and my body is not what it once was.  We just don’t know what will happen at this stage of the game.

I would like to point out that using Natural Family Planning to avoid pregnancy doesn’t automatically make one closed to life.  A couple can prayerfully discern that the timing isn’t right for another child.  By using the woman’s natural fertile or infertile times, we make use of the system that God designed.  When we come to a time that preventing pregnancy becomes more important, we will again use this method to work in harmony with our bodies. I am thankful that we have this to fall back on.  But for us, at this time, we feel called to release control.

We have been down the road of being actually closed to life through sterilization, and it wasn’t a good place to be.  The story of that will be coming shortly.  So for now, we have decided to throw wide the doors to life and embrace what comes.

Mexico Mission Appeal

For the last several years my older kids have gone on mission trips to Mexico with their youth group and school. The trips are arranged and made under the guidance of Amor Ministries. These trips have been life changing for Paisley, James, and Posy, giving them real experience with helping people and a real understanding of the poverty that some people live in.

On one of these Mexico mission trips, the group travels to Mexico, sleeps in tents, and spends their days building one to two houses for local families. They eat and work next to the family and others in the community there, and they especially enjoy playing with the kids.

Here are some photos of Posy’s trip last year:

Framing the house
Posy's Mexico Pictures

Taking time with the kids – Posy likes to get the kids to teach them some Spanish.
Posy's Mexico Pictures

Filling in the walls
Posy's Mexico Pictures

The Family gets the keys to their new home
Posy's Mexico Pictures

Stocked with supplies
Posy's Mexico Pictures

This year, due to budget cuts in the church, the kids have to personally fund a larger part of their trip. For Posy, this means coming up with $350 (which covers car travel, food, and her part of the building supplies) before the time of her trip in mid-February.

We need your help. We will be holding a yard sale on the 22nd of January and could use your stuff to sell, or would love to have you stop by to shop.

Monetary donations are tax deductible and any amount will help. Checks can be sent to:
Ss Simon and Jude Catherdral
6351 N 27th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85017

Please put Posy’s name on the memo line for the credit to go towards her Mexico Mission.

Finally, in her own words, here is the appeal that she wrote and was featured in our parish bulletin:

Last year I had the two of the most moving experiences in my life so far. These experiences were my first two Missions to Mexico with the Ss. Simon and Jude Youth Group. We built two houses in November (’09)and one in February (’10), for families in need, with Amor Ministries. I was nervous for my first mission last November, and I really did not know what to expect. But when I got there, even though the work was hard, I found it easy to work with a smile on my face, because I knew that I was using my own two hands to do the work of God. Then, on the next mission in February, as we were working on the house, the family from the November mission found us and came to say hello. The thing that I will never forget about this is that they still remembered my name. I wasn’t just the young high school girl that I am every other day of my life, who is not-so-good at math and decent at writing research papers. I was a girl who helped to change the life of a family; the life of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Finally I understand what it means to live out my faith and to show my faith through my actions. This year I am asking you to help my fellow teens and I as we go to Mexico once again. We all know that budgets are tight at the moment but every cent, every prayer, every donation is one that will be very appreciated.

Please consider supporting Posy for this mission! Thank you!

Living a Nightmare

Every now and then there is a story on the news that catches your attention and just breaks your heart.  Last September I saw one of those.  A mother was pulling out of a school parking lot and accidentally hit a baby in a stroller.  The baby was killed instantly, and the mother who was walking with the child was not injured badly.  The driver was not at fault, nor was the mother pushing the stroller.

I could understand though, knowing how pedestrians are sometimes hard to see, how this could happen.  My heart broke not only for the mother who lost her baby, but for the driver as well.  I couldn’t imagine the guilt she must be feeling over the incident even if it wasn’t her fault at all.  I remember thinking of them often in the following days and praying for all of them, but especially for the driver.

Life soon took over and I pushed that news story to the back of my brain.  We soon had a new baby to snuggle and a very busy Autumn ahead of us.  I had kids in four different schools then, which left me on the move a lot.  There was one in preschool, two in elementary school, and two children in different high schools.  It was hard to handle all of it, but I managed reasonably well.

But I was about to have the rug pulled out from under me.

One rainy Monday in December, I dropped Max off at preschool.  I stopped in to have a short chat with the preschool director, then headed out to the car, buckled Molly (5 weeks) and Lily (2 years) into their carseats and pondered my route to Target for some shopping before I headed out of the parking lot.

It was about 9:15am, and rush hour was well over.  I remember that there weren’t many cars on the road at all.  I pulled up to the sidewalk to make a right turn out of the parking lot and onto a large street.  I glanced this way and that, but ended up looking to my left for a couple of minutes to wait for a nice big gap.

Then I slid my foot off the brake and moved slowly forward to enter the roadway.  As I began to turn I heard a sickening THUD to my right.  I turned and saw red hair, white skin, and blue sweatshirt on my windshield before it dropped out of view.  Seconds became hours right then.  I put the car in park, got out and ran around the front of the van thinking, “Oh, he’s going to yell at me!”  But the man never yelled.  He was unconscious next to my van, his bicycle a crumpled mess a few feet away.

A couple of other cars had stopped and were calling 911, but I opened my van door to get my phone and call too.  I was shaking and crying so hard it took me several tries to dial the right numbers.  Before the operator had time to dispatch anyone, a passing ambulance stopped and began to work on the man.

My memory gets a little fuzzy at this point.  I crawled in the side of my van to sit by the babies.  I cried my eyes out.  I called Jay, I talked to the police.  I saw them cut the man’s clothes off so that they could start an IV line and get his blood pressure.  They put him in the ambulance eventually and took him away.

From the car I could see my mother in law and brother in law, but the police wouldn’t let them come near.  Jay arrived and was allowed to come and be with me.  At some point we got out of the car and the police introduced me to some crisis counselors.  But when they saw that I had family and my husband there, they gave me a water bottle and left.  I was in good hands already.

At some point the tears stopped and I just kind of went into shock.  We moved inside of the preschool and out of the rain and over the course of the morning I was interviewed by a couple different police officers and a detective. The preschool where it happened is also a church, and one of their staff came and prayed with us.  It was a prayer that I can’t remember, but that said everything in my heart at that moment.  Our friends at the preschool took Molly and Lily with them so that we could deal with the police interviews.

After a few hours we were released to go home.  I think I just curled up on the couch and watched it rain most of the rest of the day.  Some friends brought dinner.

I stayed in contact with the detective through the week, and he let me know that I had done nothing wrong.  The man was riding his bicycle very fast, against traffic, when he collided with the side of my van.  He had probably assumed that I had seen him.  The detective called me on Thursday of that week to let me know that the man, W.R., had passed away on Tuesday from his head injuries.

How does a person handle something like this?  How can you even begin to process having a part, at fault or not, in an innocent person’s death?  I had wondered that when I saw the news story in September and now I had to actually answer those questions, and I had no idea at all where to start.

And God, where was He for all of this?  The funny thing for me was that my faith was not shaken.  I knew God was still right there, wanting to comfort me, working little miracles through this event.  But mostly I just kind of wanted Him to leave me alone for a while.  My family, my friends, my church, they are all my ministries, and I viewed myself as a tool in the hand of God to work in this ministry of life He had given me.  But now I just felt broken.  I needed for God to put me back in the toolbox for a while and just let me heal.

And that is exactly what He did.

I didn’t stop praying, although my prayer often had no words.  I didn’t stop going to mass, even when every mass felt like a funeral for the man in the accident.  All I could do was to try to rest in His grace and hope that maybe someday I would feel differently.

Little miracles began to unfold.  I started going to see a counselor, who helped me to weed through all this mental and emotional mess this had left me with, and I was able to work through a lot of other things as well.  The father and step-mother of W.R. came to talk to the preschool director.  They were very concerned for my well being and gave us some information on W.R. as well.  They wanted me to know that they did not hold me responsible.

W.R. was 20 years old, living in a group home nearby because of a chromosomal abnormality that caused some delays and very large size.  He was 6’8″ and well over 250 pounds.  His organs went to four different people: heart, corneas, and both kidneys.  And his brain went for research for the chromosomal abnormality he had.  There had, to that point, never been a brain for them to study.  Those were some small comforts amidst the darkness.

2010 was very much defined for me by the recovery from this accident.  In the beginning I counted every day and week as a wonderful bit of distance that I could put between myself and the event.  Then I was able to add in months as well.  And somewhere along the line I stopped counting.  When I reached the one year mark, I stopped and had a quiet day to remember and to pray, but it wasn’t just about having distance from that time anymore, it was about where I am now and how far I have come since then.

I share this with you not to look for pity or astonishment, but just to share where I am coming from.  As this blog is largely about my spiritual journey, I think you need to see what has guided that for me.  This accident will always be one of the defining moments in my life.  I am sure I haven’t even felt the full impact of the ways it has changed me.  But I hope and pray that, no matter how horrible and tragic it was, I can continue to use those changes for good.  I am out of the toolbox again, ready to get to work.

Happy New Year! Goodbye Old Year!

It has been two months to the day since I wrote here last.  And a busy two months it has been.

We spent all of November finishing up my husband’s Christmas CD and preparing for his concert.  For him that meant finalizing all the recordings, arranging for the reproduction of the CDs and planning the concert music.  For me, this included doing the CD photography and artwork, putting together the template for the CD cover, making and cutting tickets, and helping with many random things along the way.  It kept us all frazzled and our house a mess for the full month of November.

Which left us with December to recover from the process and prepare for Christmas.  I had many thoughts I wished to share here about Advent and preparing our hearts for Jesus, but I am afraid they will have to wait for another year.

Today I am pondering the new start that comes with a new year and what new starts are all about.  I think it is our human inclination to want to always have a start and a finish to things.  Our lives naturally become separated by events that forever afterward define things that happen to us as Before the Event and After the Event.  It happens with wonderful things like the birth of each child or a move, and it happens with traumatic things as well, like an accident or a house fire.  In between those major happenings, we have little beginnings for a fresh start like Mondays or going to confession, and bigger ones like the start of a new school year and, of course, New Year’s Day.

And so here is my challenge to myself this year (and to you if you wish to take it), to embrace the fresh starts as they come via calendar or event, but to never be afraid to make one right at the moment I need it.  There is no reason that a Wednesday afternoon at 1:47pm is a bad time to make a fresh start.  It is a little less memorable, but just as worthy of being a day and time to become a better person.

So what are my goals for 2011?

The less specific versions are:
Study Scripture more and do more spiritual reading.
Pray more.
Keep my house at a higher level of clean.
Maintain and continue to improve our budget.
Be more present to my children, and stop living inside my own head so much.
Write more. (Which may conflict with the item above, and so will make time management very important.)
And to sum them all up, I hope to live my life more intentionally, taking note of the things I aspire to and the things I hope to weed out of myself and working towards those things.

Now if those aren’t pie in the sky, I don’t know what is.  Because as I have written this, there have been no less than two all out brawls between my children.  The first was over who is cleaning or not cleaning the family room and thus who should and should not be able to watch the movie tonight.  The second was the discovery of and blame for a giant smear of poop on the wall in the bathroom.  And I feel my lofty goals slipping way with the possible necessary revision into “I will not kill my children in 2011” and the extra difficult, “I will yell at least a little less.”

But there has to be some way for a busy, at-the-end-of-my-rope, mom like me to draw closer to God and form myself as a better person in the new year.  There is.  I can depend on a constant stream of new beginnings.  Those beginnings may involve a little backtracking in the way of Confession or apologies made, but a fresh start is always available to me.  And maybe if I practice a good fresh start enough times, some progress can be made.

The Moment Before

It is a relatively peaceful Sunday afternoon around here, as peaceful as they come anyway.  The kids are spread around the house making their various messes and avoiding all chores.  There are the usual stresses of not enough money or time, but that is nothing new.  There is no all encompassing trauma or worry that weighs on us today.

We are living, for at least now, in a Moment Before.  And for that I am very thankful.

Because there are times in our lives when everything can change in a very short moment.  One minute the phone rings and brings horrible news – a death, an illness, a job loss, or so many other things, and you can never go back to the moment when you didn’t know about this awful new reality that you now live in.  It can happen many other ways, a car accident for example.  One moment you are thinking about where you are going and what is coming next and the next moment all that has changed.  The entire fabric of your life is different in color and texture and the change can’t be undone.

We can’t live in fear or expectation of these phone calls, accidents, or sudden changes, because then we forget to really live our lives.  But every now and then, I like to take a deep breath and realize that this, for however long it lasts, is a Moment Before.  It is a moment that someday I will wish to be back in.  It is a moment to draw strength from God as He is found in the Ordinary.  It is a moment to smell the roses and be thankful.  Things can change in an instant and I want to be paying attention to what I have now.

Put and Take

Sometime between 6 and 9 months old my kids learn a fun little game we like to call “Put and Take”.  They hand me a toy and I hold it in their reach.  The child looks me in the face and then takes the toy back again. Put and take, over and over, like a first game of catch or a very early introduction to sharing.  It becomes a favorite game as they bring me different things and put them in my hand and take them back again.

I play this game often with God, in a slightly less cute way.

I always picture myself handing my problems over to God as if they were written on a scrap of paper and telling him that I really do trust Him.  But then after fidgeting about in front of Him for a few minutes, I reach up and grab it back.  I just need to tweak something first before He can have it.  And then I hand it back again.  “Are you sure?” He asks me, “Can I really have it?”

“Yes, I’m sure.  But let me fold it one more time just to make sure it is ready for You to handle it.”
“Ok,” He says.  He never stops me from taking it back.

And so I carry my little problem over to the corner and fuss over it, knowing that God’s hand is open and waiting.  Knowing that I need to let Him have it.

Finally, I work up the strength to hand it over to Him.  I walk away, casting glances over my shoulder.  He doesn’t seem to be doing anything with it at all and I wonder if maybe I should go ahead and handle it myself anyway.  Usually at this point, my addled brain gets distracted by some new problem or excitement and I forget to take this problem back.  My own forgetfulness keeps me out of a lot of trouble.

But while I am distracted, my loving Father takes this little paper problem and makes it into something I could never have imagined.  As Jen @ Conversion Diary so succinctly put it the other day, “I’m not good at knowing what I want; I’m terrible at knowing what I need.”

My game of Put and Take this week involved the schooling of my children.  This week I received an email, on my birthday no less, that the school where my older children go for Jr High and High School is moving.  Right now we have a 20 minute commute to their school each way and I hate it.  It makes it very hard to deal with extra curricular activities and makes for a lot of time in the car for the little ones.  This new location would bring our daily car time up to over 3 hours a day, more if someone had an extra activity or tutoring.  This is just not compatible with our family life and having small children around. 

I was devastated.  Crushed.

While my current sophomore could probably finish her high school career there, my younger kids would not have that opportunity, and that broke my heart.  I cried on and off for two days.

Then came another email exposing a potential health threat with this new location.  I have only minimally researched whether or not this is valid, but what it showed me is that I cannot foresee the possibilities here.  Maybe something will come to light and this move will be canceled.  Maybe it will go forward as planned.  I have no idea.  The message I got loud and clear is that whatever the outcome, God still holds us in His hand.  He sees things that I can’t possibly imagine.  There are two more years before this move would take place and anything could happen in that time.

So for now, I will write this problem on a piece of paper and put it back in the hand of God and say a little prayer, “Let it be done to me”.  He has the outcome under control, even if I don’t like what it will be.

Prayer and Where God Leads

My intention was to write a few posts on prayer during the month of September, but life got in the way.  Getting to the computer to write is at times a battle I just can’t win.  But I have made prayer a focus as much as I could in my own life this past month.  Maybe I should call it a blurry instead of a focus, because while I was looking that direction, I couldn’t always tell what I was looking at.

But then such is my journey towards God.  I try to be always moving closer to Him, but sometimes I am more stumbling that direction than running into His arms.

Often in times like these, when the complexities of life make my way towards Him slow going, He sends me a song. A song to give me the words to pray, or to remind me why I am here, where I am going, and who He is.  This time He called my attention to Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (I have the version on Born to Worship.)  The part that caught my attention the most right now is this:

Hitherto Thy love has blest me, thou hast brought me to this place,
And I know Thy hand will lead me, safely home by thy good grace.

It was a good reminder for me that God has put me here, to do this work set before me.  He knows I am desiring His will and His closeness.  Being frustrated for lack of time and focus is part of where I am now.  He has asked me to walk around and around Jericho, even though walking in circles doesn’t at first appear to get me any closer to Him.

A few years ago we had a house fire.  It was a life changing experience and a very traumatic thing to live through.  My sixth child was three weeks old at the time.  My two oldest children were in a charter school and I was homeschooling the rest.  To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.  One night, in my postpartum haze, I cried out to God while nursing my little baby to sleep.  I begged Him for perspective.  I felt like I was overreacting to small things and entirely missing the things that were really important.  I just couldn’t seem to balance it all out in my head.  So I sat there and nursed and cried and prayed.

The next morning at around 7:30am, my house caught fire.  Let me tell you, I acquired perspective very quickly!

I didn’t blame God for my fire, but I did think it was pretty suspicious that I had prayed for perspective and gotten a house fire out of the deal.  It took me several years to understand that the house fire was just that – a house fire.  The gift I received was that right before it, God brought me to a place where I would understand and be receptive to some very important things He was trying to tell me.  Like the lyrics in the song, “Hitherto Thy love has blest me, thou hast brought me to this place.”

Right now that place He has brought me to is filled with the pitter patter of little feet and little time for quiet prayer.  For now I have to work and fight  for every moment I can get.  But that is not so bad.  It certainly keeps me on my toes.

While this doesn’t have my favorite verse, this is a good video version of the song. Full lyrics here, I have been listening to the third one down.

Lazy?

I participate in the RCIA at my parish, and there are a few lovely ladies who are in charge of hospitality.  It is their job to make sure there is a snack available at the classes and retreats, and they even go so far as to pretty the place up a bit with candles and flowers.  I am always at a loss for how to help them and wind up standing around watching them buzz like bees over a beautiful spread of food.  I feel so lazy and useless.

Being the overwhelmed, time crunched mother that I am, I tend not to fuss as much over hospitality kind of things.  I keep things extraordinarily simple.  In my view, I’d rather be spending time with people than with setting things up in such a way that makes things extravagant.  And that is how I handle social situations in my home.  But in the RCIA, I have felt a little left out when it comes to understanding the fuss over the hospitality stuff.

I was conveying this frustration to a trusted friend one day and told her, “I guess I am just too lazy to deal with those kind of details.”

She pointed out to me that I am not lazy.  She said that no mom who does what I do in any given day could call herself lazy.  I was just being selective about where my energy went.

Let that sink in for a moment: being selective about where you direct your energy.

For those who might think I discount the value of Hospitality, (particularly in the RCIA classes) I don’t at all.  It certainly makes it a welcoming place and makes the classes more fun to attend.  That is very important.  But in my little world of limited resources of physical and mental energy often hospitality on that scale just doesn’t make the cut.  Thank God for these women with this talent and who can put their focus on it!

I find myself on a daily basis with enough work to do and things to keep track of that could keep about four people busy.  So I have – without even realizing it – learned how to prioritize where my mental and physical energy will be spent and what my time will be spent on.  On some days, that means that the most important thing I can do is sit on the floor and let the baby climb all over me.  Other days it might mean that I really, really need to get the vacuuming or bills done.  What someone else gets done in a day doesn’t mean that *I* am lazy if I am prioritizing differently.

So what is “Lazy” then?

It is defined in the dictionary as “averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion; indolent.”

To me, lazy is deciding not to try to do your necessary work when you have the ability to try to do it.

Which brings me to another form of “Lazy” that I accuse myself of:

Do you ever have one of those days when you just can’t seem to move off the couch?  Where forward motion just becomes so hard you start to wonder if you are living in jello?  You know that there is much work to be done but starting or continuing just seems to slip through your fingers.  And so you just sit there, watching TV or perusing the internet, watching minutes tick away and wondering why you’re so darn lazy today.

When this is the case I have lost the ability to do my necessary work except on the most minimal level.  This is where I have to go back and ask myself, “What is going on here?”, “What situations have led up to my feeling stuck?”  Then I can backtrack and usually locate at what point my current unravelling began.  Often it is too much stress or not allowing myself any breaks from my work of caring for my family for too long.  My brain just kind of shuts down and decides to take the break for me.

By working at a slower pace and allowing myself breaks (which are not laziness either!) I find I can prevent or at least minimize these kind of shut downs.

Major crisis will also lead to this kind of shut down, almost a paralysis, and those are on an entirely different level.  Depression, death, a major accident, illness, or shock need to be given far more time and care to deal with and often benefit from some outside help.

So I have stopped calling myself lazy.  Because, in general, I’m not.  I have no problem with getting work done, but there is too much work to not be careful about how I approach it.  There may be go-getters out there who could accomplish a lot more with the time and resources I have.  But they aren’t here. I am.  And I am doing my best to care for my family.  And in spite of occasional appearances, that is not lazy.

The Thankless Grunt Work

The mom’s bible study I participate in is doing the book of John this year, so that gives me ample opportunity to contemplate it.  You’ll probably notice quite a few posts about it over the next few months.

I find it helpful to imagine where I would be in the story if I were there or to just put myself in the place of different characters in the story.  It helps me to get a better idea of what was going on and to pull out lessons for my own life – even if those seem to be a little off the wall.

I found myself reading John 2 this week and identifying with a part of it I had never bothered to notice.  Sure, I have read the story of the Wedding at Cana a million times, but a different part jumped out at me.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.  When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.

I hate it when I want to get a drink of water and have to be the one to heft one of those giant 5 gallon bottles of water onto a cooler.  They are heavy and bulky and it is just no easy task.  Each of the SIX jars at this wedding had to be filled with at least 4 times one of those bottles with a total of 120 to 150 gallons.  And just to make things more complicated, they didn’t go and grab the garden hose and twist the nozzle to fill these babies up.  They either had to move the whole jar or make many trips with heavy jugs of water to fill them up. And they had to draw the water as well.  Essentially, what Jesus told them to do was a lot of work. 

Day after day I can find myself feeling the crushing weight of the work that needs to be done around here.  The amount of work that needs to be done before 7AM is enough to make me not want to get out of bed in the morning.  But they are a part of the grunt work behind the miracle of my family.

Jesus asks us to do incredible things as mothers.  A lot of it is just background grunt work to keep things running smoothly.  We build the set and set the stage for our children and husbands to go out into the world and make a difference.  Sometimes we get a chance to step forward and be the one making a visible difference, but more often we are carrying water.  Like the servants, it is the task Jesus has set before us.  When we do that work, we make possible His miracles.