Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hey! Whatever happened to...

How to start?  Isn't that so often the hardest part of anything?  How to take the first step?  

I'll start by explaining why I walked away from the blog, and from so many encouraging voices, for so long...

I ran into some trouble with it. 

People who remained nameless, nonetheless recognized themselves in some of my narratives and observations and became offended.  

Also, someone took one of my pictures of the girls in front of a restaurant and posted it on a questionable site, and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.    

And I became increasingly aware of the didactic nature of the mommy blogging world, especially in Christian homeschooling circles, and I didn't want to be a part of that.  I didn't want to BE that.

But all this time my husband has gently encouraged me to get back to blogging...to process my thoughts and to stack the rocks on my altar of remembrance, so to speak...and to encourage others in the way of the Word.  If my candor can serve to do that for anyone, well then, it is a worthy pursuit indeed. 

By way of re-introduction...
 
I'll tell you that Fifi is now 17, moving into her senior year, still loving literature and language and disdaining her math, and still playing the violin, preparing Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor for her senior recital sometime next spring.  She loves the Lord, questions doctrine, formulates opinions, exhibits deference for her parents, grace in her dealings with others and continues to be a wonder to watch as she blooms into a competent and God-glorifying adult. All because HE is so good.


Dumpling is 12, and so kind and merciful--she moves to the aid of anyone in need with alacrity.  Also, she finds a lot to like about math--yippee!  She, like Fifi, has been shielded from the usual middle-school story line diet of drama, infatuation and the supernatural so that she is free to be herself: befriending whomever is in the room, playing "mermaid" in the pool, and cutting up old socks to fashion clothes for her dolls. After a little time with the guitar, she chose to take up the flute--mostly because it's shiny.  She professes belief in Jesus and asks good questions about faith and assurance. 

Cuddlebug will be 10 within the week.  She's got the gift of service, always wanting to interject herself into the thick of the work, and usually doing it better than whoever taught her how to do it in the first place.  She's very animated--I blame, or credit, Pixar for this.  I often marvel that I seem to be carrying on a conversation with a cartoon character.  She enjoys composing on the piano, dancing with her sister, and would probably be a track star if God had given her to different parents.  She's often the quietest one in the room, but regularly comes out with a forever friend.  Go figure. 

And alas, my post is longer than I mean for it to be.  Clearly, I don't Twitter.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The People in the Pews

She scanned the people in the pews and wondered what in the world Jesus was trying to teach her during this festive holiday season. When she took inventory of her life, it was mostly all good. God had blessed her with a kind husband, a sure marriage, provision--not too little and not too much, and strong, healthy children that made her marvel everyday. She was not for want of anything in this regard.

So why this feeling of void? Of loneliness?

Maybe those bitter feelings that would forever be left unresolved and that she was forever confessing to the Lord were rearing their ugly heads--demanding cultivation that she refused to give because she knew it would not be to the glory of God. Her parents had estranged themselves from her--one actively, one passively--but forsaken she was, and shy of the miracle of their rebirth, forsaken she would remain.

She hadn't spoken to her dad for two years but his last words to her had been, "You have a nice family, you're doing a good job." Oh, how she cherished the memory of those words! It was the first expression of praise he had afforded her since she made it known to him a decade earlier that she was to be baptized a Christian. Until that sweet moment of reassurance, his disappointment about her choices to have more than 2 children, raise and educate them at home and be a wife to her husband had been veiled by a polite silence, but occasionally the concern would show with statements like, "Maybe she's not done yet. Maybe she'll still do something." But mostly they filled the conversational void left between their expectations and her choices with praise and relish over her younger sister's accomplishments.

Younger sister--we'll call her Ann--was a college-educated elementary school teacher. But ironically, it was never the love of teaching or an interest in bettering young people that was the object of their talk--it was only and ever about Ann's ability to run a disciplined classroom. Her boast was that her students respected her with a healthy fear and that she didn't take any guff from them. A good and necessary start to any successful learning environment, to be sure, but not what the older sister remembered best about her own profoundly-impacting teachers.

Ann and her husband both held degrees in psychology and had a very different instruction manual by which they raised their children than did the older sister--we'll call her Michelle--and her husband who now turned to the Bible for their wisdom. With that in mind, Michelle packed for a long overdue trip to visit the family and readied herself to see a different style of parenting. Her experience with educated, secular parents over many years of neighborhood playgroups taught her that parents of that persuasion tended to explain and negotiate with their toddlers. It could be irritating to watch, but it was better than nothing--which was mostly what she found when she arrived at the family home that December.

When the sisters had spoken weeks earlier, Ann had wanted Michelle's youngest children to come for a sleepover at her house. She imagined that it would be grand fun like they, themselves, had enjoyed with their own cousins 30 years ago. But, ever the pragmatist, Michelle politely declined the invitation acknowledging that her 7 and 5 year old children had never been on an overnight away from their parents and that these cousins were still very young and didn't really know one another and that she didn't think that this rare opportunity to be with the grandparents was the right time to introduce such upheaval, but that she was really looking forward to visiting with her sister's family over an evening meal during their travel. Michelle hung up the phone with a sense of acceptance--it seemed as though she and her younger sister, Ann, had finally arrived at a place where they could respect each other.

But when Michelle arrived at the family home, she was surprised to find her niece on Grandpa's couch, burying her face in a pillow, too shy to greet the far-away branch of the family. The hosts placed their favorite granddaughter to sleep between her cousins in a queen-sized bed and it didn't take long for the differences in training and personality to divide the young girls. But with Ann not in attendance during the unwelcome sleep over, it was left to Michelle to do what she could to keep the peace. For the sake of Christ, she encouraged her own daughters to exercise grace and be meek in the face of broken confidences, humiliation and favoritism.

On the second day, the niece still stayed, and the social dynamics of The Lord of the Flies began to play themselves out. Michelle and her husband decided that these cousins needed an adult to supervise their play every minute, and since Ann and her husband weren't there for more than about an hour at dinner one evening, the responsibility fell largely upon them. By the third day, the effort was so fatiguing that the visitors made their excuses and left for the airport six hours early to spend the extra time hanging around fast food restaurants and airport gates.

Within a week after she got home, Michelle--who felt she had no voice in the midst of this family--unpacked her feelings and observations about her niece's need for Jesus on a blog post. It was a blog that no one in the family ever read, she felt certain. Her mother had read through it uninvited once upon a time, but had sworn off it nearly a year earlier out of respect--so said Michelle's aunt--her mother's older sister.

But the hearsay didn't hold, because the mother came back, found the stated facts offensive, and instead of calling Michelle with her complaint, made sure that everyone in the family who weren't ever going to see it, saw it.

When the offense was brought to her attention, Michelle removed the post and wrote a public apology, but it was too late. The damage was done and spread to the far reaches of the family.

For years, Michelle had burdened her husband with late night talks about what, if anything, she should do about the situation. What should she think about the situation? "Nothing." was the counsel of her wise husband. This wasn't about the blog post. This was about her Christianity.

And he was right. The disparity between the crime and its consequence was too great to make sense. This was about Jesus. This was about Michelle the Christian being called to choose The Savior above even her own blood ties as they were clearly choosing their antagonism toward Christ over their blood tie to her.

*exhale*

And that's what the Lord taught her this season as she sat in church on Christmas Eve, feeling inexplicably lonely surrounded by so very many people. She had been called to leave mother and father and sister to follow Christ, and not one other person in the room, to her knowledge, had had to do the same. Not really.

When she surveyed the room, she imagined that among these dedicated people were the ones who would be her friend, her sister, her mother, her father. From among these people, surely Jesus would give to her 100 fold, that which she had lost for His sake.

But not today. Today, the Body is largely weakened in its fellowship because the sword of separation has been dulled by the privilege of freedom and because the world outside the church likes to pat itself on the back and imagine that it still holds a high regard for tolerance--high enough to be accepting of Christians. But someday--by some circumstance--the Lord will sharpen His blade and strengthen His Bride.

Woe. And glory!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hi. My name is Grafted Branch. And I've been cheating on my blog.

I got myself a Facebook account about this time last year, and it stole. my. internet. affections.

I'm not one for the gaming or collecting that people do there, but my time on Facebook has been great! I found my best friend from Kindergarten, my best friend from 3rd grade, my favorite teacher from 6th grade, and dozens of acquaintances from high school. Somehow, I've amassed nearly 400 friends!

But while the thing that most people like about Facebook is how much it allows them to put out there while requiring so little of them, I've become convicted this week about just how lazy I'm being by seeking to stay in my comfort zone. So. I'm back. Or, I'm trying to be. Bear with me as I try to jump back in with some semblance of order. What I really need is some writing prompts. *hint hint*

In the meantime, maybe I'll start with a few pictures from an outing we took last week to the nearby Dickens Festival...

It's snowing soap bubbles all around her, but Cuddlebug has the biggest hot chocolate that she's ever wrapped her skinny little fingers around--and she's not having to share it--so she doesn't notice.

Dumpling loves to shop. I guess if I could wear a vintage hat like she does, I'd like it pretty fine too.

Fifi is going in to check out the costume jewelry. She's got somewhere to be in a semi-formal 40s style dress later this month and it needs a little sparkle.

More to come...

I'm glad you're here. I'm glad I'm here. Let's think and remember and share and encourage one another, o.k.?

Monday, November 30, 2009

21 Days...

That's what it takes--so they say--to develop a habit. Tomorrow will be day one. Lord willing. I miss my blog. See you then? Hello? Anyone?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And here is where I discover that we're weird...

"...have never attended a day of school. They've never known a neighborhood friend. They sleep together in the same room. And the only outsiders they know are strangers their father would bring in to entertain them."

-as posted on the New York Post site about Michael Jackson's parenting choices for his children before his death.

The article goes on to quote those in the know about how kind, confident and responsible his children are. So, we appreciate the "end" but can't find it in ourselves to validate the "means" of getting there.

I know a little bit about that. *wink*

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The position has been filled.

Little Cuddlebug is about to turn 7. In the spring, she finished up her first year in the grade school program at Bible Study Fellowship. There she met a little girl named Sydney, but Sydney moved away. And then there was Rachel. On the last day of class, the two exchanged addresses.

Since then, Cuddlebug has written to Rachel more times than I can count. She wrote to Rachel to tell her what she had been doing this summer; she wrote to Rachel to share with her the fact that she was still waiting for a reply from Rachel; and she wrote to Rachel to guilt her a little bit about her civic duty to write back to her.

And when none of that worked, she pestered Dumpling to step up as the big sister. I know, because I found a letter--from Dumpling to Rachel--politely, but firmly exhorting Rachel to be about her civic duty and write back to her sister.

But really, at this point, I almost hope Rachel never replies. God knew what He was doing when He gave these two souls to the same family 26 months apart. Really, why should either look further than the other side of the room when she wants to play with a fun friend?




Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kitchen Help

After dinner, many hands make light work. There's Fifi at the sink. Jim is at the fridge and little Cuddlebug is behind him, see? Dumpling, never mind the camera. Get to work.

No chance. She and the camera were meant to be together. It beckons her and she cannot resist its lure.

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."

Ahem, Dumpling? The Bible says that if you don't work, you don't eat and I think there is dessert in the freezer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Let Her Celebrate!


Let the mother of many celebrate her numbers
and glory in the ornaments which decorate her life.
Let her not be swayed by the scoffers,
nor riled by the ignorant.
Let compassion be her way
and humility guide her thinking.
Let her pin her badge of many blessings
to her breast and be known
for what the Lord God has called her to do.

Let the mother of some celebrate her bond
and relish the closeness that more time permits.
Let her not feel scorned by Leah or Hagar,
nor be jealous of their cup.
Let diligence be her walk
and contentment lift her prayers.
Let her perceive what is hers
and freely pursue wonderful things for the dear ones
that the Lord has entrusted to her care.

Let the mother of one celebrate her treasure
and delight to invest her whole self in this one.
Let her be convinced of the harvest to come
from this Isaac, this John.
Let fear be her beginning
and wisdom be her trail.
Let her seek the Lord
and proceed with awe in raising up for Him
this blessing so special as to demand her all.

Let the mother of none worship the Lord
and praise Him for drawing her close to His heart!
Let her rise up and look beyond her gate
and make her good works available to others.
Let trust in His plan be her sustenance
and service to His will be her drink.
Let her revere the gift He has given
that she should have liberty to love Him
with a love freer from distraction.

Composed by Grafted Branch of Restoring the Years

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scarborough Faire 2009

Come on girls! It's time to go to the Student Days at the Waxahachie Renaissance Faire! Stop spinning in that chair and let's go or it will be over before we get there.

Wow! This is great! Our first friend? The town crier...

Dumpling was pretty offended for most of the rest of the day after she found out this jester named his dog, "Blockhead."

We stumbled upon this merchant selling psalteries. It was more of a financial commitment than we were willing to make, but she let each of the girls play with it for a minute anyway.

Cuddlebug stopped our conversation cold as we all heard a real song coming from her turn at the instrument! She quickly correlated the strings to piano keys and enjoyed a nice moment outside her sister's musical shadow.

Here we are waiting for the Birds of Prey show which turned out to be one of our favorite moments of the day.

On to the joust! The girls were concerned that someone might die.

And this moment was pretty spectacular!

Now to try her own hand at the rings. Uh...Dumpling...you might want to
l e a n out a little and reach for the ring.

This was her 3rd try...or her 5th...but isn't she sweet?

Cuddlebug rung them on her second try...

...it's what she does.

There were exotic animals to ride; Cuddlebug chose the elephant.

Dumpling picked the camel.

Fifi's dress kept her feet on the ground, so she visited the bows and arrows booth and ended up buying a pretty nice set up from this Christian man. His wife makes the arrows by hand.

Where to now?

Of course! The costume shop! Fifi sewed that dress she's wearing (that's another post entirely) and was intrigued by the professionally made costumes that were for sale. Well, she was interested until she discovered that they were for sale for many hundreds of dollars.


O.k....time is short girls! We had better move fast to fit it all in before the closing cannon boom!
Double time--here's a picture to prove that Mommy was there too...

Everyone but me riding the Crow's Nest...

Cuddlebug gets her brain tightened. Thankfully, when he finished, she was able to correctly answer that 2 + 2 = 4! *Whew*

$1 sanctioned opportunity to hit each other with big, padded sticks...

Cannon blast! Time's up! Get out!

King someone or other. Fifi could probably tell you who...along with his marital and blood lineage for generations in either direction.

And finally...the nobility bade a fond farewell to the common peasants. And home we went to the 21st century.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey...

More of Him; less of me.

More listening; less instructing.

More patience; less guilt.

More building up; less tearing down.

More ease; less weight.

More charity; less recompense.

More beauty; less style.

More togetherness; less "ministry."

More in the moment; less for the future.

More flexible; less brittle.

More resolve; less compromise.

More humility; less authority.

More general; less specific.

More people; less networking.

More compassion; less disdain.

To work with my hands, to be about my business quietly, to love mercy, to do justly--to walk humbly with my God.

These are the things for which I am trusting the LORD to teach me anew as I seek to return to my first love...that wondrous, far-away place that flowed with the milk of His salvation and the honey of His love when first I confessed my sin--my need--and received Jesus as my King. It was the land of my rebirth after He led me out of the bondage of my Egypt: the place where Self sat upon the throne and addiction disguised itself as freedom.

I didn't know much for the first years. I lapped the milk of the Word and didn't give a second thought to the meat that would come later. I was busy relishing the liberty that swelled in my soul: liberty to say no! to sin rather than to enjoy its fleshly pleasures and be indebted to its death; liberty to know and be known of the One Who made me; liberty to stop kicking at the goads and take up my side of the yoke and simply become who the LORD made me to be.

But the meat came too quickly, and though I was confused and discouraged, I did not choke. Instead, I gathered with others in a simpler place until my teeth budded and I could better chew the truth and beauty of this glorious God Who is the same yesterday as today and will be tomorrow.

Today I'm thinking that it's a beautiful thing to realize that He sees us in our Egypt--our house of bondage. And when our suffering is ripe, we cry aloud for rescue and He leads us out because He is so merciful. And sometimes fear and uncertainty drives us to doubt or whine, but even so, He seeks to save us from our trouble in the dry desert riddled with serpents. Some do not believe and so they perish in the midst. Others obey Him and look to the sin staked upon the pole--and live.

The gift of eternal life came like that: Jesus Christ was made sin and nailed to a cross. Saved from our common condemnation are those who look to Him--from every tribe and nation--any who will take heed of His existence by the evidence of His creation and then seek to know Him more fully in the revelation of His Holy Word.

It's there that you may seek peace and pursue it....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Love...

We've been invited to our first ever Valentine's Day party!

And we're abuzz with questions and excitement over the unknown!

Dumpling and Cuddlebug chose their card stock, Bible verse and cloth ribbon to make their Valentines special...

...but they're a little concerned over whether there will be boys in attendance. I remind them that the love of Christ is for everyone. Even boys. *wink*

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Conversations

Did you know...that white potatoes come from Peru, not Ireland. The Incas planted them in the Andes. On the border with Boliva--even today--potatoes are freeze dried and trampled to wear away the peel and produce a kind of mash.

Did you realize...that fifty years ago housewives stayed home and the milk and produce man came to them!

Have you heard...that someday, there will be a one-woman shop selling baked goods behind a candy counter where penny candy will make its come back.

Had you heard...that Charles Dickens died in the middle of his final book--a murder-mystery called Edwin Drood. Authors have been picking up the story and trying their hand at an ending ever since.

Did you know...that the last scene in the Prince Caspian movie was filmed in Slovenia.

Did you know...that the folded over lace-up back of a dress bodice is called a placket.

These are the things we five talk about as we share our space and time and meals together. And later, when the self-inflicted expectations threaten to overwhelm me, I stop and take a good hard stare at these little girls and remind myself that the people before me are not yet who they will be, but are rather--just someone they are passing through. They are to be relished.

Have you paused to take stock of what God has given you today? What are you and yours talking about?

Monday, January 26, 2009

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

...fallen off the blogging habit, that is. I'm going to try to post tomorrow night...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If I'm not around here much 'till after Christmas...

...it's because there are so many more wonderful things at which to gaze.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

And then he walked away...

Years ago, I learned a very important lesson that this week, I forgot completely.

I tend to look at all of life through the filter that is my life. I have a home. Clean clothes. Healthy food. Facilities. I assume everyone desires the same, and that if they don't have it, they want to be rescued.

Martinez proved me wrong today--and freed me, too.

I had gone downtown on an errand this morning, and when I returned, there was Martinez--hunched over, head down--on his bus bench. I pulled up and handed him another 1000 calorie pack. This time I showed him how the zipper worked.

When I got home, I implored Jim to call a Spanish-speaking friend who could translate over the speaker phone on his Blackberry and drive down the street to meet Martinez for himself. While he's at it, let's bungee roll a bedspread, a pair of jeans, socks, shirt, and offer him a coat Jim's not using anymore. Before we head out, I wash a couple of tangerines and a pear and place them in a paper sack.

But now Martinez is not there.

Jim and I duck into the nearby fast food restaurant and ask the people there if they know Martinez. They do. They don't know him by name, but they know who I'm talking about. They tell us that they give him water and sometimes they sell him food with the money motorists hand him. That's good. I feel hopeful.

We decide to hang around for a few minutes and see if he turns up. At the end of my grilled chicken sandwich, he does. He's back on his bench and so we drive over, call our friend, and ask him to explain to Martinez the options he has for shelter and care. Does he want to go?

Oh, and can he use this bed roll and clothing?

No?...Is there anything he needs?

He tells Jim, "socks." Just the socks. So we give him the socks.

After a bit of one-way conversation about the shelter options, Martinez apparently says yes, he would like to go. But he makes no motion toward that end. He just sits, dipping bread chunks into a can of black beans. Jim and I hang up with the friend and begin to discuss our options. Should we request a Spanish-speaking police officer to come transport him? Should Jim drive him over? Where is it? The main shelter isn't answering the phone today.

Meanwhile, Martinez doesn't actually seem interested in going. Did he even understand what our friend was telling him?

As we spoke to one another--Jim and me--Martinez inexplicably picked up only one of the few food bags that had accumulated on his bus bench, and walked away. He didn't look back. He didn't say bye. He just...walked..away.

I think we were uninvited guests who wouldn't leave--and...so he did. Which is kind of funny and embarrassing all at the same time.

So, I am relieved to remember this lesson. Not everyone wants what I have. Some folks choose their unenviable circumstances purposefully. They do not want to be rescued.

And maybe that was the catch this week. Maybe it wasn't a lack of selflessness that kept me from taking in Martinez--maybe it was a lack of calling.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Because greater love has no one than this...

(A continuation of yesterday's story.)

The first time I saw him he was strolling in front of what used to be the Indian restaurant down the way. I thought he was just another hippie. It didn't really surprise me to see him; the make up of our side of town took on a new character right around the time that Katrina hit New Orleans and a fair amount of its flooded-out residence fled here.

Within the week, I saw him again. It was more clear this time that he was walking the streets aimlessly, carrying nothing at all, wearing exactly what he had been wearing earlier in the week. He was not a "hippie." He was homeless.

Driving by, I found myself completely unprepared to help. No cash. No snacks. Nothing.

And so, we did what we knew to do. Something we had done before.

This year's 1000-calorie packs included nutritious and delicious snack food...

basic hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant...

and some comfort items like gum and Chapstick...

We packed 10 bags, and loaded 2 of them into the car.

And Wednesday, on the way home from our outing downtown--to see the Nutcracker, to eat at Shilo's, to take a boat ride, to tour a Catholic Church, to come face to face with the least of these--we saw him. He wasn't walking around this time. He was sitting on a bus stop bench in my neighborhood. I turned into the adjacent parking lot so that I could drive up along side the man who had inspired us to prepare, and motioned Fifi to hand me one of the bags.

"Give me the good one--the one with the tuna lunch and cliff bar."

He was on his feet and already coming toward me as I rolled down my window to hand it out to him. I tried not to show my shock at the realization that he was not a black man as I had assumed from afar. Up close, I could see he was hispanic. He was caked and dark with grime and also in desperate need of a nail clipping, haircut and shower. He took the bag, bowed his head as if to say, "thank you," and went back to his bench a few steps away. When he turned around, it was clear, too, that he needed a change of clothing.

And that was it.

I started to drive away when I remembered that I had forgotten to add water to the bags. I had thought to once, but hadn't followed through right away, and the idea flew out of my head.

"Do you need some water?" I called out.

He jumped up, sat back down and somehow signaled in the affirmative without actually saying a word.

"I'll go get some and be right back." Rather than go to a store and drag everyone in, taking so long that maybe he'd be gone by the time I got back, I stopped at a corner store and bought what they had to offer. Vitamin water or Green Tea--this store had no regular bottled water. I chose the water and prayed that it wouldn't disagree with his system.

When I got back into the car, I started running the question over in my head. Where does this man get water? I can't imagine that the local restaurants, even fast food, would allow him to enter their establishments. Is there a hose behind one of the businesses that he can access? Do people give him bottles as they pass by?

He's not asking for money. There's no sign, no set up. This guy is the real deal, and it makes me think about things I haven't thought about before. Real things like food, water, warmth, tooth brushing, body odor, underwear and bathroom breaks.

I hadn't answered any of these questions for myself before I got back to the bus bench to deliver his bottled water. He stood up, came over, and took the bottle from my hand. I was horribly aware by now of how inadequate my offering was in the face of his need, and I invited him to assuage my guilt with a reassurance that he knew of our city's available services and that he had somewhere to sleep.

He didn't actually say yes as much as he nodded his head. I asked him what his name was and he paused to search for it, it seemed. I think he doesn't speak English.

"Martinez," he said. And he didn't seem crazy. Or mean.

I think I needed him to seem crazy. Or mean.

"I'll pray for you, Martinez."

Before he got back to the bench I looked beyond him to see if he was making use of the bag we gave him minutes earlier. I was not prepared for what I saw, and I'm not sure why it struck me as such a blow. Martinez had ripped into that gallon-sized Ziploc bag like an animal, leaving a gaping whole on one side and rendering the bag completely useless to carry its other items.

He did not know how to unzip the bag.

The four of us girls spent the rest of the ride home listening to me think aloud to myself about what I had just seen. Will Martinez be able to figure out how to open the Starkist Lunch-To-Go albacore and crackers? Is he going to know what to do with the deodorant stick or will he mistake it for food? Will he be able to keep hold of the Chapstick tube for the worst of the cold, dry days coming this winter?

*Sigh* Oh Lord Jesus, have mercy on Martinez!

And have mercy on me.

For the rest of the day, I am too disturbed to speak. I apologetically brush off my girls, but they understand. They were there. They are confused too.

I am painfully aware of my ability to help. My extra bedroom. The extra 3/4ths bath that our home boasts. Enough food. Even matresses to spare. I am also painfully aware of why I am not helping.

I am...unwilling.

Instead, I choose my safety over Martinez' shower. I choose my girls' protection over Martinez' shelter. I choose my peace of mind over Martinez' dinner. I choose us over him.

And it busts my heart wide open because I can't repent. I can't do it any other way. I am faced with the harsh reality that I am selfish and I need a savior.

Jesus is my Savior.

And I will ask Him to send along another pilgrim to help Martinez. One who is sensitive, equipped, and...willing.

Because He is able. I know He is able. I know my Lord is able to carry him through.

It is so cold here tonight.

...than one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13