I faced the kitchen windows because they give the best view of the street. I didn't want to be caught off guard. I also stood there because there was a heap of dishes in the sink. In my pink rubber gloves I stood with suds sloshing carelessly, my eyes too distracted by the view outside to mind what was before me.
Vivian came scuttling into the kitchen and set a plastic orange cup by my elbow. A plastic orange cup with a tin lid on top.
"Here's your smo, mommy. Be careful, 'cause it's hot."
"Yes, smo. It's hot, okay?"
I nodded absently, keeping my eyes on the window panes. She makes up words frequently.
Watched window panes never produce cars, though. The moments drug by. Moments into minutes. Vivian came back in the kitchen with her hands on her hips.
"Mommy, you didn't drink your smo!"
"Your smo. Come on, you need to drink it."
"What is it?" I cracked the lid to the empty plastic cup.
"It's a little type of juice...a little type of blueberry tasting juice."
"And I mixed in some of that stuff, you know, that yellow stuff."
"Yeah, yellow stuff. Like what you put on a hot dog." She turned her hands and proudly pretended to shake a bottle.
"Mustard?!" I grimaced.
"Oh, yeah, mustard. Smo is blueberry juice with some mustard...and raspberries. Now drink it up, please." She said this sweetly like June Cleaver.
And just as I began to tilt my head the sound of a slamming car door sent us both darting to the doorway.
Our peculiar life is full of comings and goings, but the best thing about the many goings we experience is that we get lots of comings. Vivian screamed as she always does when her daddy comes home. It is predictably precious.
It is good to have Scott back with us.
There was no transition, though. No easing into life again. At 6 am the following morning we were both up to go to work. Our Saturday was spent at an event selling crafts and sharing about the ministry. We love doing this, but I will tell you a secret.
At the end of day, as we packed up our wares, I felt myself begin to unravel at my heels. I felt unexplainably tearful.
Some sorrows occur when things happen to us, but others...others we bring on ourselves. We pick them up daily, lay them on our backs and follow after. We do this in love and obedience, and when we begin we feel somewhat capable and enthused. Then the hill grows steeper, strength wanes and tears come because everything feels too big and sitting in the grass seems like the best option.
Last week I hung up the phone after talking to Scott and a very clear thought entered my head. I was standing in the dining room when I felt the words You don't have to do this.
I stood stark still and had a vision of my life like a magazine picture I had recently seen, with Vivian and I standing at a clean counter making pumpkin muffins in matching aprons. I had a vision of a simple life, one without transatlantic telephone calls, frequent travel and inconsistent finances. One where I didn't have so many others watching me or expecting things of me. One where I wasn't responsible for the well being of countless children, where I wasn't forced to grind away all my preconceptions and prejudices to hold hands with another culture. One where there was less chance of looking like a fool, where I didn't feel so exposed and vulnerable. Where I didn't have to rely so intensely on others or so intensely on God.
After all, I don't have to do this.
I wondered about this quietly for days until on Saturday, after all the other vendors had gone and we were the last two souls dragging crates out to our minivan, the weariness made it up from my feet and into my heart. I felt small, alone, and absolutely spent. Why were we doing this?
Admist my desperation, walking along our church sidewalk and up the grassy slope, my hand struck out to grasp for the fringe of His garment.
And in that instant I could feel the power come out from Him.
He turned, quietly, and saw me just as I was. Then asked me as He had asked the twelve
Do you want to leave also?
I waited. Then with my hand still wrapped around the threads I whispered
To whom else can I go?
And as the words rolled through my heart I realized that not only was there no one else, I didn't want anyone else.
I just wanted Him.
Life is a crazy cocktail of sadness and joy, exhilaration and exhaustion. When we pick up our cross to follow after Him we open ourselves to a new kind of pain, a voluntary one that says we must die to what seems safe and trust that His burden is light. For whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
So here is the other secret I want to tell you. The power that comes out of Him is not a power to make our calling easier. It is a power to keep dying, and somehow that dying makes me feel more alive. I do not have to do this, but I want to.
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow to attain the resurrection from the dead.
We who love Him all know this secret. That His very presence is so precious we would walk through briars and flame if it means we can simply stay beside Him.
I count all things loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.
I want to be like Him.
Where He leads me I will follow.
What He gives me to taste I will take.
For the truth is the only real bitterness was swallowed up by Him that I might dwell in the blessed sweetness of God.
I can hear Vivian's little voice cheerfully prodding me along, "Drink it, mommy. Drink it up."