Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Injustice


He was despised and rejected--
a man of sorrows, acquainted with the deepest grief.
We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses He carried;
It was our sorrows that weighed Him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins!
But He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God's paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.
Unjustly condemned, He was led away.
No one cared that He died without descendants,
that His life was cut short in midstream.
But He was struck down for the rebellion of my people. 
He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
But He was buried like a criminal;
He was put in a  rich man's grave.

But it was the Lord's good plan to crush Him
and cause Him grief.
Yet when His life is made an offering for sin,
He will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord's good plan will prosper in His hands.
When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish,
He will be satisfied.
And because of His experience,
My righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for He will bear all their sins.
I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because He exposed Himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

And every time I read it, I am stunned all over again.
We looked the other way from Him,
turning our backs on His suffering--
but He was counted among us to intercede for us.
He is acquainted with the deepest sorrows... but they are our sorrows.
Our sin, our rebellion, our sickness,
our straying, our sorrow, our path.
His piercing, His crushing, His beating,
His whipping, His oppression, His slaughter,
His silence, His criminal burial.
The Lord's good plan.
Our righteousness: His work.
He is satisfied with the results of His anguish,
when He sees the accomplishment of it.
Our Hero -- better than a soldier.
His intercession saves us.

While I looked the other way, He did it.
While I turned my back, He interceded.
While I rebelled, He suffered.
While I strayed, He was crushed.
And doesn't it humble me?
And doesn't it exalt Him?
Shall He not have His reward?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Phenomenally Bright: Can Barely Write Three Words

Through the encouragement of a friend
who is a speech language pathologist,
we decided to have our son tested for a learning disability.
We are nearly done with the process.

The test results have been surprising in several ways.
His strengths are 'phenomenal', according to the psychologist.
In fact, in the reading vocabulary results from one test,
they put him down as being age equivalent to a 48 year old.
He had a greater than 99.9% score.
I wonder if that is a typo.
He is ten.
He has the writing abilities of a six year old.
In academic knowledge, they say he is twenty, and a college freshman.
But he processes slowly.

It has been nerve-wracking for me as a homeschooling mom
to allow them to measure his education.
I don't have a school I can blame for academic failure.
On the psychoeducational report, and the special services report,
under relevant background information,
it is noted that he is home schooled and always has been.
There is a federal checklist they have to go down
to determine if he is eligible for services.
Does the child have a demonstrated need? Yes.
Is the low output due to low intelligence? No.
Is the low output due to inadequate instruction?
I felt like I was holding my breath as they went over this question with me.
Has it been enough?
Am I failing him miserably?
I didn't realize I was going to have to sit there
with a school administrator, a psychologist,
and a special education provider
and hear the answer to this question.
They told me they saw no evidence that he had been inadequately instructed.
That he had a very broad knowledge base.
Their educations between them probably add up to more than my age.
And they said the need was not due to lack of instruction.

The psychologist told me, "He has the mind of an engineer".
I knew that.
He draws intricate drawings with gears and levers and closeups of the details.
He can look at an object, spin it mentally, and draw it from multiple angles.
When he was two and a half,
he drew his first recognizable drawing: a many-windowed Jeep.
My other children scribbled.
As a still very small child,
he was drawing three dimensional vehicles in 3/4 view.
But he still writes letters and numbers backward.
I taught him to crochet a chain when he was seven.
He woke up early and crocheted a mitten.
With a thumb.
No pattern.
No skill beyond that simple chain had been taught to him.
Was it beautiful? No.
But it was functional.

He told them that he usually thinks of things in colors.
His mind makes different connections than the average person.
I feel my job as his mom
is to make sure he has the basic skills he needs
to allow his gifts to operate.

Why the 'areas of weakness', as the psychologist refers to them?
Because he pulled himself to standing at six months old
and started cruising the furniture within the week
and slipped and twirled in slow motion
just out of reach and too fast to catch
and hit the side of his head on the corner of the coffee table
and screamed like we had never heard him scream 
and while I held him and rocked and didn't know what to do 
his dad said, "What's wrong with his head?"
and I yelled, "There's nothing wrong with his head! 
What do you mean 'what's wrong with his head?'!"
and I looked at his head, and his skull was dented in
and we called my mom to ask for prayer
and grabbed the diaper bag and ran to the car 
to make the half hour drive to the emergency room
while he cried beside me in the backseat
and I cried too
and I prayed
and fifteen minutes in he stopped crying
and the amateur doctor questioned us closely
wanting to know when he really hit his head
because the CT scan showed 'an old injury'
and he said it would be swollen if it was new
and it wasn't swollen
but it was red
and they said he was fine 
and we knew the Lord had given him to us
but the dent took over four years to grow out?

Or is it because 
every time he had immunizations he spiked a fever of over 105 
and got double ear infections 
and that one time had a seizure but I didn't know it was a seizure
and thought he was being a freak 
and if I had known I would have brought him to the hospital
and reported an adverse event
and probably chewed out his doctor
but I hadn't done any research at that point and didn't know any better
and why didn't I look into it more before he was injected?

Or maybe when he tripped and fell in the fire ring 
and hit his head on the rock 
and I dragged him up the stairs to the bathroom 
to wash the blood away
and his knees buckled and I caught him
and he was so dazed he couldn't answer straight questions
and I watched him with worry to see if he was brain damaged
he was really brain damaged?
But that doesn't even make any sense 
because he already had trouble writing years before that
and I think I was a slow processor and probably still am
and it's more likely it was the vaccines.
And the dented head.
And I was vaccinated, too.
So maybe the slow processing is both genetic and environmental.
Both my fault and not my fault.

But what if he was brilliant in every single area
and I couldn't teach him anything,
and he was an insufferable ass
to everyone he met his entire life?
Weaknesses can be mercies.
Paul said, "that I should not be exalted overmuch,
there was given to me a thorn in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan to buffet me,
that I should not be exalted overmuch."
God's strength is made perfect in weakness.
His grace is sufficient for us.
His power is made perfect in weakness.
It was when Jesus needed water that He impacted the Samaritans.
In getting help He gave it.
In asking He offered Himself.

We're in a new community,
and we've met several people through this we would not have met,
and I have been praying
and wondering how to be a part of the community.
Maybe this is our introduction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One Measly Tomato


A few days ago, I uprooted two tomato plants.
They had no fruit.
Not one tomato.
I was tired of cultivating them.
Two others were saved by one measly tomato each.
But one measly tomato holds the future of tomatoes.
Fruit.
The promise of more fruit.
The hope of bigger crops.
One piece of fruit holds the hope of hundreds of future plants.
Thousands.
Millions.
Because fruit is the means of reproduction for a plant.
It's a formula for life and repetition.
It's a spark of fire that could keep the species warm.
As I yanked those worthless plants out, I prayed,
"Lord, help me to have fruit."
Even a little bit makes the time and effort spent worth something.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Defined By Five


"He repented," I said, explaining a change of heart and mind. "Do you know what 'repented' means, Silas?"
"Yes," he said. "It means you threw your sins away."
Well... yeah. 
It does.
It's when you throw that garbage out, isn't it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Borrowed Line


"So I think this paper, which the Old Man of the Moon said he borrowed," the king said, "this written line torn from the Book of Fortune is 'the borrowed line' you seek."

"Of course," Minli said, and excitement bubbled inside of her, "it must be!" But her excitement popped as she looked at the carefully preserved page and remembered how the king had had it on his person, carefully and preciously kept in the pouch around his neck. It seemed impossible that he would give her such a cherished treasure.

"It was only after much study that my great-great-grandfather was able to decipher the words," the king said. "And that is when he realized that the words changed according to the situation at the time. From then on, whenever a King of the City of Bright Moonlight has had a problem, he consults the paper."

"And it tells you what to do?" Minli asked.

"Yes." ...And with that, the king looked down at the line. As he read, a startled expression came across his face.

"What does it say?" Minli asked.

"It says," the king said slowly, "'You only lose what you cling to.'"

The king's words seemed to hang in the air. All was silent except for the soft rustling of the page in the gentle breeze. Minli, unable to speak, watched it flutter as if it were waving at her.

"So it seems your request," the king said, "deserves consideration. The line tells me as much. Let me think."

Minli looked at the king, quiet but puzzled.

"For generations, my family has prized this paper; we have honored it... It has been passed on and studied and cherished and revered. It has been valued above gold or jade... we guard and protect this written line so dearly that the rulers of the City of Bright Moonlight carry it at all times, not daring to let it out of their possession... We have clung to it, always afraid of losing it," the king said. "But if I choose to release it, there is no loss... And perhaps it was never meant for us to cling to..."

"You only lose what you cling to," the king repeated to himself. He glanced again at the paper and then looked at Minli. A serene expression settled on his face and then he quietly smiled and said, "So, by choosing to give you the line, I do not lose it."

~from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin

Reading aloud to my children,
I was reminded again of a truth I need reminding of.
"Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, 
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, 
and loses his own soul?"

There was something else He said, too, that came to mind.
"Provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old,
a treasure in the heavens that does not fail,
where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

The other day I was reading
about a terrible judgment the Lord passed on Israel.
It was frightening.
He described such utter devastation, and He told them why.
"...Your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of My sight.
Give up your evil ways.
Learn to do good.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed. 
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.
'Come now, let's settle this,' says the Lord.
'Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
If you will only obey Me, you will have plenty to eat..."

I read an article yesterday with this headline:
Banks Were The Worst Place To Keep Your Savings This Year.
The conclusion of the article was this:
"Going forward, in a twisted world of inflation,
massive government deficits
and interest rate manipulation by the Federal Reserve,
it may be extremely challenging for any asset class
to provide a positive real rate of return
to either investors or bank depositors."
What an opportunity.

I see advice everywhere on how to survive by clinging.
By stockpiling.
By building a bigger barn.
But that advice will end in ruin.
In devastation.
And the Lord has said before that if we will obey Him in this,
we will eat.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Faster

Derailed. 

Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus performed, 
said, 'This is truly that prophet that should come into the world.'
When Jesus therefore perceived 
that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, 
He departed again to a mountain Himself alone.
John 6:14,15

Many years ago, a teacher of mine said something
that I have thought about many times over the years.
He said, "If the devil can't get in front of you and slow you down,
he will get behind you and push you faster."
And haven't you seen that?
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