Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When was the last time you went star-gazing?

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, 
and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 
Then He opened His mouth and taught them. --Matthew 5:1-2

From our hilly green-belted community, on a clear night like tonight, I could easily count a gazillion stars in the sky. In stark contrast though, the night sky in LA was far different than tonight's.  For a long time, to me stars did not exist.  

Smog, pollution, and a barrage of bright city lights were a constant blanket over the sky.  They robbed me of the stars, so in my young mind beautiful moon-lit nights were fantasy.  I had seen these radiant skies in paintings and books.   For instance, I could vividly remember the final scene in the movie ET--that of ET and Elliot flying across the luminous night on a bicycle.  However, unlike Elliot, I was not so privileged as to experience the sky saturated with such a host of stars until the summer of '87.  

Aside from these superficial experiences, it wasn't until I turned 11 years old that the Woodcraft Rangers  (an after school program that served disadvantaged kids) deemed me old enough to go up into the mountains and stay overnight at Stanley Ranch camp.  Until that summer, I had always grouped star-gazing into the same category as unicorns, pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, and tooth fairies.  After that, the eagerly sought after privilege only came around once a year for this young city kid.

Imagine never having wished on comets or connected twinkling stars like strands of diamonds on a necklace in the sky, or the child who is never dwarfed by the astronomical silver dollar shining against the dark sky.  Consider the child who is never quickened by the opulence of the Milky Way, or that has never with outstretched hand traced the frames of the Big and Little Dipper under the heavens.  I longed to know that dreamland.  

Associating star-gazing in the same category as mythical creatures sounds tragic, but how often do we approach biblical principals from this same disadvantaged frame of reference.  We know that God is awesome because we've read about His works in the bible.  However, if that knowledge is purely one-dimensional, it never transcends the stuff of fairy tales in our lives.   

To put it differently, the only way we can truly experience God's fullness is when we walk with Him.  We  miss out on God's redemptive works all around us if we remain in the crowd. When life begins to press in on you, perhaps God will lead you to a solitary place to manifest His Word.  The next time you are in a crowd, consider it an opportunity to ascend into the mountains to gaze among His brilliance and discover God's heart for ministry.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

May Their Cups Overflow

I know that I have been neglecting my blog over the last month, but it is not for lack of desire or  material. Even though I am on vacation from teaching, I feel like I just traded in one full-time job for another more important one-- bonding with the girls.

Two weeks ago marked the end of a long struggle with childcare. Being a working mom, my children are really vulnerable when it comes to finding a provider who really cares. Unfortunately, the last few months have been a lesson in navigating the storms of inadequate daycare (to say the least). Fortunately, the storm is over now and our children will be moving on to something more nurturing.  

It seems unreal, but Sadia will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. We've experienced a barrage of documentation, updating records, and testing for her placement. I am both anxious and excited for my soon-to-be Kindergartener. On the one hand, Sadia has overcome so many hurdles from her previous experience in daycare. She has endured prejudice, mistreatment and only God knows what else, but she has become a stronger and more resilient kid as a result. I have high hopes for what her school years will bring: perhaps a fresh start with more skilled and loving people who genuinely care for her and embrace her differences. On the other hand, there is still a part of me that worries. I realize that I cannot raise my children in a bubble, but what I can do is raise them to love in the face of hatred. I want them to learn to champion injustice with audacity and emerge from it unscathed. Enrolling in a new school will be an opportunity for elasticity.

Simone too has seen her fair share of set-backs. Last month she was diagnosed with Eustachian Tube Disfunction, a condition in the ears which causes her to hear as though she is underwater. When I learned of her diagnosis, my heart sunk. As a parent, it is amazing just how much of my children's regular body functions I take for granted. Thankfully, the complication with her ears will correct itself as she matures, but in the meantime in between time, she will struggle. Since her diagnosis, we've been back and forth from this specialist to that, from audiologist to speech therapist trying to equip Simone with the skills to weather this storm. With each appointment comes probes and prods from this instrument and that, and she is growing increasingly more an more agitated. Clearly, she too is being dealt her own measure of toughness.

Teddy and I are still taking it all in. Trying to process it all has proven to be quite the undertaking. Although, I am sure of one thing.  Never have I experienced anything more challenging than being responsible for these two precious little souls that God has gifted to us. And so, for me and my three, this summer will be a time to pour. When Sadia reacts to bias with bitterness, I will pour into her patience and tenderness. When Simone grows agitated with her own shortcomings, I will pour into her tolerance and acceptance. I will pour into them until I cannot pour anymore and when my cup becomes empty, I will seek the Lord's bounty and continue poised to pour some more.


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