Tag Archives: benediction

Mr. Dinty Moore…

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The only reason we were in the grocery store on a Friday evening at four o’clock is because I signed up to bring a meal to a family in our church that had a new baby. I am not normally on the meals ministry because these days I can’t seem to make a meal larger than the appetites of the growing humans I’m responsible for.

Tonight was case in point because my tasty plans had fallen apart to the degree that two frozen lasagnas were cooking in my oven and I was at the grocery store on a Friday evening to buy bread and a ready salad.

By Friday evening my kids are tired after a week of school. Also, it is May, so my kids are also tired from a year of school. The little guy is potty training and missed his nap today and I am dragging them all through food-option-nirvana on empty bellies.

My daughter refuses to walk and is sitting in the cart pulling it around by reaching to whatever half-permanent object is closest. Every time I turn around the cart is five feet away. My little one is standing in the cart and eating grapes off the produce shelf. My seven-year-old has his nose buried in a book and is basically stopping wherever is most inconvenient for everyone else.

(“Put down your book!”)

As we make it to the checkout, things are devolving fast. The toddler has figured out how to lift the bottom of the cart and slide to the floor, which he is doing. My almost-six-year-old daughter is trying to read the US Weekly (“I want to read a magazine!”) which I am trying to distract her from.

(“Read this food magazine.”
“It’s boring!”)

I have fifteen items in a fifteen item express lane and three of my items are a twin loaf of bread, a bunch of bananas, and a bag of grapes. I am pushing it across the board.

The guy behind me strolls up, middle aged, glasses, with ten, I swear, microwavable ready-packs of Dinty Moore beef stew and about seven pounds of zucchini. I don’t know what the heck he’s got going on tonight but this bachelor sure as hell doesn’t have time for the circus I got going on right here.

My eldest has stopped reading his book long enough to make his sister dissolve into a puddle of indignant victimhood on the floor.

(“Just, stand over there and read your book!”)

My baby is back in the cart via “the new route” and is shaking the coin machine at the checkout.

At this point a fellow mother from school comes in (you know who you are). She’s alone, has her cart, takes one look at me, and laughs. That was the picture I was painting at that moment.

So, the middle-aged Chinese lady, that is my sympathetic cashier (“You very busy.”), scans my beer.

“You get some beer, I need to see ID.”

I, getting out my driver’s license and trying to placate Mr. Dinty Moore who is strangely unresponsive as my daughter wails at his feet, crack a joke, “And I earned every ounce.”

And this is why you should never EVER card a mother of three children. Because, people, my driver’s license had expired… on my birthday… in January.

(My eldest was loudly fascinated, “Mom, your ID expired?! What does that mean? It’s expired?! Can I see? So, you can’t get your beer?”
“Go read your book.”)

The Chinese lady grimaced as she slowly removed my beer from the belt. She regretted checking my ID now, thought it was going to be a great treat for everyone, and as much as it hurt me I could tell it stung her a little, too.

I don’t mind admitting that it’s a defeated Barbara who wrangled three kids into the car, without beer, and now thinking about DMV visits. (Argh!)

These days the toddler takes a while to get into his seat. He likes to play this really funny game where he jumps into the front seat right when I open the back door and jump back into the back seat when I open the front door. So, as badly as I wanted to be gone and home it took us several minutes before I could sit back in my seat.

Then, there was a knock on my window.

Who is it, but Mr. Dinty Moore himself and— he’s holding my beer.

“You bought me my beer!” I yell at the window. I rolled down the window.

I swear he said nothing, just smiled, handed me the beer, and walked away.

(“He bought your beer?! That guy bought your beer? Why did he do that?! You couldn’t buy beer because your ID had expired, right?”)

Well played Mr. Dinty Moore. May your meaty morsels be flavorful and your zucchini bread be moist. By blessing a mother with beer you have blessed us all.

Broad Places…

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Today this verse is resonating with me. Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a broad place…” The psalm talks about rescue. I have never been pursued by a hoard bent on my blood, as David was rescued from. But I do know the sensation of drowning in the details of my circumstances. I know the feeling of suffocating in the overwhelming hum of demands, fears, and anxieties. It’s amazing how each one, small enough on its own, works together to create my own hoard of personal daily demons. Even a house-mom needs rescue. Even a part-time working mom with three healthy babies enjoys the promise of broad places. I want to have these broad places inside me where my situation can’t touch them. I want to walk around with this expansiveness inside my chest.

Benediction Part III: Resolution…

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The sermon this week was on wrestling for blessing. Go figure. I think the Big Guy Upstairs has been reading my blog and decided I needed a little help.

The pastor used the image of a father wrestling with his child. The purpose of which is never to decide a winner, he said, but to know each other and know yourself.

I would say the goals of my wrestling at the onset are a little more concrete. Such as:

I try to wrestle fellowship from Facebook.

I try to wrestle strength from my stash of brownies in the freezer.

I try to wrestle rest from one more television program in the evening.

I try to wrestle identity and purpose out from between the pages and paintings of my own hands.

Like squeezing lemon juice from a banana I go on wrestling for what’s not there, what I’m not really looking for. When, much like my son tackling his Daddy, what I want to know really is, “Are you stronger than me?” “Abba, are you stronger than me?”

Sometimes, the possibility that he isn’t is too terrifying to even try.

Still, sometimes, we try. We try to wrestle him down to the ground with our loneliness, pin him with our doubts, trip him up with our shame, or find him too weak against our hopes and dreams.

But every time I have been disappointed, satisfied not with exactly what I’m asking for but with the knowledge that he is stronger than I. Like Jacob at dawn, when I think I may be winning, I suddenly find my hip out of socket. Like Job, I find my mouth shut in response.

It’s frustrating. “But, this isn’t what I wanted to know!” I cry, “Where is my resolution?”

And yet, I’m satisfied.

Benediction Part II…

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I’m wrestling this morning.

I wrestled myself from bed. I wrestled breakfast onto the table and the boy out the door. I wrestled Legos from my Baby’s iron grip.

And I’m wrestling right now at seven-thirty in the morning for a chance to sit at my computer and get this down while it’s in my head. I’m wrestling against a four-year old girl who wants me to make paper airplanes and a baby who’s lifting up my shirt enough to show a sliver of warm Mommy belly to lay his head on while I write.

I feel like I spend most of my day wrestling for rest.

And I find a bit when I stop and admire a drawing of a strawberry birthday cake with three candles, when I pick up Baby and kiss him in the hollow under his cheek again and again until it smells more like me than him.

There’s an honor in wrestling, you can’t wrestle from the next room. You have to be close, all hands and bodies in hard contact.

And I’ve seen the blessings that come from staying, remaining close in vulnerable friction, from wrestling through frustrating friendships and difficult times in marriage, refusing to let go until some glimmer of life comes out. And, if God is there, life comes out.

For, God is in the business of resurrection. That’s all he does, creates life from nothing, new creations all day long, by his voice, with his breath. But you have to stay close in frustrating openness and sometimes in the dark silence of doubt.

Like Job who wrestled with God until he was answered. Like my baby who has finally gained access to the coveted lap. Like my daughter whose elaborate missives I am now transcribing unto the back of birthday cake drawings and along the length of paper airplanes.

“Birthday cakes, strawberries, hugs and kisses. Flowers and hearts. Love you well. Camping trip. Can you write me a card back for my whole family? Love.”

And isn’t that part of the covenant promise of relationships? Doubts and questions are brought within the context of the relationship first.

First.

Which means God gets my struggles for solitude, identity, and satisfying rest first. That’s the deal. He wrestled his own humanity and death itself for the privilege.

Which begs the question, what exactly does that look like?

Wrestle, wrestle, wrestle…

Benediction…

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I’m not doing the dishes right now or wiping down the table. I’m not going to start the second load of kid laundry. I’m going to sit down amidst all this chaos and try to pull straight this tangled image that’s been amassing in my tired brain.

When Baby wakes up he screams for me. He doesn’t stop until we’re back in my bed, very close and very still. Maybe I fall back asleep, but at some point the milk runs out.

When Baby is satisfied he maneuvers however he must so that his head is on my head, his breath is in my breath. And he takes my wrist in the firm grip of both his hands and lays my palm over his face. He leans into it, from where the hollow under his bottom lip touches the heel of my hand to the tips of my fingers spread along his soft hairline. I can feel his breath on my palm, the wetness of his lips. He does this every day.

And I am reminded of a young boy in church growing up that was developmentally delayed, handicapped in many things except a jolly spirit. At the end of service every Sunday the pastor would step aside the pulpit and raise his hand in benediction. And this boy would raise his hand, too, hovering inches above his forehead, his open palm doubling his blessing.

And then, there’s Jacob who deceived for the blessing, who wrestled all night to earn that blessing.

Why does tangibly wrestling an angel seem simpler than … what, God? What does my wrestling look like? How do I fight for your face in mine, your breath in mine? What does it look like if the first thing I do every morning is pull your heavy hand with both fists to lay it across my face?

You blessed Jacob, the one who went to such great lengths. Let me go to such lengths. Bless me.