Limping Toward the Start of School

I’m limping toward the start of school. Some moments it even feels like crawling, on shards of glass, uphill. Every spring, I anticipate the lazy days of summer, thinking summer is going to be the oasis of peace and joy so lacking from the insanity of the school year, from the incessant packing of lunches, picking up and dropping off, helping with homework, requests for volunteer help, juggling of school time and activity time and homework time and play time. In the spring, I see summer as a beach chair under a palm tree next to a pool of clear blue water. A beautiful mirage, shimmering in its utopian glory. And once again I’ve gotten to the end of summer, nearly, and feel like not once have I dipped my toes in the pool, not really sat down even to absorb the peace. I’ve swept the pool, arranged for its filter to get cleaned, provided pool toys, trimmed the bushes around it, wiped the spiders from the deck chairs, made the ice cream, invited the friends….

Apparently there’s a name for this. I’m a member of the sandwich generation. I’m stuck in the middle of taking care of aging parents and my own young children. Well, maybe. I kind of feel like they’re the peanut butter and I’m the bread and they’re on the outside and I’m in the middle and really it is all a giant mess of sticky fingers, soggy bread, and nothing really being effective and palatable and successful. “Taking care of” is a loose term here, one with lofty expectations and in my case poor execution. It’s hard to take care of parents halfway across the country. I can offer a listening ear, words of encouragement, simple advice, and an occasional insight. That’s about it. And as taxi mom, I offer a listening ear, a shoulder to snuggle against at night, clean clothes, relatively decent food, an occasionally clean house, an occasional reminder that God, Mom and Dad, and Jesus love you, and answers to the endless pleas for playdates, treats, special events, special favors, TV time. I’m the word No and the answer for Why Not. The Grinch and I must be soul-mates… with shoes too tight and a heart too small, standing from the cold heights of my mommy cave ruling over what is and isn’t good for my kids. After all, they know better than I do. They all do.

Two things ache right now. One is this feeling of inadequacy. But I think this one would feel less suffocating if I could deal with the other ache… my need for deep reflection, mediation, prayer, time with God to be in His presence, drink in His peace, rest. This summer, I decided not to do the women’s Bible study at church, a scaled back version of the Bible study offered during the school year. The lack of childcare was my excuse. But my lack of mandatory, disciplined time to hear God’s word speak to me has taken a spiritual toll. Instead of standing on the mountaintop with Him, I’m mired in a mucky swamp of summer activities and it stinks down here. I created this swamp. I get that. In my own understanding and capabilities, I’ve tackled the summer, prideful perhaps, but certainly not with a disciplined plan for relationship time with God. And any relationship suffers when one part is distracted, unavailable, preoccupied, a date-canceler.

Last week sometime, I had gone out to tuck in the chickens, check on the grounds, potty the dog. The stars were sparkling their special way and the cloak of night was softly resting over the ridgeline. A meteor streaked across the sky, a long tail following, a finger tap from God. Come back to me daughter. Bring those heavy burdens to me and lay them at my feet. God’s fireworks in the sky. He hasn’t forgotten me. And I yearn to get back to studying His word, to fellowshipping with His daughters, to finding rest. I yearn for more of Him.

Over the weekend, Lee and Anne Kennedy were visiting and sharing more about their recent trip to East Africa. They talked about their Sunday experiences, visiting a number of churches, participating in the praise and worship and study. They talked about the sacredness of the Sabbath day, of how the Christian believers in these churches spend their whole day in worship, praise, fellowship and communion with each other. Hours of praise, hours of study, hours of community, hours of basking in God’s presence. Together, one church visits neighbors, shack by shack, house by house, sharing the Gospel of Jesus. When the humble church building can’t hold one more body, it’s time to start a new church. A new community of saved, grace-lovers, spending the day with their Father God, dancing in His fields of love. The Kennedys talked about visiting Tanzania Christian Clinic where the whole person is healed, physical and spiritual, where Bible study accompanies medical study, where churches are built and medicines are dispensed, where a person is introduced to God while bandages are changed and nutritional advice is given. Worship and study are a way of life, intentional, disciplined, breathe of life. In the midst of nothing, these people have more.

I’ve heard our pastor say that we are in grave spiritual jeopardy in our country. We’re too busy to bask in, to listen to, to dance with, and to ultimately obey our Father God. I feel it so acutely this summer. So, I’m limping toward school starting. Because when school starts, Bible study won’t be far behind.

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