Thursday, January 31, 2013

She's So Martha

As a relative newcomer to the readings in the Bible, I was helpfully advised a few years ago to start with the book of Luke.  Which I did, and was so surprised to find myself in one of the stories one day.

[38] As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. [39] She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. [40] But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

[41] "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, [42] but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
It's like when you unexpectedly catch a glimpse of yourself on the news or in someone else's photo album.  There I am!  No, no, not Mary.  Not the one at Jesus's feet, peacefully soaking up His words.  The one there in the kitchen, resentfully banging around pots and pans, hoping to catch Jesus's attention with all of my hard work, growing irate with everyone else's laziness, and eventually fuming that no one is noticing all of my efforts.  Yeah, that one.

Oh, but Lord, you know me so well.  I am worried and bothered about so many things.  So much so that the motivation for my frenzied pace is so often not for Your glory.  Until reading that passage, while I realized my tendency toward martyrdom was a little on the annoying side, I didn't realize what an obstacle to living a spiritually rich life it was.  But it is. Like this summer, when my friend and fellow Sunday School teacher, Mary invited the kids and I to the beach and I responded with,

"But, I've got so much laundry to do."   To which she responded,

"Christi, Christi.  Laundry is what October through March are for in Illinois.  We have two short months in which to soak up the sunshine here."  She was right, by the way.  I'm getting a lot of laundry done this winter.  Or maybe it's just been too cold to change out of my long johns and fleece sweatshirt and into something clean.  Regardless, I chose laundry that day.  I forgo fellowship for folding clothes, but it wasn't the choice I made that was so wrong, it was the attitude I carried with it as I resentfully whittled away at the dirty clothes pile.  Had I chosen the beach, I likely would have been resentful with my dear friend for all of the work that awaited me at home.

After reading Luke for the first time, I spoke with Elaine, a mentor from a mom's prayer group that I belonged to.  I shared my observation of my kinship with Martha as we made small talk.  Elaine listened, nodding and empathizing as I spoke.  Then she responded,  "It's so true, and you'll find yourself relating to characters all through the Bible.  Keep reading Luke, though.  You'll find Martha to become one of Jesus's most faithful disciples as you continue."  Could this be true?  I listened as Elaine explained the story in a way I hadn't received it. I took her words to heart, only a little envious of her British accent, wishing I could sound so intelligent and likable at the same time.  I digress.

I'm reminded of my conversation with Elaine and of my first encounter with Martha today because for the first time that I can remember, my house is relatively clean and all of the dirty laundry fits in the dirty laundry hampers (which is as good as having all of the laundry done, in my opinion).  I've got almost all of my reports for work caught up.  My checkbook is balanced (call it the upside to being stuck inside with sick children during an ice storm). My children are tucked in bed.  And, the only important part of this list, I spent the day in and out of prayer.    I feel content (albeit cold) and I realize it's not the work, it's the motivation behind my work and the gentle reminder God's Word provided to help me adjust and re-adjust my mindset.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

We're back in business!

The business of eating eggs, that is.
Brinner Time!

Funny how sometimes it takes a drought to appreciate the rain.  Or a season of molting to appreciate farm fresh eggs.  Not for me, of course.  I appreciated eggs every morning that they were provided.  I've lived through enough droughts to never complain about a rainy season.  I'm speaking of my children.  The children who, at the end of this past summer were needing eggs tucked secretly into other foods to entice them into eating them and who are now asking for eggs each morning when they wake and are gleeful about the idea of breakfast for dinner.  Although really, who isn't gleeful about brinner?

As the egg shortage 'round our parts dragged on, I'd started asking around, as I had no idea where one would get a new flock of hen.  Especially a flock of three. Turns out, here in the country, that's all you have to do-ask around.

Some friends from church hatch and raise chicks every Spring with their grandchildren and every winter give the grown chickens away, usually to the 4-H, but this year they so very kindly agreed to donate them to our family.  When we all but cornered them after worship one Sunday this past Fall.  All we had to do was wait.  And if there is one thing I'm an expert at, it's waiting.  Okay. Not an expert.  But, I am a little bit better at it than I used to be.  Finally, we received notice that they were ready to be picked up, and my sister and I journeyed to their hen house at night, my children in tow.  As the hens would be roosting, we hoped they'd be easier to crate.  It's hard to say if that was the case or not.  They certainly didn't sleep through the process.  Like unpracticed thieves, quickly as we could we'd grab a hen, and gently place it in the crate as A opened and closed the lid for us.  As we moved, we reassured them that they would be going to a nice home, although quite honestly not as nice as the swanky chicken digs that they were living in currently.  One has to be honest with their flock from the start.  They still seemed pretty frantic, huddling together in a corner as we moved all nineteen of them, one by one. It was dark in the coop, save for the red glow of the heat lamp, but I could see that these chickens were the most beautiful chickens if ever there were.  A mixture of Rhode Island Whites, Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, and Dominiques.   And best of all, they were laying eggs.  Eggs!  Three of the new flock came to our home, plus out of guilt...Buster and Stacy from the old gang.  Well, possibly Buster and Stacy.  Although not very likely Buster and Stacy. No matter.  We have eggs!

With our newer and larger flock, I set out on a fresh foot in my farming venture.  A generous offer from my landlords to house the hens in the shed for the winter was accepted.  With an actual winter-proofed chicken home, my children could begin helping with chores again.  I'd drifted away from one of my main purposes in chicken raising and country living: teaching responsibility in raising animals and helping my children learn where their food comes from.  As it's grown colder, it's been easier just to do the chores myself.
But, as the year turned new chicken raising has resumed as a family affair.


So on we go.  Sunny D, Azul, and Mrs. H. have adjusted well to their new home.  As have Buster and Stacy the second.  It's worth mentioning that Mrs. H is also the name of A and E's preschool teacher.  And I think it will be worth mentioning to Mrs. H that this should be recognized as the ultimate preschooler sign of affection and not any indication that their teacher acts, looks, or smells like a black and white speckled chicken.  For what it's worth.