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Today my friends and I talked about work.
About abiding.
About being the most amazing branch EVER, but if you don’t reproduce yourself, then when you die, you are only so much firewood.
No memory of you.
No saplings.
No fruit.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John

I may be the most productive, successful person ever.
But if I do not reproduce myself, my work stops with me.
I can reach only as far as I can reach.

On being seed-filled: What benefit to the tree is the fruit?
It is not for the tree. It is outward focused.

“Remind me of this with every decision: Generations will reap what I sow. I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.” Sarah Groves


Mommy, Joshua Said...

Our children crack me up.

Hannah said her “knuckles and grannies” hurt, instead of saying her “nooks and crannies”

Joshua said that kamikaze was spelled with a “comma”.

On the topic of home schooling as a means for skipping certain grades, Hannah informed me, “I only want to take the easy grades. The hard grades I want to skip.”

Trying to peak Hannah’s interest, I said, “Hannah, you will never guess what I read this morning in God’s Word!”
To which Hannah very seriously replied, “Can you just tell me?”

“My favorite pizza is meatloaf.”
-Joshua misquoting “meat lovers”

One morning at breakfast, Joshua reflected, “Mommy, you are home made.”
“No,” I corrected, “I am God-made.”
To which Joshua replied, “Well, God was at home when He made you!”

Hannah, exercising as much authority as a five and a half year old can muster, orders her Daddy to take a shower after playing ultimate frisbee, “Daddy, go take a shower, you smell horrible! ...Oh, it is just my breath.”

“Mommy, that lady has white skin, but black legs!”
Joshua, observing the rare phenomenon of panty hose.

Hannah, looking at Jesus’s robes in a coloring page,
“Mommy, Jesus is wearing a cape!”
“Well, he is not a super hero,” I clarified.
Hannah stepped back, “Oh yes! He has the ‘everything power’!”

Joshua asked to pray with me one night, he led and we took turns. He said,
“You know every kind of invention that has ever been made... I only know some parts of light bulbs.”


Joshua, to Daddy: Daddy, does Mexico have totem poles?
Hannah, interrupting: I think the North Pole did...
Joshua, irritated: Do you even know what a totem pole is?
Hannah, deflated: No.

The kids sometimes get doses of American culture from television programs that they themselves do not understand, like Joshua, after watching an episode of Hannah Montana asked, “Mommy, what does the ‘White Hizzle’ look like?”

*Jesus, the Third Culture Kid

I know it is not Christmas time, but I have been reading about Jesus’ birth.
You can read about it too, in Matthew 2:1-23 and Luke 2:39, 40.
This time around, I was particularly struck by the time Jesus spent in Egypt.
His family wasn’t there for weeks or months, but years.

He became a blend of two cultures: his parent’s Hebrew culture, and the culture in which he was living.
He was something in between the two cultures. Something we call a, “Third Culture Kid”.
Having two TCKs of my own, I journaled about what it might have looked like.


Jesus, You were a Third Culture Kid.

Your mother did not know how to cook in Egypt.
Your father was not accustomed to the type of furniture the Egyptians liked, nor their tools.

Your mother was far from her family when you got sick, and probably couldn’t find the herbs and balms she knew how to use.

When it was time for you to go to school, your parents were aliens, not citizens. Your parents didn’t even speak Egyptian.

But you probably picked it up quickly, as well as Egyptian culture, which embarrassed your parents around the other Hebrew families living in Egypt. They would ask again, “Why did you choose to move here? No job? No family?” And what answer did you hear growing up?

You didn’t see your cousin John, or your aunt and uncle Zechariah and Elizabeth. You left no forwarding address. And your father absolutely forbade trips back home.

Your mother told you stories of Simeon, Anna, Maji, shepherds, Gabriel, Elizabeth and Zechariah, but they seem distant fairy tales here.

Your mom did the math wrong sometimes in the marketplace. The conversion from money she was used to confused her.

*Mary, Road Trip

Your husband woke you one night a few weeks after the visitors came bringing expensive gifts. More amazing each day was this child and the ways his heavenly Father celebrated him. Through angel choruses, shepherd worship, Simeon, Anna, and now foreigners.

It was because of the foreigners, though, that Joseph had tossed and turned tonight with dreams. Warnings. Finally, he woke you -There is no time, we must leave quickly... tonight. Bring only what you can carry. I’ve been warned in a dream, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So you fumbled through your darkened home. Baby blanket, some clothes,
“What am I willing to carry all the way to Egypt?
Can’t tell anyone where we are going...
Can’t leave my mom a forwarding address.”
You packed the foreigner’s gifts. These would help pay for your journey.
And finally, you gently reach for your sleeping son.


*John, Who Listened to God

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” -Luke, speaking of John the Baptist’s early years.


I picture the Father enjoying time with John, having his ear at any time. Interrupt-able. Willing to believe the unfathomable.

He re learned how to live,
Eating what?
Wearing what?
And the source of his “behavior”? He was filled with You, Holy Spirit.
That everything he had known would be debunked.
That religious leaders needed to repent.
Where did he learn that fear?
That authority?
How did his parents nurture that in him?

I want to make time like that.
An extended retreat time once a month. Saturday afternoons.
Really, don’t we give ear to other influences more often than that?
Shouldn’t I at least seek Him as often to hear from HIm on issues?

Crying Into My Noodles

I have a favorite noodle restaurant.
This summer, I ate there every day for lunch. Joshua ordered the same the same thing every day: cold noodles. I tried many different dishes. Mostly what I saw people eating that day, I would point and get one too. Tofu with pork over rice, egg and tomato over rice, vegetables cooked in a clay pot over high heat, pulled chicken over noodles and chicken broth, vegetables served with rice, seasoned meat and pickled vegetables with chewy noodles, seasoned meat and no broth over thin noodles, eggs hard boiled in tea. The possibilities were delicious.
I went there so often, they would recite my own order to me, “no MSG, no spicy sauce, no spicy meat.” It was our greeting. And my children were so accustomed to eating there, they could order their own lunches. I brought friends to this restaurant, I craved it. They had mango soda that the kids liked to drink, too. And right beside the restaurant was a yogurt shop where we would always go afterwards for a flavored yogurt dessert.IMG_2911
Then, one day, the noodle restaurant closed. They moved out all of the furniture, scraped the noodle names off the walls, and locked the door.
So, for lunch I had a sandwich, and the next day another sandwich, and pretty soon it had been a month of eating cold lunches.
This week, to my great delight, a friend of mine told me the noodle restaurant had re opened, newly renovated. Immediately, I took Hannah and we went to check it out.
I didn’t recognize anybody. There were all new people working there. And it wasn’t as busy as it had been. Only a half dozen people were seated, bent over their noodle bowls, slurping. Although the lack of a crowd should have been a warning to me, I went ahead and ordered a bowl of cold noodles for Joshua, and then one of my favorites. They were out. So I tried another of my favorites. Don’t have that anymore. So I ordered three bowls of cold noodles, paid (the price had gone up), and took my receipt to the cook’s counter. I gave my usual order, “Cold noodles, no MSG, no spicy sauce, and no spicy meat”.
She handed me a bowl of hot noodles. Hot “cold noodles”? I asked if she had any shredded chicken to sprinkle on the top the way I liked it. She found a bit and put it on top.
Well, it is hot, but other than that, should be fine, I thought, and I handed her my receipts for the other two orders of cold noodles. “I want two more just like that,” I said, and sat down to wait. After a while, I stood up and asked about my order of “cold noodles”. They had not begun. “We are out of meat,” they confessed, “but we do have this,” pointing to what looked like congealed pig blood. “What?” I asked. They held up a bowl of unseasoned, uncooked ground pork. “Yes, that will work.” And I sat down again to wait.
When it was ready, the meat looked uncooked and unappetizing. When I lifted it to my nose, I couldn’t stand the smell. Meat that had been sitting out all day and undercooked. I could not take even one bite. When they announced the second bowl was ready, I stood to get it and brought it to our table, only to look down and see that in the meat there was a gnat. And that was it. My favorite noodle restaurant was no more.
Without sounding silly, how can I express how sad I was at that moment? How can I explain the weight of something that seems so trivial? But this place had become something I had come to rely upon. A staple of my day. A reliable thing. Pulled out from under me. I mourned my noodle shop and its friendly noodle makers.

I handed the bowl of noodles with the gnat back to the noodle lady and pointed to the unwanted visitor. “No matter,” she excused her work. I pushed it back over the counter toward her and walked away. But what happened next was altogether surprising. When I thought things couldn’t get any worse: running out of ingredients, making orders completely wrong, using ingredients that had gone bad, serving bugs in the food as “no matter,” and charging me more than I was used to for this disaster of a meal, things took an unexpected turn.
The noodle lady held out a fresh bowl of cooked noodles. She asked if I wanted a meat broth ladled into it.
“Sure,” I said, thinking it could not possibly be worse than what she had already served me today. And the bowl that she handed me was a kind of noodle I had never had before. Hannah curiously nibbled at the white vegetable and knuckly meat in my bowl.
“Mommy, this is really good!” I tasted it too. It was good. It was new. It was their way.
“It reminds me of what they cook at my kindergarten class,” Hannah remembered the local flavors at her former kindergarten.
She got up and announced, “I am going to ask what this is named!” She came back and said, “Xing tang mien.”
It is funny, our neighbor has given our wiggly daughter the nickname, “noodle.” Hannah’s optimism may lead us back to this noodle restaurant. Her willingness to try new things might give me the courage to brave the unknown of new restaurants. Whether at this restaurant or another, I am sure my noodling partner and I will find a tasty place to frequent.