Tag Archives: love

Mal’s Challenge

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**Once upon a time, my husband started one of those blog things I’d never heard of and would sit in our little one-bedroom apartment taking much joy in conjuring up witty and insightful posts to share.  That was before the hurricane hit and kids started coming (seemingly by the half-dozen) and the 50-60 hour work weeks began.  He’s back today to share something from the heart.**

Guest Post by Jeffrey Hazleton

Captain Malcom Reynolds with his crew aboard Serenity

Captain Malcom Reynolds with his crew aboard Serenity

One of my favorite movies (and this is a rather vague label, as I have no certain list of favorite movies) is the 2005 film Serenity.  This film is itself a continuation (one blogger called it “a [wonderful] impossible fairytale ending”) of the cancelled television series Firefly.

The premise of both the TV show and the film is a “space cowboy” drama set 500 years in the future, Serenity is the story of the captain and crew of a transport/cargo ship.  Space ship, that is.

Their lives of petty crime are interrupted as they are swept up in a massive conspiracy.  Their government (the Alliance) has dispatched an operative to eliminate the threat that one of their passengers represents – a secret that, if known, might bring about the collapse of the ruling powers.

This operative is relentless in his pursuit and beyond remorse in the atrocities he commits to achieve his objective.  After one such event (he wipes out an entire city just so our heroes have no refuge to run to)  Captain Reynolds and his crew learn the origin of the conspiracy, which they investigate and confirm, to their horror.

In one of the defining points of the series, the movie, and the man himself, the captain tells his crew of his intention to act on behalf of those who have been victimized by the Alliance:

“This report is maybe twelve years old? Parliament buried it, and it remained buried, until River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear. ‘Cause there’s a whole universe of folk who are going to know it too; they’re going to see it.

Somebody has to speak for these people.

You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you’ve all come to the same place, so now I’m asking more of you than I have before — maybe all. [Because] sure as I know anything, I know this: they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people … better. And I do not hold to that.

So no more running. I aim to misbehave.”
Video of Mal’s Speech

This is my favorite moment of the movie.  The scene gets me every time.  I feel Mal’s outrage at the injustice and understand his need to speak for and defend those who cannot help themselves.

In this speech, he reveals his philosophical difference with the ruling powers:  They believe they can make a better world by making better people.  He knows this is not the case.  You cannot make a person better.  All the evil the Alliance has done and hurt they have caused grows out of this humanistic philosophy.  And he is determined to put an end to it.

 I am determined to put an end to it.  This thinking that I can effect change in others by some strength of character or force of will or marvelous example of how to conduct oneself in life.

Here’s the point:  I am not commanded to do Jesus’ work, only to follow His example and keep His commands.  And that is why Malcolm Reynolds’ speech resonates so deeply with me.  I cannot make.people.better.  Whether it be my kids, my wife, my friends, my co-workers – whomever – I cannot change their heads or their hearts.  That is God’s job.

My job is to lay down my life, to embrace the death of self in the service of my King.  I am supposed to love God with everything I’ve got – heart, soul, mind, strength – and to love everyone else as much as I love myself.  But what does that look like?

In Matthew 9, Jesus

“went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”         Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus loved these people.  Loved them.  The word translated “had compassion” here means that he was moved in His gut for them.  He was touched to the core with concern for the people.  So what did He do?  He served them.  Did what He could to meet their needs.  Especially their eternal need – for a right relationship with God.  He proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom.

That is what I’m supposed to do.  See people as God sees them.  Broken and lost, in need of the Good Shepherd.  And then respond in compassion – serve them and give them hope – tell them about Jesus and the eternal difference He will make for them and in them.

It’s not my job to change people – to make them better.  No man can do that; only God can.  It is, however, my commission to love and serve everyone my life is connected to, to make disciples, teaching them to know and follow Jesus all the days of their lives.

 

 

 

 

The One Who Lost His Way

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I could never relate to that story Jesus told more than I did one night last weekend.

Lazy Saturday.  Family togetherness.  Why not let it spill over into the things that must be done?  The buying of the groceries… because what mother-of-six in her right mind would go during the weekday, with all her ducklings in a row, without the help of another pair of adult hands (and eyes) – and expect it to be anything less than unproductive?

And sure, taking your entire family to buy two weeks’ worth of groceries on a Saturday evening at the newly-remodeled, expanded grocery in town – yes this might not be ideal.  But fun, right?

Or maybe it was just a plain bad idea.

So there we were.  I had the list and a few kids… he had some items to find and a few kids… and we’d split up and come back together and split and come back together….

We did this for a few hours.  I pushed the baby in the stroller, with Maggie pushing a cart behind me (the small kind that I imagine works well for college students or bachelors or couples with no kids – but certainly will only hold a fraction of our fare…)  And the hard-working husband – he pushed a full size buggy in front of his crew.

When we finally had all but one item, we were standing there at the checkout.  Jeff darted down a nearby aisle – and took Christopher with him – to retrieve the final thing on our list.  By this time Olivia was crying in her stroller, so I unbuckled her and lifted her out to hold and soothe her.  I turn around to tell Carson – my active litte almost-three-year-old – that he could take a rest in the stroller (and this would also make it easier for me to keep him in one spot.)

Only, when I turned around, he wasn’t there.  I quickly scanned my crew.  The three big girls were there.  No Carson.  I had only turned around for a few seconds.  How could he have disappeared?

I quickly glanced down aisle where Jeff and Christopher were looking for the right brand of the item we needed.  There were so many people, I couldn’t tell if he had Carson with him, so I called out to them.

No, he didn’t have Carson.

I looked around again, and couldn’t see him anywhere.

I left the girls standing there in front of the checkout, with the empty stroller, and with Olivia on my hip I went the opposite direction, quickly scanning down aisles and and in between check-out lanes.  I paced up and down a few times.  Saw Jeff coming back my direction shaking his head with his hands up in the air.  I re-traced my steps back the opposite direction again.

He’s so small.  So easy to miss…

I kept thinking that he just couldn’t have gone that far.  I had only turned around for two seconds.  If he hadn’t gone that far, why haven’t we found him yet?

Then I caught my breath as a thought occurred to me – unless someone took him.

This is about the time that panic was about to set in.  And I cried out a desperate prayer inside my head.

And then, the instant I breathed that prayer, I heard him.

I heard that familiar screaming cry I’ve heard a hundred times when he’s upset.  I instantly felt relief.  I couldn’t see him yet, but I could hear him, and I followed those cries.

There – a few hundred feet from the exit doors, there he was.  So painfully small in a big, busy supermarket.  A man with his little girl were nearby trying to call him to come away from the exit, and back to find his mama.

But he was lost and scared.  

And I can’t even describe to you the relief I felt when I saw him there.  And I ran to him, and with Olivia on my hip I knelt down and put my arm around him.

Safe.

When I turned my back, he’d gone looking for his Daddy.  But he didn’t know the way.

So He told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents thant over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.’
Luke 15:3-7

There was never a time before that night when I could really relate to the parable Jesus told to the pharisees and the scribes that day.  I left my three big girls standing there by the checkout, and trusted they would be safe – and went searching for my little lost one.

I must have read this passage a hundred times in my lifetime.  And not one time before now did I have an inkling of the urgency that Jesus meant.

Sheep, yeah, I get it.  Shepherds, sheep, yeah.

Only no, I never did ‘get it’ before now.

The urgency and determination of a mother searching out her lost man-child.  Is this how the Father sees the ones He is calling to repentance?

And just last night, that amazing hard-working husband and I talked about this.  How often do we casually overlook those around us, void of real sympathy and concern?

When the Father – He seeks them out.  The ones who have lost their way….

But maybe WE are the ones who have lost HIS way…  forgot His heart for the lost…

Well I aim to remember the way again… because now I know how it feels to look for the lost.

 

Best Moment

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Melt My Heart

We had a semi-busy day planned.  For me and 6 kids – traveling to Vidor (45 minute drive) for a double birthday party.

For Jeff, continuing to work on our farmhouse table he is constructing out of Beech wood.  He took off work Friday and this morning so that he could finally begin to tackle this project.  (And thanks to our friend Chris, that just might happen before next weekend.)

I was at the {current, seating for 4} table, setting out breakfast bowls, and Jeff was just about to leave for Lowes to pick up some hardware.

Carson came bouncing into the kitchen.

“Daddy, you read Go Dog wid me?”  ( Go, Dog, Go- Dr. Suess)

Jeff: pausing “Sure, son.”  He puts down his keys.

Carson: {Kirk Cameron style} “YESSSS!!!!” Runs to the chaise lounge with his book.

He didn’t just rush through it.  He paused at all the right places, and used all the right voices, and asked Carson questions throughout the story.

I knew that no matter what else happened in the next 12 hours, that would be my favorite moment of the day.

And it was.

Lessons From a Foot Tub

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No, these beautiful feet are not mine.

The kids caught a few minutes of an old 19 Kids & Counting episode yesterday.  It was the one where some of the children and cousin Amy decide to surprise Grandma Duggar to an at-home Spa treatment, complete with a foot bath, massage, pedicure and facial.

Ever inspired, Maggie rallied the troops shortly thereafter, and the kids found a plastic tub for washing my feet.  It was decided they would treat poor, tired Mama to a relaxing foot bath and massage after dinner.

Who was I to argue?

That evening, I was on the couch nursing Olivia, when the fun began.  Jeff helped them pour warm water into the tub.  Lilly snagged the foaming hand soap from the bathroom and gave it a few squirts.  Lena ran to get the lotion for afterward.  Christopher got a towel for the drying.

They gathered around. The washing began.

And that wasn’t all that began.

Imagine, if you can, five children, packed around one little foot tub.  Each vying for space and a portion of Mama’s foot to rub.

I have small feet.

And only two of them.

Yes, it played out pretty much like you probably just imagined.

A few settled for sitting by me on the couch, rubbing my hands or shoulders.  Christopher sat on my left, and is an excellent hand massager.  I rested my head back on the couch and anticipated some relaxation.

But his constant chatter and questions never ceased.  And little by little, they forgot about blessing Mama as they each fought to have their own way, to get what they wanted, to have more of my praise.

“Does this feel good, Mama?”

“Am I doing a great job?”

I’m on this side.”

I’m rubbing this foot; you get on that side.”

It was almost impossible not to think about how we must look to God.  We start out wanting to bless Him.  Serve Him.  Make Him proud.  We end up pushing and shoving.  Vying for attention.  Wanting to know who’s the best.  Wanting Him to listen to our constant chatter.

But you know what?  I wasn’t frustrated at how things dissolved.  Despite the fussing and the childishness, I really was blessed.  I really did feel pampered and relaxed.

Maybe it wouldn’t take much pampering to make me feel pampered these days.

But I think it also has something to do with how I love my kids.

Even though they kind of botched it up.  Even though they were selfish and childish through much of the task.  Somewhere in there was still a desire to love on their Mama.

And my love covered a multitude of imperfections.

I think I must have learned that somewhere.