Archive for March, 2013

The way to gold

It is St. Patrick’s Day in a couple days.  Time to celebrate a little green Leprechaun who chases after gold under rainbows, right?  No?  Okay, then.  Time to kiss the Irish, pinch those who aren’t wearing green, find some four-leaf clovers and marvel at St. Patrick banishing snacks from Ireland.  No, again?  Well then, how do we have a whole holiday in our country – full of parades and craft aisles of plastic décor made in China if we don’t know what the heck the holiday means?   Though I confess that Guinness and soda bread may be worth a holiday all its own, St. Patrick’s story is rich and beautiful.  It is worth passing on!

If you don’t want to do any research of your own into a more extensive version of Patrick’s history, then watch the Veggietales flannel-graph version – it is surprisingly accurate.  Patrick was just a boy when he was kidnapped by the Celts from British (yeah – Patrick isn’t Irish at all – he’s English or Scottish).  He was taken to be a slave to serve the pagan Celts who worshipped the Earth, Sun, Moon, etc (in Veggietales…it is twigs).  Eventually God gives Patrick a means to escape and he does, returning to his homeland.  Patrick grows up to be very educated and serves the church as a Bishop.  It was then that things got inconvenient.  He began having dreams….night after night.  He had dreams of the people from Ireland calling him back to Ireland for they were dying without Jesus.

Can you imagine?  Being called back into the land you were a slave to the people who had taken your freedom and surely abused you.  How would you respond?  I fear my first reaction may be one of hate – one of spite, glad that those evil people were indeed dying in sorrow – not unlike Jonah refusing to go to Nineveh.  But, Patrick obeyed.  We don’t know to what degree he wrestled with God about it – perhaps the book of Jonah was a comfort to him or a conviction to him.  Perhaps verses about forgiveness moved him.  Verses like: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14) Perhaps he just knew God’s great love and allowed Him to change and move him.  Either way, I’m so grateful he obeyed for the countries of Ireland (and Northern Ireland now) contribute their Christianity initially to Patrick.  The message of Jesus changed the land.  Churches, festivals and children will forever be named in honor of and memorialized after Patrick now as a Catholic Saint and merciful missionary.

So….where do I need to forgive?  Who?  Some people and some situations come to mind and though what that looks like in action can be different, the fact that it must happen remains.  I don’t consider myself an unforgiving person or one with a grudge, but when I compare myself to St. Patrick – giving my life to serve those who have most hurt me, I am humbled.  I hope to find a way to explain this well to my children on Sunday – St. Patrick’s Day.  I want to explain forgiveness with this example.  I want to explain why St. Patrick was such an awesome hero – way better than a jolly man dressed in green (though I do love Lucky Charms).  They might ignore me or they might just catch a little of it, but if they see me living it (struggling with it even) then my hope is that it will refine us all.  That gold is a whole lot more work, but it doesn’t leave when the rainbow is gone.

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Do as I do, Not as I say

I grew up knowing  what my parents cared about.  I was a witness to their choices, interactions, desires and values, surely more than they realized.  My parents have told me with words what they value, but I honestly can’t remember what they said.  I CAN, however, tell you clearly what they value by what their actions showed me:

1 – My father values education and dreaming of doing great things.  He has a pretty good salary, but you wouldn’t know it by the car he drives or clothes he wears – he put his money in his kids’ and grandkids’ education and opportunities.  I knew my father never valued “things” particularly because of how he used his money (or didn’t use it).  My father believes in sacrificing for others.  He never considered anything of his out of reach to his children.  His car, his computer, anything was up for use for anyone that needed to use it.  He never said some grand statement of “what is mine is yours”.  I just saw him live it.  I learned how to have an open, sharing home because of my father.

2 – My mother was very wise with money and even though we had money, we went to thrift stores for clothes and my mother cut coupons for groceries.  She didn’t like waste.  I grew up knowing that she thought waste (as even a tiny portion of food could go in Tupperware), was wrong.  I also knew that my mother cared about the practical needs of others.  She never actually said, “we must clothe all needy kids in our area”. I know she cared for practical needs because of how she spent her time.  She didn’t watch soap operas or take up a million hobbies for her own self esteem, she spends much of her days sorting, washing, and giving donated clothing to needy children from every public school in the county she lives in.  I also know my mother cares about practical needs because when someone comes over, she makes them meals, cleans up for them, and will make sure they are taken care of.  She never formally taught this, but I do many things she does simply because I saw her serving others.

I’ve never been more aware in my life that it is my life’s actions, and not my words that will truly dictate what my children believe.  I, of course, seek to give words to the actions…to affirm them, empower them, ask them questions, and explain things to them.

I am proud to learn from friends around me who live so much of this out.  It is a privilege to see their kids as little Mini-Me’s behind them.  My friend Megan’s kids run in the Justice Run with her…because that is what mommy does (along with other caring actions of sorting through clothes for refugees and packing care-packages to Africa).  My friend Christi’s kids started Africrans  – a business of recycling old crayons into new ones and using the money to free slaves.  We shouldn’t be surprised that their mom’s heart is broken for the poor and oppressed and that she is an artist.  I have many friends whose kids gave up birthday presents to collect for other non-profits.  Again, I can look to the parents and see that they too, are extremely generous and not into materialism.

May we all be aware more and more each day of the eyes watching us.  I don’t want to care about the eyes of my own peers, but the eyes of my children as they model what I do, and not what I say.  Let our actions be the melody of our words – inviting our children to indeed, sing along.

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Taking some reminders from the boy with the fish….

A few months back when were learning about great Civil War abolitionist heroes, the kids wrote to our president, senators, and representatives about modern day slavery.    It wasn’t out of any sort of urging from anywhere beyond the kids wanting to do something, whatever they could.  Beyond a few other things we were doing as a family in efforts against slavery, I confess I encouraged them in the letter writing just to believe in our government process. Image

After the New Year, there was another push for TVPRA to protect and save victims of trafficking. The kids were very encouraged in an article (both by the chance to have their story motivate others and quite honestly me…to call) Read here:  http://womenofvision.org/2013/01/11/global-human-trafficking-awareness-day-call-your-senators-and-representative-today/

They did enjoy hearing from the President (vague form letter type, but still … a letter from The White House) and we now have meetings with our Senator’s office and our Representative’s office when we go to DC at the end of the month.

But what is MORE….is that my kids, unknowingly (heck – I had NO CLUE) got to be a part of this:

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When this got posted about the TVPRA, I was sitting at the computer crying tears of joy and I told the kids.  They started running around the house cheering and doing the happy dance.  I was overwhelmed for 2 reasons.  First of all and most important – slavery needs to stop and this is an important part of that.  Secondly – my kids were a part of that process.  Now I doubt they swayed anyone’s vote or anything, but they were still a part of that.  I believe that  it will effect how they interact with politics and voting (and mine).  Late yesterday Lukas, on his own (because if it was an assignment, he wouldn’t do it) wrote a “Newspaper”…one of the pages is this:

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What is says, in bad handwriting is:  “GREAT NEWS!  The president singed a bill that says I will not let slavery happen in my time.  Lukas and Lane Goodworth rote a note to the president about slavery to let that happen.”  (and then of course just after it are tips for newspaper readers on how to play the Wii and many comics he drew…just to keep the paper balanced I suppose).

My point….

The boy with the fish had NO IDEA that Jesus was going to multiply his lunch into a feast for thousands.  He just wanted to offer what he had.  That is all anyone could have ever asked.  So often we would look at that boy and think “don’t even try…there are too many people”.  But, he offered all the same.  We don’t know when our offering will small as it is or multiplied.  All we are asked to do is, in spite of the crowds, statistics, or needs,….to offer…whatever we have.  Jesus will do the rest.

The boy with the fish teaches me this.

My kids teach me this.

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