children's book picture of Martha angrily baking

Martha, Martha

I often feel that Martha gets a bad rap. After all, she’s just trying to cook up something amazing for Jesus. But she turns into a stressed-out hostess, trying to make sure it’s all perfect, but poisoning the atmosphere with her grouchy attitude… that sounds a lot like me in the hours leading up to a daughter’s birthday party. If you haven’t witnessed that scenario, firstly be thankful, and then secondly (re)acquaint yourself with Luke 10:38-42.

She works hard, she gets grumpy, she complains to Jesus, and Jesus tells her to chill out.

Anyone else identifying with Martha here?

I hear the rebuke, the redirection towards peace and connection, but I’m still left wondering, What about dinner? Who’s going to take care of that?

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Love is patient

You know how when you’ve read something too many times it starts to lose all meaning? Just pick a word and write or speak it out repeatedly and very soon you’ll find yourself wondering if it is even a word at all, the letters and syllables have dissolved into nonsense.

The most familiar passages of Scripture get a bit like that too. They’re just words – our eyes glide over them, they slip past our ears – and while we might murmur our assent at their familiar tones, their meaning doesn’t touch our heart.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has got to be one of the most often repeated Scriptures. Hands up if you had it at your wedding, or if, like me, you purposely didn’t have it at your wedding because everyone else did. It was like Pachelbel’s canon in the 90s, poor overused and under-appreciated Pachelbel.

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(No) shame on you

I’m hoping this doesn’t come as a surprise to my parents, but as a child I was a little light-fingered for a time. I don’t think I ever shoplifted, but I distinctly remember pilfering these fancy stickers that my mum had. What a treasure! But where to hide them? I know… down the side of my bed, no one will ever find them there! Until mum changes the sheets duh. I recall being embarrassingly slow to confess, pretending I had no idea where they had come from. Ah kids… I’d like to think it was just a phase. I’ve certainly grown out of it now.

Well, parental karma is a thing, and we’ve had similar phases with our kids. For one daughter though it is dragging on longer than I’ve got patience for. And it’s happening at school, so there’s this public dimension to navigate as well.

I know better than to shame myself — it’s no reflection of my poor parenting — and I’m going to resist the shaming of others (“you never expect it to be the pastor’s kid”). But I am a little tempted to shame her.

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Small acts of rebellion

I am not a dog person, never have been and probably never will be. But still, I think that at some point in the future I’m going to get a dog. Not soon, mind you – so don’t anyone dare tell this to the kids. They would love one, but right now, I suspect that the responsibility of a dog added to everything else would tip me over the edge. Whenever the kids ask for a dog, I tell them we had a baby instead.

Why no dog? They’re so darn high maintenance! Now cats, you can leave town for a couple of weeks and they’ll just eat their biscuits, or whatever they catch in the field, ours at least will.

But dogs, you have to do so much work, and for all that work they’re so UNPRODUCTIVE.

Totally not a dog a person.

But down the track I think for me getting a dog could be a spiritual practice; a small act of rebellion to push back against my personal brand of neurosis that idolises productivity, control, and neatness.

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When God isn’t who you thought He was.

Some mornings over breakfast the girls and I look at my phone together. There are two types of things we look at: it’s either that week’s celebrity best & worst dressed (don’t judge me), OR it’s bible study… maybe they balance each other out?

The bible reading app I’m currently using, Read Scripture, occasionally has videos that go with it. While they’re certainly not aimed at kids, they are a MOVING IMAGE, and therefore my children must each watch them in turn.

A couple of weeks ago I was starting the book of Mark, and the overview video hit home as it explained the disciples’ confusion around who Jesus was. Yes he’s the Messiah, they got that, but the Messiah they were expecting was a victorious military leader who would set them free from Roman oppression. However, the Messiah they got was the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, and that just did not compute.

Sometimes the God you get is different to the God you were expecting, because sometimes God just isn’t who you thought he was.

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