The catching up part...

It started with Rob's computer dying.

The following week it was the refrigerator.

The next it was his car going into the shop.

Not to be left alive and well and missing all the fun,  my computer committed suicide.

We've had allergies, head colds, and mono.

We've also been preparing for a class trip to New York. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you have searched for a pair of modest appropriate jeans for a five foot nine inch one hundred thirteen pound teenage girl.

Oh, and did I mention that we are homeschooling Sam again? We were kind of sure this would be his last year at Trinitas but we didn't expect that having a few months of preparing and planning would suddenly be reduced to four days.

It's been a real tilt-a-whirl life lately.

Buuut, and I hope I am not speaking too soon, I think this is where the slowing down part begins.

Rob is all settled in with his new computer.

A brand spanking new fridge is in my kitchen.

His car, and all other Hadding vehicles, are running just fine. (May it continue to be thus.)

And I am adjusting to a new keyboard and the maternity session, retirement party, and 50th birthday party have all been reloaded and editing has begun again from scratch. Double the work but grateful everything was backed up onto my external hard drive.

The mono patient is on her way to a full recovery and the assorted other ailments and afflictions are all being tended.

Emily's jeans are packed and she is on her way to the Big Apple as we speak read.

Sam's transition to homeschooling is going well. Trinitas is still wonderful and the girls still attend but it became clear to all of us that as great as the education is and as loving a community as it is, that Sam needed something else. We're incredibly grateful for his time there and the rich blessing that his classmates were to him. We're looking forward to a wonderful journey with him.

Which brings us to the Samtoon part...

Sam has always had a bit of an eclectic taste in music. The last season of America's Got Talent broadened his taste to include an affection for opera. It was just a matter of time before it bled over into his cartooning. Those silly ol' Vikings!

A few weeks back I joined a ladies Bible study that meets weekly at an area church. Having been raised in church first as a preacher's kid and now as a pastor's wife (going on twelve years!) I freely admit that I was hesitant at best and skeptical at worst. Mainly because through the years I have seen how ladies "Bible studies" can quickly descend into a complaint session about husbands, children and life in general or be an exercise in emotionally manipulative me and Jesus naval gazing.

This BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) has been pleasantly refreshing. Our small group leader is really good at keeping us on track and has shown that albeit gently, she will question positions or thoughts that get shared that may not be very clear. What I have also really enjoyed is the lecture time. The woman who leads that aspect of our weekly time does so in a very non preachy manner and I don't feel like she is trying to elicit a particular response from me.

All in all it has been really good for me and I am enjoying studying Scripture in a way that I haven't before. It's on the book of John (which was the final push for me to join since Rob was beginning a new sermon series on that same book.) The group had already been meeting for a while so I picked up in chapter twelve and I am pleased with how the time line is flowing naturally with the church calendar.

Today we begin a new season on the Church calendar, that of Lent. We're basically toddlers interacting with this particular time frame. We're still coming to an understanding of what it is and how we participate in it. As today has drawn closer (Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season) I've been spending time considering this time of preparation for Easter. It's a time that we remember the darkness that the Light came to dispel and how much we needed that Light.

John chapter 13 has been coming to my mind again and again. Two parts in particular. The first is the beautiful imagery we see when Jesus washed the disciples feet.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments...

Up to this point Christ, who has existed in perfect union of fellowship with The Father and the Spirit, would empty Himself and take on the full weight of mankind's sin and feel the full wrath of God

and taking a towel, tied it around His waist...

He who was perfect and eternal took on flesh.

Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him...

How can one read that and not immediately be reminded of the blood and water pouring from his side as He hung on the cross? How can we not be reminded that we are washed in the water of the Word and then remember that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us?

The other thing that really stands out to me is a conversation Jesus has after telling the disciples that one of them would betray Him.

The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom He spoke...So that disciple, leaning back on Jesus, said to Him, Lord, who is it?

They simply had no idea who among them was the betrayer. And this astounds me because Jesus did. He knew what Judas was going to do but He treated Judas just like the other disciples to the point that they had no clue who was going to turn away. They were utterly clueless.

And I realize how quick I am to let my annoyance show over even the slightest offense, real or imagined. How easy it must be for everybody to know when I am upset and why I am upset and who I am upset with.

As the Lenten season begins it is clear just how much I need Good Friday. And how incredibly humbled I am by Resurrection Sunday.

Years ago, far more than I was comfortable with when I realized exactly just how many years ago, I worked at a Montessori day school. We had a method of tracking the progress of our students that was pretty basic but effective. It involved a side meant that the activity had been introduced to the student. Two sides meant that the student was actively working on that particular task or skill while a completed triangle meant the child was proficient at the task from beginning to end. They didn't receive a completed triangle the first time they did the whole activity either but only after they showed themselves consistently completing the task. From beginning to end included a lot of steps. Like, a lot of steps. I think our dish washing station had something like seventy-five steps including choosing the work on the shelf, bringing it to their table, all the stuff involved in the activity itself, as well as the clean up, and lastly pushing their chair under the table.

I've tried to make the same effort in training our children in a similar way at home with chores in the sense that the job is not complete until, and unless, you have completed the whole task and not just part of it. If you have been tasked with cleaning the kitchen and dishes have been washed but are left drying in the sink then you really aren't finished. You've done a good thing, certainly, but it isn't done.

I feel much the same way right now viewing the political landscape, in particular on the pro-life front. I am surprised, shocked really, at how incredibly fast President Trump has moved to change things on the pro-life front. There is much to celebrate and rejoice over. Much to give thanks to God for.

But, I don't want us to view it as a time to let up. Our work is not done. The laundry is getting washed but it will still need to be dried, folded and put away. And while the President may be turning the washing machine on it is our honorable task to complete the work. The White House can do their part moving legislation along in the right direction but it will be us, the people in the streets and on the ground as they say, that will be doing the rest of the work.

God willing pregnancy centers will begin to see an uptick in client numbers as women who previously sought abortion now come to them for counsel and help. They are going to need more money and more hands than ever before. Rejoice that Vice President Pence will speak at the March For Life in Washington. But know that it won't be his face that greets a confused, frightened, or overwhelmed mother-to-be as she walks into a pregnancy resource center.

We are beyond excited that our own Pregnancy Resource Center in Milton is making a long prayed for and anticipated move to becoming a medical resource where women will have access to an ultrasound. This is a big deal since we know that the odds of an abortion go way down when a mother can actually see her baby's heartbeat. Be a part of that work. Find out how you can help that happen sooner rather than later by visiting their website.

But even giving your support to Milton PRC or Safe Harbor in Pensacola won't close that triangle. We must be more than pro-birth.We need to be pro-life at all stages. One of the greatest arguments used against pro-lifers by pro-choicers is that we only care about the babies, not the mothers and not about people in general.

People, all people, are made in the image of God. It is cracked and marred by sin, but it is intrinsically stamped upon everyone of us. It is present on the baby in the womb and the street thug on the corner with the baggy pants. It is a part of the junkie, the whore, the refugee, the homeless, the mentally unstable, the protester, the political opponent, the crack dealer, the school teacher, the movie star, neighborhood kid, the grocery store clerk, and your bank teller.

Get involved in things that restore the dignity of humanity. Volunteer with a literacy program. Find out the needs of the women and children's shelter in your area. Do you know that there are churches with clothes closets designed especially for people needing something to wear to a job interview? I heard of one church that hosted a car health clinic every couple of months in their parking lot. They would change the oil and check fluids and simple vehicle things for single mothers and the elderly. One church hosted a play day for foster families to come relax and have fun. You can bake a cake for your fire and sheriffs departments. Take your kids to the park on a sunny day and pass out popsicles to everybody. Hang out and get a basketball game going each week. Let people see your face enough that they recognize it and associate it with good things, with safety, with hope.

Although good things, really good things, are happening in some quarters of the pro-life movement we cannot act as if the work is done. Our task is far from finished and if we truly want to push back against those who oppose us then we must not give them room to say our way doesn't work, that it isn't enough.

Rejoice, but roll up your sleeves, because the dishes still need to be put away.

Every year at the beginning of that year my beloved bemoans the fact that he still doesn't have the jet pack society was basically promised in his childhood.

Me? Not too concerned.

But you know what would be neat?

An ink pen that would let you set a radius of usage and gave off a little jolt of electricity to anyone trying to leave the usage area with your pen. Like a shock collar only made for writing instruments.

You know what else would be seriously neat? And incredibly helpful?

A peanut butter container made in a box shape so that when you get down to the very last bit of peanut butter your hand doesn't get smeared with the creamy goodness as you try to scrape the jar clean.

Oooh, you know what else would be pretty neat?

A bumbrella. A clip of some sort that connects your umbrella to your car that allows both hands to be free as you load children or groceries into your vehicle so that your bum doesn't get soaking wet in the process.

Hey, you know what I just thought of? Hair brushes! I have three sisters and when we were kids we were always loosing the hairbrush. So one day my poor long suffering father drilled a small hole into the end of the brush and attached a really long stretchy rubber band that he then hooked to the ceiling. Our hair brush was effectively on a leash.

My girls are constantly losing their hairbrushes. We've tried everything short of my Dad's trick. But maybe if the little shock collar-esque thing worked on a pen it could work on a hair brush too, no?

For most people Christmas ended the evening of the 25th and now they are biding time to ring in the new year. For some of us though, the seasons of Advent and Christmas are the beginning of our year not the end of it. The 25th was the beginning of twelve days of joyfully celebrating, in big and small ways, the birth of our King. It will culminate in a great big ol' Epiphany feast with roasted pig, copious amounts of delicious foods, libations, laughter and cheer.

But it really is much more than that. It's not just a beginning of a new church year it also points us to something bigger, something more, something to come.

Have you ever considered the baby Jesus being laid in a manger...a feeding trough?

"For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world..."

It wasn't just a miraculous birth. It was a miraculous birth that pointed to a miraculous death and resurrection.

"The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and His presence among us ~ as one of us ~ give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter darkness."

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