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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dog Paddling

The last two weeks I've felt like our labrador Dakota whenever she gets the chance to go for a swim.

We don't live near the water, so opportunities are few and far between, but when we head to the lake for the weekend, Dakota is entirely predictable. She bounds unabashedly across the sand, tongue hanging wildly from her open mouth and splashes down into the water without inhibition. Once her legs can no longer touch bottom she begins the rhythm of the dog-paddle. It's only once she's begun swimming that we can see she was bred specifically for this. To be able to swim confidently and competently. Her motions are fluid, her usually heavy frame taking on an uncharacteristic litheness. She looks fully engaged - intent on keeping her head above water - and fully energized - intent on reaching whatever drew her out into the deep.

But after a minute or two, she invariably loses confidence. Swimming is something she doesn't do much of and in addition to being out of practice, she's always a bit out of shape. We'll watch her scan the horizon for B Daddy or myself. If she catches our eye, she'll fiercely paddle for her life and reaching us, she'll cling like a child, all four paws and twenty too-long nails digging into our flesh.

If she can't find us, she'll turn towards the shore and escape back to the beach. It's known there.



A few weeks back I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and it wrecked me a bit. Then I read Love Does and found myself being drawn out into the deep.

Yesterday I read Ann Voskamp's post about visiting her Compassion-sponsored child in Haiti and I agreed. I was angry.

I have seen poverty. I have seen need. I don't know what to do. 

In moments of unrestrained passion I convince myself we need to move. Move somewhere where poverty is unavoidable. Move where need is tangible and God moves big. Move to the south-side where the homeless sleep on the street. Move where we're stretched so far and so thin God has to move to sustain us. Move out of the bubble of upper-middle class insulation and excess.

Then I think of my family. This extended family that I want my children to know like I never did and  I think we should stay here. I think there is a ministry and a purpose within my suburban life.

So then I want to give so much of 'our' money that it hurts. I want to be forced to consider the poor each time we make a purchase, to truly LOVE my neighbor as myself - with my money and the line items on my budget. And I wonder if having a diamond on my hand is okay when children are dying every day for lack of clean diamond could dig a well or two couldn't it?

I think it is wise to save for the future. I remind myself that money is not evil. It's the motives of the heart that matter to God. I remember that mommies at MOPS need Jesus and how can I tell them if I'm not there alongside them?  And didn't God use a queen "for such a time as this?"

I resolve to do small things with great love. Mother Teresa believed that was enough. God can bless and sustain a ministry of small things. The laundry. The dishes. The bottoms wiped and babysitting offers extended. It's about your heart after all. Right? ...right?

And I turn back to paddling once again. I'm not sure how we're supposed to live anymore.


  1. Oh Katie. I could go on about this for hours, days, weeks. In a very similar boat (or dog paddle) as yours - hitting Ethiopia twice in 3 months only made the realities of 'the least of these' and 'the orphans and widows' and all this excess even more abrasive. For fear of rambling I'll say this: for some the battle fields are countries away, for some they are in our own backyards, and for many of us we simply must listen to that still small voice and when we hear it, follow. Such a tough spot to be in but at the same time, such a blessing that we have the privilege and honour of serving our King, isn't it?

  2. I feel exactly the same way.

  3. Well said Ashleigh!!!

  4. Additional thought that I struggle with, Rick Warren just tweeted:

    Am I still "running the race to win the prize" or have I settled for a comfortable walk? (See 1 Cor.9:24-27)


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