It is the most extraordinarily painful and monstrously horrifying experience  I have had on an annual basis, with the exception of cleaning my Chihuahuas and getting a haircut. On a terror scale of 1 to 10 this ranks just above eating hummus and watching my daughter turn 13. It is an annual rite of passage involving millions of bewildered parents all over the known United States and Texas. It is more tense than shopping for the newest toy at Christmas and it takes more patience than watching your in-laws let your child do something you told them never to do . . . and your in-laws know you told them never to do it. This makes the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain seem like a duck walk on a Sunday afternoon in the park. I refer to it simply  as the Squalidly Squeamish, Shockingly Shameless, Staggeringly Stressful, Saturday School Supply Stampede. In other words, it’s time to buy school supplies.

Through my own shallow study and observation I have decided it is now more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming to buy the correct school supplies than it is to purchase a small foreign country. If you don’t have the right school supplies your child could get ostrich eyes . . . or maybe it’s ostracized. Something needs to change. When we decided to become parents we were not told that diapers have a load limit and we were definitely not warned about shopping for school supplies. I haven’t seen that much violence since I tried to organize an Eat the Whale rally.

Someone needs to offer a modified Lamaze class for parents who expect to do school supply shopping the natural way, with just a coach, a tennis ball, no epidural, and some timely bad language. We could practice whistling, breathing, screaming, and placing the tennis ball at the pressure point causing the most pain and stress. In my visit over the weekend it would have been in the mouths of a young mother and her two children, Banshee and Tasmanian Devil.

You need to go shopping just to see the hundreds of varieties of pens now available. There is even one pen that has an antibacterial agent built into it that actually fights bacteria. I only want a pen that writes without skipping, because the basic purpose of a pen is to write solid lines.

Like the pen that skips, when we stray from our basic purpose as Christians – to love God and love our neighbor – we live our lives with too many spaces in the lines. Our solid lines may include Bible study and worship. The question becomes, what are we doing in the spaces? First John 3:18 says, “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action” (TEV).

We had 158 of our Springfield Baptist Church family involved in Mission Springfield last week. We visited people. We helped people. We encouraged people. We prayed for people. In other words, we filled in the spaces. We put love into action. We will never write a perfectly solid line. Only Jesus did. But we can fill our spaces by trying to live every moment to serve God and love others. In that sense, it’s not so bad to be lost in space. 

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