Thursday, April 25, 2013

Running for Safety

The noise startled him, and he bolted straight for me.

At the mall, my two-year-old grandson, Asher, was fascinated by the train. All three of the boys stood, waving at it as it went by.

train at mall

The “engineer” pulled the train whistle right in front of us. Though not terribly loud, it was close enough to scare Asher. He ran straight to me, raising him arms to be picked up. Once there, he buried his face against my shoulder and nestled in. After a minute, he looked up at me, then his face lit up as he once again turned to look at the train, smiling and waving.

He instinctively ran to me so he could lean on me, and look for confirmation that I was in control. Once he saw that I was not afraid, his fear was calmed, assured that I am a safe place for him.

I want to be a two-year-old again.

When I am scared…lonely…overwhelmed, I want my first instinct to be to run to my Father. As I draw close, my perspective changes. When I focus on Him, it’s no longer about the circumstances; it’s about the One who is with me in the midst of them. Because He is bigger than anything going on. I look at Him, and knowing He is in control, I can relax.

Everything looks different when He holds me. There, I am safe.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.                                                                         Psalm 91:1-2

Further reflection:

1. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by circumstances? Afraid?

2. Where do you go for comfort?

3. How might it be different if you went to the One who is bigger than your circumstances?

Father, thank You that You are my safe place. No matter what else is going on—change or tumult or trials—You are there. You are my “Abba”; bigger than any circumstance. Help me to have the same childlike faith that Asher does, so that when I run to you I am calmed by Your presence.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Days are Long

Every young parent had heard it. Few of us believed it.

“Enjoy your kids while they are young; they grow up so fast. “ Those words are always uttered in a public place—usually the grocery store—and accompanied by terms of endearment such as “sweetie”. A yearning look and a sigh as they reach out to touch your child are inevitable.

grocery_shopping

All of us who are parents have encountered this, and it gets kind of old. I remember thinking; “I’m going to have this kid for 18 years—it’s not going to go by fast!” The days often seemed long; tending scraped knees, refereeing sibling rivalry, and explaining yet again why playing in the toilet was not an option. Fatigue was a constant companion, and quiet time a rare treasure.

The years, however, were different. I loved them, so full of sports and camping and family fun. They flew by! My babies seemed to grow up overnight as first days of kindergarten quickly morphed into college graduations.

My kids are all grown now, and it’s the memories of those long days that I find I treasure most. The laughter and the tears along with the joys and the struggles were all knit together to make up the fabric of our everyday lives. They felt—and were—important, because they were spent investing in the lives of my kids and our family. The years? They are a blur.

I find myself wanting to say to the young, obviously exhausted mom in the grocery store: “Enjoy your kids while they are young; they grow up so fast, sweetie.” Because the days are long, but the years are short. (Gretchen Rubin, http://www.happiness-project.com/)

Believe it.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Further reflection:

1. Where are you in the parenting years: aware of the long days or the shortness of the years?

2. How can you slow down enough to fully treasure the long days now?

Father, every day is a gift, and the kids you give us to raise are a blessing. But sometimes, those blessings are exhausting! I pray for every young mom who reads this, that they would take every opportunity to stop in the midst of their busy lives and look around, recognizing the treasure of each moment and each day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Driving in Circles

 It was the fastest he had ever driven, and it was both exhilarating and a bit frightening.
 My husband, Alan, was turning 60 and I wanted to buy him something special for his birthday. However, I’m not that into buying stuff. We have enough stuff. I’d rather buy a memory; an experience that might be fun, or meaningful, or unique; something that will create an unforgettable memory.
So I thought about it, and came up with this; he has always wanted to drive a race car. Drive it really fast; hopefully without wrecking. So I found a Groupon for something called “NASCAR race experience”. You pay to go to one of the NASCAR tracks, drive an actual car that has been raced, and see how fast you can go. Sounds fun, right? Alan was ecstatic!
race car
To add to the memory Alan’s brother, Pete, and long-time friend, Floyd, went with him. Before they let them on the track there was some preparatory instruction. They learned how to read gauges like the tachometer, and where you’re supposed to run on the track. Grooves? There are grooves on a racetrack? Turns out there are.
Once that’s completed, they still had to sign their life away. THEN they got assigned a car to drive. Each of them had a “spotter”, who gave them directions through the radio in their helmets. He relays information, like how many rpm’s to run and where to drive on the track to get away from traffic. His job was to keep them safe. They were in constant contact with them, and if they didn’t respond verbally and physically to their instructions they could actually shut the car down without permission!
The three guys competed to see who went the fastest and thus earn bragging rights.
They had a blast! It was certainly a memory Alan will treasure. No one crashed, even though they went over 142 mph. But the funny thing is; the car just kept going in circles. Left turn. Another left turn. Another one. None of them ever really went anywhere.
Looking back on my life, I recognize I had seasons just like that; going really, really fast and thinking I was getting somewhere. But in reality I was just going in circles and never got anywhere different.
Why did I think that busyness was the same as meaningful activity? I’m not sure; maybe it was just a habit. Maybe it was the tapes playing in my heads, thinking that as long as I was doing something I was productive. Either way, I wasted a lot of energy!
I wish I had understood them that going fast isn’t the point. Going deliberately and intentionally in the direction God chooses is all that is necessary. He never means for us to go through life without direction. He wrote His word to give it to us! He promises that He will “instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:11-12) His is the voice we hear, saying “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) The best part? He takes us places we could never have gone on our own. Those places can be fun, or scary, or challenging. They all serve to demonstrate that He is the ultimate memory-maker!
Because driving in circles is fun in a race car. But not in life.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.        Proverbs 3:5-6
Further reflection:
1. Describe a time when you, too, felt like you were going in circles without really getting anywhere.
2. How did it feel?
3. Use your concordance to find verses that promise God will give you direction when you seek it from Him.
Father, I am so grateful that You not only promise to give us direction when we seek it, but You are so creative in where and how You take us there! Help me use my time and energy to do those things that matter—those things that get me where you want me to go. You are the best memory-maker there is!















Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Skateboarding Nightmare

Kathy exploded through the front door without knocking.

“Chris!” she shrieked. “I think Eric broke his arm!” Throwing myself into her car, she took me to my ten-year-old son.

When we got to Eric he sat at the bottom of a hill, grimacing with pain and gingerly supporting his wrist.

“I’m sorry, Mom.” Eric apologized as tears rolled down his face. “I know that was a dumb thing to do.”

Before this, Eric had never even ridden a skateboard. What on earth motivated him to make his first attempt heading down that humongous hill?

 Skateboard 2

Still, it was impossible to be upset with him when his wrist was bent at that weirdly unnatural angle. X-rays confirmed the obvious: it was broken. And while Eric was truly sorry, that didn’t take away the consequences of his choice. He was one of the pitchers on the same little league team as two of our other sons. They had just won their league, qualifying them for the city championship. With a broken wrist, it was obvious that Eric wasn’t going to be able to play. He had to be content with coaching first-base instead.

It was like the air went out of the entire team before that first game, and they never really got in the groove. They lost, failing to execute even routine plays. Though they gamely tried to rally momentum for the next game, it proved no different. Their downcast faces told the story of their disappointing finish. While their defeat wasn’t Eric’s fault, his skateboarding choice made it impossible for him to help his team in the way he would have liked.

Each follower of Jesus is part of His team, His body. As such, we are intimately connected and interdependent. The health of one of us affects all the others.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4-5)

Trying to let ourselves off the hook for our bad choices, we rationalize and say: “It only affects me.” But the reality is that our choices do affect other people. There are ripples that flow out from each decision, good or bad, affecting everyone who cares about us.

Because as members of the same body, what hurts me, hurts you too. And what hurts you, hurts me.

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.                1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Further reflection:

1. Have you ever told yourself, “My sin only affects me”?

2. As you look back, can you describe a time when you could clearly see that your bad behavior really did impact others?

Father, I know You have created us to depend on each other. Please forgive me for the times that other people have suffered because of my own sin. Help me choose wisely, so that the body of Christ may be built up, and not hurt.