Monday, May 23, 2011

A Perspective of Thanks

On Monday I feel the raggedness of an overdone weekend. All the things we "had to do" and the rest we didn't get. I sigh out a weeks worth of chaos, hoping this Monday begins a slower, calmer week.

As easy as it is for me to take on the stresses and burdens of this life it is perhaps in that very moment that I need, require a new perspective. For every dark rain cloud there is a sun burst hiding behind it. So when the Eeyore in me wants to complain about the incessant rain, the hectic schedule, and the many things that are seemingly not going my way, it is as good a time as any to consider the rose instead of its thorns.

My "Multitudes":

--fresh mulch on a spring flower and veggie garden
--the anticipation of homegrown tomatoes this summer
--a baseball helmet that protects heads...and noses
--a Pastor that preaches the Truth, even when it might hurt
--spontaneous play dates with neighbor/friends
--an empty kitchen sink and school lunches made by my husband
--blooming irises (my favorite)
--my husband's job and the Lord's provision in it
--a school and teachers that my children are excited to spend Monday with
--a healthy household
--the smell of basil and lavender emanating from my dining room windowsill
--love undeserved and no condemnation (John 8:1-11)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Patience In The Process

“Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.”
-- Harvey MacKay

The passage of time means progress. Like an escalator is in continuous forward motion, we are all moving through time. But unlike the escalator, we cannot stop time and we cannot step off when we have "arrived". Time is constant, but life is hardly on a steady course. Our lives are often compared to the ocean tides that ebb and flow, the valleys and mountains, or a mega-rollercoaster full of dips, turns, highs and lows.

Part of the fun of hiking a trail is the process of getting from the trailhead at the beginning to the trailhead at the end. On a recent hiking adventure with our kids we were met with many challenges due to a rainstorm that had passed through the area the day before. The trail was muddy and there was often a steady stream of water flowing down the middle of what should have been the path. We had to maneuver around puddles, climb over fallen trees, and find a way over a small stream that had become a large one overnight. Each obstacle was met with both hesitation and determination. Should we turn back? How could we find our way across or around?
There were several missteps. There was a battle for the "leader" position (our kids fighting their Daddy for it). There were even moments of hopelessness and frustration. But we didn't turn back. Sometimes we had to walk away from the trail to avoid flooded sections, but we kept the trail in sight and returned to it as soon as we could. And when we had finished and returned to the car we all felt a sense of accomplishment and were glad we had stuck it out.

Why do I fight the process so much? The process takes time to complete. There may be many steps and smaller processes that need to be worked through, obstacles in the way, and questions that need to be asked and answered. We must accept that we are in a process and be patient in it. A lot of times I want to rush the process. If I could only see what the end result will be, then I would know whether it was worth all the trouble. What if I never get to the end? What if I get off the trail and can't find my way back again?

Like the hiking trail, we had to literally take one step at a time, deal with each obstacle as it came. Perhaps if we knew what was ahead we would have turned back, but there was always a chance of something better around the next bend. It is that hope that can keep you persevering through the difficult things. It is that hope that may escort you through each adventure life throws at you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celebrating Mothers!

A newborn baby, so completely dependent and innocent. Yet we know it is only a matter of time before they experience their first disappointment, their first boo-boo, or their first unmet expectation. As a Mom you know that you cannot keep these things from coming and you know sometimes these disappointments will come from your own hands. We do the best we can with what we know, motivated by what we hope and desire for our kids. From the moment they are born we are teaching them to not need us. We are training and preparing them for the long road ahead, knowing they need to learn independence and to speak up for themselves. As much as we love those early years when only a Mom can soothe a hurt we know that they need to learn how to jump up and dust themselves off and try again.

Children can be such a huge source of worry for a Mom. We are their "protectors" and we want to guard them from unnecessary struggles. It can be a mighty tug on a Momma's heart when you want to save them from the things that are difficult for them, but you know they must walk through it themselves, without your help.

I have experienced this firsthand with my son. Seeing the struggle early on for him to put himself out there or speak up for himself. We witnessed many occasions where he stood on the "sidelines" watching other kids having fun. What I wanted for him was to be part of it, experience it, and enjoy all that life has to offer. What a difficult life lesson to teach an introvert! But something changed for him this year. Call it growth or maturity or maybe the desire to be a part of it started to outweigh the anxiety to taking that first step, but he has really taken some amazing steps forward this year, surprising me and showing me that my own kid can teach me a few things!

In teaching opportunities with him we have often referenced him to Romans 5:3-5, "We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. God has poured his love into our hearts. He did it through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us." This perseverance, or strength to go on, means trying something even if it challenges us, volunteering for something even if it's out of our comfort zone, or participating in something new even though we have no idea how to do it.

These thing may come easy to some, but it does not come easy to him. So I'm celebrating Caleb doing the hard things, but I hope it is also an encouragement to you, to persevere, to join and not avoid, to push through things that give you anxiety so you may receive its blessings. What are the blessings, you might ask? In the verse perseverance produces character and strength in character is a great blessing in and of itself. Doing the difficult thing, pushing through it, and seeing, even proving to yourself that you can do it, that it isn't as bad as you might have imagined it to be often gives you new confidence.

This may surprise some of you, but my natural inclination is to be introverted. I was a hesitant child, I liked to hide behind my mother's legs upon meeting someone new. I still fight anxiety and discomfort in a room of people I don't know. And yet, somehow I have been able to overcome it. I don't let it stop me from trying new things. I have learned, through experience, to push through the fear and anxiety. I have figured out how to trust. I don't always know the "right" thing to say. I still get butterflies in my stomach sometimes. But having those feelings is not necessarily a reason to not do whatever I want to do. And sometimes, it's a sure sign that I need to do it.

Happy Mother's Day!
Celebrating the women who open their hearts to loving and preparing children to spread their wings to fly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring's New Birth

Spring has sprung like a second chance. The barrenness of winter taken over by blossoms and flowers and green grass. The end of each season making me appreciate the next. I kept watch for the day when small, simple buds burst into lush green leaves. Oh, what a welcome sight! Trading knit hats and sweaters for shorts and flip-flops. The daylight lingers on into evening now and the fresh scent of spring air infests our house and our noses. One deep breath of it can carry my cares away, atleast for a moment.

As I walk through Spring I am reminded that we all have a story. There is always something more behind the masks we wear. Spring bursts forth in a beautiful display of colors, but do we forget the cold wind that chilled us only weeks ago? That there are hurting people hiding behind a smile and an office desk.

Love melts away walls. Love lets people know that they aren't alone. Love shows them there is hope.

So thankful today for friends; my many deep, true, lasting friendships, as well as the new relationships that are taking root and growing this school year!

"His great love is new every morning. Lord, how faithful you are!" LAMENTATIONS 3:23

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