You never know who you are going to get to interact with in a day. For instance, a sweet lady was telling me about her upcoming trip. She was pretty excited, but a bit embarrassed about the appearance of her recent surgery. Skin cancer had been removed above her eye. I showed her my hand and the scar from the same. She had a hard time finding the mark that just so happens to be the same size as her scar. Sometimes it is encouraging to meet someone who knows and is now healed. A fresh wound, even if necessary, can look pretty terrible and is painful. At the time, it is hard to believe it won’t always be this way. Hope says to keep going, do what is beneficial for healing and be patient. And take time to be thankful for the daily gifts that are all around you, especially the ones that cross your path on an ordinary day.
Month: August 2022
A Bad Meal
I absolutely blew it at the table the other night. When I called the kids to come down for dinner, I wish I would have given them the menu. The main dish will be selfishness served with a side of fear or was it anger, the two taste alike. We went through our normal routine and finished up reading someone else’s words of love. It was then that I noticed the lightness and laughter that had finally arrived. How quickly I can forget the meal of communion that I have been served and what it cost. Tired in every way, yes, but excuses do not feed a family. Conviction came later that evening and sleep did too. The next morning I sought out the ones that I needed to ask forgiveness and their responses were like a feast of grace. I reminded myself that one bad meal does not cancel out all the other great ones. They have been served unconditional love, trust and forgiveness far more and will continue to be. For I have again and again “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” so why would I want them eating anything less?
Reading one of my favorite books of the Bible this morning, the idea of picking up what others dropped was highlighted. Ruth follows behind the other harvesters, dependent on what she gathers. She also provided for her mother-in-law from her supply. It would have been counterproductive for her to pick up weeds. They would have added weight and at the end of the day been discarded. She could not feed herself or anyone else with what is worthless.
This concept of picking up made me think of offenses. Everywhere we turn, these “weeds” are available and we get to choose to gather them or leave them. If we pick them up, they weight us down and provide nothing beneficial for anyone else. May we all be mindful of what we are gathering.
To get to know someone you have to listen. We can make up all kinds of things about a person, but they often prove false once we have gotten to know them by actually listening. A stereotype is safer than the actual process of knowing. Listening takes closeness, being present and for that we need time. Add on top of that the trust issues we collect and it’s no wonder many of us keep others at a distance, only allowing a glimpse when all appears perfect. What I am learning is that the idea of perfection, having it all together, has caused even more distance and isolation. Is it any wonder people are so lonely? The challenge for us is to live authentically with healthy boundaries. This is not easy, but maybe it becomes easier when we start practicing listening to others and then responding with our true selves. The world is in need of who we have been created to be and there is a fierce determination rising back up in me to live and raise originals. It is a bit messy, but it sure is fun!
There is another side to this parenting coin and that is staying connected. We let our kids go, but we do not have to disconnect. Technology makes a phone call or text message extremely simple and miles do not matter. We get to catch up on the events of the day, give encouragement or share a laugh. You do what is needed to stay connected as a family and participate in this very special gift of getting to figure life out together. It is not perfect, mind you, and for that we know mending happens on purpose. For a good “team” works together for a common goal and that requires connection, even during the hard times. I’ve also noticed how our kids go to their dad as a natural response. I am convinced it is because he does not give up on them, but works with them like a coach, I guess you could say. And we may win or we may lose, but either way we are together.
We are being given an opportunity to walk another child through their senior year of high school. Looking back at the last go around is helpful. A verse comes to mind just as questions/fears begin to spin me in circles. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15). The answer is there and peace quiets my heart again. We will continue to live the gospel day in and day out with joy. We were not asked to take fear, distrust and judgement into the world, now were we? So that is not how this year will be spent, for this baggage is much too heavy. And when the day comes when this one goes into the part of the world that God has planned, he will know what to do. Excitement and joy stirs just thinking about what he has been entrusted with! Maybe letting go will be a little easier this time around, for I can trust the One who is ultimately sending him. I have witnessed it before.
Getting the kids ready for going back to school can be a challenge, especially when it comes to clothing. What we wear can be a glimpse or a reflection of something we believe about ourselves. Today I read these verses and decided to make it my prayer. “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (Colossians 3:12-14msg). Maybe while we are helping coordinate just the right first day outfit, we can remind them and us of this truth too.
Somedays the demands start early and seem to stretch one paper thin. Looking into the eyes of one child and then another, seeing uncertainty, can weigh heavy on a heart. The look mirrors my own sometimes and I hear that still small voice asking, “Are you going to trust Me?” Fear and what if causes us to circle the same mountain going nowhere. I prefer to climb, so I say yes. It takes a few minutes and words of truth are remembered. His presence is promised in middle schools, high schools and wherever the day takes this mom. And maybe in the stretching thin more of Him shines through.
The start of a new school year is just around the corner. There are many unknowns, but there is a constant that remains. We cannot control much of what happens during the school day, but we sure can remind each of our children that they are loved unconditionally. This is what is true and anything else is a lie. How we want to convey this message depends on how each child feels love. Imagine how teachable our kids could be this year if they go into the classroom loved. Before any grade gets earned, a party invitation extended or withheld and the best or worst hair day happens, loved. Perfection is not the goal, acceptance of this love is key. And might I remind each of us that this love includes us too.
It has been a few days since we dropped our oldest off a thousand miles away. Before we drove away, we walked around the cabin she will call home for a bit. We saw reminders of our time there from so many years ago. On one wall, a picture of my husband from the summer we met. On another, one of me a few summers before that. Then one of the three of us when she was less than a year old. Looking at those images stirred an enormous amount of gratitude for the way the Lord planned our steps back to this same place. Then another wave of thankfulness for His unconditional love during the harder steps, ones that looked more like stumbles at the time. He is so good.
This morning I got an unexpected FaceTime call and radiant perfectly describes the child on my screen. It is amazing what joy can do to ones appearance. And I have a feeling that once I rest up from this emotional trip, I will see the same joy on my face as well, evidence of His continued goodness.