Driven against the wall

13620726_10153941912796888_1568557063833364784_nGod is described in Isaiah as being “a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert.”

Do you want to be Godly? Then give refuge. Look around and see who is needy and offer help. See who is suffering in the heat and offer shade. See who is battered by the storm and offer protection.

You don’t have to agree with them about who is to blame for any tragedy or share politic solutions. You don’t have to vote for the same candidate, or even post the same hashtag. Give them refuge, because they are driven against the wall by the ruthless.

Whatever you do, don’t be the ruthless one. Please don’t be ruthless. There’s enough of that already.

And my homeschooling friends, please talk to you children about this.  Let them see your grief, your compassion.  When you do an act of kindness or speak a word of encouragement or defense, include your children in that.  Tell them why you did it.  While it’s true that kids observe and absorb, they don’t always understand what they observe (especially younger ones), and they might draw wrong conclusions or miss important points.

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Coasting across the finish line

My personal record for biking 12 miles!
My personal record for biking 12 miles!

The last part of the track is uphill.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the greater flexibility of summer schedules and bicycling the 12 mile trail past Lake Wichita.  The direction I choose means that I finish with an uphill stretch.  Oh, it’s not horribly steep or anything (this is North Texas after all, and not known for steep hills), but at the end of 12 miles it’s just enough to intimidate the last dregs of my energy.  Usually as I approach the final curve, I slow down and creep across to the parking lot, peel myself off the sweaty seat, and limp to my car, nursing that inner satisfaction of having completed 12 miles. 

Today as I watched the mile markers and compared them to my stopwatch, I realized that I was positioned to beat my personal record.  I pushed it.  I ignored my complaining thighs and muscled along each slight incline.  Instead of slowing down on the last stretch, I actually sped up and rolled right up to my truck exhilerated and smiling broadly.  I bounced off the biked with surprisingly less soreness.  Endorphins are my new best friend. 🙂

I’m not usually much of a sports person, but I thought this morning about the end game in different sports.  In basketball or football, you can get a big lead and then coast across the finish line.  Just hold onto the ball and let the clock run out.  In tennis, though, you never get to coast.  To win, you have to win the last point of the game, the last game of the set, the last set of the match.  No slacking off or letting the time run out.  I don’t bike competitively, so I can choose to coast or to push across the finish line.  Pushing feels better.

I think life is like that.  You can choose to coast and limp or to push harder and finish strong.  God has given us direction for this choice.

Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenword in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14

2 Peter chapter one talks about adding to your faith virtue, and adding to your virtue knowledge, and so on.  Always adding.  Always getting stronger.  Never coasting, never slacking, never letting the clock run out.  Paul says press on to the goal.  I think runners call that strategy uneven splits.  You start out slow, build momentum, and press on faster at the end finishing victorious (or at least strong and fast). 

Coasting is easy.  I need to watch out for that.

It’s quiet around here…too quiet

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Hollywood cliche.  My house really is too quiet.

My kids all simultaneously left me for that American rite of passage called summer camp.   I’m wavering between viewing it as an awesome opportunity for them to test their fledgeling wings with a safely supervised bit of freedom, or a dreadful sham  of boarding school on a trial basis. 

They come home in 2 weeks full of happy memories and new skills, their days filled with exciting adventures, fun project classes and joking friends.  Mine are a bit more mundane.  Scrubbing grout, sorting closets, and getting the wheels aligned on the truck.  Sure, there are perks.  Plenty of time to ride my bike at the lake.  I can eat lunch whenever I’m hungry.  And I’ve only had to pick up the den floor once.  Oddly, it has stayed clean for 3 days now!  I even got to control the remote and watch an old episode of Dr. Who while folding the laundry.

Is this what empty nest syndrome looks like?  Is this what life would be like without children?  Busy, productive, quiet.  I don’t like it.  I love the energy and the creative power and the odd, random conversations that the kids fill my life with.  I’m willing to wash extra clothes and pick up extra messes and even referee arguments in exchange for that.

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean.  But much increase comes from the strenth of the ox.  Proverbs 14:4.  Only 9 days until my cattle come home. 🙂

A New Woman

It doesn’t take much to make me happy or to perk up my outlook on life.  A new haircut will usually do it.  Thankfully, I got a lot better than that.

This was my effort at being “a new woman” last week:

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The drastic change from long hair to short somehow endows me with a surge of confidence and willingness to try new things.  Less than 24 hours after this admittedly shallow attempt at self-improvement, my little girl showed me the real way that’s done. 

I can’t show you a picture because it’s not an outward change.  Here’s the first picture after the big event.

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Looks uncannily like the last picture taken of her beforehand.  And yet…she is truly a new woman.

2Co 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Last night, I experienced the unique and moving joy of hearing my daughter confess her belief in Jesus Christ and express a desire to be saved eternally, and I assisted her in being baptized to wash away her sins.
Ac 2:38 – Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Every little girl in the congregation cried.  They know and love my sweet little girl as a friend, and they understand (to some degree) the beauty of what she’d done.  She declared publically that she was ready to put away whatever bits of selfishness and weakness and brokenness she had inside, and turn it over to Jesus to be blessed into something new and wonderful and glorious.  

It might not show in her face, but God looks on the heart, and he can see that today, Jordan is a new woman.   

Supermom

Apparently, I have super powers.  Who knew?

I learned this a few days ago by accident.  I walked into my bedroom late in the evening where all 3 kids were engrossed in their newest PS2 game purchased with birthday gift money. 

“Mom!  I can freeze people and turn them into ice cubes!” called one excitedly.

“Mom!  I can make ants appear and attack people!” boasted a second.

Not to be outdone, the third piped in, “I can walk through electricity and not be harmed!”

I smiled.  Must be nice to have supernatural powers, I thought.  So, just to join in the conversation, I said casually, “Oh, yeah?  Well, I can make pancakes.”

I fully expected this to be ignored in the video-game induced frenzy.  Imagine my surprise when all three dropped their controllers and stared at me with real admiration in their eyes. “Really???”  Sean actually leaped off the bed, ready to dart for the kitchen on the spot.  I commanded their respect and (momentarily) their full attention.  Talk about power!

Guess what we had for breakfast the next morning? A little extra work from our usual scrambled eggs or cereal, but definitely worth it for the return.  They sang my praises and gave me lots of hugs.  Every now and then, I feel like I’ve inched just a smidge closer the the Proverbs 31 lady.

Pr 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed.

If that verse went on to say that after calling her blessed, they returned to their bickering and forgot to put away their toothbrushes and pajamas, we’d be spot on. If I could keep them in the sweet and blessed state all day, THAT would be a super power.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to remember to make pancakes more often.

After all, with great power comes great responsibility.

I was Thirsty, and ye Gave Me Hawaiian Punch

Sometimes I’m treated to a small peak of what kind of adults my children will become, a little taste of the fruits of our parenting.  And it’s sweet.  As sweet as Hawaiian Punch.

I should explain that I’m not overly fond of Hawaiian Punch.  It’s okay, but mostly it’s just another sweet, fruity drink that kids adore.  If I’m really thirsty, I choose water.  Actaully, I pretty much always choose water. 

We had a little Hawaiian Punch leftover from a birthday party (see He’ll Always be my Baby).   As we prepared for lunch the next day, one of the kids asked if we could drink that.  Since I normally enforce the “water is the healthiest drink” rule at lunch, saying yes to this request qualified as a special treat which was greeted with cheers. 

As they began to divvy up the punch into 4 cups, it was clear that no one would get too big of a drink.

“Oh, just divide it into 3,” I called from the kitchen.  “I’ll drink water.”

My kids paused, looking puzzled.

“It’s okay,” I insisted.  “I like water.”

Why do kids find that difficult to believe? 

“You should have some, too!” chirped the little ones.  “It’s not fair!”

“Mom,” Cameron said, laying his hand on my arm with a fatherly expression on his face.  He does that more often now that he’s 7 feet tall.  “I know why you said that.  You’re just doing that so we’ll have more.  You always do that.  You always give up your share.” 

I didn’t realize that I “always” did that…do I?

I smiled because he sounded so sweet just then.  I wanted to pinch his cheeks, but like I said, he’s 7 feet tall.  “It’s because I love you.  I don’t mind.”

“But we love you, too.  We want to do it for you.”

By this time, they were all in the kitchen, clamoring about how they really, really wanted me to have some of the Hawaiian Punch.  It had become symbolic.  A point of honor.  They all wanted to sacrific some of their nectar to prove their love.  Jordi even brought out her special pink and purple goblet inscribed in cursive with “Princess.”  That cup doesn’t come out lightly.

As we sat down to our lunch (can’t even remember what it was now), they all grinned at me angelically.  Then the entire episode drained from their minds as more pressing issues (like he’s poking me, do I have to eat this, can I play the PS2 when I finish my work) crowded out the memory.  They were goofy kids again.

But oh my, that was sweet Hawaiian Punch.  Better than water. 🙂

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.

Biking the lake…take 2

Cooler than normal temperatures tempted me again. Since my dh replaced the flat on my bike, I thought…yeah….I’m gonna go back to the lake and enjoy the bike ride I missed last week. I parked at one end of the trail took off with the greatest confidence, anticipating a long, energizing trek. I was admiring the water and the sunflowers and counting all the little jackrabbits zipping about in the morning breeze. I should’ve known that bike had other plans.When I got to the end point of the trail, I u-turned, checked my watch, and considered all the variables. I figured I was set to finish the 12 miles in right at an hour. Excellent! Deep breaths, set for the return trip…and then a funny flapping sound from behind and the bike went wobbly. Another flat!!!!It was the tire we’d just replaced! And I was 6 miles from my truck and the air pump.

My first impulse was to kick the bike and insult its intelligence. But you’d’ve been proud. I reminded myself that trials produce patience, and as trials go, this one was minor.

After all, the sun was still shining, the scenery was still peaceful, and walking is exercise, too. I just hadn’t planned to walk 6 miles pushing a wonky bike. Sigh.

I was trying to think of scripture to meditate on to keep my mood peaceful. A friend told me he likes to meditate on theIsaiah passage about soaring on wings like eagles and not getting tired, but I didn’t think I was really soaring. I finally settled on the 23rd Psalm, since I was uniquely positioned by green meadows and still waters at the time.  🙂  While I was looking around at the birds and trying to recite the psalm, I walked too close to the bike dug my calf into the teeth on the foot pedal. Ouch!! Now I had blood dripping down my leg and still 5 miles to walk. I tried singing, “Count Your Blessings” and “Sing and Be Happy.”  That worked for awhile.

But gals, those landmarks that had zipped by in one direction sure crawled tortorously slow coming home. And the cool morning wore off into sweat city. I finally managed to position the bike so I could jog at times. Was I ever happy to see my truck at the end of the road.

Lessons learned? 1.  Park in the middle of the trail instead of the end so you don’t have to walk as far. 2.  Get an air pump that attaches to the bike because it’s useless otherwise. 3.  Or maybe I should give dh back his bike and trade it for crochet hooks.

Tell me again why I love that lake?