You Okay?

My grandson toddles toward the lonely playground. He’s eighteen months old and this morning, his sights are fixed on the metal swing set. 

I watch his precarious baby steps as he navigates the gravel path. Best that I stay within arm’s reach in case Grandson falls. Sure enough, he stumbles.

“You’re okay. I got you!” 

I grasp his outstretched hand before his knees scrape the ground. Then, I lead him by the hand while we walk to the swing set.

After I settle on the swing, I lift Grandson to  my lap and wrap my arm around his waist. He leans back, fearless and content as we swing higher and faster.

This child trusts me with his safety. No whining or wiggling to suggest he’d rather be anywhere but here. Ohh, to be a carefree child!

Throughout my life, I’ve seen the Lord’s mercies. He repeatedly rescues me from danger and cushions my falls. So I know his eye is on me, and his Spirit guides me. But,

I want to trust God more. To be content with the here and now when life’s events feels like nettles in my socks.

Whenever I hear—pandemic, protests, politics—my body stiffens. I grumble about social distancing, quarantine, masks, my canceled appointments—hair today, denied tomorrow.

I raise my hands in protest rather than prayer.

This isn’t the summer vacation I bargained for. This isn’t the retired life I’d anticipated. This isn’t the lifestyle I’d envisioned for my grown children. I want to see my parents without fear of infecting them with COVID19!

Dad says, “Could be worse!”

Today is worse.

It’s nine a.m. and I’m drenched in sweat as the mercury in my outdoor thermometer inches toward a hundred. I can tolerate the heat, but rolling power outages and Red Flag Warnings (to evacuate our home) are in effect while the not-so-distant wildfires paint the sky ash grey. Yesterday, the foothills looked like they were puffing a cigarette. Today, they’re a chain-smoker.

I inhale deep, before the winds shift south and the air smells like a stale smoking lounge. I worry for the firefighters. I ponder what I’d do if my house burned down.

My body is swinging in the breeze, but my disposition is teetering on the edge of a miry pit. God intervenes like the doting Father that he is.

“Karen, you’re okay. I got you.”

I want to believe you, Lord, but…. 

From where I stand on planet earth, it feels like you’ve abandoned your creation. Not that I’d blame you. A time out, with our noses on the wall, might do everyone some good. But right now, I’m not feeling okay. 

God knows me. And yes, he is patient. He brings to mind what my mentor, Loretta, has told me repeatedly. The eternal perspective that has pulled me up by the boot straps on more than one occasion, and helped me forge ahead by God’s grace. 

She’d point to the pandemic, the wildfires and the nettles in my socks and tell me, 

“Every circumstance is an opportunity for God to teach and change us.” 

Change us? How?

To become more like Christ—more loving, compassionate, kind, patient, forgiving, willing to serve, prayerful.

I inwardly squirm. “I don’t want to learn these lessons the hard way. Can’t I sit in my recliner and read the Bible and be changed?”

My grandson points to the sky, bringing me back to this sweet spot.

I follow his wide-eyed gaze.

“That’s a Red-Tail Hawk,” I tell him. “Birds use thermals to soar without flapping their wings.”

My grandson isn’t old enough to comprehend everything I say, but he’s taking it all in—his surroundings, my words, the tone of my voice, my actions. He’s getting to know me as well as life.

Spending time with someone will do that, you know. 

Grandson scoots off my lap and heads for the tall metal slide. He’s been there before. And he’s not afraid. He knows that grandma will be right beside him. 

 That’s a God lesson . . . even in this!

When’s the Last Time You Did It?

file0001944463518“Look, Mommy, I did it!”

I couldn’t see the school playground from my front porch, but I heard the girl’s high-ptiched voice. Her audible excitement made me smile; wonder…

file0001490893047

Did the girl cross the monkey bar’s without falling? Swing without Mommy’s help? Do a cartwheel?

My three children are grown, but I remember their triumphant shouts whenever they accomplished a new feat.

file0001816753776

Victory tasted sweet; called for applause.

Even before they could vocalize their thoughts, my children’s grinning faces said “look at me” as they each learned to walk. Like a new-born colt, they’d wobble, collapse to the floor, then rise again as I cheered them onward.

One step. Two. Then four hurried steps into my outreached arms. “You did it!”

However, those baby steps enabled my children to eventually walk away from me. Off they went to school, slumber parties, summer camp, part-time jobs, college, and life. While I stood by—watching, cheering, praying—as they did it!

The hardest challenge was balancing my realistic concerns for their personal safety with their need to become independent.

For example, I had to know when to stop holding my son’s hand when we crossed the street. Then I had to stop telling him (and trust him) to look both ways before he crossed the street. Because now that my son’s away at college, I don’t even know when he crosses the street.

This summer, my son wanted to drive to San Francisco for the day. Dread swept through my stomach like shards of glass. I tried to dissuade him. Suggested public transportation as an alternative.

Why? Because the thought of navigating any huge city with heavy traffic intimidates me. I warned my son, “You can’t do it. You’re inexperienced!”

Implication: you’re incapable. Nice vote of confidence, right?

However, my fear of driving wasn’t my son’s fear. He relished the challenge. And, he did it!San-Francisco-Free-CNA-Classes3-720x325

I wonder how often parents prevent their children from trying something new or accepting a challenge due to our own fears and limitations.

When the Israelites were afaid to enter the Promised Land, Caleb responded, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30)

Imagine the reaction of Astronaut Armstrong’s family when he said, “I’m going to walk on the moon.” Did they encourage him? Or say, “You’re crazy? It’s never been done!”

My friend, Angie—who became a quadriplegic—refused to think of herself as disabled; hated the word, “CAN’T.” She earned a scuba diver’s licence and swam (with assistance) in the Pacific Ocean.

I pray my children will have the same confidence, courage, and conviction of people like Caleb, Armstrong, and Angie.

In fact, when’s the last time you did something you’ve always wanted to do? Were afraid to do?

I can still hear the thrill in that little girl’s voice. “Look, Mommy, I did it!”

And you know what?

file000165458860

It makes we want to taste victory too.

Mother May I?

“What do you want for Mother’s Day?”

In my household that means, “Do you want to eat out?” “Shall we buy you something?”

Too many people dine out that day. I’d rather not wait for a table. And I feel bad for moms who work as a waitress on Mother’s Day.

And nothing compares to the gifts my children made for me during their childhood years. My office is a museum of their arts and crafts. A hand-painted picture frame, a pencil holder made from a clay pot, a laminated card decorated with torn, colored construction paper.

Now, an act of service is my love language. Last year, my husband and teenage son spread shredded cedar in my flower beds. I was a happy mom! If my son chose to clean his closet, that could count as three Mother’s Day gifts. Dream on.

This Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to rest. I got the idea from my feline. She slept in the sun last week, oblivious to the activity around her.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to rest without a care? To do nothing, without guilt?

Don’t know that I can.

Unless I’m productive it’s not a good day. Even my reading a book, or a friendly phone call, seems like an accomplishment. God knows this about me. He’s given numerous scripture on my need for rest on multiple levels.

Sabbath Rest, rest from labor, resting in the Lord, rest for our souls, rest for the weary, entering God’s rest….

“This is what the Lord says … ‘ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

Hello, Karen? Which part of rest don’t you understand?

Remember the child’s game, Mother May I? I’m told to do something by the leader, but first I must ask permission or I’m out of the game. The Lord’s Word tells me to rest. But unlike the game, I don’t have to say, “Father May I?” before proceeding.

God has given me permission. He invites me to enter His rest. He commands me to rest.  

It’s time I believe God’s Word and permit myself to rest.

Not only this Mother’s Day, but each Sunday as well.

Need Permission?

This Mother’s Day weekend, give yourself permission.…to relax and enjoy being alive.

“My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.” (Psalm 131:1-2)

Thought for the day:

The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.” ~Lane Olinghouse

Mother May I?

“What do you want for Mother’s Day?”

In my household that means, “Do you want to eat out?” “Shall we buy you something?”

Too many people dine out that day. I’d rather not wait for a table. And I feel bad for moms who work as a waitress on Mother’s Day.

And nothing compares to the gifts my children made for me during their childhood years. My office is a museum of their arts and crafts. A hand-painted picture frame, a pencil holder made from a clay pot, a laminated card decorated with torn, colored construction paper.

Now, an act of service is my love language. Last year, my husband and teenage son spread shredded cedar in my flower beds. I was a happy mom! If my son chose to clean his closet, that could count as three Mother’s Day gifts. Dream on.

This Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to rest. I got the idea from my feline. She slept in the sun last week, oblivious to the activity around her.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to rest without a care? To do nothing, without guilt?

Don’t know that I can.

Unless I’m productive it’s not a good day. Even my reading a book, or a friendly phone call, seems like an accomplishment. God knows this about me. He’s given numerous scripture on my need for rest on multiple levels.

Sabbath Rest, rest from labor, resting in the Lord, rest for our souls, rest for the weary, entering God’s rest….

“This is what the Lord says … ‘ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

Hello, Karen? Which part of rest don’t you understand?

Remember the child’s game, Mother May I? I’m told to do something by the leader, but first I must ask permission or I’m out of the game. The Lord’s Word tells me to rest. But unlike the game, I don’t have to say, “Father May I?” before proceeding.

God has given me permission. He invites me to enter His rest. He commands me to rest.  

It’s time I believe God’s Word and permit myself to rest.

Not only this Mother’s Day, but each Sunday as well.