Mar
23

Love Puts Up With a Lot

The past three Thursdays, our son Noah’s, 4th-grade class visited Bogus, our local ski resort, for a day of snowshoeing. Each trip they’d snowshoe around, studying animal tracks, snow depth, plant life, etc. Yesterday was their last week and they focused on survival and learned how to make snow caves, build campfires and other helpful techniques they’d need if ever lost on a snowy mountain.

Noah is our dreamer and deep-thinker. He creates great stories and movies on our computer. He reads his Action Bible nightly and asks me tough question about God throughout the day. His little mind is constantly working. This is wonderful, most of the time, but at times it makes for a stressful morning.

“Noah, get dressed!”

“Okay.”

 

Five minutes later (after hearing numerous sounds and imaginary noises coming from his room).

“Noah, are you getting dressed? Breakfast is almost ready.”

“What?! I didn’t know I was supposed to. I hate being rushed!”

Oh my word. God, what are you trying to teach me here because I may go crazy before I learn it?

Yesterday was no exception. It was even worse as he “dreamed” about adventures of surviving on the mountain.

“Noah, the mountain will be cooler and wet. Make sure you have you jacket.”

“Okay. I’ll get it now.”

Yep, I’m sure you’re with me and can see where this is going.

We arrive at school and as he’s getting out of the car we see there is no jacket to be found. Internally my mind and heart battled.

Teach him a lesson. Don’t bail him out! Maybe he’ll learn to listen.

What?! You can’t do that. He’ll be on the mountain all day. He may actually NEED the survival skills if he’s wet and cold. Plus…what will the teachers and other mothers think, huh?!

Noah pleaded with me to go home and get his jacket.

Agh! I was frustrated. The night before I had prepared my gym bag in order to get in an early swim before work. If I drove home and back to the school, the lanes would fill up and it’d throw off my schedule.

Being the sometimes-dramatic mother that I am, “Well…I…give me a kiss (insert internal bad word here). I don’t know. Uh…go to school,” and then left without telling him what I was going to do.

I didn’t know what to do until I hit the intersection. Turning right would take me back home. Left, to the YMCA.

God…what should I do?

I went right.

Dang it! Why am I such a wimp? No fair. Why is my life controlled by everyone else in the family? I never get to do what I want to do.

Yep…full fledge grown-up hissy fit.

In the peak of it all, I turned a corner and to my right was an old church and it’s sign read…

“Love puts up with a lot.”

Dang it. God, I was kind of enjoying this.

I laughed. It’s true. I love my boy. A lot.

I returned to the school, with his jacket. A huge smile spread across his face, “Thank you mom. I love you.”

“I love you too buddy.”

Fifteen minutes later I walked down to the pool at the Y and wouldn’t you know, an empty lane waited for me.

Huh. Thank you God…I love you.

Has God ever redirected your mode or thinking through a bumper sticker or church sign?

Any good “morning stories” you’d like to share that help us all feel normal?

 

Mar
19

Personal Goals Are A Team Effort

Mark’s turning 40 next month. Yep, my young hubby is growing up. For years he’s had the dream of doing a triathlon. So as a way to celebrate his new decade he decided he would participate in Boise’s 70.3 Ironman.

I was thrilled. I love triathlons – watching them, that is – but I’ve never considered doing one myself. I have this issue with open water swimming.  The idea of not seeing what is lurking below me kind of freaks me out.

Growing up in the south, I heard urban legends of water skiers landing in beds of water moccasins who aggressively attacked the unsuspecting skier. I know – horrible. What if I swam through one of those? Oh and let’s not forget Jaws! No need to say more on swimming in the ocean.

However, Mark wanted me to train and do a triathlon. I was touched he wanted me to share in his dream with him but still unsure. He has a way of wearing me down, uh, I mean convincing me to do things I otherwise thought were impossible and I finally agreed.

I decided to start with the shorter sprint distance due to a bad knee. If that went well, then I’d try to work my way up to a longer race.

Our local YMCA in Boise has a great triathlon program that prepares people of all levels to complete in all distances of the triathlon. Our kids had participated in the youth program and we were impressed with the other members and coaches, so we decided to join.

My first day in the pool I was so nervous, I felt like I was drowning before I even got in the pool. I did track workout where I almost puked. And after my first time on the bike, I couldn’t sit comfortably for days due to a sore bum.

I didn’t see how I’d ever work my way up to completing any distance, no matter how short.

That was months ago and I still have a long way to go but I’m amazed with how far I’ve already come. I’m seeing for the first time that it is possible for me to complete the distance. I’m even losing my fear of open water.

 Much of this is due to the people I’m around. They’ve helped me overcome my mental demons. They’ve shared their wisdom and stories – all of which has been a source of positive encouragement.

Personal goals are often achieved as a group effort…

1.)  Surround yourself with experts. The coaches at the Y have been so valuable. They’ve given me tips on swimming, running and biking techniques, gear, etc. All of this wisdom would have taken me years to obtain on my own (if ever).

2.)  Surround yourself with the experienced. Other tri-members have shared their stories, past fears and mistakes with me. These have all encouraged and reminded me that my struggles are normal and will soon pass.

3.)  Surround yourself with positive people. I’m amazed with the positive energy in the group. This fuels me not to let a bad day get me down but instead to stay focus on the goal of finishing a race.

Proverbs 13:20 tells us, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

God didn’t mean for us to race alone. He knew we’d need each other.

It’s much easier for someone to pull us down than to pull us up, making it all the more important to surround yourself with people of good character and common goals. Just as important, we need to be that person for others too.

When I do my first triathlon, it’s up to me to cross the finish line but it’ll take a team to get me there.

Who are the people you most spend time with? Do they help or hinder you in reaching the goals God’s given you?

Are you a positive force in the lives of others?

Mar
16

God Waits in the Wings and Blesses Us

Our 9-year-old daughter, Anastasia, is quickly outgrowing her bike. She likes to participate in the kid triathlons around town and is on the Youth Tri-team at the YMCA. Last fall, in the season’s last event, I watched her riding down the street, pedaling as hard as she could only to have a kid on a larger bike shoot past her. Not only was the bike bigger but it was a road bike. Needless to say, she noticed.

She decided then that she wanted to save up for her own road bike, sensing that she was losing most of her time on the bike (I know, she’s only 9 and already this competitive. Lord help me!).

If you’ve ever priced a road bike before, it doesn’t take long to see that they are crazily expensive – even the kid’s bikes (that they outgrow). Luckily cold weather was approaching so I told her if she really wanted one then to begin saving and we’d look for a used one the next spring. I gave her the amount we’d pay to help out with it if she could cover the rest. However, internally I figured she’d lose interest and settle for a larger, much cheaper, mountain bike.

Well, she worked hard and saved birthday and Christmas money and even started her own pet-sitting business with a friend, business cards and all. A couple of weeks ago she asked if we could begin looking for her bike. My heart dropped. I had seen her hard effort and her unending desire for the bike but I knew realistically that what she had saved and what I could afford to help her out with still wouldn’t cover the cost unless we found a good deal for a used one.

We shopped, she saw. I could see her heart and her mind colliding as she realized that she’d either need to wait to save more or settle for a mountain bike.

“I’d rather wait. I really want a road bike.”

Oh Lord, I know this is a frivolous request, but please guide me in how to help her here.

We were tired and disappointed but decided to visit one more bike shop before heading home. The manager approached us and I told him our situation. He perked up, “I think one of my employees has a used kid’s road bike in the back. Let me see if he’s selling it.”

OMG – Lord, if this is of you, please have the price match what we have saved up.

Out he came with a beautiful, gently used, red road bike, small enough to fit her but large enough to last her for a few years. The only hurdle left was the price. When I asked him, wouldn’t you know, it was exactly what we had saved.

 

Thank you Jesus!

We drove home with Anastasia’s bike in the back. She was beyond excitement, “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it! God gave me this bike. If we had come later, we would have missed it!”

It turns out the employee had brought his son’s bike in to clean it up in order to sell it on ebay. He was on his way home when we came in the store. If we had been 10 minutes later or if his manager had not approached us, we could have missed our opportunity. But then again, I believe God is in control and orchestrated the whole event.

I also believe God wanted Anastasia to have that bike. He was eager to give it to her as long as she followed His timing. He saw her sweet heart and her hard work to save enough money. He also watched her generously give some of her bike money away to randomly buy gifts for others. He loves her and loves blessing her.

It was a wonderful day and a beautiful thing to witness. In full circle I saw the desire of a child’s heart, followed by hard work and then wisdom as she decided to walk away and wait instead of settling for second best. Then I saw a loving God standing in the wings, arranging the events and when she obeyed Him, He swooped down and gave it to her when the time was right.

It played out before my eyes – it was awesome and what’s even more wonderful to see…she saw it too. It was beautiful!

How has God blessed you when you followed His time-table?

How do you know when He’s telling you to stay or go for it?

 

Mar
14

What Does the Mirror Show You?

I’d like to piggyback on my last blog in regards to beauty. Between Facebook, texts, tweets and comments, I received a wide range of response. It was all interesting and insightful.

Based on what I read – we love beauty and beautiful things but resent feeling obligated to obtain it. Many acknowledged that inner beauty is what is important but still feel sucked in to comparing their outer beauty to what we see in magazines and on the screen. A few shared how this is amplified by physical disabilities, illness and lack of money. Another reminded me that when we criticize our appearance, we’re criticizing the work of God.

I believe God is aware of struggles. Perhaps Jesus experienced this to some point when He lived on earth in human form. Who knows?

It’s hard not to look in the mirror and see our imperfections. The other day I was in the locker room at the YMCA. I had done a swim during lunch and was putting my face back before returning to work.

The florescent lights highlighted my gray hairs and revealed every line and stray hair on my face. I was fretting over my fading eyebrows when I heard the woman sitting next to me speaking with her friend.

Lady #1: “You’re eyes look so good today!”

Lady next to me: “Thanks! I have about three eyelashes on each eye now.”

Lady #1: “It seems to take forever but once mine began to return, they came quickly.”

I looked over at my neighbors. The scarves on their heads and hairless faces told me they were probable recovering from some form of cancer treatment. However, the more they spoke, the more beautiful they appeared.

They were two friends who were lovingly supporting each other through a crisis. They weren’t focusing on what they lost but instead on hope and looking for what was returning.

God reminded me that morning, there is beauty in everything and we can see it as long as we’re looking for it. Focusing on what is gone blinds us to what we have.

I still don’t care for the florescent lights but now I try to view the lines on my face as a reminder that I’ve had much laughter and many sunny days in my life. The hair on my face means that I also have hair on my head. And the grays are proof that God as allowed me many days to love and be loved here on earth and hopefully gained some wisdom along the way.

Take a long look in the mirror my friends – you’re perfectly made. Make sure you see it.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Has God revealed anything to you under His lights?

Mar
12

Redefining Beauty

Here is a blog I posted on Conversant Life a while back but thought the topic is a good one to revisit…

A couple times a week, I work from home. It’s really nice, especially since the lack of a commute saves me time and money. One morning I knew I wasn’t going to see anyone else until late afternoon. The kids were at school, Mark was at the office so to save even more time, I went with the “natural” look.

About an hour later, the doorbell rang. I peeked out the window and saw it was our delivery guy in search of a signature. When I opened the door he looked at me and seemed thrown off a bit, “Oh, you’re home. I sure hope I didn’t wake you.”

Huh? Why did he say that? I didn’t delay in answering the door. It was almost 10:00 a.m. on a weekday. Why would he think I’d still be in bed?

As I returned to my desk, I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. I stopped. I knew. My face, normally covered with beauty products, was completely bare. My imperfections glared. My eyes seemed smaller, my nose looked bigger and my hair was definitely nappier. I looked more like a woman fresh out of bed rather than one fresh for the day.

 

The rest of the morning was spent with me obsessing over my lack of “natural” beauty.

I have a love/hate relationship with beauty. The old saying tells us that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” but if this is true, why do I feel enslaved to it? Why do I feel the need for my body to be a certain size and my hair to not be a certain color? Why is it that I can I find beauty on the TV but not in the mirror?

Perhaps part of the problem is our culture’s misconstrued definition of beauty. Dictionaries define beauty as something that that brings great pleasure to the senses or blesses the mind. I like this. According to this definition, beauty can be found basically anywhere.

I did an informal word search in a Bible program on the words “beauty” and “beautiful” and noticed two things. First, with the exception of the books of Esther and Song of Solomon, these two words were generally used to describe God or part of his creation. The second usage of these words warned us of the dangers of depending on our own or man-made beauty.

Again, this was an informal study but it appears that God knew that our obsession for beauty would take our eyes off of Him and what He has given us, and then place it on ourselves. We like beauty. We want it and will do what it takes to have it. In the process we lose sweet communion with God.

I personally don’t see harm in trying to improve my appearance but when it causes my focus to leave God and then fixate on myself, it puts me in “insecurity” territory. I see all that I’m not. However, when my eyes are on God and all who He is, I see all that I am in Him. I see true beauty – one that blesses the mind and brings true pleasure. I’m filled with peace instead of anxiety. And to me, that sounds beautiful.

For now, I’ll continue to wear make-up most days and may never see the natural color of my hair again. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I actually remember it. Either way, when the gray makes its way through I’ll see it as a reminder that God has given me some great years and memories…and hopefully some wisdom learned along the way.

How about you – does our culture’s definition of beauty haunt you?

Any insight on how you deal with it?

Any tips on how to raise children in a beauty-obsessed world?