It Happened One Summer

The hot, humid weather turned extra crispy and has me wondering where the summer has gone. It was a busy summer of days melting into one another.

Things I’ve learned (and still learning) this summer:

  1. 20180604_104722_resizedA week-long vacation, alone with your husband, is a good thing. Honestly, besides our honeymoon, we’ve never vacationed without children in tow. I came away wondering why we waited so long to escape the clutches of our children get away! We managed to leave the stresses and pressures of life and focused on having fun again. Now, if only our finances would allow us to explore the country every year. Would it be terrible of me to set up a GoFundMe account? Asking for a friend, of course.
  2. God is everywhere. He is in the good, the bad, and the not so pretty. He is working in all things whether we see it right away or not. This is not new to me, yet, something I need to remind myself from time to time. I think it is a continual relearning every time a crisis arises. He makes himself known at the right time reminding me of His presence, love, and open-eye-faith to see is a wonderful thing.
  3. Summer of surprises. Our dad fell in June breaking his ankle, a long recovery hampered by many things. It’s still ongoing. Decisions made and life as we all knew it came to a screeching halt. Our focus became our dad. Phone calls, cleaning up, cleaning out, and more things than I or my brother expected to do at warp speed. Yet, family.
  4. As much as I hated our dad falling, forcing his “normal” to change, a wonderful turn of events happened. My brother and I have a relationship again. Honestly, I don’t think we were ever very close. I mean, he is the reason I have a powerful arm punch, a hint at our relationship growing up. However, we worked together to complete the tasks set before us this summer. Working together formed a friendship. Will it always be this way? I can’t predict the future but I can say, in all honesty, I’d like to try.
  5. My brother and I became close because of all the time we spent together. Every day we were in communication in one way or another. Yet, it was the time we spent in each other’s presence that made the difference. Which, hold on for the ride, is what got me thinking. Presence every day is what made the difference. If I want to have an incredible relationship with our Creator, God, I need to spend time with Him every single day. Is this a new light bulb moment? No. And, that is the sad part. Transparency has me telling you, dear reader, that I struggle with this. I mean really struggle. I don’t read my Bible every day. I don’t pray every day. (confession is good, right?!) So, how can I fully know my own Creator? Yet, He is still in my life loving me, waiting for me. What a work in progress I am…
  6. My immediate family still loves me even when I’m nasty. When the kiddos were little I’d hear how good (behavior) they were for grandma or a babysitter. Yet, when they entered our house after spending a few hours away from us, mom and dad, I’d often wonder if grandma or the babysitter was a full-out liar. Oh my. Even though I didn’t like it, I knew their unwelcomed behavior stemmed from a place deep inside and they knew we and our home was a “safe place” to let out the grumpies they held in while away from us. So even though I’m not little (in any way), my family is safe. I hated the words and tones that often came out of my mouth and my immature behavior at times. Stress is a nasty thing. I know they didn’t like it either but they loved/love me unconditionally. That Christ-like love was and is truly awesome especially when I was/am in the storm of this trial.
  7. I don’t like and/or can “do” podcasts. Listening to a recording of someone talking, no matter how interesting the person or the topic, has my mind wandering aimlessly here and there until I remember I am supposed to be listening to the podcast and not the conversation I just had with myself in my own mind. I’ve tried and failed so many times I’ve had to accept my auditory short-comings. Give me a video and I’m all yours!

What did you learn (and perhaps still learning) this summer?

To Tell Your Story

For the storyteller:

Tell the story
of the mountain
you climbed.
Your words
could become a page
in someone else’s
survival guide.

From the book, Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters by Morgan Harper Nichols

As a human race, I believe it is safe to say we’ve all climbed a mountain — the good climbs and bad climbs. 

I am not a climber. In fact, I’ve only climbed a tree. And when I say “climbed a tree”, insert the words, sat on a branch five feet above the ground. However, I think we can all imagine the hard, long climb of a mountain.

photo of mountain with ice covered with black and gray cloud
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

The mountain in itself is daunting. Climbers can experience dangerous conditions of the rocky path they choose, possible equipment failure, and much more than my imagination allows. Yet, they choose to look past the dangers and keep their eyes on the prize; the thrill of accomplishment, the view when reaching the final destination. The joy a climber must feel when all the hard work is rewarded. 

Mountain climbs do not last forever, even if it feels like it at times. A mountain can take many shapes and looks. Anxiety, a new baby, a new job, a death, depression, a rocky marriage, any major decision, raising teens, elderly parents, health issues, and this list could go on and on. Everyone has a mountain to climb from time to time.

I’ve had more than a few mountains to climb in my life. At the beginning of the climb, I am overwhelmed. In the middle of the climb, I can honestly say I wonder if it will ever get better. At the end of the personal climb, there is a point in which I can say I learned from the climb.

To be brave enough to share the personal climb of whatever mountain I face is hard. I don’t want to sound like a whimp, I don’t want others to think differently of me, others are so much stronger and my words don’t count. 

Yet, my words and your words do count. It allows others to know they are not alone in the climb. Encouraging words do matter to the climber giving him or her an extra push to get through their own hard. 

Your words do not need to be shared socially or through a blog post to help someone going through a similar climb. Say and share only what you feel is needed. Sometimes too many words can downplay what the climber is going through. 

accomplishment action adult adventure
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your words count. And that mountain? After the hard work, the pain, the tears, and/or the screaming, the view from the top (lessons you’ve learned along the way) is one you’ll never forget.

Where To Go

When the world around you comes crashing down and you begin to wonder if you are the next Job, where do you go?

I would really like my answer to be, Jesus, always Jesus first. In all honesty, when emotions are all over the place, it’s friends first and then, oh yeah, oops, “Hey, Jesus…” (hangs head and wonders if she’ll ever learn . . . and so thankful God is forgiving, merciful and extends grace beyond measure.)

One of our daughters shared this sermon and trust me, it is worth a watch and listen. Get ready for some Jesus . . .

Curveball

With slightly bent knees, the batter waits for the pitch. His grip firm. Waiting. Confident.

Sizing up the batter, the pitcher secretly confers with the catcher until a nod occurs. The baseball zooms past the patient batter.

baseball-player-pitcher-ball-163487.jpeg
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Ball!”

Another pitch flies, “Strrriiike One!”

The batter digs his cleat in the dirt a little more while slowly swinging the bat back and forth, waiting. This is it, he thinks as the pitcher nods and winds up throwing the pitch.

He swings realizing his mistake. The curveball.

According to the world-wide-interwebs, a curveball is a difficult pitch to hit. The way the ball spins creates an optical illusion. Basically, the batter’s brain thinks the ball is in a different spot than it really is. It’s unexpected, tricky.

Life has a way of throwing a curveball. And, it is usually thrown when life is seemingly going well. An interruption sending a person swinging, yet, missing the ball as Life dips.

A month ago a curveball was thrown and I feel as if I’m still swinging and missing. I’m a helper by nature and my dad needed me and my brother (shout out to my brother…he is a huge help and I discovered a great listener as I vent). Exhaustion and emotions took over and frankly, at times, I was a mess.

But, how did I react when the unexpected happened? Now that Dad is working on a new normal, I’ve been asking myself that question.

  • In the ER, I immediately sent a mass text message out. I know I missed some of my friends (sorry!) but thinking was not my strong suit with the commotion going on. In the text message, I quickly tapped out what happened and asked for prayer. Prayer, something I tried to do, yet, with the commotion and the questions concerning his care, I honestly didn’t pray. But, I knew others shouted out to God on my family’s behalf. And, even though I felt like I couldn’t pray, I knew God heard me.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

  • Overwhelmed. I was way too overwhelmed. Does that mean I have too little faith? In my opinion and belief, no. God gave us emotions. Some of us were handed a triple portion. Yet, in the overwhelmed times, and after the tears, I felt the peace only God can give. Yes, it may have taken me a minute or twelve to realize God was and is holding me close but faith, like a mustard seed, is all it takes.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

  • God knows how to comfort me. He sings over me. I know it deep in my soul. Whenever a huge curveball spins my way, He comforts me with a song. It is never the same song, yet, it is the perfect song for the curve. When my mom died it was an old song I learned in singing time during Sunday School. This time, the Doxology (aka hymn #606 in the Mennonite world). “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen (so be it!).” It gave me a mountain of joy in a difficult time.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I’m still in the middle of the busy. Busyness before work, at lunchtime and after work. So much work to be done. Yet, in the busy I know I have to make a huge effort to stay in touch with God. I’m not worried about Him abandoning me, He never will.  I’m more worried about me. That danger-zone of just cruising through the mountain of busy and not doing my part in our relationship.

That time with God is my struggle. Maybe you, dear reader, can relate. What are some things you do to keep God first in your sights instead of the mountains of work to be done? 

Run!

Quite often, I have the pleasure of holding a loveable toddler during worship songs while her dad plays on the music team on Sunday mornings. This past Sunday she was tired and doing everything in her power to stay awake, including spying her sippy cup and adamantly pointing to said cup.

A few gulps later, the water was gone. She shook the cup, gave me quite a scowl and thrust it toward me. Toddler sign language for “do something about this travesty!!”

Once outside the sanctuary doors, I placed her little, cute-shoed feet on the floor. Coming toward us was a woman I knew. I’m not sure if the little one thought she was someone else or perhaps looked like her mom but little one gasped, running full speed, arms lifted high, toward the woman. Toddler sign language for “hold me!”

The woman smiled and lifted her high giving her a hug.

Walking toward the two, my imagination took over. Imagine running toward God this way. Do I get excited and run full-speed, lifting my arms high begging to be held?

What I witnessed gave me a glimpse of perhaps what God wants from us. This toddler had her eyes fixed on the “prize” and ran with abandon until she was in the arms of someone safe.

“Come to Me, come to Me,” He gently invites with his arms wide open waiting for me.

May we run toward Him every day.

man wearing blue crew neck t shirt holding girl near mountains
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

We All Get Lost

“Do you need help?” I asked a lovely, white-haired woman in a wheelchair.

“I’m lost,” and told me where she was trying to go.

I assured her I knew how to get there, asking if I could push her wheelchair to the final destination. She gladly allowed me to do the work since she was tired and, as she called it, mixed up and lost.

I replied, “It’s okay. We all get lost sometimes.”

In my attempt to comfort her, God spoke to me. We all get lost sometimes. Instead of beating myself up for not extending grace right away, or allowing my anger to cloud my view in the heat of the moment, I need to remember I’m not perfect. I’m human and sometimes I lose my way when choosing my response.

adult elder elderly enjoyment
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I wheeled the lovely woman a few yards and I turned her toward the building she exclaimed, “There it is!” And, just like that, she was home and worry-free.

Sometimes it takes a friend who points me in the right direction when I feel lost. Often it is the Holy Spirit’s turning me around through his gentle nudges until I exclaim, “There it is!”