Thursday, April 28, 2011

Boys, Boxes, and Brooms

When the world is moving too fast and my head is spinning and there are more needs than time and strength, when my list of “urgent” things is deep and wide and I wonder how I’ll get it all covered, when there are a million loose ends and even secure things are unraveling a mile-a-minute, God takes me by the hand, slows me down, opens my eyes and allows me to peer across the smooth sea, where the weather is just right for sailing, and the bow is filled with pretzels and oranges and a pop gun for good hunting. The sailors are mighty and the adventures are wild and there’s all the time in the world because life is nothing but good, good, good…

He takes me to a world of boys, boxes, and brooms.

What a wonderful place to be.

Thank you Jesus for slowing me down and settling my heart ...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Parting of the Water

Sam was wearing a path on the carpet.

“What’s the matter, Samuel?” I asked.

“I think that God wants me to be a missionary,” he said. “To someplace far away. I just don’t know where He wants me to go.”

It wasn’t the first time Samuel had spoken of becoming a missionary. And he’d recently ripped though as many missionary stories as I could find. Maybe one day he would share the gospel in far-off places. Who knew?

“We’ll, there’s plenty of time for God to show you, Sam,” I said. “You’re only nine years old.”

“Sure,” he said. “But I’d still like to know.”
Then I remembered something that I’d heard the week before, from the mouth of a missionary. “Sometimes God doesn’t part the waters until we’re standing at the edge,” I shared.

Sam was puzzled. “What?”

“God promised to be with you always, and He'll prepare you for where you'll go. He'll plan, He'll speak, He'll lead , but He may not open the waters 'til your feet are at the edge.” I smiled at my little guy. “Then He'll provide and go in front of you. Like at the Jordan. But you can trust him now, Sam. All the way.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “I’d just like to know what to pack.”

Sweet, sweet Samuel. His quandary challenged my own heart. How many times do I want to know the full plan – exactly where to go, exactly what to do, how it will all work out, when the timing is simply too premature? I know that the Lord loves me. I know that He has a plan. But sometimes I get ahead of the plan and it’s just plain hard to wait.

So, as Sam paces and wonders and pokes fingers at the map on the wall, I’ll remind Him of the Lord whose timing is perfect. I’ll encourage him to wait to pack. And I’ll remind him that when and if it’s the Lord’s plan, God will give him all he needs, and His glory will be revealed. 

Then the waters will part.

For Sam and for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Basket of Grace

On the top shelf of the hall closet there’s a hand-made Easter basket, fashioned from square coasters and covered with baby blue paper. The side edges are punched with holes and are laced together with royal blue ribbon. My son’s handwriting is on the bottom, chunky in black Sharpie pen: Mom, I love you. Grant.
We made the Easter baskets four years ago, when my belly was round with Isaiah. I’d pulled our antique rocker next to the dining room table and watched the boys craft. “Mine is for a friend,” Grant said. I was grateful for his selflessness as he’d been struggling with contentment.
On Easter morning, the boys scavenged the house for their baskets and candy-filled eggs. When everyone’s treats had been found, three sons sprawled over the rug and delved into their goodies. Grant plopped down beside me. “There’s one more basket, Mom,” he said. “We’d better start to look.”
“There aren’t any more baskets, Grant. Everybody has one.”
“I know there’s one more. I’m looking.”
I became agitated. Couldn’t Grant be happy with what he had? Why did he think there was more?
Grant stood and poked around the living room. “It’s not here. I’m going to look upstairs.”
“There are no more baskets, Grant. No more. Can’t you be satisfied?” The sharp words were loose before I could pull them back.
Grant was quiet. He looked at me with wide eyes. Then he continued up the curved stairs. A minute later he returned with the small, square, baby blue basket. A milk chocolate bunny peeked over the side.
“Here, Mom. There was one more. I didn’t make it for a friend,” he said. “This basket is for you.”
I was filled with shame. “Oh, Grant. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me,” I said. “The basket is beautiful.”
“Sure, Mom,” Grant said. He smiled and pushed the basket into my hands. I ran my fingers over the lacing and regretted my response. Despite Grant’s quick forgiveness, I was overwhelmed with guilt. I wished I’d seen the wonderful in my son instead of looking for a shortcoming.
Grant grew a lot after that Easter, and the little square basket was the last of the hand-made gifts. It always makes me sad. It’s been tucked away for a long time. But this week I’ve been thinking about Jesus, trying to get my mind around what he did on the cross. And I’ve decided to pull that little basket from the shelf in the closet. I’m going to dust it off, set on the table, and fill it with something sweet. And when I look at it, I’ve decided that I’m not going to see my mistake and regret.
I’m going to choose to see something else.
When I look at that little blue basket from my son, I’ll see the Lord’s grace.
Thank you, thank you, Jesus…

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Like A Gator

Lonny and I have been blessed with many friends who pour into the lives of our boys. Dee and Jim are such friends. Our sons have the confidence that no matter what, Mr. and Mrs. McGimpsey care about them.
Dee and Jim travel to Florida each January to serve at a Christian camp. The boys miss them, but our friends return in February bearing alligator souvenirs. We have rubber gators. Wooden gators. A real, true, teeth-and-all gator head from an  alligator farm (this amber-eyed beauty topped Mrs. McGimpsey’s birthday cake last year). Our boys enjoy the fun treats from a place they’ve never been. But for them, it’s not about the gift.
For my boys, the souvenirs mean something more. They mean we love you, we pray for you, we think of you when we’re away. Our boys feel celebrated. Cared for. Cherished and remembered. That’s a precious thing.
The sentiment isn’t lost on our sons.
They know that sometimes love looks like a gator.
Thank you Lord, for Dee and Jim and all the other friends you’ve brought to love and support our family. We recognize the blessing and give the glory of these friendships to you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Boy Prayer

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. Ephesians 6:18
Years ago, when Logan and Grant were small, we had a dog. His name was Charlie Beagle, and he was a wonderful fellow. But Charlie had a bad case of wanderlust. It wasn’t his fault (I can still hear my grandfather’s voice, “Don’t make a house pet out of a huntin’ dog, Baby Girl”), but his wanderings caused our family worry and stress.
One Christmas Eve day, Charlie Beagle got a hankering to hit the road. We were sitting around our Douglas fir, singing Christmas carols, when Charlie went a-scratchin’ at the door. Little-boy-Logan let him out. When he did, a December wind pushed its way into our home. Outside, snowflakes pelted from a gray sky. It was not a romantic snow. It was ominous, cold, and hard.
After a minute or so, Logan called for Charlie. Charlie didn’t come.
When a half-hour passed and Charlie still had not returned, our boys pressed their faces against the cold glass of the living room window. An hour later, there was still no sign of Charlie.
“We have to go find him,” Grant said. “Please, Dad, let’s go look.”
Lonny and I bundled our two sons and we climbed into the minivan. We drove around the neighborhood, the community, up and down Highway 61. But Charlie was gone.
Logan and Grant cried as they sat on the floor of our foyer. Lonny and I tugged boots from their feet and mittens from their hands. Their cheeks were red. Maybe from the tears. Maybe from the cold.
“I don’t understand,” Grant said. “Why would he go? He has a good life here.”
“He’s a beagle, Grant,” Lonny said. “And sometimes a beagle just has to run. He doesn’t think things out. He just goes.”
“Well, I’ll pray for him,” said Grant. Then he went to his knees. He bowed his head and folded his little hands. “Lord, I know You love Charlie Beagle. And he’s lost. You told the animals to go to the ark. Help Charlie find his way, too.”
A couple hours later, when the night had grown darker, colder, and the winds blew harsh, we heard the bay of a beagle. The boys rushed to the foyer and opened the door. Charlie Beagle entered. Ragged. Tired. Frosted whiskers. But Charlie was home.
I think of that night often as those two little boys are now teens. Sometimes it seems like my son wants to wander away from home. Away from what we’ve taught. Away from what he feels confines him. It seems, to me, like he wants to walk headlong into the cold, harsh wind.
But it’s okay. I know that my son is just stretching and trying to find his way. I believe that he, like Charlie, will find his way home.
Because my son is a child of the Living God. And the same God who heard that little boy’s prayer also hears the prayers of his Mama.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Best Part of the Day

I woke to the sound of tiny footfalls, the hushed shuffle of footie pajamas on our hardwood floor. A minute later there were small, warm hands on my cheeks.
“Mama, can I come up?”
I reached down and lifted Isaiah. He curled his legs and settled to a warm huddle between Lonny and me. Before long, I could hear his breath, the soft, even rhythm of sleep. Lonny embraced his son and extended his arms to me. I wriggled in and watched a sliver of gray appear between the heavy panels of the bedroom drapes.
And for a moment, our world was still and good and perfectly at peace. I was grateful for family and home and marriage. I was grateful for God who sometimes comes so near that I feel that I can reach out and touch Him with my hands. I was grateful for simple moments that are significant, strong and become staples in our busy, too-fast lives.
The best part of the day happened before the day even began.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taming My Templeton!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9
E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is a family fave. Our copy is dog-eared and ragged. Last month, our home school group went to see a dramatic production at Junior Theatre. I thought my guys would enjoy the beautiful, benevolent Charlotte. They didn’t.
They adored Templeton.
My boys were enthralled by the selfish, self-serving, selfishly ambitious Templeton. The “I only care about myself”, twitchy-nosed, round-bellied Templeton.
In fact, they loved him so much that we have a new phrase at our house. It’s called “Pulling a Templeton”. We use it when someone is caring a little- too- much about himself and a little- too- little about others. Like when someone beats someone else to the swing. Or won’t help a brother build a Lego castle.
“Are you pulling a Templeton?” I’ll ask. And the boy at the other end of the question will usually smile.
Well, today I woke up and pulled a Templeton. I didn’t want to serve. Didn’t want to teach. Didn’t want to juggle the children and the phone and the laundry and the meals and the errands and the activities and the hurts and the hungries and the behaviors, commitments, and needs. I wanted to run away with a book.  Or sit by the river. Or throw a water bottle in the basket of my bike and ride like crazy.
Me, me. Me, me. Me. Me. Me.
The worst part was I didn’t want to feel that way. And I didn’t really need to. I’d had three “Mom’s Nights” in just a few days. But it was what it was. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pull out of the funk.
Not by myself.
On a morning like that, all I knew to do was pray. To ask the Lord to bend my will. To stand, looking heavenward, and ask for an outpouring of the Spirit – that it would fall fresh on my hands and heart, my day and my life. A filling that would spill over to my dear husband, home, and boys. An empowerment that would be beyond my own capabilities and strengths.
Help me, Lord. Come near today.
Please, please tame my Templeton!

Note: The illustrations remain under copyright and appear here for so long as no objection is received from any rights holders. You might consider buying the classic book for your family. Here is a link: Charlotte's Web