Thursday, June 28, 2012

Red Truck, Blue Car - The Blessing of Quiet Times

The little boys and I are on the front porch. We're swinging, scrunched in tight. Zay is wearing sunglasses with gray sharks on the sides. And we're all peering down the road.

There's a rumble in the distance.

"I guess it's a red truck," Gabriel says.  Soon a black SUV passes by.

"My turn," says Sam. "The next one will be a tan van."

"A tan van?" Zay giggles.

It's a game we play. We sit. And watch. And wait. When we hear a vehicle coming, we guess. We keep "air count",  tally scratches carved in the breeze for best guesses.

A blue pick-up whizzes past.

"Hmmm," says Zay. "The next one will be....."

We all wait to hear what he says. But we know it doesn't really matter. What matters is that we're together, on the swing, pressed in tight. There's time to breathe. To laugh. Time for ice cream to fall in slow, sweet drips down summer-brown arms. There's time to hear the birds. And the creak of the old wicker swing. Time for the sun to fall on our laps and for our hands to be still.

"Blue," Zay says. "A blue car."

We hear a deep rumble and we all look down the road.

It's an eighteen wheeler.

But it doesn't really matter.

Doesn't matter at all.

Thank you, God, for the blessing of quiet times.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When Wisdom Flows Down - A Beautiful Thing

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. - Colossians 3:16

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel. - Proverbs 27:9

"I'd like to go canoeing this weekend, Mom," Logan says. "Do we have any other plans?"

I look at my son. My twenty-year-old man son. He's strong. He's capable. He has a heart for adventure. But after standing above ground, just a month ago, while he was pressed into the depths of an underground cave, I don't want him to go. My heart isn't hard-wired for adventure. It's hard-wired for him.

"We're unusually free," I say. "But Logan, to you have to go?"

He looks at me. He knows that I know that the river is mild. And shallow. Canoeing the Maquoketa easy recreation around here. But so are the caves. And I want him to play it safe.

"Will you wear your life vest?" I ask.

"The water's three feet deep."

"There are currents."

"We walk on sandbars."

I sip my tea and squint into the sun. The sky is cloudless. Blue. Deep and vast and clear and wide. Not at all like the tight, dark fear that claws around in my head.

"It's hard, Logan," I say. "I'm struggling with fear. I know it's irrational. But it's there."

Logan is quiet for a moment. He looks at the sky, too. Then he meets me with his gaze, straight on. It takes my breath, for a moment, how mature he's become. Stubble on his chin. Eyes that are more knowing and less full of wonder.

"Mom," he says. "I love you. And I don't want to make you worry."

That's a boy, I think. You're going to stay home. Maybe have your friends here. Go swimming in the pool.

"But if I'm afraid to live life," he continues, "if I don't do the things I want to do because of fear, I'm still stuck. I'm still stuck in that cave."

I think for a moment. I wonder if he's speaking of his fear or mine.

"And I don't want to live with those chains," he says.

He smiles. His eyes are green and warm and gentle and kind.

And then I know. The fear he's speaking of is mine. I also know that something special has happened. We're in a new place now. An iron-sharpens-iron place. An accountability place. An encouraging, strengthening, turn-me-toward-the-Lord place.

So I think about what he's said. And I let his wisdom run down. Straight down from his faith into the dark depths of my own fear.

"Thanks, Logan," I say. We're quiet for a moment. The sun is hot and the air is still. "I know you'll have fun." But there's a question stirring my soul. And before he gets up to leave, I  have to ask. "So when did you become this wise?"

My son just smiles again.

What a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Intentional Time

The porch door opens and I jump. Who's out there at this early hour? Coffee is still perking in the pot. I'm wearing well-loved jammies and a wild mess of hair.

"Mom," Samuel says as I peer around the corner. "Don't worry. It's just me."

He's wearing jammies, too. And his Bible is tucked under his arm. He quietly shuts the door and pads across the floor with summer-brown feet. "Just having my quiet time. Thought it would be nice. Out there on the porch."

He gives me a hug, clutch and release, as he crosses the kitchen. Then he's through the living room and up the stairs.

First he's here.

Then he's gone.

When did he start having his own quiet time? I wonder, as I stand, my back against the closed door. I'm blessed, to know, in the deepest place. That's our job - to guide them in the Word and then into the Word. But it was just last summer that he'd followed me around. "Will you help me read through John?" he'd asked, over and over, through the house and through the days.

After dinner, first thing in the morning, how about at four o'clock, I'd said. We were already doing family devotions at noon. And there was laundry. The house. Meals. Friends. Dates. Summer days passing like whispers. And time to read through John with Sam? It never happened. Now he's on his own.

And I missed the blessing.

So I stand for a moment, back still pressed against old oak, thanking God for this boy's heart, but missing him a little, too. There were invitations for bike rides last summer ("We can go if we get up at six," he said). And he'd pulled the tattered, taped-together checkerboard from that closet in the hall.

Sometimes the sweetest, best things are swept away, lost in the currents of life.

But today is another chance, a clear, unwritten slate, and His mercies are fresh each morning. And I'm going to chase that mercy.

I walk out of the kitchen and into the day. The piled-up dishes and crumbs on the carpet can wait.

I'm going to find my boy.

And some sweet, intentional time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hope and Heritage (Happy Father's Day)

Since a father's influence, the way his legacy stretches far, is timeless...I guess a well-wish can be, fatherhood is more than a day, it's a lifetime, and often more...

I don't have to look too far to be grateful...

grateful for men who hold the hearts of the ones they love

men who pour time and talents for thirsty souls.

I'm grateful for men who live by honor and virtue and chivalry and who understand that moments spent today guide the hands and hearts tomorrow.

I'm grateful for men who know that blessing is often born through time, and that among the sweetest gifts is heritage flowing down.

I'm grateful for men who look at the miracle in their hands and see, really see...the beauty and promise and grace that overflow. 

                   And I'm grateful for men who work with tools of hope, building the next generation from the sweet sons of today.                           

Thank you, God....


Monday, June 11, 2012

Misty Living

I wake this morning and understand that the day is precious.

Nothing out of the ordinary, really.

But precious nonetheless.

There will be dishes and laundry and my van will travel like mad.

But today is a day that gently folds into a lifetime, while we're not looking,
and I want to make the most of it.

God's Word says we're like a mist. A shadow. A breath.

 Here and then gone.

So today I understand that there's still time to

know the Lord I'll spend eternity with,
speak words of life into the dark,
hold the hand of someone I love,
make a memory, in a child's heart, a memory that will last,
bring encouragement to someone in need,
offer a hand,
a hope,
a heart,
notice an everyday beauty, a simplicity, a grace,
share a kindness,
offer tenderness,
and forgiveness,
serve the ones I love,
teach to a heart,
glean and learn and stretch and grow...

because if life passes like a vapor,

 today is significant to me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Creating Ties that Keep - The Blessing of Time

Sometimes falling in love with those around us means saying "no" to ten other things,
so we can roll out of bed and share breakfast on the porch.

Sometimes it means listening, with pure ears, to someone's sweet, sweet song.

Sometimes loving well means meeting someone where he's at, where his interests are, even if he'll whoop you good.

And always, always, filling another's heart, pouring rich and deep and to the brim, means giving a piece of your own.

Do you know your child's love language? In their book The Five Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman, Ph.D., and Ross Campbell, M.D., explore five ways children express and receive love (quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch and time). If I had to guess, five out of five, the primary language here would be time.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fuel to the Fire - Reaching In, Reaching Out (Missions)

My Sam has a heart for missions. "It's what I want to do," he says. "When I grow up." I don't know what will happen with Samuel. That's between him and God. But last week a friend poured fuel on the fire.

Last week a friend reached in.

Our friend Teresa came to share about recent mission trips to the country of Moldova. She's gone seven times. The Lord has burdened her heart for others, too. Steady and firm.

"This picture is of the prayer room," Teresa said. "Where the gospel is shared."

 Sam's eyes locked on her computer screen. His questions came hard and fast.

What a beautiful thing, when someone reaches in.

Teresa brought maps. Bibles translated to Romanian and Russian. A video presentation. And pictures. Pictures of children at Bible school. Pictures of believers in prayer.

Pictures of a gentleman's hands healed, after forty-year pain. Pictures of His work to His glory from the fullness of His grace.

And Samuel was captivated. Held tight.

Before she left, Teresa asked Samuel to read Luke 10:2 ~

He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers."

And a table of young men were changed. Convicted.

Because a friend took the time and love,

with His grace and goodness,

to see the gentle yearnings in a young heart,

and she reached right in.

Lord, thank you for Teresa and the others who reach into my boys. Help me to reach into the young lives around me, too. And Lord, most of all, develop our hearts to take your love and reach right out...