Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning to Rest Part II

I was on the sand, stretched in the sun, when I heard the voices of two of my men.

"What do you think she'll say?" Samuel asked from behind me.

"She'll want you to have the experience," said my husband-man.

I'd just gotten used to Samuel swimming in the deep. Now I knew that something else, something bigger, was about to go down.

Lonny and Sam stepped in front of my towel and I sat and shielded my eyes. Maybe from the sun. Maybe from the impending adventure.

"Scuba lessons," Samuel said. "Mom, can you believe that they're offering a scuba lesson? Right here at the park. Today."

The "they" was a Michigan DNR and a local dive club. And my two bigger boys, previously sprawled on towels beside me, now sat and listened, too. I looked at the hopeful, born-to-be-wild faces of my sons. I was way out numbered. And I didn't want to be left behind.

"Okay," I said. "But if you're all going, I want to go, too."

Lonny's eyes went round and wide. Sam jumped in the air. The two big guys grinned.

And I wondered what I'd done.

I get like that sometimes. I want to be cool. I want to be adventurous. I want to be athletic. I want to keep up with my sons.

Never mind that just the thought of sucking canned air through a tube made me turn half blue.

But I wanted to join the adventure.So we split into two groups (someone had to watch the small boys). Sat on benches and took the class. Suited up. And headed for the lake.

I don't want to do this I thought as we waded into the water. Fear lapped at my heart though the water was only knee deep.

I'm comfortable in the water. I swim well. But something about having that equipment strapped to my back, something about talk of decompressing, something about sitting on the sand, on the bottom of that beautiful lake, breathing in and out, made me just come unglued.

"I'm heading back," I said after we'd gone under twice - in the shallows. It was either that or break my sanity seams. "I'm turning my flippers in."

My sons nodded. One winked at me through his foggy glass mask. An instructor walked me to shore.

And I peeled off the wetsuit and wondered why I push so hard.

I think that it's my season for learning about rest. I think that sometimes rest couples contentment. One follows the other on a sweet, short lead. If I'm content, with where I'm at, with who I am, with what I have, I can find sweet rest.

It's a rest of the spirit. It's a quieting of the soul. It's an allowance to be still, to let go, to stretch in the already-have blessing like one stretches and soaks in the sun.

I found my place on the beach. My towel was sun-kissed and warm. I sat and watched little boys fill buckets and shovel sand and laugh into the breeze.

They were content. They were happy. Their hearts were enjoying the blessing of rest.

I peered across the water, to the place where a line of blue told me the water had gone deep. A red flag floated on a tube. The boys were under.

And I was happy.

I was happy for them. I was happy for me.

I knew that when they surfaced, my boys would come ashore and share the adventure. I'd see the joy and passion and excitement in their eyes. I'd almost see what they had seen. I'd almost feel what they had felt.

And I suspected, now,  that this would be good enough for me.

Because I was learning the comfort of contentment, and in it I was beginning to find rest.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me new ways to rest...


Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning to Seek Sweet Rest - Part I

I'm a little scrambled inside.

I stand near the fridge and look at calendar squares for the upcoming week, and it's hard to find rest.

It's hard to imagine rest.

The squares all hold good things. Very good things. Some of the days hold things I'm very much looking forward to. Other squares hold blessing, like lessons and visits to the doctor and activities for the boys we're fortunate to have. But sometimes the goodness stacks up and I feel a bit unglued. There are unwritten things, too. Like going to the gym every day with Grant. The bike rides I want to take with Samuel. The summer school schedule I laid down like law and haven't given a good flirt.

And that's when I see him.

I walk away from the calendar, from the pressure and commitment and the guilt of grumbling about a good-n-plenty life, and I walk into my bedroom.  And on my bed I find my small, sleeping son.

The house is charged with life. There's energy and activity and sound. I hear some of the boys in the pool outside. Another is upstairs playing music way too loud. The kitchen door opens and slams shut.

And he slumbers still.

I sit on the bed for a moment. I admire this sought-out peace. Zay's face is smooth. No lines of worry. No creased forehead. No furrowed brow. His breath is soft and slow. It's a lullaby, a song I want to know. He's wrapped in Mine-O-Mine - his faithful blanket friend. And he pulls me in. I can't resist.
I curl around him. I want this peace to be mine.

Zay shifts and I slide my arm around him. He's curved into me. I close my eyes and fall into his rhythm.

And I understand what's happened. This boy has found rest. It didn't come to seek him. The fast-spinning way of life didn't stop. But he rests in spite of it. He rests in the midst of it. He's found a way to find sweet rest.

I want to find sweet rest, too. Not the curl-up-and-sleep kind of rest. I want to find the kind of rest that brings peace when commitment and needs and busy piles high. The kind of peace that stills my heart and steadies my soul when life breaks loose and runs wild.The kind of rest that makes me slow enough to see His presence, still enough to hear Him, quiet enough to know Him when the days just move too fast.

Zay rolls over. His head tips and rests under my chin. Now his brown arm rests over me. I need to get up and chip away at the day.

But I'll take just a moment.

In a wild season of life, I'm learning to seek and receive rest.

Lord, help me to find rest, the kind of  sweet rest that You offer....Amen.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Working Out

Grant is standing at the bottom of the stairwell. He's jingling keys.

I'm upstairs, in the family room, trying to find my running shoes. I think I kicked them off, last night, when I was about to keel over.

"C'mon, Mom," he says. "It's been close to a hundred years."

He's probably right. I'm slow. I'm not quite ready to go back to the gym.

Grant is on a workout kick. And the amazing thing? He's asking me to go with. My son is seventeen. These invitations, I know, aren't around forever. And I want, deeply, to connect with my son.

I peer over the ottoman and half-hope to find my pink-and-black shoes.

Connecting with the boys is something I've made a strong effort to do. Someone long ago told me to meet my sons right where they're at - where their interests and time are. Sometimes it's not hard at all. Like reading a book with Logan (we just finished The Great Gatsby). Sometimes it's just fun. Gabe is an Othello wizard, and I love to play ( though he wrecks me every time).  But this every-day-at-the-gym thing? For me, this is more of a stretch.

I gather an armful of towels (and remind myself to bust some swimmer boys) and sure enough, I see my shoes. I drop the towels in the hamper and head down the stairs.

Grant is still standing there. He steps back and lets me pass. We walk through the house and out the door. And on the drive, though he's at the wheel and I'm half clutching my seat, he begins to talk. I listen. Ask questions. Listen some more. Things are lighthearted, today, and once in a while we laugh.

It doesn't take us long to get to the gym.

Grant pulls into a parking space and I just sit and watch. This seventeen year old boy-man. He's
precious to me. And at that moment, though I'm dreading the elliptical, there is absolutely, truly nowhere else I'd rather be.

Connecting at the gym.

 Praise the Lord.

Things, with my teenage son, are working out.

Thank you, Lord, for these sweet connection points with my boys...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wish for a Sweet Summer Day

                        Dear Friends,

                        No blog post today - just a simple wish for a sweet summer day.

May the sun shine on your shoulders!
See you Thursday.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Birthday and A Parent's Love

It’s my birthday and my parents call first thing. Just like every year. Mom sings. And something about it makes me cry.

“It was one of the happiest days of our lives,” she says. “The day we welcomed you.”

She tells about the day I was born and somewhere in the story, her chest must feel tight, too. “Talk to Daddy,” she says. And the phone is shuffled around.

A moment later, Dad is on the line. “Hello Darlin," he says. "Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks, Dad," I say. I know what’s coming next.

“American astronauts were heading for the moon. They stepped out of that spaceship on the day we brought you home.” I smile. “We didn’t see it until days later, though.” He paused. “We were busy. Watching you.”

This gentleness is wrecking me today. Maybe I’m extra sentimental. But today emotion comes fast.

We chat for a few minutes. Then we get off the phone. But the conversation stays with me. There’s just something about a parent’s love.

I understand this, now that I’m a many-years parent, too. There’s nothing like that bond. That crazy sort of love that pours from our hearts into someone else’s. Sometimes it’s a gentle flow. Sometimes it’s torrential. But there’s a passion. A loving someone more than you love yourself. There’s that part of you that knows you would give anything you have, anything you are, for the one you hold dear.

And I begin to understand, just the very tiny tip, of how God loves me that way, too. He loves me with that passionate- parent sort of love.

He was there, in the beginning. Knitting. Molding. Making. He’s here today, too. In the shaping. Refining. Teaching.

And He loved me enough to give the best that He had.

It’s a song of grace. It’s a story of love. It’s the generous, I-can’t-understand-it truth that the Father gave His Son so that I could be a daughter, too.

And this moves me.

 He knew the helpless-newborn need of this forty-something heart.

So today I’m rocked in the comfort of a parent’s love.The parents He gave me (the ones who celebrated me enough to miss the man on the moon). And my Father in heaven, too (the one who made the moon but celebrates me still).

This love is a strong comfort, even when years surround us.

There’s just something about it.

There’something about a parent’s love.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Swimming Deep and Room to Grow

We’re in Michigan at our favorite lake. Lonny and I started coming here twenty years ago when we were newly married. At that time, boys and family were not yet a dream.

Now we bring our brood back every summer. The lake holds memories that we hold dear.

When we’re here, there are a few things I can count on. The lake, when I first see its variegated blues, will move my heart so hard I’ll want to cry. When Lonny drives the boat, his hair will go wild like Jack Nicholson’s in Terms of Endearment. When we’re anchored, the boys will hit the picnic basket like madmen.  And when we’re in the water, my son,  Samuel, will push against my sensible-safe limits with his made-for-adventure heart.

We’re in the lake, shoulder-deep. The water is clean and clear and we can see the soft ripples of sand under our feet. We’re tossing a ball in the shallows. The big boys throw and it flies far. The little guys are under the surface again and again, bouncing like bobbers. And Samuel, sweet Sam, is lured by the deep.

“Let’s go out, Mom. Let’s go out where it’s dark!” he says as he erupts in front of me, water shedding from the force. He’s two inches from me with dark goggles and a grin.

“Sure,” I say. “Grab one of the big boys, too.”

Logan and Grant both join us and we swim to the place where turquoise gives way to indigo blue. When we tread above the drop-off, the place where the water goes very deep, we can see the slope of the sand. We can see it stretch nearly straight down. It’s the place Sam wants to go.

“Watch,” he says. “Better yet, borrow Logan’s goggles and you come, too.” Then he’s under the surface, belly close to the sand as he swims down.  I can see the white flesh of his soles. I stay above water to watch.

Sam’s a strong swimmer.  He’s had lessons every summer. He swims in the pool every day. He wants to join a swim team in the fall.

But still my heart beats fast.

It’s just a few moments before he breaks the surface. He gulps air and then he’s down again. I wish we were in the shallows.   I swim well, too, but still there are a thousand worries. What if Samuel gets tired? What if a boat or a ski jet comes too close?

I don’t know. So I tread water and watch him do what he loves most. My mama-heart wants to pull him back, pull him in, and take him to where the water feels safe. But I know I have to give him room to grow.  And letting him swim in the deep is just the beginning.

 It’s the theme of my life lately. Giving boys room to grow. Letting Logan grow, make decisions, and work through what he wants to do with his life. Letting Grant have freedoms in these teenage years.  Sam and his adventures. Sometimes it all feels like deep water to me. It’s enough t make a mama half crazed. But I’ve trained my boys. I’ve taught them. They belong to the Lord. I know my sons are in the palm of His hand.

So now it’s time to open my fist and let go.

Samuel’s up again. He swims close. His goggles are on his forehead now and I can see the joy in his eyes.

It makes me happy, too, seeing this unbridled bliss. It moves something in me, deep inside.

This letting go and giving room thing?

I have a long way to go.

But maybe, just maybe,  it will be okay.

Lord, thank you for holding my boys in the palm of your hand. Help me to open my hands to let go. Amen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Finding the Good - There All Along

Lonny and I recently had the opportunity to drive past the first home we purchased.  We hadn’t been back for seventeen years.

In some ways, it was like stepping back in time. There was a swing in the same tree, on the same branch, where toddler Logan’s swing soared high. The fence Lonny built was still standing. And he flowerbeds that I started, all those years ago, stretched far over the front lawn.

We lived hard in that house. We learned to work through a crumbling marriage. We learned to pick up torn pieces and move on. We also learned to leave a few scraps on the ground.

 Some of the living was not all that good.

But there were precious things, too. And while sitting there, in front of that house, they came to mind in a sweet flood. I remembered holding our newborn son. Seeing a small boy, head dipped, plucking flowers for a bouquet. I remembered painting the house with Lonny, when times were turning better, both of us on ladders. I remembered the quiet times of learning to love one another better. And the most important thing that happened while we lived in that house:  finding grace, strength, and forgiveness in God’s love.

Life is like that, I’m learning. There are troubles. There can be tough, twisted times. The living can be hard. God doesn’t tell us we won't have struggles. But He does tell He’ll never leave. And if I look at my days, separated out, I can see His goodness. There are sweet, good gifts woven through the tough times.

Lonny and I pulled away from the curb.  His arm stretched over and his hand wrapped around mine. He smiled, and I smiled back.

We made it!        

And what a blessing – to see, when we look back, that He was there all along.
Thank you, God…

Monday, July 8, 2013

Returning Rubber Ball

The boys have a rubber ball. It's small like a baseball. It's bubblegum pink. It's the super bouncy kind. The kind that shoots off like wild, rebounds off of everything, and should only be let loose outside.

But the ball turns up everywhere I look.

It was under the desk in the dining room. I could see it when I walked by. I whisked it out with a broom and put it in the toy basket near the front door.

Next day it was in my bedroom. I noticed its out-of-place pinkness under my brown wing back chair.

I tossed it with the blocks in the schoolroom.

Then it was on the sun porch. Jumbled with shoes that were under the swing.

I got tired of chasing the rubber ball so I threw it in the kitchen trash.

And this morning?


It was at the bottom of our long, winding stairs.

This pink rubber ball has more return than a homing pigeon. So when I found it near the stairs, I palmed it. I headed out the door to toss it in the barrel by the garage.

But something stopped me in my tracks.

I've had some tough relational situations lately. I've messed up. I've lost control. But I've been bruised and broken and tossed around a bit, too.

The only solace I have is His Word. And in times of trouble it has returned to me.

Sometimes it's a verse that brings a gentle correction. I can take that.  Sometimes there's comfort and promise and grace. I'm all about that, too.

But always, always, there's the truth and the faithfulness of the Lord.

When times are tough, I want to stand on what I know is true.

I want His Word to apply to the situations in my life.

And want it to come to me fast and faithful.

So I turned around and I took that ridiculous pink ball back into the house. I put in on the shelf in the bedroom. I don't know what the deal with this strange ball is. I don't know why it seems to be everywhere I look.

But it's a quirky reminder.

Read His Word. Know His Word. Put it in my head and let it trickle  into my heart.

And His truth will be around every corner.

Even more steadfast than the returning rubber ball.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

                              With love, Shawnelle and Men