In a Moving Vehicle

carseat

 

For now, they share the back seat while I drive. A carseat and a walker. Time never stands still, but today, my personal timeline sits in my car. I hesitate to look in either direction – back or forward.

I have no recollection of ever occupying a carseat myself, in fact I remember being lined up in the backseat of a station wagon shoulder to shoulder – all four of us. Seven years separating the firstborn from the youngest.

The carseat era brought with it restraints and a need for front seat entertainment rather than management. No more playing the “she touched me” game for the thrill of watching a leg get slapped from the front. No more trying to be the one closest to the window for relief from smells, annoying tapping and endless questions.

Today is different. Today I’m the keeper of the carseat from the front. I wrestle and manipulate the wiggly little creature into it. I lock firmly and tighten for safety. I manage entertainment, but never slap.

The carseat holds hope, dreams, undiscovered galaxies. Next to it – the walker.

I remember the day we went to the Salvation Army to find an appropriate walker. She was sure she didn’t really need one even though all the health professionals told her she did. None of the gizmos seemed right. One was too short, one too bulky, they needed a basket for carrying things. They all made her look old.

I can’t say I was sympathetic, or patient. It was just one of the ten other tasks on my checklist to make my job a little easier.

Ten years later it gets thrown in the backseat like my appendage, the purse. It haunts me. I sit in front.

A stroll down our timeline is a stark reminder we’re trapped in a moving vehicle. Time progresses without our consent. We change seats and don’t even know it.

She was once a carseat dweller. Young, full of dreams. She didn’t concern herself with thoughts of walkers, purses, or days spent looking back. The world was her galaxy.

I can’t be concerned with where I sit.

One day the carseat will vacate and little one will move up front. My walker will occupy the back as she looks over her shoulder to be sure I’m properly buckled in.

Life is a vapor. Life is to be cherished, valued. Used up.

Mourning the loss of years gone by is as futile as anxious anticipation of the future. The young drink from the old. The old dry up. The driver sits in the front seat with misguided feelings of control and worth.

Life is a gift. Our value comes from the life given us, no other place.

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14

The smudgy fingerprints on the carseat will be the same that grip the wheel and eventually the walker handles. Some things change – others remain.. Our DNA, our gifts planted from above, and the tiny lines on our fingers never change – just where they land in the grip.

 

 

 

 

 

For Our Good

#26 cross 3

 

The belief that things will eventually work out for good can certainly provide a level of peace to our life. It allows the difficult moments to roll off our back in the hope things will eventually get better – or be good. But when circumstances begin to pile up and our comfort is challenged, belief alone often comes up short.

Throughout his lifetime Jesus showed us how to believe and live in the truth of God’s goodness. It was especially evident on the cross. His life was shaped by the full embrace of the greater good found in his Father’s eternal story.

It’s the same for us. Where can disappointment live when our own prerequisite expectations are nailed to a cross? When we relinquish our need to control.

Meditate today-  Good  Friday –  on what Jesus has done for you. Ask him to help you embrace your own cross today. And then claim the package of good things he’s personalized for you in his eternal plan.

Have a glorious Easter.

 

 

Lens Caps, Raindrops and Perspective

apple blossoms

Isn’t this a great picture – I can’t believe I took it!

 

I love beautiful art, both on film and canvas. Admittedly I’m neither an artist nor a photographer, so the fact I took this picture from my inexpensive point and shoot camera is beyond amazing to me.

I especially appreciate how the camera captured exactly what I wanted it to – crystal clear drips showcased on apple blossoms. Breathtaking!

It also blurred out what I didn’t want shown – the backdrop of our yard.

If the picture were to pan out, it would include the unsightly elements I choose to crop, such as the web of electrical wires above and brown spots on the lawn below.

 

Rain was falling the day I shot this picture, both on our yard and in my heart.

 

Some days just feel that way.

 

Circumstances unfold causing a tightening to the chest that moves up the throat and into our minds like lava from the core. We know the boil over won’t be pretty. So we fester and steam. We isolate and focus inward.

The day I took the picture was like that. Circumstances I had no control over were holding me hostage like the rain – I was stuck inside, both literally and figuratively.

When I find myself in that condition I can’t see clearly. My vision is out of focus or focused on the wrong things. Some call it morbid introspection. I call it suffocation. Electrical wires seem to wrap around my neck, holding my gaze on all the brown spots in my life.

That day I heard God’s voice prompt me to go outside. He challenged me to, “Keep my mind on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, and proper.” as Phil 4:8 says.

 

He knew my mind needed a singularity of focus – a refreshing.

 

When I apply the lens of his love to my sight – both in my mind and on my circumstances, he is faithful to show himself every time. Glimpses of him are life breathing, fire quenching and heavenly.

The beautiful little water drops were true, they were pure and right. They were also God’s mysterious way of cleansing my sour soul and drenching the fire within.

 

A fresh focus can also lead to a broader perspective.

 

Panning my focus out a bit, I could reclaim the truth that my life is my life, given by him – electrical wires, brown spots and all. The very wires I resent, even the circumstances I beg to control – are all here for my good. Who am I to question his divine plan for me?

He is certainly found in the beauty of raindrops – refreshing, cleansing, clinging. But he also sits unscathed with the birds on the high voltage wires I resent.

Today, my focused heart clings and releases. I choose gratitude for his divine care. I choose vision beyond what I see and freedom to exploit the perimeters of my own sight.

 

Busy Builders

calvin framed

 

When we’re young we build for fun. We build to understand our world. We build because we’re wired to create.

As time goes by, we leave childhood and our building habits change a bit. Sometimes we feel good about what we’ve created. And sometimes we worry if what we’ve built will be acceptable, sustainable – or have lasting worth.

The bricks that make up our life vary in size – each having its own significance. They contain stories representing who we are and where we’ve been.

Dare I say – it’s not as important what we build, as it is what we choose to build with.

Children don’t need mortar for their creations. They live in the moment of their task. They build – they tear down and then create again. In their creating, they are shaped.

The mortar we choose to build with is important. It can turn what was meant to be temporary into a fortress – sometimes holding us hostage for a lifetime. The wrong mortar can be a misguided sense of self worth or fear – it can be the love of money, possessions or unhealthy habits.

Children are here to remind us of our temporary status as builders. We will eventually end where we began.

How God must smile as he watches us. We plan, we construct and we work so hard. Then one day – eventually, we will each come to understand he was the planner and builder all along.

May we be mindful of our choices as we build.

May we choose the eternal substance of humility, grace and love to hold our bricks in place.

And may we be challenged with the awareness of his divine plan for our life.

 

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

 

 

Pass the Peas Please

dancing in rain

 

Telling children, “You need to eat your peas because children are starving in Africa” never works, does it? And yet, we still tend to use the same principle, even in our adult life – albeit not quite so obviously. Choking down a bad attitude or undesirable circumstance isn’t made any easier just because there are others who have it worse than we do.

Spending an extended amount of time in a vacation destination lends itself to observing a potpourri of people and lifestyles. Resort beaches are filled with travelers from all over the world. Accents and languages, even dress styles tend to melt into one group in a more relaxed environment. And yet, our universal internal struggles can still surface there too.

Island guests typically share a common desire for relaxation and especially, warm sunny weather.

Kauai owns relaxation. Kauai also owns green. There’s hardly a place on the island that isn’t rich with lush diverse chlorophyll-ridden beauty. It beckons the visitor to drink in moisture and rejuvenate dry, thirsty cells.

Green comes from rain, but rain doesn’t always line up with an expectation of warm weather.

We don’t want our peas, do we? Sometimes we want dessert first and no peas at all. Still, how can we complain about eating the peas when children are starving in Africa? Likewise, how can we complain about rain when we’re in paradise? And who doesn’t like green?

In a matter of minutes a sudden squall can empty a packed beach. It’s almost comical watching people run for cover like kittens from a bath, when we’re actually dressed to get wet.

I watched an elderly woman dance in the rain yesterday. She did more than choke down the peas – she made them look like the most appealing part of the meal.

She twirled, danced and raised her hands to the sky. Her tiny eyes disappeared in the folds of her smile as her face flattened upward – her open mouth seemed to savor each sweet raindrop it welcomed. I could hear a faint song. I couldn’t make out the words, but I understood the message. Her song expressed a kind of joy that seemed almost too private to witness – sacred, really. Her hands were not clutching, they were open. Receiving hands – with leathery fingers spread apart, extended for the full embrace, reaching upward.

I could hear the fork hit the plate – I wanted to eat the peas of grace, gratitude, freedom and joy she ate. Anyone truly watching her would.

The delight of her creator was visible as the skies opened in a pounding downpour. The joy of her dance seemed to lift her above the puddles. Maybe it was just me – but I’m sure I heard a choir join her exuberant song.

Heaven danced too, while a full meal was devoured with absolute pleasure.

 

“Jehovah, your God, is always in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with great joy; we will rest in his love; he will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3:17

 

When’s the last time you danced during your downpour of difficulty?