A Childlike Faith

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Watching my grandchildren wears me out. One particularly tiring day, after putting 10-month-old Sam down for a nap, I suggested to Emma that we take a nap while her brother slept. Emma, being the ripe old age of four, doesn’t take naps anymore. But I tried. “Emma, Mom-mom is really sleepy. Why don’t we both take a nap?”

“No, I don’t want to take a nap.”

“But I’m really sleepy, so I’m going to lie down for a little while. You should try to nap too. You can lie on the sofa with me.”

I made myself comfy on the chaise section of my sofa and closed my eyes, hoping she would follow suit. But within seconds, I heard her at the other end of the sofa, praying. “Dear God, I love playing with my mom-mom so much. Please make her not so sleepy so we can have more fun together. Amen. Mom-mom, did God answer my prayer?”

Not fair. What am I supposed to say? I can’t tell her he’s too busy—she already knows that he never sleeps and is never too busy to answer a multitude of prayers at the same time. With a dad as a pastor, she is beyond her years in understanding doctrinal principles some adults would struggle with. I couldn’t help it—I laughed. And now I can’t tell her God’s answer was ‘no’ because I am actually not so sleepy anymore. Maybe it was the endorphins released with laughing. But even that is a function God designed our bodies to do, so maybe that’s how he woke me up, answering her prayer. Whatever the method my answer was, “Yes, Emma, God answered your prayer.”

“Yea! Let’s play!”

I laughed about this for quite a while, then I posted it on Facebook. I’m reasonably sure there are people following my Facebook page just to hear about Emma’s antics. I wouldn’t want to disappoint them. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this is exactly the kind of childlike faith we all ought to have. Emma prayed because she truly believed God would answer her. It wasn’t her last resort. She didn’t try several other things before asking God to intervene. Prayer was plan A. And she anticipated a positive outcome, not to mention a quick one. Yes, at some point, she’ll learn that God doesn’t always answer so quickly. She may need to bring a request to God over and over. But while he may not answer in the way she wants or in the timing she would like, somehow, I don’t think Emma will give up.

My 4-year-old granddaughter has once again taught me valuable life lessons:
• Pray first
• Believe God will answer
• Trust Him with the outcome
• Have the faith of a child

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child, shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15 ESV)

Not My Way…

“I wouldn’t have gone this way.” It has become my passenger-seat mantra. When my husband and I go somewhere together, I prefer that he drive. The poor man has started asking me which way he should go, just to avoid my trademark comment. Of course, it is almost always followed by, “No, no, it’s fine. You didn’t know there would be so much traffic.” The inference is that I did know and would have avoided it. I’m just smarter, I guess.

We just returned from vacation: a road trip of 600 miles and 12 hours, each way. While we shared the driving, he did most of it. Seven hours into the trip, we came to a halt in four lanes of stopped traffic. It seemed that it was going to remain that way for some time, so we decided to hop off the highway and go on an adventure.

It was probably the best trip we’ve done because I wasn’t familiar with the roads or area we were driving through. We just looked at the map and took a chance. It was actually fun. I had no idea where exactly we were going, but I was enjoying the ride. There was so much to discover: quaint downtowns, country lanes, mountain views. We weren’t pushing through as quickly as possible on the highway, with only our destination in mind. It wasn’t upsetting to stop at a traffic light or meander at a slow speed through a small town. There were new sights to enjoy along the way. And not once did I say, “I wouldn’t have gone this way.”

For me, this easily translates to my spiritual life. I say God is in control and I completely trust him. But then he goes the “wrong” way. He takes me down a path I think is a mistake, full of bumps and hazards and dead ends. “I wouldn’t have gone this way,” I say. Do I think I am smarter than God? I’m not even as smart as my husband. But then I find the path he chose is the best one. When I allow him to drive my life, I can relax in the passenger seat. Have you ever noticed that when you switch from driver to passenger you see things you never noticed before? Since you aren’t focused on the road ahead and the traffic, you see the beauty along the way. For the first time, you notice the way the trees move in the breeze, the patterns of the hex signs on the barns, a curious gravel path that winds up a hill.

With God in the driver’s seat, I don’t need to fear the bumps in the road. He is in control and always takes the right route. When his way is not what I would have chosen, I am tempted to question his decision and even offer a better option. The way I had planned out seemed best—the way that would accomplish all I wanted. But when I trust his driving, I can take my place in the passenger seat and see things I otherwise would have missed: the green pastures, still waters, and his goodness and mercy. And his way always results in an incredible view of his glory.

“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

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Phloxed!

Pain. Everywhere. My Achilles tendons felt like they would snap if I moved. Pain shot through my hips and shoulders. I couldn’t make a fist, my hands and fingers were too painful to bend.

It was August 2, 2016. I went to sleep finally starting to feel better after two months of illness and fatigue. The doctors had finally found the culprit: Campylobacter, the most common form of food poisoning. Most people don’t even know they have it. They have the runs for a week or so, and it goes away on its own. But not me, my body just couldn’t flush it out of my system. But they found it and were treating it with Levaquin, one of the most commonly-prescribed antibiotics, taken by millions of people every day. As I lie there in bed that morning, wondering how I could even get to my phone downstairs to call for help, I remembered the black box warning.

Levaquin and other antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone family can cause tendon rupture, especially of the Achilles. Not wanting to panic and make things worse, I gingerly rolled out of my bed. Maybe a hot shower would help. Nope. I made my way downstairs, walking like a worn-out zombie, unable to bend my joints and afraid of rupturing my Achilles. I told the doctor my symptoms. She said, “Stop the medication. I’ll order something else.” I hung up, thinking, “Good, this will pass as soon as the medication is out of my system.” I was so wrong.

Initially, the pain did subside, but it didn’t stop completely. After a few weeks, it started getting worse. I asked my GI doctor, who had prescribed the Levaquin, when could I expect to be pain free. She didn’t know. My family doctor didn’t know. My orthopedic doctor didn’t know. My pain management doctor didn’t know. ER doctors didn’t know. Neurosurgeons didn’t know. No one knew. I learned that though all the doctors know this side effect can happen, no one knows what to do when it does happen. I started researching it online and found one book on the topic. It only took a few seconds to download it onto my Kindle. Flipping through the first time, I learned that I had been “phloxed,” the term they use for tendon damage due to fluoroquinolone toxicity. But what I was reading wasn’t promising. It said this condition is likely permanent.

I started reading more in depth. There was no known cure, and treatment was mostly nutrition and supplements that encourage new cell growth. It is thought that the antibiotic actually made changes to my DNA. It blew up my healthy tendon cells, so when those cells replicated, they replicated in the wrong pattern, causing chronic pain and potential rupture. Not good news. Three months after being phloxed, the pain was so unbearable that I spent my days on the couch or in my bedroom, in the dark because the tendons behind my eyes were so painful, with ice packs everywhere. Nothing helped: not anti-inflammatories, not narcotic pain relievers, and especially not steroid injections. I can never have steroid injections again–I can’t even describe the pain they brought on. We rented a stair climber and borrowed a wheelchair. I asked my husband, who is a nurse, if a person can die from pain. That seemed to be the direction this was heading.

The book recommended getting as much Magnesium as possible: soak in Epsom salts, take it orally, use topical gel. I did, and within two weeks had so much relief, I thought it was over. I was on the road to recovery. But roads have potholes. I had one setback after another. Each time, I analyzed what I had eaten and what activity I had done. No more meat that isn’t specifically marked “antibiotic free.”

What loomed large for me was the fact that the one thing doctors were pretty sure of was whatever damage remains after two years is permanent. Today is that two-year mark. This morning I woke up thinking about how I feel today versus two years ago. Definitely much improved. As time has gone by, the risk of tendon rupture has gone down. But I still have setbacks, and I still have pain every day. I never know if I am waking up to a bad-pain day or a good-pain day. I have accepted that this is my new normal. Two years ago I was running three miles a day, working out every other day, lifting my grandchildren, even rock climbing. Most of that way of life is gone.

Last week, my husband gave me a book for my birthday, Believe It, by Nick Foles (Eagles quarterback and Super Bowl LII MVP). It is about him going from considering retiring to the pinnacle of his career. I love football. And I especially love the Eagles. But the part of his book that impressed me the most was what he wrote about his wife’s battle with a chronic illness.

Nick Foles’ wife, Tori, has POTS, a rare, chronic, painful disease. Toward the end of the book, he wrote, “Tori’s struggle with POTS is another example of being at our weakest and needing to trust God every day–even for something like summoning the strength to move from point A to point B. When Tori got sick, we had to dismiss any illusions that we had control over our lives, because at that point, we knew we didn’t. There were times when no one else could tell that she was struggling, but even then, her struggle wasn’t invisible to God. Of course, we wish Tori didn’t have to go through the constant management of a chronic illness, but over the years, we’ve seen God use this trial to strengthen our relationship and our faith . . . Tori would say that she wouldn’t change a thing about the path God led us on. Neither would I.”

I realized that I need to stop trying to get back to where I was. That is in the past. I will probably never have that level of physical ability again. But I can trust God’s plan. Every day I can do my best to manage my pain and trust him to get me through it. I have done all that I can do, from changing my diet to physical therapy. It is in his hands, and I know he is walking with me through the daily pain, the setbacks, and whatever comes next. I have the privilege of living in his strength when I am at my weakest. I have decided to look at my chronic pain as a gift he has entrusted to me. I am looking forward to where God will lead me, even if it is without my beloved high heels.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

A Time to Rest

“If you have no time to rest, it’s exactly the right time.” ~ Mark Twain

Call it vacation, hiatus, break time, unplugging–whatever you call it, one thing is for sure, it will be a time of rest. There are times of taking off from work that don’t include rest. We pack all we can into the few days we have free. We don’t go to work, but we fill every minute with things to do. Don’t get me wrong, those kinds of vacations are fun and have their place, but so does having a time of rest. That’s what next week’s vacation will be for me.

We are blessed to have a place, a little cabin in the Maine woods, perfect for resting. It’s quiet and peaceful. We sleep in and wake up slowly. We take time to read and relax, two things our hectic schedules leave little time for. We will have some maintenance that will need to be done. And we may tax our muscles kayaking. But mostly we will rest, allowing our bodies, minds, and spirits to renew.

In searching for a quote on “rest,” I was happy to find that most of them came from the Bible. They were promises from God. He promised we will find rest in his presence. He promised a place of rest. He promised rest to the weary. In fact, he asks us to enter his rest, to lay down our burdens and rest in him. It’s a complete and perfect rest.

In caring for his disciples, Jesus tells them to rest in a way that appeals to me. In Mark 6:31-32, after a busy time of ministry, he says to them: “‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”

kayaks

Boats, check. Desolate, check. I hope to get a taste of that rest next week, relaxing by the lake, breathing in the fir-tree-scented air, and reflecting on the glory of God with every sunset. My friend Verna Bowman put it very well on her own blog (https://vernabowman.com/the-art-of-rest/) : Take long walks and listen to the trees. Read a book beside still waters. Take this time to refresh your faith and experience a sacred linger to visit the sanctuary of your heart. And notice the change.

Don’t expect to hear from me for a week, maybe two. I’ll be resting.

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Mother-in-lawing

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Four grandchildren, three sons, and three daughters-in-law converged on our house several times over an 8-day visit. At times it was chaos. At other times it was pure bliss. My grandmother used to say, “I love when the whole family gets together.” I now understand what she meant and echo her sentiment.

I have three pretty amazing sons, and as a result, I have three pretty amazing daughters-in-law. I often tell people that it is easier to raise sons and accumulate daughters later, after someone else has gone to the trouble of raising them. I am so blessed with the daughters I have accumulated. They are all gems who treat me like the queen of the family, which I am.

They are not only great daughters, but great mothers, too. One is still a mother-to-be, but I can tell she’ll do a great job, especially when her two sisters-in-law are just a text away. Every time I’m with them, I think they are better moms than I was. They are so patient and calm. They have routines and boundaries, and they stick to them. We did a lot more flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants parenting. I love grandparenting. It is so much better than parenting. It’s like parenting without the pressure. I can love on them, sugar them up, and send them home. Grandparenting is great! But what about mother-in-lawing?

We’ve all heard in-law jokes, especially the beleaguered mother-in-law jokes. But I have found mother-in-lawing to be an unexpected blessing. I love these girls like they are my own. They aren’t just daughters, but friends. Heaven help my boys if they ever hurt one of them. So, how am I making mother-in-lawing a breeze? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. I truly love them. I don’t just tolerate them because they are married to my sons. I sincerely love them, which means I seek their good, I pray for them, I consider them just as much my family as my sons.
  2. I understand and accept that they are my sons’ most important people. One of the hardest things for a mom to do is to give her child to someone else. But it is necessary in order to have a good and right relationship with both her son and daughter-in-law. This is where many moms fail. They want the #1 position with their son. But that position is meant for his wife. She really can love him more than I can.
  3. I should be an encourager, listener, and cheerleader for my daughters-in-law. It’s important not to take sides when I hear of my kids having disputes. If they ask my advice, that advice needs to be objective. Since I know my children (after all, they are a lot like me), I can provide insights to my daughters-in-law they might not see from their husbands’ point of view. Mostly, I can remind them regularly that they are wonderful wives, moms, and people. They can count on me for whatever they need.
  4. They don’t need to worry about hurting my feelings. I understand the stress of spending time with all their family members. They never have to worry that they didn’t call or spend time with me on a special occasion when they needed to be with other family. I will never make them feel guilty. They will always go to their own mom first with a need or to share something. That is not only OK with me, it is right. I get it. I had a mom and a mother-in-law too.

Mother-in-lawing done right is an act of worship, involving love and sacrifice, that pleases God. There is more I could say, but I’ll save that for another blog. For now, I am looking forward to grandchild #5, our fourth girl, in October. I also look forward to providing whatever my daughter-in-law needs as a new mom, taking a backseat to her own mom. I know my place. I’m the mother-in-law, and I love it!

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Epesians 5:1-2

It Gets Easier is a Lie

I’ve tried to ignore it all weekend, but it still occupied my thoughts–it was Father’s Day. Does it upset me because my father is gone? No. My dread of this weekend really doesn’t have much to do with it being Father’s Day. It is because it was Father’s Day weekend 2001 that I lost my mom. She died suddenly, unexpectedly. Our last communication with her was when she called my husband that Saturday evening to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.

I called her Monday, June 18, to let her know the boys had a baseball game near her home at 6:00pm. She didn’t drive at night anymore, so this was one she could get to and be home before dark. She loved baseball! I left a message on her machine, but she didn’t call me back. And she didn’t show up at the game, odd. But I knew she was planning to go away sometime that week, maybe she had already left. The next day I got a call that Mom didn’t show up to a lunch with cousins. She never missed those. I drove to her house to check on her.

The minute I walked in, I knew there was something wrong. The pantry door was open. A box of ice cream cones sat on the counter. For my mom, this was a mess. She would never have left her kitchen like this. I called for her but got no response. I went into her bedroom. There she was. Was she sleeping? No. I saw something on her neck and quickly identified it as the last inch or so of an ice cream cone. Taking in the scene, I knew her wish had come true. After her mother had died suddenly, she said she hoped she went the same way. She won. My grandmother died while cleaning. My mom died while lying in bed, reading a book, and eating ice cream.

At the funeral and throughout the first year as holidays and birthdays came and went, well-wishers would say, “It gets easier.” I kept thinking it must. But it didn’t. Then the boys weddings and babies came. Mixed with the joy of each occasion was a sadness that Mom would have loved seeing them get married and rocking her great-grandbabies. But it wasn’t to be. It would never be. And then there were the Father’s Day weekends. As hard as I try, I can’t get through one without tears. Plus, it reminds me that July 4 is right around the corner. The Fourth of July is perhaps the only holiday worse than Father’s Day. My dad died on July 4, 1998. Nope, it hasn’t gotten easier.

I wonder sometimes about people whose loss has gotten easier. Has it really or do they just say that to protect their own emotions? Maybe it really has gotten easier for them. Maybe they didn’t lie on purpose. I need to keep my cynicism in check. I’m working on that.

I also need to remember that grief and tears are not bad things. Memories, even the difficult ones, are precious. At times like today, I am also reminded that I have a heavenly Father who is near to the brokenhearted. My mom’s pain and tears are gone, and one day mine will be too. I can’t wait to see her again.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

 

Crashing through May 23

It’s a beautiful day for a drive, with the windows down and the music up. That’s just what Chester and I did. Chester is the name of my Charger. Yes, it has a name. Chester may have been moving a little faster than usual on this spectacular day. Then we approached the infamous intersection where I lost another car 33 years ago (Amber).

It was two days before my wedding, May 23, 1985. I had just left work, my last day until after the honeymoon. I was in a great mood. It wasn’t as nice a day as today. I’m sure the windows were up but so was the music. As I approached the intersection, the light turned green I didn’t slow down, no need to. The oncoming car had been waiting at the red light to turn left. There was no one in front of me or behind me. It seemed like he waited just long enough for me to get there, and then he went. I closed my eyes. The impact was head-on.

I opened my eyes and checked my face in the mirror. I was getting married in two days. Please, no cuts or injuries on my face. There were none. Taking a deep breath, I thanked God that I didn’t appear to be seriously injured. There was a knock on my side window. I opened the window to a woman yelling, “I know CPR!” I responded, “If I stop breathing, I’ll let you know.” I handed her a piece of paper with two phone numbers, my fiancé’s and my mother’s, with strict instructions not to call the second one unless she couldn’t reach anyone at the first number. My mother would have freaked out. Doug would be Mr. Calm, Cool, & Collected. She was able to reach him. Thank you, Lord.

The ambulance arrived. They had some trouble getting my door open. The EMTs asked me lots of questions. Most importantly, what hurts? Just my neck and my hip. And just like that, a man appeared in my backseat to hold my head perfectly still until they could get a backboard. Another EMT said, “I’m going to cut off your stockings.” “But they’re my favorite ones.” “There’s already a hole, and your knee is bleeding.” “I know. I was just kidding.” This EMT does not have a sense of humor.

Lucky for me, the next EMT I met had just the right type of humor for me – the kind that found me funny. And he had the right type of backboard for my contoured seats. Once strapped in, he was ready to lift me out of the car. I groaned saying I knew I should have lost a few pounds before the wedding. He insisted I was as light as a feather. I liked him even more.

He loaded me into an ambulance, let Doug know what hospital we were going to, and off we went. I told him there was one problem. It was too quiet. I didn’t plan on riding in a ambulance very often, so I would like them to use the lights and siren. Mr. Funny EMT yelled to the driver that I wouldn’t be happy until the lights and siren were on. He obliged, and we raced our way to the hospital emergency entrance.

While I was trying to keep a light heart through it all, spending the evening in the ER being poked and probed and expected to pee while lying down was not how this night was supposed to go. It was Doug’s parents’ anniversary. We were going out to dinner with them and the rest of family right after picking up the tuxes for our wedding. What would happen if I wasn’t there to make sure they were right–that no one was wearing pants that were too short or jackets that didn’t close?

Why bring up this memory from 33 years ago? It all worked out fine, no issues with the tuxes. The family didn’t miss us at the dinner. There was no delay in our wedding or honeymoon plans. The truth is I remember it every time I drive through that intersection. I remember knowing I was going to be hit. I remember the impact. I remember Doug standing in front of my car, which was way too close to the driver’s seat I was sitting in. And I remember how God cared for me that day.

Mr. Funny EMT had said to me if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt, I would have been launched through the windshield and probably killed. I replied that God had his angels surrounding me that day. My car was destroyed, beyond totaled. I know that God’s plan for me is better than my own, even when it doesn’t seem so. Nothing takes him by surprise, which gives me peace when the circumstances of life jump out of the shadows and try to unnerve me. Remembering that day reminds me of God’s grace, protection, and sovereignty. He is faithful, and I can rest in him no matter what–even a senior citizen deciding not to wait for me to get through a traffic light so that he didn’t miss the early bird special.

Blessings Abound!

The first women’s conference at Grace Bible Fellowship Church in nearly 30 years was a resounding success! What a privilege and blessing it was to share the platform with Megan Hill, Aimee Byrd, and Jane Roach. Their keynote addresses exceeded expectations and blended together so well without being repetitive.

The 300+ women in attendance were also a blessing. What an encouragement to have so many likeminded women together–women who want to serve and glorify God with their lives. I trust that, like the women we learned about, these ladies also will have changed lives because of this encounter with Jesus. I gained new insights into God’s Word, and I’m sure I am not alone.

I was humbled by the turnout to my workshop, which ended up being standing room only, some in the hallway. What a great honor and blessing to be able to offer hope to women who have faced traumatic circumstances in their pasts. The stories they shared with me were astounding, and I know they will have powerful testimonies as God works in and through them. Please pray for more opportunities to share the joy of finding freedom in Christ.

My book sold out before lunch on Saturday. I’m so sorry there were not more copies available at the conference. The good news is that you can find it here, just click on “my books,” and you’ll find it for sale there. It is also available at Amazon and anywhere else you buy books. Although I have done a book signing, it was strange to have people approach me, cautiously but hopefully, asking me to sign their book, as if I might decline. It made me laugh.

I’ve known for a long time that God wanted to use my past to help others. While that has happened over the years, this was a new level, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. As I told the ladies on Saturday, his glory shines out of my brokenness. It’s not that he uses us in spite of our brokenness, but because of it.

You have read the word blessing several times in this post. There is no better way to express how I feel about this weekend. I was blessed to be a part of it!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6

Dandelion Love

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My three-year-old granddaughter loves dandelions. It is her mission in life to pick every dandelion she sees. She thinks they are beautiful. With great pride, she presents her bright yellow bouquets to her mother, who is instructed to put them in water to keep them pretty. In her world, the only thing better than a blooming dandelion is a dandelion that has gone to seed. The seed-filled puff balls are picked and the seeds blown, sometimes with a few getting stuck to her little lips. Dandelions bring her joy.

Driving to church yesterday, my husband pointed out a field covered in dandelions. He sort of groaned, but I commented how happy our granddaughter would be in that field. That got me thinking how different our perspectives can be. To some, dandelions are just a nuisance, a weed to be eradicated from an otherwise pristine lawn. But to others, they are beautiful and even desirable. I’m OK with dandelions. To me they herald spring, which I am always happy to see.

I heard a radio commercial this year asking people to allow dandelions to bloom because they are one of the first and most vital nectar sources for pollination. They serve a very important purpose. Without them, we might not have other plant species we love or foods we enjoy. We can take a lesson from the lowly dandelion.

Sometimes I see myself as that dandelion that others dread seeing and would like to get rid of. I know I can be annoying. And I feel sometimes that I am not contributing anything of value to other’s lives. But then I remember my granddaughter and her perspective on dandelions. That is how God sees me. To him I am not a nuisance. I am his beautiful creation. And he has given me purpose and equipped me to serve others in my own unique way, that I may be a blessing to them and bring joy to him.

My worth doesn’t come from who or what I am, but from him. He made me. He gave me life. He died for me. He desires to have a relationship with me. So, like the dandelions in my front yard, I’ll keep growing, reaching toward heaven, doing my part to glorify the God who made me and loves me as I am. I will trust him to use me in my little sphere of influence to do the works he has prepared for me to do.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

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Bouncy, flouncy cup of fun, fun, fun!

Spring is finally here! My tulips are blooming, the sun is a welcomed sight, and the Phillies are playing nearly every day. Seeing kids in Little League uniforms brings back fond memories of watching my boys playing baseball. Some of those memories, though, are not so fond.

When raising boys and Seeing Eye puppies, things can get messy (and, at times, a little gross). Like most boys, mine were not exactly neat. Their rooms were littered with dirty clothes, toys, shoes, and petrified food. Add puppies into the mix, and there were chewed clothes, toys, shoes, and less of the petrified food.

We always seemed to be running late, usually because one of the boys couldn’t find a matching shoe. But one particular day as we were running late for a baseball game, my son found all his gear, but his athletic cup had been chewed. Having sharp edges on your cup could definitely ruin a boy’s game. So I got the boys in the car and to the game and then made a bee line for the sporting goods store.

It didn’t take long to find what I needed. I was in a hurry to get it to my son before the game started or he wouldn’t be allowed to play. Rushing at the checkout, I told the cashier not to bother with a bag. I grabbed the molded plastic package and headed for the car. Just as I stepped off the curb, I must have squeezed the package too hard. The cup squirted out into the street. Not just any street, but the main street through town, filled with traffic.

I bolted after it, chasing it around in the zig zag pattern it was making as the oddly shaped object bounced this way and that. I wondered if I was on Candid Camera as I darted around in the street, chasing a runaway athletic cup. It’s good I have a sense of humor. Up to the point of the cup taking a flying leap, I was not a happy camper.
Why can’t my boys put their things away? Why are we always late? Why can’t I do a better job managing my home? But then following the bouncing cup, which ended up under my car and me lying on Main Street trying to retrieve it, I started to laugh. Why not? Being angry wasn’t going to make things any better. Sometimes it’s best to just see the humor in a crazy situation and go with it.

God has put a lot of things in my life that bring me laughter. My boys and their puppies were always good for a laugh. My sweet husband and I share lots of laughs, and my crazy friends make me laugh till my sides hurt. Over time, I did improve at managing my home and time. But even better, I learned the joy of laughing and not taking myself or life too seriously.

I arrived at the baseball field with the captured cup, found my son in the dugout, and handed it over (a little scuffed). I tried not to laugh, not wanting to draw undo attention to my 10-year-old boy. But I did warn him to be careful putting it in place. It’s a rascally little thing.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.” (Psalm 34:1-2)