I had completely forgotten about it.
It wasn’t until I cleaned out a few desk drawers that I found it again, buried amongst scraps of paper and some expired coupons (I’ve just never mastered that coupon thing…). The notecard was from a retreat I attended several years ago. During one of the personal moments of reflection, we were assigned to write a note to ourselves from Jesus addressing whatever challenge we were experiencing at that moment. I unfolded the pink-striped paper and found a fresh gift, a loving dose of encouragement. I hope they offer you the same:
“Back to school” felt really different this fall. And I did not like it one bit.
My oldest daughter really took responsibility this year.
She looked up her schedule.
She organized her supply needs.
She drove herself to registration.
And to school.
And to practice.
All. By. Herself.
Before she left for school one morning last week, I began to load her water bottle with ice so it would still be cold by the time her 3:30pm cross-country practice rolled around. She’d already prepared her own breakfast and lunch; this was my small token effort to come alongside. But she interrupted me, saying that she wanted to do it… a particular way.
I felt rejected.
She didn’t seem to require anything from me. She just didn’t need me. While we’re raising our children to prepare them for launch into adulthood, I wanted her to need me (for more than just registrar fees, anyway).
Whether due to our American culture or simply the carnal flesh, most of us are hungry for success.
Not always in the forms of fame or wealth, sometime we just want a sense of growth or progression. (Or a small assurance that we’re not irretrievably screwing up our children? Anyone?)
Sometimes my actions defy logic.
Any man reading this would probably attribute that statement to the absence of a Y chromosome. Ha!
Given that I’m a linear thinker who relies on logic to make decisions, allocate time and [try to] parent my children, ignoring logic seems foolish. And it usually is. I’ve recently been studying Gideon’s story in the book of Judges. This meek man’s time as God’s chosen warrior depicts beautifully that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It has caused me to re-examine the areas of weakness in my life, temperament and faith. I didn’t have to look far to find the most glaring of weaknesses: my need for control.
I’ve dug my heels in. But I may not be winning.
I make a conscious, daily effort to take a stand against the cultural norms of our day in the area of body image. Yep, that’s me: middle-aged, suburban rebel. Americans worship youth and beauty, thereby shackling women (in particular) with concern over their appearance. We pay thousands of dollars, and spend countless hours, “managing” our bodies as measured in pounds lost, grays dyed, wrinkles stretched/treated/injected, breasts implanted, cellulite extracted, teeth whitened, and the like.
I want something different for my daughters and the young gals for whom I lead Bible study.
Amos’ fourth vision is of a basket of ripe fruit. While there’s nothing tastier than a pear at the peak of its ripeness, this is anything but a moment to savor. Amos is possibly playing on similar sound of two Hebrew words: fruit and end. As such, one could interpret the first verse to say “I see a basket of the end.” Even if this wasn’t Amos’ intent, the vision depicts the same: Israel as a basket of fruit that is now ripe for God’s judgment.
I’m not much of a worrywart. Or so I thought.
I co-lead a small group for middle school girls on Monday nights. I don’t prepare the lesson, so I’m not sure I should be called a leader. Mostly, I’m there to be another adult presence in the room and to build relationships with the students in our youth group.
The true leader of the group prepared a lesson on worry for the girls. She encouraged them to journal a list of things they’re prone to worry about. Turning open our Bibles, we read passages that speak directly to the subject. Her definition for worry went beyond the notions of anxiety or fear. She expanded it to ‘taking responsibilty for something we’re not meant to be in charge of.’
Both feet planted firmly on the ground, I was only too happy to take pictures. But, please don’t ask me if I’d like to try it.
One student after another donned helmets and harnesses to face the Multi-Vine at camp last week. With safety checks complete, they’d climb the ladder and then lay hold of the grips that have been inserted into the tall pine tree to make their way up, up, up to the challenge. A thin cable stretched from one tree to another, some 40 feet away, at a height of 40 feet in the air. Overhead, just out of reach, was a similar cable… from this one dangled lengths of rope at intervals. These sections of rope were the only means campers had to convey themselves from one tree — across the cable — to the other.