Friday, April 25, 2014

Time & Space

This year marks our 5th Spring Break to head to south Georgia.  We make this trip with a family that is very dear to us and enjoy the "nothingness" as much as we relish it.  This year may have been our best trip yet.  The kids are getting a little older and seem to not need our immediate attention as much as in times past.  But God lavished us with gorgeous weather.  In previous trips we have dealt with pouring rain or cold temperatures.  Spring met us with a gentle handshake and a sweet hello.  The days were beautiful with sunshine and breezes that kept mosquitoes away.  Other than meals and bedtime....we soaked up as many moments as possible outside.  Time is slow in this place and space is vast.  It is the perfect place for one's soul to rest.
 I love that Shep captured this picture of me and Zeke.  He almost always had this bow in his hand. We were walking down the runway to retrieve his arrows.  Can you see the butterfly it the top of the picture?  Butterflies were everywhere!
 My heart gushes when my Caroline can find an activity that makes her happy and settled.  This particular day it was lying on the edge of a blanket with me and play in the grass...
 Ava was drawn to this log.  She was determined to master the art of running and rolling on the log...
 She was actually better at it than the rest of us....
 Zeke and his buddy chasing their arrows....
 Caroline in the sunshine full of smiles....
 Zeke and Ava taking a break from playing and smiling for a picture.
 We rode around everyday in the back of the truck.  I loved it as a kid and still love it as an adult.
 Ava and her sweet friend were just as fierce as the boys with their bows.
 All the kids posing with Shep on a log at Factory Branch.  Such a terrific day!
 Hello glamor queen.  Isn't she gorgeous?  The girl can rock my sunglasses...
 Me and Zeke posing.  This was rare because the boy stayed on full throttle the entire trip.
 Shep and Caroline went down stream a ways to capture the rest of us in front of the waterfall.
 Shep talked the kids into having a stick race.  They loved it!  No electronics involved!
 Me and my squeeze.  I am crazy about him. 
 Shep gave me some pointers about shooting the bow.  It was oddly more fun than I imagined it would be.  There was something almost therapeutic about aiming, shooting, and retrieving....
 Ava and her daddy searching the ground for arrowheads....
 Zeke and Shep killing time...with Zeke's bow...of course.
 The first morning turkey hunt.  Zeke loved it.  Pretty sure he is hooked.
 Ava's search paid off.  She found this beautiful arrowhead and she couldn't have been more pleased with herself.
 One of the dearest people in the whole world to me.  My friend that I call "D".  She is such a sport. Her effort on these trips spoil us all.  She brings her homemade bread and rolls.  AND enough junk food to feed an army.  We somehow manage to suffer through eating most of it...
 Remember Caroline's blanket fun?   This is what her face looked like after playing in the grass.  She wasn't bothered one little bit...
 The kids looking for more arrowheads...
 Me and him. 
 Caroline enjoyed the wide open spaces too....she especially loves putting her teeth into my shoulders when she is in the snuggli.  Little stinker.
 Lots and lots of moments just like this.....smiling.
 Zeke, Ava and their friend waiting for their turn on the vine swing...
 Ava taking her thrill ride....
 Zeke swinging high in the woods too.
 Shep was not going to be left out of this can't tell it but they were a good 30 feet or more in the air!
 Me and Ava riding in the bed of the truck...
 More smiles from Caroline.
 Zeke again with the bow.
 Caroline got to enjoy walks in the wood too.  She got the royal treatment of being carried by daddy and Mr. Derrick.
 Ava and R.
Our family on the runway.

I prayed and asked God to refresh me on this trip.  The trip was not without difficulty.  Caroline doesn't sleep well and she had several tough nights that were hard on Shep and I.  But God did answer my prayer.  This entire trip was His gift to me.  It was like 3 days of solid sanctuary for my soul.  He led us away from our hectic lives to a place where His beautiful creation both thrilled and stilled our anxious hearts.  Only God.  He IS GOOD.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Falling IS Normal

(pic of 2006 Olympic ice skater Emily Hughes falling...even the best sometimes fall)

I mentioned in my last blog entry that we celebrated Ava's birthday at our local Ice Skating rink.

My mom had taken her once before and Ava had been bitten by the ice skating bug.  She caught on fast and loved it.  Of course she wanted to go back and let me get a taste of the fun.

Roller skating was big fun for me growing up.  But never have these feet dared to venture out onto ice wearing blades.

I was prepared to leave the ice skating rink with bruises on my rear end, elbows, and knees.  So much for being optimistic.  I was going in there fall.

We got in the rink and I immediately knew that I had under dressed for the occasion.  Next time I will wear gloves and a jacket.  (It is ice after all?!?)

  The ice skates were not as awkward and cumbersome as I imagined they would be.  I was able to walk without looking like a complete idiot.  We all looked ridiculous trying to walk on blades.  Who can possibly pull that off and still look cool?

We made our way out onto the ice and I knew immediately that I needed to stay near the wall. By near~ I mean that I wanted to be touching it at all times. Ava remembered her bravery from her past visit and ventured ahead of me.  At any moment I could reach out and steady myself and I found deep satisfaction in doing so.  After about 3 or 4 laps I began to get the feel of ice skating.  I gradually moved more than 10 inches away from the wall.  After a lap or so of staying close to the wall but not stuck to it....I graduated to the flow.  No longer was I grasping for dear life to the wall....I was now out there with other people ice skating.

It was so much fun.  I found myself smiling and ice skating at the same time.

But here was the kicker...I knew at any moment my feet could slip out from under me and I could fall.  I knew better than to have any false sense of security on this ice.  I was a newbie and newbies are gonna fall. Also everyone around me was falling or close to it.  We were all clumsy people trying to learn.  Falling was the norm.  Oh sure there were the accomplished skaters in the middle doing their turns and spins and jumps. But most of us looked unsteady at best.

I was amazed at the number of near misses that I witnessed.  People just like me would come barreling out of nowhere, flying at high speeds, their hands stretched out willing the wall to come to them.  Then BOOM~ down they would go.

All of us~ even the one down on the ice~ would grin or laugh.  We were all in this together.  Next time it could be me.  

Someone with steadier feet would reach down and give them a hand and help them up. 

As I flowed with the others skaters I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me.  It was odd timing....but He always has something to say if our spiritual ears are listening.

He simply said to my heart, "Look around this rink.  What do you see?"  

I just looked.  I let my eyes linger on people for a few laps.

Then I realized what it was....everyone here either fell down or was afraid they were going to.  So grace and space were given and offered by everyone in the place.

In spite of everyone's fear of falling the atmosphere was fun and light.  No one got angry with the newbies. No one made fun of anyone else.  There was equal respect on that ice.  Even the advanced folks remembered their newbie days.

The ice was our common denominator.  We were all on it.  We were all trying our best to stay upright.  We all were a quick slip from falling and busting our tails.

Then the Holy Spirit nudged again, "This is the way church should be.  Grace and space.  Everyone on equal footing....a slip away from falling."

Sometimes I am so saddened by the way we act at church.  We act like falling isn't a normal part of living.  It is.  We aren't supposed to cover it up.  We aren't supposed to stay on the ground.  We are supposed to take the hand of help offered to us and get on with it.  There are spins and jumps and turns to learn but getting there will be a journey of falls and bruises.  No one should be surprised or embarrassed to fall.

There was such freedom in that Ice Forum.

I loved it.

Falling was normal.  But getting up was too.

I pray that my own church would be a place of this kind of freedom.  Newbies, intermediates, and advanced skaters all giving each other grace and space to live and be what God is calling them to be.  When someone falls~ offer them a hand of help up on their feet again.  Their pace won't be the same as your own.  But smile as your go by....because your next turn could be the moment you slip and fall too.  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.