Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Love

Here is part 2, or the sequel to the last post a bit late. I really thought I had published it this morning early. But here goes anyway.
The timing of this moment in Bill's life struck me in light of Father's Day.
The other phrase of scripture that came to him in that moment as he stood against a short wall among the bleachers in the noisy arena, cradling his tired little grandson, was this:
"...happy is the man that has a quiver full of them"
The full version is found in Psalm 127:4-5: "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate".
That's quite a picture painted here and I do not claim to understand it all but it does leave an impression in my heart. Our children and grandchildren are more than just a blessing although Bill would be content with that. Quite content. When he was young, he decided that while children would disrupt his life, if he didn't have them, he would regret it. Now, 35 years later, I see how true that was. 

In any arena of life, be it sports, the field of battle or the simple routine of daily responsibility, a key ingredient of victory, overcoming, is adequate motivation. 
How do we get it? Pep talks? While I would never underestimate the impact of the spoken word, I know it is the substance behind it that gives it power. For good or ill. 

In my life, and I feel backed up by scripture in saying this, the greatest motivator has always been -and always will be- Love. I remember well the love birthed in me for each of my children. It gave me selfless courage, strength and endurance I had never had or felt before. In Bill it awakened a desire to build a life, to protect us, to care for us. 
Talk about motivation. Talk about something to keep you going beyond your ability, about dedication, persistence, devotion. I'm not talking about perfection, I'm talking about motivation. Love is amazing. 
Our children are our riches. When life closes in on us, we can lift them up before our eyes and somehow accusations against our soul wither because of them. Who they are, their very presence in our life is encouragement itself. I'm still not talking about perfection but about family love, devotion, belonging. I'm talking about that quiver full. Deep gratitude for the opportunity and deep satisfaction for having done it, not perfectly, but with all our hearts. 
Happy Father's Day. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Children's Children

My husband had a moment of understanding recently as we celebrated our son-in-law's Graduation Ceremony (an MBA in Technology no less). 

The graduation took place in a sports arena. Bill (that's my husband) spent most of the time standing in the background, holding our tired little grandon while our daughter tried to film the event. It wasn't until the long drive home that he shared it with me. 

It had started with fragments of two scriptures, here's the first one:

"Children's children are the crown of old men..." Proverbs 17:6

The birth of his own girls turned his life and heart upside down (I know I was there) but he was busy, we both were, first with twins and his studies, then adding our third little girl, a budding career, more College, life, marriage, family, budgets, everything. We knew we were crazy about them but, being "it" for them, we were consumed with their well-being, our own delight was rarely a focus. That's how I explain the difference between being a parent and a grandparent. 

But as my mom often points out, he WAS a puddle for his own girls. Still is. What he didn't expect however is that he would also, and perhaps even more so, be a puddle for his grandchildren. Well, he is. 

So as he was standing in the crowded arena, alone with the tired little tyke draped over his left shoulder, cheek to cheek, he shed a few gentle tears of gratitude (did I say puddle?) and he wondered about all these feelings (he's an engineer and generally leaves feelings to me). Then those two scriptures (the second one will be part 2) slipped into his heart. He understood in a moment why, here's what he said: 

...grandchildren represent the future and their very presence in his life says, in effect: "you might not have been the primary care taker" (he was second mate to "moi" in our traditional stay-at-work-dad and stay-at-home-mom household) "but you did start this thing and worked your whole life, denying yourself to make a place for me so I can grow and be a part; I am your crown, I am here as a tribute to your love, your constancy and your enduring devotion." 

Somewhere they must know it, because they adore him. 

Happy future and happy Father's Day.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Speaking of obstacles. Speaking of trials.

What about loneliness? This humble little problem can have devastating consequences and for good reason:  we are made for relationship, I am convinced of it. In fact it is written in the beginning of Genesis that God said: "it is not good for man to dwell alone..." 

When I am gripped by loneliness I have learned to take stock. That is actually a little bit relational because that's when I talk to myself (after all God is in relationship with Himself and aren't we made in His image?). 

First of all I have learned that I tend to feel lonely when I long for something or someone. At times I long for something entirely unreal, seriously, I have been lonely when finishing a good book! The first time I ever read through Genesis I actually missed all those folks in there (can you believe it?) but then realized with joy I could read it as often as I liked! 

So rather than focus on what I miss, I take stock of what it is my life. One other person is a treasure. Most of us know more than one person. There are many levels of relationship ranging from the store clerk to our nearest and dearest. I have learned to value them all.

Secondly moments of loneliness, like suspended animation, have a timeless quality to them and tend to bring me face to face with the eternal. (By the way did you know that in the French Bible the Lord is called the Eternal?) Such alone moments have a way of causing the roots of my faith to sink deeper in dependance on Him (because I can't figure out very much about life and even less about the future so I have to trust Him); that in turn tends to sift out any over-dependance on the opinions of others (you know, those others I needed so much a bit earlier, love that paradox). 

So I think of those lonely moments as an oil change: a bit unsettling but periodically needed, ultimately healthy and very restful.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Now what?

Am happy to report that my recovery from pneumonia is just about complete (NB: it really does take 4 to 6 weeks as the doctor said). Back into the swing of things somewhat and yep, life has its challenges alright. In my invalid seclusion, I had almost forgotten. So here's this about that.

Since Jesus has overcome the world and since He knows full well what's wrong with us and our world (if He had to overcome it, there was something wrong) and since He told us that in the world we would have tribulation (not 'might have' but 'would have') then WHAT IS THE POINT HERE? Are we just destined for trouble? 

No actually, I believe we're destined to overcome trouble. 

Picture a vessel battered in a stormy sea but rising up over the waves as opposed to being overturned and shipwrecked. 

Without any contradiction, I will tell you that I often feel overcome by my circumstance (and the emotions they incite). But then I know, I know that my Redeemer liveth and I just wait in the dark, seeking His face for relationship, not just his hand for help and somehow, in that time, in that darkness, something invariably happens, a word spoken to my heart here, a change in the circumstance there, a scripture illuminated or a meaningful contact with a friend and my vessel, my circumstance, comes bursting out once again in the light of day. 

It is in the trial my friendships are deepened. By taking a risk and sharing my burden with another, I often find a stronger bond emerging. I've come to believe that is the meaning of Proverb 17:17: ..."a brother is born for adversity."  

Trials are often beyond our ability to control and some never lift. For those we have been given His Grace, which, He says, is sufficient for us. His Grace somehow helps us to carry on in the midst of the trouble. That is why to me, overcoming means not letting the problem at hand undermine my trust in God, my faith. My emotions and thoughts have often failed me but God never has and I know from His Word, He never will. I can still say that after 30 years of knowing Him. 

I know when one challenge is met, another will sooner or later takes its place but that does not depress me. Why not? Well, first of all I accept the imperfection of life on earth. Secondly, I have seen how much relationships can grow through the difficulties, I count family and friends as treasures.

But even more importantly, from what I have seen, it is when the hour is darkest that the Lord's love is sweetest, His Presence is most precious and meaningful. It is written that He is acquainted* with grief and that He will never leave us. That means in every trial He is there, whether we are aware of Him or not and for Him, nothing is impossible. Knowing Him better and being changed by Him is glorious prospect enough.

(*Isaiah 53:3)