Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anxiety Cure

My little six year old just loves to get the mail. He plops down in front of the door, tugs his shoes on, jams his arms into his coat and then races down the driveway to retrieve whatever surprise may be lurking in the mailbox that day.

Yesterday was no exception. But as he came in the door, I could tell something was wrong.

"Mom! There's a white truck outside!"

It took me a moment to figure out why that was a significant observation. And then I remembered what had happened just a few weeks back. One street away from our house, the driver of a white truck had approached a couple of young boys and asked them to go see a new baby with him. The boys were smart, declined the offer, and told their parents. With something like that happening so close to our home, we used the opportunity to remind our children of the dangers that await them outside of our home. And since they had been outside playing at the time of this incident, we went ahead and asked if any white truck had slowed or stopped near them.

Apparently my little man latched on to the idea that white trucks are filled with bad guys. Because although the VAN parked across the street was obviously at the neighbor's for a maintenance issue, my son simply saw a white vehicle larger than a car. He told me that as soon as he noticed it, he ran the other direction (as we had instructed our kids to do if someone approaches them) and almost went straight to the backyard before realizing he should come into the house and tell me.

As I attempted to calm him down, I said in a matter-of-fact way, "It's okay. Mom is here and I'll protect you." Without missing a beat, he spouted back, "But what if they came in the house??" I told my little one that I would do anything to keep him from harm. And he said, "Even if they shoot you?"

"Yes, son. Even if it means I have to be shot to protect you."

"Oh. Okay." And off he went to play.

His mind was at rest. His anxiety gone. He had no more need to worry. Mom was willing to give her life to keep him safe. All was well with the world.

Just as my son is now free from care, I also have peace because I know that someone has protected me in just such a way. My Savior laid down his life to protect me from eternal death. Because of Him, I fear no harm.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Entrusted with Pain

I don't often read the dedication page in books. Occasionally I'll skim one as I'm flipping open the book. It rarely happens BEFORE I've started delving into the chapters. But for some reason, today I read a book dedication before starting the book.

I'm just beginning to read Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to See. Mary Beth is the wife of popular singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. This book is about the recent death of their young daugther and the struggle to find hope in the midst of pain. I think it's going to be a good book and I look forward to writing more about it once I've finished it.

However, before even getting to the main text, I've already been given food for thought. On Mary Beth's dedication page, one of the people she dedicates the book to is her son, Will Franklin. Sadly, he was the one driving the car that hit and killed his little sister. I can't imagine the pain and guilt he has had to work through since that tragic event. His mother writes these words in her first sentence of her dedication: "You have been entrusted with incredible pain".

What a strange thought. Entrusted with pain. Usually we see pain as an unwelcome visitor. Something that we avoid at all costs. Unpleasant. Undesireable. Something that often makes us question the goodness and even existence of God.

Yet, Mary Beth says her son has been entrusted with his pain. I looked up the definition of "entrust" in Websters.
entrust: 1. to confer a trust on; to deliver something in trust to. 2. to commit to another with confidence.

If I'm reading this correctly, Mary Beth believes that God has given this pain for her son to bear with confidence that he will bear it for Christ's glory.

Wow. That really puts a new perspective on pain.

Louie Giglio has a talk that he did on Hope and in it he speaks to using our pain as a megaphone. When you are in the midst of the greatest pain, your reaction serves as a megaphone. You can either shout out your depression, your angst, your denial of God, or you can shout out God's goodness and grace, his sustaining power and his providence in all things.

Mary Beth is admonishing her son to be a megaphone that loudly declares the latter.

And I can only pray that as I am entrusted with pain in this life that I will also use it as a megaphone to confidently call others to place their hope in my Rock, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ministry Week

This week has been quite different from our norm. Josh was gone at conferences for most of the week. One for three days in Minneapolis and one all day today in Milwaukee. I'm glad that he can take the time to attend these conferences. They certainly help him to stay fresh. Since he is constantly pouring out into others' lives, he needs to have the opportunity to sit and learn and be encouraged by other believers. These two conferences are ones he looks forward to all year.

With him gone, I knew that we would be hard pressed to get our normal schooling done. We could have done it, but the kids tend to get cranky when Dad is not around. And let's face it, so do I. So instead of our normal school week, we did something I've been dreaming about for quite some time.

We had "ministry week". I've been wanting to make sure that I'm instilling in my children a joy of giving and serving others. I want them to understand that when you help others, you are blessed. And I want to get them outside of themselves. It's so easy for kids to get caught up in the "me, me, me" of everyday life. We do try to teach our kids these things on a regular basis, but sometimes it's good to make some special time to really focus on those character traits you hope to instill in your children.

What does "ministry week" look like? Well it really could be anything. But for us, it was a hodgepodge of activities. We began the week by recognizing that God has given us much more than we need. We took stock of how good He has been to us and talked of how God often blesses people with much so that they can share with others. With that in mind, we went through our toys and books, household items and some clothing and chose things to give to others. And we didn't just give away the things we don't want. We chose a few items that were a little more difficult to part with so that we could really imagine the joy that someone else will have in receiving it.

Another activity was to identify four families who we thought could use a little cheer/encouragement. We all worked together to make some yummy cookies. The kids each chose one family and made a card for them. And when we delivered the cookies and cards, the child who had made the card was the one who went to the door and watched as the recipient had a little joy infused in their day. The kids LOVED doing that!

We also took some time to serve each other. The kids worked hard at helping Mom as I was still recovering from being sick and didn't have Dad around to help. Yesterday, the boys all helped to serve their sister by preparing the house for her special birthday party. As we cleaned we talked about what a gift it was for them to serve their family without complaint.

Lastly, we took time to pray for those we knew were hurting, sick, or discouraged. We thanked God for his goodness to us and asked him to also bless those we love with all they need physically, spiritually and emotionally.

It may not seem like we did a lot in a week. But when you throw in the fact that I had been sick, had no husband around, dealt with a couple of blow out diapers, had a child paint the bathroom in poop, grocery shopped, took children to doctor appointments and several activities, cooked, cleaned, welcomed a few visitors, nursed a baby, planned a party, and thoroughly enjoyed non-stressful FUN with my kids ... it was plenty. Even 5am wake up times can be sweet when you have two footie-pajama clad children to share them with.

And speaking of fun, one of the best moments with my kids was when we went for a walk on a gorgeous winter day and came home soaked. We found some really deep puddles on the way. And really, who can resist jumping in really deep puddles? I was wet up to my waist in the back! And the kids' winter boots will take a week to dry out. Let's just hope it doesn't snow any time soon.