Friday, July 9, 2010

Humility of Helplessness

Since Sunday, Isaac has been lying in the same recliner, with the same fever, and the same fits of coughing which redden his face and leave him fighting to catch a breath.  
I feel helpless to help him. 
He reads the expression on my face...I read the expression on his. 
He feels helpless too.  

Crying and scared, the girls call out to me from their beds.  Through sounds of whimpering and sniffing they share, "We can't sleep, Mommy.  We are so afraid."  Patting their heads, I say a quick prayer and tell them that God is with them every moment; therefore, they don't need to be afraid.   "But, we keep having scary thoughts that won't go away."  
I feel helpless to help them.
"What if we have bad dreams after we fall asleep?" 
They feel helpless too.

Eyes red with fatigue and body sore with exhaustion, David exhales. I snuggle up next to him and wrap my arms around his chest. "It's just been a crazy, busy week.  Sometimes it just seems impossible to get everything at work done on time."   
I feel helpless to help him.
He kisses me softly on the forehead, sighing again. 
He feels helpless too.

I pause, my head tucked neatly in my hands...thoughts aimlessly spinning and racing through my mind.  Then, like a gentle rain, giving refreshment to the wilted flowers, I feel HIS words raining down upon me, giving refreshment and nourishment to my soul.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I slowly walk into the room where Isaac lies sleeping peacefully, free of coughing fits and gasping for air for a time.  Feeling his forehead, I whisper softly,  

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, Isaac.  
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

I make my way to the girls room.  Their pillows still damp with remnants of tears, their bodies curled up in little, tight balls; I cover them.  Softly, I whisper, 

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, girls.  
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

"I crawl into bed and turn towards David.  In the quietness of the room, I hear him breathing deeply, another days work has passed.  Another days problems have passed too. Reaching out, I gently touch his hand and whisper softly, 

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, David. 
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

I roll over, close my eyes, and meditate on HIS words once more....  
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
One last thought comes to mind... 
Thank you, LORD, for my helplessness!

"Only in the humility of helplessness will we discover the sufficiency of His presence." Charles Stanley

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Failure

We experienced a joyous moment in our home yesterday.  Several weeks ago, Eliana noticed her tooth was slightly loose.  Finally, after weeks and weeks of wiggling the tooth, it was loose enough to be pulled.  I gingerly tied a string to it, and with a quick snap of my wrist, out it flew.  Simple!

Before bed, Eliana sat inspecting her tooth for quite awhile, then gently tucked it underneath of her pillow, hoping that by morning her tooth would be replaced with a wonderful surprise...a one dollar bill!  After praying, I kissed her upon her forehead and watched as her hand slid up underneath of her pillow to touch the tooth one last time before she drifted off to sleep. 

When Ellie woke up this morning, she ran into the room where I stood, "The tooth fairy forgot to come last night,"  she disappointingly said, as she held up the baggie containing her tooth for me to see.   I felt terrible!

The truth is, my children have a horrible tooth fairy!  I have thought many times that she should probably be fired.  Here is a partial list of how the tooth fairy at our house has failed miserably at her job over the last several years:

    1.   Often times she doesn't show up...too busy with other things I guess.

    2.   When she does show up, she makes such a racket that the children are roused to a semi-state of wakefulness, opening their eyes to look around as the tooth fairy tries to become statuesque in the dark so as not to be noticed. 

    3.   A few times, she has even carelessly left the retrieved tooth lying upon the kitchen table, only to be found eventually by the children. 

    4.   She often times has no money and has to "borrow" a buck from one of the children until pay day. 

    5.   The tooth fairy is not always able to find the tooth, so she just leaves it there, along with the one dollar bill.  (Imagine Isaac's confusion and surprise at finding both the tooth and the one dollar bill under his pillow.)

Yep!  I think if I were my children, I would fire that awful tooth fairy!  She may be great at other things, but obviously collecting teeth is not one of them.  

I apologized to Ellie for the tooth fairies negligence, hugged her, handed her fifty cents (which is all I could find), and reminded her of how much I love her.  Ellie paused for a moment and then with words overflowing with grace she said, "It's okay that YOU forgot mommy.  I know you love me.  And, this just means that I get to look at my tooth a little longer.  Everybody forgets things."  

Even as I rewrite her words, tears begin to well up in my eyes.  I am reminded of all of the times that I have been harsh with my children when they haven't performed to my standards, or when they are slow to understand what I am asking of them.  And, yet Ellie's response was so different than mine.  She was so quick to forgive, so quick to overlook my faults, and so quick to bring encouragement instead of criticism.  

I am certain that God was smiling down upon Ellie as she responded so graciously to the forgetful tooth fairy.  After all, Ellie's response reflected the very heart of God towards us, HIS children.  Psalm 145:8-9 gives us a small glimpse of the gracious heart which God has towards us.  It brings me so much encouragement to read it...
"The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works." 
I am thankful that Ellie was so gracious towards the forgetful, unreliable tooth fairy; but most of all, I am so thankful for God's amazing grace towards me as HIS child.  To end, I would love to share a quote from Charles Spurgeon about the amazing grace of God.  I pray it will forever resonate within my heart, and within yours as well. 
"The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bright, Green, Mysteriously Floating Balloon

Avidan's eyes lit up as the man handed him the bright, green balloon, followed by the smile.  He lifted his head back to look up at the green balloon which was brushing effortlessly across the ceiling.  A look of amazement followed on Avi's face, "How is it possible that the balloon is staying up there and not falling back to the ground?"  I could almost hear him thinking it.  Even at his young age, he knew that something extraordinary was happening

Never turning his gaze and attention away from the bright, green balloon, Avidan gave a quick tug to the balloon's string.  Immediately the balloon responded, darting towards him, but only for a moment, when at last it gently floated back up, nestling itself safely against the ceiling.  Avidan's face, still reacting in amazement and awe.
"Isn't that neat, Buddy?  The balloon floats doesn't it?"  He glanced at me for a moment, shook his head with eager agreement, and then quickly turned his attention back to the bright, green balloon still swishing back and forth against the ceiling.  With that, Avi again tugged at the balloon string to watch the bright, green balloon travel up and down in the space between himself and the ceiling.  

This went on for about an hour, over and over the same sequence of events.  Avidan,  tugging on the balloon string to force the bright, green balloon to dart towards him as he yanked, and watching the balloon as it made it's journey back up to touch the ceiling.  Every time, with a sweet look of amazement and awe written in his big, round eyes, raised eyebrows, and the sweet countenance of his wide-mouthed smile.

Later that evening, after tucking Avi into bed for the night, I walked over to the bright, green balloon.  Following Avi's example, I grabbed tightly to the string dangling beneath it.  I then gave the balloon's string a quick, but firm tug, watched the balloon dart towards me for a moment, and then, watched as the bright, green balloon gently floated up to nestle itself safely against the ceiling.

I couldn't help but smile as I tilted my head back to look at the bright, green balloon.  And, I couldn't help but whisper...
"Lord, help me to forever remain amazed and in awe
of YOU,
just as my sweet child has in this
bright, green, mysteriously floating balloon." 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Let Go of the Reigns

As the horse keeper worked, saddling up the horses, attaching the bridles, and securing a bit into each horses mouth, he occasionally blurted out a short series of instructions to us.  "Stay on the path at all times."   His words seemed stern and cold.  "Keep a safe distance between your horse and the one in front of you."  But yet, his words carried with them a fatherly gentleness that was difficult to understand at the time.

After waiting anxiously for him to complete the task of preparing the horses to be ridden, the horse keeper helped me to mount up onto the horse that had been chosen for me.  Looking me squarely in the eyes as he handed me the reigns, the keeper said, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!"

Giving me a quick nod with his hat, he moved on to help my brother, Tom,  mount upon the horse he would be riding.  After getting my brother properly positioned into his saddle,  the keeper once again echoed the words, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!" 

The horse keeper methodically continued down the line, helping each person waiting to mount upon a horse, always ending with the same stern phrase, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!"

Walking to the front of the line, the horse keeper mounted his own horse, turned to look at us one last time, and then gave a quick kick to the horses side, signaling to the horse that it was time to move.  In succession, each of the other riders did the same, until the horses were each moving steadily behind the horse in front of it.

Tom was directly in front of me, and I could see that his horse had a bit of a stubborn streak.  Coupled with my brother's young age and lack of maturity and experience in horseback riding, the difficult to manage horse was proving to be quite a handful for Tom.  Each time the horse tried to veer off of the path, he would simply try to "shout" it into submission.  However, his shouts were falling onto deaf ears, because the horse didn't seem to notice or care what Tom was shouting.  The horse just continued to do whatever it pleased, relishing in the new found freedom being granted by my poor, helpless, inexperienced brother.

I am not really sure what happened next.  I don't know if Tom just lost his concentration for a moment, or if the quick movement of the horse thrusting it's head down to eat some grass alongside the path was responsible, but the reigns dropped down off of the horses neck, falling near the mouth of the horse.  My brother frantically tried to bend over to reach the reigns, but they were simply out reach of his short, childlike arms.  As the horse started to move slowly to a new section of grass to eat, the reigns which should have been securely in my brother's hands, became caught under one of the horses hooves.  Without any warning, the horse reared up onto it's back legs, gave a loud whinny, and set off fast as lightening with my brother holding on for dear life.  Tom was crying out for help while trying to hold onto the mane of the horse to keep from falling off.

It only took the horse keeper a few seconds to recognize the commotion that was taking place behind him.  He darted over, jumped off of his horse, and lunged at the flinging reigns.  Immediately, after the reigns were securely in the keeper's hand, the horse quieted and seemed unafraid.  He simply thrust his head back down to resume his eating as if nothing had ever happened. 

The horse keeper looked at Tom, still sitting on top of  his horse, obviously shaken by the events that had just occurred, and sternly said to him, "I thought I told you that whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns."

But in the words that followed, the sternness was replaced by a fatherly gentleness, "You could have been killed.  I am so glad you are alright."

As I think back upon that day, watching my brother struggling to grab hold of the reigns of that wild horse, I am freshly reminded of God's care for us as His children and our daily need for Him.  

It was horrifying as a child to watch my brother clinging to that wild horse, starring at the reigns dangling on the ground beneath the horses hooves.  I wish he would have listened, would have clung tightly to them.  The horse keeper's words brought protection, wisdom, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!" 

I am encouraged...
                           I am stirred...
                                               I am committed...
"Whatever I do, I will not let go of the reigns."