Monday, April 25, 2016

Observations of a Two Year Old

It was an exhausting, exhilarating, energizing and draining time…all in one experience.  Recently I spent time on the west coast with my son, daughter-in-law/love and their two wonderful boys.  Kerry was off to a conference and I was there to help David hold down the fort.

As always, what a treat!  Henry (age six) went off to kindergarten each day leaving Gus and Nana to fend for ourselves until later in the afternoon.  How is it possible to love every moment of Gus’ shrieks, drools, climbing skills and constant movement all the while checking my watch anticipating afternoon nap time?!

We took walks to our favorite coffee store, thus being present when the “choo-choo” (city train system) went by.  Their yard held many adventures with the sandbox and water spigot.  Lunch time was fun as Gus enjoyed his tactile experience with food!

It was a treat when Henry came home each afternoon, both to enjoy him after a day long absence as well as having Gus’ brother/buddy available to play.

Watching Gus operate in his small world was a lesson in life.  Gus (turned two within days after my departure) is at the point in his development where he wants to test everything, especially the “rules”. 

One day he was handling some wires and cords that were attached to electronic devices; when I turned to look at him he had that look that said, “I know this is not allowed but…” (insert adorable grin here).  Very predictably, as I shook my head and said “no”, the grin got bigger and the hand continued to reach. (He is incredibly cute when he does that!)  We played that game for a short time until I put everything out of reach and diverted his attention.

Because Gus is only two, his actions are very transparent.  He has not yet learned to be subversive or manipulative; he is pretty “out there” with making his personal needs known!

Are we so different from Gus?  Does being an adult automatically keep us within the rules? NOT! We just get better at making our rebellion look acceptable or presentable. 

In Genesis 8:21 God says the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.  What happened to the “man is basically good” myth?  I do believe we can look around our world and observe the truth of Genesis 8:21.

So where does that leave me…or you…if we desire to live within God’s boundaries?  First, we must become true believers and accept Jesus as our Lord.  When we make Jesus Lord of our lives, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and teaches, convicts, leads and instructs us.  He illuminates Biblical truths so we can begin the life-long journey of pursuing knowledge and wisdom from God’s Word.

As we study, we then apply the truths to our lives and live out our faith in community with other believers.  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.” That’s a promise we can claim!  We can face those times of temptation, when sin is so very desirable.  We are given the power to live in freedom from the sin that binds.

Yes, I learned much from watching my adorable grandson.  His little boy cuteness as he tested those boundaries tested my ability to keep a straight face! He was so transparent!  On a deeper level, that experience beautifully reminded me of MY need to stay connected to God EVERY DAY!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Whatever It Takes

According to my mother,  the Swedish blood coursing through my veins, provided me with an  “I can do this!” attitude.  I prefer to believe it was an attribute God gave me to help me withstand the many challenges of life.  There was that time in college I went into my final exam with a failing grade, in a required course no less.  I hunkered down, spent an entire weekend in study mode and pulled it out of the barrel.

Throughout life there have been a whole host of opportunities to have my “stick-to-it-iv-ness” tested but my most current challenge relates to two of my grandchildren.  They live way across the country!  So, that determined attitude kicked in (thanks to my Swedish heritage?) and I decided this is one grandmother who will not be deterred from spending time with her precious family.  (By the way, I DO praise God for His provision!) Granted, it cannot be a weekly time together but I am determined it will be somewhat regular.  I have often said I would walk over hot coals to be with this family as they are so incredibly dear to me. Whatever it takes.

Today has been a test of that determination.  As I write this, I am whizzing through the “friendly skies”, at least 2000 feet above the earth, crammed into a tiny seat.  What it takes to get to my son and his family (and I have not yet arrived at my destination!) is an adventure of its own.

Because this particular trip will include another destination before heading home, I booked a slew of separate tickets. Instead of taking my familiar cross country trip (beginning at my home airport in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, through Detroit, connecting with another major airport taking me to Portland, OR) I am traveling in unfamiliar territory.  I even had to change airlines mid stream.

Get ready…here is my list of transportation modes:  car, moving sidewalks, multiple escalators, tram, airport shuttle, and 3 different airplanes.  I traveled east (even though I want to land on the west coast) from my hometown airport so I could fly coast to coast.  Early in the flight the pilot came on the intercom to describe our route which includes flying over Green Bay, WI.  Seems strange that if I had driven 2 hours from my home I could have flown out of the Green Bay airport…but that would have meant a different set of challenges. (sigh)

Crazy!  Who would ever think family love could produce such adventure?  Whatever it takes.

Of course, that got me to thinking.  God is my heavenly Father; Jesus is my Savior; I am part of the family of God because of my relationship with His Son, Jesus; I am the bride of Christ; sounds like I am part of a family even greater than my earthly family!  Do I put the same effort into spending time with my Lord and Savior?  Or because it is so easy to connect with God (through prayer, Bible study, worship, Christian fellowship), do I just take that whole relationship for granted?

Jesus longs to have a relationship with us but, just as we work hard to spend time with our loved ones, we must do the same with Jesus.  I don’t have to take multiple airplanes, shuttle, tram, etc. to enjoy time with Jesus but I do need to expend some effort to develop and nurture my friendship with Him.  I will confess, there are days when I take great comfort in knowing I am HIS, but somehow the day ends without my spending real  time with HIM.

What about being in His Word daily?  I choose to be in a group Bible study for many reasons; one important one is the accountability it provides. In the summer, when I don’t have a formal study, I must find a way to stay focused daily on His Word.

(Moving forward a couple of days), I actually did arrive…exhausted from the journey…but so excited to be greeted, first by my amazing son at the airport (a sight for sore eyes), then by Henry (age 6) as we pulled into their driveway.  Soon my very dear daughter-in-law\love came down the stairs with little Gus (almost 2) who had to make sure this was the Nana he hadn’t seen in over 3 months.  Those loving arms and squeals of delight made that long, somewhat stressful and definitely uncomfortable trip worth it.  Whatever it takes.

Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)  I certainly have literally enjoyed that rest since completing that long journey.  As for our relationship with our Creator, John 3:16 pretty much sums up how God gave His all to be in relationship with with us.

Whatever it takes!.”  I want to live that out, not only in my close earthly relationships, but most
importantly, in my relationship with Jesus.  What about you?