A Miniature Clay Pot


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Leaky Balloons and Motivation

I spent the last 3 hours of my weekend grading and filing math papers. Not because I HAD to, not because I was ASKED to.  And certainly not because I get paid enough to rationalize extra work on the weekends. (I don’t.)

No, I did it because I adore the teacher I work with and wanted her to be able to spend time with her young daughters over the weekend without taking home a bunch of papers.  She does that far too often and a few weeks ago she had tears in her eyes as she recanted her struggles to balance work and family life. She’s a phenomenal teacher, the best of the best, and I consider it a privilege to work alongside her.  So I will help when I can.

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 “Hey, wanna keep the kids this afternoon while we run an errand?”  My son-in-law asked on Sunday. I didn’t tell him I had my afternoon mapped out, that I had tons of math papers to correct; instead I rearranged my day because I love my children and because grandkids are the best thing. Ever. It is a gift to spend time with them.

 I was tired last night. And I am the world’s worst texter.  But four of my five “out of the house” kids had texted me and two had actually sent me pictures. Naturally I spent some time responding to each of them before going to bed. ‘Cause my children will always be a priority in my life, the most important of relationships.

Do you see a connection here?  The joy behind the things we do is directly related to the motivation behind what we do…and the motivation is directly related to the relationships involved.

Maybe, like me, you are struggling with something you need to do.  And maybe, like me, instead of forcing the thing that needs to be done, the thing we think we ought to be doing, you need to get back to the  very heart of it all: the relationship.

The relationship with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.

The relationship with our Redeemer and Sustainer.

The relationship with the One who created us for Him; who loves us unconditionally.

Yeah, I’ve been struggling a bit with that too.

But truth is, when that relationship isn’t at the heart of all I do, the joy sort of leaks out; I become like a balloon with a hole, swooshing aimlessly, out of control, until it lands in a random spot; just a stretched out piece of latex.

Kinda how I’ve been feeling lately. (Just being real.)

So as I seek once again to simply delight in Christ Himself, wanna pray for me?  And I’ll pray for you. Then, whatever we find ourselves doing, we can do those things with all of our hearts; not concerned with what others think but rather what God has called us to.

Then, instead of gotta-be-dones, they will be passionate, delight-filled, get-to-dos.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, for the Lord rather than men. Colossians 3:23

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a :)

 


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Linking Elbows and Sharing Burdens: Blessings from a Messy Spill

52 blocks.

52 street blocks.

That is how far Laura Flynn and her young friend had to walk home one afternoon. And it was during those 52 blocks, Laura writes in her memoir Swallow the Ocean, that she finally shared with someone the reality of her mother’s mental illness, a secret shame that had been carefully guarded and carried alone. Flynn writes:

Lisa listened. She was only ten years old. It must have been quite an earful. But she didn’t judge and she didn’t seem shocked. At least she didn’t show it. We linked arms at the elbow and walked the rest of the way in tandem. We parted ways on 24th Avenue…my feet hurt from the hard concrete…and I worried.

But I felt light as I walked, lighter than I had felt in a long time.

 I get it, Laura. I get it.

In the midst of my own season, I have recently linked arms, joined elbows, shared confidences, and felt the ensuing lightness.

It started out quite by accident. I sort of leaked all over an innocent bystander, a virtual stranger. Okay, maybe it was less a leak and more of a messy spill, like coffee staining a favorite shirt. And though I was later mortified, saddened, that I had shared something so heavy, ruining a potential friendship, I also felt the lightness in releasing.

Yes,  despite the mortification, I felt a little better. Which got me thinking. And searching.

I realized that Scripture tells us to share with others. For a reason.

 Oh, I  needed to be a little wiser, a little more discerning – but I bravely shared again with two more friends –  one male (yes, my husband knows), one female, one “in the neighborhood,” one oceans away, one face to face, the other through written communication. The two have little in common except they have both been bloodied in battle themselves and have emerged with shields held high, faith intact, joy their signet rings. And they have both shared their own stories with me, opened their own hearts.They will both speak truth to me. They will link elbows and journey with me and cover me in prayer.

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 I shared purposefully this time, because it IS a biblical thing to do.  Galatians 6:2 tells us this:

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

 What is the law of Christ?  Loving God and loving others. (Matthew 22:36-40)

It feels like a weakness sometimes, to even acknowledge we have burdens – physical, spiritual or emotional heaviness – much less ask someone else to help shoulder them.  It seems as though sharing with God should be enough.  Pride says “I can do it on my own.”

But we weren’t created to be solitary creatures; we are created for relationship with God and with others.  Sometimes we get to be the burden carriers.

And sometimes we need to give that role to someone else.

Even Moses – great man of faith that he was – grew weary in battle and needed someone to help him for a season as he supported others in their fight against the Amalekites:

And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people…Exodus 17:11-13

I love supporting others in their struggles, lightening their loads a bit,  but I need to remember that it’s okay to get some support myself.

I am ever so grateful for those who are holding my arms up right now.

How about you? Are you growing weary, are your arms aching, your feet bruised, your back hunched over?  Are you struggling with your faith?

Find yourself an Aaron and a Hur.

Grateful for this wonderful(ly messy)  life,

Marie with a :)


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Feeling Confined? Lepidoptera’s Song of Freedom (Lessons from the Grandson :) )

Sometimes I’ll crumple a piece of paper or mail, and ask him to go throw it in the garbage just so I can watch him strut on over to the trash can. He walks with the same reckless abandon, the same unbridled, full-speed-ahead manner in which he does everything else. His chubby little legs move so fast, and with such purpose that I can’t help but laugh out loud and squeal with grandma delight.  I love everything about my grandson, but his walk? It is the cutest thing. Ever.

As he begins his exciting adventure of true mobility, I’m reminded of some important truths.

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It was one of those gorgeous Colorado evenings, the sun coloring everything an inky shade of romantic as it began its final bow before the credits rolled across the night. The HH and I decided to take Mason for a walk before the nighttime bath ritual that accompanies his sleepovers.  The HH buckled him into the stroller and pushed him down the uneven sidewalks along our house. Mason kept up a nonsensical chatter, replete with inflections indicating questions and exclamations. It wasn’t long, however, before he grew restless.

He’d recently discovered that attached to his very own chunky little body was a personal mode of transportation. The boy had discovered how to walk and he was no longer satisfied to be a passenger. As soon as we reached a quiet street, the HH unbuckled him, lifted him up and set him on the pavement. The boy was off!  Heading straight for a rose-bush.  I managed to plant myself between him and the lovely red flowers. He tried to get around me but I wasn’t giving in so he turned around and headed in the opposite direction. The street.

And although it was a quiet street, currently with little more noise than the rustling of tree leaves, the HH and I knew that sometimes cars with teenagers who fancy themselves invincible, come flying down the road. So grandpa quickly blocked the way with the stroller.

Our grandson is a bit strong-willed. (I’m fairly certain that comes from his maternal grandfather’s side…) He wasn’t about to give up. He tried tirelessly to get around the HH, to get around me, but when he discovered he was fighting a losing battle, he headed straight down the sidewalk. There were a number of times when he likely thought we’d forgotten, or that he would be faster than his grandparents, and he would again try to veer off the path only to find himself once again thwarted. He made it vocally known he wasn’t happy.

We know the boy was created to explore this world. We let him stop and pick up roly-polies and other crawlers between his chubby little fingers; we let him  grab sticks and rocks and dirt. We even let him try tasting some of his findings. (Sorry, Alyssa…) We let him go as far to the edge as was safe and then corralled him back in.

Because we love him.

And it is our job to keep him safe.

And because he isn’t quite ready to be free, we hedge him in, prevent him from going where he wants to go.

He didn’t understand that, and sometimes he got downright mad at us, plopping himself down and refusing to budge. So I’d pick him up, swing him around until he squealed and set him back down. And we’d continue on until he once again found himself boxed in by his two grandparents.

Do you ever feel hedged in? Stuck? Thwarted?  Maybe it is within a career field or a place or a relationship or a disability?  And you long to be free to go your own way; you sometimes want to kick and scream or plop yourself down, refusing to budge until you get your way?

Maybe, just maybe, Mason has a lesson for us here, a lesson about God’s great love and protection.

I know I’ve been here before, curled within the dark confines of a chrysalis, stuck in the in-between, longing for the freedom of a butterfly’s wings.

And I learned.

I learned that if I wait patiently for God’s perfect timing and don’t give in to my own impatient breaking free, breaking away

that I will

I will

I will soon be singing the lepidoptera’s song of freedom.

Soaring.

Free indeed.

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The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 NASB

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles (or butterflies :) ) they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31 NASB

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a :)