Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the Love of Flying

Strong hands grasp Maisy around the waist. Giggles burst forth as soon as my husband has lifted her as high as his knee. For a baby, that's flying.

Liam leaps from the sofa into my arms, laughing all the way.  For a small boy, that's as close to flying as Mommy allows in the living room.

We push the bicycle back to the beginning and Nathanael pumps the pedals.  He is confident that I will not let go until he is ready.  Frustration has begun to build, but trust makes him try again. I believe he can do it. He is not so sure. My steadying fingers let go and I yell, "You're doing it! You're doing it! Keep pedaling!" Face flushed pink with effort, he is breathing hard as he hugs tight. "It's like flying! Oh, wow. It's so great!" he marvels.

Little Hannah tightens her death grip on me as she cuddles closer on my lap. Soaring upward on our first ever jet, our hearts beat hard. Her head pops up with eyes widened in wonder. Why are the clouds below us?  I smile at her and laugh. We are flying.

Mark takes a deep breath. He is nervous, afraid. On the edge of his courage, determined, he jumps into the sunshine and pops open the parachute.  Laughing with joyful wonder he bursts into prayers of praise.  He is flying.

"Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away. Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I'll fly away!"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Yoda Lessons

Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.
Photo by Niall Kennedy

I want to write a book. On my walks, in my heart, I am romancing the idea, settling into the dream.  I sense that it is a good dream, a worthwhile dream.  Fears and doubts fade to the background as my vision scopes wider and my "can-do" spirit builds momentum.  I am a beginner with a new dream.

My piano students are preparing for a recital.  The weight of performance weighs heavy on six year old Alex. I tell him what he can expect to see, to hear, to feel. I promise him once again that the only student I cannot teach to play piano is the one who quits. Some parts of achieving a dream are easy. Some are difficult. Difficult does not mean bad, I reassure him, but he is afraid.  He is a beginner with a new dream.

"But I am afraid!" he continues to argue.

I slide him away from his fear and onto my lap. "I know you are afraid. Everyone is afraid sometimes. You are ready to play your songs. You worked hard and now it is a time to be brave. Fear leads to the dark side, young Jedi. It is a time to fight the fear and make your dream come true. You can do this big important thing, Alex."

He pulls in a deep breath and straightens his back. He moves back to the keyboard. "I will be a brave young warrior," he tells me with a confident grin.  "I am a Jedi. The Force will be with me."

Even Yoda was a beginner once upon a time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maisy and Me

Mary Cassatt
"Maisy snuggled her newborn cheek against mine. Soft eyelashes fluttered as she was lulled into sleep by  tender voices. Tiny fingers wrapped around my thumb as if that was all she needed to securely ground her soul in peace. She squeezed my thumb tighter, pulsing in time with the rhythmic slurp of fist sucking.  Sure of my love, she slept in complete trust, no worries to mar her contentment."

Months have passed since I wrote that paragraph in my journal. Maisy still snuggles her cheek against mine. Soft eyelashes still flutter as she is lulled into sleep by tender voices. Tiny fingers wrap around my thumb...and then a little head pops up, eyes widen with disappointment and her head shakes off sleep. Strong little legs begin to bounce and eager-to-play-not-snuggle arms push me away to reach for my husband.

Usually I walk by faith not sight. I am lulled into peace by singing and moments of stillness in the presence of my heavenly Father. Complete trust softens my heart, no worries mar my contentment. I rest knowing I am loved. My soul is securely grounded in peace.

Then disappointment comes and I push Father away. I escape into play, avoiding His presence. Do I leave the loving Father to search out a better option? Is my way really the best way?

Like a child who has put off rest for too long, I discover my energy is spent, nothing else satisfies. I grumble, complain, succumb to tears of frustration and crash. Then I hear Him singing over me, quieting me with His love, wooing me back to His presence where He faithfully waits to give me exactly what I need.

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child I am content. ~Psalm 131:2

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elevator Going UP

The elevator door closed and the man looked at Roy. "How far up are you going?" 

"All the way up," Roy replied, grasping the opportunity for conversation with a stranger. "All the way up and straight into heaven." 

Though Roy shared his evangelism story with me decades ago and today is indeed all the way up and into heaven, his example continues to provide encouragement, prodding me on to love and good works in every elevator I enter.  

"Are you going down?" the man asked me as the elevator door closed. 

I nodded. "On this elevator I am going down to the hospital lobby.  In my life, I'm going up. All the way up and straight into heaven."

"How do you know?" he asked, rubbing a feeble trembling hand over his scruffy beard. His dirty wrinkled clothes and posture spoke volumes of his fatigue, loss and discouragement. He couldn't accept my invitation to breakfast, but we did have a chance for encouragement and a short visit.

This morning I saw that man in my neighborhood and asked him about his life and his struggles with addiction. He remembered me, but more importantly he remembered my assurances that God is real, the Bible is true and Jesus is alive.  

He took a long drink of coffee and chuckled.  "You told me the elevator of life keeps going up as well as down and I can change my direction at any time. You told me I didn't need to ride it all the way until I hit bottom. It was a kindness to an old drunk."

Then he laughed out loud and strong. "And I ain't just an old drunk any more. And I speak up about where I'm headed every time I'm on an elevator. Now, girl. Do YOU have time for breakfast?"

Best slice of toast I ever had. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Watching Life Happen

Spring invites and invokes curious pondering. My basket of research books and journals beside me on the patio are being ignored.  The robins searching for worms when I left on my walk are now building nests. A rabbit is bravely exploring my newly planted grass seeds wondering where the garden patch went this year. Are those zinnia seedlings growing so fast I can catch them at it if I sit and watch?

Living in an atmosphere of children draws me continually to nature.  Why is it called a robin?  Did you really find a snake skin?  Will you blow dandelions with me?  Can we plant something?  Did you know this is the biggest flower in the garden? Come, look at this spider I found!

Hot lazy summer days all too soon push spring behind us. I am allowed this moment to view the Creator as He brings to life a new season of bold color and passionate wonder.  Am I growing like a weed, Father?  Do you see new fruit ready to blossom in my life? Am I like a tree planted near the water?

Meditating on Him quite readily invites and invokes prayer, changing not only my day, but changing my life. And it is a fine day in spring when I pause long enough to watch it happen.

"No learning can make up for the failure to pray.  No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack. ~E.M. Bounds

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vanilla Coffee, Muffins and Sunshine

I awoke with fresh joy eager to jump into my first Monday after spring break.  Birdsong floated in on the morning breeze. Robins hopped about in the freshly mowed grass seeking juicy worms. I stepped out into the sunrise and smiled at the cheery lilac bush full of sweetness and morning dew.  Walking through my neighborhood, I visited with the children awaiting the school bus, laughing and bubbling over with happiness.

"The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want,"  I thought, then quickly restated the verse.  "The Lord is my Shepherd.  I do not want."  New insights, new thoughts, new hopes and dreams...Oh, that every day could start with such delight!

It doesn't last, though, does it? How quickly disappointments can dampen good spirits!  Happiness turns to sadness in an instant.  I am fragile and vulnerable, weak and stressed. Writing was not going well and my cheerful mood began to fade.  Oh, sure, in my weakness He is made strong.  I knew God loves me and cares about everything concerning me. But, my joy had drifted behind a dark cloud and I needed encouragement.

My spiritual daughter, Lindsey, popped over before class to share vanilla coffee and muffins with me.  A simple coffee break brought sunshine from behind the clouds. It wasn't something she said that fed my spirit, though because she knows me, she was able to help me solve the writing block. What set my feet back on solid ground and changed my world was simply being reminded that she is walking alongside.