Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jack's Woods

It is a fine autumn day for a walk in the woods. I take our 14-year-old yellow lab, chow mix for a wander on a path through a preserve across the street. Because of the very thick carpet of leaves, the path is barely discernible. However Jack, the dog leads me on unperturbed. He knows the way having walked it many times with his master, my husband. Although I cannot see the path Jack has no trouble walking around the big circular loop, leading the way. It speaks to me about our spiritual path. How if we spend time with our master, and stay in the path, we will know the way. Jack is going blind and can not hear very well, and lately he has had some trouble walking due to a stroke. But this does not phase him on our walk. He is happy to be out in God's creation and trucks along in front of me. In fact, as I pause to take a picture and admire the beautiful leaves and branches against the deep blue sky, he pulls on the leash wondering what is taking me so long. Why don't I follow along and keep moving?  If I look closely I will notice that there are signposts, miniature yellow diamonds nailed to trees along the way. And there are helpful raised wooden walkways in places where it is damp. And there are kind souls who have cut some of the larger fallen trees leaving a pathway open for the Sojourner. Somewhere under the leaves, people have placed branches along both sides of the path to define it and show us the way.  On our spiritual journey are there places where we need to sign posts or little walkways to keep us out of trouble?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Public Transportation

When I was growing up, my dad commuted by train to Manhattan from the suburbs.  I live in the suburbs of another city and work in a suburb that is 10 miles from my house.  Recently I started taking the train to work.  Better for the planet, gets me a brisk walk each day and time outdoors, and also can be paid for with pre-tax dollars - lots of positives here.  And it gives me a short window to sit and enjoy my tea while reading a bit for grad school.  Plus lots of people watching. Recently my twenty-four year old remarked to me that she feels like a grown up because she has a monthly pass to a parking garage - now I feel like a grown up because I'm taking the train to work like my dad!

The best thing about it so far has been the short walk between the train station and my office which is 8-10 minutes depending on how briskly I walk.  First of all, it is fall, so the trees are beautiful. Second the weather has been fair.  And third, it's balmy this week.  There is something about being out in nature first thing in the morning that is soul nurturing.  It is just a wonderful feeling.  I love the outdoors and it connects me to my Creator.  But I have found that a brief walk is also good for my brain - it gets my mind going.  I always find new ideas and inspirations come to me while I am walking.  So that is a huge benefit; what a way to start the day - invigorated, inspired, and intellectually awake.

The train is another story - going to work, there is a nice conductor, and the train is generally clean. And they announce the stops over the loud speaker as well as on a display monitor.  Going home, they seldom announce the stops and it is dark and there does not seem to be a display monitor.  How are we expected to find our way home?  It's too dark to see the names of the stations, and those signs are not lit up.  Yesterday all the passengers were asking each other - which station is this and fortunately someone knew.  And I could see a few landmarks I recognized one stop before home. Safely home.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Unimaginable Love

My colleague subscribes to the Moravian Daily Text and often reads them aloud to us at the start of a meeting.  I was struck by the language in this particular prayer:

Gracious One, do not stop calling us to open ourselves to your unimaginable love. Help us to come together that our witness of faith may be unified for all the world to know of your great compassion. Amen. (emphasis added)

I know nothing about the Moravians, except for their motto which I have heard before:

In Essentials, Unity; In Nonessentials, Liberty; In All Things, Love

and which I think is a terrific sentiment. May we all be more inclined to love and unity as we reflect God's unimaginable love.

The daily readings suggested for this day by the Moravians include:
Monday, November 2
Psalm 119:129–136
Ezekiel 38:7–39:13
2 Peter 1:1–11
Jeremiah 29:13–14
Matthew 18:19

I pray you will meditate today on God's Word and his unimaginable love.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

No shoes ... No service

Saw a funny video online with a dad ranting about how hard it was to get his child to even find, let alone put on his shoes so the family could get out the door.  It took me back ...

This one child of mine, who shall be nameless, was always taking off her shoes from the time she was very small.  When she was about nine [read, 'old enough to know better'], we had two interesting experiences.  One day I got both girls into the car for a trip to the library.  You remember nine year olds - they dress themselves, put on their own seat belts, and hopefully brush their own teeth.  At the time we lived out in the country and it was about a 25 minute drive into town to get to the library.  So, off we went, having an uneventful ride.  We arrived at the library and piled out of the car in the parking lot. Whereupon I looked down at her feet and we both realized she had no shoes on.  Library trip cancelled.

Do you think that disappointment was enough to help her remember such basic things as shoes?  No, a few months later, we went off to the grocery store. Picture the same kids loaded into the minivan, and the same 20 minute drive to the grocery store (it was a little closer).  And there we are in the parking lot with no shoes.  This time I decided she had to wait in the car.  There were a few essential groceries needed if we were going to eat.

Some moms would, I suppose, have at least let a child go into the library with no shoes (but not the grocery store - yuck!).  Not this mom - too many things could go wrong in bare feet.  Not the least of which was they would be filthy.  Hopefully now that she is an adult, she has outgrown some of her forgetfulness; but thankfully she has not outgrown that carefree spirit.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Currently Reading ...

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do
fascinating stuff about the impact of water on our mental and emotional lives

Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership

and numerous research/stats books for my classes ...

and if I ever have any spare time, a Lee Childs book I picked up at the Library book sale.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

500 Words

My friend, writer Jeff Goins, challenges his audience to write 500 words.  I've been noodling the idea of writing a book and so I'll take the plunge.

I want to encourage parents everywhere that it is possible to raise godly children who follow Christ and excel in the things they put their minds to.  The world wants you to believe that rebellion is a given and that the teen years will be a nightmare.  Not so!  We raised two girls who did not rebel in any major ways.  Sure they experimented with alcohol, and pushed the boundaries, made occasional poor choices, and fought with each other; but, they were also high-school valedictorians, accepted early to college, and excelled in their colleges.  Today the younger one is entering her senior year at a Christian college and the older graduated from a prestigious school and is pursuing her dream of stage management.

How did we do it?  Consistency, love, firm boundaries, and faith integrated into every aspect of life is the short answer.  The long answer, well, that's a book.  Our family is very close, the sisters are best friends and mom is often their confidante.  And dad is their role model.  We were active in church and looked for opportunities for them to be mentored and discipled.  We walked out our faith as transparently as possible.  We chose a lifestyle of service and ministry and hospitality which created a place of vitality and we were part of a tribe of like-minded families.

But we also encouraged them to be independent and to think for themselves.  While we did many activities together as a family, and savored the moments, days, and years, we were not 'helicopter parents'.   Often I would hear other parents lament the burden of having children at home, as in "I can't wait for school to start" or "summer is too long."  I could not fully understand this mindset.  Our children are a gift and I was thankful for the time that I had with them.  I invested myself fully as a mom in all aspects of their development.  I encouraged them to develop interests and friendships outside the home, but made home a place they would want to come back to.

We instilled discipline in them from a young age without being harsh or overbearing.  We taught them to think, to discern, and to make decisions. We expected them to be responsible and resourceful. While we live a middle-class life, we taught them not to take privilege for granted, mostly by example and experience in the developing world. For a period of time, we homeschooled them.  We read aloud as a family well into their teen years.  We also read the Bible together and encouraged them to read and memorize Scripture.  We were involved in their faith development, not leaving it to the church.  We practiced thankfulness.

Oh and we ate dinner together as a family just about every night.

Want more?  Well, I guess you'll have to (wait for) and buy the book!