Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Easy Does It

I am reminded this week of one thing in particular: life is not easy.  

Now, that sounds like a big “duh”.  After all, besides that fact that we live in a fallen world, if you’re a follower of Christ, He promises that we won’t have it easy.  If you’re anything like me, you kind of gloss over that particular premise most of the time.  Life hands you way too much sometimes – who needs to be reminded that we’ll have a hard time of it?

One of the young ladies who used to attend our youth group a few years back was killed in a car crash this week.  A dear friend is really struggling with depression right now.  Another old friend lost his beloved grandfather last week.  It seems like everywhere I turn, there is tragedy great and small.  I think of others who live with the ghosts of the past, the hurts of actions years gone, the pain of grief or guilt that nothing can relieve.

On the one hand, because I’m a fixer (and probably because I’m a mom), I want to be there and help every single one of these problems.  I want to be personally involved in solving the wars of the mind and soul and body that plague everyone I know.  But I can’t do much more than pray for most of them.  And yes, I know that praying is a very big deal, and can work wonders and miracles (and frequently does).

I often joke that growing old isn’t for wimps.  I’m not “old” yet (except to my kids), so I know I don’t know the half of it.  But it does feel like the older I get, the more I am aware of the heartache around me.  And while I’d like to fix it all, or better yet, wave a magic wand and make it disappear, I know that God is using these things.  For me, He’s keeping me in tune with His whispers to care for others by intervening on their behalf to Him.  For them, I know that while the circumstances are difficult, He is working to bring them closer to Him – even when it seems He is clouded by the events themselves.

No, God doesn’t promise that life will be easy.  Which is why we have to help hold each other up in the midst of the chaos that life brings.  I’ve often seen firsthand how we reciprocate for each other – I may be the strong one right now, but in a week, a month, an hour, I may need the help of someone else who has the strength to point me back to God’s strength and goodness. 

We have all been in the place that we need someone to show us again that God is great, and God is still there.  For Him, it is easy.  His burden is light.  He invites us to share that easy burden – and give the hard one to Him.  Because He is the only one who can truly take it.  I hope that in the days to come, I can remember that, whether holding someone else up to Him, or marching through those times myself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time

I’ve been called an overachiever many times in my life.  Usually when I go to great lengths to do something crafty or make homemade goodies for my kids’ activities.  This week, I remembered not only do I come by it naturally, but I’m proud to do it, too.

When I was a kid, most of our stuff was homemade.  Homemade lunches – which I thought were so much better than the school ones; homemade clothes – which I liked better because I got exactly what I wanted; homemade goodies for class parties – which everyone liked!

When it comes right down to it, I find that I value more the things that I know someone took time to do themselves.  I’m not saying I don’t buy a whole lot of store-bought stuff.  But since my family (like so many others) can’t have certain kinds of foods, or at least the crud they put into so many foods, I prefer to make stuff myself.  And they are more fun to make and eat, in most cases.  (Now if only someone else would do the dishes…)

I have these very vivid memories of the things that my mother made for me when I was a kid for class parties and birthdays.  The cupcakes she surprised me with in seventh grade.  The Holly Hobbie birthday cake.  The double-decker fudge that we gave to my sixth grade teacher for a Christmas present (best present ever, really).  And the heart-shaped cookies personalized for each student in my class for Valentine’s Day.

That’s what I was reminded of this week.  My mother was visiting my house over the weekend, and left on Valentine’s Day.  That meant that she was part of the crazy valentines that we made – gnome heads made of Hershey kisses and felt, with googly eyes – and helped my boys make heart sugar cookies.  They squished them into cookie sandwiches (“the best kind, mom!”), and I methodically wrote out each student’s name onto the top of each one, teachers included.

I reminisced about when she used to make those for my classrooms, even as I grouched over the long names and spacing things correctly.  She laughed at me, and reminded me that often she did those kinds of homemade things because we couldn’t afford something fancier.  I immediately gushed back how I wouldn’t have wanted the “fancier” things.  Because I didn’t want them.  Still don’t.  I loved the homemade so much that I choose to do them now.

Not because I have to, but because it’s something fun that my children will remember, just like I remember doing them with my mum.  Because of the giggles and oohs and aahs of the other kids in the classroom.  Even because of being called an overachiever (again).  Because I know where I get it – from the heart of a woman I am privileged to call my mother.  Who did her best by her kids even when times where tough and money was tight.

So I’m proud to be an overachiever, to spend a little bit of my time doing something fun, and a little silly, with and for my boys, to show them the same thing my mother did, once upon a time…