Thursday, February 23, 2017

Getting Back Up

As we were doing school this morning, I looked across the room and saw my 10 year old's knees. This week's spring teaser has given us the daily joy of getting outside. If you have children, especially BOYS (or active girls!) you know that outside play comes with scraped knees, bruises, and constant need of TLC.

Have you ever noticed that kids just seem to go for it.  They give it their all.  They play hard. They have gusto about life.  They are daring and willing to try things.  When they fall, they typically get back up and try again.  

This week we got outside A LOT and that meant lots of bike and scooter rides.  Along with that came new lovely shades of blue and purple on his knees and scrapes on his hands. Inevitable. Both knees also sport scars from previous accidents. 

What if?

What if we attacked life with the same attitude?

What if I we were more like a child and lived life with gusto, willing to try new things, and be risky?

I know that with being an adult comes wisdom, knowledge, and responsibility.  We can't quite be dare devils and may be beyond climbing trees, riding downhill with no hands, or jumping curbs on a scooter. 

But what if...

What if we applied that same attitude to things that might feel risky in other ways?

What if we stepped out of our comfort zones and risked our hearts being bruised? 

Have you ever really watched a toddler learning to walk or climb, a young child learning to ride a bike or a skateboard? They fall often.  They end up having to get up time and time again.  But, that's what they do.  They get back up.  Try. Try and try again.

Have we fallen down so many times that we've stopped getting back up and trying?

Have we decided being risky is just TOO risky for our emotions?

What about just trying new things or recommitting to things we put on the backburner because we failed too many times before?

Maybe we've given up on restoration in a relationship.  Maybe we've given up on making better choices for our health. Maybe there's a skill we really want to be able to do, but we've given up after a few tries.

Maybe there's someone in our lives that might feel a bit risky to invest our time and hearts in because they've hurt us.  Or because they do life differently than we do. 

What if we lived willing to take some occasional bruises?

Today I'm asking myself what do I need to try again or try for the first time because I wasn't willing to risk enough?  What have I fallen down doing too many times before but might succeed at if I give it one more try?

Where might you end up if you took off downhill riding with your hands off the handlebars? 

Might you crash.  Yes, Yes and yes.

But what if...

What if you reach the bottom and find it was so freeing?

Who might we bless, encourage, and inspire?  What might we change in our own life?  

I'm a chicken little.  I definitely like my feet firmly on the ground, low speed, and in control.  Total understatement. 

But what if...

What if I tried something new? 

More importantly, what if risked going deeper, walking in more faith, or being obedient to something God has asked but I've been too afraid of? 

Our hearts might get bruised, we might fall before we stand up tall, but...

Look who is there to catch us.  Walk with us.  Strengthen us. 

Just like my son comes back home knowing we'll take care of whatever bumps and bruises he's acquired. Whatever battle wounds need attention, he knows we're there.

No matter who has failed us.  No matter how many times we've messed up. No matter how deep our battle wounds.

Our Father awaits us.  

Maybe we should start living a bit more risky and living life like a confident child that gets back up even though they've crashed over and over. 

I know I do.

Just by looking at my child's knees. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sprouts of Hope

Ever had those days, weeks, months, or even LONG seasons of feeling defeated, depleted, and just beat down.

I know I have. Often, if I'm being honest.

But then...

God enters in.

He whispers, "Just hold on", "Don't give up", or simply "I see you."

Just enough hope trickles in to face the day and to keep moving forward in faith.  It doesn't have to be profound or extremely grand, though sometimes He does give us that abundant blessing of something big.  Usually it's just that little bit of comfort that lifts your heart.

It may be something you see, something you read, a note from a friend, a heart-to-heart with your spouse, or just a new revelation in His Word.  Just that "little" something.

Today, that little something came to me in the form of tiny little sprouts.

A few months back, we didn't even have moving on our radar. It was something we had talked about and prayed about many, many times, but the answer was always no or not now. When we did make the decision to start the looking process we didn't anticipate moving until end of March as our target date. We started looking online early October and driving neighborhoods getting a feel of where we wanted to be that would put us in the price range we wanted, but yet give us the most value for our money.  We purposely wanted to go less instead of more to alleviate financial burden should we ever be faced with a financial crisis or job changes.  We've been there, done that, and don't want to walk that path again. At that time, we had no plans of rushing or jumping in.  Two weeks later, we met with a realtor to look at some of the properties we kept coming back to.  Again, just really getting an idea of the market. By the end of that weekend, not only had we found a house we felt "fit us" (despite the exterior being a very unique shade of green!), it was in the perfect location for us (two minute walk to church). Best of all, the sellers had dropped the price that very day, placing it in our price range.  We had discussed it before the drop and had taken it off our list because though it was workable it was above what we had committed to. Our realtor had told us that she had one more property to show us that wasn't on our list to see, but she felt like it met the majority of our "wants" and needs.  On the way to meet her, I asked Kevin if he thought that perhaps the house she wanted to show us was the one we'd been considering increasing our budget for.  Indeed it was! Thanks, God.  We knew that we wouldn't be able to wait several months and the house still be around.  We KNEW that despite it needing some work (ok, LOTS of work!), it was meant to be ours.  So, we took the plunge, knowing it would put us in a rush to move.  Unfortunately, that also meant moving during the holidays.  Even bigger unfortunately, this also meant moving in the winter and winter around here means cold, ice, bitter wind and snow.  Wouldn't you know it, EVERY single day we cleared Kevin's work schedule to move, just happened to be the nastiest days.  But we did it. (Completely on our own somehow!)  We're happy and thankful.  Every day brings us closer to what we envisioned when we walked in those doors the first time.

Back to the sprouts.

Viewing the house in late fall gave us no idea of what the actual landscaping looked like. By the time we moved in, the ground was completely covered in leaves since the property has many mature trees.  Add to that snow and lots of overgrowth and we just really don't know what we have. We knew we were capable of doing the work needed, so we weren't scared away by the condition. We've had a few tolerable weekends of weather and have done lots of cutting back and raking bag after bag of leaves.

Then today, we saw it.

Those little sprouts.

Signs of new growth on this GORGEOUS glimpse of a February "spring". As the first one was discovered, it encouraged digging for more and more as the excitement grew with what we we're finding.

As I was searching, I was thinking about not only how I was excited and GRATEFUL, but I was also thinking of how important hope is in our lives.

It only takes a little.  When you grab on to that little, it makes you just want to grab and grab for more.  Hope, like joy, is contagious.  The more we look for it, the more we find it and the more we spread it, the more it grows. Who can we be hope for today? Who can we encourage?  Who can we forgive? Who can we mentor and teach? Who can we show the love of Jesus?

What if we were like those little sprouts beginning to peak through the ground? I don't imagine they had an easy winter. I don't imagine their breaking through the ground was easy.  Some sprouts probably had a harder path than others and it was a struggle. They all aren't the same size.  They haven't all broken through the ground at the same time.  Underneath the hard ground, there's no telling what else is waiting to erupt and some may not even make it.

We are the same.  We can feel buried.  Dead.  Struggling to break through our problems.

However, do you know what brought those sprouts to the surface?

Looking for the sun.  Soaking in nutrients.  Following their path. Sticking with it.

If we do the same, we can also sprout.  We can look to Him. We can soak in His Word.  We can follow the purpose He has for us and we can follow Him. We can remain faithful even when those around us are falling away or giving up.

We have to throw off the dead debris and the leaves (our chains, our sins, our burdens) and look towards the sun (the Son).

Today, as many of us experiencing a beautiful day of spring like temperatures, may we also allow spring to penetrate our hearts. May we also share that with someone else.  Spread Hope. Spread Joy. Point each other to the Son.

Beautiful reminder that "His mercies are new every morning."

I can't wait to see what the morning brings.