The Family That Serves Together

I don’t remember doing any “formal” mission or service projects in my family while I was growing up, but I do remember my parents always on the lookout for people that needed help. For my dad, that often meant picking up a hitchhiker or bringing home a family-less person or couple for a holiday dinner. I remember my mom hiring a housekeeper she didn’t have to have because the woman needed work. Helping others was often a quiet thing, but we knew it was there. An atmosphere of service that apparently got caught.

My sister and I always accompany kids from school on their mission project day. We both enjoy helping others and watching our kids learn to help others. At the ministry where my youngest son and I served today, there is a school for at-risk kids. As we were wrapping up our work time, our boys played a game of basketball with the boys from the school. While the game was in full swing, my brother arrived with his weekly pizza delivery for the school kids’ lunch. That’s what he does to help out. A little thing, but so appreciated and necessary. I didn’t know I’d see him there, although I know he’s been involved in that ministry for years. So the three of us were out serving the Lord by serving others today. And then of course there is our youngest sister, too, who serves full time overseas.

Usually on these mission days I reflect on what it means to minister with my kids and their friends. But today I am overwhelmed by the privilege of serving Christ and others alongside my brother and sisters, even when we’re in different locations. And I’m grateful for a mom and a dad who provided us the opportunity to catch a lifestyle of helping others.


Walking the Line

Where is the line between humble dependence on God alone and insidious pride that refuses help or wise counsel? After all, the Lord wants us to rely on Him alone—on his quiet word in our ear telling us to turn to the right or to the left, on His sufficient and perfectly timed provision, on His ability to right the wrongs that come our way. And yet . . . He has formed us into a body, where one part makes up what another part lacks, He encourages us to seek and heed wise counsel, He asks us to help others.

I’ve considered this question in various circumstances of my life and have lately been mulling it over again. I know it isn’t either/or. It’s both. And I guess the line comes down to my motivation. Am I seeking counsel because I desire validation from someone besides the Lord? Am I asking for help because I don’t have the fortitude to do the thing I know is right in order to rectify a situation? Am I holding my troubles close to myself because I don’t want others to think less of me? Am I keeping to “me and God” because I don’t want to be hurt or because I don’t want to extend myself to love the unlovable?

The line is very thin, I believe. And of course when I examine my motivations, I can easily deceive myself. I guess that’s why it is so important to take God’s word as a whole, to understand His heart from start to finish. I’m trying to put my entire reliance on Him. But in doing so, I pray that I don’t neglect the rich relationships and resources He’s given me in the body of believers.


The Reluctant Teacher

It looks like I’m going to have to break down and homeschool my youngest child—for drivers ed! Despite coming from a long line of teachers, I am not one. It was an easy choice to send my daughter to the local driving school. I wanted her to learn to drive without putting my own life—or hers—in danger. I wanted to enjoy the process with her, but not be responsible for it.

When my next child, my son, turned 15, we could have foregone the driving school in that he would have listened to us and done what we said. But, like his sister, he has a spring birthday, so his sports were finished for the year and going to a three-week class didn’t pose a problem.

Now comes the baby of the family. A fall birthday. His drivers ed classes would fall smack-dab in the middle of things. Football would be winding down. Basketball would be gearing up. Not to mention the weekly piano lesson that would have to be moved. The scheduling becomes a nightmare, so I’m going to have to take on the task myself. (He doesn’t want his dad to do it. All of the kids banned Dad to the back seat when driving with their permits. His stress turns into their stress.) My son is motivated to get it done, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but, I confess, it stresses me out a bit.

I don’t mind being driven by a learning driver; I’m just not sure how comfortable I’ll be teaching one!


A Lesson Learned

My daughter came home from college for the first time this weekend. We were so excited to see her, and yet I knew she would come home with plans that didn’t include her family. I didn’t want to make that a big deal. I just wanted to enjoy the bits of time she gave us. So on her first evening home I asked her agenda, mainly due to sharing cars. She went on to tell me about Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

“But I told everyone I couldn’t do anything on Sunday. I told them I was spending time with my family that day,” she said.

Immediately my mind flashed back The Cosby Show. Over the years, we’ve loved watching the reruns with our kids. We’ve probably seen most of the episodes multiple times. Anyway, her words seemed to mimic Denise Huxtable’s on her first weekend home from college.

I looked at my daughter. “You got that from Denise, on The Cosby Show, didn’t you?”

She laughed. “I really did think of that, how her family wanted to see her but she was so busy with her friends. Then she told her friends she had to spend a day with her family.”

Sometimes that visual image stays with them much longer than mere words. So thank you, Bill Cosby, for lots of laughs and family memories—and even some lessons learned!


The Reason for Quiet

Yes, I’ve been quiet lately. Sometimes that means I’m just busy—with kids, with writing, with life. Sometimes it means I don’t have anything to say. Sometimes it means things are simmering in my head, not quite ready to land in the public arena yet.

This time it’s all three. I’m deep into rewrites on my novel. Those need to be done by the end of next month so my critique group has time to evaluate the whole book and so I can get some Christmas shopping done! Because of that, my head is full of those characters and that story, leaving little room for anything else.

What room is left in my head has been focused on homecoming festivities and football and fall break and an editing job, so the thought of looking at a blank screen and trying to figure out what to blog simply unnerves me.

And yet . . . there are things simmering in there. Thoughts I occasionally take the lid off of and sniff the air. Are they done yet? Have all the flavors permeated the dish? I smell and taste and shake my head, stick the lid back on and wait. One of these days I’ll be ready to set those thoughts on the table for you.

So when you see a lull in my posts after you type in or click on my name, say a little prayer for me, please. I assure you I’m busy doing something. And if I’m busy enough not to blog, then my days are probably more than full!


A Funny (kind of) Dream

I had a dream last night, or early this morning to be exact. I dreamt that it was my turn to bring football drinks and fruit for halftime (which it is) and that I got to the game—and all the way to halftime!—before I remembered. In my dream, it was an away game (tonight we’re at home) and I ran to the concession stand to buy drinks for the team. And guess what? I had no cash! So I asked if I could use my debit card. They said no.

I remember in my dream looking at the little machine on their table and blinking in wonder. “You don’t take debit cards?” I asked. I pulled out another card. “How about credit?”

The little girl (read: teenager) working the concession stand pulled out a piece of paper. “Yes, we take those things, but not from you. We checked your account balance and it is insufficient.”

“What?!” I cried. I couldn’t tell if I was more outraged by her checking my account or the fact that I knew I had enough money in there for this.

Off I raced with my empty wallet, determined to find a bank and a grocery store. Time cut to my return to the football field where, when I’d left, the score had been 6-6. Our players were making their way to the cars, heads down.

“What happened?” I asked the nearest person.

“45’d,” was the answer. (The six-man football mercy rule.) The other team had scored 45 points (and us, 0) in the time I’d been gone.

I was furious—with myself. In this dream, I berated myself for a head so full of writing that I overlooked what I needed to do for my boys. It was an awful dream, and one of the most vivid I can remember lately. But you can be sure that I won’t forget to send drinks for the football team this evening!



Through Christ

It’s a busy, busy week this week. So much on my calendar that is not my own. And yet I have my own agenda, too. How will it all get done? Inevitably, I get little sleep the night before a week like this. I toss and turn trying to fit all my plans into the coming days, but it feels like fitting pieces into a puzzle of a snow-covered landscape. Finally, finally—after all that wrangling—I give my week to the Lord, asking Him to arrange it, to make time for what needs to be done and to give me wisdom to not worry about the unimportant. It still takes a while to release the need to figure it out, but eventually I sleep.

Why do I do that? Why do I wait so long to do what needs to be done at the very first hint of anxiety?

I woke early this morning, again anxious, but again releasing my day, my week, into the hand of the Lord. After a cup of coffee and another glance at my calendar/to-do-list, I found it manageable, as long as I remain focused. The hours are there to accomplish what I must. But another question lingers: will I use those hours to their fullest potential instead of frittering away valuable time?

With a deep breath and another prayer of relinquishment, I determine that I will.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13


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Autumn Musings

Fall has truly inched its way into Texas. I love this time of year. The nights and mornings are cooler now. My sweet tooth craves candy corn. My dinner menus include lots of soup. I pull out my jeans and my longer sleeved shirts. Football is in full swing. Pumpkin pies will be made and eaten. Summer seems a long, hot dream—one I have no desire to revisit soon.

But mostly what I love about autumn is the promise of winter that tinges the air. I’m so glad God made the seasons to change.