Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nook, Book, Look

To add to the fun of being in Orlando for a couple of days to see my youngest boy graduate, my husband booked us rooms in an Embassy Suites Hotel, a family favorite. When the kids were little they considered this place hide-and-seek heaven, with all the rooms on the multiple floors overlooking a beautiful enclosed atrium. The glass elevators were perfect for spotting siblings hiding behind posts on various floors or dashing in-between tables and wingback chairs. For me, the attraction has always been the beauty of the place, the sound of the constantly running water, and palm trees rising out of the mass of vegetation, ever reaching for the blue sky visible through the sun roof above. The first thing I did after dropping our bags in our room was to lean over the railing and start looking for my morning nook…that special chair or bench tucked away in a corner where I could enjoy the early morning hours with my first cup of coffee of the day while my family slept them away. I found it in a long, padded bench that I’m sitting on sideways with my back against a post, facing a particularly lovely view of a little waterfall, my coffee on the ledge beside me within easy reach. Perfect!

My favorite author, John Grisham, is a prolific writer who seems to put out a new literary treasure every time we’re thinking of leaving town. True to form, Calico Joe, a baseball story this time, appeared on the store shelves just as I was starting to think about packing my bags. I quickly grabbed a copy and put it aside, the first item to later go in the suitcase. Once purchased, the cover of the vacation read of choice is never cracked until the holiday is actually underway, the anticipation a big part of the enjoyment. I love the paradox of being sucked into a good book just when most of the minutes of my day are scheduled with vacation activities and reading time is scarce. Then even the idle moments of the day are filled with delight as I use them to get a few pages farther into the story. Today I’m three-fifths of the way through the vacation and two-thirds of the way through the book, enjoying both immensely and trying to slow the passage of time any way I can.

There‘s plenty to look at while in town. We attended a showing of the projects the students have been working on in the time they’ve spent at the school. Not one to get lost in nostalgia, however, my son is focused instead on the start of the next stage of his life. It’s a time of looking ahead with great expectation and joy.

When you’re as happy at the end of a vacation as you are when it starts it could be that your joy springs not just from the trip itself but rather what you find in your heart…through a habit of spending time in a cozy nook with the best of Books, and looking For God every step of life along the way.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life”
(1 John 1:1 NKJV)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Road Trip!

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now that my vacations are no longer so tied to school schedules, I can leave town whenever I can get the time off of work. But there’s something special about heading out in the car during the summer months that make those expeditions extra special.

Yesterday it was my husband and my two grown sons who jumped into the vehicle with me, embarking on a journey to see the youngest in the family graduate from college in Florida. An all day drive from Ohio, I had plenty of time to think about the first time I made this trip a couple of years earlier, when it was my responsibility to deposit the third child on his college’s doorstep and get him ready for the term ahead.

I remember how impacted my life was by “change” at that moment in time. My older two sons had attended local universities for much of their college careers and had simply continued to live at home to save whatever money they could. Having been blessed with an intact family for longer than most mothers could imagine, it was almost more than I could bear to have the youngest two leave the nest within two months of each other. With as willing a spirit as I could muster I prepared to settle in to a life in which I heard their voices only on the phone or through text messages, rather than hollering at me from just down the hall. I thought life would never be the same.

Yesterday as I looked out the window at the miles passing by I thought about how wrong I had been and laughed at the many things that were remarkably the same. The scenery was familiar, for one thing, certain checkpoints inspiring the same corny jokes that they did the first time down the road. The camaraderie between us that makes the members of my family my traveling companions of choice was as close as ever, as each tried to outdo the others in consideration and accommodation. And though he wasn’t with us yet as we drove south to see him, the same excitement in my youngest boy’s heart over the upcoming next stage in his life filled the thoughts and minds of all of us traveling in the car together.

The most welcome change I noted in this trip was that overwhelming fear had been replaced by incredible joy. The first time down this road anxiety had gripped me so fully that I could barely eat and struggled to fulfill the duties of the few days we had available to us to get him settled in. This time, spiritually even more than physically, I knew beyond doubt I wasn’t traveling alone, and that I could trust God to continue to lead and direct this young man as He had proven to me repeatedly that He could and would do.

The more things change in my life, the more I realize and appreciate the fact that God forever remains the same.

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever.”
(Hebrews 13:8 LITV)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Honorable Life

I’m still A-to-Zing in  this, my writing-exercise blog. Today is the eighth of May, which means the letter-of-the-day is H. I looked up the verse-of-the-day on my phone’s Bible app, and found my subject in Romans 12:10, which instructs me to honor others above myself.

Quite simply, that means to treat one another with respect. Clearly that should be easy enough to do. We treat others as we would like to be treated, and surely all of us want people to be polite and respectful towards us; thus we should act that way towards them.

It’s one thing to be nice to people who are nice to us. But then arises the issue of those whom we deem to be unworthy of our respect. Yet the Bible doesn’t differentiate in it’s instruction, and thus, neither can we in the way we treat people. When that is difficult we need to remember that Jesus put our welfare above His own when we were not worthy of His consideration. He simply expects us to do the same.

Another version of the Scripture seems to take the instruction a step further when it says, “in honor giving preference to one another.” That’s a little more difficult.  It’s hard enough to let someone go ahead of us in line somewhere, but to consistently step back so another may go ahead of us in life goes totally against the “me first” attitude that we struggle so against in our mind and hearts.

I think sometimes of the extreme examples of this, as when someone risks his own life so another may live, as happens often in combat situations, in rescue operations of one type or another, or even spontaneously in everyday life, such as when someone jumps in front of an oncoming car or train to push someone else out of it’s path. What strikes me about actions such as these is that they are split-second decisions that spring from the heart rather than a conscious decision of the mind.

Clearly I don’t have that much love in mine.

God comforts me with the reminder that we really don’t know what we have in our hearts until we’re tested, and we might be surprised at what we find. He does give us little glimpses, however, in the many opportunities we have each day to die to self in little ways in our interactions with those He sends across our path. When those “exams” show that we’re lacking in love, at least we know where to go to get more. Jesus is the ultimate example of One who died that others may live, and the more of Him we take in, the more love and honor we’ll be able to dish out.

The honor we bestow in life, we reap in the afterlife. I think it’s a good trade.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
(Romans 12:10 NIV, emphasis mine)
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