Sunday, December 13, 2009

Driving Lesson

I was driving to work the other day after all the snow fell. The roads were pretty clear, but the people were still driving a little cautiously. Things were moving better than I expected, but those of you who've been a passenger in my car know I have a tendency to get impatient pretty easily while driving. I don't know why it is that I can wait in line at the grocery store with a decent amount of grace, but when I get behind the wheel all bets are off.

The left lane is for passing.

My kids have been the most effective microscope on my behavior on the road. When I hear the sarcastic accusations drip from their mouths with disdain because someone hesitated at a green light or didn't use a turn signal or drifted into our lane because they were on the phone, I know where they heard it first. And it hasn't gone unnoticed that I get asked in the car more than any other place, "Mom, are you okay?"

So, it's just like God to use my car as an object lesson and speak clear as day to me this particular morning while I was fuming behind a commercial van.

You know the kind I mean, right? The big white one with no back windows to see through so you really have no idea what's going on in front of them.

I hate not being able to see what's going on in front of me. Especially on the road. I want to know if there are cars backed up for miles or if there's plenty of room to accelerate if I could just get around this one big van. And the trouble is, I can't follow too closely because I can't see through the non-existent windows, so for all I know everyone in front of him is breaking.

So I'm driving behind this van becoming increasingly agitated because I think I'm going to be a few minutes late now. The van is driving much slower than I would be, I can't get around him try as I might and I don't know what the hold up is.

And that's when I started to get this dawning realization that God was telling me that He's in the van. No, I haven't wigged out. He wasn't literally in the van. It was an analogy - following Him in my walk of faith was like being behind this van.

I can't see what's ahead.

I can only rely on Him to lead the way at an appropriate pace. Not my pace, but His, which might be a lot slower. So I can't speed up when I feel like everything is taking too long.

I can only trust Him to break when necessary. Instead of lagging way behind for fear of crashing if I follow too closely.

I can only resist the urge to pass Him and get in front which might cause me to miss a turn or end up behind a much worse driver.

I can only believe I will get to my destination at the right time, after having traveled on the right route.

But I know how I get in the car and so I'm thinking, I'm not patient enough or skilled enough to follow at the right distance and not be tempted to pass in my frustration. And that's when I hear God basically say, "Right. That's why we need a trailer hitch between us so you can stop driving altogether and not worry about you getting too far behind or way off course."

Matthew 11:29-30 says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." He means "yoke" like the one that binds oxen together when they pull a cart side-by-side. That's the verse I thought of when God was telling me I needed to be hitched to Him. When you're "yoked" to someone, you can't get ahead and you can't fall behind, you go at the same pace in the same direction to the same destination.

Funny how sometimes He blocks your vision for awhile so you can see better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Feeling It

It's starting to feel like the Christmas season to me. Maybe because it's snowing. Or maybe because we decorated the tree tonight that's been standing bare in our living room for four days sucking water faster than I can pour it from the stand. It could be because the kids and I sat and watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - one of the very few Christmas specials on T.V. that actually quotes the story of Christ's advent from Scripture when Linus tells Charlie Brown what Christmas is really about.

We were at two consecutive Christmas parties on Sunday and Monday night and the food and the company were wonderful at both - that sure helps ease you in to the Christmas spirit. We sang Christmas carols at the one last night. Dan was a trooper because he had to leave the house at 4:30 this morning to catch a 6:00 am flight to New Jersey to meet with a client for three hours and then go directly back to the airport where his flight was delayed about 2 and 1/2 hours because of the snow. Thankfully he landed around 7:00 and was home around 8:00. And to be honest as much as I feel badly for him, I was thankful the delay meant he wouldn't be home in time to take the kids to Awana and we were able to have a down night which we all really needed.

Shockingly, even with Dan gone, I made a real dinner after eating out three nights in a row at parties!

The Christmas cards are still on the floor waiting to be started, as is the annual letter I write and the photo to be developed. I'll get to them eventually. It was way more important to sit with the kids and watch the Christmas specials tonight.

Before the party last night I was at a wake for a wonderful woman a mere two years older than I am who lost her battle with cancer but won her victory in Christ. She is now completely healed and in the company of the One whose advent we're celebrating now. I am rejoicing for her, but at the same time mourning with her husband and young daughter.

Tonight I'm thankful to Janet for the very precious reminder that it was much better to decorate a tree and sit with my kids eating popcorn, not knowing what tomorrow brings than to have spent the time driving the kids to Awana in the snow, writing out the Christmas cards or shopping for presents on-line. Tonight was a gift. Maybe that's why it feels like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not so fast

Today was a busy day - I had an early meeting at work so I woke up at 6:00 and left the house well before 8:00 am. The meeting is a weekly staff meeting and I'm always so grateful it's in the middle of the week, because the first 15-20 minutes are spent doing a devotional and singing three songs of Praise to God.

I cannot imagine a much better way to begin a work day.

After the meeting there was plenty to do, and almost all of it was urgent, but it didn't create panic or stress because we'd taken the time to reflect before we even began.

During lunch I ran an errand to pay a bill at Kohl's. Wednesdays are senior discount day at Kohl's. There are lovely old people everywhere navigating the dozens of kiosks in the aisles at their own liesurely pace. I only get 30 minutes for lunch, but I managed to wait fairly patiently in a long line at Customer Service where the employees feel no sense of urgency whatsoever and then found a majorly discounted sweater with the exact type of collar I'd been looking for forever in the perfect color for the holidays (red) and a Christmas gift for someone else on the way out.

After work I had to run to Walmart. Again. I was there yesterday. But for some inescapable reason 10 minutes after I get home from Walmart each week I immediately notice a half dozen items we are completely out of and can't wait to buy (like toilet paper, shampoo and milk, etc.). There are a thousand other people in Walmart all in a hurry to get home but I manage to find all the items on my shopping list calmly by stopping every so often to check them off.

I got home and got dinner in the oven and then helped the kids finish their homework, instead of trying to do both at once to save time which, let's face it, always ends badly. Mostly because of my inability to truly multitask for any length of time without great frustration.

After dinner I took Caitlin to her youth group meeting and met with several mom's of the other kids in the youth group for a Bible study during which we took turns reading and talking about the lesson. No one even glanced at the clock for the first hour of a 90 minute meeting.

I got home around 9:30 pm, tucked the twins into bed and cleared out some email, read a couple of friends' blog entries and then came to my own. I thought...what did I learn today?

I learned you can move slowly through a fast day and get a lot of meaningful things accomplished.

But now I'll quickly go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


On the first day of Advent, my true love gave to me.....permission to be a little lazy.

December is quite a busy month around here - yes, yes, for us all I know. But it's also Dan and Caitlin's birthday month, we usually have out of town company and working at a church means business tends to ramp up instead of cool down. I am however, extraordinarily grateful not to be working retail anymore.

So...we have plans for the next 9 consecutive evenings, then a day off, then a packed weekend, and five more consecutive evenings planned.

The good news is we both have some vacation time coming and will be taking it. The better news is we had a really relaxing Thanksgiving weekend - the calm before the storm. The best news is, I'm exercising boundaries much better these days and perfectly willing to back out of any number of said planned evenings if I feel the stress rise.

One of the women I work with (whom I adore) had us all over to her place for lunch yesterday to kind of take stock of all our blessings and encourage each other to enter the season peacefully and concentrate on the real cause for celebration and not the stuff or the events or anything that detracts from the real reason we as Christians celebrate Christmas.

The Word became flesh.