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Archive for February, 2008

Fasting.  Now, there’s a word to strike fear into the heart of any chubby (or, for that matter, any twiggy) who enjoys food. 

True confession:  I enjoy food.  I love the taste of it, everything from the sweetness of a perfect Thin Mint cookie to the tang of the hot and sour soup served at my favorite Chinese restaurant.  I love the smell of it—is there anything better than the freshly baked bread aroma wafting over the city of Fort Wayne from Perfection Bakeries when the wind blows in just the right direction?  And don’t forget how food looks:   It’s a no-brainer to choose the more visually appealing plate when the choices are pork loin with mashed potatoes, cauliflower, and apple slices or roast beef in savory brown gravy, accompanied by steamed green beans and shimmering orange jello with pineapple and mandarin oranges peeking through.

Some people have a relationship with food that is purely utilitarian.  These are the people who stop eating when they are satisfied and only eat when they are truly hungry.  Others—and I admit here before the world, I am one of these, though I am asking God to help me change in this regard—have a much closer connection to what they put in their mouth.  It may be a control issue (“No one can tell me what to do!”) or it may be a (false) comfort scenario (“O, dear Chocolate, I will feel so much better after time spent with you!”)   

So, for those of us who are not among the “couldn’t care less” crowd when it comes to food, fasting feels like struggle.  Guess what?  It is struggle.  And in this world of abundant comforts in which we live, struggle has gotten a bad rap.

Jesus fasted.  I think that as a Christ follower, my motto should be, “If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”  Or at least, if Jesus wasn’t too good for a thing, I shouldn’t consider myself to be either.  There is a verse in the Bible that says “He learned obedience through the things He suffered.”  Jesus learned obedience?  I didn’t think He had any problems there.  So, what can that mean?

What is obedience if it is not subjecting my will to the will of another who has authority in my life, if not setting aside my own ‘druthers to perform those of another?  That’s what Jesus did throughout His earthly life.  Otherwise, He would never have left the comfortable glory of Heaven. 

All sorts of spiritually-minded people from the mystics to the ascetics have written about fasting.  And some of them have made it sound scary and hard.  For me, it seems like both, even without my spending a lot of time reading about it as a discipline.

But, when I put fasting–deliberately choosing to go without food (or any other obsession/distraction) for a purposeful period of time —in the realm of an act of obedience motivated by love,  in the realm of “for the sake of relationship”, “scary” leaves the equation and “hard” becomes okay.    

“…for the joy set before Him endured the cross”—that was the Jesus approach to the scary and hard.  Maybe there is something to this if I am willing to push back my plate and open my hands to take hold of something other than the fork.

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Frosty v. Jack Frost
Who made that shot?
“Two points!”
All the wooly-hooded spectators silently watch.

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Keeping Connections

I’ve added “subscribe by email” to this place…I hope you will!  (I did this mainly for my daughter’s benefit, but I hope it will enable the continuation of connections from my old blog site too!)  (See the sidebar.)

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dscf0667b.jpgI haven’t seen him run that fast in quite some time.  At a few minutes after 6AM today, my eldest son could be seen sprinting with near-Olympian speed over the half block from our house to the side street where he parks his car.  He had patiently replied to my motherly interruptive questioning, as he was hurriedly tying his shoes before the mad dash, that having not wanted to set his alarm to the louder tone that he feared might wake up everyone else in the house, and having not gotten home from work till after midnight, he hadn’t heard the wake-up call when he should have.  He was attempting to make it to the airport in time to catch a 6:40AM flight from Fort Wayne to Detroit, which would hopefully be followed by an air connection to a celebratory day and overnight in Chicago.  (A call later in the morning confirmed he’d made it to Detroit and was waiting to catch the flight to Chicago.  I guess it pays to be a fast runner.)

Twenty-four years ago today, February 19, 1984, that now fleet-footed son made his almost-as-rapid entry into our lives.

Never having done this giving birth thing before, and never having really given too much thought to the fact that things might not go exactly like the books or the prepared childbirth class had said they would, it took us awhile to determine that it was labor and not indigestion or a false alarm that was indeed upon us.  Sparing you all the funny-today-but-nothing-to-laugh-about-at-the-time details, suffice it to say we made our own mad dash twenty-four years ago this morning.  Arriving at the hospital around 8AM, our speedy efforts were rewarded by a much greater prize than successful airline connections:  our 8-pound, red-headed little first-born boy named Gabriel–known most of his life as Gabe–was born at 8:29AM.

I used to be a little bit jealous when Michael would rank the first time he ever held Gabe as the highlight moment of his life, even rating the experience above our wedding day.  However, I have been in the process of getting over that for the past twenty-four years and the culminating step to letting it go came when I held our little granddaughter for the first time back in October of last year and the recollection of those first moments of wonder came flooding back with full force.  Now, I can’t blame him at all.

God bless all the first borns in the world who serve without any choice in the matter as guinea pigs in the laboratory known as parenthood.  Today, in honor of Gabe’s birthday and his guineapighood, I choose to enumerate some of the things I’ve learned from the little boy grown to manhood:

  • Red hair makes those morning hair “stick-ups” just that much cuter.
  • The process of speech development in a little child is a wonder to behold.
  • The knees of sweat pants, quickly worn thin through hours of Lego play on the floor, can be patched–and re-patched.
  • Reading Cowboy Small or Whistle for Willie for the umpteenth time in a single sitting is a good use of time.
  • As my Dove chocolate wrapper interior also reminded me today, “Listen with your heart.” 
  • We are not the potters to our children’s clay, only tools in the Potter’s hand.
  • Sometimes, the most important things in school are not to be found within the scope of the three ‘R’s.
  • A day without FUN is not any fun.  An hour without FUN is not any fun.  A minute without FUN is not any fun?
  • Words are powerful.
  • It’s not what you say–it’s how you say it.  (This lesson has been reinforced to me by Gabe’s daddy.)
  • People know if you love them unconditionally, no matter what you say.
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (I guess Solomon said it first…)
  • Welcome is often needed most when it is hardest to give.  (Thank you, Karen Mains, for the words for that reality.)
  • The answer to the FAQ of algebra class–“When am I EVER going to use this?”–is “You may not, but it is teaching you how to THINK.”
  • God’s Word is powerful and mighty.
  • Prayer changes things–prayer changes me.
  • God can go with my children where I cannot.
  • Action adventure films may have as much to say to the heart as chick flicks.
  • Science fiction isn’t only for nerds or boys.
  • You can have a five-hankie conversation with your hurting child, even if the conversation is happening online and that child is half a continent away.
  • Sometimes, a mom needs to stop being the teacher and just listen and learn.
  • My way is not always the best way–whether we’re talking about mowing the grass or figuring out life.

This is not an exhaustive list.  But life with Gabe has been rich.  I believe I can say that, as adults, we are friends, and that is pure gold. 

 And, friends need each other.  Today was a day that began with great discomposure of heart (which had nothing to do with Gabe’s early morning hurry).  I found myself thinking about a note written in a childish hand about twenty years ago on another day when some one or another of life’s burdens had made a young mother’s tears flow:  “Take. Corij.” (“…Courage”, in case you haven’t been reading Fouryearoldese lately) “Don’t. Be. Afraid”  When I located the note–almost panicking when I thought I was not going to find it in the place it has resided all these years; that would have been a huge loss to my heart–I found with it another note, this one written in the scribbled hand of a college freshman who noticed his mom’s car in the nearby church parking lot when he was on his way between dorm and class.  The torn-out sheet of notebook paper, stuck under my windshield wiper that day, greeted me with, “Hi, Mom!  Hope you’re having a great day!  Love you!  Gabe”

After reading those encouraging words from a tender heart, I was…and I am… and I hope you are too, Son.

(Son just called to say he arrived in Chicago, connected with his friends–“You don’t want to know how fast I drove or ran to make it this morning.” “No, I don’t,” says the mom.  “I got there just as they were closing the plane door.  But now I’m here.”)

Happy Birthday, Gabe.  Love you, too.

   

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Nose on My Face   Our family has a decision to make.

We have homeschooled all three of our children for their entire school career.  It has been a good journey for us, not without some challenges (rare is the problem-free trip), but with far more benefits than detriments. 

Now, our last student, a 15-year-old freshman in our home school, has asked if he might attend the public high school that sits within a mile down the street from our house.  This is the school where several of his peers in our church youth group attend.  (This, in itself, does not, to our way of thinking, constitute an adequate reason for granting this request.  We have been served well by “If-your-friends-jumped-off-the-roof-would-you-do-it -too?” parenting (that is probably not be the best analogy in this particular situation…).  But, this is an earnest heart cry which we are not about to blow off either.) 

So, we have talked about it…a lot…and often, in the past week since the question was first plopped on the table. 

I just re-read my friend Anna’s post on “Fasting” (2/14/08) at Lent2008  In her list of reasons we might choose to fast, “to seek God’s guidance” appears. 

When I thought about observing Lent this year–a new experience for me–I thought fasting might be part of that.  But I didn’t envision it coming in this form.

Plain as the nose on my face?

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Melanie Looking at Uncle Gabedscf0643.jpgTonight was the weekly Gramma-and-Melanie night.  (Melanie Joy Klaus is my four-month-old granddaughter.)  I take care of Melanie for a couple of hours every Wednesday night while her mama works at an office cleaning job.

This little baby has always liked to look in the mirror.  But I observed she is doing it differently now than heretofore:  She wants to play with that other baby, to interact with the person in the mirror.  The same response was exhibited when we sat down at the computer and flipped through pictures of Melanie.  She laughed and “talked” to the other Melanie that filled the monitor screen.

Isn’t that the way it is for us big people, too?  As we mature, we see ourselves with greater depth.  And, we want to do something about what we see.

God, help us, please.

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I’m Here Now

I’ve made the move.  Having been on xanga for about two years (I think), and prompted by the imminent move here of another xanga buddy, I decided it was time to leave the unsightly ads of xanga world behind (I can’t complain too loudly–they’ve let me have space for free) and make a switch.  I will still post occasionally at www.xanga.com/mavan –especially those grandbaby pics!–but I’ll be writing here. 

I invite you to stop by often!

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