Archive for April, 2007

Frustration with the wind

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Do you ever get frustrated with things you can't control. Yeah, me neither…um, me, too. Here are a couple of examples.

It was a perfect day for fishing. My kids and I were on a "can't miss" 10 acre lake and we had been catching fish nearly every cast. After a great session at daybreak and a late breakfast, I paddled the little jon boat out for session 2 and immediately we were caught. The wind blew us across the little lake regardless of how hard I tried to fight it. I threw out our anchor, a bunch of bricks tied together with rope, and they wouldn't hold. I aimed the little boat for a piece of protected water but after several minutes we were pretty much in the same place. Almost out of breath from paddling I yelled at the top of my lungs, "aaarghhhh!" and we drifted to shore. When I looked at all 3 of the kids they had the biggest eyes I've ever seen. I apologized and told them I was frustrated with the wind. We ending our fishing and set out for the dock paddling once again against the wind. 

A couple of weekends back it happened again. Waking up the temperature was a nice 63 degrees. Arriving at the baseball field we stepped out to "gale" force, chilly northern winds. After 4 hours of dropping temps and wind chill my body was worn out, my face felt whipped, my lips were chapped and my eyes were itching. If I hadn't been so cold I would have screamed again.

As I think about it now I was ultimately frustrated with me and my expectations. I had hoped to have a rare "perfect" outing or at least no inconveniences. I had imagined everyone having a great time, but then there was the wind!

There are many things I can't control and getting frustrated at them has yet to help. So, I must continually redefine my expectations in light of reality. Add God and prayer to that mix and, well, that really is the place to start. All of my human effort, rowing against the wind and trying to get out of its reach, leaves me frustrated. Instead of struggling I could have adjusted my expectations or been prepared for something a little less than perfect. Then, when things are out of my control I exhibit self-control and focus on what matters.

Adults are just big kids

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Think about it. We, let's say those of us out of high school, haven't changed much, we're kids in grown up's bodies. Or, are we teaching our children its okay to act like children when you're older…?

For instance, several weeks ago I was waiting on the bell to ring so I could pick up my 2 from school and there was a group/pack of moms all talking and carrying on. Then, almost simultaneously, they shot glances at a mom across the courtyard and from the whispering tone it couldn't have been good. Don't we tell our girls not to talk bad about other girls or gossip?

I'll listen to our boy's friends talking and they are constantly telling "I can top that" stories whether it is about what they scored on a video game, or how fast they were in PE etc. Listen to some of your guy friends… 

There is always seemingly useless competition. "Let's see who can…" "I'm better at…" or "Betcha' can't…"

We tell our children to share and then we're "shocked" when they get upset and throw a fit because one of their friends looked at one of their toys. Yet, we continue to stockpile stuff without sharing or get stuff because someone else just got it.

One of the things that burns me up as a parent is when one of my dear children thinks they can get away with something. I guess they think they won't get caught because we were weren't looking or mom and dad are too dumb to know the truth. But think about it, where did they learn that behavior. Do we think it's okay to break the rules when we think we won't get caught?

Another thing is having to be told what to do when we already know it, like telling someone "thank you" or "I'm sorry" or "Can I help?" How many times do I say that to my children? But then, when was the last time I told someone I was sorry?

Hmmm, time to grow up.

Lego focus

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

This past weekend was one full of fun. Along with Easter and the family get together/egg hunt/church service etc it was also a birthday for one of our boys. Since one of his favorite things is Legos, he received tons of them. "Look dad this one has nearly 1000 pieces!"

So, in the "down" time between celebrations we/I (and others) put together AT-STs and Bionicles and B-wing fighters… For awhile we had a system, one of us would sort by color or strange shapes and then other would snap them in place and eventually we would swap jobs. But a 7 year old attention span is only so long when you've got a "gun" built.

One in particular got dumped out on the kitchen table. There I am in the midst of building the "complicated" B-wing fighter and step 104 shows 2 pieces that are gray and circular with two holes in the middle. I can't find them. I looked and looked through the gray and the light gray pieces, the black, yellow and white; then the clear red and khaki. I looked again through the myriad of pieces on the table. There is one with 3 holes and one that is a different shade of the same color… I looked at the inventory at the back of the book and sure enought it shows 2. I flipped over the big pieces to make sure nothing is hiding under one of them. Finally, after several passes over the pile I found what I was looking for.

I felt victorious. I had been at that point of frustration, like I had done all I could but there was that cute little face waiting to play with the newest toy and I knew I couldn't give up. Later it struck me as I thought about my search. I'd seen a lot of pieces in that pile, lots of shapes and cool colors and I had looked it over several times then, "poof" there it was. Does life ever feel like that? One minute, or hour, or day, a week, a month, or a year may seem like a big pile of pieces all jumbled together and mixed up when suddenly what you've been looking for is found and you realize it has been there all along. A lot of times we find focus only after such an intense, often fruitless search. Then, that piece becomes our purpose that puts our priorities in place. It is something or Someone who has been there all along that completes our lives and gives it more meaning than we thought possible. I hope you find that piece in God.

Suffering Symbols

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

As I was studying this past week it came to my attention that we don't have many. Symbols of suffering to be clear. I was looking for a modern day symbol to communicate the importance of Jesus' suffering and what the cross means. The electric chair or lethal injection don't really work. Yes, they are deadly but the suffering is kept to a minimum. None of that cruel and unusual punishment Rome was famous for back in the day. Many historians and medical doctors have described their execution style as the most physically painful ever "invented."

The cross was meant to kill a person over the course of days not minutes or hours and as a public display. Recall, Pilate was surprised to find out Jesus was already dead after several hours when the soldiers reported to him. We simply can't identify, due to our quick and "painless" style happening behind closed doors.

Don't miss the fact that Jesus told those who follow him to take up their cross, daily. Can you say, "suffer?" We have laws against such things. Today our goal for our life focuses on success, blessings and our best life. Now. Present tense. How do you reconcile suffering and the cross in light of modern conveniences and comforts? We can't forget the cross.

One quick thought, notice Jesus' words on the cross in the Gospels. Those words remind us of forgiveness, His/our mission, God's will… I don't know about you but when I'm suffering I'm looking for the quickest way to limit the pain. Give me a pill or change the geography. I'm sure you can't believe it but I'm incredibly selfish when my pinky hurts! How am I going to take up a cross, my cross? Jesus did, and in the midst of excruciating pain Jesus models a way of life.

Once you and I get the focus off of the pain of our cross we notice others, we forgive, we see the temporal nature of our own life and we find the words of Jesus to be important and helpful, "Take up your cross." And we can know that on the other side of the cross a resurrection is coming.