The Plunge: Swimming Through Lessons in Humilty

cartoon swim

Swimming lessons with a 3 year old splashed humility all over this grandma.  Allow me to throw you a life preserver in order for you to avoid getting drenched as well.

Lesson #1-Don’t let your plan or pride keep you from the task at hand. Due to my daughter’s work schedule, I was the one to take Gracie for two weeks to a private backyard pool. In with her sunscreen and towel, I packed my book with visions of looking up from my riveting tale to shout inspiring encouragement as our little fish found her inner-mermaid. Wrong. The pool was just deep enough that Gracie couldn’t touch, and several of the tadpoles were there alone, so the instructor had her hands full. In a flash, I found myself, street clothes and all, with 20-30 something bikini clad moms, gliding the future Esther Williams on her tummy through the waves.  From then on, the book stayed home and over my swimsuit came my “Wendy Peppercorn is a Royals Fan” tank top.

Lesson #2-Pushing through pain is worth the effort, but the voices have to be ignored. While physically I could be way more fit, I’m not too shabby. However, due to the shallower depth of the pool, in order to help Gracie, my knees did not appreciate the constant strain put on them in this awkward position.They screamed and tried to convince me that I was dooming me to a future of unending meniscus surgeries and an ibuprofen drip. Honestly, I was on the verge of saying “Sweet Uncle of Marco Polo”, but Gracie would be left high and dry. However, in time, whatever ligaments were being stressed finally stretched out and now feel better than ever. While we dog paddle between the line of common sense and sucking it up, we need not be controlled by the negative or we will never discover what God has up his sleeve for us.

Lesson #3-Patience, patience, patience. Everyone has a different pace. Some of the kids there will obliviously be competing in the  2028 Olympics. They hit the water like a golden retriever after a duck.  On the other side of the buoy, others were clinging to their moms in terror and trying to scramble to higher ground on the top of Mom’s head. Gracie was kind of middle ground. At three, this venture proved to be on her own terms. In fact, one day, she was not having it, so we had to throw in the beach towel and simply pack it in. Then on most days, whenever the instructor came our direction with her perky positive countenance, Gracie would plaster on a fake smile and turn her back on her like, “If I act like I don’t see her, she’ll go away, because I see her plan to ask me to do something I’m not cool with.” Back in the day, I would have had my kids in the corner and frustrated that “we paid good money for this, so get in there and do what she tells you!” (How I appreciate the blessing of being down the road a bit farther now and the wisdom that goes with it.)

The instructor, however, is a master with this age. She would flounce off, give Little Miss Thing space, and then circle back around, not giving up, but allowing her breathing room and time to process getting more comfortable with this new adventure. After several days, Gracie discovered she wanted Tina’s attention and was hollering, “Look at me!”, eventually going with Tina to try some new stuff.

Lesson #4-Don’t expect someone to be courageous if you aren’t willing to be as well.  The big treat at the end of a session was to go down the slide—well, for most of them it was a treat. One mom was trying to encourage her little guy to go down.  He was at clinching the top rails and screaming like a gut-shot panther.  Gracie was soaking it in as I held her in the pool. She yelled in her most excellent, positive, motivational speaker voice, “Be brave, Cameron!” This gave me great hope as she was yet to show a lick of interest in this activity. “So, do you want to go down the slide?”  She matter-of-factly looked at me and stated firmly, “No.”   Another reality arrow with ‘guilty’ written on it pierced my heart.  How many times do we encourage others like we have it all figured out when we would be shaking in our floaties in the same situation?  Oh, how we need to pray for wisdom in the act of encouraging so that it doesn’t sound like it came from the shallow end.

Lesson #5-It seems hopeless right before the breakthrough. Toward the end of my tour of duty, I told my daughter I was afraid I had taken Gracie as far as I could. True, I could have been more firmer in attempting to cajole her into success, but here is where I was laying down the grandma card. You gigis know what I mean. Grandmas can lavish a bit more grace than parents once in awhile-sometimes out of love and sometimes out of sheer survival.  So far she was content for me to coast her Cleopatra style along the Nile. Bubble blowing was rare, not to mention the super courageous plunge under. Don’t even hint at the s-l-i-d-e. In addition, the day before had been the mondo melt-down session when I pulled the plug and dragged the soggy, sobby, little muskrat home. Beached is how I felt with my role in the swimming lesson gig.

But the next day dawned.

GO (her nickname since she’s named Gracie Olive) was nothing but GO!  She wanted to swim with the instructor–well glide like Cleopatra, but got to love baby steps! She could have powered a MasterCraft X26 with the bubbles she blew and her ‘princess kick’ action. Her eyes lit up when it came slide time, and she climbed that ladder ‘by myself!” like she was Greg Louganis’s twin sister. When she let loose to fly down the shoot, the light in her eyes gleamed of the start of an irresistible aquatic romance.

Not a bit of what went on hinged on me or my performance. Simply being present and willing to get wet was all that was asked.

Which proves again, in the everyday, God shows himself in the silly or the serious.  His words are true. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

How has God shown you that His grace is sufficient?  I’d love to know.

Photo credit: http://swimsafer.webs.com/photos/High_resolution_boy.jpg

 

 

 

 

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The Gift

tomatoWhat is your motive for giving gifts? Most of the time, aren’t they as pure as glossy white gift bag with crispest of tissue? Celebrations, Christmas, appreciation, sympathy, need, or even the running across a tailor-made gift that is I-can-t-stand-it perfect for someone.

All are given through some kind of sacrifice–finances, time, and dare I say, pride.

Yes, pride. One of the hardest gifts I ever gave was……a tomato plant. A scrawny, green stem with droopy leaves. Stamped on it was a guarantee that the receiver would think I was stark-raving loco.

As I planted my garden, a weird itch began my spirit. The more I pushed the pesky thought away, strong God jabs strongly impressed on me to give Matilda a tomato plant. (I don’t even know a Matilda, but haven’t cleared the story with the gal. But who hasn’t wanted a friend named Matilda?) On any ordinary day, I was sure she thought I hung off the cliff of half-crazy. This would vacuum seal it up in Ball canning jar for sure.

But that’s not all. Not only was I to give it to her, but I was to tell her to watch how it produced fruit.

Excuse me, but that absolutely pegged my nutty meter plum past the zany intro of a Veggie Tales movie. I dug deeper and faster, ignoring the jabs, stabs, almost booming voice in my head.

“Okay, enough! Fine! I will do it!” I threw down my shovel, grabbed the best looking Early Girl I had, and stomped to the house. If I was going to do this, I would use a beautiful planter with a BIG bow slapped on the side. Maybe the beauty of the arrangement would distract from the insanity of the present??? I drove the length of town and circled her house like an FBI agent on a stake out.

Whew! No car! I rummaged for a pen and hastily wrote a note of God-given instruction on the back of a deposit slip, reluctantly signing my name. Next, I did a Carl Lewis sprint to her front door, set it on the step, and skinnied down the street faster than Peter Rabbit at the McGregor Farm.

I waited, but hoped Matilda had secretly skipped town forever, or that a gardening bandit was roaming her neighborhood, snitching bedding plants. Neither of us would be forced to speak of the Great Tomato Incident ever, ever again.

But God had a different plan.

Not often do you get to see the result of a ‘crazy gift,’ but God allowed it this time. The call I got bowled me over. Matilda had been going through a funk and thought no one realized she existed. This surprise had made her day. It hadn’t matter in the least what it was, just that God and someone had teamed up to remember her.

Whew! Mission accomplished, and no looney-bin was in my future. (Because at this point, it was still all about my watermelon-sized ego. ‘Crazy’ had been replaced with ‘Hero of the Day!’)

As the summer progressed and Matilda and I shared many a ball diamond bleacher together, I asked about the plant often. “Oh, it’s doing great! I’ve been fertilizing and watering it everyday.” Then, “it’s sure big and bushy. Lots of flowers, but no fruit. My neighbor told me to beat it, so I did.” Next, “It is not looking so great. I’ve pruned it back some, but it is faltering.” And the list continued of her back flips to get that plant to do its thing through the season.

“Oh great,” I prayed, “She’s going to kill it! All this has been a waste and is only going to discourage her more. It will be all my fault. The plant should be full and overflowing by now. Mine are. How could you set us up like this? ”

As the summer went by, it didn’t die, but no fruit either. On one of our visits, I started to apologize for my part in this charade. She stopped me. “You have no idea how precious the lessons I am learning are. To start, I watched it like a hawk. It wasn’t growing as fast as I thought it should, so I fertilized abundantly. When it did take off, I beat it. When it looked peaked, I replanted it. Then I pruned it, sprayed it with bug killer, and fertilized it again. The more I messed with it and tried to control it, the more it suffered.”

She continued, “God showed me that many of the troubles in my life are due to me not being able to back off. I think I have to finagle and supervise every thing around me. None of my family are bearing fruit because I keep micro-managing everyone. I thank God that he sent this tomato plant.”

She went on to say that coincidentally, the same day of my speedy delivery, her husband brought home her a picture of vines twirling around plump clusters of grapes. It read, “I am the Vine; you are the branches, If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5 We both stood amazed.

Oh, Giver of every good and precious gifts, let us be faithful to team up with you in a not-so crazy capers that only feel ridiculous at the time. May we be forever thankful for prunings that produces a harvest of humility.

Photo credit~mine!

When You’ve Realized You’ve Lost It

How often do you lose something?  Misplace or simply forget where you put that item?  Or has someone moved it? You tear through your possessions, hidey-holes, and seek out corners you haven’t graced with your presence in years?

Sunday, my beloved decided the ceiling fan, purchased last spring, would finally be installed in our living room.  As he dragged in the ladder and assembled all expected tools, he asked, “Have you seen that silver box I sat on the kitchen counter?”

“What does it look like?”  I scratch my head, mentally rummaging through where I might have placed the piles of nuts, bolts, wadded scraps of paper, etc, that land on my kitchen counter after he comes in the door.

“Well, it’s yea tall and yea wide.”  (This is oilfield-ese for:  the dimensions of anything  from the size of a roll of electrical tape to a 20 foot tank battery.)  With the benefit of descriptive hand gestures, I translate the box is 3 inches by 3 inches.   Of course, it  must be found. It is a critical piece, the base for the fixture to attach to.

“When did you set it here?”

“Well, I brought it home from the hardware store, probably two weeks ago.”

I had to have had the most dumbfounded look.  A lot has gone on in my kitchen in that time period.  Not only normal use, like fixing meals, but when our grand baby came to visit, half the town trooped through.  And, remember the little cousins, who created all sorts of masterpieces with the home-made play dough I cranked out to entertain them?

The kitchen is our home’s hub—you can’t just lay something down and expect it still to be there two weeks later.

The kicker is: This isn’t our first rodeo.  Yep, it’s been repeated  for over 30 years, but thankfully, the occurrences have tapered off with time.

But, guess who is guilty as well.  There are times I gallivant through life and set God on the counter.  I blaze through my days with courtesy prayers and great intentions to get back to Him at a more convenient time.

Then, when I slow down and sort through the chaos, I panic, expecting our relationship to pick up right where I left it.

But, the stuff life is made of has cluttered me up during my furlough, requiring me to back up and humbly seek Him with all my heart before I can sense the attachment to Him.

Nevertheless, He is always waiting—ready for me to miss him enough to come flying back—hoping the frustrating occurrences will taper off in time.

So how amazing is his love? –Always yea high and yea wide.

But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

photo credit: http://getsocialwithamy.com

Thanking God I Am Not Toast-Fed Up and Fiery Attitude Confessions

 About 2 months ago, I wrote about dancing in the rain which renewed our hope in God’s faithfulness.   

When it rained a half an inch on July 3rd, it refreshed more than our crunchy grass. Our spirits drank in the gift. You couldn’t have blown the sappy grins off our faces with a sparkler bomb like my son had just caught my flower bed on fire with. Stresses melted as we celebrated the blessing of living in this great country and our long-lost friend, the rain, coming for a visit.

Last Sunday, a mere one week later, the temperatures had maintained the 100+ degree range. Throw out a few shells on our lawn and I have some beach property for sale-minus the ocean. Some of Cliff’s jobs had shifted from oilfield to helping desperate ranchers dig for water. Waking that morning to overcast skies and rumbles of thunder was like salve to our sun-burnt spirits. Weatherbug Cliff was looking at the radar on the laptop, when I asked him if we had gotten anything yet.

“Nope. It missed us.” He stomped out the door to go water his roses-again.

Surely that couldn’t be right. I grabbed the laptop and checked several sites. Little green blobs danced around us with nary a chance headed our way. My anger flared.

“Lord what is the deal? EVERYONE around has been getting rain. Why not us? We have been praying and counting on ‘If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land‟. My hand was on my hip as I shared my frustrations with the Giver of the Rain. “Everything is burned up. Grasshoppers have stripped the garden. For farmers and ranchers its past critical.” Through clenched teeth, I growled “I think we have been humbled enough, already!”

Only by the grace of God did lightning not strike Little Miss Tude dead. Instead, he answered me in a combination of ways. Like the quiet voice saying: “If you are done, I beg to differ about your humility. When your daughter at Emporia called and mentioned it rained, you popped off ‘well, it must be nice!’  When Pratt or Kiowa had the blessing come their way, you pouted.  Honey, this is not a competition. Everyone is dry and I am using it for good that you can’t see. Can you trust me?”

As I plopped on my porch glider to eat the humble pie the Lord had prepared for breakfast, my Chronological Bible had me hanging out with Elijah. Seriously. Three years of no rain. Even Mr. Chariots of Fire‟s stream dried up. But, as unconventional (and gross) as it was, God sent the ravens to feed him as secretly his good was at work.

Later at church we went to the verses before and after the famous ‘humbling’ verse in 2 Chronicles 7:13-16. Oh my! Read it for yourself. A guaranteed goosebumps passage.

It was enough to bring us Methodists to our knees in a way we hadn’t experienced in ages. Rain came in tears streaming down our faces. May we not forget to humbly come together as we pray for those drying up through all of the plains states, fighting fires next door and far off, and those who are watching their homes and lives float away, and wish they had it as good as we do.

Photo credit: http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0511-1008-0523-0036.html