Love is on the way

As soon as it was mentioned last winter, I knew I would be going.

This year instead of spending my final week of summer break preparing for the coming school year I would be heading to the south side of Chicago to do some inner city mission work. I would have to spend some time organizing my classroom a bit earlier than usual, but I thought I would be up to the challenge. After all, it was months away.

Fast forward to this past Sunday.

My daughter’s sweet family had just left on Friday after spending three wonderful weeks with us. Putting school work as far out of my mind as possible, I enjoyed every minute of their stay. I did manage to squeeze in a morning or two at school, but for the majority of the last month I chose to soak up family time like a thirsty sponge.

Now it was Sunday afternoon and the reality of what I had to get done in a week’s time began to bear down on me.

What had I been thinking?

I would not return home from Chicago until the Saturday before school began on Monday. Although Monday was a designated teacher day I knew it would be filled with meetings from the beginning and end with an introduction to my new students and their families at our Back to School Night. There would be no time on Monday for lesson planning or preparing materials for the open house.

Panic-stricken I began to melt like a sugar cube dropped in a tea cup. A few hours of work at school on Sunday afternoon had only intensified the pressure. I’d begun to realize there was NO WAY I was going to get everything ready for school and the mission trip. So I did what I always do when I am feeling completely overwhelmed.

I sat on the floor and cried.

And then I prayed.

Slowly, peace came.

Determination followed.

So now the words of Jude 1:2 from the Message Bible are resonating in my heart. “Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way.”

Joy fills my heart. The cavalry is coming! Love is on the way.

As the school year begins I will enter encouraged and prepared.

The mission work accomplished on the streets of Chicago will be a blessing.

No longer is there fear or worry in my heart.

His grace is sufficient.

Love is on the way.

Self Sabotage

It’s interesting how my mind works. Before a recent trip to the store I grabbed a pen and paper to jot down a grocery list. I knew the fruit drawer in my fridge was nearly empty so I wrote down “fruit”.

Funny thing, though.

When I looked back at the list I had actually written “cookies”.

Hmmmm…

I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.

An inspiration to take a walk strikes me, but on the way to get my shoes I end up in front of the computer checking my friends’ riveting Facebook updates. I mean to grab my Bible, but spy the TV remote and suddenly the newest episode of House Hunters is on.

It would be easy to just blame it on the fact that I’m a weak-willed-woman.

But that would be a lie.

I am not a weak-willed woman.

But, I do get sidetracked on occasion. My priorities get out of kilter. Especially if I’m overwhelmed with activities or lacking the necessary sleep to keep me functioning at peak performance.

(O.K. I had to suppress a giggle just then, because I don’t think I’ve been at peak performance since 1994.)

Still, I’m not the only one for whom self sabotage is an issue.

The apostle Paul also struggled with his own contradictory behavior. In the New Living Translation of Romans 7:15 Paul writes, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

That sounds freakishly familiar.

So what’s the answer?

Whenever a friend of mine does the children’s moment at church she tells the kids that it’s a pretty safe bet if she asks them a question the answer is always going to be “Jesus.” The apostle Paul would agree with her. In Romans 7:25 Paul says, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here’s why.

Jesus has my best interest at heart even when I don’t. And what’s more, He sent Holy Spirit to me as my biggest cheerleader. When I lack the motivation to do what I know I should, I can ask for Holy Spirit’s encouragement.

Granted, sometimes that encouragement comes in the form of asking me to give up control.

And that isn’t easy.

But giving up control helps me develop discipline. Discipline that urges me to take the narrow road even when the wide path looks like a tantalizing short cut. Discipline that guides me to do what I should in the moment instead of setting it aside until later and then it is forgotten.

I know it may not keep me from penning “cookies” on my grocery list, but there is a sweeter satisfaction to be had.

And His name is Jesus.

 

The Meltdown

With three kids under the age of five, a trip to the grocery store used to pose a special challenge for me. In those days we were on an especially tight budget so sticking to my list was a necessity. It used to drive me crazy that the checkout line shelves were always filled with candy, gum, and other eye-catching treats that any child would beg to have.

In an effort to counteract this marketing technique, before entering the store each time I would remind my children that we would not be buying any candy or gum at the cash register line. For the most part it was a strategy that worked.

Until one day it happened.

Total And Utter Meltdown.

If you are a parent you know what I’m talking about.

That dramatic, uncontrollable volcano of emotion that suddenly spews out of your child.

All possibility of holding it together for one more moment has been exhausted and kicking and screaming ensues.

And there you are in the middle of the IGA with two other children who look as if they’re considering following suit depending on your reaction to the offender.

Oh, and absolutely everyone and their brother is watching you.

It’s as if there’s a spotlight suspended over your head and at any moment you’re going to hear broadcasted over the intercom, “Meltdown in aisle two. Parental incompetence suspected.”

Incidentally on this particular day my daughter was wearing the cutest white rabbit fur coat. It was a hand-me-down from a friend and was by far the fanciest and most expensive coat she had ever owned.

Walking in she’d looked like a perfect little princess. Sprawled on the grocery floor throwing a category 10 fit over a pack of gum she looked like an overindulged brat.

I take comfort in the fact that in one way or another most parents have endured a similar scene. And we all get through it.

Although sometimes parenthood can make you feel that you’re just one pack of gum away from throwing your own self to the floor in a hissy fit.

That day I had to make a decision and fast. Taking a deep breath and praying silently, I gingerly stepped over her and proceeded toward the door. In my head I was thinking, “What am I going to do if she doesn’t follow me?”

I needn’t have worried. I wasn’t two steps away from her before she popped up off the floor and hurried after me.

Crisis averted.

You know, there have been times in my life when I’ve been that little girl in the rabbit coat thrashing around on the floor. Instead of trusting in God’s plan for my life I’ve acted as if I’ve known better and then become frustrated when things haven’t turned out the way I thought that they should.

Instead of appreciating all the good that is in my life, I begin to focus on what is wrong. I’ve complained and protested.

Honestly, I’ve been sort of a brat. And if I’m not careful I could begin to think that God has left me alone to my own misery and simply stepped over me.

Not true.

It’s really me who has stepped away in disobedience.

I am so glad that God never thinks, “What am I going to do if she doesn’t follow me?” What a blessing to know that He has a plan and He’s sticking to it. No matter what, He is always patiently pursuing my heart.

And when I finally get over my melodramatic meltdown I realize that I was never really alone. He was just one step ahead waiting for my return.