Archive for February, 2010

No Fear

It was around 9:30 that night. The house was quiet as all the grandkids were safely in their own homes. I was working in my home office when I felt a “presence.” Before you think I’ve gone crazy, the “presence” wasn’t anything spooky; it was my fourteen year old grandson, John Luke. While his presence wasn’t spooky, he did look rather wide eyed and rough. At first this didn’t alarm me as he often runs barefoot around the neighborhood visiting us or other relatives…but still, a visit this late and the look on his face made my “grandma” antennas perk up. First, I reached up and gave him a big hug (never pass up that opportunity!) and then I asked, “What’s up?” As much as I wanted to think he just wanted to see me, I sensed there was more to this story.

With even wider eyes, he began to tell me that he was home alone when their tiny dog started barking and growling downstairs. Being upstairs… in his bedroom… alone… scared him. Apparently the more the little dog barked, the more frightened John Luke got. He quickly accessed the situation and found his only solution to be to climb out the bedroom window (let me remind you, upstairs bedroom), jump from the roof, and run next door to our house for safety. Trying not to be too panicky—teenage boys hate that—I resisted the urge to give him a list of other SAFER scenarios, like using the cell phone that is permanently attached to him to call us! Wisely, I would save that advice for later.

Doing what all grandmothers should do, I then suggested we wake up grandpa to help us find the supposed intruder. Reluctantly, 2 Papa got out of bed and off we went. When we opened the door, we found Max, the dog, enjoying his time alone in the house, running from room to room. Still, the search was on. We carefully checked each room, turning on the lights and looking behind the clothes in the closets. We searched under the beds and in the showers. We pulled back bedspreads and picked up furniture. Let me just say, the folks on CSI would have been proud of our efforts. But, this was our baby—fourteen is still a baby, isn’t it? Okay, not really, but we were not going to leave him alone again until we were sure he was safe. No way!

I can remember many incidences in my childhood when I was scared and the only person who could reassure me that all was well was my daddy. I can remember tiptoeing into my parent’s room late into the night to hear my dad’s soothing voice say, “Nothing is going to hurt you. I’m right here. You’re safe.”

As we get older and have children of our own, WE become the soothing voice. Does that mean we don’t get frightened anymore? Do children of our own take away our need for a comforting parent? Does age bring complete freedom from fear? I wish all of this were true. But, the reality is, the older we get, the list of “things” that can frighten us gets longer and scarier. Oh, to be four again where our fears came from a scary episode of Scooby Doo. Now our list includes sick children, job security, financial burdens, aging parents, wayward children…the list seems endless. We long to tiptoe in our daddy’s room for words of comfort.

I love the words of the Psalmist in Psalms 56:1. He spoke about his Father this way, “Take my side, God—I’m getting kicked around, stomped on every day. Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up. When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. I’m proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?”

These words are not just words of yesteryear, they are still active and alive for us today. God is as ready as any mom, dad, grandpa, or grandma to run to your side and search out all the bad, scary things in your life and stand beside you until you are no longer afraid. So, the next time the dog barks and growls, know that God is right beside you and know that mere mortals cannot touch what God protects.

Have a great week.

Hugs, Chrys

Broken Tooth, Broken Heart

Happy Presidents Day! Curiosity got the best of me, so I did a little research on Presidents Day, which by the way, can be written either as I have done or as President’s or Presidents’. Presidents Day actually began in 1880 as Washington’s Day to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22.. But, in 1971, the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Some of you young moms don’t even know there was such a thing as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, right? I do remember it. It was designed to put all holiday celebrations on Monday giving us, and particularly, government offices, three day weekends. Cool, huh? Well, the date changed in 1971, it wasn’t until the mid 80′s that the title, Presidents Day, began to stick as a result of advertisers such as car dealerships and furniture stores. The power of shopping seems to have won the battle that began for the name change as far back as 1951 through traditional channels of legislation. All of this has nothing to do with the blog today, just some interesting facts. Now to the blog!

I don’t think this can be proven scientifically, but I believe the odds of winning the lottery are better than the odds of keeping grandkids for a week and all of them staying well. Recently, our oldest daughter, Korie, had to be out of town, leaving her four kids in our care. This isn’t new to us. We keep them a few times a year while Korie and her husband travel for their business, so I’m no stranger to wheezing, strep throat, flu and an assortment of bumps and bruises. BUT, this time the kids were having a good week. A great week. No fever, no sore throat, no coughing to keep us up all night, not even a runny nose. Life had been good.

The last night, the night before the parents were to return, I sent the kids off to shower or bathe, an innocent enough activity, one would think. After all, the youngest is now seven, the oldest fourteen. We’re way past my having to monitor the whole bathing process. I relaxed in the kitchen, talking to a friend, silently patting myself on the back for such a smooth week. When out of nowhere, I heard the most blood curdling scream (whatever blood curdling is) from the hall bathroom. Running with the speed of an aging Olympian wanna-be, I hurdled the living room chair and threw open the door to the bathroom. Will, the eight year old, was standing outside the shower holding a towel to his mouth. Now, as a former child myself, former mom of young kids, former camp director, AND former school teacher, I know that when a kid holds a towel to his mouth, and is screaming, what’s under there isn’t going to be pretty. My first order of business was to calm Will and then to access the damage.

I quickly noticed there was no blood on the towel—good sign—but it was clear Will was in considerable pain, so something bad had happened. With some soft talking and calm reassurance, I was finally able to get Will to release his death-grip on the towel and let me take a look at the damage. Sure enough, the bad news was Will’s permanent front tooth was now half its former self. The good news — a fairly bad slip in shower didn’t do more damage than a chipped tooth. I helped Will dry off and put on some pajamas, and then I guided him to the couch. Of course, all the while I’m asking him, “What happened?” It’s always a mom’s job to find out exactly how a kid damaged themselves, right? For some reason we think it will help if we know how it happened. Oh, well! Next, I got an ice pack and some Tylenol to give him some relief from the pain and turned on his favorite TV show. Soon, he went on to sleep with no trouble. The next morning, he didn’t complain one time, but as I gave him his breakfast, I noticed he took small bites and to the side of this mouth. I hurt for him. The accident was over, but the pain, and even disfigurement, was still there.

Do you think God winces as He watches us struggle to recover following the heartaches, painful situations, and tragedies in our life? I know he does. Just as we, as parents and grandparents, hurt for our children, He hurts for us. More than that, He understands our losses and grief, our pain and brokenness, because He has been there too. Isaiah 43 tells us this, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God.” How comforting it is to know that we are not alone in our pain.

God, our father, is not sitting in His living room, patting Himself on the back for a job well done. No, He is carefully watching every move we make, ready to leap over the couch to our rescue. He doesn’t even hound us with “What happened?” He just quietly offers us His loving ice pack to ease our pain—no questions asked.

As for Will’s tooth, the pain has subsided, but the tooth is still half its normal size. We still haven’t made it to the dentist who has the technology to make it whole again. You can bet that God is capable of making your broken heart whole again. It may take some time, but it can be done. If you’re hurting over events that have happened in your life, whether out of your decisions or the decisions of others, ask God to help you heal from those hurts. He is sitting on ready to help you!

Have a great week. Give someone you love a big hug today!

Hugs, Chrys

Listen to the Music

We are just a week away from the winter Olympics. WOO HOO! As an “athlete wanna-be” I’m always glued to as much of the winter and summer Olympics as my schedule allows. We’ve even had the opportunity to attend the Olympics a few times and it is an awesome experience. I’m sure you’re like me and can’t believe it’s been four years already! How does that happen? Time sure does fly.

As I look forward to seeing the new athletes and cheering them on, I have one vivid memory from the previous Olympics I want to share with you. It is the story of Zhang Dan. You may not remember Zhang Dan’s name, but, with some prompting, you may remember the event. At the time I called it the “thud heard around the world,” which I’ll explain in a minute. Here’s what happened. The very graceful and extremely athletic Chinese pair skating team, unrelated, but both named Zhang, had a misstep and Zhang Dan, the woman skater, took a hard fall. Their mission had been to land a never-before-landed quadruple Salchow. Now, for the Salchow to work, one partner throws another to achieve maximize speed and height. That part is scary enough, but, that’s not all. My trusty friend, Google, tells me that a Salchow involves a jump with a takeoff from a back inside edge of the skate while landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot after turning a few rotations in the air. I’m exhausted just reading the description! Remember, this Solchow as a quadruple. In other words—FOUR turns in the air. Crazy, right? This is athletic ability beyond my imagination. Right now, I’m doing good to master the moves in a simple country line dance where my feet might leave the ground for two inches and not at the same time.

Back to the story. You could almost hear a collective, worldwide gasp as both of Zhang Dan’s knees hit the ice with a resounding thud. But, the thud wasn’t the end of the agony. This beautiful skater continued to spin across the ice stopping only when she barreled into the retaining wall. The cameras shot to her teammates, who stood with their hands over their mouths and their eyes filling with tears; then to the crowd of Olympic fans, each staring in horror. In homes around the world, millions of viewers, like me, watched from our living rooms, too shocked to speak.

But the real story was still to come. Zhang Dan skated to the side as she rubbed her knees and cried. Her partner was right beside her, comforting her and holding her up. Everyone assumed they were finished; their Olympic dream over. But, after only five minutes, as if by some pre-determined cue the pair proudly skated out to resume their routine at the precise moment the fall had interrupted it. That, my friends, is the Olympic spirit.

Most of us will never have an experience exactly like Zhang Dan’s was but all of us will know what it feels like to hit the ground hard and spin out of control. As a busy mom, you wake up every day praying that you can keep upright on your mommy-skates and land the day with minimum success. You’re not even hoping for a ten, a seven or an eight would do just fine. But, the reality is, there are days when a bad landing, a two or three, is the best you can do. You might fall a little short as all of your children beg for your attention at the same time or when your husband ignores the signals that you need help or when your teenager forgets to take out the trash.

What I love about Zhang Dan’s story is her courage and strength to start right where she left off. Later in an interview, she said when the music started she wasn’t sure where to begin, but soon her instincts took over and she just started skating. Wow! I love that thought. The pair went on to win the Silver Medal.

God is all about helping us pick up the pieces after a nasty fall. His voice is the music we can hear if we will only listen. When we do, it will be as if by some predetermined cue the music will lead us right back to where we should be. God is our comforting partner, allowing us our five minutes to cry before he whispers in our ear, “You can do it. Keep skating. I’m here to hold you up.” God is the coach on the sideline whispering, “Go for it! You ARE prepared.” God is the crowd of fans who came to see you succeed and cheers you on even, or more so, after a fall.

Today as you spin through your day with the pace of an Olympic champion, don’t be discouraged that you may fall a time or two. I’ve no doubt you will and I will too. Just remember, the music will start again and you will finish the performance on the top of your game. Go, Mom, Go! There’s a gold medal awaiting each of you!

PS Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints. What an awesome game!

Hugs, Chrys