Foam pit faith

blogIMG_7561 (2)Wouldn’t it be amazing if every time you fell down, you landed in a soft cushion of foam to keep you from being injured?

Over the Easter weekend, Papa, our girls (middle daughter and granddaughter), and I  traveled to see the rest of our family, stopping in the state next door to see our son, daughter-in-law, and other grandchild.

After a short visit with them, we headed south to our oldest daughter and son-in-law’s home. Rainy weather dogged us and the outdoor Easter egg hunt that we were planning to take our little one to wasn’t a feasible idea.

Instead, we spent a fun and active afternoon at an indoor trampoline park. Papa and I decided to merely observe because we envisioned going home in a cast or some such bad luck. But oh, what fun we had watching the young ones cavort.

Little one couldn’t get enough jumping, following her uncle and attempting everything he did. And our two big girls – sisters – were jumping and flying through the air as well. This mama watched them through the eyes of my camera lens, trying to capture all the antics.

I caught this one of our daughter trying to keep her balance on a tight rope of sorts. I think she only succeeded in making it across once but the rest of the time, she landed in the foam pit below. A nice, soft landing.

If only all our falls were like that! We all take a tumble sometimes. Tripping over a curb. Losing your balance. Skidding down the steps. Losing your footing on an icy patch. Or maybe your pet darts in front of you and you stumble over it.

Broken bones may be the result. Or bad bruises. Or maybe just a bruised ego, a humbling case of humiliation if you happen to land on your backside while out in public.

It happens to all of us and often there’s no way of preventing that fall in the physical world. But we also fall emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. And many times, those stumbles that knock us down aren’t as easy to recover from.

But those of us who have a strong faith have an everlasting safety net when we fall. His name is Jesus. He holds out His arms and catches us, holding us securely until we can set our feet back on solid ground. Even if our tumble causes us pain, Jesus applies His healing balm of unconditional love on us.

As we learn from the mistakes that cause our falls, our problems, our troubles, we are picked back up by a loving, forgiving Savior. He sets us right again. And He’s so much better than a foam pit.

“You will fall many times in life, but you will pick yourself up and become stronger and wiser for each trouble you pass.” ~ Leon Brown



An ice cube told me so

It happens every single time.

It frustrates me, it exasperates me, and when I’m in a hurry, it even makes me infuriated.

Yet it is something so trivial, so irrelevant, so trifling that honestly, it’s not worth the effort it takes getting aggravated.

But this situation transpires every solitary day, sometimes several times a day, and it completely exacerbates me.

You’re probably gearing up to read a rant from me about some injustice in the world, or some terrible wrong that occurred.  Truly, my beef today in my book of Opportunity has nothing to do with the unfairness of the world, or prejudice, or some grievance I have.

You may think I’m daft but my problem has to do with… ice cubes.  Okay, I warned you that it was an inconsequential thing!  But my ice cube situation reminded me of something significantly noteworthy and I feel certain I must share what I realized.

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we don’t have a fancy-dancy refrigerator.  Over 12 years ago, as we prepared to move into our newly built house here in the homeland, we incurred so many expenses that we chose to purchase a fairly simple white refrigerator.

The only requirement needed was an ice-maker of some sort because I am an ice cube junkie.  Since a refrigerator with an ice cube/water dispenser on the door was not in our budget, we settled for an inside the freezer type ice-maker.

Our trusty ice giver has served us well, dishing up multitudes of ice cubes at my beck and call.   It has survived countless rounds of teenage parties and sleepovers, family picnics, graduation galas, family holiday dinners, and middle of the night middle-age hot flashes (and there were LOTS of those!).

I truly would be lost without my ice-maker because when I drink cold beverages they must be icy cold, even chilled water from the refrigerator must have ice floating in it.  Told you I was an ice cube junkie!

So my complaint is not that the ice-maker has gone on the fritz, it hasn’t.  It still molds and makes cubes to meet my demands and I’m grateful for it.  But here’s the part of the story that always ticks me off.

Because the ice-maker is inside the top freezer portion of the fridge, I must open the door and scoop up the cubes with my hand (it’s clean, I promise!) then deposit them into my glass.  Every time I do so, at least one wily and rambunctious cube escapes from my hand, lands on the hardwood floor, and slides and glides with abandon to far reaches of the kitchen.

Every time!!  And often an avalanche of ice cubes jump out of my hand in escape mode.  So to avoid wet little puddles here and there on the kitchen floor, I must stop to retrieve them.  I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when it happens without fail each time I reach into the freezer for ice, it irritates me.

Why such a minor, paltry incidence gets the best of me, I cannot say.  I can only reiterate that it infuriates me especially when I’m loading up my travel mug with ice and water to scurry out of the house for work or another engagement.

So the other day, when, yet again, those pesky little cubes that I have a love/hate relationship with jumped ship straight from my hand to the floor, I became angry.   But then as I indignantly exclaimed, “NOT AGAIN!!!”,  a sobering thought coursed through my mind.

Immediately, I thought how God must feel each and every time, several times a day in some cases, when I fail to acknowledge Him, or give Him thanks, or praise Him, or I fall once again into the same old sin pattern I’ve had for so long.

When I jump from His hand of guidance to free fall, does He think, “NOT AGAIN!”?  When I willingly escape from the straight path He set me on and choose my own sinful way, falling yet again, does He sigh with righteous indignation when He picks me back up?  When I don’t follow His Word, which is His guidebook for me, does He get annoyed and let off steam?

As I gathered the willy-nilly ice cubes and their bits broken off by the fall, and then tossed them into the kitchen sink, I realized God never, ever tosses me aside.  Not even when I’m rebellious, not even when I’ve really made a mess.  He lovingly restores me, guides me, directs me, and more importantly He forgives me.

The God of the universe shows unconditional love and patience with me, someone who is as inconsequential in the world as an ice cube.  Since I was a little girl, God has always been a major part of my life, so He has formed me and molded me into the person He wanted me to become.

And yet I stray, I fall into sin, and I forget to give Him thanks in all things.  But He loves me anyway and continues to hold me in the palm of His hand.  He doesn’t angrily throw me away each time I fall.

And that’s what my rebellious ice cubes reminded me.

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.  All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.  The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” ~ Psalm 145:8-14

Copyright ©2012

Fallen and can’t get up?

blogIMG_1149The other day I fell.

I didn’t trip, stumble, stagger, tumble, slip, teeter or lose my balance.  I fell.  Hard.

I lurched.  I sprawled.  I dropped faster than the proverbial hot potato.  I was down for the count like a boxer who just took one to the chin and kisses the canvas of the boxing ring floor.   And I can blame it on my computer.

Sitting in my family room on my day off, I needed to complete a work project, so I had brought my office laptop computer home with me.  While working on that device,  I also decided to fire up my personal laptop.

I happily bounced back and forth between typing my project on the business computer to checking Facebook updates, email and blog stats on my personal one.  You see, I really am a bonafide multi-tasker.  I believe it’s my middle name.

Ward, the work computer, indicated his battery was draining fast, so I plugged his cord into the electrical outlet.  Of course, Penelope, the personal laptop, had to follow suit.  And she was downright pesky about it.  She kept beeping at me and then gave off a dire warning, so I located her adapter cord and plugged her in as well.

There they sat, Ward and Penny, side by side on the coffee table, recharging so they could further assist me, while I occupied the couch, crunching some numbers on a calculator.   And then the phone rang – not my cell, the house phone in the kitchen.

One minute I stood up to rush to answer the phone, the next minute I slammed into the floor.  Belly-flopped.  Face planted in the carpet.  Stunned and thinking, “What the heck just happened to me?”

I lifted my head,  expecting to have a bloody nose because I smacked the floor face first that hard.  Relieved to see no blood, I rolled over to take assessment of the rest of my body.  That’s when I noticed one of the laptop cords was still twirled around my big toe (yeah, I never wear shoes in the house) and obviously was the culprit for taking me down.

I slowly worked my way into an upright position, thankfully realizing nothing was broken on me or the laptops.  I vaguely remembered the odd sensation of lurching forward unable to catch myself, hitting my left hip on the edge of the coffee table and my right hip on the arm of the sofa on my way down to my crash landing on the floor.

I still can’t quite understand how Penelope and Ward managed to stay perfectly perched on the coffee table though, while I ended up sprawled on the carpet.    I always accuse both computers of having  minds of their own, and now I’m wondering if the two of them were in cahoots – you know, a conspiracy theory.

The day after my plummet, I definitely felt the damage – both hips bruised and even my stomach hurt from the impact.   For a few days afterward, you could have nick-named me “Hop-a-Long,” as I ambled slowly especially while going up and down our staircase.

So why write about obviously being a klutz?  I do so because it occurred to me, each time I winced from my bruises, that my fall describes what life is often like.  One minute you’re breezing along like nobody’s business, taking care of business, and then boom!

You’re laid flat.  Something knocks you for a loop.  The rug gets pulled out from under you.  You never saw it coming.   Those hidden obstacles send you reeling and flying.   That’s life.  There’s not much we can do about that.   Bad things happen.  Falls occur.  Things don’t turn out the way you expect.

But there is something we can do about the way we respond to the bumps and lumps, twists and turns, and belly-smackers and head-bangers on our way.  Do we wallow while we’re down, drowning ourselves with misery and “woe is me” attitudes?  Do we just give up saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!?”  Or do we dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and move forward?

My middle daughter experienced her fair share of disappointments while she was still a college student.  An injury sidelined her from her sport of choice, but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she simply moved on and attempted something different – running on the college cross country team.

Once during an important meet, she was closing in on the finish line, when splat –  she fell!   Those watching all gasped.  She could have quit, she could have writhed on the ground weeping in despair.  But she didn’t!  She scrambled to her feet, planted a smile on her face, and finished the race bleeding knees and all.  I’ve always admired her courage and guts in doing so.

I’d like to think she inherited her determination from her parents, but I attribute her tenacity and optimistic attitude to her faith in God.  He helped her through the long haul.  She’s learned to hold onto her faith in Jesus for dear life and when we fall, as we surely do, He offers His hand to lift us up.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-14,  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

My recent fall reminded me today in my Opportunity book, Chapter 7, Page 12, that even though life looks so very rosy right now at our house, falls will come.  Obstacles will cause me to stumble; circumstances will happen beyond my control.  But I must forget what’s behind and remember instead to press forward knowing that Jesus stands ever ready to help and guide me.  Even though I will fall,  He will always be there for me just as He always has been, arms outstretched ready to pick me up.

Deuteronomy 33:27 promises that to all of those who put their faith in Christ Jesus:  “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” 

What about you?  Do you believe God’s everlasting arms are always underneath you?  Won’t you join me today, right now, in thanking Him for always being within our reach?

“Underneath are the everlasting arms.  What child of God was ever allowed to fall lower than God’s underneath?” ~ H. Gill