Archive for February, 2013

Old Red sat in the driveway dusted with snow.  “Mom, why is the truck here when Dad isn’t?”  Shoving the bedroom blinds aside, I stared below in disbelief.  There it was–home from the airport but without its owner.  Hmmmm….

“Benjamin Keith!”   (Picture your own mother when she was angry…her brow furrowed; words waiting to spill from her drawn mouth.)  I ran downstairs into the territory of tossed jeans, potato chip bags, and Axe cologne.  A mop of disheveled hair and one skinny, hairy leg poked out from beneath the covers.  “Ben!”  A barely perceptible, “What…” came from the pile on the bed.  “Tell me you didn’t go to the airport and take your dad’s truck.”  “Yeah, I thought I’d pick him up after my appointment today.”

Visualize a calming place…count to ten…breathe.  No.  It didn’t help.  “What were you thinking?  You didn’t have permission to go to the long-term parking garage, locate the truck, and bring it home!”  (At this point, the dialogue became monologue and I realized I can do a pretty good imitation of my mother when she’s upset.) 

“Mom, I paid for the parking fee.”  Not understanding the logic behind this statement, I shook my head in confusion.  How can I know so little as the parent of an eighteen-year-old?

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wheat fields

Patches of gold dotted the landscape–the borders neatly trimmed by barbed wire fences.  The wheat fields resembled an old patchwork quilt; each square confined by the even stitches running across its surface.  Whether  you were a local or a visitor, it was a simple thing to recognize where one section of field began and another ended.

If only life were that easily defined.  But one area bleeds into the other like a country garden spilling over the confines of its makeshift edging.  The concerns of home life influence work…the demands of work are carried home.  I’ve always struggled with setting relational boundaries.  Boundaries with loved ones.  Boundaries with co-workers.

Yet, the simplicity of a Montana wheat field appeals to me.  Its borders, neat and trim–are defined, recognizable, unmovable.  Boundaries.

More and more I understand the importance of those boundaries.  They provide guidance to the farmer as he trolls down a strip of land–offering a place for seeds to find protection from the winds and harsh temperature extremes.  Boundaries.  They determine ownership– a respect for one person’s claim on soil stretching from fence to the next.

I’ve begun to stretch and pull the wire across areas that need definition–even protection–in my life.  Those challenging work situations?  They belong at work; confined in one specific place and time.  That challenging relationship with a dear friend?  I need to determine the difference between ministering and immersing.  Healthy boundaries; God-honoring boundaries–are meant to provide direction for  my life.  Which area needs the most care and attention?  Which is self-sustaining?

I’m beginning to notice a change–some definition on each day’s personal landscape.  Who knew there could be such a sense of freedom in drawing those lines and establishing boundaries?

Verse for Reflection 

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.  Matthew 14:22-23 (MSG)

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The to-do list sat passively on my desk as if mocking my attempts to cross each item off.

  • Call the doctor’s office.  (Schedule three children on different days to avoid missing work.)
  • Write Christmas thank-you’s. (Never mind that it’s almost Valentine’s Day.)
  • Finish that writing assignment.  (Remember, it’s due tomorrow.)

I did manage to arrange appointments between bites of chewy, warmed-over Sesame Chicken but my little notepad is clearly lacking a display of satisfying check marks–and I love check marks.  There is something so wonderfully tangible about slashes of pencil disecting the daily chore list.

I used to fall into the same self-affirming practice with my faith.  If I could just stick to the plan, complete the list, maintain the ritual–then I would have done something worthwhile.  Moved ahead.  Prove myself worthy of God’s love.

  • Get up before the sun and read X number of Old Testament chapters.  (Forget that I can’t concentrate before 6 a.m. unless I go to bed by 10:00 p.m.–a minor miracle in a home with four children.)
  • Forgo the laundry for prayer time.  (While there are times to kneel in prayer without the encumbrance of Fruit of the Loom in my hands, I’ve discovered the attitude of prayer is as important as the circumstance of prayer.)

Self-affirmation of faith doesn’t get me–or anyone–anywhere.  It only reveals our need for Someone to erase the unattainable list we’ve created for ourselves.  And Christ is that Someone.  There is no list.  The slate is wiped clean.  Dear friend, let’s find our satisfaction in Him today.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1-2

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english bulldog with  hot water bottle - suffer a migraine

 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  NIV (1 Corinthians 10:31)

“There’s got to be more to life than this…”  These words–spoken sixty years ago by a young woman with four children and a traveling husband– reverberate in my mind more often than I’d like to admit.

At times like this–when I’ve spent the day scrubbing toilets and wondering who spit their gum behind the stool.  At times like this–when the day’s laundry and homework swallow the sunshine and I answer “no” when my little girl asks to go to the park.  At times like this–when the tension of work and family coincide and I wonder when things get easier.

Then I’m reminded of the moments that are more.  So much more.  Those times I read a bedtime story beneath the covers with a wiggly eight-year-old.  Those times I hear the deep-throated belly laugh of my little boy as he tells a joke.  Those times I pray for the dear ones in my life–knowing I couldn’t demonstrate love for them any better in any other way.

Sometimes living radically is about the day-to-day faithfulness to love–just love.  Sometimes living radically is about leading through serving–even as a wife and mother.  Sometimes living radically is trusting God enough to know his plan for your child’s life extends beyond today’s struggles.

Living radically…loving radically…trusting radically.  Just for today.

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