Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On becoming "Real"


ometimes life's circumstances hurt.

No, nothing terrible is going on here, but I am in the midst of a huge disappointment and, just bein' honest here, it's a bummer.

Remember the triathlons I've been training for? They won't be happening this year. The hip injury that I mentioned wasn't just bursitis, instead I was running and training on a stress fracture. To be technical, a "Femoral Neck Stress Fracture." What that means? I'll find out more details tomorrow from a sports orthopedic doctor that I'll see, but could be as much as 3 months on crutches and at least that long with no running. It seems that there is possibility of a stress fracture in that spot "completing" and fully fracturing the femur. Which, as you could imagine, would not make for a good day. I definitely want to avoid that scenario.

I know that not everyone can identify with this, but not exercising is *very* difficult for me. For many years now I have used some form of daily aerobic exercise as a way to not only stay fit, but also to burn stress. I *miss* my endorphins! (insert 2 year old temper tantrum here....)

I know, in the whole scheme of things this really isn't that huge of a deal... but for me, right now it's big.

For me it's this, but for you it might be something else. Perhaps you've been disappointed in a relationship. Relationships can be so difficult, can't they? My mother and I were talking recently about the pain we experience when those we love make poor decisions and we laughed about the dialogue in "The Velveteen Rabbit" (I know, the title should be underlined, but blogger won't let me!) on becoming "Real."

In that beloved children's classic, a boy is given a velveteen rabbit as a toy. The rabbit realizes that he is not really "real" and has a discussion with another one of the nursery toys, the skin horse, about what it means to be "Real."

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.

"Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Baby Timmy, playing last year with a teddy bear that was my father's when he was a child.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

"Consider it joy" and "consider Him." Very, very good advice for me.

Becoming real,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Lost Get Found!

Last Tuesday Tom and I experienced a day that for us will go down in parenting history.

summer morning haze

We love to go bike riding as a family. This summer on days when Tom isn't running in preparation for his upcoming marathon, he has been cross-training by riding his bike. It doesn't matter if he is running or riding, he usually has a large contingent of our children on bikes with him. Last Tuesday was a bike riding day for Tom, so he and six of the children set off to go ride on a nearby bicycle path. The older boys were mowing and I stayed home with the two littlest boys.

preparing to go on a family bike ride

At about 10:15 am I received a call from Tom. "Susan, we can't find Josiah!" My steady policeman husband sounded panicky and his voice was wavering. "Come right away and help search!" It was one of those phone calls that no parent ever wants to receive. He explained that somehow Josiah had become separated from the rest of the group as they rode their bikes. Tom had already been looking for 9-year-old Josiah for 45 minutes and had called the local police department to involve them in the search as well.

a recent picture of Josiah

I quickly explained to Daniel and Tim the need to jump into the car and leave. Without question they ran barefooted to the car and buckled up. The ten minute drive to the park where Tom was searching seemed like an eternity. I prayed both silently and aloud with the little boys as we drove. As I prayed I tried to banish from my mind the recent headline: "Attempted abduction of Leawood jogger." The woman mentioned in the newspaper article had been jogging in the park we were searching.

Just before I arrived at the park I called my parents and asked them to pray too. They not only prayed but also came over to help search.

The police officer near the entrance to the park informed me that they had several officers already patrolling the other entrances to the park by road, an officer on a motorcycle riding the bicycle path, and the police helicopter out.

All to no avail.

Tom and Caleb rode the heavily wooded trail searching and praying (the other children waited with me). There were a number of places on the path where the trail divided. Tom wasn't sure exactly at what point Josiah was separated from the group, so we weren't sure where to concentrate our search.

Tom would call me periodically and each time my cell phone rang, my heart would leap into my throat. "Did you find him yet?"


My parents had arrived and my father offered to drive to the parking lot quite a ways away where Tom and the children had parked the car and started to ride. Perhaps Josiah remembered how to get back there.

With each passing minute I prayed and tried not to think about the statistical chance (very low) of finding a child once an hour has passed. We were now up to 1 1/2 hours.

"What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?"
Luke 15:4

My cell phone rang again. My father was on the phone. "He's here! We found him!"

"When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
"And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'
"I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
Luke 15:5-7

Josiah related to us that he stopped for a drink at a water fountain in the park where we were searching. When he looked up, everyone had ridden off and he couldn't see them anywhere. He didn't know if they had gone on from that point or if they turned around to head back.

Praise God, he was very level-headed and told us that he thought to himself: "I know the way back to our car. I'll just head back that way and if I don't catch up with them and pass them on the way, I'll just wait for them there." And that's exactly what he did!

Don't you know we keep many guardian angels very, very busy around here! (Did I tell you about two of the boys who decided to explore on our (very tall) roof last week as well? No? I'll need to save that story for another blog post! I think I need a nap....)

Interestingly enough, my father shared with me that he also was thinking about the exact same verses... the "rejoicing in heaven"... and it prompted him to consider that the intense joy he felt upon finding Josiah safe was probably only a small portion of the joy experienced in heaven over one sinner who repents.

Oh joy of joys! There is grace enough for all and the ground is level at the cross.

Rejoicing here,

Thursday, July 15, 2010



hat do you do when you realize that you need to regroup and get back to foundational things that really matter?

Looking back, I think I began to lose focus when we traveled to Europe~ even great and fabulous events can be a distraction, can't they? Once I returned from our trip I had a hard time getting back into routine. The fact that it was summer and we weren't using our normal schedule also contributed to my lack of focus.

Enter a number of trying circumstances (you can see a short list here), and you have a fabulous recipe for mommy weariness and discouragement.

It's all a matter of focus.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Heb. 12:1-3

As I have trained for my upcoming triathlon, I have found myself relating in new ways to "running with endurance the race set before us." Clearly we are not to do this in our own strength, but by "fixing our eyes on Jesus."

So, practically speaking, how do I "fix my eyes on Jesus" throughout the day? For many years I have begun each day focused on the Lord by spending time reading my Bible and praying. Certainly this is a perfect foundation for my day. The problem arises when I arise and begin my daily responsibilities, at times almost immediately forgetting the truths I focused on only moments before.

Here's what I'm getting back to... the practices that, in the past, have helped me "fix my eyes on Jesus" throughout the day:

  • writing a key verse from my morning Bible reading on a 3"x 5" card and carrying it around with me all day so I can re-read it and maintain the God-ward focus I so desperately need. (See more here.)
  • adding to my "thankfulness journal" daily.... when I forget to give thanks, I forget to notice and rejoice in the myriad of everyday blessings I am engulfed in.
  • photographing our life. Looking through the viewfinder of my camera encourages me to slow down and live more purposefully, and I also become more aware of the beauty surrounding me. The result? Joy and praise as I am re-reminded of my Father's care for me.
Choosing to rejoice and fix my eyes on Him in the midst of life's distractions (Oh! How He loves us!),

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Photography Resources!

How about a free photography course? The following links are from a course offered on Two Peas in a Bucket, a scrapbooking website. The course is no longer active, but these links are still working. I recommend that you download the PDFs now even if you don't have time to work through them today, and save them for when you do have opportunity to learn some new photography skills!

Here are the links:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12

Many thanks to Jessica Turner at the Mom Creative, for reminding me about this great resource!