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Archive for March, 2022

In 1969 the term Helicopter Parent (HP) was first coined in a book called “Between Parent & Teenager.” But it was in the 1990s when the phrase became part of our conversations.

This generation planned play dates, scheduled extracurricular sports, lessons and tutoring, pushed towards a failure-resistant future. HPs are known for being over-involved in their children’s friendships, schooling (even university), housing (of adults) and future plans.

Since I entered the realm of parenting in the early 90s, I am part of the generation of parents who were considered ones who hovered over our children (though I am from Generation X, not the typical Boomers, who represent the copter parents). We are the first generation who notoriously feared for our children’s every move. Our elementary-aged children were not typically ones who left the house after breakfast and not return until lunchtime.

The thing is, helicopters eventually need to land.

The same could be said for parenting.

Chuck Yeager (a pilot who broke the sound barrier) said,

“If you want to grow old as a pilot,
you’ve got to know when to push it,
and when to back off.”

He could have been speaking, equally, about parenting. For, even those of us who have spent our parenting years hovering over our kids, eventually need to land … backing away from the controls, allowing them to take total control of their own flights.

And, you know what, there will be dangers, and uncertainties, and failures, and life-altering decisions … this is part of life and living … and it is the only way for one to learn their own way.

As I was reading interesting facts about aviation, something stood out to me.

Periodically, pilots on a plane place the controls in the hands of George, saying, “George is flying the plane now.” George is simply reference to the autopilot system of preprogrammed direction, speed, etc. This gives the pilot opportunity to address other issues related to flying.

When I read about this I found myself snickering, thinking that perhaps we helicopter parents need to rely on George, the autopilot … or, by another name, on God, the co-pilot of all of our lives. This is the only way to back off wisely.

What our adult children need most is not security from harm, heartbreak and failures, but opportunity to learn from their mistakes, build resilience in relationships that don’t always go as hoped and develop an understanding that failure is ways we learn. All of that leads each of us to look for someone to be our co-pilot … God.

Helicopter parents, it’s time to let George fly.

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Do your Monday thoughts begin on Sunday?

For years (though I love my job) I would awaken on Sunday mornings with regret in my heart … for once Sunday had come to it’s natural end, Monday followed. It was as though the door to Monday was already being opened on Sunday, leaving a dark shadow of the end of the weekend before it had even finished.

It is good that we can enjoy of ‘off’ days, our fun days, our free time days. It is not good, though, when we wish away time, in search of other time.

The NIV (New International Version) of Psalm 90:12 tells us:

“teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

but it is in the New Living Translation that more clarity of meaning is communicated:

“teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.”

Brevity … how short our life’s span.

These Sundays of awakening with thoughts of regret for the end of the weekend, the Spring Break, the holidays … these are moments when we are not acknowledging the brevity of our lives (and I am most certainly, guilty of such thoughts). These are moments when we are not availing ourselves to the wisdom that God gives.

Welcome to Monday … what a privilege to be here!

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Reflection of one’s life can be prompted by many things … birthdays do it for me …

every.

year.

I had one this week, a birthday. There was cake, and a brought-in dinner, and family, and calls, and cards and messages. They were all fodder for reflection. So were my aching muscles from a week-long mini renovation to our kitchen and sunroom (painting, changing lighting, installing flooring, etc.) … thank goodness for pain relievers!

and I reflect …

It is fall here, on my springtime birthday. The autumn of my life. Autumn demands reflection.

So, as the daffodils brighten the planters outside my doors, I think about how short their lives are, yet how they bring beauty to this world.

What if this were my final earthly birthday?

The thought crosses my mind, pausing, sinking into my mind, my aching muscles. It lingers, like the scent of the cut daffodils in a vase, that I’d moved to another spot. Reminding me of their presence, even after they were gone from that room.

Will I leave a beautiful scent? Will I leave something good? Even after I am gone, no longer present in the room?

How a mind can wander, can go to unexpected places.

And so, I reflect. Looking back in my mind’s eye at the life I have lived, those whose lives have intersected my own.

I thought of the well wishes of friends on social media accounts. I am so blessed to have such a great and varied group of humans to call friends. Some going back to elementary school, others I met just a few months ago. Some with whom faith is shared. Some connections through our kids. Or my hubby. Or work. Or through this blog. Some who I connect with daily, others whom connection happens just this once or twice a year. To have such a great earthly cloud of witnesses is all privilege.

I thought of the events of my life. My marriage, births of children, moves to different communities, deaths, celebrations, jobs, churches, joys and sorrows … the blessings and apparent curses intermingled in a such a way that each one is dependent on the others. In the end, all are blessings, for all move us here, to now.

I thought of my walk with my God. How I can look back and see the through-line of of his grace, his persistent pursuit of my soul. I can see his fingerprints on my life … from earliest beginnings until today. I can also see my, often, lackadaisical pursuit of him and where that has often altered my direction in ways I regret.

I see how what was planted in the beginnings of my life has grown. The flowers that have bloomed, the challenges, when conditions were tough. But, I also see that through these years of life and living, no moment of my life has ever been without the presence and plan of God.

So, what if this was my last earthly birthday?

Well, there is only one response that comes to mind. The same as Paul, in Philippians 1:20-21 :

I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 

It’s a win-win situation. Now, I am not peering through my closet, picking out coffin clothes. Just saying that as long as God is with me (and his word says that he will all the days of my life), whether I live or die, I win.

In Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Mr. Tumnus explains, “It is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long…. always winterbut never Christmas.” For me, these may be my autumn years of this earthly life, but there is always something blooming … it is always spring in my soul.

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Over the past year I have become a lover of that which I never thought I would like … podcasts.

They give my mind distraction from my own thoughts, my naval gazing, my perseverating. They entertain me, taking me away to far places, entertaining accents and soul-filling.

Recently my daughter introduced me to a podcaster who is soft-hearted, warm, hopeful and encouraging … and it’s not because her life has been all sugar-coated goodness!

One of the things she does, and does well, are blessings. When I hear her deliver a blessing I find it hard to listen without it penetrating into my soul and the effect is often a waterfall from my eyes (perhaps also because I have frequently been kneeling as I heard them, as was often the case when receiving a blessing in biblical days).

It got me to thinking this week,

where have blessings gone?

First off, what is a blessing?

We say a blessing before we eat a meal, before we take communion. It is a humble asking that what we intake is what God wants for us. It is also an acknowledgement of where our basic needs originate … from God. This is much like the blessing one might receive from another, before doing a new thing (such as getting married, moving away, going off to school or to work in missions).

A blessing is also a bestowing of good things (in OT biblical times it was often material goods, in NT times, it was more often spiritual benefits), grace, mercy, well wishes.

I think we all could benefit from an increased practice of offering and receiving blessings. It could be a beautiful reminder of God with us.

So, let me offer a blessing to you, as you read and as you move through this day :

Blessed are you, simply because you are a child of the most high King.
You, who arose this morning with a smile on your face …
Or a lump in your throat …
Or an ache in your heart …
Or … you needed the help of another to rise.
You are loved.
Blessed are you who sees a day before you filled with
joy,
family,
too much to do,
emptiness,
tough stuff …
for you will not walk this day alone.
You never walk alone.
Blessed are you who keep going,
keep showing up
at church
and in your marriages
and at work
and in your family relationships
even when it’s hard, you’re tired, you’re empty.
For He is here to fill you.
May you walk this day,
this life,
even though it is not straight or narrow,
even though it is not what you expected,
with hope.
I am your hope, says the Lord.
You do not walk alone.

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While chatting with a friend recently, she told me a story that I was certain must have been a tale, for I simply struggled to believe it. A young woman she knew found wrinkles so unappealing that she was reticent to smile … ever! My friend had never seen this young woman smile, for fear that the temporary creases formed on the skin would permanently scar her perfect skin.

Just a couple days before this conversation, hubby and I got to wander around a local home and garden show. Many businesses were there, promoting their wares, some more aggressive than others. A lady caught my eye and offered a sample of a serum that would decrease the appearance of facial lines. I was invited to sit on her stool and she would apply the serum. After she applied it, she then used a small, hand-held fan to dry it. She was right … I could see that the lines around the eye with the serum had faded. I looked at the image, comparing one eye to the other, then looked a the sales person and said,

“I see the difference, but … I like my wrinkles.
I have earned each and every one”

(and that was before I heard the price was over $200 for a small vial).

I like some of my physical flaws … the ones that were attained by hard work, personal sacrifice, evidence of having experienced the blessing of still breathing in the fifth decade … the stretch marks, the grey hairs, the wrinkles on my face.

I don’t want to avoid these evidences of aging, of living. I want to accept them, to embrace them as trophies of a life lived … smiling all the way.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Psalm 39:5

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We are so misled.

So deceived.

So forgetful.

We deny the truth, the reality.

We do it in our mortal relationships, too.

But it is here, in our soul’s walk through this life, this breathing in and breathing out each and every moment, that we miss it …

His love, his delight of us.

The Lord of all creation loves us. He loves us an artist looks at their masterpiece, as a parent looks at their child. Our use of the gifts he has given us fills him with pride. Our worship of him is the fulfillment of all of his dreams for us.

But, his love for us does not originate in our doing, but in our very existence (both now and in eternity).

His love for us, proven in the extent to which he went to prove it (to the cross).

It is easy, when life, our world, is dark and heavy to forget this most basic truth, that he who created us, loves us. This is most profound, most overwhelming.

I think we are not in the habit of acknowledging this out-of-this-world love. Maybe we aren’t even able to take it in.

Yet, in moments of our lives we get glimpses that sink deep into our souls of how he loves us …

and that glimpse of his love

overwhelms us,

filling all our empty spaces,

reminding us of whose we are

and how much he loves us.

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Spring break has begun for school-aged kids (and school staff) in my area. I always feel this is the most perfectly timed break in the school year, for it pivots us from winter to spring, to the final countdown to summer.

For some this break represents time to travel, for others to visit family and friends, or to read, or sleep late, or explore local restaurants, shops and entertainments and for others to do tasks around the house such as spring cleaning or renovations.

Rest looks different for everyone.

For me, the thought of sitting on the sofa watching TV, packing everyday with social events, or travelling are not the most restful ways to spend time. Don’t get me wrong, I love to visit with friends, to see new sights and to watch a good BCD (British Crime Drama). But, for me, rest is most favorably attained by being creative, physically building, painting and renovating, with no voices other than those of the podcasts teaching me and crime stories. This is pure bliss, restful to my body (though pain relievers are sometimes needed), mind and soul.

My ‘to do’ list this break is … rather sizeable, as I am doing a mini renovation in our kitchen. I have removed a couple of hanging cabinets, built and installed boxes above the existing wall cabinets, added trim, crown molding, removed the old tile backsplash (along with the gyproc). Now I need to replace that gyproc, paint my cabinets and trim, order countertops, paint walls, install lighting and (in the adjoining sunroom) install engineered wood flooring. I know that I will sleep well, be challenged, fill my cup and feel such joy in the finished product.

Rest will not just come to me through the physical work, but also the podcast reading through the Bible (I highly recommend The Bible in a Year with Father Mike Schmitz, which is also available on Youtube), as well as listening to numerous sermons from people who share the Word in diverse, educational and inspirational ways that challenge me to live differently, to walk with Christ each day.

This is the rest I need, the rest I long for. It is an opportunity for me to shut out the distractions, the discouragements, the noise of the world. To get my hands dirty with a taste of the creative, the redemptive work of God, all while being immersed in Him through the reading and teachings from his word.

And so, I approach this renewing time, being reminded of the words in Matthew 11:28 :

Come to me,
all you
who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

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In my neck of the Pacific Northwest woods, today is the final day of school before Spring Break.

The math teachers will all have unit ending tests (to avoid dealing with the bubbling excitement in their students), the English teachers will have silent reading as a plan for the day, the teachers of humanities will plan on videos for each class, the PE teachers will plan on dodgeball and the classes of practical application (shop, foods, textiles, film, etc.) … well, if they were wise they would call a substitute in for the day.

Today, though, my thoughts are somewhere else …

My thoughts are on this last day before Spring Break, two years ago. When the WHO (World Health Organization) declared Covid 19 a Pandemic. When things were changing … ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Words like pandemic, Covid, unprecedented, precautions, closures and cancellations became part of our everyday vernacular.

And, I wonder, two years later
what have we learned?

Have we become stronger or stressed?

Has our faith or our fear grown?

Have we grown in compassion or a critical spirit?

Have we become better or bitter?

I can only speak for myself, when I say, hard times are … hard! They squeeze me and the results are often not the most positive reactions. I can easily lean towards criticism, sarcasm, doubt, fear and even superiority.

And these past two years have been … hard.

But, one thing I have learned is that God does not allow anything to be useless in our lives … even the hard stuff. So …

what have we learned?

Here is what I hope we, as human souls have learned, during this unprecedented time :

  • to number our days … to not waste a day, a breath that God has given us
  • to look at our productivity differently … that doing is not the same as being
  • to not fill our calendars … more things to do, places to go do not make life better
  • to care for our neighbors … to check in on those who might be isolated
  • to say thank-you … to health care workers, grocery store shelf stockers, delivery workers
  • that there is more than one way to do a task … schooling and working from home can work (and, for some, might work better)
  • to be okay with our own company … maybe even enlightened by who God made us to be
  • to try new things … make bread, do a puzzle, paint a wall, try a new exercise routine
  • to love those under our roofs … who we are called to love
  • to appreciate the privilege of physical, corporate worship … maybe something many of us have taken for granted and even lost the love of this togetherness

Though the pandemic has yet to have been declared over, though anything can happen to reignite this viral spread, I think many of us are feeling like our lives are slowly returning to a more normal state. I do hope that what we move towards is not how it was, but a new and improved version … one with margin in our days, appreciation for others, an openness to trying new things and a renewed reliance on our God.

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Where have all the good men gone?
-Bonnie Tyler

Being a child of the 80’s, lines from songs frequently run through my thoughts as events happen each day. Lately I have been hearing the words of Bonnie Tyler :

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?

… I need a hero

It has seemed as though those who have filled positions of leadership in our world have been … power-seekers, weenies, cowards. The idea of servant-leader has seemed to have gone the way of the dinosaurs and unicorns … the way of honesty, integrity and humility.

Interestingly, it has been across the world that my own hope in true servant-leadership has recently been reignited.

As Ukraine has been experiencing attacks, war, from the bear up North, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been rising up from his presidential pedestal and into the bunkers with and for his people. His position as commander-in-chief of the army has seemed to be far more than the typical ceremonial role, rather, he would seem to be sticking with, supporting and even commanding his army (and the population). For some, his insistence to remain in Ukraine (as well as his wife and children) during this war echos of the insistence of King George VI and his family to not leave England during the bombings.

(*I am not in agreement with all that Zelenskyy says, does or believes … but, in these recent days, when his country is at risk of destruction, he is with his people)

The cynic in me wonders if he is for real, or if political spin doctors have been able to adjust the sun to put him in the most favourable light. I hope he is all that he appears to be, that his dedication to his people, his Ukraine, is sincere, authentic and true.

It is interesting that his stand with his people reminds me of another leader. One whose entire life was dedicated to his people.

It is in Jesus that we see the ultimate model of servant-leadership. His existence was born out of need of the people … us, you and me. His birth is in direct response to our need of redemption. He not only came so that we could live, but he did so knowing that we could only live if he were to die.

He is our example of a hero.

In how he lived his life, we are given the example of leadership. Not just leadership such as one who leads a nation, but as individuals who live with the power of the Spirit within up … prompting us to be examples of honesty, humility, integrity … even when there is no one looking.

” … whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:43-45

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Sunrise in Ukraine by by Tetyana Hubska

When our eyes open to a new day,

rising from a warm bed,

and it’s a Friday,

and the sun is rising in view,

and spring is in the air,

and food and drink are at our fingertips,

and we live under a roof with loved ones,

and the house is warm,

and we wash with warm water,

and we dress in clean clothes,

and we look forward to our tasks, our school, our work for the day,

and we will see friends,

and make plans to go out,

and pick up things we need,

and watch a movie,

and it’s quiet, peaceful …

then we remember.

We remember those in Ukraine.

Those whose days looked just like ours only days ago.

weep with those who weep
Romans 12:15

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