Archive for October 2011

Too Scared to be Rescued

October 27, 2011

Several weeks ago, we looked out the window and saw chipmunks on our feeder.  Yes, I made that plural.  We had two on the feeder, and they were “baby” chipmunks.  We’ve had two chipmunks for some time, but now we had begun to notice that sometimes we would see a chipmunk which was not quite as agile, somewhat clumsy about getting on and off the feeder and even just climbing around in the bushes beneath.  So we knew that these two chipmunks were babies, but then we saw something else.

A third chipmunk.

It wasn’t on the feeder.   It wasn’t in the bushes.  It was in the feeder.

Yes, you read that correctly.  In the feeder.  We’ve had chipmunks get stuck in there before, but we determined that this one was definitely another baby, giving us a full count of three babies and five chipmunks altogether.  Well, we’ve discovered that chipmunks are adept at getting in our feeders, but they don’t really have a good sense of how to get out.  So, Mom to the rescue!

She brought the feeder to the door so that my youngest brothers and I could see inside before she let the chipmunk out.  I, of course, had my camera, so you get to see him too.  He was pretty scared.  When Mom went to let him go, she had to tip the feeder way up so that he would come out!

I had to rescue a chipmunk a few days later, and the same thing happened.  When I set the feeder in the grass with the top off, he didn’t want to come out.  I could see through a hole that he was watching me and sitting there as if petrified.  As reassuring as I was trying to be, he didn’t want to come out.  I’m not sure I would have wanted to either in his position, not with a giant something-or-other watching me!

Thinking back, I am wondering whether we are sometimes like chipmunks, stuck in a feeder.  We got ourselves into a jam that we can’t really get ourselves out of.  Eventually someone comes along and opens a way out for us (sometimes turning the situation on its head).  But will we take advantage of it?

I know sometimes the way of escape is just as scary as the original situation.  It’s new, sometimes people are watching and you aren’t sure what they’re thinking, and sometimes you’re not completely convinced that it will work.  What if there’s a catch?

Take my job situation.  I’ve come to the point where I realize that I need to find a new position.  I love the place I’m at, but there isn’t a lot of guidance for me to improve my capabilities and the organization is too small to give me the kind of hours that I want to work.  For me, however, the job hunting process is not much fun.  I get nervous about interviews, I’m not used to promoting myself (which is different, at least in my mind, from talking about myself), and I tend not to like big changes very much.

The way out of my current situation is scarier than staying.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that, like the chipmunk who eventually was able to scurry out and back to the bushes, I will be able to come out of the process in a better place.

How about you?  Is God showing you a way out of your current, less than optimal situation that is giving you second thoughts?  Are you more afraid of the way out than you are of remaining stuck?  I could liken it to how some of us come to Christ.  We are familiar with our sin, so when Jesus offers us a way of escape, we are more afraid of what it will mean to live in Him than we are of going to Hell.  Of course, when we finally take the step of faith and follow Jesus, we find the path much easier than we expected (as well as much harder, but that’s a paradox for another day) and the reward much greater than we guessed.

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.     (Revelation 3:21-22)

The Sun is Falling

October 24, 2011

The Sun Is Falling

The sun is falling in the west
without much pomp tonight
A gentle pink blends into blue
with streaky clouds between

Some nights the sky is brilliant
and goes to bed with style
But this time there’s no fanfare
only dulcet lullabies

I like to watch the sun fall
and slip into the night
The skyline fades to silhouette
and all else dims to gray

~Homeschool Graduate

The True Soldier

October 22, 2011

“The true soldier fights not because he hates
what’s in front of him, but because
he loves what is behind him.”

~G. K. Chesterton

Bible Conference

October 21, 2011

I mentioned last week that I was headed to a Bible conference over the weekend.  It’s a conference my family has been attending the last few years, although so far we haven’t been able to have all seven of us go at the same time.  The conference is for those 15 or up, so the twins couldn’t go anyway, but so far only 3 or 4 of the rest of us have made it any given year.

I love going to this conference.  Not only is there great teaching over the three days, but I have a chance to catch up in person with several friends.  One young lady in particular.

This friend, whom I’ll nickname “Elphie” after one of her favorite characters, and I got a chance to hang out a lot this year.  We shared a cabin for the two nights and generally spent the rest of our time together.  Yes, we do correspond during the rest of the year, but her schedule is often swamped and mine fluctuates between busy and calm so emailing can be tough for both of us.

Elphie has been a great encouragement to me musically.  She has a great voice herself, and two years back she was asked to help lead worship because our regular guy had lost his voice from overuse.  When she encouraged me to join in, it gave me the confidence to step up and use my voice too.  And since then, I have built my confidence bit by bit to the point where I wasn’t even nervous when Elphie and I got asked to help lead on Sunday morning.

She has also helped me brave my shyness with my own music.  I finally was able to bring my guitar to this conference and play some of my original songs for her, as well as a few of my favorites from Robin Mark and the Gettys.  Maybe next year I’ll be ready to play something of my own for the rest of my brothers and sisters at the conference.  So far I have only played one of my songs in public at a coffeehouse, and I always get extra nervous when I do.

Spending time among the brethren is always good.  I enjoyed every minute of this conference, and I hope that everyone else there did as well.  The reason we always go back is because through the teaching, worship, and fellowship, we see Jesus.  In fact, that’s the burden of the song I wrote just before last year’s conference and which I will probably share next year.  Through my brethren at this conference, I see Jesus.

That’s what one of the brothers who taught was teaching about, actually.  People around us should see the Kingdom of God within us.  Personally and as a body of believers.  We do not look for a kingdom in the future, for we have the Kingdom within us now.

How wonderful is that!

Brace Yourself

October 20, 2011

My youngest brothers just got braces.  That makes us five for five in orthodontia, although not all of us have had the same problems or the same fixes.  For instance, 3G and Sister only had brackets on the upper teeth, while I had them on both upper and lower, as do the twins.  I had to wear a bite plate to help with my atrocious overbite.  We all had headgear for some portion of our time in braces, although TJ had a different style than the rest of us.  You might think that because they’re identical twins (yes, Mom and Dad had them tested) their teeth would be identical, but no.  Their teeth are different, just like their tastes, pursuits, and personalities are different.

Yesterday, after getting their brackets on, they hung up their brushing guide on the mirror.  Talk about bringing back memories!  I wore braces for only two years, but we used almost the same guide (if not the exact same one), and my other siblings got braces while (3G) and just after (Sister) I had them.  I remember how hard it could be not to be able to eat Mom’s good cooking because my teeth hurt too much from wearing a powerchain (for those of you not initiated, they call it a powerchain when they leave all the little colored circles connected when they put them on the brackets).  I remember the getting tired of brushing my teeth after every last meal and snack.

I also remember the joy when I got my braces off, just before my fourteenth birthday.  The smiles were not only better looking, they were more frequent!  At least, more frequent than they had been while the braces were on.

All this reminiscing makes me wonder whether sometimes God gives us spiritual braces.  Something to guide our learning for a time.  Maybe it’s a person, maybe a book, maybe a job, but it gives us a structure and helps straighten out our growth.  If we allow braces to do their work, wear our headgear like we’re supposed to, and keep our teeth clean, we can get the braces off sooner than if we fight the orthodontist, wear the headgear for the minimum, and forget to brush.  With spiritual braces, God may move us on sooner if we let Him teach us than if we fight against the braces and complain.

Braces aren’t fun, but they do produce great looking teeth.  I’ve gotten compliments on my nice looking teeth from several professionals in the dental realm (part of that is just good brushing habits, which I established when I was small).  My good looking teeth would have come without the pain of those two years of braces.

Perhaps you are “wearing spiritual braces” right now.  It may not feel very good, but we know that “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  He’s preparing you for the beautiful smile that comes after braces.  You’ll be better fit for the rest of your life because He gave you this trial or teaching period.

Because I wore braces, my teeth are now straight, my overbite is gone, and I can expect to have good teeth for a long time to come.  Spiritual braces will different in type and results, but whatever lessons you learn are ones you can carry with you for the rest of your life and use to bless others.

Like I use my smile.


Fall Break

October 11, 2011

As I’m writing this, Sister is headed back to college after spending a couple of days at home over Fall Break.  It was good to have her home again, even if only for a few days.  On top of the shortness of the break, I didn’t see her a whole lot due to other things going on, and the amount of homework she has.  But the important thing was to see her, even if for only a short time.

She’s doing well, likes her classes, enjoys spending time with her classmates, goes to as many office hours as she can, and is surviving the food pretty well.  The only thing she says she’s short on is sleep, but that’s just going to be in short supply period at college.  My brother 3G has had the same problem every year!

I think I’ve finally reached the point where I’ve adjusted to the new normal — the normal that has only my youngest brothers and me at home (and me at work three days a week), the normal that we’ve had to step up and do more things, like dishes, laundry, and cleaning, because there are fewer people to share the load.  [There’s one really good reason for having a large family – there’s usually someone else who can help do a task, making it go faster and more agreeably.]  The normal that I don’t get caught up talking to either Sister or 3G for half and hour to an hour at a time about who-knows-what and everything-in-general.

Sure, I miss both our college kids.  The first three weeks were pretty awful.  After the first week I had adjusted to not seeing either of them around the house, but it was still really tough when people at church would ask about them and then ask how I was doing with them gone.  While I could be chipper about how well they were doing, the minute anyone asked about me, I was finished.  I was missing them too much to answer that one without tears.

After 6 weeks, however, I’m doing much better.  It still can depend on who’s asking whether I can keep a lid on my emotions or not, but for the most part, I’m dealing with it.  Based on experience when 3G first went away, it only gets easier from here (except for brief times each time he goes back after a break)!

What am I learning through all this?  That my Jesus is sufficient for my every need, which includes someone to talk to (chatter at) and to share things with.  Just yesterday I was about to burst because I was so excited about something I’m doing for a Christmas present.  Being that it’s a secret, I couldn’t tell anyone (and no, I can’t even post it here because Sister will eventually have the time to read this post, and I can’t guarantee it will be after Christmas!), so I ended up carrying on quite the half-conversation with Jesus instead.  Hey, it was His work I was so excited about anyway!

In other news, I’m going to a Bible conference this weekend!

More on that later . . .

To Catch A Thought

October 8, 2011

I had just stretched out in bed the other night, when suddenly inspiration struck.  Not once, but twice.  Now sometimes I would have ignored the thoughts tripping through my brain and tried to go to sleep.  This time I turned on a light and found paper and pencil.  I wrote for about twenty minutes, ending with a decent poem (included below).  Put the pencil and paper back, and turned out the light.

Then I sat there in the dark for a minute thinking.  And inspiration struck again.

I had to get the paper out again and turn on the light.  Another half-hour later, I had yet another poem started, albeit not finished.  I had the rough outline of it, although I’ve gone back and added a couple of stanzas to it since.

I’ve never had poetry interrupt my routine like that before.  Usually I have to be in the right frame of mind, but this time, I’d been watching a TV show, and I wasn’t in the least in a poetry kind of mood when I went upstairs!  I’m not complaining (not with a poem to show for it), but it seemed kind of strange for me.  Then again, maybe I was just harnessing one of those random thoughts that this poem describes!

Shadow Thoughts

In the shadows of my mind
dance random little thoughts
Flitting near my consciousness
like fairies in the dark

Or maybe more like fireflies
which blink and disappear
And leave no sign or trail behind
for me to follow in the night

Random thoughts and fleeting,
glimmers and bright ideas
Small use are they to me right now,
they’re all so very skittish

Perhaps I’ll tame them someday
to pull the cart of intellect
Till then I’m stuck with light bulbs
’cause I can’t reach the stars

~Homeschool Graduate

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