Magnificent Disruption

I just wanted to go to the mountains.

We’ve been in Colorado for over a month and had yet to make it to Rocky Mountain National Park. Work was hectic, deadlines were looming.

Saturday dawned with the sun promising to abdicate to rain clouds. Rain wasn’t going to discourage us from going. It might make the time messier, a bit more uncomfortable, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

We finally gathered everyone who was to go. Three of our number stayed back: one who had to work, one who had too much work to catch up on, one who was fighting a stomach bug.

It made it more complicated.

When we reached the entrance to the park, the lines were twenty cars deep, and we had to wait to get in. Another inconvenience. It was now way past lunchtime, the littles were getting rambunctious, and all we had to eat was junk food.

We’d never planned on it being that long.

When we entered, we immediately lost one another. Separated into three cars, there was no cell service, and several cars had snuck between us, splitting us up.

We hoped everyone would head to Bear Lake.

The parking lot was full. Our car was turned away, told to go back four miles and try to find a place to park further down the mountain.

The kids were miserable. We had no food with us–it was all in the other cars.

We debated leaving.

The miracle was we ended up in the same park-and-ride area. We took the bus together back to Bear Lake, feeding the kids bits of junk food to get them through the hike.

The sky darkened as we headed up the trail. I had a 25-pound backpack with arms and legs kicking and waving as we walked. I agreed to wear him to Alberta Falls; his mom would wear him back. She had charge of the constant motion machine which was her daughter.

Words can’t describe the beauty of the hike, the boldness of the rain clouds, the depth of color of all the flora we passed. The falls themselves were magnificent, pounding over the rocks, furiously throwing spray.

I could have stayed for hours.

The rain began.

It was literally downhill from there.

We caught the bus back to the park-and-drive area. We all sat in the back–and right before we arrived, one of the littles began to vomit.

Continuously.

Believing it might be altitude sickness, we headed home.

Four more bouts of vomit. I leaned over the seat trying to catch what came out in a paper bag.

How often in life do I feel disrupted? Where my expectations are not met, and I’m confronted with disappointment?

A lot.

TheĀ  beautiful moment happened–the magnificence of the mountains. A dramatic sky framed by waving trees. It made the trip and all its mess worth it.

Life will be disrupted. Constantly. We live in an imperfect world.

God reminds us that He’s the One who created all things. We live at His pleasure.

We will live with disappointment.

We need to look for the beauty that is God. It is there. Waiting to be found.

Beauty is in the eyes of those who choose to see.

 

 

 

 

Eenie, Meenie, Enneagram, Which?

I’ve had the distinct privilege of working with our staff this summer, helping them better understand themselves, their gifting and how they show up in life. Assessments are remarkable tools that give folks a feel for the depth of who they are.

One of those assessments I’ve begun to use was actually my thorn in the side for quite a while.

The Enneagram.

It’s the current buzz word. People talk about themselves and self-identify as a number, expecting that to explain everything about them.

Which is why I didn’t like it.

It’s been around for hundreds of years. Many today question its beginnings, some saying it has sacred roots, others questioning the origin and seeing it as more secular or possibly profane. It’s unclear how it began.

There is truth in it. And as a follower of Christ, I believe all truth is God’s truth, so it was worth investigating.

What bothered me was the self-limiting that went on with people trying to figure out their number, which became an excuse to do what they chose or not do what was expected.

No assessment is an excuse. They’re springboards to better understanding ourselves, our growth patterns, and shining a light on the darkness we all have within us. The Enneagram helps identify behaviors, attitudes, defenses, and motivations that each of the nine types tends to express.

We are so much more than a number.

Who we are is defined by many things. Our stories provide a huge piece of the puzzle that is us. Family of origin, where we grew up, how we were disciplined, the values that were put forth in the family dynamic. Who was–and wasn’t–present for us in life. These factors cause us to create a storyline that works for us in the greater scope of life.

We are also created in the image of God, whether we acknowledge Him or not. He has made every person who has ever lived with a sense of who He is, with an intellect, emotion and will that reflect the very character of God. Some will accept Him and see that He is their hope, their enough, giving them a purpose and energy to do this life well. Others will reject Him as being unnecessary and not Someone they want to bother with.

He has, however, invested Himself in each of us. Gifting every person with a skill set that actually makes them thrive in a world that values power, money, and position. Those who thrive love what they do, enjoy who they are, and live out an inner purpose that gives them lift and life.

The Enneagram can be seen as our journey here on earth. We’re each born with a predisposition toward a personality type, and we move forward in growth as we mature. Or, we move toward more personal disintegration when life feels like a constant battle with the world.

But God walks with us on our journey if we choose Him. Points us to growth and hope. gives grace when we fall apart.

We are so much more than a number. We’re intentionally created, specifically delighted in, and designed to be more than we can imagine.

That’s real hope.

By the way, I’m a 2.

 

 

 

 

We All Need A Little Ninja

For over half of his brief four-and-a-half-year lifespan, Ryken has struggled with breathing issues.

His folks have taken him to the emergency room numerous times, one of which required a call to 911 because his breathing was so labored.

To see Ryken, you’d never think he was challenged with health issues. He’s engaging, effervescent, energetic. He’s a happy guy–unless he’s on steroids, which cause him to become someone other than himself. But he always rallies and resorts to the sweet and fun guy he truly is.

His folks are taking him for extended tests and treatments at a hospital in Denver known for dealing with these issues. The tests themselves are trying. Allergy tests, inserting a tube up his nose while he’s awake, drawing more blood than he’s ever seen. All are uncomfortable at best.

His attitude remains strong.

When talking with doctors, he informed them that he had a special third name.

Ninja.

A name he’s given himself. A picture of the persistent fighter, the unwavering warrior. Ninjas often fight at night; our little guy is fighting a darkness that clings to him with an unhealthy tenacity.

I wish I had his persistence and focus.

John, being the Papa Extradonaire, ordered him a ninja costume, with plastic Chinese fighting stars and throwing knives. Plus two light up swords for brilliant swordplay with his foes.

He loves it.

There’s something about looking the part that gives courage to step out in areas we may not have confidence. Fully outfitted as a ninja, ready for the fight, he acts invincible.

His parents have worked tirelessly to give him the help he needs. They’ve taken him to doctors, provided him with breathing treatments, understand the particulars of his allergies and are working to lessen their effects as much as they can.

This is the burden Ryken carries. For now. A burden he doesn’t whine about; its presence has been his norm for quite some time. His courage comes from caring parents who have been there for him and with him. Siblings who come alongside him to encourage him when he struggles.

He’s not alone.

We all need that hope. The knowledge that we’re not alone in the difficult and trying times of life. That there is someone there for us to lean into, who will have our backs no matter what.

I can have the attitude of the ninja. Persistent and unwilling to give up. No matter how hard life gets.

I can’t do it alone.

God persists with me. He knows me perfectly and sees my weakness, my brokenness, and doesn’t dismiss me in my mess. He fights for me, with me, beside me, within me. He is the persistence I need to not allow the challenges of the day to undo me.

Which they do. Often.

He never leaves me, even when my heart chooses not to acknowledge Him. He’s never abandoned me or given up on me because I am His.

I am never alone.

There are enough tough challenges of each day; I don’t want to do it by myself. I can lean into Him and know I’m not alone.

Rather like the Almighty Ninja Warrior.

Ryken knows what he’s talking about.

 

Freedom Isn’t Unrestricted Permission

“Do you know where the girls are?” I could hear the conversation with a mom who’s a close friend of my daughter Melody. Her daughter was with two other young gals, one of whom was my grand, and their whereabouts were unknown.

“They’re in the complex somewhere. We’ll find them.”

No panic. This was a response of understanding because of the freedom these young gals feel in roaming our apartment complex.

They travel like a posse, poised for fun wherever they can find it, asking known adults to accompany them to the pool or hot tub, or just showing up at one another’s homes for dinner.

Here in Ft. Collins, Colorado, they have unique freedom that they don’t–can’t–experience at home. Surrounded by many families they know, in a complex that is limited and safe, they experience independence that isn’t their norm but has come to be their expectation. Riding their bikes everywhere, knowing they’ll be fed but not sure where, they are experiencing life in a bubble that will pop in a few weeks.

This freedom isn’t sustainable back home.

It will be hard. They’ve become best friends, and there is a sweetness to how they interact and enjoy each other’s company. They won’t live close to one another–they come from various states, and even those in Florida are living far apart.

This will end. They’re living each day as if this was how it should be. Their expectations are high.

Reality isn’t that gracious.

Freedom here isn’t thoughtless permission by parents who don’t care. It’s knowing who is where, who we can trust, who is invested in these kids and will own some responsibility for their safety.

It takes a village.

The hard part of village living is it may not last. Mobility is part of life. We’ll be here for another three weeks, and then it’s back to where home is once the conference is over.

Independence costs everybody. Freedom and liberty aren’t words of entitlement. They’re values of respect, conviction, and hope. Our kids can’t roam freely, like we did so many years ago, because those values are no longer honored.

Independence Day stood for freedom from an oppressive government ruling our country from a distance. We fought for the freedom to worship as we please, to have the chance to work and become more than what we began as.

That didn’t work for everyone back then either.

Everybody wants to be recognized as somebody of value, but to do so we too often devalue other people. We criticize and judge those who are different even though it was the ideal of different that brought us all together.

God says that knowing the truth will set us free. That absolute truth, right and wrong, should be our measuring stick. Not everybody doing what is right in their own eyes.

The ultimate truth is Jesus. He lives perfectly, loves completely. There is no unacceptable difference with Him. He has a heart for us all.

I want to experience this Fourth of July with the hope that we can come together with respect. Not judge or criticize, but care.

Those little gals had it right. Freedom is grounded in relationship.

 

 

 

 

Do You Know What’s Rubbing Off On You?

As a kid–honestly, as an adult–I’ve had a greater passion for sweets that contain chocolate, caramel, and anything chewy and melty. There’s a savoring in the slow melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

I’ve never understood the draw of Ring Pops.

I was never a lollipop kid. I crunched hard candy; licking it didn’t satisfy. It took too long to dissolve. No savoring. Just frustration.

Most kids love Ring Pops, puting it on their finger and licking away. John is the favorite adult of the apartment complex because he has become the supplier of Ring Pops.

Due to the demand for these sweets–sugar does create an ongoing appetite that seems overwhelming in its desire to be satisfied–we’ve limited consumption to one of these a day.

Not a popular decision, especially with the older kid crowd. But I’ve been the route of demanding dentists who warn against too many sweets. And the specter of cavities is always present.

I feel a tad responsible.

John wants to please the kids.

Our neighbors downstairs have been truly diligent about not letting their three-year-old son have excessive sugar. He is their first, and he’s given treats that are of the healthier variety.

(I was there at one point in time. With my first. And then I fell to the pressure of culture and media.)

Our neighbor Ezra is a delightful guy. Kind and gracious, he shares with others and knows how to be a good friend.

He also loves sugar. Even though he hasn’t had much.

John magnanimously gave the little guy a blue Ring Pop. He handed out several others.

The shadow of blue bloomed on his mouth.

“Hey, Ez, let me see your face.”

He looked up and grinned, blue on his lips, chin, and tongue.

He’d been Ring Popped.

There were other colored countenances there. Green, red, purple. Blue caused the deepest color impact.

What a grand picture of the things we savor, yearn for, which often aren’t good for us. They leave an indelible mark we often aren’t aware of.

I’m always impacted by what I choose to spend time doing. If I overeat, my stomach reacts, as do my hips. When I don’t deal with stress in my life, anxiety grows and I become reactive instead of responsive.

I see it in kids. Too much screen time makes them unkind to others, wanting more of what isn’t good for them. They become unable to deal with real people because they’re spending too much time shooting zombies or killing imaginary soldiers.

God understands this about us. We tend to be influenced the most by that which occupies our time and attention. We’re impacted with what we watch, engage in, choose.

Spending time with God, reading His Word, often doesn’t seem like fun. I can’t see Him, and sometimes the things said in the Bible are confusing or hard to swallow.

The more I spend time with Him, though, the more I become like Him. Kind, gracious, forgiving. Less selfish, self-centered and entitled.

What are you allowing to impact your life?

What color looks best on you?