I’m in this for the long haul

I’m a lunchbox communicator.

When my oldest girls started school, I slipped little notes of love and encouragement into their lunch bags periodically, especially for big tests or on project days.

I realized, though, that my one girl in particular would much prefer funny to sweet, so I  started writing her jokes instead of love notes.  She liked  them so much,  I ended up creating an entire collection of lunchbox-worthy jokes I found online so I’d always have something to share.

This was a big hit.  If a joke was particularly funny, my kids passed it  around their lunch table and shared with their friends.

When I started running low on material for my lunchtime comedy routine, my  friend suggested I  clip comics from the Sunday newspaper for my family.  So, for the first  time in my life, I’ve become a devotee of the “Sunday funnies,” cutting out  my favorites and tucking them into lunchboxes whenever I find a good one.

My son just started school now and he’s  an emerging reader, so he’s not quite ready for most of my go-to notes, jokes or comics.

So, one day last week I scribbled onto an index card and put it in my Andrew’s lunchbox along with his apple and goldfish.  I included a simple (very simple) drawing (I’m no artist)  of a cat wearing a top hat.  I stuck to beginner phonics and wrote,  “The cat has a hat”  and signed it, “Love,  Mom.”

That night, I ran through my “how was your day?” questions with Andrew, including, “How was lunch?”

He said, “I got your funny note.”

Simple and sweet.  It made him laugh when he found it in his bag, he said.

The next day, I packed his lunch without a note inside,  which I heard about when he got home.  “How come you didn’t make me a funny card for my lunch?”

I just hadn’t thought about it.  I didn’t know he was looking forward to  getting a note EVERY SINGLE DAY.

That’s not  so easy to  do,  by the way, if you aren’t great at drawing and you’re trying to stick to things your beginning reader can actually read.

But it made me happy that he enjoyed it, so I  made a new card that said, “Batman has a red dog” and I sketched out my version of Batman and a red canine.

That was a win.

So now when I ask him at night what he would like in his lunch for the next day, he doesn’t ask for  food of any kind.  He says, “Don’t forget to  make me a funny note if you have time.”

I’m in this for the long haul now, at least until he can read the comics in the newspaper.

And the long haul aspect of spiritual life is what I’ve been thinking about.  What is it that I’ve begun that I need the reminder to stick with or even re-engage?

I’m usually a highly-energized starter, but isn’t it so easy to grow weary?  Isn’t it so natural to slip  into doing what I’ve always done without attention, care, passion, focus—without moving forward?

In the past few years, I’ve had many ministries and relationships that God has asked me to lay down.  I’ve said goodbyes in some places so  I could start in on something new.  There have been endings and new beginnings.

I remain watchful and yielded, asking  and praying often, “Do I continue?  Do I stop?  Do I begin?  Do I  move on?”  I seek intently and purposefully to know what God would have me do or not do.

But there are some in-it-for-the-long-haul commitments where I need some intermittent reminders like Paul’s words  to the church in Corinth:

 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB).

Be steadfast.

Be immovable.

Be productive—abounding in the work of the Lord.

The only way that steadiness and faithfulness a re possible for me is because I  can remember this promise: that anything I do in the Lord is never wasted.

This i s Paul’s reminder in Galatians also:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

It’s the reminder of harvest that helps me not give up; the reminder that God has a purpose and a plan and a blessing; the reminder that I’m serving Him and loving Him and this is truly worship.

It’s the reminder of how He loves us so that re-energizes me for the race I’m running  and helps me keep at it, day after day, season after season.

 

 

Photo by Viktor Hanacek at PicJumbo

Made it to Mt. Everest and back (AKA finished the school year)

Photo by Viktor Hanacek at PicJumbo
Most moms cry on the first day of school.

They watch their babies step onto that big yellow bus, faking smiles and putting on excitement for the sake of their children.  Then that bus pulls away and they pull out the tissues.

Not me.

I cry on the last day of school.

It’s hard to explain really.  I want my kids home and I long for summer all year.  I’ve never been one to celebrate with a mani/pedi that first day of school in September as if I’ve re-asserted my freedom from the constraints of children.

I cannot wait for summer to begin.

But somehow that last day of school for me is like the emotional upheaval of making it to the top of Mt. Everest and back.

We did it.

We survived.

Not just dragged our tired behinds across the finish line, either.  We had a great year and I’m so proud of these girls and all they’ve learned and how they’ve grown.

They. Rocked. It.

Now they bring home broken crayons, used gluesticks and a pile of awards and certificates and I just pray with this gratitude that spills out in those pesky tears like an emotional dam bursts and I’m just gushing:

Thank You, Lord.  You answered my prayers. You gave them great teachers.  You gave them success and helped them shine.  You guided them through a million tiny and seemingly not-so-tiny decisions and worries.

You brought us right on through and onto the other side and I am just so thankful.

Exhausted.

But thankful.

I’ll cry a bit.  And then maybe I’ll flop right down on this new shore and take a nap because this momma is plumb wore out.

There were times that I thought I could not make it if one more child brought home an unexpected project for school.

Could.

Not.

And I’ve discovered that I really do have a “look” that I flash whenever my child brings home a handwritten note in her best cursive writing asking for a playdate this Saturday when we have 12 other activities already on the weekend agenda.

But here we are.  The last day of school.

The last….day…..

I wonder how the disciples felt climbing out of that storm-tossed boat after fighting for their lives and stumbling in their faith right before the calm.

Did they crawl out of that fishing vessel, soaking wet, panting, dragging out one limb at a time and then stretch themselves out in the sand until they could catch their breath?

Or  did they hop out of there totally unflustered, like they hadn’t been screaming for rescue just moments before?

Something tells me they didn’t just shrug that typhoon off and move along.

Maybe they took the time to cry and thank God for salvation.

Like me today.

I knew we’d make it, though.  At times it felt like I was hanging on for dear life, but I knew He is faithful.

God’s grace does that.  It holds us up and carries us on, and our calling is never too much for Him to handle.

Too much for us?  All the time.

Too much for Him?  Not for a second.

So we throw the full weight of our survival onto Him, casting those cares over and over onto shoulders strong enough to carry them.

We trust in His promise.

Those storm-weary disciples could have done this.

Jesus didn’t invite them out for a pleasure cruise that day.  He didn’t tell them, “Get in the boat so we can sail around for a bit and maybe catch some fish.”

He gave them a promise of destination:

 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out.  Luke 8:22 NKJV

Jesus never abandons us halfway.  If He makes a promise, we know He won’t abandon us in the boat.   He’ll take us to the other side.

So the storm rages.  So your boat groans and creaks.  So those around you start scrambling into life vests, preparing to abandon ship.

Just hold on.

God has promised to take you to the other side.  He is faithful and He will do it.

Originally posted June 11, 2014

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.