Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Boys and their Toys

My sister's latest blog inspired me to post this poem I wrote several years when my kids were about the age her kids are now!

My Boys and their Toys
by Cherilyn Dahlsten

My boys and their toys are a mystery to me
What will excite them is known only to the three
But to we gift givers, grandparents included
Often the perfect gift is illusive

They tear off the wrapping to get to what’s new
Gaze at the contents and say, “Wow! Cool!”
“It’s just what I wanted. Look what I got!”
“It’s the one I loved, the one I sought!”

For a week, sometimes two, they’re thrilled with the gift.
It’s way at the top of their ‘glad to have it’ list.

But then in days to come, it’s placed on a shelf
Or on the floor where it stays ‘til I move it myself
It’s not that they’re tired of it and are complaining, “I’m bored.”
No, they’re playing and enjoying their toys galore.

Their toys, their creations – things not found in stores
Swords made from sticks, their arrows from limbs
Jetpacks, really backpacks, their imaginations whims
Their blankets become capes so they can soar through the air
“Mom, can we have that box we found in there?”
We need it, for we’re hunters you understand.
And there’s a rabbit we saw whose capture we’ve planned!”

My silverware has half-disappeared
And if it returns it’s rather dog-eared
It’s been put to use somehow but in what way I don’t know
My pirates or treasure hunters had need of it though.

Every belt in our house has a new job description
It may tie up a bad guy or be a leash for a kitten.

Pillows and cushions for couches and beds?
You must be joking! But they make great sleds!
And forts, soft landings, nests, and water,
And trampolines, stepping stones, ways through hot lava!
Stack them all up and they’re a gymnast’s delight
(Now you know why they’re no longer white!)

Dental floss, yes dental floss, is a favorite of mine
Its Spiderman’s web and Batman’s bat line.

They’re not ungrateful for the loot they receive
It sometimes finds a role in a plot they’ve conceived.
But their pleasure in playing it seems to me
Is in creating, inventing, where their minds are free.

Toys with too many whistles and bells
Have only one use, one purpose, and it sells.
But two days later they’ve figured it out.
It’s lost all its glamour; it’s lost all its clout.

Deep down in their hearts they understand
Things don’t satisfy, they never can.
May the knowing grow stronger, as they grow up
You God, are the only one, who can fully fill their cup.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Don't Overthink It or You'll Miss the Precious Present

I was helping a friend at the beginning Sunday School so rather than go in late to class, I went to the "prayer closet" at our church and began to write out some options for how my day might be spent (too many options, too little day) and opened my Bible for some needed comfort and direction. I found Isaiah 42:16-17. From The Message it reads: "I'll take the hand of those who don't kow the way; who can't see where they're going. I'll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I'll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don't fall in the ditch. These are the things I'll be doing for them - sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute."

All of these things I know but my head seems to insist that it can figure out what is ahead if I simply think harder. Which in turn leads to an anxious heart. You see, nearly every part of my life seems to be in transition. There is very little territory (if any?) where I say, "Oh, that. I know how to do that. This is where I'm comfortable." I've never raised a 2 1/2 year old and teenagers at the same time, trying to give adequate attention to both needs. My ministry at our church is changing. My work has completely changed. My 40 year old body is changing. And I spend a great deal of time trying to figure out where it is all headed. I'm the kind of person who likes to know the destination so I can lay out the plan on how to get there. Give me a goal, and I'll figure out how to achieve it.

The "problem" with life right now is I don't know where I'm headed and I don't know how long these transitions will last. I keep thinking these transitions are in the way of some new life instead of realizing they ARE life. I keep thinking there is some answer I need to know that will show me the next step to take rather than just resting in the fact that I have a personal guide to direct me through the unknown country.

I talked with my friend Judie after church. (See previous blog entry.) She's going through some transitions of her own and offered this advice from her husband. "Don't overthink it." I grabbed onto that like a life raft. She reminded me that if we overthink what we cannot control we miss the precious present. That's exactly what I do! I'm going to put that on my refriderator! Thank you God for such simple but needed words from a friend.

The other picture God gave me was in a moment between a daddy and his little girl. Jada was dedicated in our church today. She is barely 2. During the praise and worship time, I noticed Jada in the corner of my eye. She was curled up close to her daddy's chest with her head on his shoulder. Then suddenly she flung back and hung upside down while her back and neck rested on her daddy's arm. She had this look of pure, abandoned bliss. After a few moments, daddy would pull her close to him and she would snuggle for a minute before throwing herself back again. Once or twice, she would be the one who would reach for him and he would pull her tight again. Jada had no fear that daddy would let her go. To her, hanging upside down was a great adventure her daddy was letting her have.

Life for me feels upside down right now. Things I have counted on and gotten comfortable with are being stripped away. New things are taking their places. But it is an adventure my Abba is letting me have. And He will hold me tightly and snuggle me close as needed to assure me He's got me and won't let go.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bentley 1989-2007

We laid Bentley (the cat) to rest yesterday. It was time. I held him while he died in the vet's office. He was purring because I was holding and stroking him and it made me feel bad that I hadn't spent more time petting him in the weeks leading up to this day I knew was coming. He was too tired to even care that he was at the vet's, the place that normally would strike fear in his heart and cause him to wail loudly. This day he was too tired and worn out to do more than rest in my arms and purr at the unexpected attention. I don't really think of myself as a "pet person" but Bentley was with us from our second year of marriage. He has had more children pull his tale, carry him around, spray him with water and chase him than most and always understood that it was his role to tolerate it or find a place to hide. He didn't receive much attention from me once the kids came along but he seemed content to just be around and part of the family. Rest in peace Bentley.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Casserole Fairy

Those who know me know the past few months have been tough. I sense God is using this time to show me some things I need to let go of and I am in the process of understanding what those things are. He is also leading me to new things and that equation makes for tremendous pressure until I figure out what and how to let go.

Monday I did not have time nor energy to think of what we might have for supper Monday night. Mark would be the first one home and although I was relieved to know he would think of something, I also felt somewhat guilty. However, when Mark arrived home, there was a casserole in our refridgerator with a note, "Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes." Wow, what a blessing. My friend Des had brought us supper.

I called her later to thank her. I told her, "When you lose a tooth, the Tooth Fairy comes. When you're losing your mind, the Casserole Fairy shows up." Who knew? What a blessing to have such wonderful friends.

If ever you are wondering what to do for someone and can't think of the perfect gift, you can never go wrong with a casserole. Thank you God for how you let us know you are mindful of us in our lowly estate.

I ran across this verse this morning in Proverbs 11:25 that sums up perfectly how God works. "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. "