Driving Lessons

I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

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My middle child, Mason, is learning to drive. As much as I want to be the calm parent, teaching and guiding him with patience and composure, I’ve been a nervous wreck.

The first time he drove on the main road, I was as stiff as a board and completely on edge. I would have paid a million dollars to have that extra brake pedal on the passenger side like driver’s ed cars do. And I swear I could hear the words playing in my head from that country song “Jesus, Take the Wheel”!

When my stress started to rub off on Mason, I realized I wasn’t doing him any favors. I had to lighten up. I had to trust him more.

Mason isn’t the only One I need to trust more.

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What We Don’t See

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With two working teens needing their paychecks cashed every week, and my husband running his own business, I spend a lot of afternoons at the bank. There’s a new gym right next door. Every time I pass by, there’s not a single person in it. It makes me wonder how that gym stays in business. I keep waiting to see a “Foreclosure” sign on the front door.

Last Tuesday, circumstances had me driving past the bank and gym at 6:35 AM. I was amazed to see the parking lot so full there wasn’t an empty spot to be found! Apparently the most popular time to work out is very early in the morning before people head off to work.

It made me realize how much happens that we don’t see. Yet, we are such an independent and stubborn people, we can’t understand something, or believe it, until we see it. It’s the complete opposite of faith.

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What Do We Follow?

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. Exodus 23:2

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The other day, while driving on the highway, I got pulled into the air stream coming off of a tractor trailer truck. It’s that wind tunnel that makes your car shimmy and sway, as if you’ve lost control and it determines where you go. I’ve found the only way to get out of those is to slow down, put enough distance between the truck and my car, and then switch lanes.

As I think about the changes I want to make in the new year, I’m thinking the same strategy applies.

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Prepare the Way

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.” Luke 7:27

When I wrote my book, I taped chapter titles to Tupperware containers and lined them up on an old book case. Whenever an idea came to me while I was out and about, I’d jot it down on an index card and drop it into the container it correlated with when I got home.

When the time came to write that chapter, I’d dump out the container, arrange the index cards in a logical order, pray to the Holy Spirit to work through me, and get to work. There was no writer’s block to contend with. Like a puzzle, the pieces were all there. It’s as if that system prepared the way for each and every chapter.

The same holds true for Advent.

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Seeking Him in the Interruptions

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I envision Advent to be a time of quiet waiting—a magical reprieve from the chaos, a season of calm excitement as we await the birth of our Savior. Unfortunately, I always end up disappointed—upset that I get caught up in the scurry, frustrated that I’m inconsistent in gathering my family for daily prayer, disillusioned that my perfect plan for Advent gets derailed every. single. year.

It was in the midst of that disappointment that I read the Gospel passage about the Annunciation. That’s when God peeled back a layer of understanding that is redeeming my Advent this year.

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Following the Rules

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God is resourceful and can use any and all circumstances to teach us about Him, if we let Him. With me, He knows my understanding grows every time I view things through the lens of motherhood.

As I lay down the rules for technology, curfew, and grades for my teens, I peel back another layer of understanding of the rules God has laid out for me. Neither of us wants to be a buzzkill. Neither one of us is creating restrictions just because we can.

We both want what’s best for those we love. We see the pitfalls before they happen, and we try to derail them by making certain things off limits. We know that if our children would just follow our rules, they’d be better off for it.

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Afternoon Tea

Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

I came home from my retreat in October with a lot of resolutions. Having had time away, I could see things more clearly, recognizing where I wanted to improve.

One issue I’d been having was Jocelyn coming home from school and talking a mile a minute while I was trying to work. I’d half listen, focusing more on doing what my boss had asked of me so I could fulfill my commitment to her. Jocelyn would see I wasn’t really paying attention and would leave my office frustrated.

Afternoon tea was my solution.

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A Road Sign for Others

Create in me a pure heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

My friend, Allison Gingras, invited me to join her blog tour to celebrate the release of her beautiful new book Encountering Signs of Faith. Here’s my post with a link to her blog to finish reading it. She also has a link on her site to purchase the book. Enjoy!

I recently attended a weekend retreat that was incredibly rejuvenating and fruitful. On my way home, I stopped at Home Goods. Despite having a concrete plan for how I was going to live out what I’d learned, I know myself. I’m incredibly forgetful. I wanted to buy something I could put in my office that would remind me to stay true to what I’d learned and how I now want to live.

After some serious searching, all I could find was a simple wooden block that says: “Don’t wish for it. Work for it.” Initially, it didn’t resonate. So, I walked right by it. But after several loops around the store, it was the only thing that even came close to meeting my needs. It now sits on my bookshelf.

After meditating on it daily, I’ve come to realize just how appropriate it is. It points to the fact that I’ve been wishing and praying for God to give me a new heart and restore a steadfast spirit within me. Yet, the real truth is—I haven’t participated in the process AT ALL. I’ve been sitting back in my slothfulness, waiting for Him to do the work for me as if He’d swoop in with a magic wand and transform me.

Yes, God can move mountains. But He also helps those who help themselves. Praying each morning with that wooden block reminds me of what I want. But more importantly, it reminds me of what my part is in getting it.

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Rock-Solid Faith

“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I’m not much of an ocean girl. The constant movement of the waves exhausts me. I prefer the serenity of a placid lake.

Yet, I was mesmerized by the waves crashing on the rocks at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center while on retreat there last weekend. No matter how many times the ocean collided with those clusters of stone, they never moved.

Something I never thought about before was despite the constant battering, the rocks not only didn’t move, they didn’t change. But the water sure did. It transformed into white froth that sprayed outward, like an arch or benediction, glistening like jewels in the rays of the sun.

Meditating on that helped me realize that as beautiful as the spraying water was, we’re supposed to be the rocks.

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