Lessons at the Park


I believe several life lessons can be learned on the playground-  Learning how to interact with others, conflict resolution, how to share and how to take turns. I learned a lot at the park this summer also. The playground and park became a place of solace for me. It was a place to go and find other kids to play with. It was a time when I could zone out and be alone with my thoughts.  I met some great people and those relationships carried me through a rough transition time. I had some purposeful conversations and was present to listen to other’s hurts and struggles. I was given the courage to follow through when I sensed God telling me to pray for someone who opened up to me. And I was able to speak hope into a crumbling relationship she had.  As always, when I focused on others and stepped outside of my own self-pity, I began to see all the blessings I had been taking for granted. I was able to see the beauty in things around me, even though I felt lonely and isolated.  I watched my kids play and interact with others and gleaned some important things from them. My 5-year-old inspired me with some of his life attitudes.

He believes every person you meet has the potential to be a friend. He doesn’t judge anyone on appearance and he doesn’t have preconceived ideas about people. He has a caring soul and often put other’s needs above his own. He is quick to help his sister or a new friend if they need it. He has a tender heart and is often an encourager. He showed me that life is what you make of it. He too had a rough transition period but every time we got to the park, he chose to have a good attitude and enjoy himself.

As I write this, I’m sitting at the park, watching Levi and Ellie play with a friend they just met.  We have more activities now and have settled into a routine, which means our park visits aren’t as frequent. I know there will be many more ups and downs in this journey, but I’m thankful and humbled as I remember how God is faithful and carries me through the tough times. And whenever I see a concrete picnic table, it will be a reminder of the lessons He has taught me here at the park.IMG_4476

Where are you running?

IMG_4312I have a good friend in Kansas City who doubled as my work out partner. We use to have a running joke. I told her I only ran if something was chasing me. Ironically, after we moved, we ditched our gym membership (I knew nothing would live up to Lifetime Fitness) and decided to exercise outside. I bought a jogging stroller and started walk / running. (Let me be clear, this is not me declaring my love for running. I’m lucky to stumble 2 miles before I collapse in exhaustion). But desperate times call for desperate measures. While I run for my health and mental well-being, I do believe we all have things chasing us in our lives. Every day there are things trying to take hold of us. They try to monopolize our time, our energy, our spirit. If we let them, they consume our hearts and control the way we live. Here are a few things I feel chasing me in my life:

Anxiety is something I have struggled with in the past and I know how controlling and strangling it is. It doesn’t take much to get me back into that downward spiral. I have to continually keep it in check.

Emotions always trip me up. I am guilty too many times of letting them get the best of me and letting them dictate how I act and react.

Fear and worry can be very consuming. I have often feared what others think of me, feared what is going on in the world, and feared I am going to be a failure as a mom. I try to make a conscience effort to turn my worry into a prayer. It is important for me to remember nothing happening is a surprise to God.

Discontentment and comparison are hard to shake. When I’m spending my time looking around at what others have, I forget all the blessings I have. And I have many blessings to be thankful for. I heard someone once say, “Never be envious of where someone else is because you don’t know what they did to get there.”

Entitlement and pride are a stealthy pursuer. They start with tiny lies I begin to believe here and there about how I deserve certain things. This easily turns to judgment. I start to believe I have worked hard and deserve to live a certain way because of that hard work. Fortunately grace and mercy come in to humble me and remind me I am where I am only because of God’s grace.

IMG_4309Although God doesn’t chase us the same way these other things do, He does pursue us. He is so much bigger than anything we face. If I surrender everything to Him, he is more than capable of taking care of it. He offers peace and courage along the way when we have a relationship with Him. I have to be very purposeful, everyday, to make sure I am running towards Jesus when things are chasing me.

The Bible is clear we have a real enemy who we must be on guard against. It is also clear we have a powerful God who is on our side in battle. I love to remember David and Goliath when I feel things are too big for me to handle. David said to Goliath, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty” I Sam 17: 45. So if you happen to feel something chasing you in your life, remember the God who enabled a shepherd boy to slay a giant thousands of years ago, is the same God with us today.