The Keys to a Happy Family…Literally

I could not silence the incessant beeping coming from my minivan.  One of the electric doors would not slide into place and the noise was escalating the whole drama of me, already running a few minutes late.

It was EARLY Sunday morning and I was scheduled to play keys on the worship team at church.  (That’s cool band talk for keyboard.)  I had no choice but to wake up Eddie.  Graciously (and groggily I might add) he came out to the garage and body-slammed the van door until the beeping stopped.

I have to pause here and say:  Eddie is ALWAYS willing to help no matter how inconvenient it is for him.  Me— not so much.  I roll my eyes, sigh and even stomp toward whoever needs me.

Super dramatic!

Ed comes to the rescue the minute he is needed and never complains.  I mean, here he was, standing in the cold garage on this rainy morning in his boxers and a t-shirt, no contacts…beating on my car.

I took off down our steep driveway and as I rounded the first curve a loud beeping announced that the door was sliding OPEN! I zipped back up the hill and Eddie again beat on the door until it fully closed.  This time I locked it and Ed felt confident I would make it to church without it sliding open.

Same corner.  Same result.

I quickly made the decision to commandeer Jessica’s car.  This was a bold move on my part because she really needed her car to get to work in a couple hours.  I drove away leaving Eddie to figure out how to get Jessica to work and the rest of the family to church.

Band practice and the first church service went really well.  As I got set-up at the keyboard for the second service, I made eye contact with Cory and was happy to see he was sitting where it would be easy for me to join him.  I knew Ed was taking Olivia to her class and would appear soon.  Jess had driven Cory’s truck to work AFTER Ed made an early morning trip to the gas station.  (Cory always runs on fumes!)

The music was beautiful that morning.  I kept trying to glance at Cory and Eddie without being too obvious, but, for some reason, was unable to spot them in the crowd.  I waited until there was a break in the action (a.k.a. “greeting time”) and scanned the room, but they were nowhere to be found.

Hmmm.  Very strange.

We finished the last song of the worship set, and quietly headed for the door at the back of the stage.  Imagine my surprise as Cory was the first person I saw.

“What are you doing back here?” I asked.

“Mom!  Where are Jessica’s keys?  We’ve been looking everywhere for them in the music room.”

He went on to explain how Jessica arrived at work and was unable to unlock the door because… I not only had her car keys, I also had her work keys! She was standing in the rain with customers, waiting for Cory to bring them to her.

Oops!

Cory and Eddie had been searching every nook and cranny trying to find where I stashed my purse during church.  Little did they know— I hide my purse on stage because of people like them: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO MIGHT BE RUMMAGING THROUGH STUFF BACK THERE! Hah!

I’d like to say this is an out of the ordinary day in our lives, but… no can do.

Life is crazy, hectic, busy, full and packed with every emotion you can possibly think of.  We have hard days as a family, filled with big struggles and on-edge emotions that takes everything in us to get through.  But that’s just it:  Jesus is in us and He’s the reason we can love one another and make it through challenging times.

(And silly, inconvenient times like car doors sliding open while driving and needed keys hidden on a church stage).

This verse is the key to getting along with others and, for me, it starts with my family; they are the ones seeing the real me.

Ephesians 4:2-3  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I am not humble (eye rolls, sighs, stomps) yet alone, COMPLETELY humble.  What does that even mean??  And my words have a natural “snap” to them rather than a gentle caress.  Let’s don’t even venture in to the next phrase of being patient!

Luckily, Jesus is so patient and COMPLETELY gentle with me (and I know exactly what that means).

More than anything, I want each member of my family to be growing in their faith and know how much they are loved by Jesus.  THAT is literally the key to a happy family.

And… it wouldn’t hurt to COMPLETELY upgrade the old minivan!

Just sayin’!

 

 

 

 

 

Lock It Up

It happened in a flash.  The soft click reverberated throughout the parking lot.  I was milli-seconds away from catching my thoughtless mistake.  To me, the cost would be high.  My keys were locked in, or rather… I was locked out.

I can count on one hand how many times I have done this in my lifetime – definitely not characterized by it.  Why today?  … The day I have a two-hour reprieve in the sanctuary of my car while my youngest aspires to be a ballerina.

Fighting tears of disappointment, I longingly peered through the window at my coffee, protein shake, laptop, Bible, journal, books and magazines.  Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!  My phone was in my hand- though pretty much useless as it indicated 7 % battery left.

Deep breathing staved off the tears as I began chatting with God.  “Okay.  You must have a plan.  I’ll just mosey in to the dance studio and await the divine encounter you have for me.”  I made myself cozy on one of the over-stuffed chairs in the lobby, ready for my moment.

Nothing.  People came and went without the slightest interest in engaging in conversation.

TWO HOURS later – phone dead, body weary – Olivia emerged from her class.  As we walked out the door, my rescuer veered around the corner.  With a simple click, Ed unlocked my mini-van.  I tried to express gratitude, not frustration over the enormous amount of time it took for him to arrive.

Coffee cold.  Protein shake warm.  Books unopened.  Laptop packed away.  Taking it all in was a reminder of the missed moments.

Texts and phone calls came in as my phone charged.  Everyone wanted something, AND they wanted it done the most convenient way for THEM.  Not one person asked what would work best for me.  I found myself trying to accommodate all the requests.  That’s when it hit me – in a little way at first, followed by a bigger revelation, followed by a practical revelation that hit me like a landslide.  This was the test.

I had wanted help immediately when I locked my keys in the car.  THAT’S what was best for ME.  Circumstances with Ed, however, negated a different outcome.  I had never really considered what was most convenient for him.

I stretched this thinking further:  When I had cancer, it really was not about me.  It was (and is) all about God.  Instead of focusing on why me… the question has to be, “What is best for you, God?”

I took a moment to run through the difficult events in my life – mom dying, infertility, mudslide, cancer.  “What was best for YOU, God?”  It was a new twist on the phrase, “All for God’s glory.”

As I let these spiritual thoughts sink in, God brought my thinking back to some practical insights.  I virtually never ask Eddie what would be best for him, yet I almost always expect him to be thinking that way about me.  I guess I am a lot more selfish than I care to admit.

My life right now is at an all time fast-paced mode of activities and busyness.  I am barely hanging on.  Consequently, every time I connect with Ed, it is through the lens of him helping me.  Making it all work out best for me.  Helping me wrap up loose ends.  Me!  Me!  Me!  And because he is able to handle so much -so incredibly well – I just never really ask what is best for him.  This was the practical, landslide revelation for me.  The “where the rubber meets the road, baby” moment.

I’m selfish.  I’m convicted.  In a way, I’m encouraged.  I’m hopeful.  I’m all those things that can begin the process of change.  The practical becomes the, vehicle in which God can drive me to a deeper walk of faith.

God has his work cut out for Him.  Even as I write this, I’ve blown it more times than I can count on both hands… definitely characterized by self-centeredness.

Ephesians 4:22b-24  “…put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

I’m so far from that ending phrase… true righteousness and holiness.  I choose to cling to God for the ride of my life.  I’m giving Him the keys to my heart.  I’m out of the driver’s seat (overdoing the car analogies a bit perhaps?).  I don’t want to crash and burn (Okay.  I’m done).  Time to trade in my attitude for a new one (done for real this time).