You don’t even need instructions for this… and there are so many options! Clip these on presents or cards. Turn them into magnets. Use them for displaying pictures…
I’ve talked about it with friends, with sisters, with bosses. And then finally I met a woman who showed me a new way to look at balance.
Her mother brought her in to a photo shoot I was helping with. We were waiting on her husband, who was just a few minutes out, so we talked a bit to better understand her story – to better portray her in pixels.
I know you ride at the stables, I said. To help you with your balance after the car accident, right?
She smiled and nodded.
And I heard that our husband surprised you on Valentine’s Day, that he took off work and showed up to watch you ride?
Another nod and a bigger smile.
Well, we thought maybe we’d photograph both of you, I said about the time he walked in.
The biggest smile of all for him.
“Do you want to sit in the wheelchair or stand for the picture?” her mother asked.
So, with Mom on her left and husband on her right, she slowly made her way around the cords and beneath the lights. She turned to face the camera and she stood, leaning on her husband’s shoulder. Then, there were smiles after in-love smiles from both of them.
And in the end, we had a beautiful picture of a rare kind of balance – balance that wasn’t about squeezing more in or deciding what to let go of. We had a picture of steadiness, of taking the time to walk alongside those we love, of allowing ourselves to lean in order to stand.
In those few minutes, I saw balance not as one person struggling with weights on both outstretched hands but as something that is more about all of us, together.
Moments after the bombs exploded in Boston, the questions started.
First, the ones that needed a quick response.
Where can I get help? What happened? Is my brother OK?
Then the questions that linger in a soul.
Why would anyone do this? How can I ever feel safe?
And the one that haunts me the most, the one that draws close to my face and looks me in the eye.
What can I do to help?
It taunts me every time another hurt flashes across my screen, every time I read of a too-soon funeral. Each time I feel small, too miniscule to do anything, so I fall into the carefully set trap of evil – the trap of thinking I can do nothing.
I pray and I pack my lunch for another day. I match socks and sweep dog hair off the floor. I begin to think that I’m right where evil wants me, defeated on the ground, and that’s when something inside me starts to stir and kick at the dust.
I may not be able to keep the world safe, but I can give my children words to describe their emotions. I can model how to disagree respectfully. I can make the effort to not just know my neighbors’ names but to know what they’re going through.
I can turn off the TV and log off Facebook long enough to volunteer or send a thoughtful note or study something that helps me be a better advocate, a better voter, a better friend. I can live beneath my means so I have more to give.
I can do all of that and more because, make no mistake, hard times come to every neighborhood. From bombs in the back of moving trucks to tsunamis licking away the land, misery finds us all. And when it does, we need each other.
We need the candles lit and the signs hung that say we’re in people’s thoughts. We need the meals, the teddy bears, the memorials. We need to know that other people are standing – and kneeling – with us.
We need to know that God has not left us to deal with this alone.
I stare back at “What can I do to help?” and I start to nod. This, this is it. I can’t prevent evil but I can work toward a healthier community, and when all seems dark and lonely, I can bring light and love.
That much I can do.
I so appreciate other bloggers who offer simple ways to share faith with kids, so here is my humble, clunky contribution…
My young Benjamin loves nature and animals. I wanted him to know that God loves those things, too, so I pulled together a homemade workbook for a recent trip to the zoo. I wrote out scriptures about God and His creation, included the song “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and added a few coloring pages and mazes, along with a recycled envelope for holding maps and pamphlets.
We took the workbook with us and, while we were at the zoo, Benjamin studied the animals so he could get the colors just right. We took field notes and plan to add our own snapshots and more coloring pages before our next trip.
If I had thought of it more than 12 hours before I needed it, I might have made it cuter but Benjamin didn’t seem to mind at all! Some snapshots:
Also, there are two books I’d recommend if you’d like to reinforce how much God loves His creation and His creatures: “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Ashley Bryan, who illustrated the book by cutting out images with his mother’s embroidery scissors, and “Shiny Touchy Smelly Creation Story” by Joanna Bicknell. You’ve really got to see these.
First, Ashley Bryan…
Then, Joanna Bicknell…
Enjoy! I hope this was helpful!
For as long as I can remember, Brother Troy has had heart trouble. But now, in just the last month, cancer and its treatments make it so he can’t stand behind the pulpit and deliver a full sermon. I heard he sat down halfway through his talk on Easter and that more hymns were sung than normal.
Of course the small Oklahoma congregation understands. Of course they pray for his strength and comfort. Of course they offer support to the man who has officiated at their children’s weddings and helped them say their earthly goodbyes.
But it feels like there should be something more – some proper way to thank the man who baptized you and then coaxed you to wade deeper, to grow stronger.
In the more than 20 years that I sat under his teaching, I’ve lost count of the times the Baptist preacher told us that the name on the church sign didn’t matter. I don’t care if the sign says Methodist or Lutheran or Pentecostal, he’d say. What matters is that they are preaching the Bible, that they are following God’s teachings.
Then, sometimes in the same sermon, he’d tell us not to just swallow his teachings whole. Don’t just take my word for it. Study it yourselves. Pray about it.
I’ve always liked that about him, how he humbly points to God and to scripture – his true north. And I don’t even have to ask. I know that hasn’t changed in the years since I moved away.
His wife, Sister Betty, still teaches Sunday School. It was there in her classroom where my 7-year-old self fell in love with David and his psalms. Where I saw a re-enactment of Daniel in the lions’ den on an old-fashioned flannel board. Where I memorized most of the scriptures that guide me today.
All those lessons. All those sermons. They’ve mattered in my life and in the lives of countless others. I’m in awe when I think about the influence of two faithful people in a tiny little town, and I’m struck by the far-reaching ripples of all people in ministry – be that behind a pulpit, in a classroom or mowing the lawn for a neighbor.
Thank you, Brother Troy. And you, too, Sister Betty. Thank you, all who teach us about God’s love.
Dearest readers, Brother Troy went to be with his Heavenly Father today. Many are mourning his passing. Will you join me in praying for them?
No one preached a finer funeral than Brother Troy. There was just something indescribable about how he shared God’s love with those who were hurting. I’ll never forget what he said at Daddy’s funeral. He talked about faith, hope and love. He said faith and hope are realized in heaven, completed if you will, but love continues. There is no end, no death for love.
Much love to you, Brother Troy, and welcome home.