When The Lion Roars

We’ve all heard it before.  There’s no way anyone or anything can ignore it when a lion roars.  An attention-getter for sure.

But when we hear that lion roar, what are we actually hearing?  Now, you’re probably wondering what it is that I’m really asking here.  Hang on for a minute and I believe you’ll see it.

If you’ve been walking with me in my snowshoes for any length of time, you already know two things about me:  One is that I am an adamant follower of Jesus Christ and the other is that I respect your right to believe what you believe.  So even if your belief system differs from mine, I need to lay that foundation real quick for you to see something really good.

We human beings have a very real enemy.  Satan is his name–an archangel whom God banished from Heaven because of his rebellion.  It’s important that you know that Satan couldn’t care less about us humans.  But because he knows how much God loves and values us, he absolutely despises us as a result.   This means then that he is committed to doing everything possible to ruin our lives.  So the Bible tells us that Satan “goes about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

So how is he seeking to devour in your life?  Quite often, it’s whatever you’re hearing that lion roar in your ear at any given moment.  And it could be about anything.  Fear, anger, resentment….you name it, he’ll use it.  The point is, if he can roar loud enough at you with whatever his tool-of-choice might be (a life-threatening disease would be a perfect example), he will succeed in getting your focus on him instead of where it ought to be.  And where is that?

If a person is being honest with himself/herself, something will be very obvious about the human condition and science.  Enough research and study has been made in these arenas to show that there is far more to life as we know it than these three dimensions we live in.  The human spirit is a place of incubation–meaning that we always have something there that we are growing.  Something “faith-based”.  Whether it’s a promise from God (which the Bible is full of) or fear, something is always incubating there.  We were created to always be focused on what God has promised us.  Satan knows that and that’s what that lion roars against!  If he can get your focus off of what God says and onto what he is screaming at you, he wins.

So get focused!  Thankfully, Jesus has made that pretty easy to do.  And once you are, stay focused.  I guarantee you it will pay off in the end.

A Fond Memory (Bethisms)

I have many a fond memory of my wife and my Dad together.  With that being the case, I thought I would share an earlier story called “Bethisms”.   I know you’ll enjoy it!

My Dad and my wife always had a very special relationship. He knew that I had prayed for the “right one” for a long time, and when he met her for the first time, he knew I had found her. The two of them just clicked. It was awesome to see! What was also evident to me was the fact that he had a lot of respect for her.  I believe he did both for simply who she was and also for her profession.  She does Daycare out of the home now, but back then she was a Social Worker.   She had seen and experienced a lot of things which produced insight and wisdom. I could tell he admired

My wife has much more of a forthright personality than I do (probably another reason my Dad was fond of her). But she can also be…well, no other way to say it….she can also be rather “blonde” (after all, it is her natural hair color). She’s never been “ditsy blonde” like the stereo-type we’re all familiar with (you know, like the On Star call many have heard where a woman has apparently locked herself inside her car and has to be talked through how to pull “the shiny thing” [door handle], only to discover that the keys were in the ignition the whole time). Nope. Nothing like that. Just “blonde” to the point that it has produced a few events we like to call “Bethisms”.

She has had quite a few over the years, and most of them seem to jump back and forth between doing her nails and baking in the kitchen. It’s kind of like watching a tennis match. I’ll be the first to tell you that she is great at both of these things. But not only do these Bethisms occur mostly in these two areas of her life, they occur with the same incident happening–every time.

She has done her own nails for years and is very good at it.  So, it naturally follows that a Bethism has occurred with this hobby of hers.  It happened here in our home one night as she was doing her nails in front of the T.V.  As we are watching a show, I and our boys suddenly hear, “Oh, crap!!”. I look over at her and she’s leaning back on the couch, holding her fingers together above her head. An odd sight, to be sure, but I thought I would wait for an explanation. She’s laughing, but there’s something different about it–something uneasy. She then proceeds to tell me that she has glued the thumb of one hand to the finger of the other.  And in case you aren’t aware of it, fingernail glue sticks like superglue. So she’s laughing (also because she’s leaned back so far into the couch that she can’t get herself back up with her fingers glued together like that) and repeating, in no particular order, “Dang it” and “This is really gonna hurt” and “Oh crapcrapcrapcrapcrap”.

Now I, sensitive husband that I am and knowing how much my Dad would love to know about this, promptly pulled my phone out and started recording video of this amazing and unusual event unfolding before me. Ben, our younger son, started to tear up and wanted to help his Mommy in any way he could.  So he volunteered to go get the scissors to cut her fingers apart.  This, of course, was definitely not how she was going to fix this. She eventually sucked it up, took the plunge and pulled her fingers apart. We were all amazed at how little skin was actually missing compared to what we thought we would see. If I remember right, it took a couple of weeks for that to heal up. This has happened more than once–and just as funny every time!

Hurling Stones

Hurling stones.  To hurl.  By definition, this descriptive word means “to throw or fling with great force or vigor”.  It also means “to throw a missile”, which is probably how Dad felt after that extension cord incident.  Of course,  you probably know that “hurling” also alludes to projectile vomiting.  This also is probably what my Dad felt like doing when that happened.

Many years after that fond memory, I finally bought a snowblower of my own.  I was mighty proud of it, too.  The first winter season that I had it brought quite a few opportunities to use it.  Exactly what a new snowblower owner wants to see!

During one of those heavy snowfalls, I had my snowblower out and was really getting used to how great it was.  I finished up our driveway and looked around to see if a neighbor’s drive needed assistance.  The neighbor on one side was set, but the other one was a single lady.  Her drive hadn’t been done yet, so I started in on it.  Being a brand new snowblower owner, I was also new at taking stock of an unfamiliar driveway.  Being a neighbor, though, you’d think I would remember the layout of a driveway and its surrounding landscape, right?

I started in on it, very proud of myself for being able to help a neighbor like this.  As I worked up the driveway, I noticed that she had her SUV parked by the front of her house.  I worked my way around the SUV to her front stoop and started to clear that.  I had forgotten, though, that her front stoop didn’t just edge up to her driveway.  It had a two-foot-wide piece of sidewalk about a foot long that joined the two, up by the house.  The rest of that space between the front stoop and the driveway was covered with stones.  Big ones, from the size of golf balls to small oblong potatoes.  It was then that I received my revelation:  It is extremely important to know the layout of your surroundings when clearing someone else’s driveway with a snowblower!

When my snowblower found those stones hibernating beneath the freshly fallen snow, they very quickly and loudly came to life.  I know because I heard three quick successions of THOCK!  THOCK!  THOCK! as three stones launched themselves through the chute of my snowblower and sailed through the air towards her SUV.  Everything became slow motion at that point.  From their launched trajectory, it was hard to determine where exactly they would land.  All I knew was they were heading in the general vicinity of her SUV.  That was enough for me to have my heart in my throat and send up a quick bout of earnest prayers to God above.  As they began their downward decent, however, it became evident that they were going to land somewhere behind and just shy of her vehicle.  I was thrilled!  And a little vexed at myself for allowing this slight oversight.

So walk away from this little story with an important life lesson:  Always know your surroundings!

Snowblower Or Shovel?

I have numerous memories of shoveling snow with my Dad and my brother.  And none whatsoever of using a snowblower.  Unfortunately, most of those shoveling memories don’t qualify for the “warm & fuzzy” categories in the memory bank.

I remember many times sweating in my snowsuit as I heaved snow out of the driveway.  (This, of course, resulted in nice piles of snow along the driveway for digging tunnels, but that’s beside the point.)  My brother and I would often stop and look over what we had just done….and what was still left to do.  And that’s when the heavy feeling-sorry-for-myself sigh would inevitably occur.  Because what was still left to shovel seemed to stretch for at least a mile out in front of us.  When we were done shoveling the drive, though, a new burst of energy would inevitably come out of nowhere now that we were no longer slaves.  You know how that goes….

I stayed with my parents well into my late twenties, saving up money for my own house.  While doing that, my Dad eventually bought himself a pretty decent snowblower.  This was a different house by then, with a nice cement driveway–perfect for using a snowblower, right?  What could possibly go wrong with a nice smooth cement driveway and a new snowblower?

The first real snow that year that was worthy of a snowblower didn’t occur until well into the first week of December.  By then, I had gotten the Christmas lights up around the outside of the house.  That meant that I needed to run an extension cord across the driveway though.  Knowing that this would not be a good mix with a snowblower, I delved into my mind to come up with a solution to this untimely dilemma.  I eventually realized that the cement driveway slabs angled down and away from the garage.  They were on enough of an incline that they produced a gap between the garage floor and the driveway slabs.  This gap was large enough to stuff the extension cord down into, thus effectively keeping it out of harm’s way.  More or less.  Turns out it was less.

The morning of the “big snow” found my Dad–proud new snowblower owner that he was–out in the garage getting it all ready for its first major use.  My Mom and I were in the kitchen doing breakfast prep and such.  I found myself in a particularly thankful mood due to knowing that I didn’t have to be out there shoveling snow.  We heard the snowblower start up.  Dad made his way to the open garage door where the snowblower would get its first taste of that season’s snowfall.

Now, you need to know something about my Dad.  When he would react in frustration to something, it quite often began with “Judas Priest!!” or “Dadburnit!!” or “Come on!!” and was always followed by an exasperated sigh.  Sometimes the situation would warrant one of these often-used expletives on his part being immediately followed by another one of equal or greater intensity.

So, as we listened to the sounds of the snowblower leaving the garage, the engine suddenly sounded strained, like it was trying to move mud instead of snow.  Then there was silence.  That silence was immediately followed by a unique version of the expletives and sighs mentioned above.  Dad came through the door and exclaimed in not too calm a manner that the extension cord that was supposed to be tucked away nice and neat in that cement crevice had now wrapped itself quite securely around the blade column on the snowblower.  As I tried not to laugh out loud, I began the long and tedious process of extracting said extension cord from its new location.  Still an amusing memory, although I don’t think my Dad ever saw the humor in it.

I’ve got another snowblower story for you when we see each other next, so let’s catch up again soon!

Resolutions….Do We Have To?

It’s the thing everyone thinks of at one time or another as the new year approaches:  Resolutions.  And, inevitably, everyone has the same thought hit them next:  Will I fail again?  It’s something that we all begin and then fight the thoughts of failure the whole time we’re doing it.  More on that in a minute.

The first of the year is certainly a time of reflection.  But I also believe that reflection needs to be coupled with a good sense of humor–something to help balance out the intensity that can often accompany the realization that something needs to change in your life.  And so, I offer to you some examples of New Year Resolutions that may or may not be the wisest of choices:

  • “Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to switch to a gym where there are far fewer people whose New Year’s resolution was to go to the gym.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to be more selective about my bad decisions.”
  • “New Year’s Resolution:  To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to stop hanging out with people who ask me about my New Year’s resolution.”
  • “Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people.  So overweight people are now average.  Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.”
  • “New Year’s Resolution:  This year I’m going to incorporate ‘I don’t roll that way‘ into at least one conversation a week.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to stop crying at Google commercials.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution was to start smoking.  One day in and I already stopped.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to spend less time interacting with people and more time with my phone.  Doing pretty well so far….”

Like I said, not sure how much wisdom there is in those words, but food for thought, right?  I would encourage you not to take yourself too seriously as you pursue a resolution or any other goal you have this year.  And, for what it’s worth to you, my personal experience has shown this to be true:  Put two people pursuing the same goal next to each other–one attempting to do it on his own and the other doing it with God’s help as a follower of Jesus Christ–and you will always find that the person who enlisted the help of God Himself accomplishes much more with much less effort!  So, my friend, save yourself some time and effort and do it right the first time…..