Friday, May 16, 2014

Marathons and Moms

I am a goal oriented person. For some crazy reason I enjoy setting difficult goals and then trying to accomplish them. For instance, a little over a year ago I had the goal of getting my second masters.  Why!? Hence, why I have not written anything (other than countless pages of research papers) for almost a year. I am proud to say that I just finished my first year of my second round at grad school—and I love it. I hardly sleep and therefore am more often than not a bit insane, but the Taylor family is tough and we are managing.

I also had the goal of running a marathon at the age of 30. I trained for the Memphis marathon that would take place last December. Since I am a goal person, I did not miss a single training run and drove through an absurd ice storm to get to the race. The night before the race I ordered a large bowl of pasta and then proceeded to receive the notice that the race was cancelled—I guess ice, fallen trees, and temperatures with a wind-chill well below zero are not conducive to running. Cowards. So instead I ate the pasta, had ice cream, slept in until 10 am, ate the rest of my ice cream…and enjoyed a weekend of consuming way too many calories instead of expending them. On the way home from the marathon-fail, I signed up for the Austin marathon that would take place in February. So my marathon training resumed, and I begrudgingly ran the long miles to prepare yet again for my first marathon.

February came along and all four Taylors loaded up in the mama-van and made the 8 hour drive to Austin. On Sunday morning I rolled out of bed from a sleepless-anxiety filled night, washed my face, put on my running gear, ate a wheat bagel with some peanut butter, and left my three sleeping boys in the hotel room as I walked to the starting line. I was ready to run.

As I put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles, I made several observations about running and being a mom—two things that make me who I am.  Surprisingly there are several commonalities between marathons and moms.  Here are a few…

I would like to pretend that my first observation while running was something warm and fuzzy. But no. My first observation was that people poop and pee everywhere. If you have ever run a race…you know what I am talking about. On a normal day, one would find it strange to see someone squatting in a bush…but on race day—completely expected. Anytime I ran by trees or bushes, I was sure to see a fellow runner who just couldn’t make it to the next port-a-potty. Being a mom is just as classy. As a mom, I talk more about poop and pee, sing songs and make up dances to help them “go”, sit holding their hand for an HOUR as they try to poop, pull over on the side of the road to let my three year old pee, and as a mom, I signed away any sort of privacy while I use the restroom. A common sign that spectators held during the race was, “Never trust a fart.” I wish I was warned that the same is true with kids…

Another observation I made is that people start drinking way too early—both spectators and runners. At mile 10 some spectators were offering runners shots of alcohol…and runners were taking them! At least wait until mile 25. Goodness. A handful of people offered beer to runners, Jell-O shots, you name it. It is almost as if spectators are thinking, “This runner looks like they are in pain…let me help ease their pain by offering them booze.” I couldn’t help but think as the miles passed how, as a mom, I’m sure people have looked at my face and wanted to offer me a drink.

Races would not be as rewarding without the spectators cheering you on. Same with being a mom—it is next to impossible to do it alone. I need encouragement. I need a village. I need my people. Spectators wake up early in the morning, hold embarrassing signs, and cheer you on as you run the race of your life. It would be near impossible to run a race without them. One sign read, “Smile if you are not wearing any underwear.” A mom could hold a similar sign saying, “Smile if you don’t have time to wash your underwear.” Another sign read, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.” Chuck Norris never gave birth either. Someone held a sign that said, “Pain now; pride later.” As a mom, I wanted to yell “Amen!” Whether I am running a race or running after my two little boys, I need people cheering me on. We all do. And desiring the encouragement, the people, the village does not show weakness—it shows courage. It takes courage to ask for help. It demonstrates bravery to admit we cannot do it alone. It gives my boys an example of what it means to look after one another, to love others well.

I finished my first marathon in 4 hours and 26 minutes. It hurt like hell. There were minutes, miles that I thought I couldn’t make it, that I wondered why I was even doing this in the first place, when I wanted to give up. But in all honesty, I would not change a single thing about it. With every sore muscle, black toenail, early mornings, and hours upon hours of training, I would not change a single thing. I did it. I ran my first marathon. The journey, the training, is what made finishing so rewarding. And I am dang proud. 

Being a mom is the same for me. It often hurts like hell. There are minutes, hours, often days that I think I can’t do it. There are times as I am cleaning up the umpteenth mess, asking one boy to stop licking his brother, asking the other boy to pay attention to his brother, wiping bottoms, kissing boo-boos, that I wonder what I am doing. But in all honesty, I would not change a single thing. I am doing it. I am a mom raising two boys. It is the process—the tiring hour upon hour process—that makes me better, challenges me, and refines me. And I am dang proud.     

I signed up for my second marathon because there is something addicting about running and races. I love it—despite my complaints, my ugly feet, and tired days… I love it. But I need the encouragement. As a mom, I need the encouragement there too. We all do. There is something addicting and magical found in the messiness of raising kids. Something ordinarily beautiful.

So whether you are a spectator of a race or of a mom, join her by cheering her on in the race of her life, hold an embarrassing sign…but maybe hold off on offering her a Jell-O shot because she might just take it.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

I hear a voice in my head


“Mommy, I hear a voice in my head.” 
Those are scary words coming from a four year old—well maybe not scary, but words that should be weeded through with caution.  Especially when this particular four year old sees the world through the lenses of imagination and curiosity.  To this four year old, you are either a super hero or bad guy; autobot or decepticon; friend or foe.  He has a question for everything; and then at least two more questions to every given answer.  He looks at the world with wonder and a strong sense of justice.  So when this budding mind tells me very matter-of-factly that he hears a voice in his head; I cautiously wait for what he will say next. 

“Sweetie, what does the voice in your head say?”  I ask ready to give an explanation full of logic and reason debating his claim.  But his answer was just what I needed to hear.  The way my four year old and two year old see the world, experience Jesus, and enjoy simple things never ceases to challenge me to be better—to become more whole; more complete, more dependent on the One I attempt to teach them about. 

“Well, the voice is in my head but really in my heart. The voice is Jesus.”

“What does Jesus tell you?”  My two year old excitedly interrupts and says, “Jeja!!” His way of saying Jesus. 

“Jesus tells me to love him.  He also tells me that he wants bad guys to love him.” 

It is that simple.  And I believe this is in fact the very voice of God.  He wants us to love him—love him with our heart and head—love him with our actions—love him with our desire to become more like him.  

Love him more than we love our stuff.

But the other is simple too.  He wants bad guys—the decepticons, foes, those that make your blood boil, the boss that demeans and overlooks, the cashier who could care less about you, the driver who cut you off,  those that make every decision differently than you would, and those that do not appear “churched”—Jesus wants their love just as much as he wants mine. 

I am guilty of withholding his love from those that I deem as bad.

We often make following Jesus about the wrong things.  We make it about what we are for and what we are against.  We make it about beautifying church buildings.  We make it about calling out other’s sin.  We make it about money, comfort, success.  We make it about proving others wrong. 

I wish I heard that voice in my head that is really in my heart as well as my four year old and two year old.  Because if I did, I would know that I was misguided.  I would know that I complicate things.  I would know that my striving to follow Jesus was being confused with striving for comfort, success, and ease. 

I have quieted his voice for a façade.  I have traded hearing him for acquiring stuff.

Following Jesus is simple.  It is by no means easy, but it is simple.  Love him.  And love bad guys in a way that they will see him.  Jesus desires my love—but no more than he desires my enemy’s love. 

I pray that my four year old and two year old will never drown out that voice with reason and logic.  I pray that life will never get in the way of the true Life he gives.  I pray that they will simply follow Jesus—in the trenches, in the park, and in their play. 

I pray that us old people will begin to hear Jesus the way our kids do.   

I pray that we will simply follow. 

 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thirty in my Thirties


With a new decade ahead of me I thought it fitting to create a list of goals--some big and some small.  This list is in no particular order.

1.   Run my first full marathon
2.       Take an Alaskan cruise
3.       Get a pixie cut
4.       Get a third (and final?) tattoo
5.       Goofy challenge at Disneyworld (1/2 marathon on Saturday and full on Sunday…yikes!)
6.       Go to the Ellen DeGeneres show
7.       Receive a second Master’s Degree (MPH)
8.       Take the boys to Australia to spend time with my brother and his family
9.       Plant a successful hydrangea bush in our yard
10.   Paint my front door a fun color
11.   Take the boys hiking in Yosemite
12.   Celebrate a Christmas in Disneyland
13.   Ride a jet ski
14.   Pay off our van
15.   Buy our house
16.   Sell our Portland house
17.   Run a race in the Bay Area
18.   Write a book (?) on my experience at Starbucks
19.   Get an article published in a Public Health journal
20.   Rid my house of diapers
21.   Trip to New York City
22.   Visit my friends in Portland (hopefully this will happen several times this decade…)
23.   Plant Lavender in my yard
24.   Buy matching bedroom furniture
25.   Talk Josh into running a half marathon with me
26.   Take the boys to Jerusalem with Aunt Aubrey
27.   Camp at the Grand Canyon
28.   Run across the Golden Gate Bridge
29.   Kiss my husband each night before falling to sleep this decade
30.   Hug my boys every day…remember each day with them is a gift and treasure it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mountain Top Wedding


Dear friends of ours got married this last weekend on a mountain top in Red River, New Mexico.  It was a joy to be a part of their special day.  I love writing and pray that those who happen across some of what I write are challenged, relieved, and find themselves at home in familiar stories.  I was honored to be asked by my friend to write something for her wedding.  In thinking about what to write, I reflected on the past (almost...) 9 years of marriage with Josh.  It has been the journey of a lifetime...one that will continue through my lifetime.  Our story, our journey, will not continue because it is easy; it will not continue because we daily feel butterflies in our stomach when we lay eyes on each other; it will continue because each day we make the choice to love.

 The following is what I wrote for the mountain top wedding:    

The best stories happen while on a journey.  Stories of valor, of fear, of extreme embarrassment, stories of laughter and love, always seem to emerge from movement.  We are our stories—the places you travel, the things you see, the holes you dig and those that help you out, shape us into the people that we become, the people we are.  Our journeys take us through hospital beds, high school classrooms, bible studies; through desolate deserts, dark caves, rugged terrain, and often mountain tops. 
Our journeys generally begin with family—those that love you and see you through the hard times and good times.  Our story becomes brighter and our journey a bit more adventurous when other’s cross our path.  Our paths cross, lessons are learned, and our journey—our story—continues shaping us, molding us, and leaving us eager for more adventure. 

 Marriage is the celebration of two sojourners—often weary travelers—choosing to journey together.  Marriage is the greatest journey—the greatest story we can tell.  It is a journey that tells the story of sacrifice, selflessness, extreme love, and putting someone else’s desires ahead of your own.  It is the story that Jesus lived—he sacrificed, even when it meant his death; he loved—finding the beauty in the mess; and he chose the other—us.   Marriage is the best earthly example we have of Jesus’ story—of his journey that alone allows us to experience life. 
When two travelers meet in marriage, they are actively choosing to journey together.  To travel the desolate deserts together, to find their way through the dark caves together, to experience the pain and often sharp rugged terrain together, and to meet at the mountain top stronger than if they traveled alone.  

Choose to create a new story together—choose to journey onward even when the horizon is hard to spot—choose to love in a way that exhibits sacrifice, selflessness, and passion even when it seems easier to journey alone. 

Marriage is the journey of a lifetime—the story of all stories.  When the adventure seems too hard, the love too distant, and the baggage too heavy—remember the mountain top.  Remember that your story, your journey, is now one and the same.  The desolate deserts, the dark caves, and the rugged terrain, make the view from the mountain top that much sweeter.     

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mom Blog: Confessions


It feels like I woke up one day and was a mom.  With a blink of an eye I am now a child-on-my-hip and one on-my-hand kind of gal.  My husband and I have 98% of our conversations with interrupting pleas from the back seat to pick up the book that fell on the van floor for the 67th time from our 2 year old and insistent demands to questions I have never pondered from our 4 year old.  “Mommy, where does an Excavator sleep?”  “Mommy, why are you not looking at me when I am talking?” “Mommy, what does ‘until’ mean?” “Mommy, why do you have marks (zits) on your face?”  We woke up one morning and we were parents.  Sleeping in is 6:30.  A clean shirt lasts until the first snot rubbing hug.  A quiet dinner means a child must be sick.  A quiet house means our two year old found my $40 tube of foundation and has proceeded to put it all over himself and his brother’s bed.  My husband laughs (because crying about it would just be depressing) that our alone time means “time with his wife (wink wink)” for him and “time to sleep” for me.  As if parenting is not hard enough, we scrutinize ourselves for not being as good of parents as the others out there…of making mistakes that will inevitably screw up our children…of not doing anything the experts say we should…and for appearing to some as “bad” or “not-quite-perfect” parents. 

Since confession is good for the soul, I thought I would confess my parenting mishaps.  This is not a comprehensive list nor is it in any sort of order.  Some of you may read this and think, “geez…why is she a mom?”  Others might find comfort in reading this and think, “glad I am not the only one.”  And still others might think, “that woman is crazy!”  All might be correct responses…but confession is needed nonetheless. 

Confession #1: I let my boys climb on our furniture.  Some may want to fight it, I choose not to.  The boys jump from one couch to the other, use the coffee table as a stage performing shows with an Elmo guitar and baseball bat turned microphone.  My 2 year old never sits while eating dinner…he chooses to stand or squat on his chair.  They climb on the counters to show me what cup they want and they see who can jump the furthest from our bed.  Don’t worry, I won’t let them climb on your coffee table but they sure do on ours.    

Confession #2:  I have stolen a handful of bananas from Wal-Mart.  Any parent knows that grocery shopping is tricky with kids—unless you are a perfect parent…which I assure you I am not.  Grocery shopping with kids is as painful as stubbing a toe…repeatedly.  I always end up sweaty and a bit on edge.  Well one trick to keeping kids happy in a grocery store is letting them eat something.  Usually the box of fruit loops or honey bears does the trick.  I pay for those…they just usually end up a quarter gone by the time we make it to the register.  But on occasion, my 2 year old really wants a banana.  Banana or fit.  What would you choose?  Since the produce section is the first I go through, it is a tough sell to tell my 2 year old to wait to eat one until I pay for it.  So in a moment of weakness, or several moments of weaknesses, my son may or may not have eaten bananas.  Since I suffer from guilt, I tell the cashier (the majority of the time) that my son has eaten a banana and they need to scan a banana twice so I can pay for it.  But inevitably, the cashier looks like me like I am a crazy woman and makes me explain myself several times.  So on days when I don’t feel like “appearing” like a crazy person to said cashier, I just quiet my conscience and steal a banana.  Sorry.  Don’t judge.      

Confession #3:  My 4 year old has never eaten meat.  With the exception of a hidden piece of turkey in a sandwich, my oldest refuses to eat meat.  And I don’t force him.  He routinely falls in the 50% percentile of height and weight with a diet of cereal bars, blueberry bagels, tortillas, cheese, macaroni & cheese, chocolate chip cookies, graham crackers, and purple grapes.  That’s it.  He doesn’t like anything new, creative, messy, hot or cold.  I don’t force food down his throat and I don’t send him to bed hungry.  He doesn’t get dessert if he chooses not to eat dinner, but I do not force him to try what we are eating.  I tend to think that parents who somehow get their children to eat all their veggies are involved in some sort of secretive hypnotism because I can’t get him to do it.  Some, well many, parents would say that I need to be tougher, and that may be the case.  But this is confession time...

Confession #4: My husband and I think other people’s crying children in public places is the best noise in the world.  It is not because we are living in bliss and the sounds of children make us float on pixie dust…it is because the crying child is not ours.  All too often it is our child throwing the fit, our child biting his brother, our child refusing to eat, that hearing other children cry in public is music to our ears.  It is not that we aren’t sympathetic; it is just that we are rejoicing in the fact that we are not alone. 

Confession #5: My oldest is at the age where he knows body parts.  I am slightly embarrassed at some of the bathroom talk that is exchanged between our curious 4 year old and his parents.  I discovered that he is at the age of no return when I was using a public restroom once.  My then 3 year old was in the stall with me (where else is he going to be when it is just the two of us at the store) and he exclaims quite loudly, “Mommy!  Your penis is hiding!”  Some parents teach their children “code” names for body parts.  My husband and I just call them what they are…in all their glory.  “Mommy, when will my penis be as big as daddy’s?”  “Mommy, what is the name of your penis?”  The male obsession with this part of the body begins at an early age to my surprise.  Oh there have been some hilarious questions asked by my 4 year old that my husband won’t let me share on social media—although I really really want to. 

Confession #6: I fail at limiting screen time.  My boys love watching movies.  They love playing games on my phone.  I sometimes put on a movie so I can quickly do laundry, make dinner, put away toys, or have 5 minutes of quiet time.  According to some anti-screen-time-parents, my boys now have a high probability of having ADHD or some other disorder that won’t allow them to focus on something for long periods of time.  The trade-off is a sane mother. 

Confession #7: I don’t always keep my cool.  I get tired, impatient, worn out, and moody.  Two days ago my 2 year old was in his second time out and my 4 year old was critiquing my disciplining.  The house was a mess, my husband was busy, dinner was ready, and I had a crazy moment.  I yelled at my boys.  I wish I always kept my cool, I wish I always thought through my actions.  I wish I saw each moment with my boys as a blessing beyond measure, but sometimes I lose it. 

Confession #8: I often skip pages when reading my boys books at night.  Let’s be honest, some children’s books are longer than they need to be.  So I take it upon myself to “edit” the book as I read it.  I am taking full advantage of my boy’s current inability to read and I shorten the books when I am ever so ready to go to bed myself.  I make up stories, summarize, and skip pages altogether to hasten bed time. 

Confession #9: I hug my boys as often as I can.  This may seem like a silly confession.  But there are some out there that have “tough “love with their children.  I don’t.  I work and am away from my boys the majority of the weekday.  So if my boys want me to hold them, I hold them.  Even if it means I am buttering toast one handed, I hold my kiddos.  It won’t be long before they stop asking me to hold them.  They won’t always long for my affection when they get hurt.   They won’t always be ready to receive or give a hug.  So if they need me, I am there. 

Confession #10: I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Being a mom is the hardest thing I have ever done.  It is harder than labor, harder than endurance running, harder than the work I do outside the home, but I would not have it any other way. 

To the moms out there, despite our many failed attempts at perfection, enjoy the messiness of being a mom.  Wear the stretch marks, snot stained shirts, sweat from embarrassment of misbehaving children, tears from being at your wit’s end, wine drinking and chocolate eating remedied, and decisions made from intuition proudly.  Be proud because you are a mom of rascals—a mom that is bringing up children to lead, serve, create, and honor.  A mom that sacrifices herself for the good of the family.  A mom that makes decisions others may think are wrong because outside of God only you know the longings of your child’s soul.  Be the mom that God created you to be—failures and unmet expectations and all.  Our children will benefit from seeing a mom who admits when wrong, authentic in trial, persevering through pain, and failing yet starting over the next day.  My boys need me for their mom, in all my insecurities and shortcomings, they need me.  Just like your children need you. 

So the next time you are in the grocery store and you hear another child throwing a fit, take a moment to rejoice you are not alone—or give the poor kid a banana.

I can’t do this mom thing alone, so let’s be in this together.  

 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lost


My husband has a fascination with maps.  It doesn’t matter if it is one found on his phone or one that takes a genius to fold correctly, the man likes his maps.  Over the course of our marriage we have discovered that my lack of love for maps is not his favorite quality in me—so if we are on a trip that requires any form of navigation in order to avoid unnecessary arguments—I drive and he “maps.”  The maps that I deem as mere clutter in my glove box, he believes is the source for clarity, purpose, and direction on any journey.  Maps, from what he argues is obvious, are the key of not getting lost and ending up somewhere that is beyond recognition.    

My boys have found a new favorite movie—Peter Pan.  It is kind of fun to go back and watch the movies that I grew up with.  Now when I watch it I notice how lame the girl characters are.  Tinker Bell, Wendy, Tiger Lilly, and the mermaids are all helpless women who are jealous of any other female that has Peter Pan’s attention.  Come on ladies! Toughen up!  Anyways, that was a digression.  Noah and Luke love Captain Hook and Tik Tok Crock.  They talk about the pirates—well Noah talks and Luke grunts—and chase each other around with fake hooks.  I grew up in the Bay, so men flying around in tights are nothing unusual to me—but the boys are hooked.  All the characters on Peter Pan intrigue Noah and Luke—but especially the Lost Boys—Why are they lost?  How did they become lost?  Do they have family?—Are all questions that arise when the Lost Boys take center stage.  

It doesn’t matter if you are two or 31, boy or girl, pirate or man in tights—no one wants to be lost. 

Luke writes my favorite gospel—although it shares a lot of the same stories as the two that appear before it in our cannon—he writes with a different perspective.  Luke writes with a focus on the lost—He portrays Jesus as One that provides direction, guidance, and home for those that are in desperate need of being found.  The lost people found in Luke are all too familiar—children, women, widows, the sick, the poor, the unpopular, and the scandalous.  All the stories found in Luke’s gospel highlight the “lost” or “outcast” as the focus of Jesus’ attention.

The common takeaway from reading Luke’s gospel would be that we need to focus on the lost—those that desperately need Jesus—those that are not always easy to see. 

But what about me?  There are days when I wake up and feel lost.  Moments when I sit behind a computer screen and wonder if I am where I am supposed to be.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost—the perpetually lost, those that always seem to take the wrong turn, and those that wake up and find themselves in uncharted territory with unrecognizable landmarks.

Maps are often out of date.  My GPS once told me to turn right when I was on a bridge.  The Lost Boys always seem lost—and they are okay with it.  But I want to be found.  We are to follow Jesus even when we feel uncertain, confused, and weary.  We are to follow Him even when a map tells us differently. 

On days of indifference, days of confusion, and days dizzy from always making the wrong turn, remember that a Savior came to seek us and find us.  And maybe it is in those moments of uncharted waters that we are in fact exactly where we are supposed to be.      

 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bad Guys

Noah and I hid behind my bed in the dark.  Daddy and Luke were counting to ten and the hunt would be on.  Moonlight from the window behind us let in enough light for me to catch a glimpse of my four year old.  He had a look of concern on his face.  We heard the number ten called from the living room and the sound of toddling footsteps and giggling coming down the hall.  Noah wrapped his arms around my neck, and with his heart beating fast, interrupted the joy of the game, “Mommy, will you save me if a bad guy comes and gets me?”  I gave Noah a big squeeze and told him that Mommy would kick the bad guys butt.  He was comforted by my confidence in the potential smack down by mommy on anything scary or bad and quickly got lost once again in the joy of the ensuing game of hide and seek.

As Christians, we just celebrated the biggest day in our faith—Easter.  The day Jesus conquered death and took life.  It is through his death, burial, and resurrection that we too can experience life.  Life not confined to the walls of a grave, but limitless and boundless life.  Good Friday is the day of remembering his undeserved death, and Easter is the day of celebrating his unforeseen victory.  We wear our Sunday best, eat good food, attend church, and truly lavish in His resurrection that changes everything—that allows us to experience life.  Sunday, Easter morning, the boys searched the house for their Easter baskets, they laughed and giggled as they found baskets full of little toys, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap (weird gifts for Easter, I know).  The boys even wore collared shirts to church.  We enjoyed an amazing church service and celebrated the resurrection better than any previous year.  I spent the remainder of the day in the kitchen preparing a feast for friends and family.  We ate, hunted eggs, told the boys of what this day means, devoured cookies, bathed, and whispered good nights.  It was a meaningful day—a day focused around the Life that was resurrected and the life we get to experience because of it.  But then it was Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday…Easter—His life—quickly became a memory in the midst of routine, early mornings, and deadlines.        

The joy was interrupted—or stolen. 

John organizes his gospel around the 7 “I am” statements—Jesus claiming deity—claiming to be the I Am, Yahweh, the same I Am of Abraham, Moses, and David.  In chapter 10 he has two—“I am the door” and “I am the Good Shepherd”.  So much can be said about those statements alone, but it is the verse in the middle that catches my attention.

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Life.  As followers of Jesus we get to experience life.  And not just minutes, hours, and days that pass by equaling a lifetime—but meaningful, passionate, joyful life.  A life without measure.  A life that is immeasurably more than anything we knew to dream of.  A life of meaning, purpose, joy, and peace.  A life full of love and giggling—a life complete with toddling footsteps and games of hide and seek. 

I remembered this life on Sunday.  I forgot this life on Monday. 

Similarly to how Noah’s joyful game of hide and seek was lost from concern of bad guys; my abundant life is often lost—or stolen—from the thief. 

The thief steals.  Unfortunately, the thief does not always appear as a red horned figure—he is much better disguised.  The thief often disguises himself as fatigue, moodiness, unmet expectations, small dreams, bitterness, and regret.  The thief isn’t always scary—but he is sneaky and effective.  The thief allows us to celebrate on Sunday because he knows Monday is not far away.  He knows that life—the monotony and necessary chores—will get in the way of experiencing abundant Life.

I hate to admit this but sometimes I do the job of the thief.  I, like Peter when Jesus looked at him and said “Get behind me Satan” do the job of the adversary—stealing joy and life from people.  The difference between living and experiencing Life are fine making it easy for anyone of Jesus’ disciples—anyone of us—to be the thief.  I say things that hurt people, I do not always have the eyes to see others, I don’t always give my husband the love he needs—he deserves.  I often am short with my boys, unhappy about what I don’t have, disappointed with what I do have.  The thief doesn’t have to work too hard when I tell myself lies about what I see in the mirror, believe that I can’t be better—can’t be enough.  All too often, I am the thief. 

My prayer, my hope is that Easter—the celebration of Life—will last into Monday.  That, like Noah, I will be weary of the bad guy but not allowing him to distract me from the joy of Life.  My prayer is that I will not be the thief to others—robbing them of the abundant Life they are meant to have.  My prayer is that I will not merely live, but experience a full, abundant, measureless Life.  The Life that the Resurrected One died to give us. 

Enjoy today.  Get lost in the game of hide and seek with your four year old.  Smile at the sound of toddling footsteps running down the hall.  Laugh at yourself when you spill coke zero on your nice pants.  Cut others slack when they give you the wrong cup of coffee.  Just live.  And do not become the thief of other’s abundance. 

May we live well.  May we remember the Resurrected one on Monday; maybe even on Wednesday.  May we make the thief’s job more difficult by actually allowing ourselves and others to experience the Life that Jesus died to give us.