Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Category: Playing Mom (Page 1 of 3)

Risk and Danger

I woke up last night in a cold sweat, heart pounding. I had been cornered. I was caught. And I had no clue what would happen next. Thankfully, the next thing that happened was waking up in my own bed, safety beneath my warm blanket.

It got me thinking. I’ve lived with danger. I’ve done risky things. Some of the most dangerous things didn’t feel dangerous, and some of the least dangerous felt very risky. I’ve been scared in perfectly safe darkness and felt safe in a spot that proved risky. When Garry talks about risk management there are two key factors– the probability that something will go wrong and how serious the effects of a failure would be.

There is a cobra in Paraguay, for instance, that is one of the most deadly but least dangerous snakes in the world. A bite is usually fatal, but they seldom bite. I think it was one of these snakes that five children under the age of nine encountered in our back yard. I persuaded them that neither playing with nor attacking snakes was a good idea at their ages and maturity levels. They came inside. The snake left. End of story.

It was scary, at least to me. My son, on the other hand, complained to my husband that I never let him do anything. I considered never letting the boys outside. I thought I should watch them more. I wondered what I would do if something happened to them. In the end, I realized that keeping boys in the house can be more dangerous than letting them play outside. You see, boys need fresh air, space, exercise, and adventures. Andrew Petersen catches the wonder in this song, Little Boy Heart Alive.

In a culture that is often averse to risk, dependent on insurance, and in love with comfort, the thought of a life overseas can be scary. Missionary life seems risky. Mission aviation feels dangerous. The unknown is scary. The truth is, boys need to leave the house and sometimes we need to venture into the unknown. Faith needs the unknown to grow. We need challenges to get stronger. From this vantage point, the most dangerous thing I can think of is not going where you’re led, not following God’s direction for today, or not embarking on journeys you are meant to take.

Not only do we need to grow, we need to see God. When there are no other options, we see God at work. When we cannot control things, we realize that God has a plan. After all, there’s difference between watching the storm through the picture window in the living room and standing outside in the midst of it. Vicariously adventuring with the latest reality TV show is not the same as going yourself. And there’s nothing like adventure to change us and grow our faith.

Getting Found While Lost

I may have more practice getting lost than anyone I know. I’ve been lost in each of the seven countries that we’ve called home and in friends’ homes. I’ve been lost in airports and grocery stores. I’ve been lost on country roads and in cities, in winter, spring, summer, and fall. In fact, I am just good at getting lost. I sometimes tell my husband that every intersection is a complete surprise, because I can’t seem to remember where any given road will take me. It takes no effort on my part to get lost and happens regularly.

There was a time when being lost was very scary, when I worried that I’d never get home. Technology is better now, and my ability to ask for help has grown. I seldom worry when I get lost. In fact, I usually laugh. It’s not that it’s so amusing, it’s simply that it’s so predictable. Besides, my family has a long list of “Remember when Mom got lost?” stories and they love adding new ones. I recently realized that I don’t mind getting lost as much now because I expect it to happen, I know what to do when it does, and I’m very confident that somehow my husband will come find me if it becomes necessary. I like to think that I am also getting more comfortable with who I am and who I am not.

img_3593Lost in terms of space is one thing, but feeling lost in terms of life is much harder for me. These days we’re facing a lot of questions, and it’s becoming clear that I’m uncomfortable not knowing where I’m going. I know how to ask for directions, and I realize only one Person has the answer, but right now He isn’t telling us where the road will lead. For that matter, while I often think I know where the road is going, I have often been wrong. And that makes me uncomfortable. I’d like life to be predictable. I’d like to plan tomorrow and have it turn out the way I plan it.

However, maybe it’s time to learn a lesson about feeling lost in life. Maybe it’s time to get comfortable with not knowing, to laugh at the uncertainty, and to enjoy the scenery. Maybe it’s time to remind myself that I am human, and controlling things is not my job.

My story, your story

It’s strange the way a story grows, the twists and turns it takes. It’s interesting to read and incredible to hear. Living the story is sometimes another matter. In my story, I’ve often wanted to skim the present, skipping to the end of a scene, the resolution of a problem, or the closure of a conflict. Yet when I look back at my story, each part of life that I wanted to skip was as full of joy as it was of sorrow, and each chapter of joy contained sorrow. It almost seems that one cannot exist without growing the other.

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And while my story has had its difficult questions, harder still are the questions that arise in my boys’ stories, harder to wait while they resolve their conflicts and harder to stand by while they make choices. And my friends stories, while unique, are also similar. We laugh and we cry, we hurry and we linger. We worry and we trust.

I look back and think how sensible faith would have been or was. Yet in the moment, faith is hard. It’s always hard. Not because I don’t believe God has this situation, but because I’d like to control it. I’d like to call it before it happens and understand the outcome for better planning. So, I often choose to fret.

Hope is another choice that is an obviously good option. Yet despair knocks on the door of my mind. Fear of the future seeps in and I forget that I know the end of the story. The end is good. Perfect, actually. And in this moment, for this situation, I can choose hope.

And the greatest of these is love, the easiest option to let go when things get tough. I want to hole up in my problems and misery, but truth says that love is a better choice. Instead of looking out only for myself, I can look out for other people also. I can choose to reach out instead of wishing other people would make more effort. I can choose to act kindly and humbly.

Faith, hope, love. They all ask me to take a longer view of the pain and the tears, to read the story as though I already know the ending. I do, after all.

Coffee Shop Drama

Sitting in yet another coffee shop, on yet another day. My bag is full of things that need doing, but my head hurts. I may have had too much coffee. I may have been sitting here a long time. And the couple arguing beside me is as adamant as the defendants and plaintiffs on court cases flickering across the TV. So, while I meant to work, now I am just thinking.

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I feel for this couple. He wants to talk, she is done talking. They brought books like they were going to study, but I think they’ve mostly eaten their delivered pizza and argued and maybe cried. Like a foggy day, it is all unclear. I remember those days… I mean, sometimes we still disagree and have our days, but things just aren’t like that anymore. It’s seldom the same dance of insecurity it was when we were young, and we are better at staying on the same side of things and shooting downs problems together than we used to be. It reminds me why I am thankful to be at this stage in life!

And I realize again how far ahead our boys are, how blessed we have been to raise them in basically healthy communities of people who care about one another. There are so many communities that are not healthy, where kids cannot learn to relate in healthy ways because the people around them do not model healthy relationships. And I am reminded once more that we inherit a legacy and pass one one, either a good one or a bad one.

And that said, I really should get back to work. It hasn’t gone anywhere while I was pondering.

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