Lenten Thoughts: Routine

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Do you have certain things in your routine you just have to do or you feel disjointed or incomplete? For some, they have to read the morning paper or watch the early news first thing in the morning. Some can’t get going without their first cup of coffee. Others have a bathroom routine that is scripted down to the minute. The same can be said for how they face the things of work or how they wind down in their day.

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Right before my husband and I got married we saw a movie about an ice skater who went blind. It was called “Ice Castles.” As she practiced with her partner, over and over, to drill the performance into her body, he reminded her that she could do this. As they skated out on the ice at competition, he squeezed her hand and whispered the word, “Routine.” When Nelson and I were married that is what he had engraved on the inside of my wedding band.

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Now, there are some who might see that as negative or sarcastic. I mean, really, who wants their relationship to become “routine”? People are always looking for fresh and new. Manufacturers understand that and are always seeking to make their product “new and improved.” Routine typically carries with it connotations of complacency and boredom. I don’t agree.

Having a routine helps me feel grounded and safe. I like the predictability and security of knowing what is supposed to come next. Thankfully, though, I’m not completely locked into that. Some people absolutely loose it if you change their routine. In their minds, the whole day is shot if their routine is disrupted. Somewhere along the way I developed the ability to toss my routine and be adaptable and flexible. It’s helped me survive.

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I believe that God wants to offer us this balance between predictability and adaptability. We can count on him. The Word tells us that he is the same “yesterday and forever” and he will “never leave us or forsake us.” Knowing these things about him, we learn to trust in the “no matter whats” of life. We can trust when we are hit with an unexpected curve-ball in our health, finances, career, or relationships because God becomes the source of stability that gets us through the uncertainty and back to what feels “routine.” Often in the process, we learn to create a new routine, new patterns and rituals, based on the new growth we experience as a result of trust.

There’s an old hymn that reminds us: “We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fastened to the rock that cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.” As you move through your day, and your daily routine, be thankful for what you can count on, and open to the possibilities for growth and grace.

Even an openness to new can become routine!

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Lessons on Loosing the Training Wheels–Part One

My grandson turned six in January. The recent warm weather seems to have awakened a piece of his boyhood. Up to this point he has just not been all that interested in bike riding. His cousins’ love for this hasn’t even been motivating to him. Watching all the neighborhood kids ride by the house has not seemed to phase him. So I’m not sure what brought about the sudden interest or surge of importance, but it was imperative that Pepa get those training wheels off and the riding needed to happen. Now. Now, as in instantly and perfectly. It reminded me of my daughter when she was three. I took her to the library to introduce her to the world of books and she promptly looked at me and told me that she wanted to learn to read. Extatic and feeling like I had acomplished my task, I set out to explain how we would learn letters and then words. She wasn’t having any part of that. She stomped her little foot and in a voice way too loud for the library told me, “No Mommy, I want to learn NOW!

So there I was out in our front yard trying to convince the grandson that I really knew what I was doing and that I would not let him fall to the ground and crack his skull open. I’m not sure where he got that idea from.

At first he insisted that I hold onto both the handle bar and the seat. He wasn’t all that comfortable with that but I was able to get him to allow me to let go of the handle bar so he could do the steering. This accomplished two things: it gave him a sense of control but also reinforced his fear of not being in control. Yeah, I know, it confused him too.

In an attempt to ground this in something he could understand, I reminded him of one of his games on game cube where the character needs to jump from one platform to the next while the platforms rock back and forth. To complete the jump the character, directed by the grandson, has to balance the platform by finding that special spot in the center. He got the concept. What he didn’t get or appreciate was how I was loosely holding the seat which allowed for some uncomfortable tippage. I was soundoy scolded repeatedly for everything from wanting him to fall and to fail. In his mind I was crazy if I thought thisbwas going to work. And ultimately, I must not love him if this was how I was going to treat him when he asked for something as simple as just a little help in learning how to ride his bike. I’ll spare all the anger about the stupid, worthless bike that was obviosly horribly defective since it couldn’t follow his directive.

After about a half hour of more excuses than riding, I told the grandson that I loved him very much, but I needed a break and so did he. I suggested we try again another day. I put the bike in the garage and not the garbage, as he suggested. Then I went and sat on the porch where I could lick my wounds, and contemplate my obviously ineffective teaching strategy. But the teaching wasn’t done.

Sitting there, I felt that gentle nudge that comes from the Spirit. You know the one. It’s just enough to help you stop what you’re thinking so you can see it from a diffrent perspective. From God’s perspective. Then with the exhale that comes from a big sigh, I began to see this riding lesson was less about my grandson learning and much more about the imbalance in my own life.  It wasn’t news to me that God had been trying to get my attention, but what he was asking of me and directing me towards seemed so impossible.  I had given up on those dreams.  But he hadn’t.