Ordinary Faith

On Monday we celebrated ‘Field Trip Day’ again, only this time a little differently. I forgot my camera, and for that reason I must make do with recycled pictures from other days.

Rachel spent part of the weekend out at the Duckabush with her friend Leanne and my Mom. On Saturday evening, before she came home, Rachel called and asked if Leanne might be allowed to come to our house for the remainder of the weekend. Knowing that it would fall to me to make the three-hour round-trip drive to return Leanne to her home, I eventually (and rather reluctantly) agreed.

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David really enjoys his gymnastics class, offered at the local YMCA on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Last week in our Sunday school class we were talking about modeling servant-hood to our children, and I was convicted about the way that I talk about service in front of my children. Many times when I serve others it is after considerable persuasion and with little graciousness on my part … I identify closely with the son who said he wouldn’t go work for his father (and later did), in the parable Jesus taught. Our class discussed the use of a phrase like “I would love to do that for you!” or something similar. It is interesting to note that such language frees the served person from obligation to reciprocate and sends a clear message that this service is done as unto the Lord. In turn, this allows the served person to choose to reciprocate, which can rebound to additional blessing for them. Service is a choice, and there should be no question of hypocrisy … it just takes a moment to make up your mind that you will do it before you speak, so that you have time to decide to be glad about it.

Knowing that I would be seeing Leanne’s Dad (the director of Wilderness Northwest), I was determined to make some progress on the DVD of Summer Camp 2004 for that organization. I stayed up until 4 am burning a demo DVD for Jody’s review, and so we got a later start on our Field Trip than we usually do. My children had never been bowling before; I decided to take them bowling at Timber Lanes, conveniently located in Shelton, about half-way between Lakewood and the Duckabush.

Kathy packed us a lunch and shooed us out the door very patiently and graciously, considering we didn’t leave until noon. We swung by the bank to pay our monthly rent and ate lunch at a cool playground area adjacent to the bowling alley. Of course it began to rain just as we got there, but the kids were unfazed, shouting happily about the storm and the likelihood of pirates as they clambered about the play structure merrily.

We spent almost two hours bowling a single game, with Rachel, Daniel and David bowling against Joshua, Leanne and myself. They beat us handily with more than a 100-point margin … Joshua maintains that the bumper gates in the gutters gave them a considerable advantage, but I’m not so sure. David got several strikes and spares, routinely getting three and sometimes even four chances to knock down each set of pins. The machine had trouble registering his bowling ball, which crawled along at the speed of a lively glacier. Sarah ‘helped’ me and shouted with excitement every time my ball came up out of the ball return … “There’s my ball!” Sadly, she had to learn not to grab at the bowling balls as they came up out of the return the hard way, and spent several tearful minutes sucking her fingers on the bench. I was surprised at this, because Sarah is usually very cautious and listens closely when warned that something is dangerous. The proprietor of the bowling alley personally came down to our lane and gave all the kids a lecture about the hazards of the ball return machine. I guess I should have played it up a little more … sometimes I feign an injury (especially with something hot) while she is watching to give her a sense of healthy respect. We had the establishment almost entirely to ourselves, and it wasn’t too terribly smoky, about which I had been worried. A good time was had by all.

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Although Sarah technically is too young to join ‘Nastics, sometimes Kathy sneaks her in.

Eventually we tore ourselves away from the game, with many a regretful glance back toward the video arcade. I had bought each of the children a small pop at the bowling alley, which was a big hit, especially because we had not packed enough drinks for lunch.

We arrived at the Duckabush around 4 pm, and spent an entertaining 20 minutes watching video clips from the Camp DVD with Jody. Unfortunately, he had to take Leanne somewhere, and so we were soon left at our own devices. We swung by our old house (everyone needed to go to the bathroom) and decided to watch a movie, just for old time’s sake.

I called Kathy and asked her if she missed us … there was a long pause, and then she said, “Well, no.” The honesty somehow made me glad, although she called back about a half-hour later and said, “Now I miss you.” Of course, it is safe to miss us when we are 90 minutes away, heh heh. We ate a nutritious dinner of Hot Cocoa and Macaroni & Cheese, finished the movie and cleaned up … it felt good to be at the old homestead, even furnished with unfamiliar furniture and decorations.

Knowing that we couldn’t leave the valley without stopping in at the Bringhams, we dropped by “just for a few minutes”. I hadn’t reckoned with Tom’s crafty conversational wiles, though; we stayed for almost an hour, engaged in interesting discussion. We arrived at home around 9:30 pm, tired and happy, except for Daniel, who was tired but not particularly happy.

During the ride home, Daniel had slumped down across his seat and fallen asleep on the bench directly behind Joshua, who was sitting up front beside me in the passenger seat. Somewhere around Olympia, Joshua became weary and decided to put his seat back into the reclining position. Imagine Daniel’s surprise and dismay to wake up with his head trapped in smothering darkness, pinned to the seat. Wrenching his head free, he scraped the side of his face, and cried for some little while. As a claustrophobe myself, I can’t say I would relish (or even mustard) waking up in that situation.

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One place where Daniel really shines is in Homeschooling PE.

Wednesday evening I had a bit of an adventure … I heard on the news that the Sounder trains were cancelled due to some kind of labor relations problem with rail workers nationwide. I tried to get a bus schedule from Sound Transit’s website, but it was down, of course, due to the unusually large number of people probably doing the same thing. I was worried about the estimated 3000 extra commuters that would be piling onto the already-crowded buses … how could I manage to get a place on the bus? I envisioned hours of waiting at some bus stop, watching bus after bus pass by, each packed to the gills with irritable commuters. Not my idea of a fun way to spend a Wednesday evening.

I called Kathy to let her know that I wouldn’t be home any time soon, and she offered to call her good friend Julee to see if I could meet her husband somewhere in Seattle & carpool. Instead of being at his office in Seattle (where he was supposed to be) Colin answered the phone at his home in Lakewood (must have been working from home that day) and without missing a beat, responded, “Of course I’d be glad to pick Tim up!” He is a silly man, which is a big part of why we like him. I was tempted to call his bluff and ask him to drive the hour up to Seattle to fetch me home — but a clever person like that will always have a quick rejoinder. “Oh, I’d love to, but my sick grandmother just called, and needs me to take her to the hospital,” or something like that.

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Joshua would have come to pick me up, if he wasn’t too busy in his new role as environmental activist.

Eventually I found the bus route map I needed and hatched a clever plan to walk upstream from the usual bus stop to catch the bus before it filled with disenfranchised rail passengers. As I cut across the plaza near the train station, I caught sight of two police officers lounging against a fence. On a whim, I asked them if they’d heard any news about the trains, and they told me that Sound Transit had managed to get one train running. They didn’t seem very confident or knowledgeable, but I decided to nip across the street and glance down into the station to see if there was a train waiting … sure enough, there it was!

I dashed down the steps, nearly trampling a TV cameraman in the middle of an interview with the station master, and boarded the train with a full minute to spare before it departed. The Sounder was nearly empty … everyone else must have believed the news and taken the buses.

I think that spiritual life is like that many times … we get ourselves all worked up fearing or dreading some adverse situation, only to discover that our fear and dreading was unnecessary and that God had already made a way for us to have joy. I’ve continued to read Hind’s Feet on High Places to the older children at night, and a recent chapter described just this sort of thing. Little Much-Afraid is faced with a fearsome climb of the Precipice Injury, and nearly turns back out of dread. But when she actually climbs the mountain, she finds it is bearable and not nearly what she expected. The scriptures teach that without faith it is impossible to please God … when we give ourselves over to fear and dread about the future, we are not exercising any kind of faith. Strange … I always thought I had faith. Maybe I never had the ‘tell this mountain to go throw itself into the sea’ kind (Matt 17:20), but a respectable amount of the ordinary ‘we badgers, we hold on’ (C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian) kind of faith. These last two years have shown me how deficient I am. I think that a lot of my so-called ‘faith’ in God was really faith in myself — it just wasn’t revealed until I was tested. I think that true faith is, by definition, extraordinary. And yet there is honor and faith in quiet, steady holding on to the truth of who God is.

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And then there is ‘misplaced faith’, demonstrated by these children who thought they would live to reach the bottom of the stairs.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. — Hebrews 11:6

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