Winter most places means cold, snow, ice and all related activities. We spent the last month or so wondering if it was going to get cold at all. Well, it's cold and we're stuck inside!
After utterly exhausting all my creative resources...and not to mention, patience. I finally relented and let my kids play outside. We had already cut, colored, made books, play dohed, read, built castles and fought wars. We hid and sought and even played silent hide and seek in the dark with flashlights. We had a snowball fight with cotton balls and raced cars all around the house. We dug through closets and looked at old pictures and searched for old games. We made play, made fun, made games and made messes and then...
One particular child of mine, who shall remain nameless, bundled up and went to get the mail. Ignoring all protocol of opening doors in this house, due to being set free in the sleeting, freezing, wintry mix, as the weatherman calls it, the door was left open and the dog got out.
Now this dog went, fast, lightning streak fast, she must've had cabin fever. My flat response was, "Don't come back in without the dog."
Now the other two kids were almost out of control...what an unfair twist of fate. They didn't ignore door opening protocol or even open the door for that matter, nor did they let the dog out. So, why should they have to stay inside. This is the stuff that makes a kid's life so unfair!
Well, after a thirty minute chase through the freezing, falling ice-rain, the dog was rescued...frozen fur and all.
The child was intact...and laughing. Hence, the relenting. After bundling up, rubber boots, hats, jackets, and gloves. They went into the backyard. After our frozen pond and ice slicked patio furniture, the largest draw was the trampoline.
(Mom and Dad, I know you're clutching the keyboard gasping, "No, she didn't!" and I know you raised me smarter than that but...)
They broke the sheet of ice that was was crusted across the black nylon by sliding as hard as they could into the frozen net that I was praying wouldn't crack and break under the tension.
They had a blast! All the while, I congratulated myself on being the cool mom I had always aspired to be as kid.
Julia and Alyssa jumped and skidded for about an hour. The result was everyone slept deep and early last night.
In case you're wondering, Hunter lasted only about ten minutes before he was freezing, wet and well, hurt. Not seriously, but enough to make him want to come in and curl up by the fire. He doesn't really enjoy being cold, wet or the smallest player in a game of ice-wrestling on a slippery surface.
This reminds me of another wintry activity that we try and continue to try...
Not too long ago, some friends invited us to go ice skating. My response was to tell them they could take Julia but based on prior experience the other children were too young.
They came to pick up Julia. Alyssa decided she didn't really want to miss out on the fun. She thought she could ice skate even if the last time she went she was miserable. She changed super quick-like as a testament to the fact that she really wanted to go.
At their departure, Hunter began crying desperately because he wanted to go too. He was big now, he reasoned. He was sure he could do it this time.
Julia who's never known fear, was skating like a pro...when she wasn't in the arcade socializing!
Alyssa skated the whole entire time with no breaks. She learned how to hold onto a cone and skate around without losing her balance. What a great thing! Apparently, this is what they teach the kids in ice skating lessons. She had an incredible time skating on her own. She was truly experiencing the exhilaration that comes with conquering something that was previously unconquerable. I was so proud and well, also astonished. She was jubilant! Quite a transition from our previous experience.
Hunter, well, he went around twice, with help from our friend's dad. He didn't like it and was almost immediately ready to go. In his defense, I think it was one more lap than the first time he skated. Little accomplishments are praiseworthy too.
All of this growing up and accomplishing new things that was taking place was causing me to think. I mean, the last time I skated with Alyssa she hated it. She was coming off the ice this time declaring, "I'm the best ice skater girl ever!!!" Her soaring confidence had taken a complete 180 since the last time we skated.
Isn't this how life is? We dearly desire to do something. Maybe it seems fun or exciting or useful. We have no training or knowledge outside of watching others or reading about it. We try it. We fail...
Do we try again and again or do we stop?
Things that were previously too difficult become a little easier each time. God gives us all the help we need to accomplish the things He's called us to. When we need a hand, He's there; when we need a cone for balance, He provides. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
Each time we progress a little more, until we accomplish what we set out to do. Then we keep trying and each time we do it a little better. Sometimes practice makes us one of the best at what we do. Sometimes practice brings only the satisfaction of personal accomplishment. Either way, we fulfill our dreams. We overcome. We've made progress.
I hope I am the one who keeps on trying.
I'll be the one encouraging Hunter next time to jump on the trampoline in an ice storm or just to ice skate.
That's what God does for us. He takes our hand, speaks to us what we understand and gives us milk until we can eat solid food from His Word. He gives us opportunities each day to choose right, to learn His ways and walk in them. With Him there is always a new beginning...each day, each week, each month, each year. We have a new birth into salvation and new cleansing from sin each day as He perfects us.
"solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong." (Hebrews 5:14)
Just like I'll never give up encouraging my children and giving them opportunities to exhibit their growth, God will never give up on me, on us. What an awesome promise.
"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
There's lots of wisdom in "practice makes perfect" and "try, try again."