More than Once in a Lifetime


2018 began with no small amount of heartbreak for the McKay family. In December Luke’s dad, Bob, was diagnosed with cancer and one short month later he was gone.

Losing a man who loved his family well and never missed one thing his grand kids did no matter what state they were currently living in deserves its own reflection. For now, let it be enough that his absence was deeply felt as Sawyer graduated college in May with Sam and our nephew, Matthew, graduating high school soon afterwards. To give us all something to look forward to during this season of mourning and to celebrate the boys’ accomplishments we planned an epic vacation to Arizona via California I like to describe as “Innocents Out West” subtitled “If Home Alone and the Griswolds had a Baby”.

The trip also deserves its own chronicle however during a Hummer tour of the Sedona red rocks our guide, Phil, pointed out an interesting cactus he called a Century plant. The base looked like a gigantic aloe with a brightly-colored flower towering 20+ feet into the air. Phil explained we were seeing a rare occurrence since it only bloomed once in a lifetime – generally when 25-30 years old. After blooming, it would die and go to seed.

I was mesmerized by this plant, took its picture, looked it up on the internet. It felt significant to be witnessing this singular event, this explosion of color knowing it would also bring about the dying process. The imagery of a once-in-a-lifetime bloom spoke to me and if only applying it to desert vegetation one could almost consider it romantic.

When images capture my imagination I often work them around in my mind to see how they may translate to spiritual metaphor. The longer I contemplated this one all thoughts of romance died. Why? There are far too many believers with a once-in-a-lifetime sense of purpose perfectly content to have experienced a singular period of obedience and go to seed knowing the brightest days are those lived sometime prior to now.

Who among us has ever experienced a season of absolute certainty we were operating within God’s call on our lives, of serving others before ourselves, of incredible wonder when God was moving in our midst only to have it wither and die? How many believe we were only allowed one “bloom” but we blew it so there’s nothing left to do now but go through the motions until we are called home?

There’s a NeedtoBreathe song called “Wasteland” with the lyric, “There was a greatness I felt for a while and somehow it changed.” Perhaps this resonates as it did with me. What brings about this sudden shift or sometimes slow departure from assurance and harmony with God’s intent for our existence? Find a few clues by thinking through scripture of those we know were dwelling in obedience and then suddenly… weren’t. Adam and Eve’s fall. Noah’s drunkenness. Abraham’s lapse of faith. Elijah’s exhaustion. David’s adultery. Peter’s denial. Mark’s desertion. One thing we know from these examples – when things change it’s because we change. God didn’t nor will He. Ever. (James 1:17) He will not reinterpret his commands to fit a new situation or generation. He will not invoke goodness over our badness.  He will not stomach our pride. He will not let a soul be at peace when it’s not seeking Him fully. He will not give rest from Him, only in Him.

These men and women are all known for their failures however I would rather focus on their restorations. The mistakes were not once in a lifetime but neither were their successes. The fall was not the end of the story for any one of them and believer – it’s not ours either. Your heart may be dry as a bone and flowers long faded but as long as we draw breath there is always opportunity to bloom again and time for a comeback.

More to come…..



When No One Comes to the Rescue

 

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5


 

I recently returned to jogging and went out for a run on a Saturday morning with the sun high in the cloudless sky and 1000% humidity.  It was a brilliant move highly recommended by elite athletes everywhere.

A few miles in I arrived at a place in the road with a prolonged, steady incline that is demoralizing on a good day but was absolutely kicking my tail on this awful one.  My sweat-soaked brow and unstable legs harshly reminded me that not only am I not an elite athlete but rather a 47-year-old woman who does not have to be doing this to herself.  So, I did what all pros recommend when they hit a wall – I called Luke to ask him to come pick me up and also bring snacks.

What the pros don’t tell you is what to do when your rescuer doesn’t answer the phone.  After a couple of tries it became abundantly clear no one was coming to save me.  All hopes of Diet Dr. Pepper and Kit-Kats were dashed and it was time to figure out what to do.

I considered my options.  I could call the boys but that would mean one of them would actually have to answer the cell phone I pay for to communicate with them.  I would have hitchhiked with Jack the Ripper but not a single car passed.  I could call 911 but in my condition couldn’t remember the number.  And so, I began the long trip home by concluding there are some roads that can only be walked out with you and Jesus and did the only thing I could – put one shaky foot in front of the other.

On the trek back, I thought much about the various ways we find ourselves expecting others to be our Jesus and how bitter we can become when they don’t show up rescue us in our time of despair.  Worse yet is looking for a substitute savior that has no business being in ours.  My nephew is a tri-athlete (it doesn’t run in the family) and he told us once about race volunteers offering Gatorade to the competitors not knowing once the sugar hits their ravaged systems it makes them mess their very tight pants.  The lesson of that repulsive visual?  Though the refreshment being offered seems like an oasis in the desert, make certain the person from whom you take is an authority on the subject – both intellectually and morally – and doesn’t have an ulterior motive slanting the advice.  Though well-intentioned, “sweetened” solutions not rooted in scripture can leave us in a much worse condition than we began.

So, what do we do when we are struggling and no one is coming to save us?  Matthew 5 says we rejoice understanding this present suffering will make the next one a bit easier to endure ultimately producing a sanctified version of ourselves. Knowing we are never powerless or abandoned by the God who loves us produces hope and faith that was perhaps missing and created our neediness to begin with.

Meditating on these things, I hardly noticed that wavering steps had sped to a shuffle and the shuffle progressed to a slow jog.  Finally, home was in view and like a horse that sees the barn I kicked it up another notch to the finish line which looks a lot like my mailbox.  I turned in to the driveway to find Luke working in the yard without a clue I had ever called for help.

I’m glad he didn’t answer.



That Time I Ran a Race with TB

 
I told you some time ago about our Run for God Bible Study and training for a 5K.  This past Saturday was the big day we had been working toward for so long and after finally getting some relief from shin splints I managed to develop a raging case of tuberculosis just two days before the race.  So basically, this is me:

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Pasty-white skin. Check.  Exhausted eyes.  Check.  Blood spittle.  Check.  Facial Hair.  Not yet but it’s only a few more swigs of Nyquil away.

My original goal was to knock this thing out in 30 minutes but considering I can’t even climb the stairs in my house without stopping to rest halfway, I decided maybe I would just walk with Luke.  However, our teacher/trainer, Maury, was very correct when he said our competitive spirits would overtake us when everyone took off at the start line.  When a gentleman easily twice my age went shuffling by me, I decided it was time to be his huckleberry and kick it in to gear.  Luke may have to check this lunger into a sanatorium out west but I refused to be denied by a dude in Easy Spirit’s and dark dress socks. (And if you don’t get the Tombstone references, I am so sorry for you. It was Val Kilmer’s finest hour.)

We had 71 of our group run the race and every last one of us completed the course.  We had 3- 1st Place finishers in their age groups and several top 3. To clarify, I was not one of those but here’s my official result:

 

Lisa McKay
Overall Finish: 171
Time:   34:56
Total Runners: 382
Age Group: F4049
Place in Age Group:   16
Age Group Total:   54
Pace/Mile:  11:15

 

Not what I had hoped but it could have been worse!  Heaven help me for saying it, but I’m looking forward to trying it again when hopefully I’m not sick or injured.  Let me conclude with a few pics:

Moms and daughters.  I know, it’s hard to tell which is which.


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98% of the pictures I have of these two are a variation of this pose.

 

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Big Finishes

 

Syd with Mattie close behind.

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If you can expand this photo you will find me looking eerily like Doc in the one above.   Oxygen deficient doesn’t begin to cover all the ailments right here.

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Luke and Stan.  Stan had a bum leg so he and Luke were partners for the day.  Luke did not have a bum leg but his slogan for this entire training has been, “Ain’t no shame in the shuffle.”  So, they shuffled together and near the end got the eye of the tiger and crossed the line running.

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Luke’s other slogan for the day:  “I’m so glad that is over.”

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Preacher photobombs.  It should be a meme.

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Awwww…this week was our 25th wedding anniversary.  How fitting that we would run a race to mark the occasion.

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And our beloved IBC group.  I am so proud of each and every one of you for commitment toward this goal.  We love you dearly and can’t think of any one else we’d rather run alongside.  And of course, a special thank you to Maury and Kim.  Every bible study they undertake for our church body is done with excellence and we are all so grateful for their investment of heart and time.

 

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RUN FOR GOD * PRATER’s MILL * 2015



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