The Blue Bike

God’s timing is perfect. We know that from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 which tells us there are seasons for every activity under heaven, including teaching a child how to ride a bike. From our perspective, it is a matter of patience, strategy, and persistence. I can attest to this.

My grandson is cautious by nature, more cautious than his friends I have come to know. He is also a bit of a perfectionist. It shows in his reluctance to participate in any activity publicly until he has at least mastered the basics. This is where the blue bike comes in. 

Two summers ago, I encouraged him to learn how to ride a bike. He dismissed any consideration of it, opting instead to try scootering. I agreed, figuring it would at least give him practice balancing on two wheels. Did I mention his hesitancy to get back up on wheels after a fall? Luckily, our neighbor’s son also had a scooter and did a better job of teaching the fine art of maintaining an upright stance while mobile. Having a friend also made it mandatory to get up and ride again, or look like a wimp.

For us, that scooter became a regular part of every neighborhood walk. The next step was to get him enthused about riding a bike. My expectation was that he would be gung-ho for a bicycle by the following summer. Wrong! He simply hopped on his scooter and scooted off.

The challenge was on. I launched into a full-out marketing campaign, touting all the benefits of bicycle riding: speed, his dislike for walking (too hard on his feet), bike riding with friends, and riding some of the popular trails in our neighborhood. Slowly, he began to express interest in bicycle riding, until he began asking for a bike. 

My husband and I spent an entire afternoon checking out potential bicycle shops. We wanted to get one that would be the perfect size and fit for our grandson, hopefully with the option of trading it in for an adult-size bike within the next few years. We found it: a 24-inch hybrid model in bright orange. Finally, we were ready to make the purchase. 

Because of restrictions due to COVID-19, only two people per family were allowed in the shop at one time. I opted to wait outside while my husband accompanied our grandson into the bike shop. About 20 minutes later, my grandson emerged from the shop sporting a huge grin and guiding a blue bike toward our car. I literally rubbed my eyes to be sure I was not going color blind. It turns out, this model is ideal for neighborhood streets, sidewalks, and paved trails. 

Within a half hour, our grandson was balancing his way down the street astride his new blue bike. By the end of the day, we were all riding our bikes around the neighborhood, greeting friends from a safe distance and thanking God for giving us patience and persistence to see our efforts come to fruition. It was a wonderful way to see how all things work according to God’s perfect timing, just like it says in Ecclesiastes.

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Home Alone – Not!

We’re getting a big dose of family time at home. Online meetings are nothing compared to the task of guiding children through distance learning classwork. As grandparents, my husband and I are deeply involved in the education process of a third grader. The word “alone” is not typically part of our routine. However, during the course of this new educational system, it is often preceded by the words “Leave me _ _ _ _ _.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I love having my family near. I’m just not used to having them so near so much of the time. Neither are they. We all want to get out to the coffee shops, department stores, and restaurants where we can mingle with other people. But, in the meantime, we are practicing our ability to view life from a grander, eternal perspective.

The Fruit of the Spirit, as presented in Galatians 5:22-23, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I keep working on these, sometimes more successfully than other times. I printed, framed, and set these verses in a place where I see them every day. It reminds me to give my best to the people I love most. 

There are times when I look at my grandson and consider how much he has grown since his first year of life. He has accomplished countless skills and abilities since the day he surprised himself by rolling over onto his tummy as an infant. Watching him concentrate to master new math and language skills, or finding the right bait to catch that big bass reminds me of the swift passage of time. Will his faith exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit as he reaches adulthood? Am I doing all I can to encourage that eventuality?

I view our concentrated time together as an opportunity as well as a challenge. Is my grandson learning how to live out the fruit of the Spirit? My chance to show him comes while we are not home alone. Thankfully, summer vacation brings new opportunities to grow our fruitfulness.

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Endless Summer

Northern Pines beach

Some of life’s best experiences are eternally engraved into our consciousness. Summer days spent lakeside come to mind. Nothing quite compares to the chattering sounds of kids playing at a beach or splashing in the water.

This year, my husband and I took one of those “first” kind of vacations with our grandson at a Christian camp in central Wisconsin: Northern Pines. Their advertisements promoting the week long experience as a “vacation with a purpose” was spot on.

Following breakfast, morning programs had children age 0-8 attending Vacation Bible Study activities with others in their age categories while parents and grandparents attended their own studies. Families regrouped for lunch, afternoon free time, and dinner. All meals were included, eliminating any need to cook – or clean up. (That kicked the experience up a notch or two, possibly 10.)

Youth and teens participated in separate programs at adjoining sites with special times to spend with their families. During the evenings, Child Care Assistants, a.k.a. CCAs, cared for their assigned children while the adults attended worship and study time. (Whoever came up with this system had heavenly inspiration.)

Midway through the week I found myself sitting in the dining hall marveling at the way families interacted with old and new friends. It brought home the reality that heaven is not about floating around on clouds playing harps. Heaven is described in Revelation 21 as a place of fellowship for those who put their trust in Jesus. Now that is one endless experience I look forward to having.

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Sliding Into Second Childhood

Lake Ann Sledding

The whole thing started when my grandson wanted a play date with a boy in his class. His request snowballed into two boys, five girls, one mom, two grandmas, and a grandpa congregating at the unofficial sledding hill of a local park.

As soon as our sled and Sno-Tube were out, the boys skidded their way down the hill. They tried every conceivable position to increase their speed: standing, sitting, or flattening themselves out. Their ultimate objective appeared to be ramming into one another with enough force to knock themselves into the air.

The girls took a little bit longer to finesse their way down the slope. They tested a brightly colored stack of plastic sleds from the back of another SUV until each found her perfect fit. Before long, their attention turned to snowball fights, building snowmen, and making snow angels.

All four adults stood at the top of the hill observing the crisscross of trails carved into the snow. “Are you going to try it?” the other grandma asked as she looked my way. Too late! I was already on my way down the hill. Everyone got into the act, screeching and laughing all the way down. 

By the time our shared play date came to a close, the adults were planning our next outing. My childhood flashed before my eyes. I reminisced about the days when a dozen or more kids escaped outside to construct forts, lob snowballs, and race back indoors for hot chocolate and dry socks.

Snow is falling as I write this. I’m smiling. It won’t be long before I’m sliding into the childhood excitement of winter with my grandson once again.

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