Friday, April 8, 2016

Tether My Heart

Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 99: Today, I am grateful for the things that tether my heart.

Isn't this little guy the cutest ever? Thanks Ben (and Tara) for letting me borrow this photo of his royal cuteness. I have been thinking about this post since I first saw this adorable photo of Joel.

I love tetherball. Perhaps it is because it takes me back to the Chicago Central Nazarene Youth Camp in Aroma Park, IL.  There, I found friends for a lifetime and learned so much about a deeper walk with Christ. My stomach would be filled with butterflies when we would pull in the drive...the good kind...and my friends would be there. Usually, gathered around tetherball.  

Tetherball is a ball...on a rope...attached to a pole...with the goal of winding, and winding until the ball meets the pole at the end of the tether. One person would wind clockwise and the opponent would wind counterclockwise.  Mostly, we talked as we stood around waiting our turn to play. 

That camp tethered my heart in a way few things did.  Sure..."first love" and amazing friendships made it memorable, but the seasons of service as a camp counselor and music leader were equally sweet. God felt a little closer at camp. I especially loved ECC - they now call it Everyone Cares Camp- for people with special needs aging from 12-60 or more years.  We were each assigned a camper - one on one- to be ours for the entire week. It became my favorite week of the summer. 

At ECC camp, we were "tethered" to one person and responsible for their daily well as their fun. I enjoyed taking those with greater needs.  Julie H. became mine for years. I know her mind was sharp because she didn't miss a joke (her laugh was priceless), but her body was in a wheel chair and a communication board was her only way of telling me what she needed. We connected. She was from Watseka...a town in my county...and somehow, she managed to communicate to her mother when she saw I graduated high school and she sent a card she worked hard to sign herself. There is something beautiful in connecting with another person...really that a piece of them goes with you when you are parted. I will always keep a piece of Julie in my heart. 

We can be "at the end of one's tether" meaning that we are at the end our rope and out of patience. Parenting, teaching, big projects and leadership can bring any of us to that point. Still, the great thing about "the rope" is that there is an end...and we are still attached when attached.  We don't fall away and get lost. Life is not always easy...but to be tied to something stronger, safer and unchanging is reassuring. 

My stronger, safer and unchanging.  Just like the pole in tetherball.  He is clear on his expectations and tries to keep it simple.  "Love me." "Love each other."  He gives us directions how to live, not to steal our joy, but to increase it. He gives us His Word for coaching and comfort. 

One of the gems of experience I gathered working with students at Peoria  Alternative High School was the true desire children had to be disciplined. They wanted someone to care enough to set a limit and then hold them accountable. Discipline said "I love you enough to push back when you make a poor choice."  They didn't want wishy-washy.  They wanted clearly defined limits and expectations.  Don't we all? 

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. -Psalm 119:34

Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2

I am grateful today that He tethers my heart. He allows me the freedom to move and choose, but at the end of the day, my heart is his. Like the wild and winding journey that takes the ball to finally meet the pole. 

Today, I am grateful for the things that tether my heart.

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