Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Do Not Stop On Tracks -- Hope Chronicles 12

Do Not Stop On Tracks. I pass this sign on a daily basis. The tracks run between a tiny section of Linden Street between a set of stop lights a block or two apart. Much to my chagrin, there are trains that actually use this track when I am in a hurry to get somewhere. But please, who would be silly enough to stop on these tracks?

There is a sign, so it must have happened at some time or another some where. And it's such a short piece, if you don't judge it right with the lights, it might be easy to get hemmed in. And then, I can imagine the red and white poles going down and the lights flashing -- and the training coming. Recipe for a disaster!

Still, it seems to be human nature to ignore these kinds of signs. And children who live near train tracks, have to be told over and over, not to play on the tracks. Sometimes, it seems, that we flirt with danger.

I'm fairly law abiding. (I've never gotten a speeding ticket!) So, stopping on these tracks isn't really an issue. But, I found God asking me in the last couple of days, "So, what tracks do you stop on?" Me? Law abiding, Amy?

I recently have become acquainted with a woman, Kathy, who is new to my church. A friend had dinner with her and then told me I had to meet her because we process the entire issue of singleness in the same way. My interest peaked. However, we just got introduced 2 weeks ago and didn't have time for more than a "Hello." Then she had surgery. My friend was trying to find meals for her and I volunteered to make something, but I didn't stay when I dropped it off because she had really just gotten out of the hospital.

Monday night I made my famous chocolate chip cookies to take in for a food day today at work. (Click here for the recipe and my "secret" way of making them). I always make plenty to share, so I decided to drop some cookies off to Kathy. After all, chocolate chip cookies have medicinal purposes after something like surgery.

When I stopped in, two of Kathy's nieces were there visiting. They were just settling in to watch a movie together, so the cookies couldn't have had better timing. I was there for minutes, but I felt my heart sink as I left. I stopped on the tracks.

I have always wanted children. Barring that for the moment, I have always had this fantasy of "aunt-dom." I don't know where it came from. My mom was the youngest of 17 (7 half siblings and 10 full siblings), so I had a plethora of aunts and uncles. (Though, I would be hard pressed to name them all!) With that many siblings, that meant that there were tons of nieces and nephews. So, maybe it is hard to be super aunt to so many. So, I never had much significant contact with my aunts and uncles.

Still, in "aunt-dom" I imagined being the perfect aunt. I would go to soccer games and basketball games, plays and parties, take my nieces and nephews to McDonalds, let them stay up late, raptly listen to their stories, and be an all-around-cool kind of aunt. It hasn't worked out that way. We live to far apart and there are certain family dynamics that have made it an impossible dream. But still, I dream of it.

Walking in on Kathy and her nieces was like walking in on part of that dream. There was an easiness about it. One niece was helping with something. Kathy teased the younger of the two about what her present for her upcoming birthday might be. My heart lept-- I want a day like this with my nieces and nephews!

My heart fell because I was instantly seized with jealousy. And then, I dawdled along those tracks for the rest of the day and evening. I went to a class run by a Christian group in town. I had never really been before. It's running for 6 weeks. I got there early and found a seat. But that jealousy thing crept in. Was I the only one sitting alone?

I prayed about it this morning. God brought to mind this sign. He also brought to mind a friend's comment the other day. Jill was with me when I dropped off my meal to Kathy. We talked briefly and somehow it came up that I often spend time with Jill's children. Jill said something to the affect of not having family in town and me being an "adopted aunt" to them. God reminded me of the tough spring I had. When I was feeling a bit better, I had Austin and Kolya over. One of them said, "It's been 2 months since we spent the night!" I was astonished they had been keeping track. There couldn't have been a sweeter compliment.

How do we get off those tracks when the bars have come down and the lights are flashing? Philippians 4:8 has some good advice. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)

So I'm counting my blessings. My biological nieces and nephews might be far away, but God has granted me several other kids to invest in -- to go to track meets, play games, indulge in little ways, cheer on during basketball, and hopefully help mold in positive ways. And He nudged me about the class I went to as well. Did I have to sit alone or did I choose to sit alone? (Ouch!) Perhaps, next week I need to approach someone and introduce myself . . . . Perhaps I'll meet a kindred spirit or a future friend.

(Here's a picture of 3 of 8 blessings I was crazy enough to take ice skating for my birthday in December! It was my most memorable birthday.)

We all have to cross the tracks at times. That is a given. Just don't stop on the tracks. It is a sure way to lose sight of hope.


Julie said...

Amy, That was awesome! I loved your analogy. I just love word pictures. God uses them with me all the time.

I am excited to know you are not going to stop on the tracks...but are going to move forward, risking your heart, risking love. I've been learning, that you risk either way, whether by sitting out and not doing anything, and living a life "half lived" or going for it and in the midst finding God, finding life.

I am a one who loves seeing the Spiritual dynamics in a movie. What I love about the movie Titanic is that in the beginning of the movie she is tied down to a man she does not love, but one who her mother wants her to love to get them out of their poverty. And then there is the poor man who is full of life... At first she refuses to allow herself to love him. But she eventually falls for the poor guy and finds life. He encourages her to go after life, to risk. Years later, as she lay dying she remembers that love that she risked. The camera scans over the shelf with all the her pictures on it. It shows how she has gone for one adventure after another, whether flying in an airplane or riding horseback. There are pictures of one adenture after another. She lived life to the full because she was willing to risk.

That scene speaks so much to me, I pray it speaks to you too.

Thanks for reading my blog today and your kind comments.

Have a blessed day,

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Wow - that is a powerful analogy and I have to admit I have stopped on the tracks and lingered there despite the warning horn of the oncoming train wreck. Both literally and figuratively: in all honesty I let disappointment cloud my day on Monday instead of crossing over the tracks and moving on with my life. This was so good for me today - thanks!

Janel said...

Oh, I stop on the tracks of insecurity all the time. "I'm not good enough to do this. Someone else is smarter than me." etc. etc.

They are just lies that keep me away from God. I love how you brought this story back to the blessings and the truth that God tells you through his word.

Great post and I enjoyed getting to know this about you. It does sound like you have good friends surrounding you.

I tagged you for a meme! Please play - I would love to know more about you!

Janel said...

Oh, and you have NEVER had a speeding ticket?!?!?!

Wow, that is impressive.

Heather@Mommymonk said...

I have a bloggy award for you at my site. Come see!

MrsProverbs31 said...


I wanted to stop by and thank you for stopping by my blog with your encouragement. I had full week and haven't had the chance to thank you. So, eventhough this is rather late, it is not forgotten.

Thank you.

Oh, those cookies look so yummy. Do you bake oatmeal too? Hmmmm.

I don't bake much because I eat too much when I bake. Yeah! no control here.

Anne said...

Hey Amy! What a powerful and challenging picture! You have such a way with words! By the way, thanks for looking out for my brothers! They love you! :)