Putting My Foot Down

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;  I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. – Psalm 32:8 NIV

I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. – Psalm 3:5 ESV

 On the Fourth of July, I put my foot down.

“You aren’t doing any work outside today,” I told my husband, whom I affectionately refer to as “DH” – which stands for Dear Husband or his name, Dean Huey.

The weather had been hot and humid for days, and the Fourth was even more so. Dean works 11-hours days in a shop with no air conditioning. Evenings, Saturdays, and holidays are the only time he gets to do work around here. His vacation days are usually spent traveling, camping, or visiting our out-of-state children and their families.

This Independence Day he’d planned to mow our two acres of lawn, which usually takes more than two hours. Working in the garden and planting a flowering shrub were also on his to-do list. But when I took something to the camper and felt the oppressive heat, I put my foot down.

DH loves having projects to work on, and I held little hope he’d take my advice. Imagine my surprise when he did and spent the day on the back deck, just a few feet from the woods on the hillside behind the house, where it’s much cooler than anywhere else.

Unlike me, DH doesn’t spend hours in a book or magazine. I figured he’d get bored and head out in the heat to do something. But he didn’t. It seemed every time I looked at him, he was slumped in his chair, snoozing.

A well-deserved snooze

The Sunday before the Fourth we’d returned from a 10-day camping trip to Michigan, where we spent every day exploring the area. Mid-way through the vacation, I took a day to relax and read, but DH, camera in hand, headed for a hiking trail a few miles up the road.

The drive out and back took nearly 12 hours each way, for a total of 1,133 miles pulling a 33-foot, fifth-wheel camper. Our exploring took up 736 miles. DH drove every mile. We got home Sunday evening after 11 hours on the road and 570 miles of mostly interstate driving. Then Monday it was back to work for Dean for 11 hours. Monday evening he drove to Johnstown and back (another two and a half hours on the road) to pick up our son’s dog, which we were to doggie-sit for the week.

In between his snoozes on the Fourth, I joked that he was practicing for retirement. But as I put all the numbers together, I realized the poor man was plumb tuckered out. I was glad I put my foot down.

Sometimes the circumstances of life get unbearably hot and oppressive. Our first instinct is plow through, thinking we’re to persevere and persist. But that’s not always what’s best.

Sometimes we need to get out of the heat, step back, and get perspective. But if you’re like me, you’ll persist until you realize you’re repeatedly butting your head against a solid wall. Something’s got to give, and it isn’t going to be the wall.

That’s when God puts His foot down.

“You need to back off,” He tells us. “Give it a rest.”

Sometimes He simply needs us to get out of His way so He can work. Sometimes, like my husband, we need to rest our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Whatever the reason, when God puts His foot down, it will always be for the best.

Thank You, Lord, for putting Your foot down when I need redirection. Amen.

Read and meditate on Isaiah 40:29–31.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! –2 Timothy 1:5 The Message

Ever wonder why you wake up with certain things running through your mind? I mean, things you haven’t been thinking about or have no apparent connection with the current status of your life.

The subconscious mind is a powerful yet subtle thing. There is a connection.

One morning, for example, I awoke with the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof playing in the half-awake alcoves of my brain. As I lay there, I sang the words to myself.

Why did my subconscious pull this out of the recesses of my memory?

Maybe because I’m in the process of decluttering my house, and decluttering has a way of stirring up memories – memories that take me back through my life. I remembered the traditions of my family, of Dean’s family, and how Dean and I started family traditions of our own.

Fiddler on the Roof is about tradition, the traditions that enabled Tevye and his family to survive the tumultuous times in their Russian village prior to the Revolution of 1905.

“You might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck,” says Tevye. “And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!”

How important is tradition in today’s world of technology and high speed everything?

Tradition, first of all, gives us a sense of identity. Traditions are about more than ourselves. They are about our heritage, where we came from. There’s so much hype these days about tracing our roots, getting our DNA tested. But family traditions can help to provide the very thing those tests provide: a sense of where you came from – and why you are the way you are. And that sense of identity builds strong inter-generational family relationships. Listen carefully, then, to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s stories. They are a part of you.

Second, tradition gives us a sense of belonging. We are not alone in this big, wide, often cold world. We are a part of something – a family, a church, a community. Something bigger than ourselves.

Third, tradition gives a sense of stability, providing balance in a shaky, unstable world. It grounds us and roots us in the familiar. Life, after all, is as uncertain now as it was 113 years ago. Don’t we all find comfort and security in the familiar?

Finally, tradition gives us a sense of continuity. Stories passed down from generation to generation give a glimpse of our ancestors. Like a baton in a runner’s hands gets passed on to the next runner, so life goes on, “one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

How important are traditions?

Just look at the Old Testament. The traditions God established for His people – and commanded them to continue – gave the Hebrews a sense of identity, belonging, stability, and continuity. Not only did these traditions remind them of who they were, but Whose they were. They connected them with a God who redeemed them out of His mercy, grace, and love.

So it is today. I am so grateful for the traditions of faith passed on to me by my parents. And I pray I’ve passed traditions of faith on to my children and grandchildren. More than anything I yearn for them to see beyond the ritual to the essence of what tradition is all about.

How important are traditions?

In the words of Tevye, “Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as . . . as . . . as a fiddler on the roof.”

What traditions give your life balance and stability? Are you passing them along to the next generation?

Thank you, Lord, for the traditions of faith that give my life stability in an unstable world. Amen.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.