An Alarming New Year!

An Alarming New Year 2018When our security system began beeping a few mornings ago, I sprang from my bed. Someone had either entered or exited our home around 7:30 a.m. In a few seconds, the alarm would be blaring if I didn’t act fast. I figured our high school sophomore had simply forgotten to disarm the system before leaving to catch her school bus. (Obviously, I’d overslept, because I’m typically awake to see the kids off to school and speak a short blessing over them.) Nonetheless, I disarmed the alarm and went to my daughter’s room to ensure her bed was empty; surely, she was the one who triggered all of this. Surprisingly, she was nestled under the covers. Uh oh, what an awful way to begin a morning!

Soon after, I heard my son—the freshman college student—stirring in his room. I quickly remembered he had been out all night at a friend’s church for a teen lock-in. He was the one who entered our home that mornining. Whew!

My mind didn’t stay at ease for long, though. I realized my high schooler was about to be late for her first period class. “Get up!” I said excitedly. “You missed your bus!” I was frantic and confused.

My daughter woke up in a daze. She peeled her torso off of the mattress and gazed around the room in bewilderment. “Wait,” she murmured and frowned, sweeping her tousled hair away from her face. “It’s Saturday.”

Immediately, I paused and took a deep breath. She was right. I apologized, and eventually, we chuckled. She went back to sleep. I retreated to my room to mull over what had happened.

Perhaps you can relate. You might not have mistakenly rushed into a sleepy teenager’s room on a Saturday morning and burst into an accusatory rant. But, maybe you’ve entered into a new year with some of the confusion and ill-formed assumptions you had in 2017. Like me on that crazy Saturday morning, have you gotten out of the bed ready to fuss, complain, or point your finger? If so, know that you’re not alone.

However, let’s do something more productive instead. Forget what’s behind and look forward to the future—a new year, a new day, and another chance to get things right. When you mull over your situation and review the facts like me, maybe you’ll even chuckle. Besides, complaining does nothing but bring us down—it never resolves the problem. So, this week, when you hear unexpected news, become confused, or feel alarmed, look to God for security and peace. We can all be thankful He gives us new beginnings.

What have you chosen to be content about in 2018, despite what it may have looked like in 2017?

What’s Your Story?

Cherise Bopape - StorytellingIt was the last Sunday in 2013 and I was visiting my parent’s church in Virginia.  I sported a multicolored head wrap, a matching lightweight dress, and sandals that exposed 90% of my feet.  I had a fake accent to boot!  What a misfit I was!

I’m sure several questions reeled through the youth choir members’ minds as they peered into the congregation: Who is that woman? Where is she from? Why is she wearing that outfit on this cold, rainy day?

A familiar voice interrupted the kids’ inquisitive glances.  “Children, please make your way to the front of the church.  Today, we have a guest … a storyteller with a special message for you.”

I darted to the front until I stood directly in front of the pews where the children had settled.  All the colors on my outfit seemed to mesmerize the kids.  Then, with a forced accent, I belted out a sentence that broke their trance and piqued their attention. Finally, they realized I was dressed for the part.  They would be hearing one of my original tales set in South Africa.

Before long, my young audience was at ease and I was able to garner their participation. I’d share pieces of my story, give a long wail, and point my finger.  Then, on cue, the kids would shout a warning cry, “Watch out for snakes, warthogs, and goons!”  (You had to be there.  The kids’ responses were priceless.)  By the end of my tale, they’d helped me to “rescue” an important character while learning a valuable lesson in the process.

Like the children who peered at me from the choir stand that rainy December morning, haven’t we all been leery about something?  We may be working moms who are considering a career change or entrepreneurs who want to try new marketing strategies.  We may wonder what it would be like to follow our childhood dreams and write a book or run a marathon.  Perhaps we’re weary parents who want to improve the way we discipline our children.  Oftentimes, we’ll feel fearful, unsure, or anxious about the task.  However, we can have open minds and expect great stories to unfold—just like the kids did at the church I visited.

Let’s start the new year by prayerfully seeking clarity for our unique journeys.  We may need to tackle snakes, warthogs, and goons along the way … but those things just enhance our life stories and strengthen our faith.  How will you be an active participant in the story God has given you?