Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ups and Downs

They say life is full of ups and downs. But who, exactly, are "they"? And why are they stalking me?

Gavin and I shared the neat experience yesterday afternoon of taking the training wheels off his bike. He's been adamantly opposed to this idea since Christmas, when he first got his bike, insisting that he'd go two-wheelin' "when he was as big as Daddy" — and not a moment sooner! Well, yesterday I just went ahead and took them off, which he protested until I calmly informed him that it's just a couple of nuts, and we could put the training wheels back on later if necessary. With that, he braved up and let me hold the seat of his bike while he pedaled around the back yard. He had a blast. And I had — still have — a muscle cramp in my backside as a result. He was so proud of himself, and we were so proud of him. Sure, he fell a few times (and one fall was particularly exciting because it forced me to dive-roll over him and his bike). But it certainly wasn't the falls he was telling his Nana and Paw-paw about today at church. It was the ride.

Ups and downs.

While Gavin biked, Aidan was hitting pitched whiffle balls, and loving it. He's been a confident tricycler for a few weeks now, and for the moment we're quite alright with keeping him a mere foot off the ground instead of the two feet a bike would require. Unfortunately, all he's thinking about at the moment is the nasty bit of road rash he's sporting on his left knee after a sidewalk slide heading into church tonight. He's a pitiful sight, what with his tear-streaked face and constant reminders to "don't touch it".

Ups and downs.

Speaking of church, what a roller coaster of emotions that is. Our church is full of good people with good hearts, but ultimately is still made up of people, every one of us just as flawed as the next one. The church body has been gracious enough to put me a position of some influence regarding the music, and I've been so fortunate to be able to affect some change in our church in small ways — playing guitar for the Praise Team, spinning more contemporary music before the service, yet keeping the old hymns of the faith ever-present in the lineup, too. But this stuff always meets with a gaggle of supporters and detractors. It's weird to come away from a service like today's where multiple folks are saying how much the music ministered to them that day, only to hear later indirectly that so-and-so said that CD we played before the service (Shane and Shane's Clean) was "just awful".

Ups and downs.

But the ups and downs aren't always in the present and past. We can look forward to them in the future, too. Looking forward to the ups is, of course, quite easy. We've got a North Myrtle Beach trip coming up soon, Plaza's Homecoming (with Geoffrey Janes as a guest speaker, and Josh and Tasha Via joining us for the musical stuff) is in two weeks, and immediate after the Homecoming dinner-on-the-grounds, I get to hop on a plane and go to Germany to speak at a Subversion Conference. Fun, exciting, stuff worth looking forward to.

But what about the downs? What's to look forward to there? Opportunities. Opportunities to learn more about myself and God's purpose for me here on Earth. To see how, when the bum stuff comes, there's always hope on the other side of it. To see if I can pass the pre-test (a given trial) put before me, and then afterwards pass the real test (giving glory to God for allowing me to survive that trial). And if that fails, we can celebrate the downs simply because they help to make the ups so much sweeter.