Monday, August 31, 2015

Speaking of ruts.....

Rut:  a track worn by a wheel or by habitual passage; a groove in which something runs; a usual or fixed practice; a monotonous routine

Fix:  to hold or direct steadily; to set or place definitely; to make an accurate determination of; to direct one's attention or efforts

Hebrews 3:1 - Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest who we confess.

katanoeo - to take note of, perceive; I understand, perceive, consider carefully

kata - down along, exactly according to
noieo - to think; properly, to think from up to down, to a conclusion; to consider exactly, attentively(decisively); to concentrate by fixing one's thinking"
'to perceive clearly', to understand fully, consider closely
katanoeo expresses real comprehending - thinking decisively to a definite (clear) understanding

Hebrews 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith....

aphorao - to look away from all else at; I look away from (something else) to, see distinctly; "looking away from all else, to fix one's gaze upon"

When I think of the word rut, the first thing I think of stems from studying the pioneers in the 5th grade (and watching Little House on the Prairie, I think).  I think of a rut in the road caused by a wheel, or as in the mountains of Wyoming possibly, snow melt making its way down a steep mountainside, carving a rut into the road or trail.

I'm sure if I asked my husband what he thought of when hears the word rut, his first response would be "Good time to hunt, when the deer are in the rut."  (Looking for a mate, if you get my drift, wink, wink).

Either way, a rut is made when you have only one thing on your mind (as in the deer and their extracurricular fall behavior, or a heavy stream of water or wagon wheel following the same path).  A rut is made deeper when there is no venturing off to make a better path, or as the deer - you have only one thing on your mind.

If someone says, "I've gotten into a rut with______________," I know that they are probably expressing the fact they are doing something the same way over and over again, with no change or visible progress.

Easy ruts come to mind, and I fell into many while raising my family.  The routine of school, homework, supper, bath, brushing teeth, bedtime story only to start all over again, definitely can lead to some major ruts.  Those ruts are good.  Children (and parents) need routine.

Planning meals were also not rut-proof.  I made the same five meals over and over for years, to my children's disapproval, yet when I suggested trying something different, they usually ended up requesting the same things over and over again.  (And we did tend to have spaghetti a little more than my youngest daughter would have liked).

Then there are our emotional ruts, and this is where I'm going to get in your business a little, so be ready.

We can have ruts of being angry, being over dramatic, being overly emotional, being over sensitive; and we can also be under angry/dramatic/emotional/sensitive too.  Our go-to response to various situations tends to be one more of habit rather than a true response equalled to the circumstance.

We can have ruts in our relationships.  Can I have an Amen from you married folks?!  We get comfortable and used to each other's habits or tastes, and pretty soon we're looking back and seeing that there isn't much new under the marriage sun.  Not that this is a bad thing.

We also have ruts in our spiritual zones too.  If you are a believer in America, you have most certainly been in a rut a time or two there.  We have ruts in our Sunday worship (if someone asked you to tell them the order of service, you could tell them word for word, couldn't you?)  Be assured here, friends, I am not dissing anyone on any of these points, I'm merely pointing out that we have ruts in many areas of our lives.

But remember, every rut once started as a new path, a new trail that was blazed by someone or something or some circumstance.  Ruts aren't born ruts.  Ruts were once brand new trails that only became ruts with over use and much repetition.  If it weren't for ruts in the road, the pioneers wouldn't have known how to find Kansas City, let alone San Francisco.

Ruts led the way to new adventures, new ideas, new dreams, new hopes.

And when the rut led to the new place, the new place started to become a rut.

So what needs to be done about ruts?  Anything?  Nothing?  Yes.

Some ruts are leading new pioneers to their Savior, while other ruts are allowing the seasoned pioneers to become lukewarm and lazy.

So.  What does this have to do with my definitions at the top of this post?  I'm so glad you asked!

Take a look at your ruts.  Really, be brave and take a good look.  Look at the ruts in your relationships, your emotions, your spiritual life, and your rut thoughts about Jesus.

Are you a repeat offender?  Are your thoughts rut thoughts?  Are they the same thoughts you've been having about any of these things since you had your very first thought about them?  What new thoughts or practices do you have in regards to your spouse or your children or your relationship with coworkers and family?  What about your emotions?  Have you tried thinking differently about your depression or your anger or your guilt?  What about your thoughts and prayers to Jesus?  Are those in a rut, saying and thinking and doing the same thing over and over again?  Have you thought every thought there is to think about Him and His wonderful ways?  No?

As Scooby said, "Rut roh."

It just takes a little turn of the head, a little venturing off the rutted road, not a lot, just a smidge, just enough so you can see the wildflowers blooming between the old ruts.  Let those wheels that have been dutifully rolling through the ruts jump out of the rut and blaze a new, and maybe little bit wider and smoother path, to take you where you're headed on your journey.

Fix your eyes on Jesus without getting fixated on the rut in the road.  Consider carefully your thoughts towards the author and finisher of your faith.  Is it time to make a parallel path to the one you've been traveling on for so long?  Look away from the rut and turn your eyes to Jesus.  See him up ahead?  He's blazing a new trail for you.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

Balancing the Ruts

One of the most challenging aspects for me of riding a four wheeler in the Wyoming mountains was the unpredictability of the trail.  It could change from a gravel road to a dirt path to a very rocky terrain in a matter of seconds.

Often I found myself, when the trail was fairly smooth, getting a little cocky, settling in and taking in the beautiful scenery a second or two too long.  One second I would be looking at a beautiful flowered covered landscape and the next I would be bouncing up and down, adrenalin pumping as I forgot to trust the machine to get me to stay on the trail.

There were many times when the trail was smooth where the tires rolled, but in-between there would be deep ruts.  If I wasn't paying close attention and feeling too comfortable in the smooth ride, I found myself trying to maneuver out of the rut.  It was a constant balancing act, staying out of the rut.

Ruts are so easy to get into and even harder sometimes to get out of.  Several times on the ATV trails of Wyoming, I'd be quickly trapped in a rut and feel like I was going to tip over and the machine fall on top of me.  

The last night we rode though, I was feeling pretty confident.  I had gotten used to my machine and felt I knew what I was doing.  The scenery against the setting sun was beautiful, and I was enjoying the view while thinking about where we were headed to end our week of riding.  The first full day riding I had crossed a creek bed at a baby snail's pace.  On the night before our last day I had made the announcement to Cody's mom and dad and hubs that I was going to ride through that creek fast enough to get wet.  

We were on our way to do just that and I was daydreaming about it all the way there. 

There were some pretty good bumps and I had even gotten sassy enough to gun the engine going over them and "getting some air."  But there was this bump that I saw in a distance.  It was between the smooth trail I was on and an unseen rutted trail on the other side.  Because I was too full of myself and daydreaming, I didn't take into account what may be on the other side when I landed.  Overconfidence hid from my mind the possibility of what a rut could do.

I only envisioned the air I would make between the trail and my machine as it flew over the bump.

Well, I lived to tell the story, the machine and I both stayed upright, but when I hit that rut I was going too fast to maintain control on the trail and get out of the rut at the same time and drove off into a field of sage instead.

Ruts are like that.  We get in them without knowing they are there.  Or we don't anticipate them and even forget the possibility they are still lurking.  We are living out our confident faith life, stepping out and doing and living in ways we hadn't even imagined when we started trusting the Machine to take us through and then BOOM!  Out from nowhere lies a rut to throw us off our course.

Walking in faith means balancing the ruts you were in before you started walking in faith.  The potential to fall into a rut is always there.  Even in the newest and most unchartered trails, ruts are formed when the pattern remains unchained and the wheels keep going over the same surface again and again.

Some of the ruts I balanced on an ATV were disguised by pretty grasses and flowers.  I thought I was on even, smooth ground....Until a moose or a mule deer or a pretty mountain caught my eye.  Then, before I knew it, the pretty flowers or grass did not have the strength to hold up me or my machine.  They gave out and gave up on me.  The ruts didn't always support me when I needed it.  In fact, they could have hurt me several times if I wasn't keeping my eye out for them.

So, watch out for ruts and keep your wheels out of them.  Enjoy the scenery, but don't depend on the rut to carry you over the mountain.  



(No, I didn't ride on these rocks, but I'm told there are trails that go over rocks like these).

Trusting the Machine

I've been lovingly harassed for years by Cody's mother to try four wheeling.  

"I wish you would just try it, just once," his Mom would tell me in all manner of ways and emotion.  But I would shake my head and say, "No, it's not for me."

It wasn't that I denied her enjoyment or my own possible enjoyment, it was just that I wasn't really all that crazy about getting dirty, muddy, or, God forbid, hurt.  That's what I told myself.  But the real reason was this:  I didn't want to step out of my comfort zone and try something new because ultimately I knew I WOULD enjoy it.  And then what?

Well, after years of harassment, and no more opportunities or excuses to stand in the way of actually trying it, I got on.

I didn't ride the weekend of Cody's Memorial Ride because I didn't want to try something with all kinds of experienced riders watching me, putting in their two cents worth, and laughing at me.  It was pride, pure and simple.  That evil, dastardly sneak!  

One of the biggest harassment techniques Cody's mom used was to say this, "If you would just try it, you could go to Wyoming with us and take beautiful pictures of scenery that you can never see from the road!"  Ugh.  That knife went deep.

But still I stalled and balked and looked for excuses not to.

This year I couldn't find an excuse.  Anywhere.  Believe me, I looked.  We had a busy June and July planned, but August.....wide open.  What a coincidence that is when Cody's mom and dad were going to be in Wyoming.

I even cheered silently when hubs said that he didn't know about towing our camper out there.  My hidden smile quickly diminished when Cody's dad said, "Why don't you stay in our camper.  We have plenty of room."


You are not helping my case here, Buddy!

Well, the long story short is, we went, I rode and........drum roll please......


So, I have a few analogies that have been brewing in this head of mine ever since, and I hope to share them with you, but I wanted to share this one first.

The first day we got to camp, a Sunday afternoon, after driving almost two hours off the main highway on National Forest roads, I shook my head at Cody's mom and dad when I saw them.  We had passed several trails along the way that looked too steep and too rocky for this girl, and I was already planning my days of reading and writing while they and my husband rode. (I had drug along a pretty packed bag with my computer, notebooks, etc. to keep me busy).

But I knew I had to try at least once to get everyone off my back, so on Sunday evening when Cody's dad said, "Well, Ronda....," I said, "Let's get this over with."

I got my lesson from Cody's dad on starting, stopping, braking, etc. but the most important thing he said to me, and which I remembered throughout the week when I was wondering how in the world I was going to get down a rocky trail was this:

"Just trust the machine."

He told me to let it do what it was designed to do.  He gave me tips on standing up when the trail was bumpy, to let the steering do the work over the rocks.  He reminded me how to brake and told me that if I'm fishtailing, I'm braking wrong.  (It was a hard thing to do to trust the machine as I let it take me down a steep and rocky trail, but Cody's dad was right.  It did the job, beautifully.)

So here's the first analogy I want to share with you.

Trust the Machine.

When I heard those words, I knew I was going to be ok.  When I heard those words, I knew I was going to have the fun I knew I was going to have all along.  When I heard the words, "Trust the Machine," I knew God was saying, Trust me, again, Ronda.  I've got so much to show you."

So I did.

If I hadn't, I would have missed this.

So my question for you is:  What's your fear?  What are you afraid of trying that you know deep down you will like, but the reason you don't want to try it is because you know in trying it you will have to change?

I knew if I liked it, our boring life would not be so boring, and a little more costly.  I'm already planning on buying my own machine and helmet and goggles and clothes and storage apparatus.  (I hope I can get them all to match).

What are you afraid of happening if you try something new?  What's the worst thing that will happen if you do?  Gasp!  You may like it.  You may find yourself saying good-bye to a pretty mundane and boring life.

You don't have to go four wheeling in the mountains to face your doubt, but I wouldn't stop you from doing it if you had to.  

The Machine has got it.  The machine was designed to carry you through the hard places, over the rocky trails, into the deep waters.  He's got you.

Just trust the Maker of the machine.  The scenery is beautiful when you do!