Raising four boys, my sister's motto in life was "Be prepared." For years Cindy's house was party central. There was a constant ebb-and-flow of teen boys, complete with their sound effects and other sensory delights. Every room in her house contained at least one basketball and one lone sneaker, which was always strategically placed in the middle of the floor, ensuring you would trip over it if you weren't looking where you were walking.
During those years her pantry was an amazing thing. The shelves were well stocked with chips and cookies, granola bars and packaged munchies, brownie mixes and microwave pop-corn, and of course sodas and sports drinks. And that didn't count the stuff she kept 'tucked away' for emergencies. Her pantry blew my mind--her preparedness blew my mind.
While our husbands and kids went on a white water river excursion, we opted for tubing down a quiet, peaceful part of the river. I have to admit to being gleeful that we had the day to ourselvesit was a rare treat and we planned on enjoying it.
"So, what are you going to do now that the boys are grown?"
"I don't know," Cindy admitted, her head resting back on the inner tube. "You know how you feel when a word is on the tip of your tongue but you just can't get it out? That's how I feel--like I just about know, but not quite." Her voice was both wistful and frustrated at the same time. "All I've ever done is be a homeschool mom and a wife," she paused and chuckled. "A basketball coach's wife, maybe that counts for some extra points, ya' think?"
I laughed with her, but didn't say anything.
"Remember going to Gram's house that time she had bought us new coloring books, but then didn't have any crayons? We had forgotten ours at home, but thankfully, the restaurant had given us a little box of four crayons to use on the place mats, so we colored in our new coloring books with just four colors." She turned her head and looked at me. "That's about how I feellike I've been given a really neat coloring book, but I only have four colors to use in it."
I laughed. "You have more colors in your box than just four, but I know what you mean. It's disappointing and frustrating, too. So, what're you going to do about it?"
"Can't I just sit here and color with the colors I have?" Cindy was laughing but I could tell she was a little serious, too.
"You'd be bored to tears in no time, Cindy, you know that. Besides, color is too important to you for you to ever be content with just four colors."
"Yeah, I know, but what can I do?"
Before I could say anything we were interrupted by hollering and screaming.
We looked at each other and groaned. So much for a totally quiet day. We had rounded a bend in the river and saw a rock wall that people were climbing up then jumping off of. There were no rocks in the water, just a sparkling pool that looked enticing.
"Remember that rock climbing wall the guys got us to climb?" Cindy asked
"That was fun! It wasn't nearly as hard or scary as I thought it would be." We grinned at each other, feeling suddenly courageous.
"Yeah, and this isn't even straight up and down. It'd be a piece of cake by comparison."
"C'mon, let's do it!" We beached our tubes with the others and made our way to the bottom of the wall. We were so busy talking with a young couple that we didn't stop to look up or consider what we were doing.
About half-way up the wall Cindy looked over at me. "This isn't as easy as we thought."
"No, it isn't, but we can't stop now." Before I could stop her Cindy looked down. What a mistake.
Her eyes were round when she looked back at me. "What are we doing here?"
I said the first thing that popped into my mind. "We're adding crayons to our coloring boxes."
"What? You finally went crazy, Girl!" At least the panicky edge was gone from her eyes and she went back to climbing. A moment later I heard her voice off to my side, but I didn't dare stop to look at her because the height was getting to me, too. "How is this adding crayons to our coloring boxes?"
I grinned at the rock only inches from my nose, thankful for something to take my mind off where I was and what I was doing. "Every time we do something out of our safety zone we take another step, which makes it so we can take another step. It's a new experience and the reward is a new color for our box."
Cindy grunted that she heard me, but she must've been like me, too winded to talk more. We continued to climb until we felt a pair of strong hands grab us and pull us onto the top. We stood there, gasping for air but grinning like fools.
Arms around each other, we surveyed our success.
"You're right," Cindy said, still grinning. "That did add a new color to my box. I can't believe we did it!"
I began looking around. The view was great, but I was starving, so I looked for the way down. A quick question confirmed my fears: the best way down was to jump, otherwise, it was a long hike back to our tubes and lunch.
"We get to add another color to our coloring box," Cindy said, still smiling.
It was my turn to panic. "But I can't..."
She didn't let me finish. "You just climbed up that wall, don't even try telling me you can't jump--you can. Think about the color you'll get to color with the rest of your life; and this will be a gorgeous color! But you know, you missed the best part of the analogy."
I laughed. I had to. It was either laugh or cry, and crying wasn't an option. "What's that?"
"Not only do we get to use that color, God does too. I was thinking about that just before reaching the rim--the more colors we have in the coloring box of our lives, the more colors God can use when He's working in, and through, our lives.
Cindy never ceases to amaze me.
"Prepare to jump!" she said theatrically, grabbing my hand.
I caught her silliness and her hope. "Prepare to be used by God!" We laughed, took a few fast steps, and jumped.
Patty Wysong is a Christian wife and homeschool mom of 5 who is passionate about wrapping lessons in pretty packages that will point others to God.