Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Good Hands

This is my daughter on her first full day of school. She was over-the-top excited about attending her sister’s school with friends that she knew. While this smile tells you everything about her feelings of starting first grade, my heart was breaking. I knew this new schedule was going to take a toll on my little Llama Llama who always has such difficulty with new situations.
 
The return home from her second day of school played out more along the lines of what I had expected. A request to put away laundry produced tears. The thought of having to take a shower brought on a meltdown. She was able to get through the rest of the afternoon and evening by playing Barbies with her big sister. When it was time to put the toys away, however, all irrationality returned. It was no surprise that her eyes were closing by the end of story time and her body was relaxed long before daddy ended the prayer with "Amen".
Yesterday the girls asked to ride their scooters to the bus stop. (Actually, some requests were made for bikes. However, a momma can only do so much.) The two going off to school enjoyed some time on their scooters while my youngest (who would return to the house with me) pedaled her bicycle. (It was already a site: helping my preschooler on her bicycle while I carried scooters back to the house with the dog pulling me along on her leash. I couldn't imagine attempting to get two bikes back instead of scooters.)
When the request was made today to repeat the prior morning’s activities, I embraced being that “yes mom” everyone talks about. I even felt like I had a better handle on it this morning and didn’t look like quite a spectacle. All was going well. The girls even respected my request to keep their voices down because neighbors may still be sleeping at 7 o’clock in the morning.
I don’t know exactly what happened next but somehow Jaycie was sprawled on the sidewalk, yelling, with her scooter underneath her. My first regret came with shooshing her as she cried. Her little voice echoing “I’m sorry” rings in my ears as disappointment in my mothering pierces my heart. Was it really that important to quiet her cries in the early morning? Do I really want her to learn that she can’t cry when she is in pain?
It felt like forever to get all their school gear off of my shoulder in order to scoop her off the ground. As I knelt down to her level, I caught a glimpse of the school bus coming down the street. “I can’t go to school,” she cried. Rushing my girls across the street, the bus flew past our stop. I was thankful I had a few moments to assess the situation better. JayJay continued to cry that she couldn’t go to school as I found no blood and only a couple of little scrapes. Checking the time, my oldest ran back to the house for some Band-Aids. Was I doing the right thing by sending her off so quickly on the bus when she was obviously so upset? Her wounds were barely visible.
By the time my oldest got back with the supplies, my first grader had her backpack on and was requesting her lunch bag. All appeared well and their bus had not yet appeared. Thanking Nikelle for coming so willingly to her sister’s aid, I cleaned up scrapes and administered the Band-Aid... with plenty of time before the bus arrived. Nikelle went down the street on her scooter with Ande on her bicycle just as bus appeared. Calling Nikelle back, Andelise was frustrated at her lack of speed. Those little legs just could not pedal fast enough.
I helped Jaycie cross the street and went back to get her little sister. This is when the tears started to flow from Jaycie’s eyes. I really wish I could physically be in two places at once (or maybe that two people wouldn’t always need me at the same time in different places). I left my youngest to help my middle daughter get on the bus. Despite her pleas to stay home and her resistance to my escort, she got up the steps of the bus and instructed her to find her big sister.
I really hope the tears didn’t continue for her as they now filled my own eyes. The disappointment in my choices pierced my soul again. What kind of mother was I that I forced my little girl on the bus? Why didn’t I just give her the time to get her act together and drive her to school myself? Will there ever be a day when I quit questioning my parenting decisions?
My heart still hurts that I sent this little girl who has always struggled in social situations off for the day without me. I miss the close interaction with her and those involved in her day. Without the daily interaction with her teacher, I feel so disconnected. I don’t like it. While I know letting go is part of this process, I still wonder….
And I pray because while I have no control, I’m thankful she is not out there alone. Her Heavenly Father is watching over her with a love my own cannot even compare to. She is in good hands… ones marked with scars to show their love.
Thankfully, these scarred hands remind me that any pain and scarring I inflict on my children are covered by His grace. Amazing Grace.

"Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." - Isaiah 49:15-16

Monday, August 20, 2012

Made to Crave Mocha?

The aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee has always brought with it a sense of calm. There is something about this scent that relaxes my body and brings me back to my childhood. The moments that I had an opportunity to bring a warm mug to my dad while he sat at the dining room table were seldom but memorable. While this fragrance has always brought with it a soothing comfort, the bitter taste it left on my tongue was ever so unappealing.

It was a few years into my adult life that my parents introduced me to a drink at one of the coffee shops located inside the mall. (While my siblings and I were all married at this time, I was not ready to give up my dad's tradition of viewing the Christmas decorations and once again found a way to intrude on my parents' time together.) Not wanting to pass up on a rare opportunity where my dad offered to splurge on coffee for my mom, him, and me, I ordered their drink selection hoping the chocolate might override the bitter flavor of java. Instantly, I found one that not only appealed to my sense of smell, but taste as well.
Unwilling to branch out to other coffee shops, It was a rare occasion that I succumbed to such a treat. It was only within the past few years that my taste buds have craved the mocha to where I found myself navigating the menus of other coffee chains. Needless to say, I am now a huge fan of anything Mocha… anywhere.
This summer, I’ve been in search of a cool caffeinated beverage to splurge on from time to time. Convincing myself that eliminating the whip cream from the drink would bring this delicacy out of the dessert world currently forbidden to me, it has become my “go to”. This brings me to my current heart check.
Here’s the bottom line: I gave up desserts for 2012 to prove to myself that God truly is more satisfying. In treating myself the other day (only because I was without kids and could... as well as including the whip cream), I realized that I was turning to this tasty drink to brink me peace. It was in that moment that I comprehended my need to desire God… and faced the fact that I was only cheating myself. It’s not that desserts are bad. I plan to introduce them back into my life again in 2013. For a season, however, I want to learn that when I am longing for peace, satisfaction or comfort, it is God alone that I need.
When I smell the aroma of coffee, I am reminded of the privilege it was to serve my dad and the great joy and satisfaction that came with it. When I am craving dessert, I want it to serve as a reminder that my soul was Made to Crave God. Attempting to fill that craving with anything else only deprives me of the great joy and satisfaction that comes with it. I want to delight in God alone. In Him is where I will find fulfillment and satisfaction.
So what about you? Do you have a “go to”? Is there a way it can be used to drive you closer to Jesus?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August Blog Hop - Connecting as a Family

I can't believe it is already the third Thursday in August. Where has the time gone? This month's Hearts at Home Blog Hop is:
Let's talk about connecting with our families. With schedules picking up, how do you make time to stay close? How do you make connecting a priority?

Family dinners are the main way my oldest feels we connect. She likes the conversations we have, all seated around the table. This is where we catch up on our children’s thoughts, listen to stories their daddy wants to share with them and take a few moments to remember that we enjoy spending time together. In order to protect this family meal time, we have to limit activities during the school year.

I choose to have all three girls in the AWANA Clubs from September – April. AWANA played such an instrumental role in helping me hide God’s Word in my heart and I want that for them as well. Once a week, throughout the entire school year, we have this on the calendar. The kids enjoy it and I am able to help out during club. Daddy doesn’t get home from work until we need to be out the door. Therefore, we miss family dinners at least once a week.

Add small groups and randomly scheduled school, church and family obligations and it’s difficult to have any meals together at all. This is why we limit our activities during the school year. As the kids get older, I realize this will get more and more difficult. However, I oppose the thought that my girls cannot fulfill their dreams in life without being exposed to every activity at a very early age.

We also try to respect bedtime with the routine of family story time and prayer time. It takes intentionality to make this happen. As I look at our calendar for the Fall, I could easily schedule every night with something for someone. Instead, my husband and I have made the choice to scale down school year commitments and embrace what we believe to be essential for our family. Yes, this means the girls won’t be swimming and dancing until the summer. That’s why our summer was packed full of activity. Believe it or not, they understand. It seems that when it comes down to it, these are activities I want them involved in more than they desire for themselves. They welcome the down time to play and relax and enjoy their family.

What do you do to make connecting with your family a priority?

Head over to Jill Savage's blog and hop around the blogs of other Hearts at Home Bloggers for some ideas on making family time a priority.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blind Boldness

There is something about this side of the computer screen that brings on a blind boldness. All too often, fingers fly across the keyboard forming words that we slap up on a screen without any thought of the damage they can cause. We become numb to the feelings of others involved in our interaction and excuse it with “These are my thoughts. If you don’t like them; don’t read them.” On one hand, I agree. We are free to choose the blogs we visit. It is our decision what “friends” we keep on Facebook. And while I don’t Twitter, I'm certain most of the random thoughts of others can be ignored if one decides to. On the other hand, God calls us to more.
In all honesty, this boldness we experience with letters clickety-clacking under our fingers is a large part of the reason my blog has been silent lately. Many times as I sit down to write, my mind races through person after person that will be offended by my words. Rather than create waves, I slink back and wait for another topic, another day.

In an effort to keep some activity here during those times, I recommend other blogs. There is no way I can ever make the claim that I am in full agreement with another’s writings at all times (because I have no way of predicting what future writings hold). While I continue to value the messages spoken on these pages, there are moments I cringe and wonder about the author’s thought process in their posts.

This happened recently with  To Love Honor and Vacuum. (In all fairness, Sheila Wray Gregoire did request input from her Facebook fans as to whether or not she should remove blog post.) While I am in agreement with the heart of her post, I still found myself cringing. Even if her post was prompted by the tragedy in Colorado, wasn’t there some other way to bring this topic about? Based on the comments of her readers, she clearly struck a chord. At the same time, I can’t help but think of the feelings of those directly impacted by the shootings (mainly, the little girl’s mother). I’m not questioning the blogger’s motives… just wondering if there could have been more forethought.
Some may argue that I am doing this very thing here by referencing her blog post. Although I shared my thoughts with her on Facebook, maybe I am. I don’t really know. All I know is that way too often, we throw our thoughts up on the computer screen without any consideration to those around us.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that we shouldn’t speak up for our beliefs. I’m just saying that we need to think a little more often before we “speak”. Would you say it to someone’s face or is it only behind the safety of the computer screen that your boldness comes? I do think there is a place to be bold. And God's Truth will offend. But there is a thin line between boldness and brashness.

What do you think? Do you think social media gives us a false security with the way we "speak"?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Inspired

Trainer Bob, Me, My Davenport-grown friend & her husband

When has the humble service of a fellow believer inspired you?

This question was posed to me in a Bible study I am doing with some friends. At first, it was difficult for me to think of an answer on the spot. I wrote down a time that the service of a fellow believer humbled me, but I couldn’t really pinpoint a time where it inspired me… until I really listened to my heart.

Maybe this question had me thinking among the greats of Mother Theresa and Jim Eliot. And with the recent read of Kisses from Katie, there is no doubt that Katie Davis' servant heart is inspirational. These are people who make a huge difference in our world, inspiring the many who inevitably notice the way they imitate Christ. My mind drifted to family and church members, thinking about those people who serve on a regular basis, making it appear like a natural part of life. While there are likely many people who have inspired me with their example to serve, my heart is stuck on a servant who could easily be overlooked.

All week, I’ve been thinking about my accomplishment of completing the Bix this past weekend. Over 15,000 people participated in this 7-mile race. It was crazy packed leaving my friends and me weaving in and out of people from start to finish. But it was an experience I will not soon forget. I am thankful that my Davenport-grown-moved-to-Plainfield friend put the bug in my ear for this goal. And we did it… with a time I’m pretty happy with, too.

Having this run on the calendar gave me a goal. I printed off a running schedule and, for the most part, stuck with it. While it was lonely training by myself throughout the week, there were friends who would be running the race with me and that kept me going. Better yet, my friend and trainer, Bob, was a person I could hit up for advice on what to do from week to week. He was continually checking in on me to make certain I would be ready for the hills I would face at the end of July. Trainer Bob woke up at 5am on more than one Saturday to take my friend, Stacy, and I out for hill training. Not only did he plan the workout and get up before it was necessary on the one day he could sleep in, but he always had ice cold water and Gatorade on hand for us as well.

This isn’t the first time Bob has pushed me to a healthy lifestyle. Just this past spring, he led “boot camp” at our church out of the goodness of his heart. He likes to inspire people to push themselves to new levels. While I wasn’t able to participate in the running group he organized last fall (due to a broken toe), I won’t be missing it this year.

Even now, in this post-race week, Bob has been pushing me. When I voiced my desire to lay off the miles for a few days, Trainer Bob was there to encourage me with a specific goal. (Two 3-mile runs down, Bob, one to go!) What amazes me is that he could be somewhere training people and getting paid for his time and energy. At Southfield, however, Bob has been giving with no expectation of anything in return.  Anything that is, except for healthy people alongside him with fitness goals on their minds.

This is my friend’s passion. It’s not mine… but I truly appreciate the benefits I have received from aligning myself with Bob and his family. It may not appear spiritual to some. But I know that serving in this type capacity requires selflessness. It takes a heart that is aligned with God’s to do what he does. Bob, you inspire me. Sure, I’m inspired to continue a healthy lifestyle, but more so, I want to embrace my passions and utilize them to help others live better lives. Thanks for surrendering your passions to God.

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Exercising my Freedom of Speech

US Constitution Pictures

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Out of curiosity, I "liked" Chick-fil-A on Facebook today. Although I have never eaten at the franchise, I wanted to see what was being said on their page about all this media coverage. The answer: not much. Today's “Appreciation Day” (as well as days in opposition to the restaurant chain) has not been initiated by the company. My understanding is that this week’s hoopla came about due to statements by Chicago politicians in response to Cathy’s (President of Chick-fil-A) boldness in speaking his beliefs.

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. ... We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles." - Cathy

While I can’t speak for the masses in their reasoning for lining up to eat chicken today, I would have joined them if there was a Chick-fil-A in closer proximity. I really don’t think the issue is discrimination as some have yelled loudly about. This has to do with our freedom. Here’s an article at the Washington Post as well as one by MercuryNews.com expressing the same concerns.

At the same time, I cannot deny that I agree that God defines marriage between one man and one woman. The title of this blog is My Identity: A Child of God. I am a Christ-follower and I believe the Bible… all of it. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” It’s simple really. I don’t get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible I believe. God's Truth hurts sometimes but it still needs to be spoken in love. I don't know President Cathy but kudos to him for not renegging on his statement for the sake of business.

Not sure what the truth is? Take some time to open the Bible and read it. WARNING: Once you do, you will either need to embrace it or deny it. To bear the name of Christ in labeling one's self as a "Christian" means we follow His commandments. So, what do you believe?
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” - Romans 1:16