Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Choices

 
Everything in me wanted to yell at her for not being responsible. This I why she is not allowed to watch television in the morning before school anymore (previously it was a reward to get her moving). If she hadn't sat there watching the show her little sister had on... I had to remind her twice to put her shoes on... Allowing her to ride the scooter around waiting for the bus probably wasn't a good choice...

The moment we saw the bus approaching I looked into my oldest' bewildered face as she exclaimed "Oh, man. My flute!" I responded with my immediate thought, "Run!" I'm still shaking my head over the situation. Did I really ask the bus driver if she would wait? I need to remember to buy that woman a special thank you gift. I can't believe she actually waited.

Waiting always makes the time move at a snail's pace. I had put her sister on the bus and then pulled her off because I didn't want to inconvenience everyone else. As we began to walk away, the bus driver beeped the horn and pointed down the street. I don't think I've ever seen my child sprint in her life - until now. I seriously need to remember to be grateful for this woman who transports my children to school every day. It's so easy to focus on the negative situations involving the bus. Mental note: Do not forget this moment.

Like every morning, my daughters are both on the bus off to school. This is the way our mornings usually play out... but I'm struggling with my emotions. Every time I attempt to be a "yes" mom, it seems to bite me in the butt. The cancelation of band practice yesterday allowed us to embrace other choices for our time. These unplanned activities were good and in the moment, I was certain this is how motherhood worked.

Last night, I had made a mental note to have my daughter pull out her flute and music when she got home from a school activity she went to with friends. The little ones were tucked in bed and I needed to just go over her homework one more time. Notes needed to be written for the next day and put in their folders, the dishwasher had to be loaded and started so lunches could be packed... the instrument left my mind... until this morning at the bus stop.

While everything in me wants to lecture my 10-year-old on irresponsibility, I'm going to choose grace. Just as I made the choice to embrace life with my children yesterday, it is my decision how I respond to this situation. I forgot. She forgot. We all make mistakes. This wasn't sinful. It was simply a little bit out of our routine. No harm done.

Pulling out note cards with the verses I was meditating on this morning reminds me that this is the choice God wants me to make.
"Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back." - Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” - Genesis 4:6,7 (NLT)

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." - James 1:19 (NLT)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This is living

The commitments on the calendar are almost more than it can hold. Preparations for events loom overhead threatening to steal me from the moments of today. Decisions beckon our attention while uncertainty keeps us from executing any leaps of faith. While I attempt to seize today, I cannot deny tomorrow. Balance is a constant struggle.

The housework piles up and screams for my care despite the fact that this exact scenario played itself out yesterday without neglect. Focusing on the laundry takes me up and down the stairs multiple times past our large dry erase board where our family’s events or color coded for the week at hand. I stop to read the list of tasks, making certain I haven’t missed anything important. Over my loud sigh, I barely hear the whisper. This is living.

I’ve been on a journey of breaking free from my comfort cocoon. I’ve been working to say “yes” a little more often to God. In turn, this means saying “no” to my own selfish desires.

“No” to chocolate…

“No” to just a little more sleep…

“No” to spending past our means…

“No” to my own way…

It’s difficult to detect the whispers amongst the shouts of this world. There’s hard work involved in quieting the voices I hear from media, well-intentioned friends and family, my own thoughts or even a good read. I have to be constantly immersing myself in the Bible to know which direction to go.

I hear the whisper again. Life: It’s what you’re here for. Truly living will require commitments on the calendar. A comfortable life at home on the couch is your desire, not mine. I must deny myself to find the joyful life God has called me to. It may not always be comfortable now… but I’m not living for today. Eternity is my goal. Keeping my eyes on the future allows me to find the balance. The unnecessary weights of the world fall off and I can shift over to what God has called me to do.

Continual attention is essential for maintaining balance in this life. I cannot always have control over what comes my way. Alterations will be required. I just need to keep anchored to the Center of it all. He promises a better life then I could ever dream of.
 
"I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." - John 10:10b (MSG)

Friday, October 19, 2012

To Jaycie on your 7th Birthday


My Dearest Jaycie,

While not a one has been given to you as of yet, we’ve been writing letters to you every year for your birthday. One day, when we think the time is right and believe they might truly be appreciated, they will be our gift to you. Here I sit, a couple of days after your 7th birthday, wondering what I want to say to you this year. In an effort to move my heart and quiet my mind, your birthday video of this past year plays in the background. I pulled out the scrapbook of your birth story to reminisce. Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming. Life just doesn’t stop. All my good intentions of documenting your story didn’t meet up with the days that keep passing by all too quickly. Here you are, a 1st grader, and I want so desperately to press the pause button… just for a minute. Don’t get me wrong: I’m so grateful that you are a healthy, growing girl. As you’ve reminded me many times, God created you to grow up. It’s just hard to watch sometimes. I simply want the opportunity to process it all.

I am in awe of how much you have changed in this seventh year of your life. There was a confidence that brimmed with your Kindergarten graduation setting the stage for your summer. While you have always enjoyed hours and hours in your cousins’ pool, this year you braved fluttering your feet to carry you from one side of the shallow end to the other. You experienced the exhilarating joy of jumping in unassisted. And while you were always within arm’s reach of the wall, you explored new territory of the deep end as well.

The tooth fairy came to visit you for the first time the same week that you learned to ride your bike without training wheels. You were ecstatic to start first grade at Eisenhower Academy with your big-5th-grade-sister to show you the ropes. And yet, only two weeks in to the school year, the separation, day-in-and-day-out commitments, as well as lack of sleep and time alone began to weigh on you. It took some time and a lot of prayer, but you managed to get on the bus one again with silly faces instead of tears and outstretched arms begging to stay with mom.

There are times your insecurity overwhelms me and then in the next breath, your independence leaves my mind reeling. This has been life with you. You want us there on your demand one moment and in the next we can find you tucked away by yourself using your imagination with your toys. Whether you are constructing with Legos, playing creatively with Barbies (or dolls), or organizing your space to sit and draw (or read), it’s that quiet time which revives your soul.

While you need that time alone, one-on-one moments are priceless with you. These are the instants where you are willing to share your heart. I attempt to collect every thought that seems so difficult to extract from your brain at other times. These occasions are rare and I will want to sort through them later entwined with my own processing emotions.

The other day, in one of these glimpses into your soul, you were attempting to share the lyrics to a song we sang at church. I simply couldn’t identify the music. This morning we pinpointed it and I am grateful. My heart swells when my ears catch you or your sisters singing praise to our God. The fact that you chose the song, “Your Love Never Fails” by Jesus Culture to meditate on is perfect. The lyrics, “You stay the same through the ages, your love never changes. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning. And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid. Because I know that you love me, your love never fails” is truth I want to sink into your soul.

That’s how you will overcome your timidity, JayJay. I know we just had a conversation about why we go to AWANA. While I explained that we memorize God’s Word to keep us from sinning against Him, it’s also because meditating on His Truth will provide you with the ever-necessary confidence you need to live this life.

It boggles my mind that you are the daughter people choose to direct their hellos and conversations to. Odds are that they’d get a response from your older or younger sister… but they speak directly to you: the only one wishing they would just go away. It nearly knocked me to the ground the day you responded with words to your past teachers when they inquired as to your new school experience. This is so opposite the usual divert-your-eyes-to-the-floor and close-the-distance-with-mom move I’m so used to. So I find myself hoping you are now more certain of yourself… only to be caught off guard by the difficulty of separation that presents itself unexpectedly once again.

I love that you want to be with me, Jay. I really do. And yet I know God created you for more. He created you for relationship with Him as well as with others. I want you to know the security you have in His love. He is with you everywhere, all the time. My hope is that this assurance will sink into your soul and you will be able to share the beauty of who God made you to be with others who are missing out. It breaks my heart that there are only a select few able to experience the real you. I want others to laugh in response to your silly antics. Your inquisitiveness can be a benefit to others as well. My prayer is that your need for explanation will drive you into God’s Word. His Truth reveals the best plan for your life. I want you to discover all that God has for you and make a difference in this world for Him with what you find.

I just read Daddy’s letter to you. While it will be tucked away for the future (for your eyes only; unbroadcasted like mine), the verse he chose is perfect for you. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

While it’s my flawed attempt of displaying God’s unfailing love…

I love you unconditionally, the best I can,

Mommy

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Godly are Generous Givers (HAH Blog Hop)

  The Third Thursday in October means a Hearts at Home Blog Hop. Be sure to hope over to Jill's Blog to read what ideas other moms have to share on teaching their children.




Our girls are 10, 7 and 4. We've attempted to teach them about the 10-10-80 system (10% to God; 10% to savings; 80% for spending). They even have their own individual savings banks designating these allotments. However, we rarely take the opportunity to use them. Our children don't receive an allowance. We don't have a specific system in place to teach our children about money. Here's the bottom line: my children have EVERYTHING they need and some. We are so blessed to have family and friends who shower them with gifts on their birthdays and Christmas as well as randomly throughout the year. It's truly amazing and it allows me the confidence to stash monetary gifts in the bank; away for their future.

While I don't have a tangible example of how to teach children about money, there is no doubt in my mind that I'm still teaching my girls to give. Our girls know that we give. We give back to God. We give to the hungry; the poor; the needy. We give whenever and wherever we feel God calling us to give.

Generosity is the mark of a Christ-follower. We give of not only our money, but our time and ourselves. We want our girls to know that true giving doesn't come from a feeling of guilt and obligation. No one else can determine what we should give. This is between us and God. It is an important lesson I want my girls to grasp. We give because we are so grateful for all we've been given. We give because God gave His Son for us. This is our example.

Sometimes I wonder if I am harming them by not teaching them better how to handle money. The truth is that I am still a work-in-progress when it comes to finances. For now, I'm confident of this: It is my responsibility to teach my girls to give. I set the example. In this house, we don't live for money. Money simply helps assist the way we live.

"The godly are generous givers." - Psalm 37:21b

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When we are Wooed

"What we need is someone who will pursue us and accept us even though we're flawed." - Renee Swope, A Confident Heart

Flashback to the days of our youth for a minute. Remember how one friend would inform another of a certain boy's interest in them? This boy may not have even been on the radar prior to this knowledge. However, this new awareness of his pursuit alerts the senses to his every move. Thoughts are filled a little more than they used to be with the-boy-who-woos. It feels good to be desired, wanted, sought after...
 
The ultimate goal of wooing someone is that their feelings will blossom as yours already have and they'll fall head-over-heels in love with you. That's what God does with us. It's very much like God is flirting with us, in hopes that we'll fall deeply in love with Him. He doesn't sit around waiting for us to decide if we really want to partner with Him. He is actively working in our lives, drawing us to Himself, constantly.

God loves you more than you could ever really imagine. Once you realize He is in pursuit of you, everything points to Him. A beautiful sunset, a song on the radio, a note from a friend... they all cue in to the fact that God cares. Everywhere we turn, there are suddenly tangible examples of God's desire for us.

The bottom line is that none of us deserve His love. It doesn't matter. He loves us anyway. That's the awesome thing about a relationship with God. We NEVER have to doubt His love for us. He knows more about us than we probably understand about ourselves... and He loves us anyway, unconditionally. (Psalm 139)

The idea that God seeks our favor, attention and love is tremendous. Do you see the evidence of God's wooing in your life? Once you do, what will you do about it? Do you just enjoy the attention He gives or will you accept the invitation for an intimate relationship with Him?
 
"If God is the Pursuer, the Ageless Romancer, the Lover, then there has to be a Beloved, one who is the pursued. This is our role in the story." - Brent Curtis & John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance
 
"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
 
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Inspired by Insecurity

Prompted by a question from the study of Renee Swope's A Confident Heart. What is the earliest memory of doubting yourself or feeling insecure?


Growing up, my grades in Physical Education classes were mainly A’s and B’s. I would consider myself fairly athletic. The only exception was in the area of gymnastics. And yet, somehow, when I was in my preteen years, I got it into my head that taking a gymnastics class would be a good idea.  Maybe it was because I watched in amazement as my friend, Nicole, twisted, spun and flipped with ease. Maybe it was because I didn’t like getting an average grade in gym class. Whatever the reason, I was going to give this sport that was nothing but uncomfortable for me a shot.

Mom purchased me a black and white leotard with tights for the class. Although this outfit may have helped me look more the part of a gymnast, it did little to turn my lack of confidence. And it didn’t help matters much that due to my lack of experience, I was the only (or at least one of the few) older girls grouped with elementary children.

The gym we entered into was dimly lit and I was anything but comfortable with this enrichment experience. Insecurities continued to threaten my attempts to broaden my skills. Now, I’ll admit that my memory of this moment is a little fuzzy. However, the tears and distress that came when I was informed of the class’ “no tights” rule are difficult to shake from my mind. The ensemble I donned, creating the only sliver of assurance that I would be able to learn anything from this class, suddenly became bigger than the task at hand.

My mom escorted me upstairs to the locker room where I would submit to the rules. Removing the covering on my legs accentuated the high-cut of the leotard and I could hardly mask my disappointment. Tears burned my eyes as insecurities escalated the anxiety of the situation. Any thread of poise I had remaining quickly unraveled. My hopes of ever being able to execute a cartwheel, or even a simple forward roll, were shattered.

I was left in tears and darkness (with the awkward glare of my white thighs seen by my eyes alone) as I stared at a balance beam. The way my height and age towered over the tiny little females I had been grouped with consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t escape the insecurities that mounted one after the other after the other. My uncertainties eventually formed a barrier that kept me from learning the simplest gymnastics moves.

My P.E. teacher was gracious enough to give me a C for my efforts in the gymnastics unit in junior high. Despite the hours of practice to music I put in to my floor mat routine, hesitancies kept me from utilizing the song which may have improved my grade. It’s funny how the privacy of my own bedroom brought about confidence one moment that couldn’t carry over in front of the class of my peers. Gymnastics just wasn’t a sport I would ever be any good at.

As I fast forward to my adult years, God has blessed me with three little girls to bring up for Him. When I’m asked to help them execute a cartwheel I simply inform them that I just don’t know how. They are disappointed and honestly, I’m a bit let down myself. My desires of being a little girl, wanting to flip and roll like so many others, aren’t an all-too-distant memory.

Recently, I watched in amazement as my nieces twisted and twirled in beautifully executed round-offs on a gymnastics floor. My daughters were hesitant to join in on the fun of their cousin’s birthday party because they lacked the confidence. Memories transported me back to myself as a little girl paralyzed by fear and insecurity. I desire so much more for my daughters.

While I couldn’t encourage my children with any advice on technique, I was determined to embrace this teachable moment. Sucking up my pride, I displayed my lack of skill in an attempt to inspire my girls. Following suit, they participated with smiles on and gave it their best shot. While gymnastics may not be a sport this household will excel in, I hope my children have escaped a self-inflicted scar caused by insecurity.

TRUTH: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

TRUTH: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” (Jeremiah 17:7)