Month: July 2013

What I Hope You See

What I Hope You See

When you are handed to me, minutes old, and I nestle you against me taking all of the wonder that is you in with my eager eyes, I hope you see that the flowing tears are tears of pure joy and love and awe. In […]

Yes.

Yes.

I need to stop and savor that truth every moment of every day. Their messes that I rail at? I get to be here to clean them! Praise God! The laborious hours teaching math, language arts, science, history and on and on? I get to […]

Intentional Parenting

Intentional Parenting

Because I have the privilege of being home with my kids all day, I feel almost guilty when I nod my agreement when other mothers bemoan the fast days. How the years just slip by. So many activities, so many obligations. So few moments with our children.  How can I possibly agree when I am with all of my children most every day, every moment?

Big sigh. I am here every day. Meeting their needs. I get their waking moments…their going to sleep moments. And most moments in between.

Bigger sigh. Mask off. Honesty.

Sometimes I do all those things on autopilot. I am feeding their bodies. And feeding their minds. But sometimes I am not engaged. The thing is, the longer you act in autopilot, the easier it is to cruise through the days in this way.

What a tragedy.

It is like gulping down a four course meal. A meal meant to be savored.

These moments? They are meant to be savored.

See, the truth is, sometimes I have to remind myself, force myself, to stop what I’m doing. To turn off my brain, firing off in fifty different directions. And to look into those sets of baby blues. To revel in the miracle that God blessed me (me!) with these four beautiful people to raise. To not just feed. Teach. Clothe. Bathe. Clean after.

In allowing me to raise these children, He is giving me the opportunity to stretch farther than I can possibly stretch. To pour myself out until there is nothing left. And then to watch as He fills me full again.

In allowing me to raise these children, He gives me the most amazing glimpses of heaven in the most ordinary moments. To watch a child’s face light up, smiles reaching clear to eyes, full of light. To hear belly giggles. To watch a child obtain knowledge, to be right in the room when the light bulb goes on and success is obtained.

But goodness. To reach this joy, I must be intentional. When I walk in kitchen and see counter and flour covered in a flour snowstorm, I have a choice. To hurl angry, red words.  Making my child feel small. (Oh how many times I’ve done this when childish hands have made childish mistakes!) Or I can allow the giggles to rise. My big hands, next to little hands, making tracks through soft mounds of white.

I must put down my phone. Turn off the computer. And look. Look into those little faces. Prolonged eye contact. All my attention turned to them. Ears open.

I must learn to talk with these little ones. Not at them. (Oh how I talk at them!) To engage them and really hear what is on those minds, in their hearts.

I have to face my own selfishness. To look at the ugly straight on. To admit when I would rather sit with my book than play a board game. When I want quiet. When I want to send the kids to their rooms so I can simply sit and hear nothing. Sigh. There has been nothing like parenting to show me my glaring self-centered faults. I have to ask God to change my desires, my heart, in those moments.

So I wake in the morning. And I pray that God will help me be intentional. To love these children with all I have. No, with all HE has. That the love I feel inside would show plainly to these precious ones. That they wouldn’t remember rolled eyes, impatient words, dismissing gestures. Instead that they would remember warm embraces, encouraging words, listening ears and loving glances.

And when I, as I invariably will, fail. I will apologize. To them. To Him. I will ask for forgiveness and grace.

And I will try again. To parent intentionally, while loving spontaneously. While I cook. While I clean. While I teach. While I play.

While I pray.

His Still Whisper

His Still Whisper

This week I prayed for one who had taken her life. I do not know her name. I do not know her story. Questions fly. Why? How could she? Didn’t she know? I could only bow my head to pray. For her hurting family. For her […]

Confessions of a Thirty-Something Former Know-it-all

Confessions of a Thirty-Something Former Know-it-all

No one ever told me that the realization that I was now the adult in charge could bring terror, not the jubilation I always imagined. They also didn’t tell me that I could hand the reigns over to my Father because I was still His […]

The Play Maker

The Play Maker

Walking into the gym, I saw third and fourth grade girls warming up, basketballs in hand. These girls had attended practices and studied the plays. Some of the girls patiently waited, confidence emanating from their faces, while others nervously paced.

 

As the game started, it seemed we might be a bit outmatched. But the girls doggedly continued racing up and down the court trying to remember the difference between defense and offense. As the coach yelled reminders and instructions, his words were joined by parents’ voices. Some shouting encouragement, others yelling instructions. Once in a while, a reprimand hung in the air.

 

Now, a friend and I always joke that should we coach, she’d be the “bad guy” while I’d be the overindulgent (read: nonproductive) coach, promising a trip for ice cream after the game “no matter the score.”  And my softer side was coming out now. I felt sympathy tugging at my heart as some girls looked clearly bewildered and scared while most went about the game putting the pieces together: offense, defense, plays…working all these pieces together to play the game of basketball.

 

And it hit me.

 

This is what I feel like most days.

 

I’ve read the Play Book. I’ve listened to the Coach. I’ve rehearsed possible scenarios in my head, and visualized what they might look like out on the court in a real game.

 

But just like the bewildered grade-schoolers, sometimes the plays and shots come at me faster than I’d like once I’m actually on the court. I don’t take time for a time-out and end up winging it, forgetting all the plays I’d rehearsed with Coach.

 

And sometimes, I fail.

 

But the thing is, God doesn’t keep a score board for me. Others do – they keep score of my inadequacies, my ‘hypocrisies’, my falls and stumbles. From their vantage point, it is simple: I know the plays, now that I’m on the court, I just need to put ‘em into action.

 

Yet from my vantage point, the plays aren’t so clear. I have circumstances and people coming at me at an intense speed. Through the sweat dripping off my brow, I see the Coach holding up the Play Book and calling my name, but sometimes I try to do things on my own because I can’t seem to hear His voice. Or I have the right play but use it at the wrong moment.  I trip and fall. And finally, either by admitting my need for help or by a holy time out called by the Play Maker, I crawl over to the bench. Tears in my eyes, wearing my failure like it’s my uniform, I grab the Play Book and start searching again. And sometimes the Coach shows me what I’ve got to do next time. Sometimes, He asks me to redo what I’ve already done. And always, His sweet grace surrounds me as He underscores the points in the Book, hands me Living Water and says,

“Take a swig and get back out there.”

 

Then I start playing again. And I sometimes I score. And most often, I fall. And because I am vocal about my faith, people view my stumbles or inadequacies as pretenses or hypocrisies. 

 

But He still isn’t keeping score. When I look at His score board, it simply says “Redeemed.” And He’s given me amazing teammates who hold me accountable for my game, who lift me up when I’m beat and who study the plays with me.

 

And so I keep on, keepin’ on.

Wind At My Back

Wind At My Back

Yesterday, we had a guest speaker at church who talked about the average person having a life that goes up and down. Trials and triumphs. Then he quipped, ‘when God promised to give believers life abundantly, He delivered. The highs are even higher…and the lows are even […]

My Mission Field

My Mission Field

This has been one of those weeks. I am discouraged. Looking around me, I think “this isn’t what the picture in my head looks like!”   In my head, I have a squeaky clean nine year old and six year old studiously working on their […]

Mollie’s Bible Lesson

Mollie’s Bible Lesson

I sat in silent amusement as I watched my two middles work together to construct a tent out of blankets in our living room. They were valiantly working together, without the usual aid of their peace-making older sister, while keeping a lid on their tempers. As the blanket Mollie was working on fell for the umpteenth time, she sighed heavily…her lower lip protruded…and then…she caught herself before a full-fledged tantrum. Proud mama moment! Then she said “Jesus…pleeeeeaassse make it stay up!!”

 

It fell.

 

In frustrated unbelief: “Jesus!!!???” She started to get mad again and noticed me sitting there.

 

“Mom…will you ask the Lord to help me?”

 

What do I say to that other than “of course” and proceeded to pray with her for help to figure out how to solve her problem.

 

Mollie smiled, content, and turned back to her work…then turned back expectantly. Then the kicker.

 

“Well?? Did He say yes?”

 

It was one of those absolutely priceless moments. Her innocent trust was so sweet. Yet as I sat there, something dawned on me.

 

She sounded an awful lot like me.

 

How many times do I stomp my feet, asking Jesus for something and then throw a fit because I don’t get my way? He could deliver but didn’t. I wanted an answer but didn’t hear (or couldn’t accept the “no” or “wait” answer that I got!) So I get mad and question Him…. “Jesus!!!??”

 

And then, I seek someone else out. Someone He might listen to better. “Please pray for this…” I ask in a panic. Now there is not a thing wrong with asking someone for prayers. But admittedly, sometimes I do it because in the deepest part of me, I feel like He’ll hear someone who is a “better Christian” than me. Or I seek someone else’s opinion because just maybe they will have the answer I am looking for and I won’t have to wait patiently (my least favorite thing!)

 

The thing I loved about tonight’s Bible study, given by Mollie without her even knowing it, was that later tonight, she still wanted to talk to Jesus. She wasn’t mad that He hadn’t given her an answer to what she wanted in the way she wanted. In fact, she was perfectly content with the fact that her brother had lent her a helping hand. She was able to see that his help might just have been the provision she needed, not a blanket that magically stayed put.

 

Ah, that I would have the grace and innocent faith of a child. We believe in what we do not see. That is faith. And sometimes He is so faithful to just give us a little glimpse!

Tongue In Cheek – Big Families

Tongue In Cheek – Big Families

My new  responses to people who ask, opened-mouthed in awe, when they find out we have four children: “So…you’re done now…right?”…   1. Gosh, I’m just not sure. James didn’t have enough items to deduct for his business on this year’s taxes….so….   2. Well, […]